2 John 1-3 | God's Care for His Susceptible Children | Andrew Gutierrez
Topic: Worship Gatherings Passage: 2 John :1–:3
If you are new to church or don’t have much familiarity with the Bible, this book is a small book, actually, one of the two smallest books in the Bible, and it’s toward the end of the Bible. You’ve got Revelation at the end, Jude, Third John and Second John, going from backward to forward.
Some of you have asked, why not 1 John? You did the Gospel of John, and now you’re saying that you’re going to start Second John and Third John. Well, I’ve got two answers for that. One is, we’ll get to First John, Lord willing. My prayer is that we’d get to all 66 books in my time with you, but we’ll leave that in the Lord’s hands. So at some point, I plan to get to First John. Just don’t know which decade it’ll be.
But many of you have studied First John in a Bible study setting, small group setting, youth group setting—something like that. But I don’t think many of you have spent much time going through Second and Third John. These letters are often neglected—these small “postcard letters,” as they’ve been called. The smallest books, actually, in the Bible.
So I want to spend time in those, not just because they’re often neglected, but because they have so much important truth for our church in them. I want you to picture with me a young believer. A young believer who did not grow up in any sort of Christian culture, doesn’t know the books of the Bible, didn’t recite those when he was in Sunday school or when she was going through Christian school or homeschool. That environment, that background, doesn’t exist for them.
But they’ve come to faith in Christ, and they’ve got some questions. They’re a new believer without a Christian background. They actually had an uncle in their life that was a Christian, but then he ran off and became part of what the rest of the family calls a cult. And so how do I know that I won’t go down that road, says the young Christian. How do I know that I won’t end up like my uncle did.
They come to Christ, and they actually hear people in their church talk about false teachers and people who misrepresent the truth about Christ. They’ve actually heard people in their Bible study warn others about certain books in the “Christian” bookstore. What do they do with all this? How do they make sense of it all? What’s true? What’s not? How do I know that I won’t fall into something that I shouldn’t fall into?
They actually have a co-worker who goes to a church that’s very different than the church that they’ve started going to. This co-worker goes to a church that does not teach that Jesus is the eternal Son of God. Jesus was a man who at one point became a God, just like you can become a God.
And out of a desire for this young believer to win his co-worker to Christ, his co-worker has suggested that they do a swap—I’ll come to your church if you come to mine. And the young believer asks the question, should I do something like that? This young believer thinks differently about his time now that he’s in Christ. He thinks differently about his money now that he’s in Christ, and he wants to give money to the work of getting the gospel to the nations. Who does he give that to? Who does he not give that to? This guy’s got questions.
This young believer just started coming to a church, and he’s developed a lot of good friendships. He joined a college ministry. He’s got some friends there. He’s got much encouragement, people helping him along. But last Sunday he came to church and someone actually rebuked him about something, and he’s not used to that. See, where he came from in the world, you just didn’t criticize anybody about anything. And so now that he’s received that, it made him uncomfortable all week, and he’s wondering, should I leave this church and go to one that’s more friendly? He’s got that question.
One of the guys, who was actually a means to lead him to Christ, he’s been spending a lot of time with. And this man increasingly has been criticizing the leadership of the church and removing himself from the authority of the leaders of the church. Should this new believer keep learning from this guy, or should he not?
This guy’s got questions, and I think some of those questions might be questions that some of you might have. And maybe you don’t have those questions. You know the answers to those questions. You’ve been a believer for decades. You can disciple this guy and tell him how to think about all of those scenarios.
Well, then, Second and Third John would still equip you to continue helping new believers who have these questions and more. Second and Third John are books which are really warning the church of false teaching, and more than just false teaching—it’s heretical false teaching. And it tells the church how to hold those two great characteristics that our Lord lived out—truth and love.
How do you be loving like Christ, how do you be truthful like Christ, and how do those things go together? Second and Third John will teach us that. I’m really excited to go through these books with you. The plan is to do it for about seven weeks or so, and then I’ve got another book to get to. But I want to spend some time here.
