WARNING: Who’s That Knocking At Your Door?

SCRIPTURE:  2 John 1:1-13

Verses 10-11 (The Message)

10-11  If anyone shows up who doesn’t hold to this teaching, don’t invite him in and give him the run of the place.  That would just give him a platform to perpetuate his evil ways, making you his partner.

The cults will always come knocking on our door, especially during the holidays.

The ESSENCE of this little letter, a biblical Postcard as some have said, because of its brevity and it is a caution against endorsing a CULT.  But I’m a little ahead of myself and need to begin at the beginning of John’s letter.

The Elder…

The writer of this letter, the apostle John, is referred to as “the Elder”–this is referring to age–usually an old man (Luke 15:25; 1 Timothy 5:1) and perhaps an Elder in the local church as well.

John was clearly an aged man when he wrote this “Postcard”, or small letter.  In David Guzik’s 2 John Commentary: 

John the apostle, who was now a very old man, generally supposed to be about ninety…He is allowed to have been the oldest of all the apostles, and to have been the only one who died a natural death.”  (Clarke).

So the use of the word “Elder” is not necessarily referring to an office in the church.  That said, the word could also refer to the rank or office in the Jewish Sanhedrin (Matthew 16:21).  It can refer as well to the local church (Acts 11:29, 20:17; 1 Timothy 5:17, 19).  What really matters here is his position rather than his personal name.  The word “Elder” simply means, “a venerable figure in the church known with affectionate [respect] as ‘the old man’.”  [referenceMarshall]

Who is the Letter Written to?  (verses 1b-6)

To the Woman who is CHOSEN–ELECT (v. 1, 13).

“ELECT” is eklektos, one picked out or chosen.  The reference is to the fact that this lady was one of the elects of God, one chosen-out one of God, chosen-out from among mankind by the sovereign grace of God for salvation.”  [reference – Wuest]

ELECTION –

“The eternal act of God whereby He, in His sovereign good pleasure, and on account of no foreseen merit in them, chooses a certain number of people to be recipients of the special grace of eternal salvation.  This ELECTION is unconditional [i.e., there is nothing in the creature that conditions God’s choice] pre-temporal (before the foundation of the world), unmerited (by grace), as the basis of SALVATION.”  [reference – Basic Theology, Ryrie]

(Ephesians 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:9)

Caution –

Whoever this lady was, it opens the door for a variety of interpretations:

  1.  Figuratively referenced to a local church.
  2.  A lady named Electra [meaning, chosen].
  3.  Karia [a Greek word for lady].
  4.  Or, it could be that the lady’s name is anonymous.

“whom I love in truth–also to all those who have known the truth.”

John uses the word agape (“love”) which is not a word of personal endearment, like agapetos (“well-beloved”).  He omits the word to avoid anybody in the church making something out of his correspondence to her.

  • He also uses the word “truth” – lit. “his love was in the sphere of truth.”
  • He equally includes her children as the object of his love.

All of this would stop any gossip in its tracts, keeping everything without the appearance of anything improper.

The CONTINUATION of the TRUTH –

“Because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever.”

WHAT IS THE TRUTH?

  1. Jesus Christ Himself (John 14:6).
  2. The Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17).
  3. The Word of God (John 17:17).

The SOURCE of the TRUTH – 

From God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father is TRUTH and LOVE.

Here we see God the Father and the Son placed on equal footing, something the Gnostic denied.  [See Got Questions.org “What is the definition of the term Gnostic?”]

The SUBSTANCE–What Comes from God to us (verse 3).

  • GRACE – God’s unmerited favor for everything we need to do God’s will.
  • MERCY – God not giving us what we deserve.
  • PEACE – The result of grace and mercy (heart peace AND not absence from war).

The COMMANDMENT (v. 4 b) –

WALK IN LOVE…

John is about to hit the old nail on the head.

The Problem–

In that day, hospitality was essential because a safe places were rare, and often unsavory people lurked in the few places open for a traveler.  Traveling ministers, or missionaries, were dependent upon godly people taking care of their needs.  To respond to such visitors required serious discernment since not every minister was of God.

Romans 16:17-18:

 

The Implication…

This woman might have been guilty, though without intent, of taking in these cultic deceivers.

