Cruising Route 66
Christian Etiquette for
The Elect Lady
The elder, to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth — and not I only, but also all who know the truth — because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love. It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. II John 1-4
The 2nd letter John sent to the early church is the shortest book in the New Testament, and the only book in the Bible addressed to a woman. Some say that the “Elect Lady” is the church in general, others, that it was a particular church, and still others say it was a group of some kind. Most, however, believe that John was actually writing to a Christian lady.
He begins by praising her for living a life of righteousness, and then he applauds her for her faithful children. John cautions her about false teachers and flawed beliefs, giving her three vital ingredients needed to build a healthy Christian foundation, truth, love, and doctrine.
Truth must be experienced. In verses 1-4, what John referred to as “truth” was more than just an accepted fact. It was a living reality. The truth is such a powerful influence that it can bring “all they that have known it” together on common ground in spite of their differences. There will always be some controversy among believers, but as believers, we ought to be able to agree on a mutual starting point, that the Bible is the Word of God, it is the truth.
Jesus is Living Truth. The Bible is the written Truth. The term “lives in us” speaks of the assurance of His presence, and that He “will be with us forever.” This speaks of the assurance of His faithfulness. The truth will never change, nor will it be destroyed.
The Product of truth is found in verse 3, “ Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.”
Grace is the unmerited favor that permits us to receive what we don’t deserve, mercy. Mercy allows us to be forgiven and prevents us from receiving what we really deserve. Peace is the result of grace and mercy. There is peace with God, and there is the peace of God. Unfortunately, some never find either one.
When the truth is found, it must be practiced. Take note of John’s observation in verse 4. “It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth.” The evidence of the truth existing in the heart of a person is their obedience to it. When we receive the truth, we must then live the truth.
The next step requires that sound doctrine must be established.
“Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.” II John 7-11
No Christian can be stable without sound doctrine. The world is full of religious people who simply don’t know what they believe. A poll of American Christians was taken about what they believed, and the results were surprising. 25% of professing Christians believe that Jesus was not sinless, and 61% think there are other ways to salvation besides faith in Christ. There are a number of reasons why we need sound doctrine.
John points out in verse 7 that without having a solid grip on truth, we can be easily deceived. “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.”
The airways are full of them. and it’s not just minor interpretive differences. Some lead believers astray who will stand before God empty-handed. According to John’s words, a mere profession of faith is not enough, It’s not simply knowing the truth, we must be grounded in it. Deceivers can be identified as those who teach without sound biblical grounding. They move beyond sound doctrine into a realm of philosophical dialog without biblical support.
In verses 5 & 6, John expresses the need to show our faith in Christ by the love we have for one another. Love is an action word that is useless unless expressed. If it is not given or declared, it means nothing. Love is powerful. Love moved the Father to send the Son. Love moved the Son to save the sinner. Love moves the saved sinner to serve the Savior. As believers, we may not always agree, but we must always love each other.
Too often, we tend to be more tolerant with the sinner than we are with the saint. Loving one another does not mean that we necessarily approve of one another’s behavior. We do not love based upon what people do, we love because of who we are. Love never grows old, nor does it need replacing. It’s not a new commandment. It’s not a forced commandment. It’s an expression of our nature, we’re children of God.
Until next time,