NEW PROVIDENCE BAPTIST CHURCH

WHERE GOD IS CALLING YOU OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday School Lesson

April 26

Lesson 9

Watch Out for Deceivers

Devotional Reading: Galatians 6:6-10

Background Scripture: 1 John 5:6-12, 18-20; 2 John

2 John

1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;

2 For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.

3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

4 I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.

5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.

6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

7 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.

8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.

9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.

10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:

11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

12 Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.

13 The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.

Key Verse

Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. —2 John 8

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Contrast John’s concept of walking in truth with the behavior of the deceivers he warns against.

2. Describe how Christians are to relate to deceivers who attempt to infiltrate the church.

3. Identify a popular philosophy that comes from deceivers and explain how to confront it.

 

 

 

 

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. Absolute Truth

B. Lesson Background

I. Basis of Unity (2 John 1-3)

A. Loving in Truth (v. 1)

B. Living in Truth (vv. 2, 3)

II. Threat from Deceivers (2 John 4-11)

A. Truth (vv. 4-6)

B. Untruth (vv. 7, 8)

Deceiving the Gullible

C. Admonition (vv. 9-11)

III. Complete in Joy (2 John 12, 13)

A. Anticipation (v. 12)

Texting

B. Greeting (v. 13)

Conclusion

A. Daily Deceptions

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember

Introduction

A. Absolute Truth

Allan Bloom (1930-1992) wrote his bestselling book The Closing of the American Mind nearly 30 years ago. Some consider it to be the first intellectual broadside in the so-called culture wars that are still with us today. The book’s premise is that the modern university has rejected the concept of absolute truth, teaching instead that all truth is relative. As a result, students are taught that it is possible for our perceptions of truth to evolve and adapt to changing situations. Your truth might not be my truth, for each person is claimed to have the ability to create his or her own truth.

This is sometimes called a systemic view of truth or truth within a particular system. The effect of this is to see Christian claims of truth as being true for Christians only. In this way of thinking, it is perfectly OK for Christians to believe that Jesus rose from the dead; but for atheists this is not true—it’s nonsense. The atheist system and the Christian system have different sets of truths, and it is not necessary to have agreement. Truth, according to this defective philosophy, should never be foisted upon society in an absolute sense, for individuals will not only decide for themselves what is true but will even create their own truths to suit their own lives.

The Bible does not teach that truth is changing and elusive. Scripture does not simply present itself as one set of truths alongside others. The Bible authors believed they were presenting absolute truths. Our lesson text for today has a great deal to say about truth.

B. Lesson Background

We have three epistles that were written by the apostle John, the former Galilean fisherman (see Mark 1:16-20). We do not know the order in which these were written; they are simply arranged by length in the New Testament.

There are connections among all three as well as with the Gospel of John (and, to a lesser extent, with the book of Revelation, also written by John). Early tradition associates all five works by John with the churches in and around the great city of Ephesus, a leading metropolitan center of the Roman Empire of the first century AD.

John probably wrote his letters in the AD 80s or early 90s. Therefore the recipients included the second generation of believers since Paul’s time in the area (see Acts 19). Troubling things had happened since then. Toward the end of his life, Paul wrote two letters in this regard to his younger colleague Timothy, who was in Ephesus to help the church with doctrinal and organizational matters. Thus the battle for truth was already being waged there in the AD 60s.

It is after this period that Ephesus seems to have become a center for a burgeoning Christian heresy called gnosticism. This movement claimed to have special knowledge of Christ (the word gnosis means “knowledge”). The gnostics taught that Jesus had not been fully human but was a divine visitation of deity to earth, something like in the legends of the Greek gods.

Since a nonhuman, immortal Jesus could not really die on the cross, the gnostics did not teach that Jesus’ death was an atoning sacrifice for sins. Instead, they taught that salvation came from secret knowledge, from being enlightened to esoteric truths that Jesus had taught only to the innermost circle of His disciples. Gnosticism seems not to have developed fully as a rival version of Christianity until after the end of the first century AD, but its seeds were being sown in John’s day. Thus his need to address in his letters gnostic-type falsehoods.

I. Basis of Unity

                                                                                     (2 John 1-3)

A. Loving in Truth (v. 1)

1a. The elder unto the elect lady and her children.

John identifies himself merely as the elder. This may be a title by which he is known because of both his age and the esteem in which he is held (compare 1 Peter 5:1). Some see the letter’s address unto the elect lady as a symbolic reference to a church, partly because the Greek word for church is a feminine noun. But it is more likely that the addressee is a particular woman, perhaps someone who hosts a church in her home (compare Colossians 4:15; Philemon 2).

