One Hit Wonders (2 John) by Jesse Sampson

At Gateway Church in Austin, we began our series called One Hit Wonders.

Sometimes we find truly valuable things in the most unlikely of places. For some, it seems easy to skip over the shorter books of the Bible, but the reality is, one page of poetry, one page of a letter, and especially one page of Scripture can change the trajectory of a person’s life. The book of 2 John is no exception to this notion, as the book gives important ways we can love like Jesus did. How could learning to love like Jesus loves change your life and community?

Work through the following questions and Scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.

Next Steps:

Work through the following questions and Scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.

2 John Next Steps

Message Audio from Jesse Sampson:

Message Notes from the Teaching Team:

Today, we’re jumping into a new series, where over the next three weeks we will be exploring three different complete books of the Bible… and not only that, as a community we’ll be reading all three of those books in their entirety.

How does that sound to you? Are you excited or are you nervous?  

I’d suspect that sounds a bit overwhelming to many of you… especially those who are new to the Bible. 

I totally get that… but don’t check-out before we even get started because I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised.

As your pastor/teacher… I want to offer you a really great deal. 

  • Do you want to learn to hear God’s voice through the Scriptures? 
  • Do you want to discover how ancient wisdom can guide us today?

What if I told you that, if you’re willing to read just THREE PAGES of scripture over the next three weeks… than by-the-time this series is over, you’ll have read THREE ENTIRE BOOKS of the New Testament. Sound like a good deal?

Side-note for all of our students here at Gateway… think of how great it will be, the next time you call up one of your parents to ask them for money (again)… but THIS TIME, you’ll be able to say, “and hey mom, I thought you might want to know that I’ve read THREE BOOKS of the Bible this month… oh yeah, and can I get some cash to get me through the month?”

The reality is, one page of poetry… one page of a letter… and especially one page of scripture can change the trajectory of a person’s life!

Can you think of song lyric… a stanza of poetry… a political document… or maybe a blog-post, that inspired or affected you so deeply that it moved you to some kind of action?

  • To profess your love to someone? (or for some of you, to IM them on Insta)
  • To get involved in a moment? 
  • To make a change in your life ?

Context of 2 John

So, today we’re going to read a one-page letter together… and more importantly, we’re going to let this letter read us. In the Bible, we have 5 different collections of writings from a guy we know as John. 

Our main focus is going to be on a one-page letter known as 2 John 

… a letter written by John, one of Jesus’ original 12 disciples… who would’ve been really young during the ministry of Jesus.

  • John was an eyewitness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus
  • He wrote to help people believe that Jesus was the Son of God 
  • John was Jesus’ cousin, son of Salome, the sister of Mary – Matthew 27:56, John 19:25, Mark 15:40. If you want to really know someone, ask their family. Jesus’ brothers James and Jude, his 2nd cousin John the Baptist, and his 1st cousins James and John all believed in Him.

Years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus… tragedy had struck the Jewish community in that the Romans had destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem in AD 70. 

John fled Jerusalem when it fell to the Romans and the Temple was destroyed… devastating to the Jews. 

What do you do when something you’ve centered much of your life / worship around is taken from you? (identity)

However, the Jews who believed Jesus was the Messiah believed He was the God incarnate… and now His followers who are filled with His Spirit are the presence of God in the world. 

  • But why would they think that? 
  • In the shadow of the destruction of the temple, why would they not be destroyed?

The Scriptures point to this mysterious truth… God With Us on earth — in Eden – then through the Tabernacle – then the Temple – then Jesus – then Body of Christ… 

God wants to be in loving relationship with us

From the beginning to the end, we see where heaven meets earth:

  • Genesis (Eden)
  • Exodus (Tabernacle)
  • 1 Kings (Temple)
  • John’s Gospel (Jesus)
  • New Testament (The Body of Christ)
  • Revelation (New Heaven and New Earth)

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. [tabernacled with us] We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 

The Temple was not as important to the followers of Jesus because of what Jesus taught. This was written by John:

Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. John 2:18-22

How could these earliest followers of Jesus “not be shaken”? …living in the shadow of the destruction of the temple and still under Roman rule? 

How could they live so counter-culturally? How could they love so fiercely?

…John tells us, they didn’t JUST KNOW the words of Jesus… “they believed the scriptures and the words that Jesus had spoken”. 

God’s presence has spread beyond the walls of a building in a city in Israel!

This is the context we’re going to dive in-to today! And as we read through this one-page letter known as 2 John… we’re going to try and hone-in on some of what John is trying to teach us about living in The Way of Jesus, together in Central Austin.

The first thing we’re going to learn…

1. Love Needs Truth

The elder, To the lady chosen by God and to 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. 2 John 1-3

  • Chosen lady – probably a church but could be a particular person. 

Followers of Jesus only met in homes until 300CE when Constantine the emperor of Rome became a Christian and his mother started building cathedrals and buildings.

