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The Urgency of Rejecting False Teachers #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
January 3, 2023 7:00 am

The Urgency of Rejecting False Teachers #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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January 3, 2023 7:00 am

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False teachers are ambassadors of Satan. They spread damning lies, and a love for God cannot tolerate that. Welcome back to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hi, I'm Bill Wright. As Don continues to teach God's people God's Word, we're continuing a series called To Follow or To Flee. False prophets are a very real threat. That makes it urgent we be on guard, lest we inadvertently spread false teaching ourselves. Don, what is the source of all these deceptive doctrines out there, and why are people so often susceptible to them?

Well, once again, Bill, you've asked an excellent question. The Bible says that evil men go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. And Jesus said that people reject the truth because they love sin more than they want the truth. When you add that Satan, who is the father of lies, is also involved bringing about his own brand of deception, it's a toxic brew. Thank God that we have scripture as a light to our path. As you listen today, may God open your eyes to see and your ears to hear. Thanks, Don.

And friend, let's join our teacher now in the truth pulpit. When we think of travel, we have to remember that there were obstacles to the travel that we don't have today, specifically and pertinently to the book of 2 John. Our modern hotel conveniences were an unknown factor.

There weren't the Holiday Inn expresses and all of that that dotted the road. The only kinds of boarding rooms that were available to travelers were houses of ill repute that Christians would not stay in because they were simply dens of iniquity. And so when itinerant Christian teachers would travel the empire, they depended upon the hospitality of local Christians in that area to host them and to give them a place to stay and a place of lodging while they were conducting their ministry of preaching the gospel. And so the hospitality of Christians was a key factor to the spread of the gospel as these itinerant teachers moved about the empire.

Hebrews chapter 13 verse 2 alludes to this. Hebrews chapter 13 verse 2 says, "'Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.'" And so there was a biblical mandate toward hospitality that was in part due to the needs of these itinerant teachers to travel about to have lodging so that they could do the work that God had called them to.

Now, with that little bit of brief background, what I'm about to say introduces you into the mindset behind the book of 2 John. That hospitality carried a spiritual risk. There was a spiritual risk involved as Christians provided that kind of hospitality because what would happen is, is that false teachers who pretended to be ministers of the gospel but actually were not, who pretended to be ministers of the gospel but actually were advocating teachings and doctrines that were contrary to the true gospel, false teachers would take advantage of that system of hospitality.

They would go to the homes of unsuspecting Christians, say, I'm here as a minister of the gospel, please let me use your home to stay, and they would use that hospitality that the unsuspecting Christians provided as a base from which to spread their lies. And so in the name of Christian love, these Christians with their homes would open their homes and bring people in who were actually enemies of the gospel, enemies of the truth, because they were conditioned to think about love and hospitality and grace, and false teachers would come in as they loved to do and take advantage of the well-intentioned efforts of well-meaning Christians. And so John, the Apostle John, writes the letter of 2 John in order to correct that problem, in order to address that issue, in order to protect the purity of the gospel. And what he is teaching here, he is teaching us not to practice Christian generosity indiscriminately. He is telling us that truth marks the boundaries of our practice of love. Truth marks the boundaries of our practice of love.

Stated negatively, John here is going to show us the urgency of rejecting false teachers, the urgency of rejecting false teachers. We need this instruction so that we are not unsuspectingly, unwearingly giving aid and abetment to the enemy of the gospel. That's what this letter does for us. It raises up for us the primacy of truth as we practice Christian love. We love others in the context of doctrinal truth. That sets the boundaries upon the generosity and the hospitality that we show.

And in the process of this, we are going to see several reasons why it is urgent for us to reject false teachers. Well let's look, first of all, point number one, let's look at the opening greeting just briefly in the first two verses here, which kind of sets the stage. We're looking in on a piece of personal correspondence that was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Second John verses one and two says this, it says, "'The elder to the chosen lady and her children whom I love in truth.'"

You see the themes right from the start, huh? "'Whom I love in truth and not only I but also all who know the truth for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever.'" Love in the truth, to know the truth. Well John wrote this letter even though his name is not mentioned explicitly. The term the elder here identifies his age and authority within the church. Now commentators differ over whether the lady that he is writing to here, the chosen lady, does that refer to an actual woman? Or is John speaking metaphorically of a local church?

