Pastor Skip Heitzig: We are in Jerusalem the center for so much of the New Testament in the Bible. Let's get this background on the book we are approaching in this flight segment.
Peter Benson: Three full books lay ahead on our flight today, Second and Third John and the book of Jude; these letters will bring us close to our final segments. The book of Revelation is next but first let's look carefully at what we can see in this scriptural territory.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Book of Second John; according to Jerry Vines, a commentator on this book and one of the workers in that great group in Colorado Springs, The Navigators. Jerry Vines said, "The book of Second John is the most neglected book in the Bible." Now, I don't know if that's true or not, but I would agree that it's at least one of the most neglected books in the Bible; a very short little letter.
If you remember back when we studied the book of Titus a few weeks back, maybe a little bit longer than a few weeks, several weeks back, when we were doing the book of Titus I mentioned a fellow by the name of Samuel Rutherford, and that he wrote letters, and I brought this little book called the 'Letters of Samuel Rutherford'. I'm going to read one to you tonight because they're really short like this book.
But Samuel Rutherford is known more for his letters than for his preaching, his sermons. We don't have them but we have his letters. That's probably because he was living in the 1600s and pastored a little church in Anwoth, Scotland and Anwoth is in a little province called Kirkcudbright, Scotland. And he was there, small flock, loved his flock. While he was pastoring, his wife died and his two children died; very, very difficult time.
To top it all off, he was banished from his pastorate and sent up North to Aberdeen, Scotland. It's because he spoke out against King Charles, he spoke out against the weak theology of his day, including the archbishop, and so they banished him to Aberdeen, and so his letters reflect what was going on in his life, as people from his congregation wrote him and friends wrote him. You get a little snapshot of how this man handled difficulties. Here is the first letter, and the only letter that I'll read.
"Much Honored Sir, writes Samuel Rutherford, I intend after the counsel day; that is his court date, to go on to Aberdeen. The Lord is with me. I care not what man can do. I burden no man and I want nothing. No king is better provided than I am. Sweet, yes, sweet and easy is the cross of my Lord. All men that I look in the face of whatsoever denomination; nobles and poorer acquaintance and strangers are friendly to me. My well-beloved is some kinder and more warmly than ordinary and cometh and visiteth my soul. My chains are over gilded with gold. Only the remembrance of my fair days with Christ in Anwoth and of my dear flock, whose case is my heart's sorrow, is vinegar to my sugared wine. Yes, both sweet and sour feed my soul. No pen, no words can express to you the loveliness of my only, only Lord Jesus. Thus, in haste, making for my palace at Aberdeen; [remember he is being extradited, he is being moved up there, he is being forced to go there, and he calls it his palace], I bless you, your wife, your elder son, your other children, grace, grace, be with you. Yours in His only, the only Lord Jesus, Samuel Rutherford."
So the book is peppered with little letters like that, that gives us a snapshot of how a man of God handled difficulty. Now, I bring that up because Second and Third John are short little letters that provide the same kind of encouragement. These are real life situations of how people of God handled difficult situations.
And so we come to Second John, written when John was an old man, and Third John, also written when he was an old man. And these two letters -- in fact, all three of them, but Second and Third John principally are a typical 2,000 year old letter. A typical Greco-Roman piece of correspondence, where a person is named and it's less than 300 words each; it's a very, very typical letter.
The apostle John authored five New Testament books; the gospel of John, First John, Second John, Third John, and we'll start next week, the book of Revelation. He was one of the apostles that was with the Lord; there was Peter, James, and John, he was part of that inner circle with Jesus Christ and he writes these five books.
There is a key word in this short little 13 verse letter of Second John, it's the word 'truth', 'truth'; it's the principal word in this letter. Five times John mentions 'truth' in these 13 verses. In fact, in the first opening four verses, he mentions the 'truth', and here is the main theme, Second John, "loving the truth", "loving the truth."
Now, do you remember back in First John, we told you the backdrop? John was dealing with an ideology, a belief system. A group called the Gnostics had come into the church and had infected it with their thinking. We told you a little bit about what Gnosticism believed. Well, same conditions have prevailed. Same issues are at stake. Same danger of compromising the truth in the name of love, in the name of love. So John writes about what it means to "love the truth."
