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Wearing the Dust of the Savior

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
February 21, 2024 12:00 am

Wearing the Dust of the Savior

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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February 21, 2024 12:00 am

Listen to the full-length version or read the manuscript of this message here: https://wfth.me/postcards.  Today, as it was in the Garden of Eden, the enemy chips away at God's truth through patient erosion--he tweaks and adapts it until what is believed is no truth at all. Therefore, it's not surprising that our current culture embraces so many lies. As parents, our goal is that our children choose to walk in truth, and this lesson from 2 John calls us to be encouraged when they are ... and to keep praying when they're not.

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When Jesus says that the record of Scripture is sanctifying truth. When Jesus lays down a moral standard. When Jesus warns his audience of coming judgment.

When Jesus reveals to us the only way for forgiveness, that he's the way, the truth, the life. He's giving us the real state of affairs. He's telling us that which truly is. This is what really is genuine. What is truth?

Is there such a thing as absolute truth? Well, all that Jesus said and taught is true. And that's our focus today on wisdom for the heart. We recently heard from Ruth in Indiana who said this, Our enemy tries to chip away at God's truth and we can't allow that.

This lesson will help you personally. And if you're a parent, it will help you ground your children in truth. This past week, a news item was related to the ruling in New York. Court ruled that an unborn baby can be aborted up to the very last moment before being birthed. Now just in case you're swayed by the news that would say this is all about the health risk of the mother, the mayor of New York City would disagree.

He made it very clear in his news conference. Where he said, and I quote him, with the signing of this bill, we are sending a clear message that women in New York will always have the fundamental right to control their own body. No mention, of course, of the body of the baby. Ignore that. It's a woman's body, which is her body and her right to do with her body what she wants.

Beloved, do you discern the lie in that? Nobody's body belongs to them. Your body doesn't belong to you. My body doesn't belong to me. Our bodies belong to their creator, God. We steward our body. We try to take care of our body.

Several times this week, I resisted eating what my body wanted to eat. But ultimately, it is owned. I don't have the right to do with my body what I want to do. It belongs to God. And that's true for the unbeliever or the believer. It belongs to creator, God. In fact, if you take the tape and you run all the way to the end, you discover a coming day when all who have denied God, that horrifying discovery of the reality that he not only created their bodies, but he will exercise his sovereign authority over their bodies in telling them where they and their bodies will live forever.

In our generation, in fact in every generation, in every culture, at any given time, at every level, there is a war taking place. And it began in the garden with this attack on the Word of God. Did God really say that? I mean, come on. Did he really say that?

And it's never changed since then. The strategy of Satan is not a brazen assault on truth. He wouldn't come to you and say, I got a big fat lie and I'm going to try to get you to believe it.

He doesn't do that. He with patient erosion brushes away at the edges of truth, changes the vocabulary of truth, redefines truth, transforms cleverly truth, so that ultimately what you believe as truth is not really true at all. If the laws of your country and the majority opinion of your generation determine something to be true, whether it's animals have the same rights as human beings, whether it's, you know, you can make marriage whatever you want it to be, abortion is the right of the mother and truth can be whatever you feel comfortable with or whatever. If that's what most people believe, if that's the majority opinion, how can so many people be wrong? G.K. Chesterton famously responded to that kind of relativism when he wrote, fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.

They're still fallacies. You might come to the conclusion that since we're surrounded by so many fallacies that have become fashionable, this would be a terrible time to be a Christian. This would be an awful time to have children. This would be a really horrific time to try to raise a family. This would be really tough to be a Christian. Oh no, this is the best time.

The darker it gets, the brighter your light shines. These are the best times to demonstrate what marriage looks like, how valuable life is, what truth looks like and acts like. Now the Apostle John is writing a mother with several children and it's bleak historically.

Go back to first century Rome. We're not told how many children she has. We're told that he has some words. We're given the words he will have for her.

He's going to warn her there are false teachers roaming around in the woods where she lives. But before that warning, he continues to encourage her. So turn back to that first century postcard called Second John and we've begun exploring what God has intended not just for her but to arrive in your mailbox and mine. By the way, just to give you a running start, if you're new to this study today, we've determined this is a private personal correspondence to an older woman, a mother. John has graciously affirmed her as a chosen.

