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"No Greater Joy"

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

            John told Gaius, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (III Jn. 4). This statement, though short, teaches us several things. Let us break this verse down, see what John was saying, and make some applications to our lives.

“I Have No Greater Joy” - Nothing gave John greater joy than to know that Gaius, Demetrius (v. 12), and other Christians (i.e., “friends,” v. 14) were holding fast to the Lord. He had his joy set on things eternal and not temporal (II Cor. 4:18). In other words, John’s joy didn’t rest in men’s opinion of him or some physical pursuit. John’s joy was in knowing that faithful Christians were doing their duty for the Lord! (See: II John 4)

            Friend, what gives you joy? Is it vacations? Physical pursuits? Work? Children? Cars? Hobbies? These things might bring momentary happiness, but what brings joy? Is our true joy found in spiritual things? If we truly love the brethren as we ought (I Pet. 2:17), we will be able to speak as John concerning the well-doing of brethren all over this country and world!

“Than To Hear” - Though he wasn’t there in body, John was concerned for the brethren. He wanted “to hear” about Gaius, and others and learn about their welfare. I know brethren who look down on such concern for others, but John (and the other apostles) showed us the proper example (I Cor. 4:16, 11:1; Phil. 3:17; Eph. 5:1-2). Please understand, John wasn’t interested in gossip, etc., but genuinely concerned for their souls. This needs to be our attitude as well (Prov. 25:25).

            Other apostles showed concern for the brethren as well. We see Paul’s care for brethren through all of his epistles (II Cor. 11:28; Rom. 16:1-15; I Cor. 1:11; Phil. 4:21; Col. 4:15, 17). The same goes for Peter (I Pet. 1:1, 2:17; II Pet. 1:1).

            How concerned are we for our brethren? Do we show it through prayers? Through financial support or other means? Are we so caught up in ourselves that we don’t have time to “hear” about the welfare of other Christians?

“My Children” - This does not have reference to his physical lineage, but to those he had been instrumental in bringing to the Lord. The apostle Paul used the same language for those he taught (I Cor. 4:15, 17; I Tim. 1:1-2; II Tim. 1:1-2; Titus 1:4).

I think it is interesting to note that we are never told about the apostles’ physical children. (For example, we know the apostle Peter had children, I Pet. 5:1!) I wonder if this was done so we would keep our eyes on the apostles who pointed us to Christ, rather than on their descendants that we might treat as “royalty,” or give them some special position in the church that God never intended?

            Brethren, what is our attitude toward fellow Christians? Do we strive for closeness? Do we treat one another as brethren? Let’s ask this another way: How many can we consider “children” in the sense the John and Paul used the word (II Tim. 2:2)?

“Walk In Truth” - The word “walk” describes one’s manner of life or behavior. This was seen as Gaius showed hospitality toward others, and showed the right example to fellow Christians not traveling (III Jn. 5-8). In other words, Gaius was faithfully following God despite the difficulties that surrounded him. He didn’t merely give lip-service to the truth, but was walking in it! John said those, like Gaius, who were walking in the truth brought him great joy. Why did he have joy? It is because he knew that what they were doing pleased the Father (II Jn 4; III Jn. 4). Let us examine ourselves so that when the Lord returns, He will find us walking in truth.

- Jarrod M. Jacobs


Tuesday, August 04, 2020

                   John warned, “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist” (II Jn. 7). Speaking about an antichrist or “the” antichrist produces fear in the hearts of many. In light of the coronavirus pandemic and the hardships that have been produced from quarantines, business shut-downs, and the like, there are many concerned that perhaps these events are foreshadowing the end of the world. People are concerned about “the” antichrist entering the world stage and ushering us into “the end of days.”

                   When we read the Scriptures, though, we learn something completely different about “antichrist.” There is nothing said about an antichrist or “the” antichrist ushering in anything. This is not to say that the doctrine of antichrist (I Jn. 4:3) is not serious, because it is. When we understand what this is, it is a fearful thing. The definition of “antichrist” is “opponent of the Messiah” (Strong’s). Therefore, we do not want God to consider us “antichrist” or Christ’s opponent.

                   Understanding the definition is just one aspect of our study. Let us make sure we use the word (in this case, “antichrist”) in its proper context. Therefore, to understand this teaching, let us first read everything the Bible says on the subject of “antichrist.” In this case, God speaks about “antichrist” in four places (I Jn. 2:18, 22, 4:3; II Jn. 7). After reading those verses, we can see the attributes of antichrist (opponent to the Messiah) include:

  • There is more than one who could be considered “antichrist” (I Jn. 2:18).
  • He denies that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah). He denies the Father and the Son (I Jn. 2:22).
  • He will not confess that Jesus came in the flesh to the earth (I Jn. 4:3; II Jn. 7).
  • He is a deceiver (II Jn. 7).

