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The Basis of Christian Fellowship

2 John

Jim Davis

Some believe 2 John was written to a godly woman and her children; while others think "the elect lady" refers to a local group of Christians meeting in someone's home. John seems to be speaking to them in the plural (vv. 6, 8, 1, 12), but he also writes in the singular (vv. 1,4-5, 13). John may be speaking to a lady and her children as well as the church meeting in her house. He may have had the family and the church in mind. We may not completely understand his salutation, but there is one thing we do understand.

John is deeply concerned that we abide in the truth. The word "truth" permeates John's salutation in 2 John.

2 John 1:1-3
The elder, To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth-- and not I only, but also all who know the truth--because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, will be with us in truth and love. (NIV)

Truth will always be valid for truth is eternal. What greater purpose for living than to live for the truth. John sees God and his Son Jesus as the source of all truth.

Jesus Christ is truth (John 14:6), the Word of God is truth (John 17:17) and the Spirit of truth must guide us into fellowship with other Christians. The truth of Christ is to test what we hear, it is to guide our personal lives, it is the basis of fellowship and it is what bonds us through mutual cooperation.

John is deeply concerned with whom we have fellowship. There is nothing wrong with allowing unbelievers to attend our fellowship for the purpose of learning the truth. But they must understand that true Christian fellowship can only be had as we abide in the truth and the truth abides in us.

We Must Walk in Truth

John stresses the importance of walking in truth. If we are not careful our knowledge of truth will be only historical. That is, we study truth just for the sake of knowing the truth. We may know the truth from a historical perspective, but we fail to live it out in our lives.

John stresses the importance of living in the truth.

2 John 1:4-6
It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. (NIV)

John is also concerned about those who refuse the historical Jesus. He is concerned about those who refuse to accept the historical Christ by denying that he is the Son of God.

Christ is God's Son

John would not support the idea that all religious teachings are true in one way or another, and we should not be critical just as long as people are sincere. John saw a deadly difference between truth and error. He would not tolerate error. He would not tolerate those spreading error in the fellowship of believers.

The center of the controversy in the church John was writing too was wrapped up in the question of whether Jesus Christ was God's Son. It is no accident that John opens his letter affirming that Christ is God's Son.

2 John 1:3
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, will be with us in truth and love. (NIV)

John called those who refused to acknowledge Jesus as coming in the flesh as antichrist.

2 John 1:7
Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. (NIV)

The only way Christ can be God's Son is for him to born of flesh. The New Testament emphasizes the fact that Jesus Christ was a man who was God's Son.

Philippians 2:5-11
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (NIV)

Jesus was more than human. He was God's only begotten Son who came to mediate our cause before God's throne.

1 Timothy 2:5-6
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men-- the testimony given in its proper time. (NIV)

Today God speaks to us through his Son and we speak to God through his son.

Hebrews 1:1-5
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father"? Or again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son"? (NIV)

You can't come to God without coming through the Son.

John 5:22-23
Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. (NIV)

It is important for us to believe in Jesus, but what we believe about Jesus is equally important, for it is what we believe about Jesus that defines our faith. You cannot believe in Jesus without believing the truth he taught about himself. To deny the fact that he claimed to be God's Son is to deny Christ.

We are living in a day when mass media seeks to rewrite the Bible for us. ABC had a program about Jesus. They were denying that Jesus was the man the Bible claims him to be. They think the stories about Jesus are nothing more than legions made up by his followers. They denied the fact that he was the Son of God. If Jesus is not who he claimed to be then he is nobody.

The Basis of Fellowship with God

Christian faith and fellowship stands or falls on the basis of Jesus' deity. If he is only man, he cannot save us no matter how gifted or unique he might be. If he is not who he claimed to be, he isn't even a good man. If we are true to Christ, we must defend his claims.

2 John 1:4-6
It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. (NIV)

Christ defines a loving fellowship by how he lived. John describes walking in truth as obedience to Christ commands. Walking in Christ's commands allows us to experience a loving fellowship based upon the person of Christ.

1 John 1:7
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (NIV)

Isn't it odd that many churches fail to teach how to walk in love? They are too busy trying to decide how to have a worship service. It amazes me at the time and effort going into to defining how we should conduct a worship service--one-cup or multiple cups, contemporary or traditional. What scares me is that what is going on in our personal lives may invalidate any attempt we make to worship God.

Love is defined through the truth Jesus revealed. Love is also defined by how Jesus lived. The unique nature of Christian love is that it is based upon truth revealed by God. It is also based upon the life revealed in the Son. Who knows more about walking in love than God?

There is no way to walk in God's love and there is no way to know what love is without recognizing who Jesus really is.

Christ provides the basic foundation for fellowship with God.

2 John 1:8-9
Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. (NIV)

1 Corinthians 3:10-11
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (NIV)

To enjoy God's fellowship we must we must abide in the truth Christ taught.

John 15:4-6
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (NIV)

When we deny the fact that Christ is God's Son we have no basis upon which to fellowship God, for without the Son there can be no fellowship.

1 John 2:1-4
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense-- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (NIV)

Without Christ there can be no forgiveness.

John 8:24
I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am, you will indeed die in your sins." (NIV)

Acts 2:38-39
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-- for all whom the Lord our God will call." (NIV)

Without Christ there is no peace. God is not at war with lost sinners; sinners are at war with God.

Romans 5:10
For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (NIV)

Romans 8:6-7
The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. (NIV)

2 Corinthians 5:14-21
For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (NIV)

God's Fellowship Excludes Fellowshipping Antichrist

Every age entertains the notion that it needs to modernize Christ. John's time was no different. However, there is nothing modern about the world's desire to modernize Christ. Historically every age has wanted to change Christ to fit into their own pattern of thinking without being challenged about how they live. It is a type of progressive theology that changes with the times. But there is nothing progressive about it. This desire usually leads to retrogression as it leads us into a destructive way of living. It is no accident that John warns us saying, "Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully." If we are not careful we will lose what we have gained.

2 John 1:10-11
Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.
(NIV)

2 Corinthians 6:14-18
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." (NIV)

During ancient times hospitality was more prevalent than it is today. Members of the church would open their homes to traveling evangelist. John warns them against extending hospitality to false teachers. We must not encourage those against Christ in any way to help them seduce

John does not want them to leave the impression that they were accepting the false teacher. He didn't want them infected by the false teachers. He didn't want them giving ammunition to the false teacher to use against the church.

John is not saying that we should not be hospitable to non-Christians. Friendship evangelism is the surest way to win the world.

Conclusion:

John will save what anything else he has to say until he visits.

2 John 1:12-13
I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete. The children of your chosen sister send their greetings. (NIV)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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