Before we get into the instructions about how to love and who to avoid and who not to partner with, and what to do if we’re in the presence of false teaching—before we get into that, I think that Second John 1 through 3 give us some encouragement out the gate. I mean if you think about it, a young believer who has all these questions that I just brought up, they’re wondering what keeps me from going down a path that starts out as Christian and ends up in a cult. How do I know I won’t be sucked into that? They’ve got some fears. They’ve got some concerns. They’ve got some concerns that if they peruse the books in the “Christian Living” section at the local Christian bookstore, that they might pull out one that actually is not a benefit to them. It could actually spiritually harm them. They’ve got some concerns about those things.
So what encouragement is there to find before we start watching around corners and being discerning as Christians in this world? Second John 1 through 3 has lots of encouragement. I’ve entitled the message today “God’s Care for His Susceptible Children.” I want you to think about this truth: The early church was more afraid of heresy than it was of persecution. The early church was much more afraid of heresy than it was of persecution. That seems to be backwards today. Today we’ll kind of let anyone, you know, teach us if they just say “Jesus Christ.” We’ll let anyone teach us if they say “Jesus Christ,” but what we really don’t want is for the world to hate us. So we’ll work very hard for the world to like us, and if that means we’ve gotta compromise some things and kind of hide parts of the Bible, then we’ll do that because our god is approval from the world.
The early church was very concerned about heresy infecting the church—way more than they were of persecution. Heresy was an actual threat to the church, just as it is today. But that wasn’t the only threat to the church. A lack of love being exhibited in the church was also a threat to the church. Christians who did not carry out the love that the Savior had for them—that is a threat to a church. It often splits churches, this lack of love. It divides churches. It allows people to be in church for years and years and years who dislike each other but never deal with it and reconcile.
There are threats—not just to the first century church—but there are threats to any church today. Heresy. Lack of love. Second and Third John will instruct us in these areas.
Today if you are a Christian, one of the things you sign up for being a Christian is that you will be put into difficult situations, uncomfortable situations. Uncomfortable family meals at Christmastime. Uncomfortable conversations that you might have to have with a fellow believer or even a professing believer. To be a Christian is to be uncomfortable often, and that’s okay. Our commitment to Christ will put us in difficult situations.
So it is good to hear right from the start of Second John—it’s good to hear about God’s care for his susceptible children, for his vulnerable children, for his threatened children. I want you to see in these three verses three ways God shows care for his susceptible children. There are three ways mentioned right off the bat in this passage that demonstrate God’s care or his susceptible children.
1. God Has Elected His Children
The first is this: God has elected his children. That should mean something to a child of God. Now I use the word “susceptible.” The definition for that word is this: liable to be influenced or harmed by a particular thing. That’s us. We’re liable to be influenced or harmed by a particular thing, whether it’s false teaching, lack of love, a number of threats against us. So it’s good to know first and foremost that God has elected his children. God has shown care to us by pointing out the fact that he has elected us.
Now when the Bible speaks of election, it doesn’t apologize for it. It doesn’t say, to the elect: parentheses—now I know you’ve got some concerns about that doctrine. It doesn’t do that. It assumes it’s a reality. And perhaps there’s a time in our church’s life—perhaps soon—we’d get together and study that doctrine and be careful to explain what it’s not and what it is, but we’ll wait for that time.
But for now, I want you to see that when the Bible speaks of the doctrine of election, it is meant to be an encouragement and security for the believer, not a reason for debate. It is meant to be an encouragement and security for the believer. God is so outlandish to think when he says election, you would smile, not frown and walk away.
Let me read these three verses before we go any further.
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.
God shows us first at the very first part of verse 1 that he has elected his children. He calls this lady he’s writing to “the elect lady.” “The elder to the elect lady and her children.” Now, we know that this is John. The testimony of the early church is that this is John. This is John writing to perhaps the church at Ephesus or perhaps some people near that church. John refers to himself as the elder, one with authority or oversight in the church. And he refers to himself this way and, evidently, this church knew who was talking to them. They knew who it was that was writing this letter to them.