You could render that in this context a choice, a faithful woman. He has communicated to her as his sister in Christ, his love and to her children as well. He has reminded her of some unchanging gifts. They're hers to daily unwrap, grace, mercy and truth.

Now he has one more personal comment to make. In fact, some New Testament scholars believe this was what caused him to sit down and dash off this brief note. Look at verse 4. John writes, I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth just as we have received commandment to do from the Father.

In other words, it isn't new for them, it isn't good for them and not good for us. We're doing this too. And he kindly says we.

We're in this together. This is the fifth time, by the way, John has written the word truth in this note. You could circle them in your Bibles if you haven't. Four times in the first sentence, verses 1 to 3, he writes truth, truth, truth, truth. I mean, if you wrote the same word and the same sentence, your teacher would make you stay after school. Is it that he's, you know, he's getting old? He's repeating himself? The needle is stuck?

No. A little later on, he's going to describe the danger of error. He's really kind of setting things up here. See, to the apostle John as he says truth, truth, truth, he doesn't believe that truth is a matter of public opinion. Let's vote on it.

Let's see where people land and we'll go with the majority opinion. No, he's interested in truth as it relates to what God has revealed. Now, I also want to say this. Don't think for a moment John had it easier than you. Don't think for a moment, well, you remember he was back in those good old days. It was a lot easier. No, the concept of truth in John's generation was as much like Jell-O as it is today in our generation.

Just try nailing it to the wall. In fact, just a few decades before John writes this note, Jesus himself is standing before the political leader in that region who has the power to save his life or condemn it. And Pilate begins asking him some questions and Jesus answers a few of them. I love where Jesus responds to Pilate in that conversation informing him by saying, I have come to testify of the truth and all those who listen to me are in the truth. That's a pretty bold statement. Pilate scoffs at that and he kind of retorts back, oh, come on, what is truth? Really?

I mean, come on, we're past that. What's truth? The same word Jesus used, John uses here over and over and over again.

What does he mean? Gerhard Kittel defines truth by giving us a catalog of the facets of truth that appear in the Grecian world and then those truths that are synonymous with God's inspired record truth can refer to something upon which you can rely. It is reliable. Everyone, whether they're a believer or not, knows if it's true, it's trustworthy. If that man is honest, he's truthful.

His word is good, his handshake matters. Truth is also used for reality. Truth is what they call the real state of affairs.

Don't let the fog settle in. Let me clear it away. Here's the real state of affairs. In fact, Plato hit the ball out of the park when he said before John, long before John, he used this word and defined it as genuineness. And then Plato went on to say truth is that which truly is. So when Jesus says that the record of Scripture is sanctifying truth, John 17, when Jesus lays down a moral standard in Matthew 5 and 6, when Jesus warns his audience of coming judgment, Matthew 25, when Jesus reveals to us the only way for forgiveness which prepares us to meet the Father, that he's the way, the truth, the life, he's giving us the real state of affairs. He's telling us that which truly is. I mean the fog might settle in.

Let's clear the fog away. This is what really is genuine. Now, even the most self-proclaimed open-minded unbeliever out there believes in truth.

You just have to have the right context. He's going to believe in truth when he gets a refund check from the IRS. It's got to be that amount. We're not fudging on that.

Not a dollar less. Because those figures are true and accurate. You bump into somebody on the way to church, you run a red light, smash into the back end of their car because you're late for church, and then you got to sit in the back, not actually in the front. But you get out, you tell that driver, you know, I was distracted, I was going somewhere good, I'm going to church, and that's why, and by the way, I don't really care for the color red. He's going to tell you, you know, there's actually in the reality of what truly is, a verifiable fact, a law based on the truth that I have the right and you're going to pay. He's going to believe in the unswerving nature of the reality of that which truly is. All right, we've addressed the reality of truth, the meaning of truth, the emphasis of John the Apostle. At this point, and by the way, I spent hours studying the entire paragraph, assuming we were going to move on, this is a few comments, but I don't want to move so fast that we skip, and in so skipping past this, we miss the heartbeat of this 95, 96-year-old elder. Let's not miss some significant truths we can observe here.

