Truth and Love (5-23-15)
Grab your Bible and let’s go deeper into 2 John:
Today’s passage is all about truth and love.
Three things I want to highlight in 2 John today:
- The good news of truth and love (1-4)
- Truth & love practiced (5-6)
- Truth & love protected (7-11)
- The Good News of truth and love (1-4)
Read: 2 John 1:1-4
2 John 1:1 “The elder to the elect lady and her children,”
John gives a unique address to those he is writing this short second letter. The letter is addressed “to the elect lady and her children”.
It is believed that the writer adopted a literary form in 2 John, in which a particular Christian church is personified as “the chosen lady” and its members are called “her children.”
The personification of nations and cities as female personages is common in the Bible.
To name a few, “the daughter of Zion”, and the Christian church is often referred to as “the bride of Christ”.
So, John is writing to a church whom he knows and loves. He continues….
2 John 1:1b-2 “…whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, 2 because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever.”
Today this text brings forth insight into the marriage of truth and love.
First let’s look at truth:
Two important things we get here:
The greatest truth one can know in all of the world is the gospel.
- The gospel is :
– the truth of the holy, magnificent and sovereign God by which everything that exists does so for his eternal glory.
– the truth that man has turned away from God’s glory in sinful disobedience to make their lives about their own glory and to worship the idol of creation instead of God.
– the truth that because of our sin we deserve the righteous eternal wrath of God.
– the truth that in God’s amazing grace he chooses to save sinners by the perfect shed blood of his son.
– the truth that those whom God gives ears to hear and eyes to see, who repent of sin and self and trust wholly in Jesus Christ alone for salvation and lordship, he justifies and adopts as his own for eternity.
The truth of the gospel is the most important truth we can ever know.
You can get everything else right in this life and still miss the most important truth!
-Truth about who said what about you in your second grade class.
-Truth about whether or not that guy really stole your stuff.
-Truth about whether or not your love one really did cheat on you or not.
-Truth about whether or not you were judged fairly in that certain situation.
2) John says, those who know and trust in this truth of the gospel have the truth abiding in them and, as a result, will enjoy life together forever with God and his people.
This is more of the “certainty language” we see used in all of the letters of John for those whom are truly in Jesus via faith in the aforementioned gospel. KNOW, REST, BE CONFIDENT, BE CERTAIN…. Who you are.. what you have, and where you will forever be!
In addition to TRUTH, John focuses on LOVE:
There is no LOVE- no real LOVE- which is the love of God without the truth of the gospel.
John says it here when he says, “…whom I love in truth.”
He says, I love you, to the church he is writing to because that love is born and grounded in the TRUTH!
Now, as we read on… this TRUTH AND LOVE bear wonderful things in our lives that are worth celebrating and living in.
2 John 1:3 “Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.”
Read it backwards… IN TRUTH AND LOVE… GOD the Father and Jesus Christ his Son.. gives grace, mercy, and peace. May they be with us!
Many of you are looking for grace, mercy, and peace in your life.
If you are ever going to know and have true grace, mercy and peace in your life, you must first know and have the TRUTH of the gospel and the LOVE OF GOD it brings.
What I want us to see today, is that truth and love need to go together.
– Tim Keller says it so well in his book …. “The Meaning of Marriage”
“Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws.
Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it.
God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent.
The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.”
The gospel is GOOD NEWS worth rejoicing in! Look at verse 4…
2 John 1:4 “I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. “
Let me say it again,
the truth is the full gospel of Jesus Christ. Not some half-baked, man-made, cheapened, thinned-out religious belief.
Some of you know the joy of your children who know and walk in this full and true gospel of Jesus.
Many of you also know the frustration and concern for children or grandchildren who don’t….
Either way, it is the prayer of our hearts that our loved ones know the truth and love of God.
Now verse 4 leads us to the second part as we ask.. àWhat does it look like to walk in truth?
- Truth & love practiced (5-6)
Read: 2 John 1:5-6
People that want to add to Jesus or say you need something other than Jesus are the very people that John is writing for the church to be aware of. He is trying to help them by saying stay rooted in your first love… JESUS. Walk in Christ & his commands.
He is saying, love is walking according to the commandments (the truth). In this, we see that truth and love are interdependent.
Let me expand with four ways that truth and love are interdependently in God’s economy for the saved.
- A) Truth aims at love
Look at 1 Timothy 1:5 with me: “The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
Instruction is not the goal, love is. Instruction is the means. It is subordinate. Truth leads to love. Knowledge leads to relationships –most importantly, the relationship between us and God, but also between Christian and Christian, and between us and unbelievers. The “goal” of all of our education is love.
Also look at….
Hebrews 10:23-25 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope (the truth) without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” à Again, out of holding to the truth of the gospel we will stir one another up in love.
- B) Love rejoices in truth
“Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth” –1 Corinthians 13:6
Love is glad when truth is spoken. Therefore, love aims at truth. It supports truth.
- C) Love shapes how to speak the truth
“Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” –Ephesians 4:15
There is an unloving way to speak the truth. That kind of truth-speaking we should seriously avoid.
But, there is a way to speak the truth in love and we should practice that.
True love shapes truth into words and ways that are patient and gentle.
2 Timothy 2:24-25 “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.”
This is the mark of a mature Christian or at least a Christian who is walking in gospel community and in The Word.
This will become more important in a moment as we read about how we are to draw a line against false doctrine and false teachers. It is important we find the biblical balance in loving others with out compromising Biblical truth.
- D) Truth shapes how to show love
Back to our text …
2 John 1:6 “And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.”
It is not always obvious which actions and words are loving.
So, John tells us truth will help us know if our actions and words are loving.
So many times I have needed to not reply to a hard situation until I dig into scripture to prepare my heart and words to speak in love.
One truth test for our love is whether we are keeping the commandments of God toward people.
In other words, love cannot be cut loose from the truth of God’s will. Truth shapes how to show love to each other in a God-honoring way. à That is the practice of truth and love. Let’s look at how truth and love are protected.
- Truth & love protected (7-11)
Read: 2 John 1:7-8
Here, John specifically speaks about people who are denying the incarnation of Jesus.
In other words, that God did not take on flesh and accommodate us.
Likewise, there are many today who might claim Jesus lived and was a great man, but that he was not God in flesh. àThis is a position where one claims to believe in Jesus but not the full and true Jesus.
This is simply not sufficient to stir and/or endure true faith.
This is the deception of half-truths that John is warning this church about.
We too need to be on guard and watching ourselves so that we are not deceived by false doctrines built on half-truths.
We too need to be willing to protect at all cost “truth and love found only in Christ” in order that we may win a “full reward” John speaks of here.
Let’s keep moving.. verse 9…
2 John 1:9 “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.”
One of the evidences of salvation and life with God is an ongoing, abiding in the truth of the gospel or, as John says it here, the teachings of Christ.
It is all too common in today’s age of not upsetting others and being politically correct to hear people say, I used to walk with Jesus and go to church and practice religion but now I have my own way of finding peace with God.
Do you hear the self-salvation, lostness and deception of “one who finds their own peace with God”?
One who abides in Jesus is one who is desperate for him alone- who draws into him and walks with him.
This is the commandment: walk according to God’s commandments, abide in Jesus, and all his teachings.
For example: One of the critical and most central teachings of Christ is that Jesus is the only way to God.
Two quick teachings from the mouth of Jesus that we are to believe and abide in:
John 8:23-24 “He said to them, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.’”
And if that is not enough..
John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
2 John 1:10-11 “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.”
New Testament authors did not share our modern inclination to be tolerant with false doctrines or practices.
John is exhorting this church to take seriously the adverse affects of the false doctrines being embraced and even believed in.
This brings up one of the real issues I see facing Christians today.
How do I hold to truth and still act in love?
How do I believe that what the Bible teaches about sex before marriage, homosexuality, greed, lust, addiction, idolatry are true and still show love to the adulterer, the homosexual, the greedy, the addicted and the idolaters?
See, what too many “CHRISTIANS” want to do today is claim the Bible says this or that but in the end they live by their own moral code and adjust to whatever is most comfortable and/or whatever is least conflict stirring.
When tolerance becomes more important and more primary than TRUTH, it is not LOVING!
à You are not loving people by being tolerant if it means you are watering down the truth about their sin and the truth of God’s grace through Christ’s blood that, in his providence, sets people free.
Instead, we are to preach the true gospel to them (maybe serve their practical needs) but we are to protect ourselves from their teaching by knowing Jesus’ true teachings and to not call them brothers while treating them as family members of Christ as this will have disastrous consequences.
2 John 1:12 “Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete. 13 The children of your elect sister greet you.”
Don’t be distant from each other this week. Get face to face. Celebrate your joy in Christ.
Press each other into Christ. Let the truth and love of Christ reign in and through you as you move about this week.
For His glory and by His grace,
Soldiers for Jesus MC