2 John 7-13 | Lured Away From Jesus | Andrew Gutierrez
Topic: Worship Gatherings Passage: 2 John :7–:13
And turn if you will to 2 John, that small book toward the end of our Bible. Today we finish the book 2 John. 2 John 7-13 is our text.
If you’re new to us, new this morning, as we tend to have new visitors on Sunday mornings with us, welcome. We make it our regular practice to preach verse by verse through books of the Bible. We’re excited about that. About every week or so around Sunday evening, early Monday morning, I wake up and open the Bible to the next section like a kid at Christmas, eager to see what the Lord will be saying next week. So it’s a joy to go through what he says.
Our approach here is that we want to open the Bible and let him speak whatever it is he wants to say. And sometimes those truths are very encouraging to us; sometimes those truths are very convicting. Sometimes those truths challenge, and sometimes they console. But either way, the good part of this is that he is speaking.
So, 2 John 7-13. Let me read the text, and then we’ll dive in. John writes this:
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.
I’ve entitled the message here in 7 through 13, “Lured Away From Christ.” Lured away from Christ.
We’re in a book about truth and love. And in the last passage John has exhorted this lady and her children to continue loving one another. We spent a couple weeks talking about loving one another in the church. And John is exhorting this lady to continue loving one another.
And just so we know that love does not mean allowing error to come in, he writes verses 7 through 11 specifically. And he shows that people in the church, in the first century, were being lured—or deceivers were tempting to lure—Christians away from Christ.
The fact that heresies exist should not be new to us, although sometimes in the twenty-first century I think we act surprised that there are heresies around. We think that, you know, maybe we’ve graduated from any heresies. Maybe everything’s fine and anybody who even claims to teach the word of God is probably fine, because, I mean, after all they probably love Jesus.
But if you think about it, as soon as Jesus ascended to heaven, gave his Holy Spirit to the apostles, they went out preaching the gospel and people were converted and churches were formed—as soon as that happened, heresies came in. And Jesus Christ, I guarantee you, was not sitting up in heaven at that time going, man, how did this all happen? Wish I would have known that this would happen.
Jesus constantly predicted that those things would happen. The apostles then warned their churches. Virtually in every New Testament epistle there is some error that tempts the church, there is some heresy that threatens the church.
Let me read a couple of the first and second-century heresies—and many of these have their tentacles even now in the twenty-first century. And there are more. I’m just reading a handful.
Adoptionism. Jesus was born without divinity, and then God adopted him as his Son.
Arianism. Jesus was a lesser created being and not divine.
Docetism, which finds itself in the church at Ephesus that John is writing to. Docetism. Jesus was divine, but only seemed to be human. Was not actually human.
Gnosticism, which also plagued this church at Ephesus. Gnosticism. Dualism of good and bad, and special knowledge for salvation. So the spiritual is good, gnosticism says; the physical is bad. That’s why they actually rejected the fact that Christ came in his flesh. How could he come in a fleshly body? Fleshly bodies are sinful. So he only appeared to come in human flesh. Gnosticism taught that as well; it was a form of Docetism.
And there’s this idea in Gnosticism that you need a deeper meaning. Okay, you have faith in Jesus Christ. But have you listened to that guy teach about the other things you need? Gnosticism.
Modalism. God is one person in three modes. So sometimes he takes the form of God, sometimes he takes the form of Son, sometimes he takes the form of Spirit. Separately.
Pelagianism. Man is unaffected by the fall and can keep all of God’s laws.
By the way, there are clear passages all throughout the Scriptures that point to these being false. I just said that because as I’m going through them, I’m like, no no—Romans 5—no, no, no.… But I’ll contain myself here.
Subordinationism. The Son is lesser than the Father in essence and/or attributes. The Son is lesser than the Father.
Tritheism. The Trinity is really three separate Gods, whereas orthodox Christianity has always taught one God, one essence, three persons.
These are heresies in the first and second centuries. And as I said, some of the ones I read to you are held by people today who call themselves Christians. And there are more.
Listen to 2 Peter 2:1-3. Peter writes this to the churches:
1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you [there will be], who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality [Did you hear that? Many will follow their sensuality. That word “sensuality”—to lure someone in. Better yet, to lure someone away from Christ.], and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.
