Archive for the ‘2 John’ Category

2 John 8-13

In 2 John 8-13 the elder reminds us that we need to cling to the prize of Jesus.  We don’t want to come up with less than what Christ offers to us. “Beware of being like them and losing the prize that you and I have been working so hard to get. See to it that you win your full reward from the Lord.” The world will try and pull us away from Christ.  To deny the Biblical Jesus is always to reject the Father and the Son both. John here draws a critical line of truth, over which it is heresy to transgress. We have to remain true to what Jesus taught because if we don’t, we are wandering from the truth and move away from God.

For if you wander beyond the teaching of Christ, you will leave God behind; while if you are loyal to Christ’s teachings, you will have God too. Then you will have both the Father and the Son.” It’s dangerous territory to get away from truth.  To say no to God’s way of revealing himself is to say no to God himself. We must be careful never to go beyond Jesus teaching as that is like  “going beyond a boundary.” We must never go “beyond” the teaching of Jesus, of who He is and what He has done for us. If we do, we lose our connection to God – we leave Him behind.  In order to stay in line with the teaching of Christ we must know those teachings, which ultimately means we need to know His Word.

There are plenty of false teachers out there pedaling their version of what Jesus taught.  John warns us to stay far, far away from them.  “If anyone comes to teach you, and he doesn’t believe what Christ taught, don’t even invite him into your home. Don’t encourage him in any way. If you do, you will be a partner with him in his wickedness.” His warning goes well beyond not listening to them.  We aren’t to even be around them.  Sometimes we fail to recognize the importance of who we hang out with or allow to speak into our lives, even if we are leary of their words and actions.  It still impacts us.  We need to stay away.

We should make a distinction between those who teach these Christ-denying doctrines and those who merely believe a false teaching. John has given us much wisdom and direction in his letter.  He intends to come and visit this church soon, and to celebrate life together in Christ. “Well, I would like to say much more, but I don’t want to say it in this letter, for I hope to come to see you soon, and then we can talk over these things together and have a joyous time.” John writes this letter to a particular church, but ends by expanding the audience to other churches through his final words. “Greetings from the children of your sister—another choice child of God.”

2 John 5-7

In 2 John 5-7 the elder returns to a very specific and familiar topic. “And now I want to urgently remind you, dear friends, of the old rule God gave us right from the beginning, that Christians should love one another.” John wasn’t just mentioning the rule to love in passing.  He gives an urgent reminder.  Loving one another is not a mere suggestion.  It is one of God’s rule for Christ Followers.  We aren’t living a solo life as a Christian.  We are part of the body of Christ and one of the most important roles we have to fulfill is that of loving one another.  It’s so important that John feels the need to remind us yet again.

The integrity of our Christian life can be measured by our love for one another.  It’s not an optional act or choice.  God expects it from His children. “If we love God, we will do whatever he tells us to. And he has told us from the very first to love each other.”  Obedience to loving one another is not something we should even consider an option.  It’s been His command and expectation forever of those who follow Jesus.  And if we love God, obedience is the result.  We do this not because we think His commandments are heavy burdens, but because we see that they are best for us.  God loves us and his commandments lead to His best for us.

John warned against those who thought the only important thing in the Christian life was a vague love that had no heart for obedience. “Watch out for the false leaders—and there are many of them around—who don’t believe that Jesus Christ came to earth as a human being with a body like ours. Such people are against the truth and against Christ.” John was aware false teachers were a danger to the church in his day. And they are certainly still a danger to the church today.  There are many who question Jesus and His time on earth.  They dismiss the story of Mary and Jesus’ birth.  They question His crucifixion and the resurrection from the grave.

John makes it clear that we must confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This means Jesus came as a real man in His first coming, and also means He will come again to the earth someday.  John warned us against antichrists in his first letter. They are those who not only oppose Jesus, but also offer a substitute “Christ.” False teachers are everywhere in our world today.  Some are blatant in their lies and false information.  Others water down truth and try to stay close enough to truth to sneak in their false teachings.  As Christ Followers, we have to check everything we hear against the one source of truth – God’s Word!