2 John 1:10 (PHILLIPS):

[10] “If any teacher comes to you who is disloyal to what Christ taught, don’t have him inside your house.”

But aren’t we as Christians supposed to show our love to all others?  Good question.  Let’s see what the Bible adds to what LOVE is and isn’t:

1 Corinthians 13:6 (AMP)

[6] “It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.”

So turning away CULTS is not a lack of LOVE, but actually an expression of it.

The Warning Against Receiving Cults (verses 7-11) –

“The DECEIVERS” (v. 7) –

Deceivers: derived from a verb meaning “to wander, rove, to mislead, to lead into error, imposters.”

“Not the content to be deceived themselves, these men/ women cannot rest until they have deceived others for they do not bother pagans,  Their prey is true Christians”  [Lenski].

2 Corinthians 11:13-15

 

DANGER EXPOSED (v. 8) –

2 John 1:8 (AMP)

Look to yourselves (take care) that you may not lose (throw away or destroy) all that we and you have labored for, but that you may [persevere until you] win and receive back a perfect reward [in full].

Being seduced by FALSE TEACHERS is one way Christians can lose their reward at the judgment.  With this in mind, John writes that the reason to guard against DECEIVERS is our own desire NOT to lose our rewards.

Every Believer has the potential to receive a full reward or complete loss of a reward:

“If a man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet as through fire”  (1 Corinthians 3:15).

The determining factor is our FAITHFULNESS to Christ Jesus.

Justification isn’t in view here because it’s not something we worked for, but something we received as a GIFT from God.

The Only Defense (vs. 9) –

Here we have the present participle “proago-ago, LEAD” and pro “before.”  So the verb means “go before, precede, to go on ahead.”

It may be translated in verse 9 “goes too far” (NAS), or “run ahead” (NIV).

Our defense is to abide in  God’s TRUTH as found in His written Word.  So the verb “runs ahead” [goes too far] in 2 John might be understood as “is so advanced”.  So here it carries the importance of “to go beyond” or “go on ahead.”  They. the deceivers thought of themselves as having been so “advanced” beyond these unenlightened Christians.  The truth is that the CULTIST believed they had “advanced” beyond the TRUTH.

The Godly Disgust (vv. 10-11) –

REFUSE HOSPITALITY —

It shouldn’t take long to find out if a person is sound as to the Doctrine of Christ:

  • His deity,
  • Virgin birth,
  • Atoning death,
  • Resurrection,
  • Ascension,
  • His coming again.

TWO major CULTS today specialize in going door to door; Mormons and so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Both CULTS are heretical with regard to the person of Christ.

“Meet them at the door,” John says, but don’t invite them in–you’ll find them hard to get rid of–persuasive and persistent.  Shut the front door firmly in their faces.

This isn’t talking about the unsaved, the lost who come to visit us, but people who are on a mission to spread a false gospel message that DENIES the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.

If we encourage them in any way, we’re helping the devil do his work through them.

Let’s say I let one of them in and then they go to my neighbor’s house and say, “Hellow, I just came from your neighbors’ house.  Isn’t he a great guy?  We had a great discussion about ‘spiritual things’ and we would like to take a few minutes of your time to share something very important to you and your family.”

The form of “IF” used in verse 10 assumes that this sentence is a statement of reality.  FALSE TEACHERS actually were coming to this woman’s home; men who didn’t carry with them the genuine teaching of Christ.  When this happened, John’s command was clear.

DO NOT RECEIVE THEM!

Coming to a CONCLUSION –

The next time a CULT member comes knocking on your door–maybe you should begin singing, “I hear you knocking…but you can’t come in!”

Some sound advice:  If there are those who deny the DOCTRINE OF CHRIST–that He is God…that He was manifested in the flesh–don’t invite them into your home.  If they make Jesus out to be less than God, whether they say He is “the Son of God” and not God Himself [as the Jehovah’s Witnesses contend], or whether they say He is the spirit brother to Lucifer [as the Mormons teach].

DON’T LET THEM IN!

And don’t let heretics into your house through the Internet or the television set.

SHUT THE DOOR on False Teachers!

__________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS –

Commentaries Used for this study:  Townsend, Nelson Study Bible, Basic Theology, by Ryrie. Marshall’s Commentary; Wuest; Clarke; David Guzik; Lenske.

