2 John 1
8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching 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 or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
Father, we ask you to help us to understand what it means to abide in this teaching of Christ and how if we abide in this Truth, we will never fall for a false teaching and an antichrist. Clarify my thoughts, Lord. I give You this time. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
The context here in 2 John is deception. These are preachers of a different gospel. These false teachers have a different message and they are traveling around the world. And John says, don’t even let them into your home. Don’t show them hospitality. They are a danger to you. But if you abide in a different kind of a teaching, the true teaching, it says you will have both the Father and the Son. And you will not lose what the apostles had worked for. And they, as the recipients, will receive a full reward.
I just want to unpack, what is this teaching? It says, do not go ahead. It means, do not go past. It means, make sure you do not go past a limit. Don’t transgress this line. And it says, to abide in the teaching of Christ. Who is a true teacher of the right message? Someone who abides in the teaching of Christ. And I struggled all week with what this means. I never knew these verses were in the Bible. And I have to admit, when I teach certain parts of the Bible, I struggle. I struggle to understand, what is the main point here?
But when I study the life of Jesus and I look at His teaching, suddenly, everything is so crystal clear. And I wondered why the Lord had me years ago, He spoke to me and told me to make sure, if I’m going to focus on any part of the Bible, make sure to focus on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. I didn’t understand exactly why until I read 2 John 1:9. It says, abide in the teaching of Christ. It doesn’t say about Christ. It says “OF Christ.”
Even if you abide in the teaching about Christ, you’re much better off than most of the teaching out there in churches. If you just centered around the teaching about Jesus, you will, for the most part, you will do well. If you determine, this verse should be translated “ABOUT Christ,” then you could conclude, well, the whole Bible speaks about Christ.
Do we just abide in the whole Bible? I mean, the whole Bible is the Word of God and Jesus is the Word. So, in a sense, isn’t everything in the Bible about Jesus? But there are parts of the Bible, that if you neglect the most primary thing, it is quite possible that you get lost in secondary matters. if you abide in the whole Bible, some people just focus on certain aspects of the Bible like ministry, or church, or discovering the purpose of your life.
By abiding in these lesser teachings, the risk is that a counterfeit teacher comes in. They say something that’s not true. And you are deceived. So if we taught ABOUT Christ, that’s much better than most of the preaching out there.
But it doesn’t say ABOUT Christ. I really checked into this. Is it ABOUT Christ? Is that what it’s saying? No, it’s OF Christ. It’s actually, if you translate it literally, it’s the teaching, THE Christ. Or, teaching OF THE Christ. And if you take the literal translation, then clearly, John is referring to Jesus’ teaching. The teaching OF Christ.
When I look at 2 John, I could focus on John’s teaching about Christ, or I could go back to the source. What did Jesus teach? And if I abide in that teaching, isn’t that better than a second-hand teaching? Although it’s inspired by the Holy Spirit, that’s just enhancing the original Teacher, right? It’s like what John is doing and Paul is doing – they’re adding a little salt. They’re adding a little sriracha sauce to a dish that is already scrumptious. A little parsley, a little green herbs on the top. That’s all that John and Paul are doing. The meal is already cooked.
We focus so much time on the salt and the parsley. The garnish. While the true Teacher has already spoken. And so when it says, abide in the teaching of Christ, you can translate it as “Jesus’ teaching.”
It’s like if I passed away and let’s say Timothy is a preacher of the gospel. And Timothy is recounting what his dad said. And the listeners are saying, wow, this is great stuff. Tell me more about Ray. Tell me more about Ray’s teaching. And Timothy could try his best to paraphrase and to remember what I said. Or he could remember, hey, my dad was technical and he stored all of the sermons in the AWS cloud. And that is 99.9999% durable and available. 11 9’s of durability because that file is scattered in many data centers owned by AWS simultaneously. That means if there is a nuclear holocaust and half the world is burned to a crisp, there’s a chance, there’s a good chance that my sermon will live on. My file will live on. Because it’s in Amazon’s cloud.
And the point is that Jesus’ teaching, the teaching of Christ, lives on. We have it in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Revelation. What if we abided in the teaching of Christ? Capital T – Truth, capital T – Teacher. Not second-hand teachers, but the original Teacher. If we abided in the Teacher’s teaching, we would never fall for a false teacher. We will never be deceived by an antichrist because we’re abiding, were remaining, we’re staying on, we’re meditating upon the Teacher’s teaching
2 John 1
9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
In the second half of verse 9, it says whoever abides in the teaching of Christ has both the Father and the Son. Why is that a true statement? It’s a two-for-one deal. From the one teaching, you get God the Father and God the Son. The answer is in John 7.
14 About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. 15 The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” 16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.