2 John 1-4

In 2 John 1-4 the elder, likely now about 90 or so, writes a letter to a woman and her children who were important members of a local church. “From: John, the old Elder of the church.” The letter is likely targeting the entire church body rather than this one particular family which is how it appears here in the Living Bible version.  “To: That dear woman Cyria, one of God’s very own, and to her children whom I love so much, as does everyone else in the church.” The reality is that John was writing more broadly than just to Cyria and her kids.  He was admonishing the local Body.

This church had truth embedded into their hearts.  “Since the Truth is in our hearts forever, God the Father and Jesus Christ his Son will bless us with great mercy and much peace, and with truth and love.” If we know and love the truth, we will love those who also know and love the truth – the truth which abides in us also lives in others who know the truth.  Truth binds us together, and the love of Christ in us seals that bond.  John is quite focused on the idea of truth, as he was in all of his writings. He used the word truth some thirty-seven times in his New Testament writings.  This is a very important topic to us as Christ Followers to get our arms around.

Why does truth matter?  Because the truth does not change. The truth will be true forever, and we will have the truth forever in eternity. Many people today think that the truth changes from age to age and from generation to generation, but the Bible knows that the truth will be with us forever.  They want to base truth on their feelings or emotions or what seems fair.  That’s now truth in God’s world.  Truth is constant and unchanging.  It never moves.  And with truth comes great mercy (us not getting what we deserve) and much peace (God’s peace – that passes all understanding and goes far beyond what we can see or understand).

How happy I am to find some of your children here and to see that they are living as they should, following the Truth, obeying God’s command.”  John is full of joy to find the believers walking in the truth.  Obedience is one of the marks of a true disciple and warmed his heart to see that in the church.  Truth is not only important for its own sake, but also our walking in truth shows we are walking with the Lord.  John is referring to a straight and steady walk of obedience, not veering right or left, but staying the course and walking confidently with Jesus.  That brings joy to any shepherd of any flock!

1 John 5:19-21

In 1 John 5:19-21 John continues to explain our interaction with sin and the enemy.  We have a very real enemy that is out to kill, steal and destroy.  In much of our surroundings, Satan and his band of demons have more than a foothold, they actually are in control and evil reigns.  But as God’s children, we are not subject to that influence. Jesus has already won the victory and it is ours. “We know that we are children of God and that all the rest of the world around us is under Satan’s power and control”. We may be impacted by the enemy, but we will not be controlled.  That is the key truth about evil and the Christ Follower.

So since we are born of Him, we are set apart from the world – we are no longer under the sway of the evil one, though the whole world around us still is. Knowing this means we can be free to be what we are in Jesus and separate ourselves from the evil rebellion in this world we live in. We can have victory through Jesus.  That’s what He came to give us. “And we know that Christ, God’s Son, has come to help us understand and find the true God.”  We are challenged to know Jesus, not just know about Him, but to truly know Him intimately through a deep and abiding relationship with Him.

As we do, we find God.  Jesus is the path to God.  We cannot find Him on our own. If God did not reveal Himself to us through Christ, we would never find Him. We know Him, and can know Him, because He has revealed Himself to us. “And now we are in God because we are in Jesus Christ his Son, who is the only true God; and he is eternal Life”. John tells us who Jesus is. He was a man, but He was not only a man. He was totally man and the true God and eternal life. John does not, and we can not, promote the humanity of Jesus over His deity, or His deity over His humanity. He is both: fully God and fully man.

John wraps up his letter with one last warning. “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. Amen”.  While it may seem like a strange way to end this letter, it is vitally connected to the message of fellowship with God.  What John is talking about here is idolatry where we let anything get in the way of keeping God where He rightfully belongs, on the absolute throne of our life. We can only have a real relationship with God if He is there! Idolatry, whether obvious or subtle will always choke out a real relationship with God, and damage our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Jesus.  We can let nothing get between us and God and must guard our heart in that way!

2 John 1

2 John 1 has an elder John writing to “the elect lady and her children” to talk about the importance of truth.  We’re not sure who exactly he is writing to here.  Perhaps this was an individual Christian woman John wanted to warn and encourage through this letter. Or, the term might be a symbolic way of addressing this particular congregation. But whoever the target of his letter, the message applies to us today.  It certainly is not new teaching.  The focus is on truth and obedience.  It’s about God and those in our patch.