Hebrew and Greek Dictionary:  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search, Advance settings.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); or as noted in the text.

Song Recording:  “I Hear You Knockin,” by Smiley Lewis -YouTube

Separating the Gold From the Junk – (Part One)

A TREATISE ON SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT:

With the my conversations this past week [Adult Sunday School time;  plus trying to define the word “DISCERNMENT” and its meaning with my wife],  the Spirit directed me towards obtaining a clearer understanding.  I hope, as you follow along, you too will have a deeper understanding of discerning.

In its simplest definition, DISCERNMENT is nothing more than the ability to decide between TRUTH AND ERROR, RIGHT AND WRONG!  It is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth.  In other words, the ABILITY to think with DISCERNMENT is synonymous with an ability to think biblically [I will discuss the “GIFT OF DISCERNING SPIRITS” and the differences in Part Two].

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 teaches us that it’s the responsibility of every Christian to be discerning–

21  “Test ALL things; hold fast to what is good. 22  Abstain from every form of evil”  (NKJV).

Paul’s Admonition in a Letter:

Now my pastor used several bible verses relating to the topic of DISCERNMENT, but in particular, my focus in PART ONE will be directed to…

1 Corinthians 2:1-2:16– [The New King James Version].

Christ Crucified–

2  And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.  [2] For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  [3] I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.  [4] And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,  [5] that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Spiritual Wisdom

[6]  However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.  [7] But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery [“secret”] of the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory,  [8] which none of the rulers of this age know; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

[9] But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,

Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

[10] But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God.  [11] For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man who is in him?  Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.  [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the word but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

[13] These things we also speak not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  [14] But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.  [15] But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.  [16] For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?”  But we have the mind of Christ.

8413196065_fb484f0a2f  The Truths Are Deep, and Yet Simple–

There are no commands in this chapter of I Corinthians 2.  No rebukes given to the First Church of Corinth.  Instead, Paul is calling us all to appreciate and puzzle over what God has given in Christ by the Spirit.  While the truths are deep, at heart, they are very simple.

Paul is arguing against the Corinthians for trying to find some deeper, profound, scholarly wisdom.  When all the depth they ever need is found in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Unfortunately, DISCERNMENT is an area where most Christians stumble.  They exhibit little ability to measure the things they are taught against the infallible standard of God’s Word.

“SPIRITUAL WISDOM IN A FOOLISH WORLD”

Waylon Jennings lyrics in the classic Country Tune, Lookin’ For Love, started out with the conundrum this way:

“I was looking for love in all the wrong places

Looking for love in too many faces…”

Paul’s Letter to the Corinth Church–

A Church in Greece
A Church in Greece

The church members in a large Greek city also were in a “conundrum”; they were searching for spiritual wisdom in “all the wrong places”.  They had formed elitist groups based on certain teachings and opinions.

We do the same today in our towns and cities.  Church people form groups based on some new spiritual guru, the latest best seller and seminar, seeking with levels of advancement in “spirituality”.  It can get really silly!

In Corinth, what the church thought was WISE…

What was WISE ends up being foolish sometimes and in modern Christian circles, some groups use “buzzwords” to express our take on what it means to be “spiritually mature.”

Ever have someone ask you if you were “full of the Spirit”?  Have you got the “second blessing”?  Does your church believe in the “full gospel”?  I’ve certainly asked the same questions.

Corinthian “Catchwords”–

The apostle Paul uses their buzzwords to reclaim them; re-defining them in the light of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

 In using their language but filling it with his own content, Paul rejects them.  He uses terms that the Corinthians had adopted to justify their spiritual elitism (“wisdom,” “mature,” “secret,” “spiritual”); showing that when these terms are properly understood, they include that which is available to ALL believers, not just the super-spiritual.

The Problem in Corinth–

The problem was not that some Christians didn’t have the Holy Spirit, for all the Christians in Corinth had the Spirit.  The problem was they were not living as spiritual persons ought to live!

Our problem today isn’t that we don’t have what we need to live Christ-like lives, but that we are not embracing what has already been given to us.  We are instead,  “Misfocused In Unfruitful Directions”.

WE’VE BEEN BOMBARDED WITH CLAIMS. 

