The Chosen Lady

Parents, share with your children the truth. There is only one God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus died for our sins so that we would be forgiven and enter into heaven when the end of our time comes. Your children’s eternal salvation depends on the seeds you plant.

The Chosen Lady ~ March 24, 2019 ~ 2 John 1:1-13

This book, 2 John, was written a mere 50 years after Jesus was resurrected. Not 2,000 years, fifty years. Within John’s lifetime, you had people who were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life – who heard what Jesus taught themselves and still, within fifty years, people were teaching other things. Incorrect things. 1 John was written to the church, 3 John was written to a friend named Gaius, and 2 John is what we’re going to read this morning. We’re going to read an entire book in Bible this morning! Would you join me in the unison prayer as we prepare to study the Word of God.

Lord, upon the pages of this book is your story. It is also our story. Open our eyes that we may see, our ears that we may hear, our minds that we may understand, and our hearts that they may be transformed. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Alright, the entire book of 2 John, ready?

This letter is from John, the elder.
I am writing to the chosen lady and to her children, whom I love in the truth – as does everyone else who knows the truth – because the truth lives in us and will be with us forever.
Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ – the Son of the Father – will continue to be with us who live in truth and love.

How happy I was to meet some of your children and find them living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded.
I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning. Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.
I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward. Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son.
If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work.

I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to do it with paper and ink. For I hope to visit you soon and talk with you face to face. Then our joy will be complete.
Greetings from the children of your sister, chosen by God.
(2 John 1:1-13)

An entire book on Sunday morning! Yay!

Chosen ladies. Did you notice that there’s actually two chosen ladies John talks about in this letter? In the first verse, “I am writing to the chosen lady and to her children,” and in the very last verse, verse 13, “Greetings from the children of your sister, chosen by God.” So, you have a chosen lady at the beginning, and you have her sister, he refers to a chosen lady at the end.

Now, I point this out only because it highlights both a blessing and a heartbreak. Let me explain. Two chosen what? Ladies. John specifically is thanking two women, not two men. What a blessing it is that women are so faithful. In fact, it’s my contention that most churches in this city, in this state, in this nation, in the world, are made up of a majority – of people who attend and people who join – women. Most Sunday school teachers are women. One of the things I was surprised about when I first got here was Karl Robertson used to tell me stories about, “Back when I taught Sunday school…” and I thought, “Wow, that’s great. Karl used to teach Sunday school.” It’s not that common. I used to teach Sunday school. I taught Sunday school at First Christian Church in Kittery Point, Maine. I was only one of two guys who taught Sunday school – the pastor’s son and myself. At my previous church in maine, we registered over 80 kids for Sunday school. We had lots of classes. We had one male Sunday school teacher who co-taught the teen group with his wife.

So, it appears that apparently that’s been the case even since the first century. I know this – South Church is blessed to have so many faithful ladies, and we do. We have some awesome, blessed single ladies. We have some awesome, blessed married ladies. We have some awesome, blessed moms. We have moms of all types here – we have married moms and single moms, grandmoms and stepmoms, and foster moms and adoptive moms – and as far as I’m concerned, you are all God’s chosen ladies.

That being said, I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wondered – why then, did Jesus choose twelve guys to be his disciples, his apostles? And, truth is, I never really had a good answer for that until nine days ago. That’s right! I was writing this message a week or so ago – Friday, March 15, “a day that will live in infamy” – I really felt as though God shared something with me which gave me a little insight, and an answer to that question. Why did Jesus choose twelve men as apostles? What I heard Him saying was because He wanted the guys involved. He knew He could count on the ladies. He’s always been able to count on the ladies, since the beginning. When Jesus started His public ministry, He went and got baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, He got up, and for the next three years, who paid for His food and His travel and His clothes? Mary Magdalene, Joanna (the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager), and Susanna. They bankrolled Jesus’ public ministry out of their own pockets! Who was at the cross on Calvary? Mary (Jesus’ mother), Salome, and Mary Magdalene. They were there. We’ve talked recently about Priscilla, and about Phoebe, and about Junia, who were all leaders in the early church. And to this day, churches are still full of faithful ladies. Ladies, give yourself an Amen!

So, why choose men? Are they smarter? Absolutely not. Are they better multitaskers? Have you ever seen a mom? Seriously? Come on. Are guys better multitaskers? No. We pretty much can do one thing at a time. If I’m watching television, please don’t talk to me, because I can do one thing at a time. Are we more loyal? Well, on the way to Gethsemane, Jesus told them (the disciples), “All of you will desert me, for the Scriptures say God will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered” and that’s exactly what happened. They all ran.