Commentators will go both ways on that issue. We're just going to look at this letter on the understanding that he's writing to a particular woman, not to a church, that that's the most natural reading and he's writing to deal with matters of hospitality that would be more fitting for an individual than for a congregational body. And so when he says that I'm writing to the chosen lady and her children, we should just understand that in its most natural sense, that he's writing to a mother and to her children and that this mother had provided her home as a means of hospitality in days gone by. We don't know who this woman is. Today John knew her and she knew John and so we don't need to know her name in order to understand the principles that John is writing about here in this letter.

And so that's a little bit of the context. Notice that he says, the elder to the chosen lady and her children there in verse 1, whom I love in truth and not only I but also those who know the truth for the sake of the truth, the sake of the truth. The truth was at stake in what John had to say to this woman here. And he uses the word truth five times in the first four verses. It was the motivation for his letter, truth sets the foundation for all that follows. To undermine the truth is to pull down the very foundations of the church. And so John saw something very strategic and certain at stake in what he had to say here.

That sets the note of urgency. The truth is at stake here, my chosen lady. Now, he concludes that opening word of greeting with an assurance of blessing, verse 3. With great pastoral tone, with great pastoral care, he sets forth this note of the certainty of God's blessing in this opening greeting when he says in verse 3, Grace, mercy and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Son of the Father in truth and love.

There again, truth and love. Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, pulling the nature of Christ front and center even at the very beginning of the letter, which is kind of foreshadowing what he has to say later on in response to these false teachers. He is emphasizing the person of God, the person of Christ in the context of truth and love, setting the tone for what is about to come as he sets forth the urgency of rejecting false teachers. Now, having set forth those themes, he's going to apply them, the themes of truth and love, he's going to apply them in verses 4 through 11.

And we're going to look at two different aspects of it here. Point number two, before he gets to the heart of his letter, point number two, he sets forth the accepting nature of truth and love. The accepting nature of truth and love. In the context of the body of Christ, we have a broad loving acceptance for all of those who truly know the Lord Jesus Christ. And that acceptance in the context of Christian obedience produces an atmosphere of joy.

Look at verse 4 as we go into this. He says, "'I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth just as we have received commandment to do from the Father.'" This woman had children who were obedient believers and John writes to affirm that, to say, "'Your children have been a source of joy to me.'" And he rejoices over their obedience. They believed the truth.

They followed it as a pattern of life. And in the context of that obedience and in the context of truth, John reminds this woman about the high place of love in the Christian life. Look at verse 5 where he says, "'Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.'"

He says, "'I'm just repeating a familiar theme as I write to you here today. I remind you that we must love one another.'" Now in the context of what he's about to say, that's a very important starting point for him because she's been practicing love, as we're going to see.

She'd just been extending it to people who weren't entitled to it. And so he writes and he reminds her of this important place that love has in the Christian life. And what I want to call out to your attention here just briefly is notice how he states it there in verse 5. Here is the Apostle John writing with all authority, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit with all authority to command obedience and he writes to this woman, I love this, and he says, "'Now I ask you, lady, I ask you.'"

The word ask expresses a request to an equal. He doesn't speak down to her. He doesn't command her in a domineering, lording it over her sense. He defers to her even though he could have thundered with apostolic authority. And he gives us there a little illustration, a little window into the way that men with spiritual authority should handle that. When there is opportunity to minister, you look for an opportunity to speak, to defer in a gracious way to those that are under your care. It is not a mark of pastoral strength to be a domineering man. 1 Peter 5 makes that point.

Don't lort it over. Don't lort it over your people, but prove to be an example to the flock. Well here, even as he's writing to correct her, John shows forth how we do that.

He says, "'Lady, I ask you,' not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we've had from beginning that we need to love one another." That stands in contrast with a pastor I saw on the east coast a number of years ago. I was visiting a church.

