Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 1 * BOOK 58
LOVE AND TRUTH
II & III JOHN
Oh how we appreciate when you write and tell us that you’re praying for us every single day! And again we thank you for your comments. Over and over we hear “don’t change a thing” and, “I feel like I’m sitting there on the back row”. And then I guess the third most obvious thing that they write is “I have never understood the Bible before, and now it’s opening up.” So we appreciate those comments. We appreciate those letters.
All right, now we’re going right into II John this afternoon and probably go through both of these little epistles of II and III John but since we have been picking up so many new listeners these last several weeks, I’m going to go back and just give a little quick review of these Jewish epistles for the sake of those who haven’t heard us explain, because I might as well just tell you right up front, there have always been two views concerning these Jewish epistles of James and Peter and John.
One was that they were indeed written to Jewish congregations or synagogues in that period of time at which the point was written and preparing them for the Tribulation to come. The most traditional view I would say is that these are written to Jewish congregations who will reappear at the beginning of the Tribulation and so it is written to them as future mode.
Well, I’m not going to be anti-traditional just to be anti-traditional. I’m not going to refute either one of those but I’m going to take both of them. I think they were originally written to a group of Jewish synagogue congregations, contemporary with the time it was written, preparing them for the horrors of the Tribulation and the testings that are right out in front of them. But if they could survive that, Christ would be returning and bringing in the Kingdom. So these letters were written to Jewish believers who were looking for the King and the Kingdom, in short order.
Now, the King didn’t come. And the whole Jewish program was interrupted by the Church Age, these past 1900 years. But here we are, as I pointed out when we started several months ago, in the book of James, that these scenarios have once again surfaced and today, we’re almost right back to where they were when they were written.
And that is that we now have a reappearance of the Babylonian Empire. We just dealt with them in Iraq. Iran is the next prophecy told of in Daniel chapter 9 and 2 and so forth, and that was the Mede and Persian Empire. That’s Iran. They’re in the news every day lately. And the third one of course was the Greek Empire, but the part of the Greek Empire that controlled Jerusalem and defiled the Temple were the Syrian element. And so we’ve got Syria in the news everyday. Then the fourth kingdom that ruled and reigned while Christ of course had His earthly ministry, was the Roman. And so now we also see all the beginnings of the Roman Empire arising in Europe, with the European Union.
In fact, I just read an interesting little anecdote the other day and I have to always believe what people write with a fair heart, and that is here a few weeks ago President Bush was entertaining the then President of the European Union. Now you remember they rotate that position, or have so far, but the gentleman who was President of the European Union at that was also the Premier of Italy and his name was Romano Prodi, if I’m not mistaken. Well anyway, they were having lunch in the White House and Romano was bragging about how the European Union was expanding. It wouldn’t be long they’d be 24-25 nations, and their eastern border would be going clear out to the Caucasian Mountains and President Bush smiled and he says “Romano, sounds to me like it’s the Roman Empire!” The president was exactly right. And so this is what’s happening, this whole European Union in its expansion geographically, is coming right back to the old borders of the Ancient Roman Empire.
And so all these empires now suddenly are in our every day news, the Babylonian, which is Baghdad. The Medes and Persians, which is Iran. The Greek Empire which was predominately the part of Syria that controlled Jerusalem and then of course the Roman Empire as we see it reviving in Western Europe. So when I say that all these little Jewish epistles, James and Peter and John and Jude and also the book of Revelation at that time to Jewish believers; they were called synagogues, at least in James little epistle, in view of the coming pressures of the Tribulation, but oh if they could just go through that the King would be returning and setting up the one thousand year Kingdom Age, which is still going to happen we feel in the not too distant future.
Now when that was set aside, it didn’t throw everything out the window, it was all just postponed and like I said a moment ago here we are now 1900 and some years later and the whole scenario is once again appropriate that these little Jewish epistles are written to Jewish believers who are now being prepared for the oncoming Tribulation.