So when Jesus teaches, whose teaching is it? It’s the Father’s teaching and that’s why it’s a two-for-one deal. When you hear the teaching of Christ, you are hearing the very words of Father God from heaven. Jesus says, I don’t even speak on my own. I only speak, I only teach what the Father speaks and teaches to me. And that’s why if you abide in the teaching of Christ, you don’t have to wonder, does the Father agree with this? What Jesus teaches, is this the will of God? Is this what God thinks of me and the world? Every word that came out of Jesus’ mouth is directly from the throne of God.
19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret.
The great thing about Jesus’ teaching, which is the same as saying, the Father’s teaching, the great thing about this teaching of Christ is that it has been openly taught. There is no hiddenness in this teaching. There is no mystery around this teaching. It is out in the synagogues. Everybody, if they want to hear it can know it.
There are some in the body of Christ who try to say, I have a special revelation. I have a special teaching. I have a special understanding. Nobody else knows this and you are privileged, you know this. As soon as you hear that kind of language, get away from that person. Get away from that person as soon as they try to say, I have a secret revelation. It’s been hidden for centuries and in the body of Christ, today, only a small percentage of people know it, quote to them John 18:19. The teaching of Christ has been preached openly. It is not hidden. Everybody has access to this teaching of Christ. It’s there in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Revelation.
It’s the teaching of Christ, Christ’s teaching, if you abide in this teaching, you will never fall victim to falsehood, to deception. That is John’s guarantee. And if you abide in Christ’s teaching, not the second-hand teachers who are reminding us of Jesus’ teaching, focusing not on the salt, not the parsley on top, but enjoying a fully cooked meal. If you abide in the teaching of Christ found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Revelation, you will never be deceived.
That is why it is my recommitment to the Lord – if I’m going to focus on any part of the Bible, it has to be the teaching of Christ. When I go to the second-hand teachers, there’s a lot to sift through. Its purpose is to enhance the flavor. But if I don’t know what the main dish tastes like, I can get lost in the salt and I can spend weeks talking about the salt. Instead of how great the meal is. I can become a PhD in Sriracha sauce instead of knowing how good the meal is. And so we’re going to go back to the red letters of the Bible, the very teaching of Christ. Because if you abide in this, you will never be deceived.
John 1:35 – John was standing with two of his disciples and he saw Jesus walking by. And he said, Behold, the Lamb of God. The two disciples heard him say this and they followed Jesus.
John the Baptist was such a good leader. And he’s giving godly leaders a pattern to follow. They’re supposed to prepare the people to follow Jesus. And as soon as John recognizes, there’s Jesus. Is he holding onto his people? Is he saying, No, this is my people. No, he releases them. Just follow that man Jesus. That is the job of every pastor, preacher. It’s to get all of us ready, to prepare us to follow Jesus.
And if you follow Jesus, my job is done. If my boys follow Jesus, my job as a father is done. If every one of you here follows Jesus, then I’ve succeeded. John is such a good leader because as soon as he saw the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, he releases his disciples to follow Him. He’s losing out. All that he’s worked for, the gathering of people around him. It’s not about John. He releases them. The two disciples of John now are becoming disciples of Jesus Christ.
37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?”…
The first red letters of the Gospel of John – What are you seeking? And Jesus is asking all of us today – What are you seeking? What are you pursuing? What are you striving to attain? What is the goal of your life? It’s not an easy question to answer. Because every Christian would answer, I’m a follower of Jesus. It is not so easy to answer.
Why among potentially millions of followers in the region, why did he choose these 12, knowing that one would obviously betray Him? But the 11 disciples, He knew their heart. If Jesus were to ask all 11, what are you seeking? It’d be unanimous. And the answer is there.
The second half of verse 38.
38 And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”
In that answer, 2 disciples reveal what they’re seeking. They answer, Jesus, I’m seeking you. If you’re staying over there, I want to be over there. If you’re going to that city, I’m going to that city. Wherever you are, that’s where I want to be. Where are you staying?
And so Jesus is asking all of us, What are you seeking? For the believer, there’s only one answer. Jesus, it’s you.
When I was saved, it was so clear what I was seeking. Because I had spent 19 years of my life seeking the world – seeking pleasure, seeking academic excellence, seeking to please my parents, seeking the praise of man. I was seeking many things during the first 19 years. Then when Jesus saved me, it became so clear. What am I seeking Jesus? It’s you. But along the way, what I was seeking became not so clear. What am I seeking? I’m seeking a wife, a family, a career. I was seeking success in ministry. What was I seeking? Was it Jesus? Yes, He’s there, He’s mixed in there. But it was not a pure pursuit of Him.
And if I were just to be honest, the longer I served the Lord, and I think this is a pastor’s problem, the longer I served the Lord, the more my pride was mixed in with my desire to serve Him. Of course, I want Jesus to be lifted up. Of course, I want people to be saved. But I had to be at the center of it. The success or failure of the ministry was a direct evaluation of me. If things were growing, I’m on the right path. But if things were not growing, something must be wrong.