I was only there for one day and I just walked in as a visitor literally off the street. And so you're kind of soaking in how a different church does things. Well this pastor stood up before his sermon and he was promoting announcing a prayer vigil to his congregation. And he obviously was concerned that attendance might be less than what he was hoping for. And so he said to them, and this is a direct quote, he said, "'As the God-appointed spiritual authority in this church, I'm not asking you to come, I am commanding you to come.'" Well that's a pretty heavy-handed way to handle your authority, isn't it? Can you imagine hearing that? You know, hey, I'm sorry, but I'm getting my liver taken out that day.

What should I do? Contrast that with the tone of the apostle who truly was a God-appointed authority when he says, "'I ask you to remember this.'" He hasn't compromised his authority in saying that, but when you have willing, cooperative people in front of you, you don't hammer them with your fist, you lead them with your hand. And that's what John does here. This woman was not a rebel.

You don't rebuke cooperative, submissive people. You lead them in a way that welcomes them into come. John is showing love even as he instructs this woman. He's showing love even as he leaves behind this letter for us to study 2,000 years later. And as he goes through that, he shows us that there is a reciprocal relationship between love and obedience.

Look at verse 6. Now as we consider this second point, the accepting nature of love and truth, he says, "'And this is love that we walk according to His commandments.'" Christian love is manifested in obedience. Christian obedience is shown in Christian love.

These two things go together. And he says, "'This is the commandment, just as you heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.'" He had said at the end of verse 5, he said, "'We love one another.'" As Christians, we love one another. We include all believers in the scope of our love. And so believers share life together as they walk in truth and love. Believers share love together as they walk in obedience to the Lord. There's no one that we exclude who's truly regenerate from the circle of our grace and affection.

We're bound together with a common love for Christ, a common spirit, a common goal that we are all heading toward as we all go to heaven. Of course there's a common bond there that we act upon in love. That's the accepting nature of love.

But there are boundaries to that. And that's the real point of this letter. That's what John is really getting after here. The third point here is John is going to show us the rejecting nature of truth and love, the rejecting nature of truth and love. There's an aspect of love within the body of Christ where we're accepting, we're welcoming, we love one another. But we have to understand that there are limits to that love when it comes to interacting with false teachers and those who actively promote false doctrine. And that's what John is getting to.

That is the main subject of this letter. And so, look at verse 7 here as we go into this third point. He had just said that we should walk in love.

We should walk according to His commandments. And then he says, four. He says, this is where I want to go from this discussion of truth and love. This is my main point here, four, many deceivers have gone out into the world.

That strikes you as a little bit strange, doesn't it? You don't expect a discussion of love and obedience to go into a discussion about deceivers and false teachers, but that's exactly where John goes here. He says, for many deceivers have gone out into the world. Those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ is coming in the flesh, this is the deceiver and the antichrist.

Well, by modern standards, that's not a very loving thing to say, is it? Look at that deceiver, look at that antichrist. Well, these men were ambassadors of Satan, is what John is saying. False teachers are ambassadors of Satan. They spread damning lies, and a love for God cannot tolerate that. A love for other believers cannot tolerate having the thought of exposing them to false teaching. A love for the lost cannot tolerate the idea of aiding and abetting the work of those who undermine the gospel. A love for the truth and a love for Christ would forbid that.

There is a rejecting, repelling nature to true love. Now these teachers here, as we've seen it throughout the book of 1 John, look at verse 7 with me again. He said, these deceivers go out into the world, what is it that they're deceptive about? It's their doctrine of Christ that is so deceptive, that is so wrong, that is so damning. He said, they do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.

This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Now look, we've talked about this many times, and as members of Grace Church, you're acquainted with this, but let's just repeat it again because you cannot say it too many times. To have a different doctrine of Christ is not a matter of personal belief. It's not a difference of opinion, as the cultists love to say when they come to your door and you say, no, that's not what I believe.

You know if you've ever interacted with them, the thing that they want to be quick to say, well, that's your opinion. No, it's not a matter of opinion. This is a matter of heaven and hell. This is a matter of truth and error. It's not a matter of my personal belief. This is independent of me. This would be true whether I had never existed.

This would be true if you were vaporized in front of my eyes. It has nothing to do with our personal beliefs. It's a matter of truth and error. And it's not just a matter of different doctrine.

