2 & 3 John and Jude - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight JJU01
"The Bible from 30,000 Feet," soaring through the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
Would you please turn in your Bibles to the book of 2 John? Before us tonight, we have 2 John, 3 John, and Jude, three of these short, little books. Because they are short, even though this is an overview from 30,000 feet, it allows us to practically cover every verse-- not all of them, but we'll be able to probably read most of them.
This morning, I grabbed off my bookshelf a book that I've had for years, because it was recommended by Samuel Rutherford. Now, I'm not expecting you to know who he is. He was a pastor from the 1600s in Scotland. And he was basically arrested and kicked out of his ministry because he was outspoken. And the church at that time was already run by the government, as it is even to this day in that country.
And he, little Samuel Rutherford-- and I say little. He was a short, wee little man, as they say in Scotland, but very bold, and a godly preacher. He preached at a little village called Anwoth in Scotland-- most people don't even know where that is-- and then also Edinburgh. Most people know where that is.
But he was kicked out of ministry by the church government, the government-run church. And he was placed up in Aberdeen, way up north, because he spoke out against the archbishop's weak doctrine and teaching. Now, I say most people don't know who he is or know much about his preaching, but the one book that survives by him that is worth getting if you have a few extra dollars and you find it, especially at a used bookstore, are the Letters of Samuel Rutherford.
It's just correspondence. It's hundreds of letters that he wrote to individuals. And they're priceless, because you get an insight into what people were going with and how this man, though he couldn't do public ministry in preaching, how he cared and was able to extend his ministry through the writing of letters.
And I pulled it off my bookshelf. I have a paperback version I bought years ago. And it just reminds me-- when I read that little book of letters, it reminds me of these three letters that are before us-- 2 John, 3 John, and Jude. Little letters that pack a huge punch.
2 John and 3 John are two of the five books written by the Apostle John. And they're so small that people even wondered, why are they even in the Bible? It's so tiny. It's almost a worthless thing to put it in the Bible, until you read it and you find out that big things come in small packages.
In antiquity, in ancient times, most Greco-Roman correspondence, letters, were from an individual to an individual, person to person, and were very short. And so 2 John and 3 John fit that profile. 2 John is written to the Elect Lady and her family. I'll explain that in a minute. The 3 John is written to an individual by the name of Gaius. And so ancient letters were short, about 300 words. 2 John has 301 words in English, 245 in the Greek language, so it's a very short letter, and it's individualized.
All written by the Apostle John. We covered a longer book of his last week. 1 John, and now we look at 2 and 3 John, which I have to admit are among the most neglected books in the New Testament. Not many people spend much time in 2 or 3 John, but they should. Because once again, like 1 John, John the Apostle is older. In fact, he introduces himself as The Elder. And that meant not only was he super intending a number of congregations, but he was older in age. We believe he died around age 94. In AD 100, he was in his mid-90s.
But he's older now, and he has wisdom. And he has a real focus on certain important truths, and he has, by now, learned to say a lot in just a few words. So what is 2 John all about? It's about truth. That's the theme of 2 John-- truth. Truth is mentioned five times repeated, the word repeated five times, in 13 verses. Not just truth, but to be more specific, the theme of 2 John is loving the truth-- loving the truth.
Now, keep in mind, like we mentioned last week, there was a group that had infiltrated local congregations, and they had a doctrine called Gnosticism. I explained Gnosticism a little more in depth last time, so I won't get into it except for one particular part of this epistle. But because Gnosticism was infiltrating the church, the only thing that made Gnosticism worse was the openness that believers had toward Gnosticism. That's what made it spread.
It's one thing to have false doctrine. It's another thing when you have people who don't have much discernment and they welcome anything and everything. And it spread. So if you are hospitable to the wrong kind of people, it can actually be your undoing and the church's undoing. You are aiding and abetting false teaching. Because of that, John, in just a few words-- 13 verses-- talks about that.
So it's about loving the truth. True love requires loving the truth. That sums up 2 John. True love requires loving the truth. If you're going to really show love, your love has to be balanced by truth. Truth and love are not to be separated. They are always to go together.
If your love has no boundaries-- that is, you just sort of indiscriminately are open to anything and everything and you just say everybody's entitled to their opinion, and I'm going to accept their opinion as their truth and another person's opinion as their truth and not challenge it or dialogue about it-- then you have no boundaries on your love. And according to John, it's not a good thing. It's actually a hurtful thing.