All right, now then guess we can start the little epistle of II John, remembering now that these are written to Jewish believers. Now that doesn’t mean we here in the Church Age can’t take some good things out of it. Of course, we can. It’s just like the four Gospels were written primarily to Israel, but we can certainly take things out of the four Gospels that are appropriate for us. Now granted these Jewish epistles are not the place where we build our doctrine for salvation because our Gospel of salvation is not in there. And as I’ve been pointing out this last several programs, you cannot find our Gospel of salvation in these Jewish epistles. There’s nothing in here that says that we’re saved by faith and faith alone in the fact that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose from the dead. It’s not in here!
And I just reminded someone a little bit ago before the program started, I remember several years ago a gentleman came up and he said, “Les, you’re always telling us to be just as aware of what is not in the Scripture as what is.” Absolutely! Because we’ve been programmed by tradition to just think that a lot of this stuff is in here, and it’s not. And that’s where the Lord gives us discretion to determine, “is it in the Book?” Or is it just something that man has dreamed up? A good way to check it out is for us today in the Church Age, the epistles of Paul should be used for our Church Age doctrines, including our beautiful salvation doctrine.
All right so now in the second epistle of John, written by the Apostle John, who wrote the gospel account of John, and who was one of the Twelve, who also writes the book of Revelation. This little epistle is just a little short personal letter written evidently to a rather well-to-do lady who was very instrumental in helping John in his ministry. Now when he speaks of himself there in verse one ‘the elder.’ Well naturally because of his past experience, the three years with Christ, he and the Twelve have been ministering to the Jews in these intervening years and I’m going to say that these little epistles were probably written someplace in the ‘50’s’ – 50 to 58 AD. Somewhere in there. And so now he calls himself “The elder”. Appropriately so.
II John 1:1a
“The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth;…”
Now I have said over the years and I can still repeat it that almost, and you’ve got to use some common sense, but almost without exception, you can substitute the word “truth” with the name of Jesus Christ and never, and never change the meaning of the verse, because Jesus Christ is Truth. And Truth is Jesus Christ. And so it just fits so beautifully. Even here.
II John 1:1a
“The elder (speaking of himself) unto the elect lady (a believing Jewish lady, who no doubt was quite well to do) and her children, whom I love in truth (or Jesus Christ;)…”
See how that doesn’t affect the meaning one bit? Because if you’re in Truth, you’re in Christ. And Paul will say the same thing. All these things are resting upon our position in Christ as believers. Now reading on.
II John 1:1b-2
“…and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; (or all who have known Jesus Christ. That’s what sets us apart) 2. For the truth’s sake (for the Lord’s sake, for Jesus’ sake) which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us forever.”
Now you see how that does not conflict with Scripture in any way shape or form. We have always been taught throughout the New Testament that when we’re ‘in Christ’ we are also in Truth and visa versa and it’s setting us up for eternity. Not just for the few years here, but we have eternal life!
II John 1:3
“Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, (and again) in truth and in love.”
All right now I’m going to be dealing with this word love in just a couple of verses, so we’ll move on down to it. Verse 4.
II John 1:4
“I rejoice greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, (they were verily in Jesus Himself) as we have received a commandment from the Father.”
Now here it comes.
II John 1:5a
“And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee,…”
Nothing is all that different so far as John is concerned. He’s come out of Christ’s earthly ministry having walked with Him and served with Him for those three years. He has now been no doubt, working hand in glove with Peter and the others since Pentecost. And so now at this point in time, like I say, probably in the A. D. 50’s somewhere, nothing has changed. Not so far as these Jewish believers are concerned.
Now for us today, maybe this is a good place to stop. Now for us today, look how Paul puts it. This is what I like to do, I like to just compare, compare, compare. Come back with me to Philippians chapter 1. Now this is Paul writing to Gentiles. And no doubt there were always a few Jews in these Gentile congregations, I won’t take that away at all. But now look what Paul writes to the Philippian church. We’ll look at verses 8, 9 but the word we’re looking for is in verse 10.