She is elect in the sense of being counted among the saved, a believer in Christ (see John 20:31; 1 John 5:13). Her children could be a reference to the woman’s literal sons and/or daughters, or it may be a symbolic way of referring to the other believers in the congregation.

1b. Whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth.

John, known as “the apostle of love,” begins by reminding his readers that he loves them. The phrase in the truth has an adverbial sense: he truly loves them. It is equivalent to our idea of genuine, as in I genuinely love you. Truth refers to reality, and that is the nature of John’s affection for the letter’s recipients—it is real.

Second, John speaks of truth as something that can be known. Knowing the truth is a path to freedom: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Truth is readily accessible, in contrast with the gnostic idea of “secret truth” (see the Lesson Background).

What Do You Think?

How should we converse with someone who denies the existence of absolute truth?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Questions to ask and not ask

Affirmations to make and avoid

Illustrations to use and avoid

Other

B. Living in Truth (vv. 2, 3)

2a. For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us.

The fact that truth is something which dwelleth in us gives a personal sense to truth as an indwelling power, probably tying truth to the person of Jesus in the process. We have access to Jesus as “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) when we follow His instructions to abide in Him as He abides in us (15:4).

2b. And shall be with us for ever.

Although the word truth doesn’t appear here, it is implied as the subject carried over from verse 2a. Truth is not temporary or situational, but shall be with us for ever. As noted in the Introduction, today’s culture has rejected the concept of absolute truth. While John does not use the phrase absolute truth, the concept of eternal (for ever) truth comes close and may even be stronger. Truth is truth whether we recognize it or not. Truth does not require our permission.

3. Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

John concludes his salutation with a threefold blessing: grace, mercy, and peace (compare 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2). These are gifts from both God the Father and the Son of the Father. In this context, grace is the special favor of God (compare 1 Corinthians 15:10), mercy is the kindness and compassion of God in light of our shortcomings (compare Luke 1:50), and peace is both a lack of personal turmoil and the presence of personal well-being (compare John 14:27).

These things from God are offered by John in truth and love, which gives us another aspect to truth. God’s ways are true, but for the believer they are accompanied by love. When we are captives to sin, God’s truths about right living and holiness may seem harsh, even unreasonable. But there is always a loving Father behind those truths, a Creator who desires the best for us.

II. Threat from Deceivers

                                                                                    (2 John 4-11)

A. Truth (vv. 4-6)

4. I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.

We find in this verse yet another aspect to John’s understanding of truth: it is something we can walk in. To fail to do so is to “walk in darkness” (1 John 1:6). Walking in this sense is not physical exercise but the manner of one’s life. This is the counterpart to John’s earlier teaching that truth lives within the believer (v. 2, above).

In both cases, we live truth. We don’t just study truth in the way we might study a famous poem to find its meaning. We actually practice truth in words and actions. Our words and actions are to coincide perfectly as guided by God’s standards. The concept of walking-as-living has an Old Testament background (see Genesis 17:1; 1 Kings 2:4; 11:33; 2 Kings 20:3; Micah 4:5).

What Do You Think?

What things bring joy to your life that are different from what brings joy to unbelievers?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding achievements

Regarding milestones of life

Regarding possessions

Other

5. And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.

John likes to boil things down to a single commandment (see John 15:12; 1 John 4:21, lesson 8): the old but ever-new commandment to love one another (John 13:34; 1 John 3:11, lesson 7). John is repeating what he remembers well from Jesus, what John has taught throughout his lengthy ministry.

What Do You Think?

Why is love for one another so vital among the people of God?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Considering who God is and what He has done

Considering what Christ has called His church to be and do

Other

6. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

Having just discussed the commandment to “love one another,” John now adjusts the flow of thought by noting that this is love, that we walk after his commandments. We love as we live (walk) by God’s directions, of which a vitally important one is to live a life of love. The ideas are so tightly bound together as to be inseparable.

Such love is not the same as blanket toleration of false teachers (something John addresses in the second half of the letter). Rather, it is a demonstration of a heart that truly loves God and overflows with tender compassion. God did not create us in such a way that we can love Him and hate others. After all, our example in this is Jesus, whose love crosses every ethnic, racial, economic, cultural, and language barrier ever used by humans to justify separation or animosity. Perhaps we can modify the cultural expression “shoot first and ask questions later” to be “love first and ask questions later.”

B. Untruth (vv. 7, 8)

7. 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.

John now turns his attention to the deceivers who are troubling his people (compare Matthew 7:15; 1 John 4:1). He wants his readers to be loving, but this does not mean they should ignore errors among their teachers, especially errors that undermine the historical basis of the Christian faith.

The false teaching John targets is a denial of the fact that Jesus had come in the flesh. This is a denial of the humanity of Jesus, making Him into a god similar to the deities of the Greek myths. This is the error of gnosticism (see the Lesson Background). If Jesus were not human, then He could not have died; if He had not died, there would be no atoning sacrifice for our sins (see 1 John 2:2).

This type of deceiver is an antichrist. For John, antichrist is not simply a singular figure prophesied to emerge at the end of time, but a spirit of falsehood that infiltrates the church (see 1 John 2:18; 4:1-3).

Before moving on, we should not miss the importance of the opening for. This word ties the previous thoughts to those of the verse before us. Walking in the command to love will be a vital method to protect oneself from deceivers.

What Do You Think?

How do we stay on the alert for deceivers?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding their audience (2 Timothy 3:6; etc.)

Regarding their goals (1 Timothy 6:3-5; etc.)

Regarding their message (2 Timothy 2:18; etc.)

Regarding their tactics (Romans 16:18; etc.)

Regarding their “proofs” (Mark 13:22; etc.)

Regarding their lifestyle (Jude 4; etc.)

8. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.

Look to yourselves is John’s way of saying, “Pay attention, this is important!” Those who follow deception may lose their full reward. John does not say specifically what this potential loss of reward would entail. Some think it refers to loss of salvation (a forfeiture of eternal life), particularly in light of what verse 9 (next) says. Others propose, less severely, that it refers to a diminished recompense in the hereafter (compare Matthew 5:12; Mark 9:41; 1 Corinthians 3:8-15; Revelation 11:18; 22:12).

We can at least say that John is including the loss of spiritual rewards in the here and now: the blessings of grace, mercy, and peace that we saw in the letter’s salutation. Following false teaching is not without consequence.

Deceiving the Gullible

Who among us hasn’t returned home from a vacation with a souvenir of the trip? Such souvenirs are often little more than inexpensive trinkets that “say something” about the location we visited. Often they make nice refrigerator magnets!

But deceivers are everywhere, even in the souvenir business. For example, visitors to Niagara Falls have sometimes purchased worn pieces of wood on the basis of deceitful testimony that the wood was from barrels in which daredevils had gone over the falls. In the early 1900s, gullible visitors bought jewelry made from pieces of white gypsum stones found in the bed of the Niagara River, said souvenir-seekers having been led to believe that the stones were “petrified mist” from the falls!

Much more serious is the kind of deceit about which John warns: false views of Christ. Today, as in John’s time, false teachers make a name for themselves—and sometimes accrue a small fortune—by teaching doctrines that contradict the truths God has revealed to us in His Word. People today may go to great lengths to avoid being deceived into buying fake antiques, used cars with falsified titles, etc. Are we as careful to ensure that we are not being deceived spiritually? See Acts 17:11.—C. R. B.

C. Admonition (vv. 9-11)

9. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.

John describes in stark terms the problem of following the false teaching at issue. The one who transgresses goes beyond the boundaries of sound teaching. To do so is to move away from the doctrine of Christ, the things John has taught about Jesus. To travel such a path causes a person not to have God, since wrong teaching about Christ denies God’s rightful place in teaching and life (compare 1 John 2:22, 23).

By contrast, abiding in the doctrine of Christ is to reject deceptions and therefore to have both the Father and the Son (compare 1 John 4:15, lesson 8). John’s urgent and heartfelt desire is for his readers to reject dangerous false doctrines about the nature of Christ and thereby remain in fellowship with God and with His people, the church.

10, 11. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

John is not merely speaking hypothetically in this letter. The false teachers are a real and present danger, and they have visited the churches of the region to spew their heresies. John probably can name names but chooses not to. These deceivers pose such a danger that John instructs “the elect lady and her children” (v. 1) to deny them any sort of hospitality. Since the churches of this time mostly meet in private homes, the prohibition receive him not into your house implies barring the false teachers from the fellowship meeting.

John forbids even saying God speed to the heretics. This translation is an older English expression of blessing. The heresies are so dangerous that their advocates do not deserve even a hint of acceptance (although this is not to suggest rudeness instead). The false teacher must be rejected as an act of self-preservation (compare Romans 16:17; Ephesians 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6). To fail in this regard will result in being a partaker of his evil deeds.

What Do You Think?

Under what circumstances, if any, do you invite itinerant missionaries of cults “into your house” when they knock on your door? Why?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Considering opportunities for evangelizing

Considering your own spiritual maturity to resist their false teaching

Other

III. Complete in Joy

                                                                                   (2 John 12, 13)

A. Anticipation (v. 12)

12. Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.