Again, many people believe that this is John writing to people in the Ephesian church. The Ephesian church birthed, humanly speaking, by Paul, pastored then by Timothy, and then now was under the influence of probably the last apostle to die—John. That’s quite a pastoral lineup there: Paul, Timothy, and now John. And John’s writing expecting that they would listen to him because of his authority in their church. “The elder to the elect lady.”
Now, there’s debate as to whether this is an actual lady and her children, or is John referring to a church and the churches that she has planted—the lady and her children. And I’ll tell you, I spent quite a bit of time this week on that debate. And I’ve come to the conclusion I don’t have a firm position. I lean toward an actual lady and her children.
But here’s the good news. Sometimes when there’s a debate in Scripture, it actually means that there are two different responses for you based on the position that you hold. This is one is the same. Whether it’s the church and churches that follow her or it’s a lady and children follow her, the commands are the same. So either way we’re good. All right. There are things for us to learn and things for us to obey in these books.
So he’s writing to the elect lady and her children. And notice that he calls her “the elect lady.” Biblical synonyms for the word “elect” are “chosen” and “predestined.” This is the chosen lady, the predestined lady, the elect lady. And John is assuming that this word would be an encouragement. We know that because you can go to a number of cross-references and see that when believers are called “elect, chosen and predestined,” almost in every case it’s trying to motivate them and encourage them in what they’re being told.
First Peter 1—who’s Peter writing to? People on the run for their lives, some of them. People who were dispersed because of persecution. You know what he calls those believers in chapter 1? Elect. You need to know where you stand with God and where you have stood with God before the foundation of the world. This is an encouraging doctrine. The elect lady—she’s chosen, she’s predestined.
I want you to listen to 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5. Listen to this encouragement:
4 For we know, brothers [this is Paul writing to the Thessalonian church] loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.
So the fact that when we preach the gospel, there was power, and it changed you, like we read in our Scripture reading today—1 Corinthians, chapter 1. We know that because when we preached, there was power that came upon … you believed it. It changed you. The Holy Spirit came up on you, and you were full of conviction. You embraced that gospel. We know that because he has chosen you. He has chosen you.
Remember what our Lord said in John 6?
37 All that the Father gives me [The Father has assigned a particular group of people to the Son.] will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
John calls this lady by this adjective “elect” for a reason. In a world where she is threatened, he wants her to know that she matters to God. In fact, she has mattered to God before the sun even existed. She has mattered to God before there was ever a giraffe walking through the Garden of Eden. She has mattered to God because he chose in eternity past to set his affection on her. He knows who she is. He has chosen her.
Listen to Ephesians 1 celebrate this reality:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ [This is praise to God the Father in particular.], who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him [in Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. [Listen.] In love 5 he predestined us [Because of his love, he set his affection on us.] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
Do you see what the Bible does here with the doctrine of election? It doesn’t say “election” and then run and hide as people debate. It says “election”—you’re secure. Praise God that he set his affection on you from before the foundation of the world. Can you believe that?
I love what Ray Ortlund, Jr. said about the time where he was reminded of this doctrine. His dad was a pastor. They were out doing yard work one day, and Ortlund writes this:
One day when I was eleven or twelve, while we were doing yardwork outside—I can’t remember the context—my dad stopped, looked me in the eyes, and said, “You know, Bud, before time began, God chose you.” [Ortlund says] I was floored. Almighty God thought of tiny me? Way back then? I felt so loved by God. Years later, when I became aware of the doctrine of election as such, I had no problem with it. I loved it.
The Lord communicates his electing love to his people for a reason. He communicates it to them not so that they would question it, but so that they would see his great love for them. Take any spiritual threat that you face—false teaching, temptation to sin—take any spiritual threat you face and preach God’s electing love to it.