“For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels (or very innermost parts) of Jesus Christ. 9. And this I pray, that you love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; (or discernment. Now here’s the verse. All of this to bring us to the place) 10. That ye may approve things that are (now the King James has the word) excellent (which is unfortunate. The better translation is different. And look what that does) that you may approve things that are different.”
Well what’s so different? Well now to the Gentile world salvation is offered by faith and faith alone, with no connection to Temple worship. No connection to the heavy hand of the Law; it’s all of Grace. And so it was totally different. That’s Paul. Read it again,
“That ye may approve (and accept and rest on things) that are different;…”
Not the same mundane doctrines and teachings that Israel has enjoyed for now 3000 years, but things that are totally different.
“…that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;”
Which of course, is when He will come to take the Body of Christ unto Himself. All right, so there’s a difference in terminology again between John writing to these Jewish believers, who are just an extension of Christ’s earthly ministry, an extension of Pentecost in these intervening years. They have been trusting that Jesus was the Messiah and that He’s still going to return and give them the King and the Kingdom. So nothing has really changed. And Paul never teaches that. Now back to II John.
II John 1:5
“And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, (nothing has really changed) but that which we had from the beginning, (from the very onset of John the Baptist and then the introduction of Christ and His earthly ministry) that we love one another.”
Now you have to realize that John is really the apostle who is constantly hammering home the love of God. Now let me put it this way. God is Love. The reverse of that doesn’t make sense. Love is not God. See the big difference? God is Love. Love is not necessarily God. And so here’s where we have to even watch our wording that God is Love. He is Love supreme.
And I always like to remind folks and as well as myself, when did this outpouring of the love of God toward the human race begin? Well, when He created Adam. He had the angelic hosts. Millions of them. But did they ever return love? No. They’re not that kind of a being. And so the whole purpose of creating the human race was to have a creature that He could extend that love and then give them the prerogative to what? Return it. That’s the whole purpose of the human race, is that He could have a created being that He could show His love; He could extend His love and then have every right to expect love returned. But not forced. It’s not a forced love. We love Him because He first loved us. And so John is probably the strongest writer of Scripture to prove the point that God is Love.
Now it isn’t that Paul misses it. Now come back with me to Romans. Again we’ll compare Scripture. Paul also speaks of the love of Christ. And I think the first one with a real impact is Romans 5:8.
“But God (Not man. Not angels, but) God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, (God loves the sinful human race) Christ died for us.”
Why did He die? Because He loved us. Why did He create us? Because He wanted a creature He could love. And that creature rebelled and so He moves heaven and earth, you might say, to set the stage that fallen man can still respond to God’s extended love. And this is the whole purpose of God and man, that He loved us and He expects love in return.
All right, let me take you to another one over in II Corinthians chapter 5. Here we another beautiful portion, and let’s just jump in at verse 14.
II Corinthians 5:14
“For the love of Christ (see how Paul is pointing that out?) constraineth us; (it drives us) because we thus judge, if one died for all, (that is for the whole human race) then were all dead.”
The whole human race. And then you get to Romans 3.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
But, whom did God love? Fallen man. Whom did God love? The sinner. Now He hates the sin. But He loves the sinner.
All right, and so it’s constant throughout Scripture how that the love of God is the expression of His very person as the Creator of everything. All right, in the couple of minutes we have left, let’s drop back into II John once again, verse 6, now you want to compare how close and beautifully this is to John’s Gospel. This is John’s Gospel, this isn’t Paul, this is the same as the Gospel of John.
II John 1:6a
“And this is love, (so far as the Jew’s relationship with God was concerned) that we walk after his commandment….”