                   By reading all God says on the matter, we can appreciate that it is a serious and dangerous thing if God considers you “antichrist.” At the same time, there was nothing in those passages said about The Judgment Day, a 1000-year reign, a world-wide power, a world leader, war, rapture, death, resurrections, or any of the other things people generally talk about when they speak about the “antichrist.“ John didn’t even use the term “the” antichrist! He said (by inspiration) that there were “many antichrists” (I Jn. 2:18)! Don’t forget that he wrote this some 2000 years ago. Those opposed to the Messiah have been around for a while!

                   Now, to the context of II John, we see that antichrist (v. 7) is contrasted with walking after God’s commands (v. 6) and making sure we don’t lose what we have in Christ (v. 8). Let us heed John’s warning. Let us do what God says, and be faithful to His commands. When we think about the subject of “antichrist” in its context, we can see how it is that there were many in John’s day, and how there are many yet today!

Don’t be deceived by false teachers and do not oppose His truth, including the fact that yes, Jesus Christ came in the flesh. Our Savior is real! His word is true! He made a way for us to be saved, and when we believe He is the Son of God (Jn. 8:24), repent of our sins (including being His opponent -- Lk. 13:3), confess Christ as God’s Son (Rom. 10:10) and be baptized (Acts 2:38), we can be forgiven of our sins!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"The Apostles' Commands"

Friday, July 24, 2020

            I can remember not long after I started in my first “full-time” work, I encountered a few brethren who took the position that the “red letters” in the Bible were more important than the “black letters.” In other words, we ought to give greater emphasis to the words Christ spoke on earth than to anything else in the New Testament. To them, the epistles, etc., were of lesser value than Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Perhaps you have heard of people who have taken such a position. Until that time, I had not heard of such a belief. This may seem to have a noble aspect because people wish to place greater emphasis on Christ’s words, but the noble intention has many glaring errors.

First of all, it is a strange position to hold because red-letter Bibles were not published until 1901! What about the people from the 1800s and back to the second century? Were they unable to determine the “important words” because their Bibles weren’t typed with red letters? Second, if the words of Christ (in red letters) have a greater impact than what the apostles said, what about the fact that Christ told them He was not able to tell them everything because they weren’t ready? He then promised the Holy Spirit to come and “guide” them into “all truth” (Jn. 16:12-13)? So, the apostles didn’t have all the truth when Christ was on earth, speaking in “red letters”! They did get all of it later (Acts 2:1-5; Gal. 1:12; etc.), yet somehow their words are not as important as what Christ said? This is a strange doctrine, indeed.

            Not only is it a strange doctrine, but it also contradicts passages like II Peter 3:2. Peter told his readers that he wanted them to “be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior.” He would also later condemn people for twisting Paul’s words and put Paul’s words on an equal plain with “the other Scriptures,” i.e., the Old Testament Scriptures (II Pet. 3:16). This sounds nothing like what I was told about the importance of the “red letters”! Based on the truth Peter taught, let me ask a few questions.

  • Jesus said the words He spoke were the words given to Him by the Father (Jn. 12:49-50). Do we now discount the words of Christ as “lesser” than the Father’s?
  • The job of the apostles was to speak the words of Christ to the world (Matt. 28:19; Mk. 16:15; Jn. 14:26). When they did so, how were these words of lesser importance than Christ’s? They were Christ’s!
  • Since the words of the apostles are equated with the words of the prophets of God (II Pet. 3:2), how can we say they are of lesser value or lesser importance than Christ’s?
  • Please supply book, chapter, and verse where Jesus (while on earth) gave us: instructions on how to worship, instructions on the organization of the church, instructions on the work of the church, instructions on matters of faith vs. matters of opinion, insight into the conflict between the Jews and the Gentiles and how to be at peace, the meaning of His cross, etc. (Maybe I am seeing some people’s motivation for dismissing the “black-letters”! When we dismiss them, we dismiss all of these things as well!)
  • Since Deity is actually behind the entire Bible (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:20-21), shouldn’t the whole Bible be “red-letter”?

            Personally, I find the “red letter” Bibles distracting. I mainly preach out of Bibles that have only black letters. Friends, let us not ignore the words of the apostles, but realize that since these men were Christ’s ambassadors (II Cor. 5:20; Eph. 6:20), their words are as authoritative as Christ’s when it comes to doctrine and truth! Peter said we need to be listening to the commands of the apostles, and so let’s do that and be blessed (II Pet. 3:2)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

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