As I wrestle with this question – what am I seeking or what have I sought in the past even as recent as just a few years ago – I would have to say it is selfish ambition. Vain conceit. I have to repent of many things before the Lord. I want people to know me. The same way they know John Piper. I want them to know Ray Choi. I want my message to be heard by millions. Just being honest.
And so what am I seeking? Is it Jesus, or is He just a means to some end? Before I was seeking the world, I was seeking things that are not of God. Now, for a bulk of my Christian journey, I was seeking Jesus, but my pride was mixed in. Before it was just the praise for secular achievement. Now, it’s praise for spiritual achievements. But at bottom, it’s still pride.
How many pastors suffer from this problem? If Jesus asks many pastors, what are you seeking? Could they give an honest answer? I seek you, Lord, and whatever happens after that, it’s in Your hands. How many people could really honestly say, whatever happens in my life, it’s in Your hands. It doesn’t matter what happens because I’m seeking You.
See, to be able to answer the question – what are you seeking – is so hard. It’s hard to know what’s really driving a person. It’s really hard to know. I encourage you to spend some time today, this week, wrestling with this question – What am I really striving for? Not my Sunday school answer. What am I really striving for? So that at the end of your life, you’ll look back and say, yes, I’ve done well.
Jesus wants to know the answer to this question. Because if you’re not interested in Him, sadly, I don’t think He’ll be interested in you as a disciple. He still wants to save you. He still loves you. He’ll still pursue you, but in terms of entrusting Himself to you and and welcoming you into His inner circle as a disciple, as a follower of Jesus, if you cannot answer this question properly, I don’t know if you qualify. I don’t know if I qualify as a disciple of Jesus if I cannot answer, what are you seeking with the simple answer – it’s You. Where are you staying, Jesus? You’re it. You are my goal.
So the first lesson – when we abide in the teaching of Christ, we are taught that as followers of Jesus, that means He is our goal. He is the goal of your life. To follow the Person of Jesus. And one of the two people who are about to start following Jesus is Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. And their response to this interaction with Jesus, because they spent a few hours with him, is recorded in John 1:40.
40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). 43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”
If you were to boil down, what is it mean to abide in the teaching of Christ, or Christ’s teaching, you could summarize it in 2 words. “Follow Me.” It doesn’t say, follow what I did for you. It doesn’t say, follow the gospel. The teaching of Christ can be summed up – Follow Me. I am a Person.
And how do we follow? John 10 tells us. The sheep hear His voice. How can you follow Jesus?
Which means you’re abiding in Christ, specifically, His teaching, Christ’s teaching? In essence, the follower of Jesus is someone who follows a Person. How do we follow a Person we can’t see? John 10 – the sheep hear His voice.
There is no verse that tells you what job to take. There’s no verse that tells you who to marry. And Jesus says, I will shepherd you and guide you. How can we do this? You have to hear His voice. It’s not an audible voice in many cases, but it is a spoken word that you can discern in your spirit.
How do many people do the Christian life? First of all, they don’t follow a Teacher. They are following a teaching. They’re just submitting to words, principles, instead of the Person whom the good news is pointing to. And when it comes to the decisions of life, they just make them. They just make them. And then they pray. They ask for confirmation. They ask for confirmation for the decisions that they already made. Or, they want something and they pray, Lord, open this door. I want this door to open.
Who is following whom? Who is the Shepherd and who is a sheep? Who is the Teacher and who is the disciple? Even before we pray to the Lord, we have to lay our lives before Him. Prior to making a decision, we have to bring the decisions before Him?
Like when we are worshipping at Friendship for years, God showed me at the end that after we moved in, did I pray even once whether we should stay there? After one year? After 2 years? After multiple years? Did I pray even once? Or, did I assume, God lead us there and that means we’re going to be there. It was such an important lesson. I realized that God wants me to bring every decision before Him and never assume I know the answer.
Before you met Jesus, you were going down a certain road in terms of your career. And then you met Him. Did you ever bring your career before the Lord and say, Lord, do you want me in this career? See, Christians, we don’t even utter that question before Him because we assume, God, you prepared me. I’m in this career. Shouldn’t I finish out? Isn’t the Lord blessing me with this career? Have you ever brought your career before the Lord?
Did you confess, my life is a blank canvas. Do you want me in this career? Have you ever prayed that? If you haven’t prayed, then Jesus is following you. And you have not learned to follow Him. You must bring the decision before Him and wait for the voice. You wait for the voice. You can’t rush it. You wait for the voice.