Now I’m not going to be so narrow as to say, all he’s talking about here are the Ten. But you see, on the Ten Commandments were based, well actually Judaism had how many? Six hundred and thirteen. I’ve been going through them lately. And they’re all based on little statements back in Leviticus and so forth, but the whole system of commandments was not just the Ten but everything that rested on the Ten amounted to really 613 commandments. All right, and this is what John is encouraging these Jewish believers to still hang on to. They were still going by the Law and the commandments as God had given them to the Nation. And so it’s totally separated from Paul’s relationship with Christ.
II John 1:6b
“…This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.”
And so, all the way through Christ’s earthly ministry, why did he perform miracle after miracle after miracle? Well preeminently of course to prove who He was. But, what was the immediate result of all of His miracles? Oh, it was His compassion poured out on those poor benighted souls, whether they were hungry physically, or whether they were sick, or whether they were blind and in love He would solve the problem. And love was epitomized constantly see? And then He put the crowning effect of love is, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Well you see if the world could do that we wouldn’t have all these problems. But the world out there knows nothing of the love of God. All the world knows is “me.” But love says, “you.” In fact I was thinking sometime, while I was preparing all this, it’s been a long time since I have spoken this on the program. But several years ago, I think I used it a few times in a row. What is the best definition of love? Remember? “Seeking the other man’s highest good.” That’s true love. And isn’t that exactly what God does? God is constantly concerned about what’s best for us.
He’s not sitting up there – I think some people have got the whole wrong idea. They think God is sitting up there just waiting until somebody messes up and then He can swat them like a fly. No! That’s not God. He’s love and He’s just waiting to seek their highest good. But why is lost mankind not experiencing God’s love? Let’s go back for a moment to Romans chapter 8. I just had to point this out to someone on the phone last night. And this is the Word of God. This is what we have to trust. Romans 8, let’s just start at verse 5. I don’t like to use just one verse if I can help it.
“For they that are after the flesh (in other words, they’ve never experienced salvation, they are still under the nature of Old Adam) they do mind the things of the flesh; (we’re speaking of materialism. The lusts of the flesh, lust of the eyes, the pride of life.) but they that are after the Spirit (they mind) the things of the Spirit.”
Here we have two totally different concepts. The things of the flesh. And the things of the Spirit. Now verse 6.
“For to be carnally (or fleshly) minded is death;…” (spiritual death.)
Many times their horrendous lifestyle will even precipitate physically death, but we’re talking primarily here about the spiritual death, they’re going to be separated from God for all eternity.
“For to be carnally (or fleshly) minded is death; (spiritual death) but to be spiritually minded (to now have experienced salvation and the indwelling Holy Spirit) is life (not just physically life but eternal life) and peace.”
Now you go back to Romans chapter 5. Don’t look it up. But Romans 5 verse 1 says what?
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”
We have that peace that comes by faith! All right, so here it is, now verse 7, this is the verse I wanted you to see.
“Because the carnal (the fleshly, the lost person, his) mind is (what?) enmity against God,…”
Enmity! How much do you normally do for an enemy? Well, nothing. All he’s out to do is to destroy you. To defeat you. He’s your enemy! And that’s what the unsaved person is so far as God is concerned, but He loves him anyway. But that unsaved, unregenerated person is an enemy of God. Consequently,
“…for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
Why? Because they’re enemies. Now back in the times when Russia was our mortal political enemy, how many Americans would have bent over backwards to help the Russian government? Well, not a one, if we have any patriotism at all because they were our mortal enemy. They wanted us wiped off the face of the earth. All right, now that’s mankind’s attitude toward God. They don’t want anything to do with Him, but yet His love is always being “commended toward us even yet while we were sinners” and consequently, out of love, “Christ died for us.”
All right, let’s come back again to II John. I don’t want to go into verse 7 because that’s a whole new line of thought so we’ll just come back to verse 6 again.
II John 1:6
“And this is love, (this is what God is manifesting toward even these Jewish believers) that we walk after His commandments, (which at that time were still resting on the Ten but all the other 613 were part and parcel of it) This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.”
In other words, the true Jewish believer under the system of Law was constantly aware of the demands of the Law and to that is what he was obedient.