John tells us in this passage about two specific heresies that threatened the church at Ephesus, and that’s gonna be our outline for the morning. Two heresies that threatened the church at Ephesus.
Now there are more that threaten even us today. But the reason this passage is helpful for us is because we see two examples of heresies—we don’t see all of them that exist today—but it shows us, John will show us, show the church, how to respond to any heresy. So there’s a lot of instruction for us today.
1. Rejection of Christ’s Humanity
Two heresies threatening the church at Ephesus. The first one is found in verses 7 through 8.
7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world [and here’s the heresy], 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.
So there’s the main fault. There’s the main problem in this first heresy. They do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. He only appeared to come in the flesh. He wasn’t really born in the flesh like you and I are.
What are the characteristics of some of these false teachers? Well sadly, notice the second word in your Bible in verse 7. There are many of them. Many. Many deceivers. And as 2 Peter told us, they will lure away, or seduce away, many. This is a warning. This is a problem.
They are deceivers and antichrists, they are called. Deceivers—people who try to trick. People who lie. People who get you to disbelieve something so that you believe what they say. They lure people away from Christ.
Why? Why do they do this? Why do false teachers engage in these things? Well, I think some of them don’t know. I think some of them are duped. 2 Corinthians 4:4: The god of this world—little g, speaking of Satan—has blinded the eyes of those who are perishing. So there’s a certain blindness with false teachers.
Some false teachers know very well what they are doing. Some don’t know; some do know. Some do this for financial gain, as the New Testament tells us. Some do this because of pride, as the New Testament tells us. And some do this because they actually believe it’s right.
It’s not just enough that they believe something false. They actually try to convince others of what is false, and that’s the harm. It’s one thing if someone believes something false, and you want to rescue them from that belief and error as Jude would have you do. But it’s not just that they are going to suffer; they’re going to try to bring others into that heresy.
John wrote another letter before 2 John—1 John. He wrote 1 John, and he talks about the same thing, he warns of the same thing. One of the things that he wrote in 1 John was that some people believed false things and they went out. Listen to how this passage sounds similar to the one we have this morning. 1 John 2:18-19:
18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They [the antichrists, the people who are opposed to Christ] went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
So false teachers in 1 John are leaving the church. That doesn’t seem like that much of a threat. They’re leaving; they’re gone. Okay, now we can get back to pure doctrine and our pure worship services. Well, hold on just a second. They don’t just leave and stay away.
Notice verse 10 of our passage: “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him.” False teachers are not content to go outside of the church and try to win the world; they also want to seduce Christians away from the pure devotion to Christ.
Turn if you will to 2 Corinthians 11. 2 Corinthians 11. This isn’t just Peter warning of this; this isn’t even just John warning of this. Here Paul warns of this. And I’m just trying to make the point that false teachers seek to lure Christians away.
2 Corinthians 11, verse 1. Paul writes: “I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me!” Speaking sarcastically—they were tempted to reject what Paul was teaching them. So okay, I’m being foolish, okay. But please hang in there a little longer; I’ve got something to say to you.
Verse 2: “I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.” Paul’s saying, listen. Please listen to me speak. I brought you to Jesus. Please hear me out.
Notice verse 3: “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” This is the threat of false teaching. And by the way, you see in verse 3 its author, don’t you? Satan. Satan seeks to bring false teaching so that he could lure people away from Christ, and the apostles knew that would happen.
That’s why so many of the New Testament commands are about keeping yourself from false teaching, watching out, being on the lookout for false teaching, standing against false teaching, rescuing those caught up in false teaching. So much of the New Testament talks about this.
Back to 2 John. In Ephesus, it was the heresy that I told you about earlier, Docetism. Christ was God, but not man. Now, a lot of heresies today would teach that Christ was man, but not God. This one’s different. Christ was God, but not man. Jesus only appeared to be a man. Therefore Jesus did not actually die and rise again, and the consequences of that are you and I are still in our sins.
There was a man named Cerinthus, a first-century heretic who knew the apostle John, was actually in Ephesus. Cerinthus held this view. He went further: sometimes Jesus was the Messiah, but at other points in his earthly life, he wasn’t the Messiah.
The early church father Polycarp told a story about the fact that Cerinthus and John happened to one day be in the same bath house, the place you would go in the first century to take a bath. They were in the same public bath house, and John saw Cerinthus, and John said this: “As Cerinthus came in [according to Polycarp, this is what happened], John ran out without bathing and exclaimed, ‘Let us flee lest the bath house should fall in, as long as Cerinthus, that enemy of truth, is within.’”
This is John fleeing the bath house, history tells us, because there was a heretic inside of it. This is the same John who leaned up against Christ at the last supper, the same John that was in the inner circle with Christ. He had been taught perhaps more than anybody else on the face of the planet other than two other men, that small inner circle. He had been taught more by Christ than anybody else. And John—later on in his life as Jesus is ascended to heaven—John runs out of a bath house because of a heretic.
And we might be tempted to think, [chidingly] John. Overreaction. Jesus is forgiving. Cerinthus says he loves Jesus. Cerinthus teaches so many good things. John, you’re overreacting.
John’s not overreacting. Why is it important that Christ came in the flesh? Is that really a big deal? Why is it important? Why is it important that he was at all times truly God and truly man? Turn to Hebrews 2. This is why it’s important.
Hebrews 2:14-18. This is why we must hold to the fact that Christ came in the flesh. Hebrews 2:14-18:
14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood [so we are flesh and blood; that’s us], he himself likewise partook of the same things [What are the things he’s talking about? Flesh and blood. Jesus partook of flesh and blood. Why?], that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore [notice] he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
The beauty of the gospel is that Christ became what we are, to identify with us, to be our perfect substitute. We need more than a bull dying for us on an altar. We need a person dying for us because people have sinned against God. So we need a person, a human, who is a substitute for us, a human who lived the perfect, righteous life that he could then give to us. We need him to be actually human. That’s what the Scriptures teach.
So anything that teaches that he wasn’t fully human is an attack on the gospel. I love how the writer of Hebrews says this: “[H]e had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest.”
Part of the beauty of Christ becoming flesh, becoming human in the incarnation, is that he cares; he’s merciful. If he just kind of said, you know what? I’ll appear to be human, but I’m not really gonna go through all of that pain. I mean, I’ll send like a cardboard cutout of myself, but I’m not gonna go through that. Part of the beauty of the incarnation is that he went through all of that as a man.
So any heresy that states otherwise is an attack against him, it’s an attack against the saving message, and it’s not something that I will put my confidence in. These heresies strike at the heart of the gospel.
Listen to Hebrews 4:15: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” He’s the perfect man. Came to be our substitute.
These heresies make little of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He came for us. He became like us. He died to win us. Do not ever let anyone tamper with the great love that our Savior has for us.
When someone comes to our door and tries to get us to believe that his person and work are other than what he and the apostles taught, they’re trying to make us think less of our Messiah. His glory is at stake.
If you were a Christian in the first century, you know what you would do on Sunday mornings? You think the nine o’clock service is early? You would wake up and go to church before dawn. You’d wake up and go to church before dawn. And as one historian—not a Christian—wrote to another, he said, “They wake up before dawn on a specific day of the week [we know that to be the Lord’s day], and they go and sing hymns to Jesus as to a god.” Of course we do. He’s our God.
One of the hymns the early church sang is actually in your Bible. 1 Timothy 3:16 is a hymn. So if you were a first-century Christian, you would be rubbing the sleep out of your eyes before the sun came up, and one thing you’d be doing is singing to Christ as God, and you would sing these words just so that everyone knew what you were doing:
16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.
That’s a song you would have sung as the first-century church, and you would have made it clear, he was manifested in the flesh. He became like us.
So, what happens when someone tells us that he did not actually come in the flesh, or any other heresy for that matter? What do we do? You see it in verse 8. Watch yourselves. “Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward” (2 John 8).
Watch yourselves. Pay attention to what you listen to and to what you read. Pay attention for who teaches you in the name of Christ, so they say. Pay attention to what kind of worship service you go to. Pay attention to what literature people give you that claims to be accurate according to the Scriptures. Pay attention. Be discerning. Read. Measure it not against your feelings, not against your thoughts, but against the word of God.
Watch yourselves. Watch yourselves when you go into a Christian bookstore. Watch yourselves when people give you Christian things to read. We have to be diligent. We have to be discerning.
Watch yourselves—pay attention—why? Well, John says this: “so that you may not lose what we have worked for.” John’s saying, listen: that “we” is the “we” of the apostles, of pastors and teachers. Maybe John’s referring back to Timothy who was earlier evidently one of the pastors in Ephesus, and who still might have been.
Maybe he’s saying, don’t lose what we’ve worked for. Don’t lose what the apostle Paul has worked for. Don’t lose what Peter’s worked for. Don’t lose what Thomas has worked for. Don’t lose what Andrew has worked for, Philip has worked for—don’t lose what we’ve worked for!
We’ve worked to, in the words of Paul (2 Corinthians 11), betrothe you to Christ. We’ve worked to bring you to Christ and to teach you in his ways. Now some people are coming and teaching you other things; don’t lose what we’ve worked for. We’ve given our lives to this. Don’t throw it away.
Watch yourselves so that you don’t lose what the apostles have worked for, but also so that you “may win a full reward.” Evidently holding to sound doctrine throughout your life will bring you some kind of reward in heaven, and to not hold to sound teaching, to embrace error, will bring a lesser reward in heaven.
Now, eternal rewards are taught. We’ve talked about this a few times. We haven’t come to any specific passages yet in the life of our church that fully flesh them out—I can give you some of them in a moment—but every single Christian will receive some level of reward. We’ll all be in heaven. We’ll all be completely joyful. But eternal rewards are God himself giving us reward based on our faithfulness on earth.
You can see this teaching in Matthew 5:12, Matthew 10:41-42, 1 Corinthians 3, Revelation 22:12, and many other New Testament passages. And so, John is saying, continue in sound doctrine so that you do not receive less of a reward in heaven. And that evidently was a big deal to the apostles. Lots of them talk about it. John talks about it; Paul talks about it. John brings it up again in Revelation 22. Jesus himself talked about a greater reward for faithfulness.
The picture is two people. You take two people, and you say, listen, I am going to pay you for working for me. You’re gonna work for 40 hours. And I will pay you according to your faithfulness. And you take person one, and they work the full 40 hours. They do their best work, they do it for 40 hours, and at the end of the day the person pays them their reward.
And there’s another person that thinks, well, I’m gonna get paid. I mean, here’s what I’m not gonna receive. He’s promised that I will get paid something. I’m not going to lose my job, I’m not going to be destitute, I’m not gonna be homeless, I’m not gonna be hungry, I’m not gonna suffer any of that. I have 40 hours. I don’t really feel like working right now. I’ll get started tomorrow. Let’s forget Monday, kick my feet up. Tuesday. I’ll really go to work.
You get to the end of the week, and person two has actually worked only 15 hours. At the end of the day, the employer gives person one their wages for 40 hours of work. He gives person two 15 hours’ worth of wages. The person with 15 hours could have had 25 more hours’ worth of wages. They lost it. He wasn’t faithful. He’s not going to hell, but he receives less of a reward.
That’s taught throughout the New Testament Scriptures, and John is saying, don’t embrace false teaching; you will hurt yourself. You will lose your reward, part of your reward; you won’t have a full reward. This is what John is teaching the lady and her children, the church in Ephesus.
2. Graduation from Christ’s Teaching
So the first heresy according to John is that people reject Christ coming in the flesh. Here’s the second heresy. Secondly, heretics were graduating from Christ’s teaching. They were moving on away from Christ’s teaching.
There’s this attitude that, okay, faith in Jesus—good, but you’ve really got to do these other things. We can see that in a number of other New Testament places as well. They’re not staying in the teaching of Jesus; as a matter of fact, they’re going beyond it. Look at verses 9 through 11.
9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not [stay in] abide in [remain in] the teaching of Christ, does not have God. [Do you see that? Everyone who goes on ahead and does not remain 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.
And there’s the heresy there—goes on ahead and does not remain in the teaching of Christ. That’s the main fault, the main problem.
So what do they do? They teach people that it’s good that you love Jesus; it’s good that you have faith in Jesus, but you need something more than faith in Jesus. You need to—in the words of the Judaizers who affected the Galatian churches—you need to also, men, be circumcised. So, it’s great that you came to Christ, but you also need to become like Jewish people and be circumcised, they would say in the first century. You need to practice a certain diet, as the people were evidently telling the Colossian Christians, we see in Colossians 2.
You need to be circumcised. Great, you have faith in Jesus, but have you really been circumcised? That’s the deeper life right there. No. That’s great you have Jesus, but let me look in your fridge. Let me look in that pantry. Is there any pork in there? Ahhh. You don’t understand the deeper life that’s available to you.