Let me give you three or four of them. One first, the statement reveals the longing of a godly mother. John, by the way, makes no reference in this letter to this woman's husband, which would be the way New Testament authors often wrote if the husband wasn't alive. There are children here, we're not told how many. Children are older, he doesn't use the normal words for infant, toddler, young child, like brephos or pidea. But there are enough clues here for us to assume that this faithful follower of Christ was more than likely now a widow.

We don't know for how long. We do know that now she's a single mother of grown children. John writes, I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth. Now John doesn't mean that he's surprised to find their walking in truth. What he means is that he was surprised to encounter them. He didn't expect to see them, he knew them. He knows his family. This is an unplanned, joyful encounter. John doesn't tell us how he met them, he doesn't tell us how long they talked, he doesn't give us any details of this conversation or encounter.

He just knew it would thrill her heart to hear directly from him. That's the idea. Let me give you another observation. Secondly, this statement reveals the goal of godly parents. Now, sometimes it's good to ask the question not only what did he write, but what did he not write. Let's bring it into our vernacular. John did not write, I was glad to hear they graduated.

There's nothing wrong with that. My parents prayed I'd get out of the fifth grade. It took a while. I was happy to learn that they are successful in business. They're rolling in it. I was thrilled to learn they're married and they got a caravan of children. I was happy to learn that they are all healthy. I was thrilled to learn they hold offices in the church and in the community. I was also happy to learn they'd set enough money aside to take care of you in your old age. All of that would be good. All of that would make parents happy. Beloved, all of that is incidental to this core discovery. For him, it was the eureka moment, the eureka find. I was glad to have that eureka moment where I learned that they are walking in the truth. That's what matters. So you ask the average parent on the street, the average parent you work with, I fear even the average parent in the average church, how are your kids doing?

They're going to give you an immediate expose on their health, whether or not they made the soccer team, they were in the play, what their grades are, the college they got into, and their career choice. Good stuff. Those are good things.

But what does it matter? If you have every good thing you could ever want and you lose your own soul, John essentially says, here's what gets me off my seat with excitement. This is the eureka moment for me. I found out, I was confirmed once again to hear that some of your children are walking in truth, walking with God. By the way, that phrase, walking in truth, we may come back to, but what that means is that they're not just believing the truth. They're not just saying, I go to a church that believes the truth. I hang around people that believe the truth. I can check off the boxes, theological boxes of the truth.

No, no, this is walking. This refers to lifestyle. They are not just believing, they are behaving truth. There's an old saying recorded in the Mishnah, which is a commentary on Jewish tradition and life around when John was writing this note. There was a common expression referring to students carefully following along with their teacher, disciples following so closely to their mentor that they were, and I quote the expression and give it a rough English translation, they were covered with his dust.

I like that. In other words, they walked so closely to their master teacher, they literally wore the dust kicked up by his sandals. It's a great way to understand walking in truth. We're walking so close to the Savior that we're wearing his truth all over us. As Paul wrote, we're adorning the doctrine. It's as if we're wearing the dust kicked up by his sovereign sandals. It's observable.

It's noticeable. There's something else I want to point out. Third, this statement reveals the balance of a godly shepherd, this elderly man. John's words not only reveal the longing of every godly mother's heart and the goal of every godly parent, it reveals this balance that I want to point out. Again, notice what he doesn't write. He does not write, I wasn't surprised at all to discover your children walking in the truth because you do. Now, he already said she did, but he doesn't connect it here with the fact that they do. John doesn't suggest in any way that a faithful mother can guarantee faithful children.

I fear we think that way simply because we as parents fear. So give me the three things. Give me the book.

Give me the path. Give me the right imitation. John does not write, I'm not surprised at all your children turned out like they did because they had such a committed mother. You did it right.

So why do we talk like that? No, this old man has lived long enough to write a letter which we studied together, his first letter where he said, you know, there were some among us who seemed to be of us, but then they left us revealing they were not of us. You see, when do you stop praying?