So it begins verse 1 of 2 John, "The Elder--" again, John is probably around 90 or in his 90s when he writes this, so he is an older gentleman. "The Elder to the Elect Lady and her children, 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 rejoice greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth as we have received commandment from the Father."
So notice, in four versus, five times truth is mentioned. It is underscored. You need to love truth. True love requires love for the truth.
I've often felt that Christian love is greatly misunderstood. Sometimes the world will use what they know to be a commandment of Jesus against us. If the world catches us not treating people like they think we should treat them, they'll say, that's what's wrong with you Christians. You don't really love people. You need to show them love. I thought you followed the Savior, who taught us to love.
Now, what they mean by that in the attack is that you ought to tolerate everybody and anybody's belief system, and what you believe is not as important as you tolerating everybody else instead of talking through it or speaking out against it. If you dare speak out against a lifestyle or a belief system or a notion, they want to turn it on you and say, that's unloving. Actually, it is really love. The most loving thing you can do is tell somebody the truth.
And John always did, if you know his writings, especially in 1 John. But he mentions, as we said, truth five times in this section. I wonder if that notion of how Christians should just tolerate everything-- let's just suppose that Elijah the prophet believed that notion. Would he confront the Prophets of Baal? Wouldn't he just say, well, you prophets have your own religion and your own style and your own way. Have at it.
No, he challenged them to a duel, right? Battle of the gods out there on Mount Carmel. Or the king of the time, King Ahab. Elijah would not have confronted that King nor the Prophets of Baal. Paul the Apostle, if he believed that notion, certainly would not have shut down the Judaizers for their legalism. He would have said, ah, you know, let the best man win. And then think of Jesus. Jesus had some pretty hefty things to say to people who did not speak the truth.
He was confrontational, like when Herod Antipas wanted to see him, Jesus sort of blew him off and said, go tell that fox that I'm busy. To the religious leaders, Jesus called them open sepulchers, tombs. Hefty, hefty things in Matthew chapter 23.
"So I rejoice greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we have received the commandment from the Father." Who the elect lady is, we are not sure. Evidently, it was some woman who probably used her home for the church to meet in at that time. And some of her kids, her actual children, were believers and strong in their leadership capabilities.
Some believe it's a metaphor, the elect lady, for the church in general and the children being church members. I see it as a literal lady and literal children who were also part of the church congregation there, wherever it was written, or to whomever, whatever place it was written to.
And now, verse five, "I plead with you, lady--" that sounds sort of like a crass way to talk to her, but it was a term of respect. Hey, 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." Now, you know that's famous in John's vernacular. He told people love one another. But we've also seen with John, in 1 John and now 2 John and, by the way, also in 3 John, that true love is not indiscriminate. There is discernment mixed with it.
So he says, verse 6, "This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in." So one of the most loving things you can do is to tell somebody the truth. It's uncomfortable to speak truth. And you are inclined to hold back telling people the truth. Why do you do that? Why are we inclined to not tell people the truth? Because we want them to like us.
And humans have this incredibly nauseating penchant that says we've got to try to get everybody to like us. Oh, my goodness, you'll be a miserable human being if you live that way. Think of a doctor looking into the eyes of a patient after reading this scans and the blood reports, knowing the patient has a week to live. And imagine the doctor looking into the eyes of the patient and saying, you're going to be dead in a week.
Now, somebody hearing that might say, doctor, that's a mean thing to tell somebody. You're not showing much love to tell somebody they're going to die. Well, it is the truth. And if I love that person, I want to get that person as prepared as possible in this, the last week of his or her existence. Needs to be said. The family needs to know.
If I say, ah, go home, man. As your doctor, I just want to say, live long and prosper. Take two aspirin. Smile and do your best. That's not really loving them if I refuse to tell them the truth.
OK, so, if I'm dealing with a human being who if they refuse Christ will spend eternity in hell and I don't tell them how to get to heaven, am I really loving them by tolerating them? Not really. So truth always balances out love. You are diminishing love if you are diminishing truth. And John shows us that truth and love can go together.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13, the great love chapter, that love does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth. And so John is doing that. Verse 8, "Look to yourselves that we do not lose those things that we worked for but that we may receive a full reward." This verse seems to indicate that you can diminish your reward in heaven-- not that you won't go to heaven. You will go to heaven. You're saved by grace through faith alone, period.
But that it is possible to diminish your reward eternally by refusing to stand up for the truth because of what that would cost people. So he mentions that. We want to receive a full reward. "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--" now, keep in mind, one of the problems was in openness, showing hospitality, bringing people in to their house churches, letting people share their belief system, including the Gnostics, and that stuff spread.
So, "if anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive Him into your house nor greet him." That doesn't mean you can't bring people into your house and give them a cup of coffee and a couple cookies if they're unbelievers or they have disagreements with you. The idea was because churches met in homes, when you invite people into your house church and you show the same openness to them to share whatever they want to share as you would have a brother or a sister, you're diminishing truth.
It says, "Nor greet him, for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds." Last week, we covered Gnosticism a little bit. We told you the difference between Cerinthian Gnosticism and Docetic Gnosticism. I don't need to rehash that. You got that covered. That's under your belt now.
But let me explain to you the world view of the Gnostics. And to do that, I'm going to put up a slide so I can show you. The Gnostics divided the entire world into three groups, three classifications. Number one, there were the Sarkikos, and Sarkikos is a Greek word that comes from the Greek root word "sarks," which means the flesh or the body.
Now, the Sarkikos was the group that represented heathens, unbelievers. They were people who just lived for the body appetites, just lived for the flesh. So unredeemed humanity, they were Sarkikos. They were the irredeemables. Don't spend time on them.
Second group was the Pneumatikos, and that comes from the Greek word "pneuma," the root word "pneuma," which means spirit. And the Pneumatikos were the spiritual ones, the truly spiritual ones. As opposed to the Sarkikos, who lived for the flesh, the Pneumatikos were the true spiritual people-- in other words, them. They were the true spiritual ones. They were the only true spiritual ones of the Gnostics, because they had this superior knowledge. They had gone through the rituals and the rights and attained this level that nobody else attained, and they were worth redeeming.
But there was a third group called the Psukikos, from the Greek word "psuke," or mind, and they were somewhere in between the Sarkikos and Pneumatikos. In fact, they weren't much better than the Sarkikos, but they had potential to start at the level of the mind, the "psuke," and get raised to the highest possible level, the level of Pneumatikos, or Gnosticism.
So when they looked at Christian congregations, they put all of the Christians in that third group, the group of the Psukikos. All Christian congregations had the potential. Oh, they were weird and they were wrong. They don't have the true knowledge we have, the Gnostics have. But since these Christians are allowing you to come into their houses and into their congregations, let's infiltrate them and take advantage of their hospitality, and we'll get a footing. And perhaps we can raise them up to the true spiritual level.
That was happening, and John saw that as a problem. And the openness and hospitality being shown to the wrong mindset of people would be their undoing. So that's why he says, don't let them come in. Don't don't greet them like that.
It became such a problem that around AD 100, a document was circulated called the Didache. I've shared that with you over the years. The Didache means the teaching, and it refers to the teaching of the 12, the teaching of the apostles. It was apostolic teaching on how to deal with itinerant evangelists and itinerant pastors, people who would travel and need the hospitality of others, come into their homes and speak their false doctrine.
And so because it was such a problem, where churches would invite them in, this little book was written, the Didache. I won't read-- it's not a long book, but I won't read it to you. I have a paragraph or two. No, just really one paragraph. So it says this. Here's some of the quotes.
"If an apostle--" whom in the book they call a missioner. "If an apostle comes to you, he should be welcomed." If a missionary comes out and he comes in, I come in the name of the Lord, then you invite him in and let him stay with you. Show him hospitality. "He should be welcomed."
But it says this, "but if he stays more than three days, he's a false prophet." Kick him out. Because it means he's really just using you-- not taking advantage of your hospitality to move on to the next, but trying to get as much out of it as he can. It says, "If anyone comes to you and speaks in a trance and says, give me money or anything else," like give me clothes, give me food, give me money.
If somebody goes, Thus says the Lord, the Lord's giving me a word right now. Oh, I got a message from the Holy Spirit. The Lord says, give me money. There's these people that are still around today. You're to kick him out, false prophet. "Everyone who comes 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 that he does not live in idleness simply on the strength of being a Christian."
Don't let him just lay around in the name of the Lord. Unless he agrees to this, he is only trying to exploit Christ. Now, over the years, I have had the opportunity to protect God's sheep from would-be wolves, and I like it. I don't always like confrontation, but I like it when I can spot a wolf-- or others who have discernment spot a wolf-- and we can nip it in the bud and protect God's sheep from its spreading.
When I lived in California, before I moved out here to start this church, I remember doing a little Bible study in a town called Garden Grove, California. It was not far from where I lived in Huntington Beach. I'd go there every week. Had a small group of people that grew and grew into a sizable group in a home. And I remember, on a few occasions, people would come and say, thus says the Lord. He's giving me a word. You need to do this for me and that for me.
But on one particular occasion, this guy came in. And I remember this one gal who was in our Bible study, a pretty gal. She was married to an unbeliever. Unbeliever didn't want to come, but she came to Bible study every week, strengthened her interfaith. And this single guy came into our Bible study, and he would come for a couple of weeks. And one night, he walked up to her after the Bible study and says, you know, the Lord gave me a word. He didn't know she was married. The Lord gave me a word that you're to be my wife.
Well, this really shook her, right? Because she was married and trying to win her husband to Christ. And he goes, no, I'm certain, you're going to be my wife. And so she showed that she had a ring and she was married. And he said, well, it only proves that you married the wrong person and the Lord would have you leave your husband and marry me.
So I'm overhearing this conversation, because it's still over on that side of the room, and I could hear what he was saying. So I was on him like white on rice and showed him the door and showed him the left foot of fellowship really quickly. Showed him hospitality with a swift spiritual kick.
So John saying, whoever greets him shares in his evil deeds. Let's close out the letter. It says, "Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink, but I hope to come to you and speak face to face that our joy may be full." You know, distance only works for a little bit of time.
There comes a time when you need face to face fellowship. You can social distance and you can watch online, and that'll work. OK, we flattened the curve. But after a while, you can only do so much where you need it to be able to, in an accountable setting, love one another and fulfill New Testament command. So he is looking forward to putting the pen and ink down and seeing her and the children, her children, face to face, that our joy may be full.
"The children of your elect sister greet you." Now, here's an interesting footnote. According to tradition-- and it's only a tradition. We don't know for sure. But according to Church tradition, the elect lady that he writes to in verse 1 and 2 and her children is Martha, the sister of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead. If that tradition is true, that means the sister of the elect lady is Mary.
Now, again, we don't know, but that's tradition. So that would make verse 13 apply to Mary. The children of your elect sister greet you. Amen.
Now, before we move on to 3 John, we told you last week that the Gnostics denied either the deity of Christ or the humanity of Christ. The Cerinthian Gnostics denied the deity of Christ. The Docetic Gnostics didn't believe in the humanity of Christ. So John says, you know, if you are denying that Jesus is the Christ, Jesus is the Messiah, or that Jesus came in the flesh, if you deny he's the Son of God or you deny his humanity, that person is an Antichrist.
Now, it's not like John is getting old and cantankerous with each passing year. He remembers that's what the Lord Jesus said. For Jesus, this is now in John, the Gospel of John, chapter 5. It says, "Therefore, the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath but said God was his father, making himself equal with God." They understood that Jesus was claiming deity.
Now, Jesus, a few verses down, in verse 23 of John 5, says that "all should honor the son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the son does not honor the Father who sent him." So true love requires love for the truth, and the truth is Jesus is both God and man, deity and humanity. Undiminished deity, unprotected humanity.
Now we get to 3 John. And 3 John has 14 versus in it. 2 John had 13, so it looks longer. But in the Greek language, it is shorter. There were 245 Greek words in 2 John. There's like 219, I believe, is the Greek count in 3 John, which makes 3 John the shortest letter in the New Testament, the shortest book in scripture. It is also the most personal of the books.
1 John was written to a group of assemblies. 2 John was written to a group, the elect lady and her children. 3 John has written to a single person named Gaius. We'll read about him as we get into it. It says, "The Elder--" again, that's John, the older John.
I didn't tell you this, but when he says I'm an old man, I'm elder, I'm old, know this. John outlived both Paul and Peter by three decades. So in terms of New Testament longevity, he's an old dude. He's an old coot. He's almost 100 years old.
So "The Elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth." Now, Gaius is a name you're familiar with, but you're probably familiar with the wrong Gaius. Some of you are going, I've never even heard that name, so I'm not familiar at all anyway. So you could just go on and not explain this. But I want to explain it.
There was an of Paul the Apostle mentioned in Corinthians and other places, an associate of Paul, named Gaius. He was a native of Derby in Turkey, Asia Minor. He was an associate with Paul, served with Paul, ministered with Paul, lived in Corinth, and he was one of the two people that Paul baptized. He said, I baptize Crispus and Gaius. Oh, and then he goes and the household of Stefanus. But besides that, I don't think I baptized anybody else, for Christ didn't send me to baptize but to preach the gospel.
So he mentions Gaius. Now, that guy, or I should say that Gaius, is probably different than this Gaius. That's just a common New Testament name, even though you read the name and go, I'm not familiar with it. It was a common name at the time. So we believe that was a different one. This one was probably a convert of the Apostle John, a completely different one, though a common name.
So he's writing to a guy that John knew, who was an associate, probably a convert, named Gaius. Like 2 John, 3 John also focuses on truth six times. Five times was 2 John. Six times in this letter, he uses the word truth. So between 2 and 3 John, John mentions it 11 times in just a few verses. So that it is on his heart, speaking of the truth.
So "The Elder--" that's John-- "to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health just as your soul prospers." Now, before I get into that, 2 John is the flip side-- or 3 John is the flip side of 2 John. So 2 John is about hospitality. Don't be ready to show a lavish hospitality to the wrong kind of persons who want to take advantage of the church and get their weird doctrine in.
So if 2 John says be careful how you show hospitality to the wrong person, 3 John is saying, show hospitality to the right person. Be hospitable to the righteous ones. If 2 John is about don't show an openness to a false teacher, 3 John says, do show hospitality to a faithful teacher, a faithful person of God. And he is talking to somebody who did that. Gaius showed an open heart to the right kind of teacher.
But there's also a person he mentions in this letter who did not show love and did not show hospitality to a faithful teacher, or any faithful teacher of God. His name was Diotrephes. He's mentioned here. He says, "Diotrephes loved to have the preeminence." He wanted the focus and attention all on himself.
So, once again, 2 John is summed up by true love requires love for the truth. 3 John is summed up by this little axiom-- love for the truth requires loving truly-- that is, showing love, demonstrating love in the right way to the right group. OK, back to our text.
He says in verse 2, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers." Now, what you just read in verse 2 is a common saying in ancient letters. It's like me saying, I hope this letter finds you well. I hope you're feeling good. Just like when you say bye to somebody, you say stay safe or stay well. It's a wish.
What I have noticed over the years, since I began my ministry, is a vein of Christianity known as the health and wealth vein of Christianity that has taken verse 2 so completely out of context that it's not a Christian hope, but it's a guarantee of perfect health. Faith teaches love to quote this. And Kenneth Copeland, who was-- and still is-- one of the main proponents of faith teaching theology, calls this a universal promise of perfect health for the believer.
They get that out of this hope you're well. I hope that you are physically well, as well as spiritually well. It's a common greeting, and he makes it a universal promise for every Christian to walk in perfect health. Well, that's as dumb, that's as ludicrous, as taking another localized scripture and making it a guarantee, like in 2 Timothy when he says, go to Troas and bring the cloak that I gave to Carpas. Bring it with you when you come and the parchment and the books.
So if I were to say, that's what you need to do. You need to go to Troas, and you need to get that cloak, and you need to bring it with you. You say, well, I don't even know where Troas is. And by the way, if you went to Troas today, nothing there except like a little gift shop. The town's defunct. There is no Troas.
You would say, Skip, you can't apply that in the same way. It was a localized idea. Yes, that's what this is. I'm doing that because I want to show you how these false teachers work. These false prophets work this way. They twist scripture and make a universal application out of something that is to be highly localized and not applied to every single person.
So I pray, I hope, my wish is that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. And by the way, that's why they will say, if you are sick, it shows that your spiritual life is waning. Because your health will prosper like your soul prospers. So if your faith is waning and you don't have enough faith, that's why you're sick. It just proves that you're an unspiritual person. You're a Sarkikos. It's like neo-Gnosticism.
"For I rejoiced," verse 3, "greatly 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--" that is, my spiritual offspring, my children-- "walk in truth." Once again, the sentiment that people love to believe-- because it's convenient, and you're not on the spot if you believe this-- is to just tolerate everybody's belief system as equal. And it doesn't matter really what you believe, as long as you're sincere about what you believe. And that seems to be the only criteria of what is right and wrong.
Are they sincere? If they are sincere, then they must be right. That's their truth. If they're insincere, well, then they're hypocritical, no matter what they believe. But again, truth, loving the truth, is important to him. So it does matter what you believe. Truth is important.
What if a blind man was asking you for directions and he happened to be standing on the edge, like I will do? And he's asking, which way should I go? Which direction should I go in? Now, you know that if he goes straight, he's going to get hurt. He could even die. So what if you were to say, well, it doesn't really matter which way you go, as long as you're sincere. Would you consider that loving?
No, I would consider that cruel. You'd say, don't go straight ahead, whatever you do. Turn to the right or left or get some guidance to go backwards, and have a seat till we get you some help. So it does matter what you believe, because people are stepping into eternity. Don't you want to give them the right directions?
So loving the truth. I have great no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth. And that has been my passion. I've always loved this verse, and I've made it sort of-- not my life verse personally, but my life verse congregationally. I've always had the desire that this be the best fed congregation ever in the scriptures, in the truth of God, and the most loved. And if there's any legacy that I want to live is that the truth of God, verse by verse, from Genesis to Revelation, has been declared.
So I can leave this world like Paul the Apostle. I can step out of the ministry and say, "I have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God, because I have no greater joy than to see or know that my children walk in truth. Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for their brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before 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."
So, once again, these itinerant teachers and evangelists, some of them were good and godly and spoke the truth. Not all of them did, like the Gnostics. But they depended on the hospitality from local believers, because they're not renting hotels. They didn't have hotels like we had. It was just something-- you'd invite them into your house, let them stay with you for a while, unless it's longer than three days or they say, thus said the Lord, give me money.
But he's saying, Gaius, you have done that. That has been your practice. You have treated with hospitality others who love the truth and preached the truth. But now he's going to flip the coin a little bit. He's going to pivot, and he's going to introduce us to somebody who's the opposite of Gaius named Diotrephes.
Verse 9, "I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, 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."
Evidently, John had written a letter, a letter about how to deal with itinerant people like the Didache, but not that one. A letter about hospitality. Now, John is an apostle. He's like the last living apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. You treat a guy like that with respect.
And they did. Gaius did. The church did. The elect lady did. But there was one guy who did not and evidently rejected that letter of John by the name of Diotrephes and wanted nothing to do with John and didn't acknowledge John's authority as an apostle. Because acknowledging John took the limelight off himself, and he wanted people to think he was awesome. He was the important one, instead of letting John have the authority.
He loved to have the preeminence. And notice what he says about him, "which he does, prating against us." The word "prating" in Greek means to bubble up. A better translation-- jabbers. He jabbers. He flaps his gums. He's just-- yeah, right. He just keeps talking, talking, talking, but there's no substance to it. Just speaking nonsense, prating against us with malicious words.
And he's not just content with that. He himself does not receive the brethren and forbids those who wish to-- that is, to wish to be hospitable to the brothers and John-- putting them out of the church. He would actually excommunicate people, kick people out for that. Somebody once said, a man wrapped up in himself makes a very small package. Diotrephes was all about Diotrephes. That's it. That was the four corners of his life.
"Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he does evil has not seen God." Demetrius, verse 12, has a good testimony. So he's mentioned as a good guy doing that. Verse 13, "I had many things to write, but I did not wish to write you with pen and ink," once again. "But I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face. Peace to you. Our friend greet you. Greet the friends by name."
So, once again, 2 John, true love requires love for the truth. 3 John, love for the truth requires loving truly, demonstrating your love, showing your love to those who are true servants of God. Now we get to the last little book for tonight. That is the book of Jude. Hey, Jude.
Now, Jude, this is a contentious book. In this book, you are called to bear arms, spiritually speaking, to put up a good fight for the faith, to contend for the faith. It is written by Jude. Who is Jude? Jude was the brother of James, who wrote the Epistle of James, and the half-brother of Jesus Christ. So he was a son of Mary and Joseph. Jesus, of course, was born of Mary, but conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary and Joseph had children of their own, and Jude, also called Judas, or praise Judah, was one of them. Here, he goes by the shortened name of Jude.
The brothers of Jesus, the family of Jesus-- James, Judas, Jude I mean, this Jude-- did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. John chapter 7 tells us. They sort of chided him and told him to go to Jerusalem. And if he's really the Messiah, show himself and make a show, a miracle. And it says, for his brothers did not believe in Him. And they didn't believe in Him until Jesus died and resurrected from the dead.
After the Resurrection, Jesus made a special appearance to his own half-brothers. The Bible tells us he appeared to 500 at a time, then he appeared to his brothers, then he appeared to the other apostles. And so it was probably at that appearance of Jesus after his death and Resurrection that James and Jude placed their faith in Him.
If I were to give the Book of Jude a name, I would call it the acts of the apostates. You have the acts of the Apostles. This is the acts of the apostates. These are people that Jude is writing against, in very direct terms. Not a whole lot of lovey-dovey here like John, but just right to the point and right to the heart. And it's a call to arms. It's a call to fight.
It's not what Jude started out to write. Jude, by his own admission, began to write a devotional, just a short, little devo on salvation. But he was compelled to tell the church, you need to fight for the faith once for all delivered to the Saints. It wasn't what I wanted to write, but I felt compelled by the spirit of God to write that.
If you're students of the New Testament, you already know this, that Jude has a lot in common with 2 Peter. In fact, many of the themes and examples are almost verbatim out of 2 Peter, though done a little bit differently and certainly done with more punch in the Book of Jude. I just want to read something else to you before we jump through it and read it all. It's short. Again, I know we have, like, 9 and 1/2 minutes.
But in Galatians, just so you know that Jude wasn't having a bad day and that's why he wrote these strong words. I want you to listen to Paul the Apostle. This is Galatians chapter 1. He says, "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel, which is not another. But there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ." Paul was writing against a different group-- legalists, Judaizers-- adding to the gospel, changing the meaning of truth, still compromising and perverting the truth.
But there is a principle that's the same. Listen to what he continues to write in Galatians. "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed." That's pretty strong. "As we have said before so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed."
Now, with that background, we get into Jude verse 1. Jude is 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 multiple idea, 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, for certain men have crept in unnoticed who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men who turned the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ."
Notice the term "the faith." I want you to contend for "the faith." What does that mean? The faith is a saying, a phrase that means the body of Christian truth. Paul writes to the Corinthians and says, "Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith or not." Paul writes and says to Timothy that in the latter times will come people who deny the faith.
So the faith is a couple words that mean the body of Christian truth, what you and I know as New Testament doctrine, what was called in Acts 242 the Apostles' doctrine. That's the faith, the true faith, the true teaching of Christ. And notice he says, I wanted to write about our common salvation, but I felt it necessary to tell you to load your ammo, basically, put up a good fight for the faith. Contend earnestly, that's what it means, put up a good fight for the faith. Contend earnestly for the faith.
And now notice this-- which was once-- what? What does it say after that? Once what? Say it loud. Once for all. Once for all. What that means is by AD 100-- because it's written in the 90 AD something-- 94, 95 AD. By the first century, the body of Christian truth in its totality was deposited. There was no more truth to be added to that.
So if somebody says, well, you know, the church has always been wrong in the last several hundred years, and God has given us a new revelation, a revelation for today. It's called the Book of Mormon or the Pearl of Great Price or the teachings of Rutherford or whatever cult it is. They're denying with this verse says, because according to Jude, the faith, the truth, was deposited once for all.
I remember having this conversation with a couple Mormon missionaries up in my office. They would come every Sunday morning, and they'd sit in the front row with their ties. You know, they're only, like, 19, but they call themselves elder. And they're in the front row their ties and their Book of Mormon. And I approach them, and I said, what are you guys doing here? Said, oh, we've come, because we just hear it's a good Bible teaching church. We want to hear the word.
I said, great. Sit in the front row. You're welcome. Come. But don't talk to anybody about what you believe. OK, why? I said, well, I want to talk to you first. So I had them come in and had several hours with them and just tried to drill this verse down. You're telling me that this is a new revelation that God gave called the Book of Mormon. And yet, how do you square that with once for all delivered to the saints.
I had them exegete this and come to the realization that I can't believe what I believe if I believe that verse. Anyway, that was quite an interesting meeting. So going on, he gives three examples of those who turned from the truth in the Old Testament. One, the nation of Israel, verse 5. "I want to remind you that though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people--" that is the people of Israel-- "out of the land of Egypt afterward destroyed those who did not believe." Those are that generation in the wilderness.
So that's illustration number one. This is how God deals with people who turn from the truth. This is what he did in ancient Israel in the wilderness.
Verse 6 is the second example, and he refers to the fallen angels of Genesis 6. "The angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own habitation, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day." And now the third example are the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, who had the testimony of Abraham in their lives because of Lot, his nephew.
"And Sodom and Gomorrah," verse 7, "and the cities around them, in similar manner to these, have given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Likewise, also, these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries." This is an interesting verse.
"Yet, Michael, the Archangel, in contending with the Devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring a reviling accusation but said, the Lord rebuke you. But these speak evil of whatever they do not know and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things, they corrupt themselves." I'm tempted to get into that, but I can't. I have to move forward.
"Woe to them." Verse 11, "Woe to them, for they have run--" now here's more illustrations. "They have run in the way of Cain." Right Cain departed from the Lord by a false worship. And they have run greedily in the air of Balaam for prophet. Balaam told King Balak how to seduce the children of Israel and get God to go against them by immorality. And perished in the rebellion of Korah. Korah and those 250 men that rebelled against Moses in the Old Testament. So example after example.
He drills down. He poetically talks about their fate and their falseness and their false doctrine in the versus to come. Taking it down to verse 17. "But you, beloved--" see the tender touch? I'm going to tell you how bad these false prophets are, but you, beloved, "remember the words which were spoken before by the Apostles of the 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. These are sensual persons who cause divisions, not having the spirit.
But you, beloved--" there it is again, "building yourselves up on the most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit." Since these apostates come in and tear down your faith, it's incumbent upon you to always be building up your faith. "Keep yourselves," verse 21, "in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."
That does not mean keep yourselves in a place where God can love you. Because I hope you know God loves you no matter what place you're at. You might be the worst person, the most ungodly person, the most sinful person, the most apostate person. God loves you. When it says keep yourselves in the love of God, the idea is keep herself in a place where you experience the love of God. That's what the Living Bible sort of translates it as. Keep yourselves in the boundaries where you are enjoying the blessing of God.
So the illustration I like to use is an umbrella. You can be in bright sunlight, and maybe you-- it's a spring day. It's high 60s, and the sun feels so good on your face after a cold winter. But then you raise an umbrella, and suddenly, you aren't feeling the effects of the sun. You're not keeping the sun away. You're just keeping yourself from enjoying the sun, right?
So you can put up an umbrella of sin. You can put up an umbrella of something that causes you not to really experience nor enjoy the love of God. That's the idea of keep yourselves in the love of God. You're building yourself up.
Verse 24, "Now to him who's able to keep you from stumbling and present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy." One of my favorites in scripture. "To God, our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever, amen."
So let's sum it up-- 2 John, 3 John, and Jude. 2 John is be careful with your love to the wrong people. 3 John, . Be lavish with your love to the right people. And the book of Jude-- love all people enough to tell them the truth.
Father, thank you for the truth that is found in scripture. It has been deposited to us once and for all. We have it. We can study it. We can apply it. We can instruct with it. We can warn with it. But Lord, I pray would always be our appeal and our motivation, that just because a person says, like in the video we saw before the service, I'm a Christian. I believe in Jesus. I follow God.
That we would dig under the surface a little more deeply and not just take that word, but examine. Just like we are to examine ourselves, we would have discernment with our love to know how to best show it. And sometimes the best way to show love is to rebuke, to reprove. At other times, it is to embrace, to forgive, to accept. But we need your wisdom to know the difference. In Jesus' name, amen.
Let's all stand. Let's worship. Great seeing you tonight.
For more resources, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from "The Bible from 30,000 Feet."