You have a temptation before you this week, you say to that temptation and the author of that temptation: God has chosen me from before the foundation of the world. Those whom he has predestined he has foreknown. Those he has foreknown he has called to himself. Those he has called to himself, he has justified. And listen to me, temptation, those he has justified, he will glorify. Romans 8:29-30 (paraphrased).
Preach God’s election to your temptation. Preach God’s electing love to the spiritual threats around you, and you say nothing will separate me from the love of Christ? Nothing. This is meant to encourage this elect lady who is vulnerable to threats around her. It’s meant to be an encouragement to her church and her children who are vulnerable to the threats around them.
2. God Has Provided Love to His Children
God also shows his care for his susceptible children by making them aware of the love that he has planned for them to receive. It’s not just that he has loved them in eternity past and will into eternity future, but he has chosen them to be recipients of love here and now. We see that in the second part of verse 1 and verse 2. God has provided love for his children.
We learn in these verses that the elect lady and her children are loved not just by God, but by other believers. John and others. Second part of verse 1. The elect lady “whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever.”
John is saying that it’s not just God who has elected this lady in love, but John also loves her as do all who know the truth. This is a way to speak of Christians. All who know the truth. John is telling this lady, I love you and so does the rest of the church. That’s what he’s saying here. I love you and so does the rest of the church. This phrase “love in truth”—this is love according to the gospel truth. Love according to the fact that God has sent his Son to this earth to save a group of rebellious people. Everyone on the face of the earth is rebellious. Everybody has rebelled against God, and God loved the world, and he sent his Son to redeem that people by his Son suffering the punishment they deserve and giving them his righteousness.
That’s the message of the gospel. And his Son didn’t just suffer and die and take their punishment, he was also raised again by the Father, given new life just like he gives to his followers. So repent of sin. Admit that your sin was the reason for the cross, and trust in Christ to make you right with God. That’s the truth John is talking about. Love in the truth. You are loved because we all share in this truth. That’s what John’s talking about. He’s telling that to this lady, her children and, by extension, to us.
It’s not just John who loves her; it’s the community that’s been changed by the truth that loves her. You know what that’s called? A local church. A group of people who love each other because they’ve been changed by the truth of the gospel, and they will love each other like God has loved us in Christ Jesus. That’s a church.
Notice that this truth—this gospel truth—will be with us forever because of the Truth that abides in us and will be with us forever. There’s a reason Revelation 5 shows us that the saints in heaven are singing to the Lamb that was slain, because heaven never gets over the truth of the gospel. He was slain in our place. And by the way, that Lamb is not laying down bleeding. That Lamb is standing. Heaven never gets over the truth of the gospel. And John is saying, you, dear lady, and your children, you are loved as you are in this community of truth.
1 John 3:18: “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth.” We love because of what’s happened to all of us. God has made us children, and we love our brothers and sisters.
At the end of our service today we’ll be welcoming new members into our church, and one of the things that we’re doing when we do that is we’re all together saying, we love you uniquely, in a special way. You are part of us. You’re part of our local body. You’ve been changed by the truth. We’ve been changed by the truth. It’s a way to affirm and to really initiate, if we don’t know them yet, our new commitment to them. We love them in the truth as they will then grow to love us in the truth.
If you really want to learn about love, you can do a study of that through the Scriptures. Perhaps there’s no better place to go than 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. First Corinthians 13:4-7 is that great passage that so many of you are familiar with, where it really defines what love is, similar to how 2 Corinthians 7 defines what repentance looks like by pointing out all of its characteristics.
First Corinthians 13:4-7 points out all these characteristics of what love looks like. And many of you have heard me say this before, but I believe that people think that they love better than they actually do. We think that we’re loving people, but we’ve got all sorts of grudges and animosity toward all sorts of people, and those two things don’t go hand in hand. We think that we love better than we actually do. So at times like that, it’s important for us to look at what the Bible says that love looks like.
So I want to go through 1 Corinthians 13 because John is saying here that there is a lady and her children in the church that are loved by those who are of the truth. So, just time for us to pause and say, are we loving each other in the truth like John is talking about, like Jesus expects us to?
So 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. You can turn there if you’d like or just listen as I go through this. And I want to flesh out—not just gonna say, love is patient, love is kind. Not gonna do that. I’m going to flesh out what we mean when we say that.
My love for you will be patient. I will treat you well while you are growing, not just when you’ve arrived. I will love you when you stumble, when you trip, when you fall, not just when you’ve arrived. My love is patient.
My love will be kind. My heart will be magnetically drawn to yours. Rather than distancing myself from you when we have a disagreement, my love is going to pursue you. The world is full of people who respond to disagreements by attacking or fleeing. I will represent Jesus Christ to you and to the world around me. He is worthy to be demonstrated like this. When we are at odds, I will pursue you.
My love will not envy. I will not be cold to you if you seem to catch all the breaks. I will rejoice with you instead of pridefully measuring your success with mine. Your job promotion or heightened income are blessings for you and not a reason for me to focus on myself.
My love for you will not boast. When you talk about the recent achievement of your granddaughter, I will not try to one up you with a story about mine. I do not need to be the prominent one in any conversation with you.
My love similarly will not be arrogant. When I say that I love you, I’m saying that you matter to God and you matter to me. I will not look past you when we’re talking to try to find someone more important that I can align myself with. When I talk to you, I’m in the presence of one who is specially loved by God. My love will not be arrogant.
My love will not be rude. I will not behave indecently toward you. I will treat you as if you are a prized son or daughter of a good and powerful King. You matter to God. You are a child of God. Therefore, I will prize him by prizing you. I will not be rude. I will not drag you into the gutter.
My love will not insist on my own way. I am your servant. I will not try to convince you that I am always right. I will not constantly email you or call you or demand to meet with you when you don’t think that I’m right. My pride wants you to see everything from my perspective. My love will seek to see things from yours.
My love will not be irritable. I want to give you my best. I don’t want to be gloomy around you. I don’t want to be grumpy around you. I want to give you my best because I believe you deserve this as a child of God. As far as depends on me, I want to make your environment heavenly and not hostile. Love is not irritable.
My love will not be resentful. If I am harmed or injured by you, I will not play the victim and resent you. I will not emotionally blackmail you in this way. If we have a disagreement, I will not use my tears or hurt feelings as a way to win the argument or to get you to stop saying what I need to hear. My love will not rejoice at wrongdoing. I do not want you to fail so that I can say I told you so. I’ll rejoice in the truth. I’ll celebrate what is good. I’ll celebrate your progress. I’ll celebrate your growth. I will celebrate your righteousness.
My love will bear with you. It’s no secret. I’m not perfect. You’re not perfect. We are Christ-followers. How many thousands of times has he bore with us since we’ve been converted. I will take any offense that you bring to me the way that Christ takes the offenses that I bring to him today.
My love, additionally, will believe all things. I will believe the best about you. My tendency in the flesh is to see you and think the worst of you or to identify you by your weaknesses and not your strengths. I will take the kindest view of you in all circumstances. I will not assume that you are always guilty. You have the Holy Spirit of God in you. That should matter to me.
My love will have hopes for you. I will be optimistic about your future. I will be your cheerleader and not your judge who will bring a final sentence of condemnation. I’m right there with you, and we’ve got a bright future together. God’s promises for your future apply to you just as much as they do to me.
Finally, my love will endure all things. The world ends relationships, and the world ends relationships rather quickly. The world ends relationships when wrongdoing occurs. I will not be like the world. I am here for you today, tomorrow, and forever. So far as depends on me, I will be at peace with you.
That’s what you mean when you say that you love people in your church. That’s what you mean. Not that you have warm fuzzies when they treat you well and coldness in your heart when they don’t. The way we love people in the church is the way that God in Christ loves the church.
John wants believers to know that they are loved by other believers. He tells the lady whom I love in the truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth. God wants your love for another believer to be a great encouragement to them.
3. God Has Secured His Children
God has elected his susceptible children, he’s provided love for them and, finally, in verse 3, God has secured his children. I love verse 3. God has secured his children. We’re promised some things in verse 3. We’re guaranteed some things in verse 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.
Just some definitions of those three terms: “grace, mercy and peace.” Grace: undeserved or unmerited favor. He’s saying, you will have continually grace from God, grace from heaven, undeserved favor. You do not deserve the favor of God. You didn’t deserve it when you were an unbeliever, but listen, get this, you still don’t deserve it as a believer, but he’s giving it to you because he loves you in Christ. He’s treating us today as if we lived the life that Christ lived. Grace: undeserved favor.
Mercy: lenience compared to what is deserved. What do we deserve? To be eternally separated from the God who we came out rebelling against. That’s what we all deserve. We all deserve that. But this is the closest we will ever come to hell. This. The closest. We’ll never have it if we’re in Christ. Why? Because he’s merciful. And he didn’t just say, I will not punish you. His Son stepped in the way of the Father’s wrath toward us. The Son stepped in the way. His Son embraced all the wrath. And in God’s mercy—God showed his mercy by punishing his Son instead of us. We will never suffer because God is merciful, if we are in Christ.
Grace, mercy and peace. No hostility in the relationship. God is saying, through the pen of John, that believers have peace with God. Peace with God. Read Genesis 5. Read Genesis 6. The whole world is preparing to be destroyed because every single person in the world has sinned against God. And we’re told now in 2018 that we can have peace with God. Doesn’t seem right, but that’s what God teaches. God teaches that we can have peace with God in a relationship with him.
John’s saying grace, mercy and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, in truth and love. You see those words in the middle of that verse: “will be with us”? That’s different than what Paul says. Paul writes to Timothy and Titus, and when Paul writes to Timothy and Titus, he starts his letter by talking about grace, mercy and peace being with them, but he speaks of it more as a desire. Like Paul saying, this is my prayer request for you—that you would have grace, mercy and peace. John isn’t making a prayer request. He’s making a statement. Grace, mercy and peace will be with us. That’s definitive. He’s sure about this.
So maybe you think, I know the Lord saved me, but I’m still so sinful. Will that grace, mercy and peace still remain with me in the months ahead? Well, as you’ve been given to the Son by the Father, he will not let anyone fall out of his hand. The answer is yes. Grace, mercy and peace will remain with you. We need to hear that when we sin, don’t we? We live in grace. We live in mercy. We live in Peace. Not because we’re wonderful but because Christ secured our relationship to the Father. Grace, mercy and peace will be with us. You and I and the elect lady and her children and our children—anybody who’s in Christ—can count on that.
Notice that these things are given to the believer from God the Father. God the Father gives his people grace, mercy and peace, and notice also God the Son, the Father’s Son, Jesus Christ, gives his people grace, mercy and peace. This is two members of the Trinity giving you grace, mercy and peace. And it’s not just any old grace, mercy and peace. It’s grace, mercy and peace in truth and love. This is not a sentimental, fictitious, fairytale grace, mercy and peace. This is not when an unbeliever dies and someone at a funeral says we know they’re in a better place. This isn’t fake grace, mercy and peace. This is real grace, mercy and peace.
This is based on truth—truth which means reality. This is based on truth, this grace, mercy and peace. And this grace, mercy and peace is not just based on truth; it comes from the love of the Father and the Son, the heart of the Father and Son.
The gospel message is not just one that God wrote on paper in black and white. I am holy; they are sinful. I will send my Son. They will repent and believe. They will be in heaven. This gospel message is saturated in the love of God, in the love of the Son. Grace, mercy and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, in truth and in love.
If you’re a Christian, the Father loves you. If you are a Christian, Jesus Christ died for you two thousand years ago and today still loves you. And in 738 years from now, the Father and the Son will still love you. In ten billion years from now, the Father and the Son will still love you. The Lord wants his susceptible children to know that.
