Monday, February 25, 2013

2nd John Part 9

1:10-11 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
Here John issues further warning to the elect lady that if such false evangelists arrive bearing this message that perverts the nature and person of Jesus Christ that she was not to admit him or even wish him well. There was to be no blessing given to someone so set against the truth of the gospel. Two possibilities exist here. Either the elect lady was the matron of a house church that gathered under her roof, or the “elect lady” is indeed a cipher for a church body that John may have planted.

In either case I do not believe that the apostle forbids allowing false teachers into your personal home. I know some use this verse as a reason to reject Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons from their doorstep, but I believe John is rather getting at ensuring such a person does not get to preach this heresy to the body of Christ if he is tested and found to be deficient in his doctrine. Such a man is not to receive the opportunity to publically speak heretical doctrine. Even divisive men who err in doctrine after having been teaching in a local church for a time are commanded to be removed and effectually silenced, so their error does not infect the entire body, Titus 3:9-11. The apostle reminds us that all it takes is a little leaven (one schismatic or habitually sinning man) to shipwreck a church, 1st Corinthians 5:6.

If the local church is an appendage of the body of Christ then it stands to reason that every member must be healthy, so to speak, to ensure that the appendage functions as it ought to. We can look back at OT history to see this in practice. God gave command regarding Jericho during Canaan’s conquest that nothing was to be coveted and taken in its destruction; yet Achan defied God’s command and took loot. For one man’s disobedience the entire body of Israel suffered defeat at the hands of the tiny army of Ai. Twice we are told that Israel sinned or committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, Joshua 7:1, 11. Listening to and obeying God’s express commands brings unity and blessing to the local church body. Sound doctrine is the remedy for all manner of heresy and error. “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you,” 1st Timothy 4:16. Do you see a church steeped in schism, error and heresy? Do you see a church spiritually languishing? That same church, one might wager, has long ago set aside the serious and prayerful exposition of Scripture.

John cautions not to greet such a person or bid them God speed. The idea of greeting them demonstrates association, perhaps even tolerance or passive agreement with the message that this person conveys. Christians do not want to stamp approval on error, so John instructs us that we ought never to give the impression of endorsement on false teachers or teaching; we must oppose errors when they arise because error tends to carry people away quite easily. We are called to contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, Jude 1:3. While we may pray for and love the false teachers in question, seeking their salvation, we cannot allow false doctrine in the church. John says that we ought not to even give that impression with this caution. We are to abhor that which is evil and refrain even from the appearance of evil, Romans 12:9; 1st Thessalonians 5:22. This can only be accomplished if we take to heart the apostle’s command to test the spirits of these false teachers, 1st John 4:1-3; 1st Thessalonians 5:21.

1 comment:

  1. Amen, Ian.

    It is troubling when baptist churches ask Mitt Romney to speak at their churches, but at least in theory he supposed to be talking about politics. It is far more serious when churches ask those who teach false doctrine to speak in their churches because they want to develop a spirit of unity among the churches, or because he draws a larger crowd, but it happens all the time. They are doing exactly what the church at Thyatira was doing in allowing Jezebel to teach.


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