2014 – January/February Issue-Practical Lessons-Article 09

 A Letter of Encouragement, Warning

 

JanFeb2014_coverpic_past2 John

A Letter of Encouragement Plus Warning

“I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully” (2 John 5,8 NIV).

Leo Houlmont

Here is a letter of love intermixed with words of concern and warnings.

The second epistle of John is the second shortest book in the entire Bible, but it offers much comfort, as well as many various lessons that can be drawn from its scriptures.

In this letter we find the Apostle John penning his thoughts, addressed to a “Chosen” lady. Initially this “Chosen” lady seems to be an individual who was walking in the truth with some of her children. But after considering all of John’s comments, it appears that his message was directed to a particular church group whose children were in its membership.

Supporting this thought is the fact that this particular church group was depicted as being feminine, like the Bride of Christ. This implies that John was directing this letter to those who had been introduced to Jesus Christ in the flesh, before He became the sacrificial lamb — the man becoming the ransom price required by God to free man from his death penalty.

God’s promised reward to the faithful ones: “Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10 NIV).

The members of this faithful group believed that the lamb from God was none other than Jesus Christ in the flesh — the only begotten Son of God. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 KJV).

Based on this belief, they then offered their individual lives in consecration to follow in Christ’s footsteps to the best of their abilities, being faithful to their vows even unto death.

John also reminded his readers once again that they were no longer under the Law butrather under the new commandment of love given to them at Christ’s last supper: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 NIV).

Just as a husband cannot overly emphasize to his wife how much he loves her, the wife similarly cannot overdo the expression of her love to her husband. In this same way, both the husband and the wife cannot overly express to their children just how deep their love is for them.

Hence, when we consider God’s love for mankind, as well as for the church class (John 3:16), that prompted Him to sacrifice His only begotten Son, it is no wonder that Apostle John again reminded the brethren just how important is this commandment of love. It stands above all the other commandments, which even includes the accumulation of good knowledge or witnessing to it.

Will All Church Members Receive the Same Full Reward?

The answer to this question seems to be “No,” as illustrated in “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). The scriptures are clear that only 144,000 will be “chosen and faithful.” However, they are unclear as to how many are called into this privileged opportunity while the fewer are “chosen.”

Our present and final judgment, which the Lord is deciding upon us right now, is based in large part upon our efforts to dwell together in the unity of love and our efforts to become at one with one another. There is no question that if we cannot dwell in unity with our brethren during our consecrated walk today, we will never become members of Christ’s bride class — to dwell in unity with the Bridegroom.

This is probably what Apostle John was referring to in verse 4 when he implied that only “some” of the children, or church members, were walking in the truth to the extent of possibly becoming one of the final chosen.

This does not imply that those who will not be chosen for the “Full Reward” of making their calling and election sure, will be cast into second death, but rather be granted a lesser re- ward. They will still find themselves stand- ing before the throne of Christ and His bride as members of the Great Company Class (1 Corinthians 3:13,15). In verse 4 Apostle John implied there were some in this tentative church who evidently were not fully dedicated to their consecration objectives.

We ask, how each of us considering these thoughts would respond to this question, “Are you loving and assisting the brethren God gave you to the fullest of your abilities and holding them in higher esteem then even yourselves?

John’s Warnings of the Teachings of the Gnostics

Apostle John alluded to the fact that many false prophets (or Gnostics) had infiltrated into the church as servants of the adversary, trying to twist and warp the true doctrines of Christ into the false doctrines of Satan.

John stated in verse 7 that one of the greatest challenges the Gnostics promoted was that Jesus never came from God in the flesh. Basically they tried to kill hope of any future life promised through him.

The Gnostics also taught that man is composed of body, soul, and spirit. Because the body and the soul are part of man’s earthly existence, they must be evil. Within the soul, however, is the spirit, the only divine substance of man. This “spirit” is supposedly asleep and ignorant; it needs to be awakened and liberated by knowledge. (Salvation would be not by faith, but by knowledge — hence the words “gnosis” and “Gnostic.”)

The Gnostics believed that knowledge was the way to salvation. For this reason, Gnosticism was condemned as false and heretical also in several other epistles of the New Testament.

Modern Gnosticism can come in various guises: Ranking spirituality by formal education, by financial success, by debating ability, or by knowledge of sciences, etc. The antidote is to focus on Jesus Christ come in the flesh to be the ransom for all.

These Gnostic teachings also had a disruptive effect on fellowship in the church. Those who were “enlightened” thought of themselves as being superior to those who did not have such knowledge. Divisions arose between the spiritual and the fleshly. This attitude of superiority is severely condemned in the New Testament. “Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees” (Luke 12:1, 18:11). Christians are “one body” (1 Corinthians 12) who should love one another (1 Corinthians 13, 1 John 1:1-5:21).

Can We Lose What We Have Gained?

Apostle John concludes that we can lose everything we have gained if we give in to these false teachings and practices. “Watch yourselves, that you might not lose what we have accomplished” (Verse 8 NASB). Will we?

Let us hold fast to the promises and hope that we have. As Apostle Paul expressed it: “Ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers … asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened … that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. … God … appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (Ephesians 1:15-23 NIV).

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