A Current Bible Study:

II John

     From the enormity of John's Revelation of Jesus Christ in our last study, we now turn to this ultra-brief epistle to the Church. Too short for chapters, this entire book consists of just thirteen verses. But these are important verses. This little book reminds me of the fire drill card that hangs on the wall in the public school classroom where I teach. As long as there is no emergency, this card is almost totally ignored. But when the alarm sounds, it shows everyone the way to safety. It doesn't need to be encyclopedic. It has very few words, just the essentials. That's like II John: just the essentials, the emergency information for the Church. Beloved, look around and within your own heart. The alarm is sounding, the emergency has arrived in the Church today. It's time to turn again to the essential and life-saving instructions of this little book.
     Perhaps it should be against the rules to write a study longer than the Bible passage you're studying. Well, if I had to fit this study on a fire drill card, I could. It would go something like this:

IN CASE OF CHURCH EMERGENCY
1. Accept Jesus
2. Love One Another


Verse 1- "The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;"
     I believe the Apostle is saying that the Church is composed of all they that have known the truth and have accepted Christ. This leaves two other groups, those who are seeking the Truth, but haven't found Christ, and those who are hostile to God's truth. In my lifetime I have lived in all three of these groups. I can't help but wonder what group you might be in, my beloved. Have you ever thought about it? You ARE in one of them.
     Now who is this lady he refers to? And who are the children? I think this represents the believers collectively (the lady is Christ's bride, the Church) and individually (the children are separate people who have become born again). Notice that the two go together. Christ died for each individual, but we saved individuals MUST get together to form the Christ's Church, His Body on the earth today.
     Now I want to digress for a moment or two to try and show some Scriptural harmony between this passage and something Jesus said to His disciples in the Gospel of Matthew. Look at how much importance Jesus put on believers working together:
Matthew 18: 15-17- "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican."
     Do you hear Christ? There is a recourse when problems can't be worked out individually, but the Church is the final court of appeals. The Author of the Church envisioned that kind of power for the collective of believers. If you have ever doubted whether it was worth it to keep trying to join together with other believers, and let me just come out right now and admit that I have doubted it many times, listen to what Christ says:
Matthew 18: 18-20- "Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
    The old practical fisherman, Peter, was sitting there at Christ's feet listening to all of this, and he immediately perceived the biggest problem that would keep believers apart and stripped of all this power:
Matthew 18: 21- "Then Peter came to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
     Can you hear the harmony between Jesus' response and our study in II John:
Matthew 18:22- "Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven."
    Maybe Peter and the disciples would have an excuse for not totally understanding or applying this command. But friend, Christ has gone to the cross and beyond now, and we are supposed to be living His vision of the Church RIGHT NOW. This is the emergency situation I spoke of before. Every moment in any location where the believers remain divided, and thus powerless, is another moment of victory for our enemy. Where I live the alarm is sounding, it has been sounding for a long time. God is concerned, I'm sure, but not perplexed. He has the emergency instructions that can save us all. Let's continue reading, and heeding II John:

Verse 2- "For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever."
     In a world of lies, the truth of the Gospel is like a light in the darkness. There is nothing more essential when you're in darkness (and we all are) than the light. Here's what the truth brings:
Verse 3- "Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love."
     Oh, I'm so glad he said that last word. God could have only His truth, and still be all that He is. But my soul would be trash. A small dark speck in a dark world. But God's wouldn't settle for just truth. Truth, yes, but He loves me enough to share that truth with me. Now that I, and this only by His mercy and grace, have a little bit of His truth to share, I must remember to share His love also. Beloved, I'm going to pause right here while I'm writing this and think about you for a moment (whoever you may be reading this) as an offering of love to you.

Verses 4-6- "I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.
     Born of God's love the collective believers must CONTINUE on in the same love. Walking after His commandments refers to believing and, as we shall see next, safeguarding the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Keeping that Holy Commandment.


     If you were the Devil, and you knew you could not destroy the Church by directly wiping it out of existence, what do you suppose would be your next best option? Forced by the sheer superiority of God, the Devil must accept the Church's existence. So he tries instead to subvert and change us. If he can't erase our message he will augment it instead. And the love that was meant to bind us together into God's living temple on the earth may be buried by individual selfishness, fear, bureaucracy or anything that captivates the flesh. Oh, that emergency alarm is sounding in the churches today. Most of us today don't even know what the word Church means. It is NOT a building, friend. It never was.  John was in a real struggle, too, back then. Can you hear the urgency in his voice:
Verses 7-8: For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves that we loose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward."
     When we open up our vision of the Church to include all the believers we must be very diligent to safeguard the truth of the Gospel:
Verses 10-11- "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine (the Gospel) receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed. For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
    Love without truth is fake love. But, oh my, what rewards here on this earth when we discern and embrace the entire Body of Christ, all of God's people. We ARE up to the challenges of rescuing a dying world. We have the resources, but we must unite.

Verse 12- "Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.
    It's really the joy of God's love being shared, and the truth of the Gospel that makes the Church. John's group had it, and we all need it. I need it. I need it so much. I need you, beloved. Even if you don't believe yet. I need you to accept Christ and join the Body. We are weaker without you. We need your gifts, your special unction of the Spirit. Our joy will never be completely full unless it is shared with YOU!

Verse 13- "The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen."
     John shows that all the believers where he is writing from and all the believers that he is writing to have a close relationship. They are "sisters." That kind of universal openness fulfills Christ's vision back in Matthew 18. It literally brings Jesus into the world today (see Matthew 18:20). But when we approach this kind of power, the Devil notices. He will ask if he can join, too. If we don't refuse him by heeding the instructions of II John we'll miss our full reward of joy and, according to God's Word, the world will not see Jesus.

May Jesus Christ richly bless you-JKD 6/22/01

 

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