Study 9 HOW TO QUALIFY FOR A FULL REWARD
THE LETTERS OF JOHN
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: 2 John 1-13)
This is a study of John’s Second Letter. There has been much discussion concerning the authorship of this letter (and of John’s Third Letter), but there is evidence that it was written in Ephesus by the Apostle John. It has also been a problem to know to whom the letter was sent. Who was “the chosen lady” – verse 1, and who were “her children”? Both phrases are capable of more than one interpretation. The word ‘lady’ in Greek is ‘Kuria’, and this may be translated as a proper name, or translated impersonally; that is, it could refer to a specific Christian lady or to a Christian church. What we do know is that the message of this short letter is for us today, and it is relevant to us. The six words in verse 8, “that you may be rewarded fully”, provide a key to unlock the central message of this Letter. Hence our title: ‘How to qualify for a full reward’ – that is, how to live and work down here so that at the Judgment Seat of Christ we may be rewarded and not suffer loss – look up 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Colossians 3:24-25.
1. We must cultivate and show forth a spirit of true humility.
Notice how John begins his letter. He simply refers to himself as “the elder”. He does not mention his name, does not say he is an apostle, nor that he is the only one of the original apostles still alive, nor that he is “the disciple whom Jesus loved” – look up John 13:23. This indication of humility is very beautiful and very pleasing to the Lord – look up Matthew 11:29; John 3:30; 1 Peter 3:1; 5:5-6, and compare Isaiah 57:15.
2. We must be full of love for all people, and especially for members of “the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10).
In verse 1 John expresses his love for those to whom he is writing, and see what he says in verse 5! This is the burden of his First Letter, and now it comes to the forefront again. Christians are to be love-filled – look up and compare John 13:14; 1 John 3:11-12; 14-18; 4:11-12; and meditate on the following:
‘Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offence. Love keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over other men’s sins, but delights in the truth. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and its endurance’ (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NEB).
3. We must prove and demonstrate our love by our obedience.
Love is not only talking, but walking! – see verse 6. If our hearts are filled with the love of Christ and for Him, the proof will be seen in our obedience. We shall prove our love by keeping His commandments – look up John 14:15, which reads: “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” It is hypocritical to profess to love Him if we are not obeying Him. When Peter told the Lord that he loved Him, Jesus said, “Feed My Lambs!” Go and prove it! – look up John 21:15, and compare 1 John 5:3.
4. We must safeguard the truth of the Gospel.
We get this in verse 7 and in the first part of verse 8. How important John felt the ‘truth’ to be! W. Griffith Thomas has left us this outline:
- Truth as a SPHERE (verses 1,3,4)
- Truth as an EXPERIENCE (verse 1)
- Truth as a MOTIVE (verse 2)
- Truth as a STANDARD (verse 4)
- Truth as a POWER (verses 5,6,8)
- Truth as a HOME (verse 9)
- Truth as a TEST (verses 10-11)
There is a tendency today to say that doctrine is not important – but what a fallacy! The truth of the Gospel has been committed to us, and we are to safeguard it and contend for it – look up Jude 3, and compare Philippians 1:17. There are false teachers on every hand – see verse 7. The characteristics of the future Antichrist are seen in these false deceivers; so we are to guard the truth concerning: (1) The Person of Christ (verse 3); and (2) The work of Christ (verse 7). To deny that Christ has come in the flesh (as some were doing, and as some do today) leads to a denial of His saving purpose and work.
5. We are to be very wary of false teachers and of false teaching.
The words ‘Watch out…’ in verse 8 are an exhortation to self-examination. We are to watch out that we do not become contaminated in the slightest degree by error or false teaching. What a word for today, when so many heresies abound on every hand! – look up 2 Timothy 4:1-5. Beware of the ‘isms’ that threaten you – look up Acts 20:28-30; Colossians 2:6-8; 2 Timothy 2:15.
6. We are to keep the various aspects of Gospel Truth in balance.
This word is needed for today when some Christians are taking one precious aspect of truth and ‘running it to death’, thus getting off-balance. In verse 9 the words, “Anyone who runs ahead…” refers to the danger of going beyond the teaching of the Bible. This can be done when truth is taken out of its context, or when one aspect of truth is made a main line of teaching. Usually those who fall into this danger soon show signs of pride and arrogance. Beware! Pray for “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” – look up 2 Corinthians 11:3.
7. We must seek after and exercise the joy of true Christian fellowship.
From verse 12, we learn that John loved those to whom he was writing, and he longed to be with them that they might rejoice together. There is nothing so wonderful as true Christian fellowship.
If we will give heed to these things, one day we shall hear the Lord Himself say to us – look up Matthew 25:21; we shall receive ‘a full reward’.