This is what actually was happening. This is what still happens today. You need to observe certain festivals—Colossians 2. You need to live like an Old Testament Jew. That’s great that you have faith in Jesus, but you must partake of all of the sacraments. That’s today.
Be careful of people who tell you that you need something extra beyond what the New Testament tells you that you need. To live by faith, and to live by the word of God. That’s what you need. Nothing more.
But listen. You ask the question, well, why is that appealing? I mean, we believe that as we confess our sins and just say, yep, this is who I am before you. I’ve offended you. There’s nothing good that I bring to the table. I need your mercy. I need you to be gracious. That’s my only hope. Christ, I trust in you. I acknowledge my sin to you; I trust in you for salvation. That’s it. That he immediately forgives. He’s given us new life, given us the promise of heaven. It’s a guarantee according to Ephesians 1 and Romans 8. It’s a guarantee.
We believe that, so you ask the question, well, what would attract someone to start adding more things? That’s a great question. It’s pride. It’s pride. I feel better about myself when I think that I’ve earned something. Thank you, Jesus, for all of this, but I can do this part on my own. I can recommend myself to you. I kept the sacraments. Look at my diet. I am very fastidious and I love God. See, my diet proves it. It’s pride.
It’s as if we’ve had this huge weight on our shoulders lifted off of us by Christ, and we say, you know what, can I just take a few pounds of that, because I can bear that. Look, look, I can do this too. But there’s no option according to Galatians. Either the whole weight is removed, or you try to carry the whole weight yourself. And no one can do that.
Galatians 5:1: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Every single false religion is offering you a yoke of slavery. Christianity teaches that yoke has been removed by his merit, not your own; enjoy your freedom. That’s the difference. Two religions. Self-effort, or divine accomplishment. That’s the only way it is.
What’s the threat to the church? What’s the threat to people today who want to add works to their salvation in order to prove or in order to win their salvation? Well, here it is. Listen to Colossians 2. Here’s the threat. Here’s the threat to us; here’s the threat to the first-century church.
Colossians 2:16-19: “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink”—so Paul’s writing to the Colossians, saying, listen. There are people standing there going, nope, nope. Eating the wrong thing. Drinking the wrong thing.
“[L]et no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.” How are you not practicing and commemorating the Feast of Booths? You must not really be united to Christ in the way you should. You should be celebrating the Feast of Booths. You should be celebrating the Passover. You’re not doing that. You’re not eating the right thing, drinking the right thing.
“These [things, Paul says—those festivals] are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” They were celebrating a shadow in the Old Testament. The shadow is gone; the substance is here! Christ is here! No need to go celebrate the shadow; you’ve got the substance.
You say to your wife, husbands, would you rather have me or my shadow? Wives to husbands: Would you rather have me or my shadow? You. I want you. Not your shadow. That’s what this is.
And people in the church, false teachers in the church, were disqualifying people because they weren’t celebrating the shadow—that’s throwing penalty flags. Oh, greetings, brother. Good day to you. Did you celebrate the Passover this week? No, I didn’t. [Whistle] Penalty flag. Fifteen yards. That’s what was happening.
Paul says, “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions [You haven’t had any visions? You must not be enjoying the fullness of Christ.], puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind [and here’s what false teachers aren’t doing] and not holding fast to the Head,” capital h, the head of the church.
When you focus on things beyond what Christ has taught you, you end up focusing more on yourself and your performance, and you start to lose Christ in the rearview mirror. And the apostles did not want any church to forget about Christ. Everything is found in him. Hallelujah, all I have is Christ.
“…not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” You know the thing that makes a healthy church right here in Colossians 2? A church that holds fast to the Head and doesn’t trust in their ceremonies to recommend them to God. We trust in Christ, and we hold on to him, and he unites us together. That’s what the apostles want for the churches.
That’s the threat of false teaching. The false teachers bring a yoke again when you’ve been free.
People in Ephesus were evidently graduating—and that’s a sarcastic word. We’ve graduated from simply this [holding up Bible]. There’s much more to be known. That’s what they were doing. They were graduating from the teaching of Christ, from the word of God.
I’ll never forget—well, just to make it clear, these people, verse 9, do not have God. See that in the middle? But listen, here’s the deal. False teachers claim to have God. They claim to have God. They claim to be right with Christ, but John is saying they do not have God. The one who abides in the teaching of Christ has both Father and Son.
Have you ever heard a group of people whose religion makes statements against what the Bible teaches? They actually take aberrant theological views, but they still say, but we’re Christians.
I’ll never forget being newly married. We lived in Camarillo, California, where the fresh air is plentiful, and it’s beautiful. And I was newly married, and we were taking a walk one day, walking with my new bride in Camarillo. I mean, how could life get any better? And two young men pulled up on bikes, and they asked this one question: Would you like to know how to have a more fulfilling life? I’ll never forget where we were on that walk. And I said, we’re Christians. And they said, we are too. And I know what those men taught. According to 2 John 9, no they’re not. They’re not.
And it’s not because some guy walking on the street with his bride is the source of all truth. It’s not because I’m better than they are. It’s because I stand on the revealed word of God. It’s not even my truth; it’s his truth. I am the way, the truth, and the life. The church is built according to the epistles on the apostles’ doctrine, what they were taught.
We learned in John 14 that Jesus said he would put the Holy Spirit into those men, and they would go on and teach. So Jesus is teaching when we say we’re built on the apostles’ doctrine. It just means we’re built on Jesus’ doctrine. And we know that Jesus came only to speak what the Father told him, so really, if you want to go all the way back, we are built on the doctrine of God.
And so when someone says, we don’t teach that part of the doctrine of God, but we’re Christians too, we can say, no you’re not based on what this says—not because we are the authority, but because God is.
Beware of being told you need something new. Now, in our culture new is good. Right? I mean, who still has iPhone 1? No one. Because new—we learn and advance and grow. Who’s thankful for hospitals? Not that you like them, but you’re thankful for them. Okay, we learn and we grow and culture develops and improves. Who’s thankful you don’t have to get up across the room and go and turn the television channel? I mean, we advance, don’t we?
But listen. Part of God’s character is that he is unchanging (Hebrews 13:7-8). He’s unchanging. So if he’s unchanging, he doesn’t get better. He wasn’t really good back then, and now he’s trying to improve. There’s no God 2.0. He doesn’t get better. He has always been truth, so there’s no need to improve on what he says.
So, our prayer—we prayed last Sunday; we got some elders up here, and we prayed for our church maybe 50 and 60 years from now, that our children would walk in the truth. If you take that prayer and bring it here into this passage, we pray that our children will be kept from error and not need anything new when it comes to Christianity.
Fifty years from now, I pray that people pull up to Canyon Bible Church—maybe in flying cars; okay, fine—and get out and jump on their hoverboard and come in, but they come and sit down and listen to the first-century truth. That’s what they come and listen to. So, they’re around new, new, new—new cars, new this, new that, new drugs. Maybe there’s a cure for cancer. New, new, new, new, new, and they come in here, and they say, give us the old, because that does not need to be improved.
That’s what John wants for his people, what John wants from the church. Don’t graduate and go beyond the teaching of Christ. You have the teaching of Christ.
Isaiah 40:8: All flesh is like grass, the glory of man like the flower of that grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; the word of Lord endures forever. That’s what we stand on, and that’s what John wants the churches to stand on.
So it’s interesting here. He says that these people are going on ahead; they’re not abiding in the teaching of Christ, therefore they do not have God. You, whoever abides in the teaching has both Father and Son, so—verse 10—“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him.” That seems mean, John. You know where he learned that from? His Lord. Our Lord, God in human flesh. “[D]o not receive him into your house or give him any greeting.”
Here in the first-century culture, to receive a teacher coming in the name of God into your house to teach, and evidently this lady may have been one of the hosts of the church there in Ephesus. Do not let him come in and teach your people, is what you could say here. Do not receive him into your house. Do not give him an audience. Do not listen to what he’s teaching.
If he doesn’t bring this teaching, that you must abide in Christ, abide in the words of Christ—if he brings some other teaching, that yeah, abide in Christ, but also this stuff—if he brings that in, do not let him into your house. Do not expose him to your family. Do not expose him to your friends. Do not let him teach his error. And by the way, if you do—verse 11—“for whoever greets him [wishes him well] takes part in his wicked works.”