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”.  We’ve heard those words often from John, and others in the New Testament.  Loving one another is just one of the dozens of “one another” commandments in scripture.  That love extends to a command to love God through obedience.  “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”.

John, just as Peter and Paul did in their letters, define love for God as obedience to His Word.  It isn’t difficult to know how we can love Him.  We simply need to have a relationship with Him – which always translates to TIME – and then to know His Word and walk in obedience to it.  That is what love looks like for the Father.  We learn His ways and we do what He has told us to do.  Too often we make excuses as to why God’s ways are not applicable to our life today.  We excuse our actions using a number of different reasons for why God’s Word doesn’t apply to us.

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”.  Obedience is a key indicator of our walk with God.  It isn’t optional, and it is a true mark of a Christ Follower.  Disobedience is sin, and we’re definitely all going to fall short and need a Savior, but as Christ Followers we need to abide in Christ and walk in His ways.  He is the source of our right and wrong.  He is the giver of eternal life.  We need to get into the Word and make that the guide for how we live each day!

2 Chronicles 20

2 Chronicles 20 has Judah up against great odds. “Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah”. Things were looking bad.  There were three kingdoms joined together and moving toward an attack.  Jehoshaphat knows he is outmanned and will never be able to resist the enemy.  So what did he do when he was at the end of himself?  He goes to God and asks everyone in the kingdom to join him.  “Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord”.

Jehoshaphat is at the end of his leadership rope.  “We will stand before this house and before you…. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you”.  He has no answers and is at the end of his own resources.  But he knows that God is faithful.  So he leads well and turns the eyes of his people toward God.  “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s”.  A great word from the prophet whom God sent to give His people hope.

The direction is clear.  “Tomorrow go down against them…Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf”.  Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it?  Just walk out there and face the enemy knowing that if God doesn’t show up you’re all dead.  But that’s when God shows Himself strong, when we are weak and totally unable to handle things on our own.  God never fails.  So the prophet tells them ”Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”

Jehoshaphat stood in front of all his people and said, “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed”.  And the people followed.  They believed and “the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel”.  The battle was over and they had won. More accurately, God had won.  Jehoshaphat got some great kudos from the Lord though.  It is written here that “He walked in the way of Asa his father and did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord”.  Those are pretty high marks.

Unfortunately there is more to the story.  Late in life, Jehoshaphat joined with the evil king Ahaziah from Israel in a boat building business.  I’m sure it seemed innocent enough, but God was not pleased.  “Because you have joined with Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy what you have made”.  So few of us finish strong.  Jehoshaphat walks with God most of his life, but in the end turned aside and joined the forces of evil and falls short.  It certainly didn’t need to be that way.  He just needed to stay the course.

2 John

2 John is a short chapter.  It gives us a couple reinforcements of things that John has told us previously, so they must be important.  He begins with a statement that seems a bit strange at first glance: “I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth”.  How can he have joy that only some of the folks are walking in the truth?  Because the reality is that not all of us are going to follow Jesus.  Not everyone will make God’s ways our ways.  That is what we should do – but John knows it will be a select few that will actually live life that way.

So what does that look like.  It really is pretty simple.  John tells us that we should “love one another”.  Three simple words – one simple task yet one so difficult to actually live out day by day.  Some people just aren’t all that loveable.  Some people really aren’t the folks we want to love.  So what does that really look like?  “And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments”.  It comes down to once again loving God, and loving people.  It is about obedience and walking according to His will.  It isn’t really rocket science – but it is about the heart.  It is about putting God where He belongs. 

John goes further and shows us the two faces of obedience.  “Everyone who…. does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God”.   Abiding means that we have Jesus’ teaching in the center of our life.  It means that He is central to all we know and do.  But the opposite is also called out by John: “whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son”.  If you ever wonder how important God’s Word is and how much it impacts our life – this pretty much says it clearly.  Abiding in God’s Word is critical to walking with Him.  It matters.  It is a success factor to walking as a Christ Follower.  How much are you abiding? You can’t abide if you are not in God’s Word reading and studying it regularly.  Are you?  Do you?  Will you?

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