Now we learn the reason for the brevity of the letter: John expects to visit the lady and her church in the near future. Communication that is face to face allows for greater and more immediate clarity than does the writing of letters, texting, or sending e-mails (compare 3 John 13, 14; next week’s lesson). John’s letter may leave unanswered some questions regarding the false teachers and their message. In-person dialogue will allow all questions to be brought out in the open and answered, and misunderstandings can be corrected in a timely manner.

This is the preferable way, so much so that John speaks of its being a joy. He won’t come to scold or berate, but to encourage and enjoy their company.

Texting

Some of us can remember when a long-distance phone call was an occasional luxury. Instead of a written letter, such a call offered the opportunity to hear a loved one’s voice, even if only briefly (because of the cost). Missionaries in foreign countries had to schedule their calls back to their families and supporters, and the costs seemed astronomical.

How times have changed! Now a call across the country is no more expensive than a call across the street—and we carry the phone in our pocket or purse! From that phone we can send a text message around the world almost instantly. We can talk face-to-face, in a sense, with overseas missionaries by using certain audiovisual software free of connection charges! In spite of this, most of us would still rather talk face-to-face in the actual (not virtual) presence of a loved one.

In New Testament times, communication methods other than the face-to-face kind were very much slower than those of today, a fact that accentuates John’s strong desire to talk personally with his letter’s recipient(s). Do you feel no need to talk with people personally about Christ because you post Scripture verses on your Facebook page? If so, do you see a problem with this?—C. R. B.

B. Greeting (v. 13)

13. The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.

The lady of verse 1 being addressed has an elect sister. This may be a sister church, but is more likely her literal sibling. The lady’s nephews and/or nieces apparently are the current companions of John. We can be sure there is an interesting story here, but John does not tell it. Perhaps he is saving the telling for his reunion with “the elect lady,” a beloved sister in Christ.

Visual for Lesson 9. Point to this visual as you ask, “How is the classic ‘shell game’ similar to what deceivers in the church try to do?”

Conclusion

A. Daily Deceptions

We live in a world of instant media saturation regarding the most trivial of things. We are given information about celebrities beyond any healthy need to know. Some of these reports are so bizarre that they strain credibility, but they are accepted as truth by fascinated fans. In politics, unsubstantiated rumors are started on blogs and sometimes repeated enough so that a lie gains credibility, becoming almost impossible to quash. These are examples of daily deceptions that we must sift through in order to protect ourselves from untruth.

Whom should we believe? Whom should we trust? These are questions we should not have to ask within the church. We should have leaders who teach correct doctrine, not deceptive heresies. The church should be a place of truth, not a place for deceivers to roam freely. This is why John advises such severe tactics when it comes to those who would distort the gospel by denying Christ’s true humanity, atoning death, etc. Such teachers must themselves be denied any place of influence within the church. This applies whether they are on speaking tours, writing books, or hosting television shows. May our leaders guard us from error so that our gatherings are times of joy, not dangerous indulgences of falsehood.

B. Prayer

Lord God, may You guard our hearts from those who would deceive us about Your Son. May we be lovers of truth and true lovers of You and Your children. In Jesus’ name, amen.

C. Thought to Remember

Never abandon the truth.

How to Say It

epistles ee-pis-uls.

Galilean Gal-uh-lee-un.

gnosticism nahss-tih-sizz-um.

gnostics nahss-ticks.

heresies hair-uh-seez.

heretics hair-uh-tiks.

Philemon Fih-lee-mun or Fye-lee-mun.


May 3

Lesson 10

Work Together for the Truth

Devotional Reading: 2 Timothy 2:14-19

Background Scripture: 3 John

3 John

1 The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.

2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

3 For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.

4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

5 Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;

6 Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well:

7 Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.

8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.

9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

12 Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.

13 I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee:

14 But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.

Key Verse

We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth. —3 John 8

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Summarize the work of Gaius, Diotrephes, and Demetrius.

2. Suggest some modern activities these men might be involved in if they were living today.

3. Identify one faithful worker in the church and tell how he or she can partner with this worker.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. The Prosperity Gospel

B. Lesson Background

I. Salutation (3 John 1)

A. Name of Addressee (v. 1a)

B. Status of Relationship (v. 1b)

II. Message (3 John 2-12)

A. Commendation (vv. 2-8)

B. Contrast (vv. 9-12)

The Desire to Be “Somebody”

Following a Pattern

III. Closing (3 John 13, 14)

A. Desire (vv. 13, 14a)

B. Blessing (v. 14b)

Conclusion

A. Spiritual Health and Hospitality

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember


Standard Lesson Commentary 2014-2015 (KJV).

"Suggestions for families are taken from Standardlesson.com,

Standard Publishing Group, LLC. Used with permission. More resources for families are available at Standardpub.com.


God Bless