When do you assume they're good? John has lived long enough to see church leaders. In fact, he's going to write his next letter after this one, a brief one, 3 John, and he's going to deal with a church leader who was heading in the right direction at one point and something changed somewhere along the line and pride crept in.

Others, greed crept in. And he writes, I'm going to need to deal with it when I come and visit you. He's lived long enough to see the dust sort of get brushed off even church leaders who bore no resemblance at all to the Savior. He understands the theological miracle of regeneration which you pray for and you do teach and you do trust God to live for and confess when you fail, but with wise balance. One more observation, number four, this statement reveals the grace of a godly leader.

You could insert for the word leader here, godly friend. At this point, John could have pointed his finger. He could have spoken with that condescending air of someone who's run as many laps as he has.

Now in his late 90s, he has the platform. But I want you to notice his gracious choice of words. As we've mentioned, he doesn't pour undue credit on her for her children who are walking with God. Likewise now, he doesn't pour on blame because some of them aren't. Notice he simply writes, I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth.

What a gracious way of communicating a volume. The word translated some is italicized because it's supplied by the translators as they attempt to translate this preposition. Some might argue that John is simply saying that he met some of her children he met were walking in truth.

If that's what he meant, he could have written it a little more definitively and settled the confusion. In fact, even if he had only met some of them, no doubt he would have asked about the others. He knew all of them.

Why make any distinction? That could bring sorrow. Well, the truth is, John knows all about this family. In fact, he knows their aunts and he knows their cousins. He refers to at the end of this letter to the children of your choice sister. So now he's giving greetings back to this godly woman from her nephews and nieces. He knows them.

He knows who they are. What he is graciously doing here is encouraging her while at the same time using gracious discretion by implying he's also aware of that underlying sorrow, that undercurrent of longing and praying. So he uses the word some of your children to kindly let her know.

In fact, if I can amplify it at this point, it's something like this. Look, I was given an update when I unexpectedly bumped into some of your children and the ones I talked with are walking in truth. That's so wonderful. But I also want you to know that I know about the others as well and I'm praying for them and I'm concerned about them too.

He didn't need to say more. This is grace. Frankly, I could be wrong here, but I imagine at this point John just pauses in writing, maybe stops for a moment and prays for those wayward adult children, maybe some grandchildren in there as well. I imagine that after reading this sentence, this mother stops reading at this point too, her eyes misting over with tears, first joy, joyful tears.

I'm so thrilled that some of my kids met this grand apostle elder and their testimony was obvious to him too. Thank you, Lord, for that. And then, maybe soon after that, tears again, this time, whispering the names of her wayward ones, once again in prayer. This is what you can pray for me, for my family. This is what I pray for you.

Listen, a 95-year-old elder isn't going to mess around. This is what matters. This is how you live.

Why? Because this is the truth. If you're a parent or grandparent, I hope this lesson was of particular encouragement to you. It might be that as you were listening today, the Lord brought to mind someone in your life who could benefit from hearing this message. Maybe it's the parents of a wayward child.

Maybe it's a parent who desires to raise their children in the truth of God's word. If that's the case, and if you want to share this message, there are several ways you can do that. One way would be by visiting our website, navigating to this message, and sharing the link with your friend. You'll find us online at wisdomonline.org. Right on the home page is a link to today's lesson. Just scroll down a little bit on our home page and you'll find it.

You can then send this message to others. We also have a booklet that's based on this message. Stephen's booklet is called The Goal of Godly Parents. This booklet is our featured resource during this series.

It's available at a deeply discounted price. Be sure and take advantage of this opportunity and get this important resource. Give us a call today at 866-48-BIBLE and we can give you information on how you can get your own copy of the booklet, The Goal of Godly Parents. We'd be encouraged to hear from you, and if you'd like to send Stephen a note, you can address your email to info at wisdomonline.org. Thanks so much for joining us today. We'll be back again with our next Bible message in this series, and I hope you'll be with us here on Wisdom for the Heart. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-21 01:14:33 / 2024-02-21 01:24:08 / 10

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