For the Truth’s Sake

2 John 1

100 years ago, enemy of the church was modernism. Evangelical church’s response to modernism was series of 90 essays, published by Biola Univ. called The Fundamentals. “Modernism was a world-view based on the notion that only science could explain reality. The modernist in effect began with the presupposition that nothing supernatural is real.” MacArthur

Humanist John Dewey (1859-1952), co-author and signer of the Humanist Manifesto 1 (1933), declared, “There is no God and there is no soul. Hence, there are no needs for the props of traditional religion. With dogma and creed excluded, then immutable truth is also dead and buried. There is no room for fixed, natural law or moral absolutes.”

About time Dewey died, so did modernism. Was replaced by postmodernism. Some thought a step forward, but really a bigger step backward into skepticism. Postmodernist denies existence of absolute truth, denies that truth could even be known if it did exist. Postmodernist refuses to accept that there is “objective, authoritative truth that governs or applies to all humanity universally”. MacArthur Truth is reduced to personal opinion or feeling and must never be imposed on another person.

Evangelical church’s response to postmodernism largely absent. If there is any, often takes one of two forms: accommodation, minimizing claims to absolute truth that have been foundational to historic Christianity. Or,… responding to hot-button issues by emphasizing what Christians should stand against – homosexuality, abortion, same-sex marriage, morning-after pill, Muslims, list goes on. “Don’t drink, don’t dance, don’t chew, don’t hang out with those who do”.

Difficult if not impossible to justify either response from Bible. Jesus himself made absolute claims about truth: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 God’s “word is truth”, the word that makes us holy. John 17:17 Holy Spirit through apostle Paul identified “God’s household, …the church of the living God, [as] the pillar and foundation of the truth” 1 Tim. 3:15 Not a pillar against heresies or against error, a pillar of the truth. Earlier in epistle, declared that “God our Savior …desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Tim. 2:3-4 Jesus, once again, “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32

What we read in text is completely consistent with what God in person of his Son communicated, in person of Holy Spirit communicated through biblical authors. Having read and believed rest of Bible, no surprise whatever to see repeated references to truth in John’s greeting to “the elect lady and her children”. Given what he wrote in first epistle, would expect him to encourage readers to walk in the truth (practice it), to warn them not to depart from the truth (protect it).

A. greeting grounded in the truth v.1-3

truth and love intimately connected

exhorted to love the brethren – need some kind of common ground to have relationship, to practice love

take any two (or more) believers, from any place / time / culture / circumstances – share same truth

truth embodied in Jesus, enscripturated in Bible

known by believer (1)

abides in believer, will be with believer forever (2)

establishes context along with love for receiving blessings of grace, mercy, peace (3)

to love God requires love for truth

if you love Jesus, if Jesus is the truth, you must love the truth

think about “poster child” for opposite of truth – the one who “does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.”, who “is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44

either child of God or child of the devil

to be child of God means having been set free from bondage – it’s truth that sets free, truth that makes holy

if we love our freedom in Christ, must love truth

love that sacrifices truth not truly love

our brothers

Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by your truth”; sacrificing truth puts holiness of fellow believers at risk

“I love you but not enough to help you become like Christ” – may not say so outright, but… compromising truth has that effect

our neighbor

our #1 goal for neighbor should be see them come to Christ

that equals: knowing the truth about themselves, their problem, God’s solution

John’s demonstration of truth and love

loved the sister and her children enough to speak truth in love

provide loving encouragement for what they were doing well

warn against ways of thinking or acting that would put them at risk spiritually

and by which they would put brothers and neighbors at risk

B. calling to walk in the truth v.4-6

(practicing the truth)

again, not something new: “if it’s new, it’s probly not true”

love God, keep his commands, (Deut. 11:1) love neighbor (Lev. 19:18) – first biblical author wrote those

Jesus wasn’t giving new commands – God hadn’t changed, truth hadn’t changed, moral law hadn’t changed either

by instruction and example (John 13) made plain how his people were to please God

see John’s pastoral heart (4)

wasn’t growth in numbers of local church; wasn’t growth in knowledge of Bible facts, doctrinal truth

wasn’t even departure of potential troublemakers; was good thing, not what caused John to rejoice

was that “some of your children [were] walking in truth” (4)

work of pastor to “shepherd the flock of God, …serving as overseers, …being examples” (1 Peter 5:2-3)

called to “watch out for your souls, as those who must give account” (Heb. 13:17)

all of that under oversight of the Chief Shepherd who will reward his labors (1 Peter 5:4)

seeing health of souls under his care – demonstrated by “walking in truth”, “loving one another”, “walking according to his commandments” – that’s what gives joy to pastor

encouraged by their grasp of the truth

showing their spiritual maturity – goes beyond having answers to questions, knowing facts, even being able to debate and defend biblical principles

demonstrated ability to take biblical truth and apply to daily life

showing Christ-likeness in love for one another

living in obedience to Christ’s commands – relationships, setting priorities, choosing activities, applying biblical principles/truth to decision-making

“To love each other truly is to cherish one another as God’s image bearers, to seek what is best for each other according to the will of God, and to act toward one another as God commands. That involves listening, helping, praying, giving, and serving each other with kindness and thoughtfulness, forgiving and bearing with one another.” Beeke

John rejoiced, could see in day-to-day behavior of flock that his shepherding had been effective

they were fulfilling their purpose: bringing glory to God by living out the truth, being lights in dark world

C. warning not to depart from the truth v.7-11

(protecting the truth)

why it’s important to protect the truth

deceivers have left the church (7)

not type to live and let live – determined to acquire a following

don’t care where following comes from – from the church, from the world

must have clear witness and example

for next generation – pass along pure, not watered-down truth

so we receive “well done, good and faithful servant”

who they are

those who deny biblical truth about Lord Jesus (7)

deny incarnation, deity of Christ, that he is Son of god

those who have “moved beyond” the basics (9)

acquired new truth, more advanced than simple incomplete faith of previous generation

what to do

don’t put self at risk

by encouraging “fellowship” – time spent together under their influence (10)

risk is – you’ll be deceived (8)

you’ll encourage spread of false teaching (11)

don’t put others at risk

by giving appearance of approval

fellow believers or others – drive by, see car in the yard, assume wrong thing

Truth under assault today just as in John’s day, same kinds of tactics/methods being used. Only thing that will push back darkness of deception is light of God’s truth. May each of us use all resources God has entrusted to us to practice the truth and protect the truth, to take our stand on the solid rock that will never move. May God give us grace to continue relying on Christ as our hope and stay, proclaim him as the only one who can give true and lasting hope to lost sinners.

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