Now, here is one of the further problems that we get in these two letters. Around the time of John's latter years or when these two little Epistle, Second and Third John were written, there were lots of itinerant evangelists, itinerant or preachers who were on the move and would go from place to place following what Paul did in his missionary journeys. And they were looking for and needing Christian hospitality; they needed to stay in homes. There really weren't hotels like we have them now. There were inns back then, but believe me, there were no holiday to stay at an inn back then, it was tough going. So they depended on Christian hospitality in different areas to invite them in.
Well, okay, that works, but it doesn't work when you're inviting into your house and giving hospitality to false teachers, it's dangerous, because now you're in danger of actually helping them further their cause, which is to deceive believers from the truth. The truth is a jeopardy if you do that in the name of love. So what John will say in Second John is love and hospitality must be regulated by the truth. You follow?
Now, I'm going to give you what I sum up Second John, here is a little summation of my own. True love requires love for truth. I want you to say that. True love requires love for truth. That's what John underscores in this letter. You can't throw out truth for love's sake.
See, if your love has no parameters, no boundaries, then you are in danger of helping out those who are trying to undermine the truth, and all you're going is, oh, but I just want to love everybody, and John will say, it ain't love if it's not true.
So verse 1, the Elder. We know that John was a spiritual overseer, an elder, but perhaps this word refers to John's older age, since he wrote this somewhere between AD 90 and AD 95, and John was getting up there in years, and overseeing a number of congregations.
He writes as, "The Elder to the elect lady and her children; [probably and simply these were friends of John, a woman and her kids who were believers. Now, some like to spiritualize this and say the elect lady means the local congregation of the church. No need to stretch it. This is simply a real lady, and she had children who were believers] whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father in truth and love. I have rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth as we received commandment from the Father."
So do you see it, five times in the opening four verses, five times in four verses John underscores Christian truth, truth and love. You see, Christian love has been greatly misunderstood and I would say redefined, especially by the unbelieving world. This is what it typically means to the unbeliever.
Well, if you're a Christian, like you say you are, it means you have to tolerate everyone and anything. How can you be a Christian and speak out against this or that or that person or that belief system, that certainly is not Christian love they would say. In other words, you and I are to wink at sin and never confront it, or false doctrine.
So forget what you believe and how you behave and just love everybody and embrace everybody. Right, isn't that how it's redefined? Okay; if we did that, if that is what the Bible holds up as true, if that were the standard, then Elijah the prophet didn't keep that standard. When he confronted Ahab, Jezebel, the prophets of Baal, prophets of Asherah, Jesus didn't keep that. Paul didn't keep that when he spoke out against the Judizers, the legalists. As I mentioned, Jesus would have been guilty because though He spoke of love, He came against people, didn't He, like Herod Antipas. When the leaders said, you better get out of here, Herod is out to get you, He said, go tell that fox or that cunning crafty, sneaky animal these things.
Or how about when Jesus Christ, love incarnate said to the religious leaders of His day; now, these are the religious folks, the leaders, He said, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites, you brood of vipers. In other words, you bunch of slimy snakes. Who had warned you to flee from the wrath to come, you whitewashed sepulchers. Wow, Jesus said that? Uh-huh. And He was Mr. Love; He was love incarnate; He was the Son of God's love. So sometimes, as in this case, confrontation is not only valid, it's demanded, it's mandated as a part of love.
Verse 5; "Now I plead with you, lady; [I know that doesn't sound really sweet to our ears, it's sort of like the New Yorker kind of, hey lady, but in context it was an endearing term, not hey lady, but dear sweet lady, it was a term of respect], I plead with you lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another."
However, you'll see, John doesn't mean love one another indiscriminately, without boundaries. And he says, Verse 6; "This is love." Now, he's going to define love and in Greek it's very direct and emphatic, it's 'hey agape', the love. "This is the love that we walk according to His commandments." Okay, here is the love, I'm going to define it, that you walk according to truth; truth and love are married together, the commandments.
"This is the commandment, as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist."
I have a couple of friends who, it seems, were treated very cruelly by their family doctor. You see, they went to their doctor after the doctor ran some tests and the doctor said the most cruel thing imaginable. This is what the doctor said to friends of mine, you have cancer. Isn't that cruel? How horrible for a doctor to say something that horrendous to a friend.
