1 The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, 2 because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:
3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.
4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. 5 And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
13 The children of your elect sister greet you.
We are nearing the end of our study of the Bible as a whole. As we do we have a message today on the writings that are called General Epistles. There are 27 New Testament writings. The Gospels and Acts are five. Paul writes 13, Revelation is one and then there are the rest. All of the rest are the General Epistles. There are eight of them. And that is the order of the NT books: Gospels and Acts, Paul’s epistles, General Epistles and Revelation. Today we are going to talk about the General Epistles. These writings are not connected to each other for the most part and they are mostly named for the author instead of the recipient of the text. John writes three, Peter two, Jesus’ brothers James and Jude write one apiece and no one knows the author of Hebrews. One of the helpful things about these book is that they give us an understanding about the kinds of things that the early church wrestled with. As we understand what they struggled with, we will have greater insight into how to manage our struggles.
I am using II John as our text this morning in order to gain insight into the emphases of the early church as they navigate through the first couple of generations of Jesus followers. They are maturing away from their natural cultural life choices toward following the teachings and example of Jesus.
What we see in II John is an emphasis on truth, love and the connection between them and Jesus’ teachings. Obviously then, there is pressure from person or persons to abandon the teachings of Jesus as it relates to what to believe and how to live in God’s world. That is the reason for the letter being written by John.
- Live in the Truth for Life
- God determines what is true
v.3 3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.
If people are trying to get people to believe something different from the understanding about how we are and how we are to live then they are living apart from the grace, mercy and peace of God!
In this book we see the issue is in verse 7: 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
Pregnostic dualism. Spirit good, flesh bad. Flesh does not matter, do what you want. Flesh is bad, be an ascetic. (Paradoxical opposite reactions to the truth: legalism and license.) The heresy mentioned in verse
In our culture there are many teachings that go against the teachings of Jesus Christ.
- People are created in the image of God.
- People are dirt water and electricity
Francis Schaeffer in his book: The God Who is There,
Speaks on this issue very well. We cannot live as if we don’t matter. And when we treat others as if they don’t matter disaster ensues! But philosophically what right do we have to say as the founding fathers did in the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident… today people would disagree, they are not self-evident. All men are created equal. Equal in what way? No two people are equal in any two ways! Equal in value before God and therefore before the law. The law judges and holds people accountable. All people.
And people are given rights by God that are inalienable. Inalienable means they cannot be surrendered or transferred. So, God has given people dignity. The right to life, the right to freedom and the right to pursue happiness. If we give up the truth, then we also will lose the rights. Because action follows what we believe.
- People fail to live up to God’s image and it’s not God’s fault. This is what sin is. This is the source of human evil and suffering. There is judgement to be paid to God for our lack of living up to His standards.
The heretical view:
- People fail to live up to God’s image and it doesn’t matter because it is impossible.
- People fail to live up to God’s image and should despair.
- God has no clear objective standards, they are either obscured or they are non-existing. (Man decides what God’s standards are.)
- Jesus Christ pays the penalty of our judgement and lives an example and teaches people how to live as God intended them to live.
We earn forgiveness by behaving well.
15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified[b] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness[c] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
- We must individually agree to the truth of this and follow Jesus. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Christ died for all, therefore all will be saved. (Heresy.)
If people abandon the truth, then they will not experience the mercy of God, the grace of God, or the peace of God. V.3!
- The truth of the gospel never changes
v.2 2 because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:
my understanding of the truth may change,
but the truth does not change.
5 And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.
Love is the application of the teachings of Christ in us toward others!
- Apostolic truth
Some people are different from us in Scripture, not in value, but in service and purpose. You and I must learn to submit to Apostolic truth, even above our own feelings of truth! The Bible judges us, we do not judge it!
v.4 4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.
The keys to the kingdom. “Truth abides with us.” This is a repeated theme in the General Epistles: II Peter 1: 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,[i] with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Peter connects his experience with the production of Scripture.
- Walk in Love for Life
- Love and truth are connected
v.1 John loves them in truth. (as opposed to fake love that would lead someone astray from God and His life.)
“Speak the truth in love.” There is no way to speak things that are not true in love. Love is true.
v.3 Mercy, Grace and Peace from God and Jesus are in truth and love. Truth is believing. Love is action. We must have both. And both are connected.
This is repeated over and over again in John’s writings!!
- If we believe poorly we will love poorly
v.9 goes on ahead and does not abide in the teachings of Christ.
I John 2: 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Love and truth are connected. Believing and loving or valuing are connected. You cannot take them apart! This is why Jesus says you cannot serve two masters, you will love one and hate the other, you cannot serve both God and money!
- We are responsible for our loves
Fight the battles that need fighting!
III. Love and Obedience to God’s Commands are Connected
- The command is to love others as Jesus loved
John 13: 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 14: 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
Since the commandment is to love, if we don’t love we are not obeying. Love and obedience to God are connected! Love is not a feeling, love is an action.
But love does reflect desire and desire drives action.
We need to work on our lives from the perspective of what we think—Believe, What we desire—love, and what we do—obey. And as I have now pointed out, all three are connected. We have a mind, a will and emotions. All of our personality needs to be directed toward God. But the bottom line is not what we say, but what we do. God is not trying to get you to answer questions on a test, but to do what reflects His character! Your whole life is a test, a take home test.
- Love is obedience to Jesus’ command
John 15: 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
The circle is complete. Love is expressed in action. Just as James tells us that faith is expressed in action. What God is interested in in our lives is the proper action. Imagine Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden stating that they trusted and loved God as they disobey Him by eating the forbidden fruit. This is where our battle is.
John 16: 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.
I John 2: 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
- I am not good enough at this
3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.
The trouble is not that we struggle with sin, the trouble is when we do not struggle with it. Do not deny your weaknesses, trust in God’s grace and battle to believe, love and obey!
I John 1 starts with this issue: You are not good enough
8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.