So, why then, choose twelve guys. Because Jesus wanted them to know how important it was to Him that they were involved. They had a responsibility to lead others to Him – especially their families.

Now, there is a scientific study – you can google it, I’ve read it many times – sociologists have discovered if dad brings the family to church, the children are seven times more likely to continue to go on their own, even as they get older. Seven times. I don’t know why. It’s biological, it’s psychological, I think. We idolize our fathers – sometimes inappropriately so, not all fathers deserve it – but we want to please our dad. So, if dad brings the family to church, they are seven times more likely to continue going themselves. Christ is saying, “Step up, men of God! You are supposed to be an example to your children!” I know for a fact, Erik Savery and David Casiano – Erik and David (I’ve known them since they were this big!), they come to Iron Men now on their own, they come to Spurgeon Society on their own, they come to Men at Work breakfast on their own, and I’ll tell you also this – Tony and Mike, their dads, have been coming to this church regularly for years. Tell me that’s not connected! It’s a fact. It’s a plain fact. Men, husbands, fathers especially, are supposed to be an example to their children, and if they’re coming to church regularly, then their kids see that it’s important. They also teach their children how to treat women, especially their wives. These boys are learning first hand from their dads how they are supposed to treat a lady, how they are supposed to treat their wife. And they are seven times more likely to do the same. Dads are supposed to be an example of how to provide for their family. Dads are supposed to provide for their family, not the government. Dads. Physically able dads are supposed to provide. And most importantly, men are supposed to be an example of how to honor God in prayer, in service, and in worship. I tell you the truth, I really believe with all my heart you can draw a straight line directly from the decline of men’s involvement in the church to the decline in church attendance. If you want to know why a lot of children aren’t here, why a lot of young people, teens are not here, why a lot of families are not here – not just here, in the church in general – sorry, church, but look around. There’s not a lot of dads here. That’s why it is so important to give a shoutout to the dads that are! You deserve it!

In choosing men, Jesus is saying, “Guys, you cannot sit down and leave everything up to the ladies.” It’s not that they can’t handle it. Have you seen a mom, I say again? They are unbelievable! I have one. That’s not the point. They’re not supposed to do it all. You, dads, are not supposed to abandon the God-given responsibility to spiritually lead your family and still call yourself a man of God.

Now, ladies, before you be all, “Hey, men, preach it brother!” let me just say this. I don’t know about you, but I have not yet met a wife who cannot get her husband to do whatever she wants him to in the end. That wife doesn’t exist. So, if the dad is not here, maybe you have some work to do. And I’m not talking nagging but let me tell you this. Husbands will be as lazy as their wives let them be. It’s just a fact! If you set the bar way down here, we’ll meet it! If you set the bar way up here and encourage us, we’ll want to meet that too. I’m not talking about nagging. Nagging, let me tell you, doesn’t work. Husbands tend to dig their heels in even more. I’m talking about encouragement. I’m talking about encouraging your husband to lead as he should be leading. Telling him that it’s important that his children see him leading, that you value his leadership. If you see a wishy-washy wimpy dad, it’s most likely because you haven’t encouraged him to lead. If you will lead, he’ll step back. We’ll meet the bar wherever you set it. If you want to be married to a leader, you need to encourage him to lead. When he sees that his leadership is valued and respected, just watch how he will step up to the plate, I promise you.

Now, what does this have to do with 2 John? Absolutely nothing! No. It just hit me – chosen lady in the beginning, chosen lady in the end – where are the guys?

Well, think about this as well. Raising children is hard, especially today. It’s hard. There are a lot of distractions. Why do you think God made it so that you need a mom and a dad to create a child? Because raising a child is a minimum two-person job. Ask any mom or dad who’s doing it alone, they’ll tell you. They have to work twice as hard. It’s a two-person job, that’s the way God designed it – two people. However, Solomon, in his wisdom, tells us in Ecclesiastes chapter 4:

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
(Ecclesiastes 4:12)

Three are even better when it comes to raising children. Who’s the third? GOD! Raising a child is hard, and a person standing alone can be attacked and defeated. Any single parents out there, listen to me. You have, here at South Church, dozens of brothers and sisters in Christ willing to stand back-to-back with you, to be part of your multi-braided cord, ready to face whatever comes your way. We’re ready. You don’t have to do it on your own. What kinds of attack am I talking about? All kinds. It’s not always the obvious ones. One of the primary reasons John writes this letter is because there were people in the church teaching false doctrine. Verse 7:

I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body.

That was an early Christian heresy called Docetism. It comes from the Greek word dokein, which means to seem. Docetism taught that Jesus only seemed to have a human body like ours. He may have been divine in some way but was actually just a phantasm or an illusion. Jesus did not have a real body of natural flesh. Do you see the problem with that? Besides denying the truth of God’s word, if Jesus does not have a real body, then He did not really die. In fact, Docetism teaches that His suffering on the cross was mere illusion. If Jesus did not have a physical body, He could not have bodily been raised from the dead. Can you see where this is going? Without the actual death and resurrection of Jesus, we don’t have salvation, because we are still dead in our sins. And this faith, and this Jesus character is worthless. That’s dangerous stuff! You don’t want your children, or anybody, listening to this stuff.

Docetism was only one of the many heresies that attacked true Christian faith in the first century, and in the last 2000 years. Arianism was one. Arianism taught that Jesus was a lesser created being. If you are created, you cannot be the Creator. A copy off the copy machine is not the same as the original. Pelagianism taught that humankind was not affected by the fall – Adam and Eve’s sin – at all; and if you worked hard enough, you could keep all of God’s laws. You had that ability. Well, what does that teach us? That if you’re good enough, if you work hard enough, if you do enough good things, you can make it into heaven! Who needs Jesus? Tritheism teaches the exact opposite of what Saint Patrick taught. Tritheism taught that the Trinity was really three separate gods. People still teach all sorts of heretical stuff, even to this day. I don’t know many Docetists or Tritheists or whatever, but you ever heard of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus is a demi-god, like Achilles or Hercules; that Satan was the original perfect son of God; and that there is no such thing as hell. That’s what Jehovah’s Witnesses teach. Mormons teach that you will be judged on judgment day by Jesus AND Joseph Smith; that Jesus was a god, but not God Himself; and one day, if you are a good enough Mormon, you might be able to become a god of your own planet somewhere in the universe. Christian Science teaches that God is the mind, God is intelligence. Jesus is not God, and Jesus did not die. You see? Heresy continues. It is not unique to the first century. John would recognize this just as easily as he said, “Many deceivers have gone out into this world to deny that Jesus came in a real body.” That’s why he wrote, “If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give them any kind of encouragement.” Don’t be rude. Be polite, be respectful. But unless you are ready to go toe-to-toe with this person in a Scriptural Battle Royale, don’t even let them into your house.

You don’t know what a little incorrect seed planted can do to you. I don’t know how many people you have met in your life, but I know a few after becoming a minister down here – “I tried heroin the one time!” That’s all it takes. One time. Anyone who wanders away from this teaching, John writes, has no relationship with God. Because let me say, parents, or soon to be parents, or grandparents, the most important thing that you can offer your child is not food. It’s not a house. It’s not even good health. The most important thing you can offer your child is salvation in Christ Jesus. Look, I can have a full belly and still end up in hell. Who is going to guard your children’s salvation from those trying to lead them away from the truth? That primary responsibility lies with parents. Look, we love your kids. We do. But there are 168 hours in a week, and pastors and Sunday school teachers only get three, four? That’s why it’s so important for parents to be here – when possible, moms and dads. Parents, it’s up to you to nurture your child in the truth that there’s only one God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; that Jesus died for our sins so that we will be forgiven and able to enter the kingdom of heaven when our time comes. Your children’s eternal salvation depends on the seeds you plant and nurture. John is clearly happy that this chosen lady is invested in her child’s salvation. He says in verse 4, “How happy I was to meet some of your children and find them living according to the truth just as the Father commanded.” And remember, please, single moms and dads, do not think you are alone. Those of us who have had children who are now grown, those of us who have never been able to have children, those who don’t have children yet – we care about your child’s salvation, and we are willing to be a strand in your multi-braided cord. We are ready to stand beside you because it is hard to raise a child. So, we are here to encourage you, to offer whatever wisdom we may have to share. We love your children and we will battle for them. We will fight for them with everything we have so that Jesus can walk into this church at any time and say, “How happy I am to meet some of your children and find them living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded.” And all God’s people said, AMEN!