John’s telling them their future security is in the Father and Son in truth and in love. Let me say it this way: These believers, susceptible though they are, us as believers, susceptible though we are, aren’t going anywhere outside of the Father’s love. Jesus said this: My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. Does that sound pretty powerful? No one will snatch them out of my hand.
He wasn’t done. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. Ahhh. I hope that washes over some of your souls today. God has secured his children. He’s elected us. He’s provided us with love, and he’s provided us with grace, mercy and peace forever.
This is what you need to know as you engage people caught up in false religion. As you see false doctrine brought into a community of believers. As you wonder about how to love others and what’s appropriate, what’s not appropriate. You need to know how secure you are.
You think of the book of Jude. Maybe go read that today or this week. It’ll take you two minutes. The book of Jude—this idea that we want to talk about our great common salvation, but false teaching has come into the church. And so Jude, our Lord’s brother, writes this letter about how to deal with false teaching in a community of believers.
And he starts off by reminding the believers, you have been called by God. He’s trying to steel them with security. He’s trying to show them, you’re safe and protected as you deal with false teaching. And then he ends by saying that he will keep you secure even if you stumble. So it’s a dangerous thing to talk with people about false teaching and to engage in it. It’s difficult. It’s a spiritual battle. But know that you are secure in the love of God, and even if you stumble, you are kept.
Reminds me of a picture of a son about to leave the home. The son has been raised for 18 or so years, taught truth, taught lessons, had the truth demonstrated to him, loved, shown affection. The son has been given all of these things to prepare him to go out and be his own man. In a Christian sense, he’s been prepared to go out and represent Christ to the world on his own, as it were.
It’s a father and a mother speaking to their son who’s about to go out into this vulnerable world, and they tell him, as the car is packed, the engine is on, right after they pray for him, they tell him, you’re going to go out there, and there will be threats immediately. People will want to abuse you. People will want to hurt you for their own pleasure. People will tempt you to believe that everything we’ve told you is a lie. People will tempt you to believe that everything in here [the Bible] is a lie. People will come after you, play on your weaknesses.
You’re going into a battlefield without us being around. You’re vulnerable. Son, you’re susceptible. Son, there’s going to be people that want to pull you away from the truth, and they’re not going to do it by radically taking you in a 180. They’re going to try to pull you away from Christ by calling you to do things and to believe certain things, but they’re going to still want to wrap their arms around Jesus and say, see, Christians do this type of thing, too. They’re going to really work at deceiving you.
You need to know a couple things. You need to know that we have loved you for 18 years and will continue to love you beyond now, not just with a flippant, emotional love. We love you in truth. Every time we said no to you, it was because of truth. Every time we said yes to you, it was because of truth. Every time we made any decision, we were loving you in truth. Truth under what God has revealed to us. You need to know that we have loved you in truth.
You will come across a lot of people who say they love you, and they will love you in error; therefore, it’s not a true love. We will love you in truth.
You need to know something else: If you stumble, fall, fail, you need to think about home. You need to think that mom and dad are standing there on the doorstep always, arms wide open. You, son, are secure in our love as you go into battle—the world, the flesh and the devil. You need to know we’ve loved you in the truth, and you are secure.
That’s exactly what God wants us to know as we go through all the things we go through in this world—false teaching, sin, lack of love, whatever it may be. We are secure, and we are loved in the truth.
Now, when we get to Second John 4 and the rest of Third John, he’s going to start telling us what he expects of us as we represent Christ in this world. But isn’t it good to know where we stand before God before we go out and begin obeying his commands. What a God. Let’s pray.
Lord, we want to be like what John says about your Son in John 1:14. We want to be full of grace and truth. We want to know how in every single decision that we have, in every single conversation, we want to know how to be gracious and truthful at the same time. We want both characteristics of our Lord.
We have much to learn from these books, and we pray that by your Spirit you would continue to change us to look more and more like Christ. We thank you, Father, for your electing love. We thank you for the love that other people have for us. And we thank you for the security that we have in you. We will always have your grace. We will always have your mercy. And we will always have your peace. We praise you for where we stand. We pray this in your name. Amen.
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