You go, Skip, that's what doctors do, they run tests and they tell people the truth; that's my point. One of the most loving things you can do is to tell people the truth, not to hide it from them. It wouldn't do a person any good if the doctor said, oh, don't worry about it, go home and take a couple of aspirin, you'll feel better in the morning. No, you have an aggressive form of cancer, we need to treat this aggressively.
So love, the love, agape love doesn't mean you are tolerant, indulgent, lenient, relaxed towards sin or doctrine, that's not agape, that's sloppy agape. It's not true love. In fact, I contend that not to tell people the truth is a form of selfishness; you're being selfish. You don't want the fallout that will happen to you personally because you draw a line in the sand and say, truth, error, right, wrong, absolute, okay to do that and it's because you don't want to be on the firing range in the spotlight for making a truthful statement. You say, "Oh, I never would say that because I love too much." Love and truth must never be separated; this is what Paul said.
Okay. Let me ask you this question before I tell you what he said. What is the chapter in the Bible that is the paragraph, the most beautiful statement ever written that we know of about love? First Corinthians, chapter 13. Okay. In that love chapter, Paul writes in verse 6; "Love does not rejoice in inequity or sin, but love rejoices in the truth."
You see, love and truth are never inseparable. You never increase love by decreasing the truth. Whenever you compromise the truth, you actually destroy true love; so that's the premise. True love requires loving truth, that you love the truth.
If a parent were to tell me, oh, I love my child, I love my kids so much. But if I saw their kids running rampant, without any discipline, without any boundaries, without any parameter, doing anything they please, without any discipline, I'm going to say, that's not love, that's nuts. That's just simply convenient because you don't want to deal with it; you're not showing any kind of love to them. Oh, but when I discipline them, they don't like me. Who cares? [Laughter] The issue isn't whether your child at age four or five, six, or ten likes you, the issue is, when they're 18 and 20 and raised after that discipline, what they say then. And any child who has been raised in a truly loving home, that requires discipline will say, my parents really love me, that's why it happened, that's why they did it.
Verse 8; "Look to yourselves, that we do not lose these things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward." In other words, if you and I don't discriminate, we will lose our reward that we would get for hospitality shown in the right way. Now, hold that thought, that little hospitality thought, hospitality shown in the right way, because that will lead us into Third John in just a few moments.
"Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ, does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house or greet him."
Wow, that's pretty heavy, don't let them in. Don't say, hey, God bless you, don't greet him. Why? Because you're going to give the impression that you're actually helping them along their way. Verse 11; "For he who greets him shares in his evil deeds."
Now, let me tell you what John is not saying. John is not saying, you can't be a nice person and invite people into your house and show hospitality and entertain people who disagree with you on minor matters or even unbelievers that you're trying to evangelize, he is dealing with false teachers. Why into your house, because most of the churches back then were house churches. There was a church in the house, people came over to the house. They didn't have church property and church buildings, so the churches were all in private homes. So don't let him into your church, don't let him into your house, don't let him stay with you, and don't help them, John would say. Why? Because they're on a campaign, man, they're on a campaign to undermine, to fracture and dismember the basic fundamental truths of the faith, the Christian teaching.
Now, if you remember over the last few weeks when we've talked about some of the books in the New Testament that address Gnosticism, we briefly described generally what the Gnostics believed. We divided it into two camps if you remember. There was the 'Docetic Gnostics' and then there was the 'Cerinthian Gnostics'; that's for past study, we won't get into that tonight. Let me give you some other insights that may help in understanding this.
The Gnostics divided all human beings into three classes of people. Class number one, the 'Sarkikos' class, from the Greek word sarks or the flesh or the old nature. Second, the 'Pneumatikos' class from the word pneuma or pneumatikos, spirit, spiritual class. Third, the 'Psukikos' class, from the word psuché, or psyche, the mind. They divided all human beings into one of those camps.
Unbelievers, heathens were in the first class, they were the 'Sarkikos', they were fleshly. They would focus on everything that is materialistic and everything that gratifies the flesh, the sarks; so they were the 'Sarkikos', heathen, unredeemable they thought.