God spoke clearly to when we moved worship service to our home. And every Sunday I’m here, God is confirming, Yes, that was a right decision. And people may ask, how long will you be here? Now I’ve learned, I should ask the Lord every Sunday. Ask the Lord – are you happy with us here? Or, are you moving us from here? Because He is the Lord. He speaks and then we follow. And so I have no clue how long we will be here, but I’m asking him now. And when He speaks and He moves us, I’m sure He’ll give us many confirmations. Many confirmations that it’s time to move. I’m not saying He is going to move u, but if Jesus speaks, it should be in a way that many of us will be able to discern and conclude altogether, it’s time to move.
The simple message for today is that we are to abide in Christ’s teaching and we’re going to spend, hopefully, the bulk of my preaching life, I’m going to spend on the red letters of the Bible.
Of course, we will go on excursions and stray off occasionally when the Lord allows. But if we’re going to master any part of the Bible, it has to be the red letters, the teachings of Christ, Christ’s teaching.
Because if you abide in this teaching, it’s not just Christ’s teaching, it’s also the Father’s teaching. It’s not a hidden teaching. It’s available to us. And one of the first things Jesus asks all of His disciples is, what are you seeking? Spend some time wrestling with that question.
I pray that all of us can reach a point in our lives when we confess, Lord, it’s You. Lord, I seek You. And once you’re able to answer that, then He says, Follow Me. When Jesus discerns that He is the goal of your life, then He says, Follow Me.
How are we going to make decisions? We ask and wait. We listen for His voice. That’s how we follow. It was in some sense easier for the disciples who lived when Jesus was physically present because Jesus spoke and they heard His voice. He moved and they followed. But John 10 tells us that as sheep, we must follow Him in the same way. Jesus has not changed. He is still shepherding the sheep who are willing to follow. That means we have to lay our lives before Him.
Don’t assume anything. We shouldn’t assume, I should be in this career. Ask the Lord step by step. Do you want me to stay? How long do you want me to stay? I’m ready to move. Listen for His voice. Wait for the voice. The better we are at hearing His voice, that means we are learning to follow Him. And let’s believe, He speaks.
We just have limited the areas in which we think He speaks. We’ve limited Jesus so much. So many parts of our life, we don’t even ask Him for permission. We just do life and we pray, Lord, follow me, bless this decision that I’ve already made. It’s the other way around. Who is the Master and who is the servant? Who is the Teacher and who is a student?
Jesus is asking us a very simple question. Before we can truly follow Him, He’s asking us, What are you seeking? Maybe you’re not sure. Ask Him to reveal the answer in prayer. What are you seeking? Disciples answer, Where are you staying? That’s Andrews answer. May that be all of our answers. If you’re here in this home, we want to be here in this home. If you’re moving to another city, we want to go to that city. If you’re here with me in this job, I’ll stay in this job. If you’re leading me out of this job, I want to follow you out of this job.
Every decision – let’s follow Him. He is speaking as our Shepherd. And the one quality of a sheep is that we hear the Shepherd’s voice. That’s what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
Father, we thank you for sending Your Son and for speaking through your Son. Not only do we have the Father but also the Son. Father, we don’t want to focus on the fringe teachings, the secondary teachings without understanding the main teaching. Once we are have a full grasp of what the meal should taste like, then we can go and focus on the spices.
We need to focus on, abide in, remain and stay with the Teacher. You asked us to follow You. We’re not following a teaching, we’re following the Teacher. And we follow by hearing His voice.
Forgive us, Lord. We have a script in our head. And there’s so many things we want to do, but we’ve never asked You. There are so many decisions we make and we make many of them without consulting You. Or, we make them and we pray and ask You to bless our decisions.
Help us to get the order right. We lay everything before You – every decision, every aspect of our lives. We lay it before You. We ask for You to speak, to shepherd and to guide us. We are following You, not the other way around.
Help us to be more patient, to listen for the voice. Help us to be slower in making decisions. Help us to wait upon that voice. Help us not to be in such a rush. Help us to wait upon you Lord. You want to train us to be a follower who hears Your voice.
Forgive us of all our impure motives. As pastors, as Christians, we want a Christian version of the world. We want the praise of men, not for a secular achievements. We want it for spiritual achievements. Forgive us, Lord.
The simple question – What are you seeking? – we have so many conflicting things in our heart when it’s a simple question. And you want a simple answer. Lord, Jesus – we want to be where You are. Wherever You’re staying, that’s where we want to be.
Thank you, Lord, for you invite us to come and see, to come and be with You, to come and follow You, to come and learn from You. And You’re so gentle and humble in heart. I want to learn from You. I want to be close to you.
Teach us, Lord. Teach us how to be a follower. Not a leader, but a follower. Teach us, Lord.
Thank you for Your blood that was shed and Your body that was broken for us. Nourish us. Meet us, that we may follow You better. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen