Friday, January 27, 2012

How To Deal With False Teachers: utterly reject them, not give them a platform

2Jn 1:8 Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. 9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.
Notes on this passage:

8 do not lose those things we worked for. Although a reward is generally promised Christians for hospitality (e.g., Matt. 10:41; 25:40; Mark 9:41), the idea here is of the fullness of a believer’s reward for all the good he has done (see 1 Cor. 3:10–17; 2 Cor. 5:9,10). A loss of that reward may occur to any believer who does not discriminate fellowship on the basis of adherence to the truth (Col. 2:18,19; 3:24,25). This is a potent warning. All the eternal (re)ward one earns by seeing Christ purely, eagerly, and effectively in the Spirit can be diminished by any aiding or abetting of false teaching.

9 does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. A failure to be faithful to the fundamental, sound doctrines of the faith (a proper view of the person and work of Christ, love, obedience) marks a person as having never been born again (1 John 2:23; 3:6–10; 4:20,21; 5:1–3). The word "abide" has the idea of constant adherence and warns that these fundamentals are not open to change or subject to the latest trends or philosophical fads.

10 do not receive him into your house nor greet him. John’s prohibition is not a case of entertaining people who disagree on minor matters. These false teachers were carrying on a regular campaign to destroy the basic, fundamental truths of Christianity. Complete disassociation from such heretics is the only appropriate course of action for genuine believers. No benefit or aid of any type (not even a greeting) is permissible. Believers should aid only those who proclaim the truth (vv. 5–8).

11 shares in his evil deeds. Hospitality to such leaders aids the spread of their heresy and inevitably leaves the impression of sanctioning the teachings of these antichrists (cf. 1 John 2:22). Supreme loyalty to God and His Word alone must characterize the actions of every true believer.

~MacArthur's study bible

Truth: The Test of Christian Hospitality by John MacArthur
Excerpts: [emphasis, mine]

This is written to a lady and her children about how to live in the truth and love in the truth and be loyal to the truth. And what really prompted this letter was the issue of Christian hospitality. As I've been telling you in those times there were preachers who traveled around to the churches to preach the gospel and to bring the truth of God to the people of God. And the only way they could do that would be to be received into the homes. Inns were unacceptable, dangerous places, immoral places. And so people opened their homes. In fact, the Bible lays down hospitality as a very important part of Christian life.
One of the dangers, of course, was that false teachers knew about this. And they wanted to get in too, just like they want to get into Christian radio, Christian television, Christian publications, etc. I asked one of the great publishers in America why he published a heretical book and he looked at me like, "What do you mean? We publish everything." Didn't even understand the question. These people want to get in everywhere. They don't want to operate outside the Kingdom, they want to operate as much inside as they can. So they push their Trojan Horse through the city gates and then let loose the damaging army of error. And what happened was, in the early church, false teachers pretending to represent Christ would travel around, it was a great gig to make a living, you went in, you stayed with somebody, ate their food, they took an offering for you, and you went to the next place, and you just kept getting more money and more money as you went along. And at the time, of course, you were representing Satan and undermining the truth and damaging the lives of people.
Apparently this lady wanting to be hospitable had done this. She had allowed herself to be put in a very compromising situation, a very dangerous situation for both her and the church, to give a place where the false teacher could be embedded in the very fellowship of saints. And so John writes this letter to warn her and her children and everybody else and maybe he had heard about this from her sister who is mentioned in verse 13, because as he was writing, most likely, from Ephesus, he says to her, "The children of your chosen sister greet you," so she had a sister and maybe it was the sister that had told him about this problem. Here was probably a compassionate, tender-hearted, gracious lady and her children that wanted to allow these people who said they were Christ's into the home. And so the letter is written as a warning. The church was loving, the church was hospitable. The church was gracious. And so they were vulnerable.

So John writes to establish the limits of our loving. We live in the truth. We love within the confines of the truth. And we are loyal to the truth. Now we come to verse 9, and let me add another little "L" in our list, living in the truth, loving in the truth, being loyal to the truth, we have to be looking for the truth...we have to be looking for the truth. The perspective here in verse 9 through 11 is a perspective of John laid out the reality of the truth of redemption back in 1 John when repeatedly in 1 John he talks about one of the marks of a true believer being an understanding of the Son of God and the Father. First John 2:22, "Who is a liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ, this is the antichrist. Whoever denies the Son doesn't have the Father, the one who confesses the Son has the Father also."
And so, verse 9 says, "Anyone who goes beyond what is written and does not remain in the teaching of Christ does not have God." Now the teaching of Christ...immediately you're asking yourself...what does that mean? Is that a subjective genitive or an objective genitive? That is, is Christ the subject or the object? Is it His teaching or is it teaching about Him?
Answer: yes...yes. It is the teaching about Him which, of course, is consistent with His teaching. You could never separate the two, could you? And that's why you don't need to argue over whether the Greek subjective or objective genitive is in view here, there's nothing to choose between. Both are the same. The truth about Christ is taught by Christ. The point is, the biblical revelation about Jesus Christ...if someone goes beyond that or does not remain true to that, they do not have God. Listen, you can't be saved without the gospel. You can't even be saved with a warped gospel. You can't be saved without believing in Jesus Christ. You can't even be saved without believing in the one true Christ.
You know, you really have to look for this today. I mean, you have to have your theological magnifying glass with the little nuances people want to use to somehow escape a real assessment. The one who is faithful to a biblical Christology, the one who meno remains in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. You don't get the Father without the Son. You don't get the Son disconnected from the Father. There's no possibility of knowing God apart from knowing Christ. This is the strongest statement on gospel exclusivity anywhere. It's a packaged deal. Yo don't know the Father except by the Son. "No man comes unto the Father but by Me."
So that is the principle of looking for the truth. And when you meet someone who has perverted it, deviated from it, added to it, gone beyond it, act wisely...act wisely. And how would you act wisely? Verse 10, "If anyone comes to you," and they did, this is A with the indicative, a likely condition. It probably happened to this lady, as I've said, as to many through the centuries and many even today, and even us as they've kind of come into our house through the television and radio and whatever, and sometimes even knocking on the door. "If anyone comes to you and does not bear this teaching....what teaching?...the teaching of Christ, that is about Him by Him, do not receive him into your house." This is not someone coming to learn from you or you'd never be able to witness to an unbeliever. This is someone coming to teach you lies. Understand the difference? We answer the questions of the ignorant. We answer the questions of those who want to know. We don't affirm or give a platform to the deceivers. The fastest way to put them out of business is to make sure that you never receive them. If anyone comes to you, I'm not talking about someone ignorant who wants to understand the truth. We're talking about an apostate lying deceiver looking for a foothold embedded in the fellowship of believers to make money off the unsuspecting while he plies his evil lies. Don't receive him into your house.

He could have said, "Don't receive him in your church." That's true, but then churches were not the first place they would go. Why? Because churches were protected by what group of men? Elders. And what...what was necessary to be an elder? First Timothy 3, they had to be...end of verse 2...didaktikos, skilled teachers. So you wouldn't expect a false teacher just to invade a church. He's not going to get in here. We have elders who are skilled teachers. Titus 1:9, "Elders are able to hold fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the doctrine and are able both to exhort in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict." And they can handle the rebellious men, the empty talkers, and deceivers. That's what elders and pastors do. So they don't come to the church. That's where they ultimately end up, that's where they'd like to end up. They don't come there first, they go to the home. They want to get you on your front porch. They want to get you through the television or the radio. They want to find their way to those who are vulnerable. In 2 Timothy 3 and verse 5 it says, "These false teachers have a form of godliness without power." And verse 6 says, "They enter into households and they captivate weak women." Hmmm, that's what they do. They look for the weak and the sympathetic and tender hearted and compassionate and embed themselves there and start their divesting of those people's resources and the confusion of their minds. Don't let them in your house. "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly." And this doesn't apply to new Christians, or those who seek a full knowledge of Christ. These people are not learners, they are...what?...teachers, the emissaries of deception.
But that's not all it says. They are so dangerous, not only do you not let them in, look at the end of verse 10, "Do not give him a not give him a greeting." Saintly Polycarp met a heretic and greeted him with this, "I recognize Satan's firstborn." Greeting...greeting is chairo, it means to give a greeting, literally means to rejoice. That was the Christian greeting, standard Christian greeting to rejoice. That is to say to someone, "Rejoice." In other words, this is a happy occasion to see you, it produces joy. Your presence is a source of joy. Welcome to the an affirmation of solidarity. You don't ever want to say that to a false teacher and a deceiver and a liar and an emissary of Satan, somebody who has gone beyond what the Bible teaches about Christ. Don't ever say that to a false teacher.
You say, "Well, that's narrow." You bet. You say, "That's harsh." You've got it right. You say, "That's unloving." Absolutely. But nothing is as dangerous as deception because nothing is as precious as truth, right? He's speaking of dangerous wolves, Acts 20. He's speaking of thieves in the language of Jesus in John 10 who come to kill and destroy the flock. Any hospitality, any commendation, any acceptance of them would be dangerous exposure to antichrist influences. You can't overstate this. It would be impossible to overstate this. If you ever put yourself in a position in which you give yourself over to lying teachers, you're in defiance of this text. You may think they're academic and you may think they're something very elite about being a part of some academic environment, the appropriate thing would be to borrow from *Polycarp and tell your Christ-denying religious professor, "I recognize Satan's firstborn when I see him. Shut the door in their face, John says. John was a real shepherd. He was protecting his flock. The quickest way to contribute to their failure is to shut the door and give them no affirming greeting at all. Their mouths, Titus 1 says, must be stopped. And the church today is not willing to do this...not willing to do this.
How serious is this? You say, "Well, I should do it for the love of the truth." Right. "I should do it for the honor of God." Right. But John goes beyond that, look at verse 11. "For the one...not the one who lets him in the house...the one who gives him a...what?...a greeting participates in his evil deeds." Wow, koionos with him, fellowships, shares, partakes literally in the evil works of him. That's amazing. If you even show hospitality, beyond that, if you even give him an affirming greeting, that's a tight narrow responsibility. Don't do anything to acknowledge them as Christians.
End quote. 
Polycarp reported that  John the apostle fled the bath house to escape the heretical Cerinthus. 

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