Then there was the highest class, the 'Pneumatikos', the ultra-spiritual, the ones who had ascended to the spiritual level. They were worthy of redemption, that would be them, they were the spiritual ones.
Then the third class was the 'Psukikos'; they were the average Christian in the churches of the New Testament. They were off to a good start said the Gnostics, but they hadn't yet ascended to the highest possible level through insight and revelation and discipline that they could offer.
So all of the Gnostics saw the churches of the New Testament, pastored by Paul or John, etcetera as fair game. They sought to take advantage of Christian hospitality, come into the homes and proselytize all of the 'Psukikos' and bring them up to the 'Pneumatikos', their level that was their agenda. They wanted to come to their church, not because they came to get fed and to be a part of the community, but to infiltrate the community.
Oh, I've seen that a lot. I've seen cults do that for years. Come to this church and even those with aberrant doctrine, who wouldn't be really cultist doctrine, seek to come in and put their arm around somebody and show love and concern and isolate them and bring them out of the church and bring them to their group, that's exactly what they were doing. They were itinerants, seeking to take advantage of Christian congregations.
Now, because of this, there was a book circulated around this time, it became such a problem, what John is writing about, it became such a problem that around just a few years later, around AD 100, a book was written called "The Didache", "The Didache", the teaching of the apostles or the teaching of the twelve it was called. And it was not a book of the Bible, but it was a book circulated to help leaders, congregations determine a false prophet from a real one; truth from error. There was different things they had to keep if they were to come into the congregation as itinerants.
Now, there is a whole set of writings on this, I'm just sharing a couple of sentences out of it. If an apostle, or they called it a missioner, someone on an itinerant mission, being sent out, an apostle or a missioner, who comes to you, he should be welcomed. If he stays three days, more than three days, you're to let him out. Three day is fine, if he tries to stay at your house more than three days; you know the Lord really led me to stay in your house longer, you're to say, well, the Lord led me to kick you out of my house, because "The Didache" says I can keep you here three days, but after three days, it's sort of the benchmark that you're just trying to take advantage of me, get out of here.
If anyone speaking in a trance says; you know what a trance is, wait a minute, I'm getting a word from God, yes Lord, I hear You, all of that, someone claims to speak for the Lord in a trance says, give me money or anything else, do not listen to him. We need to bring this book back and get it all over Christian television. Everyone who comes to you in the name of the Lord is to be welcomed, though later you must test him and find out about him; let him find employment. Make sure he does not live in idleness, simply on the strength of being a Christian, unless he agrees to this, he is only trying to exploit Christ; good, solid, basic instruction to churches of how to handle these itinerant evangelists who are trying to take advantage of hospitality of believers.
Several years ago when I was doing a home Bible study; I worked at a local hospital in Southern California, and I had a little home Bible study about two blocks away, in Garden Grove, California; on a Tuesday night, small little group of people, just a fun little time of fellowship. One night somebody came in, and he seemed to be spiritual, he had a big Bible, and he had a big smile, and he said words that sounded so Christian; "God bless you", "Hallelujah", "Praise the Lord." Why, you talk to him for a few minutes and you would say this guy is the real deal.
But then, it was interesting, throughout the Bible study, I saw him looking over at this cute young gal, kept seeing her. After the study he walked up to her and said, the Lord has spoken to me sister. You want to know what the Lord spoke. Well, he said the Lord has told him that she is to be his wife. Come on, that's a creative way of asking a gal to go out on a date or get married. The Lord told me you're to be my wife. Now, it's not I kind of like you or I find you cute, now I'm blaming God for my weirdness. That's what a lot of that stuff is. I'm weird, I don't want to take the rap for it, so I'll just say, the Lord said, the Lord said you are to be my wife. She was red face, she goes ah. He says what's wrong, and she held up her hand with a marriage ring on it, I'm already married.
Now he is in a dilemma, because either God doesn't know she is married or God didn't speak to him. You know what he responded, well, you obviously married the wrong man. I'm the man that God sent to you. That's what he said.