  • We are chosen, and we have to decide if we want to be adopted or not.

God pursues us and we decide if we will say “yes.” Not about believing facts about Him but surrendering all of our lives to Him.

  • John loves in the truth and the truth is in us and with us.

Jesus said: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” in John 14:6

We are in Him and He is in us. Truth inside and out.

In another of John’s letters to 1st century believers…

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1John 1:5-7

We should celebrate living in the assurance of this truth… while also understanding that the Way of Love needs to be rooted in Truth, so that the Love of Christ is the natural outpouring of our lives… and not just a word or emotion we throw around when it feels good. Which leads to our 2nd observation in 2 John…

2. True Love Is Action

It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 4-6

Love is displayed through trusting and obeying God. 

John says in his first letter…

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3

Last week, we talked about the extravagant love of our Heavenly Father… and how for so many of us here today… our skepticism or resistance toward stepping into a loving relationship with God and going-all-in, trusting him with the leadership of our lives… is that we have a view of God that is very flawed needs to be refreshed or even re-booted!

When we really begin to understand God’s Love for us… a love that is recklessly extravagant… that withholds nothing and gives everything on a lavish scale…

that’s when we begin to see our lives as He sees us… fully forgiven, fully accepted as His Children and adopted in to His Family forever! 

  • God’s Love frees us from the fear and insecurity that so often causes us to act-out in order get attention or desperately try and win the approval of others.
  • God’s Love frees us from self-centeredness… where I always have to make sure my needs are met before I can consider the needs of others                 

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18

  • God’s Love gives us the courage to stand-up for what is right even when that stand is unpopular… and the courage to speak Truth in Love to people who are making destructive decisions… and to live according to what you know God desires for your life and for all humanity.
  • God’s Love and Truth… when it’s really alive in you, will always see those who are unseen in our culture… and stand-up for those who’ve been forgotten and can’t stand for themselves. 
  • God’s Love and Truth can never ignore injustice… it can’t stand idly by while a person or a people are being bullied… because Love Takes Action!

Living with integrity and true character is really counter-cultural… and living out your faith without compromise takes tremendous courage! 

Loving those who are not like you… or don’t believe what you believe… it can be intimidating. But remember…

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:18-19   Finally…

3. The Way of Love Is Wise

I say this because 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 we 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 them into your house or welcome them. Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work. 2 John 7-11

A sinister cult-like situation was happening when John wrote this letter. Traveling missionaries relied on the hospitality of strangers for a place to stay, food to eat, and funds to travel. (There were no hotels).

  • Early Gnostics were teaching that Jesus was just a man and that the Spirit of the Messiah entered his body at the baptism and left before the cross. 
  • They taught Jesus was fully man but not fully God because they believed the body was evil and the spirit was good. 
  • In other letters (Colossians, 1 John) we see that the result of this false teaching led to widespread immorality and people abandoning their faith.

John warns them not to buy into the cult and not to support them. 

No provision against being kind or having a conversation but do not financially support or give in to the lies.

But to not fall prey to false teachers and to not get swept-away by watered down messages or false-gospels… that takes wisdom.

And the NT authors all seem to agree that Loving Others and maturing in our faith… this doesn’t just happen…

(Written by Paul who led the church in Ephesus before John did)
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called -one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all …Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow into him who is the Head, that is Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does it’s work. Ephesians 4:1-6, 14-16

So what would a Spirit-filled community, grounded in the Truth of Jesus, displaying His Love, and growing in faith… what would that look like here in Austin?

What would the impact be on our city? What kind of results could we expect?

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and generous hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47

That sounds amazing doesn’t it? I know many of us would say yes… and yet that’s not what we’re experiencing, so much of the time.

So what’s the problem? 

What we so often choose is a community based on our preferences… and so it sounds more like this:

“They studied of the apostles teaching when they had time. They went to fellowship when they could fit it in. They prayed when they needed something and got coffee together every now and then. They were content without, and had low expectations for, signs and wonders in their midst. They sometimes talked about generosity but kept all of their possessions for themselves. Two out of five Sundays they came to corporate gatherings. They didn’t invite people into their homes and rarely revealed their hearts. They were largely irrelevant to all people, and occasionally, someone was randomly saved.” –The Book of Personal Preference by Jon Tyson

2 John ends with John saying, “I have much more to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink.”

My question to you is…

What kind of community do you want to be a part of?

  • One that based on convenience and the personal preferences of each individual person… and content with low expectations of God… where our best stories are from the past?
  • Or one that’s fueled by the Love and Truth of Jesus… where we are devoted to each other and committed to a rhythm of living life together in real, Spirit-filled community… giving generously to meet the needs of others in our city and our world… and seeing people being healed and rescued and saved by the hundreds and even thousands… where the best part of God’s story be written through us, is still ahead of us?

 

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