In 1962, John Glenn was in the space capsule “Friendship 7,” about to make the first manned orbital flight. And a voice came from mission control. Some of you know this if you know US history. The voice said, “Godspeed, John Glenn.”
Godspeed. What does that mean? Taken from an English term, “God spede”—prosper. God prosper you, John Glenn. It was originally used to wish someone success—may you prosper.
We cannot politely wish false teachers well. You can’t do that. They come to your house, and you stand for the truth; you stand for Christ, the God-man. You stand for the gospel of God that doesn’t contain any human works or merit. You stand for that. You articulate that. You wouldn’t say at the end of that, good luck to you. No, you don’t wish them well in what they’re doing. What they’re doing is Satanic if it lies against the truth.
We don’t out of niceness and love wish them well. Out of niceness and love, we bring them the gospel. We care for them in that way. This isn’t saying, spit at people, yell at people—none of that. Our Lord didn’t do that either. But you don’t have to agree with what they’re saying and wish them success. We don’t wish them success.
Danny Akin said this: “Although there is to be no rudeness on the part of a believer, neither is there to be the slightest encouragement to those teachers who spread the cancer of false teaching.”
We are to demonstrate the love of Christ—and this is the summary of the whole book. We are to demonstrate the love of Christ, but we cannot give hospitality to false teachers. We cannot give an audience to false teachers. We cannot welcome any teaching that calls itself Christian and attacks the nature of the Father, the nature of the Son, the nature of the Spirit; or the work of the Father, the work of the Son, and the work of the Spirit. Nor can we give audience to attacks on the word of God.
Now, just to be clear, everybody that you might have a disagreement with about the nature of Ezekiel’s temple in Ezekiel 40-48 is not a heretic. Having a different view of a secondary or tertiary issue does not make someone a heretic. Oftentimes we treat people like that. Oh, you have a different view of the rapture? You are a heretic, my friend. No.
But on the primary issues of faith, which are the character of God, who he is—and when I say God, I’m talking Father, Son, Spirit—and the work of God. Who God is, the work of God—the message of salvation. Any attack on that is heresy. And the word of God.
So heretics go after one of the three—the character of God, the work of God, and the word of God. Other than that, there are disagreements and different views about whether baptism should be by immersion or sprinkling—immersion—but there are different views. But I have great brothers who are sprinklers, and they are godly men.
So I just want you to know the difference between a different viewpoint biblically and a heresy. John here is speaking about heresies. That’s what we’re talking about this morning. Heresies. And we cannot welcome them because we say that we are a loving people. Our Lord Jesus Christ came (John 1:14), “full of grace and truth.”
He finishes by saying, “Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink.” I don’t want to write any more letters; I just want to see you. “Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete” (2 John 12). Face to face—better than email. I want to embrace you, talk to you, be with you, eat with you; I can’t wait to see you, is what John’s saying.
“The children of your elect sister greet you” (2 John 13). Your nephews and nieces greet you. Or, if you take the view that this is churches, the other churches that you have birthed and planted—they greet you.
What do we learn from 2 John? That we pursue loving one another, and we talked about what that means. We pursue loving one another, and we pursue being vigilant to stand for the truth. Watch for the attacks. We’re gonna stand in truth as we love one another.
Someone brings an error; we’re not gonna receive it. We’ll bring them the gospel; we’re not gonna receive the error; we’re standing on the truth. We’re standing on who Christ is and what he’s done.
You know, the wisest man to ever live said something about this. Solomon in Proverbs 3 said this to his son: Do not let “steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you” (Proverbs 3:3). These are the word groupings of love and truth. Do not let, the wisest man to ever live says to his son, do not let love and truth forsake you. “[B]ind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.” Get this inside of you. “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you.”
Verse 4: “So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.” What does the world need most? I believe the world needs most Christians who love like no other and stand for the truth like no other.
Why? Because that’s what our Lord is like, full of grace, full of truth. What a picture that is. Let’s pray.
Father, make this true of us. Let us be known by our love for one another and therefore let other people know that we are your disciples; we look like you. Let us be known for our love because people will know you more and give you glory.
Let us be known for truth. We stand on the word. We trust the word. We defend the word. We proclaim the word. We will not be moved away from the word to something else. Give us confidence in the truth, give us greater love for one another, and as we end this book, we pray that that would be true of us. We pray this in the name of Christ. Amen.
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