Well, I found out about it in the time of fellowship and was quick to put my arm around the brother, so-called, to lay hands on him suddenly, and take him outside and point my finger in his face and say, you never come back to this Bible study again. Now, was that love? Well, he probably didn't think, I feel the love, he didn't feel the love, but she did, and they did, and the congregation back then did with John, because he is managing and controlling the display of hospitality. How? Through the love of the truth. If you love the truth, that will regulate how you show love and how you show hospitality.
So let's finish it up; verse 12; "Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink." Now, they didn't have paper like we have it, they had papyrus reeds, and that was their paper, placed together vertically and squished together with a glue and they had an ink made of charcoal and gum and water; that's what he means by paper and ink. "But I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. The children of your elect sister greet you. Amen."
I just want to tell you before we hop into the next book, there is an old tradition that says, the elect lady; up there in verse 1 and 2 that he writes to, is Martha, the sister of Lazarus, who lived in Bethany, who is a friend of Jesus, and also consequently a friend of John, one of the apostles, which would make the elect sister Mary. It's an old tradition, there is no way to substantiate it, it could be. Those that believe it point to a linguistic sort of proof for it that I'm not going to get into, I don't think it's all that important but it's interesting to think about. So this is dealing with love and the truth, and you can never sacrifice the truth in the name of love.
Third John; Third John is the shortest book in the Bible, shortest one. Third John is the most personal of John's writings. Think of it, First John seems to have been written to the general church population that John was overseeing in Asia Minor. No one is really addressed in that, it's to Christians at large. Second John is written to the elect lady, we don't really know who that is; we don't have her personal name. So it's a lady and her kids. But Third John is written to a person named Gaius. We have the individual's name, so it's person to person, from John to my buddy Gaius, it's a personal letter.
Now, who is Gaius? Answer, we don't know; it's a common name. It could have been anybody. It's probably not the Gaius that you read about as Paul's associate.
In First Corinthians chapter 1 it says; "I thank God I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, and those of the household of Stephanas, besides that, I don't know about anybody else." It's probably not that one. This is one that was saved under John's ministry. As verse 4 of this book alludes to, when he talks about. "I have no greater joy than to see my children, my spiritual offspring walking in the truth." This was somebody saved under John's ministry.
Now, what was the word that was repeated in Second John? Truth; it's repeated in this one too; not five times, this time six times, six times; truth, truth, truth, truth, six times; so a total of 11 times between Second and Third John.
But Third John is the flip side of hospitality. If Second John says, don't show hospitality to false teachers, flip the coin. Third John says, do show hospitality to faithful teachers; it's the exact opposite truth. It's the full-orbed picture of love and hospitality. Do show love and hospitality to true teachers, faithful teachers.
So if the statement in Second John is true love requires love for truth, then the statement of Third John is, love for truth requires true love demonstrated, demonstrated, shown. If you love the truth, then you're going to love those who stand for the truth, and you're going to show hospitality to those who bring it.
Verse 1, "The elder"; now remember, John's old. He outlived Peter and Paul by three decades. He is the old guy that lasted the longest. "To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers."
Now, this was a customary greeting in ancient letters, much like we would write today and say, I hope this letter finds you well; that's all it is; it's a common greeting. And yet, interestingly enough, those from the 'Word of Faith Movement' have managed to pervert the interpretation of verse 3, from a common greeting to a Christian guarantee. Saying, by the authority of this verse, that if you are a Christian, you must be prosperous and perfectly healthy all the time. If your soul or if your spirit, if your spiritual life is healthy, then your body will be always free from disease; they say that based upon this verse.
In fact, Kenneth Copeland, one of the leaders of that movement said, this is a universal promise. But did you notice in that verse he says, "Beloved, I pray that you prosper." I'm not guaranteeing it, I'm praying for, I'm hoping, my wish for you, I hope this letter finds you well, but I'm not by that saying that if you're a solid believer in Christ you'll never be without prosperity and you'll always be healthy; that would be ludicrous.
Now, anybody who has ever taken any basic class in Bible interpretation, so-called Hermeneutics, notice that the first rule of Bible interpretation is something called context, context and there is historical context, there is grammatical context, and there is literary context. And the literary context of this section must mean this is a greeting with a local application, not a universal promise or universal application.
It's very much like what Paul wrote to Timothy when he wrote in Second Timothy, chapter 4 verse 13, and this is what he said. "Timothy, bring the cloak that I left at Troas, and the books, especially the parchments."
Okay, that was written to Timothy, and it was local, it wasn't universal. It doesn't mean that you and I today as Christians have to go all the way to Troas and look around for books, parchments, and hopefully a cloak, because it says in the Bible we have to do that. You get the point? It's a local application, that's a literary context. You would never apply that universally to all Christians of all times, otherwise there would be bus loads of people going to Troas every year.
Same with this; this is a common greeting. I'm making a big deal out of it only because they've made a big deal out of it and caused unnecessary guilt because of it. It's a common greeting. Boy, Gaius, I hope, I pray, you are such a spiritual guy, I pray there would be a corresponding prosperity in your physical life as well.
Verse 3; "For I greatly rejoice when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."
Why would he say that? This is John, shouldn't John say, I have no greater joy than to hear or see my children walking in love. Why didn't he say that? Simple; love is never attacked, truth is. Truth is always attacked. The minute you say, this is truth, this is absolute, you will get attacked, try it tomorrow. Say to someone, this is what I believe is absolute truth for everyone, and see if they embrace it. Love is never attacked, it's redefined; truth is always attacked.
It's acceptable today in religious circles to say, it doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere. If somebody was looking for directions from here to El Paso, and you said, well, it doesn't really matter which road you take, all roads lead to El Paso. So you could go north or south or east or west, or find any road in between as long as you are sincere; he'd think you are an idiot.
Okay, doesn't it follow, if somebody is asking directions from earth to heaven, and you say, doesn't matter which way you go as long as you are sincere, that you are going to get them sincerely lost. Or again, the doctor analogy; you go in with pain, doctor says you have this cancer or you have this mass. Oh doctor, what do I do? Doctor, doesn't matter what you do, you could it have operated on, or you could just go home and rest, as long as you are sincere. You'd say, he is a quack; I need right information; this is critical issue.
I love the story about the little boy who when asked in Sunday school class, what is false doctrine? He said, it's when a doctor gives the wrong stuff to people. Get it, false doctrine; it's pretty good actually. False doctoring is sort of like false doctrine, giving the wrong stuff to people.
Verse 5; "Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren, and for strangers; who have born witness of your love for the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you do well. Because they went forth for His name's sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such that we may become fellow workers for the truth."
See, these traveling evangelists were dependent on the generosity of people like Gaius; for food, for shelter, for a place to stay, so they could go out. Many itinerants were false, but not all of them.
See, that's the problem. You just have a few bad eggs spoil it for everybody else. See, what happened in Second John could make anybody go, well, forget it, I'm not going to be nice to anybody and John would say, oh no, that's not right, there are false teachers but then there are faithful teachers, and Gaius, you did it right man. You love them. You brought them in. And he commends him for it. He commends them and then he contrasts him. He contrasts Gaius, who did the right thing, with another guy in the church called; well, you'll read his name in just a little bit, Diotrephes. Now, I want you to see this.
"I wrote to the church; [verse 9] but Diotrephes; [notice his description], who loves to have the preeminence among them; [or he desires to be first, he's selfish], does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words; and not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church."
Who was Diotrephes? Some self-appointed leaders said, I am called by God, just like John is, and he had a desire to control and to dominate, even kicking people out of the church that would show love and hospitality to faithful teachers, like Gaius. Somebody well said, a man wrapped up in himself makes a very small package. This guy was wrapped up in himself.
Now, John evidently wrote a letter, but Diotrephes didn't even acknowledge John, the apostle's authority. Hard to believe? You know why, because he wanted the spotlight. He wanted the limelight, and he was falsely charging John; hard to believe, John, the founder of many of these churches, the father of many of these churches, this guy, Diotrephes made up false charges. Notice the word prating, it means to bubble up, useless jabber, nonsense, made up a story about John that was absolutely false, using malicious words. He hated, even for John, the leader of these churches to get any kind of limelight more than him; dangerous. Ever know anybody like that? I have. That was an issue even back then.
Verse 11; "Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God; but he who does evil has not seen God. Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself; and we also bear witness, and you know that our testimony is true. I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink; but I hope to see you shortly, and we will speak face to face. Peace to you, our friends greet you, greet the friends by name." So Second John, true love requires love for truth. Third John, love for truth requires true love demonstrated.
Now we come to the book of Jude. You know who Jude was? Jude was the brother of James. Both of them, the half-brothers of Jesus Christ. Jude did not believe that his half-brother Jesus was the Messiah. John chapter 7; "They did not believe in him." But Jude and James did believe after Jesus, what, rose from the dead, the resurrection convinced them.
Jude has been called "The Acts of the Apostates", "The Acts of the Apostates." The whole book, like Second Peter, is a warning. It's devoted to people falling away from the faith; it's pretty scowling in its indictment; "The Acts of the Apostates."
He is calling the church to warfare, to wage the right kind of war. Now, that was not his intention; his intention was to simply sit down and write about their common salvation. But because the false teachers were like everywhere and like on the warpath, he decided, we got to stand up and fight for the truth.
So notice, verse 1, he says, [hey Jude; no, he didn't say that] Jude, [couldn't resist, couldn't resist]. "Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called sanctified by God, the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: mercy peace and love be multiplied to you. Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." Means to contend with intensity, determination. Some translation say, put up a good fight for the faith; that's the idea.
"For certain men have crept in noticed who long ago were marked out for this condemnation ungodly men who have turned the grace of our Lord into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ."
Now, in verse 3 when he talks about the faith, contend for the faith, what does he mean? He means the truth, the faith, the body of Christian truth as presented in the New Testament concerning Jesus Christ. The faith was also called in Acts, chapter 2, "The Apostles' Doctrine"; they gave themselves to "The Apostles' Doctrine", the truth, the faith.
In Second Corinthians, it's called the faith. "Examine yourselves; whether you are in the faith [or not]." Paul writes to Timothy and he says; "The spirit expressly says that in the latter time, some will depart from the faith and give heed to deceiving spirits." So put up a good fight for the body of the truth, the Word of God, the New Testament, what we believe in about Christ, salvation, etcetera, defend that, stand up for that.
Notice this, "once for all delivered to the saints." Know what that means? By AD 100, everything God wanted to say was said; it was the faith once for all, means all time, delivered to the saints. If verse 3 is true, and I believe it is, that means that "The Book of Mormon" doesn't fit this, subsequent revelations, including the "Qur'an" don't fit this, once for all delivered to the saints.
I remember meeting with a Mormon elder over this very issue, and I said, read that verse; he read it; read it again; he read it; read it again. I kept having him read it till he said, it's telling me that at this time everything God wanted to say was said. Bingo, that's exactly what it's saying. Now, we have a basis from which to talk. This is the basis from which to dialog.
However, having said that, we need to fight for the faith and contend earnestly, that doesn't give us the right to be contentious in the way we contend to the faith. You get the difference? The Bible says, speak the truth in love. You can be obnoxious and stand up for the truth. You can also stand up for the truth with deference, respect, and love.
Even the classic text on Christian Apologetics is First Peter chapter 3 verse15; "Be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear [or respect]." Don't be contentious when you do it, be loving when you do it.
So Jude reaches back to the Old Testament, gives three examples of those who turned from the truth. First example is verse 5, people of Israel, where it says God saved the people out of the land of Egypt. He destroyed those who did not believe. That's the first example, of people who turned from the truth, Israel. Second example is in verse 6; "And the angels who did not keep their [first estate or] proper domain, but left their own abode." These are the fallen angels, probably from Genesis 6; they rebelled and they were punished.
And the third example is verse 7; "Sodom and Gomorrah; [these two cities] and the cities that were around them." These cities that have the testimony of Abraham and his offspring in the plain, as they dwelt there in the book of Genesis.
Verse 8; "Likewise these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. Verse 9; Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!""
My personal belief is that it's presumptuous for any child of God to directly confront Satan. First of all, because of who he is and his great power; he is more powerful than any of us on our own. And whenever I hear a Christian say, now Satan, we want you to know, and we command you, this and that, I'm thinking, why are you even talking to the devil? I mean, listen to yourself, it sounds like you're praying to the devil. Why are you praying to the devil? Why would you waste your breath? Why not talk to the Lord about the devil?
Even Michael didn't say, I rebuke you; using an Old Testament text he said, "The Lord rebuke you!" Now Michael is on that par with Lucifer, with Satan, he is that mighty archangel. But even he didn't contend saying, I rebuke you, I command you, I do this and that, but the Lord do it. Always a good idea to keep Jesus between you and the devil. Well, the devil knocks at the door everyday and gets Jesus to answer; stay put.
"But they speak evil of whatever they do not know, and whatever they know naturally like brute beast, these things they corrupt themselves. Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain. [Remember, Cain rebelled against God in the sacrifice that he brought.] They've run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, [he was motivated by money]".
When Balak, the king of Moab gave money to him, and he showed how Israel could be defeated and perished in the rebellion of Korah, Korah and 250 others rebelled against the authority of Moses. Go down to verse 17; "But you beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts."
Skip down to verse 20; "But you beloved, [contrast to that], building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit." You see, the Christian life can never be lived in neutral. You can't cruise, you can't just veg out in the spirit, no such thing. You have to walk in the spirit, you have to stay engaged. You can't put it neutral. It's like trying to go uphill, by putting in a neutral, trying to ride a bicycle and just stopping, you'll go backwards. If you're not making progress, you'll go backwards.
I think the point that he is making in all of this, especially with this verse, is since these apostates that are so prevalent around us in the church, Jude would say, since these apostates are in the business of tearing down your faith, you'll be in the business of building up your faith, build it up, otherwise it will get torn down. How do you do that? By, number one, the most holy faith itself; truth, the Word of God, read your Bible, and number two by praying, praying in the Holy Spirit.
Verse 21; "Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." Notice what the verse says, keep yourselves in the love of God. It doesn't say, keep God loving you or keep yourself in a place where God will continue to love you. That's not what it says. God loves you anyway. God's love is unconditional, unmerited, undeserved, it says, keep yourself in the love of God, always. Here's The Living Bible's translation. Stay always within the boundaries where the love of God can reach you and bless you.
The sun could be shining outside, but you could be keeping the sun from hitting your skin by putting an umbrella over it. The sun, you'll feel it's warmth on the south side of the mountain, but if you go to the north side, it might be bitterly cold. So the sun is shining, take away anything that will keep the sun from getting at you. The love of God is always shining, it's always towards you. It's irrespective of your behavior, but keep yourself in the love of God. Never allow anything to prohibit your enjoyment of the love of God, of your expression of the love of God.
I'll give you a quick biblical example, Judas and John. What was Judas doing at the Last Supper? Figuring out ways to betray Jesus. He got up from the table and he sold them for 30 pieces of silver. So Judas was loved by Jesus Christ. He didn't keep himself in the love of God; by unbelief and betrayal, he broke that. John, the writer of this book was also at the Last Supper. He kept himself in the love of God. The Bible says he leaned his head against the breast of Jesus to get even more intimate, closer with the Lord that he loved, and to abide in His love. So keep yourself in the love of God.
Verse 22; "And of some have compassion making a distinction, others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment defiled by the flesh." Now here is Jude's benediction. "Now to him, who was able to keep you from stumbling [or falling] and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy."
That's really what he wanted to write about. He said, I intended to write you about our common salvation, now he is returning to the theme of their common salvation and being kept in him, kept in Your salvation, but he just addresses it in passing as a benediction. Verse 25; "To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen!"
So that's probably an early expression, maybe even a song set to music that John was quoting or Jude was quoting at the end. "To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen!" So to sum up all these three books, they tell us how to express our love. Second John, be careful with your love to wrong people. Third John, be lavish with your love to right people, and the book of Jude, love all people enough to tell them the truth.
Let's pray; heavenly Father, thank You again for this fun way to go through the Bible, "The Bible From 30,000 Feet." In some sections we've had to just notice a text or notice a section, when there have been long narratives, or the giving of the law, or the camping around the tabernacle, or some of the long prophetic or political sections, and at other times like this, the ground is sufficiently short enough that we can just sort of taxi the plane through and see everything. We thank You that this was the case tonight with Second John, Third John, and Jude. Thank You for the testimony found in the scriptures, the Word of God. Since You said that Your Word will not be turned void, will accomplish the purpose that You've sent it for. We pray Lord that having been exposed to it we indeed would be changed by it. We pray it in Jesus name. Amen! Let's all stand and sing together.