Claims like: THE KEYS to a happy and healthy Christian Life is to be found in some new technique [Prayer, self-help therapy, a Christian book, spiritual warfare, certain style of worship, personal revelation, a prayer tongue], and on and on.  When these so-called “KEYS”, move away from the humbling, central focus of the Cross of Jesus, we risk becoming elitists, potentially divisive, and if not rejected…can cause a ‘church split.’

Ironically, many deeper life Christian movements have evidently appealed to the church in 1 Corinthians 2; to justify their approach, which is the opposite of Paul’s intent.

Paul’s Intent–

The Apostle’s intent is that we should embrace “spiritual discernment” in God’s wisdom in Christ and by the Spirit.  When we shift our focus off Jesus, to some other secondary teaching or emphasis, we have lost our way.  When we seek and pursue some “deeper” meaning or “better way” that only we and our group have seen, we’ve missed the opportunity of reaching SPIRITUAL MATURITY available to ALL… through Christ and by the Holy Spirit.

Now the Corinthian church members thought they were mature and spiritual in their pursuit of wisdom, but in fact, they were but spiritual infants, missing the TRUE WISDOM of God through His Son.

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE “KEY” IN DISCERNMENT:

(Verses 10-12):  “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God.  [11] For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of man which is in him?  Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.  [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”

The Spirit of God knows ALL the things of God, including the DEPTH of who God is, and His thoughts.  So the Spirit can and does enable us to know what God has already given us!

What is amazing to me is what the Holy Spirit does for us; providing for us to know the things God has graciously given to those who believe.

What are the “THINGS” He has provided?

The NIV bible translates “freely given” from the Greek word Charisthenta, from the word GRACE, charis.  So Paul is talking about Christ and everything we have available through JESUS through His cross and we are to grab hold of the WISDOM that is present in Christ Crucified!  This is TRUE WISDOM, which the Spirit makes possible for us to know–to “discern”.

So what do we do with this knowledge?

“…which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words”  (verse 13, NASB bible).

We are to DISCERN SPIRITUALLY, then we are to explain spiritual truth to others around us, all by the POWER of the Holy Spirit.

Then Paul continues the thought in verse 14, sharing that the person without the Spirit doesn’t accept “the things” or “the depth” or understand because…only discerning is through the Spirit.

The ‘natural’, ‘nonspiritual man’ doesn’t accept the truth.  They appear foolish, not understood.  The Greek phrase here doesn’t describe a ‘weak Christian’, but rather a person who doesn’t have the Holy Spirit, so they’re NOT a Christian.

This is a person who lives on a purely human plane, so following Christ crucified doesn’t make sense to them.  It’s like a deaf person trying to listen to music; or like trying to get email on a phone that’s not smart.

THE AMAZING TRUTH REVEALED: 

Separating the Gold from the Junk
Separating the Gold from the Junk

The last two verses in our text brings us to the Amazing Truth:  The ‘Spiritual’ person discerns [or “judges”, “separates”] ALL things–what is wise and foolish, by sifting out the gold from the junk.

[15]  But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.  [16] For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?”  But we have the mind of Christ. 

The Holy Spirit of God enables us to DISCERN WISDOM as we evaluate ALL LIFE with the mind of Christ.

Paul Verifies His Final Point:

Paul’s reference to a Scripture quotation in the Old Testament from Isaiah 40:13, asking rhetorically: ‘for Scripture says who can know God’s mind?  Who can instruct God?’

Of course the answer is that no one can; no one knows the mind of the Lord, which makes the final phrase seem so outrageous.  He says…we can know God’s mind.  He says…but we have the mind of Christ.

By the Spirit we have the mind of JESUS which is to have the mind of God.

If you want to continue looking at the word DISCERNING, you might look up and read some other *Bible verses in reference to this study in 1 Corinthians 2:1 – 2:16.

 In Part Two, we will again look at DISCERNMENT, but as a spiritual gift of discerning “spirits” and the understanding within the context of the verses found in 1 Corinthians 12 and 1 Corinthians 2..

*Bible References for DISCERNMENT:  [1 John 4:1; Hebrews 4:12; Philippians 1:9-10; Hebrews 5:14; Proverbs 3:1-12; 1 Corinthians 14:33; 1 Kings 3:9; Proverbs 18:15].