I had a relative one time who rejects the deity of Christ, who said, well, I can't imagine that God would keep me out of heaven simply because I had a wrong thought about Jesus. Well, that's trivializing the whole concept of truth, isn't it? That's trivializing the whole person of Christ.

That's to totally miss the focal point of redemption, to say something like that. John does not treat it lightly here. John says these men are deceivers. These men do not acknowledge Christ is coming in the flesh. This is the Antichrist. So he raises the stakes way above where our postmodern so-called tolerance would like to take it. John says, no, everything's at stake here.

This is a matter of heaven and hell here. What he's referring to when he talks about Jesus Christ is coming in the flesh, he's talking about God the second person of the Trinity coming in human flesh. He's talking about the incarnation. He's talking about John 1.14, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

This Word who, chapter 1, verse 1 of the gospel says, the Word was with God and the Word was God, and this God became flesh and dwelt among us. That's what he's referring to. And he says these men deny that. They do not acknowledge that.

They do not affirm that in their teaching. And so it's not merely a matter of personal belief. It's about the central identity of Christ, the central identity of the Lord and Savior, the only Lord and Savior of mankind. And so that's why John is animated here. That's why he is worked up as he writes this.

That's why he is writing to admonish this woman to correct her misguided hospitality. Because when you deny the incarnation, you have destroyed biblical Christianity. I don't want to just make that summary statement. I want to give you three elements that you will see plainly why that is true. You cannot have Christianity unless Jesus Christ is God come in human flesh. And why must we reject false teachers? Why is it so urgent to address this? Why is it so urgent to reject those men and women who would undermine the doctrine of the incarnation? I want to give you three specific things for you to understand.

We'll just go through these really quickly. But those who deny the incarnation, those who deny the deity of Christ do three different things to Christianity, all of which obliterate the essence and meaning of biblical Christianity. First of all, why do we reject these false teachers?

What is it that the denial of the incarnation does? First of all, these false teachers, when they teach that, first of all, they destroy redemption. They destroy redemption. And how is it that they destroy redemption? There's three sub-points to that.

Your notes are going to be so far indented that you'll be writing on the side of your page there, you know, just on this little edge here by the time I'm done indenting everything here. But false teachers destroy redemption in three different ways. First of all, they destroy our revelation. They destroy redemption. And one of the ways that they destroy redemption is that they destroy our revelation.

Here's what I mean by that. If Jesus Christ is not truly God, the human race has never seen God on the face of earth. Jesus said, He who has seen Me has seen the Father, John 14.9. The reason that Jesus can say that He who has seen Me has seen the Father is because they share the same essence.

He is the exact perfect representation of the character of God. And because Jesus is God in human flesh, when we see Christ in the Scriptures, when those in the first century saw Him walking about, they saw the face of God. And so, when a false teacher comes and denies the incarnation, says that Jesus is not fully equal with God, but that He was a created being, He was the first of God's creatures, they've destroyed revelation.

Because they have said that He is not God, and when they say that, you have not seen God, and therefore we don't have the revelation of Christ that the Bible says we have. That's one of the consequences of rejecting the incarnation. It's one of the ways that false teachers destroy redemption. They destroy the very idea of revelation as the Bible gives it to us. That's Don Green with part one of a message called The Urgency of Rejecting False Teachers here on The Truth Pulpit.

Part two comes your way next time, so plan now to be with us. Well, Don, one of the big lies asserted is that all roads lead to God, that there are many ways to approach God, and all religions are equally valid. Well, the Bible begs to differ. The Bible does completely contradict that line of thinking. Jesus could not have been any clearer than when He said, I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Me. He also said, unless you are born again, you cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Jesus Christ and Scripture are exclusive in their truth claims. That's why we're so grateful for your interest and support of The Truth Pulpit. Thank you for standing with us as we try to stand firm for Christ. And friend, we hope you'll visit us at thetruthpulpit.com, where you can find a link to Don on Facebook. Plus, you can grab today's program to hear again at your convenience. Again, that's thetruthpulpit.com. Now for Don Green, I'm Bill Wright, and we'll see you again next time as Don continues to teach God's people God's Word from the Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-03 08:59:30 / 2023-01-03 09:09:08 / 10

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