Title: Completed Joy
Text: II John 12-13
FCF: We often struggle with tolerance and exclusivism in our churches.
Prop: God’s true church is united in truth and completed in joy when they meet face to face, so we must yearn to be with God’s people.
[Slide 1] Turn in your bible to II John. And just like that here we are – done with another book of the bible. Seems like it was only a month ago that we were in I John… oh wait – we were! 😊
Really we have seen the main point of this book already. Last week was really the sum total, the core of what John wished to express to his readers. To be on guard against false teachers and apostates. To not even invite them into their homes or to greet them. All that is left for us today is to look at John’s benediction- but even here there is much to see.
We see the love of John for this church come spilling out. That just beyond those strong words against false teachers, he quickly comes back to softness and love. We see John express assurance to his readers.
And in the providence of God, with us celebrating our first real Sunday back together – one particular layer of John’s message in these final words, is even more powerful.
I am in II John 12 and will read from the NET. You can follow along in the version you prefer.
As you may have guessed by the large number of songs, the sermon is shorter today. But don’t miss what John is saying here as we close out yet another book of the New Testament together.
I.) When God’s people meet face to face it brings complete joy, so we must yearn to be with God’s people.
a. [Slide 2] 12 – Though I have many other things to write to you
i. As we noted in the beginning of this book, John probably writes this as a cover letter along with I John.
ii. So although he hasn’t said much in this letter, when you combine it with all he said in I John it does seem to be a good chunk for them to digest.
iii. Here we also see the heart of a teacher. John has much more he’d like to say. We almost find ourselves wishing that John would have carried on and continued to explain to us how to handle apostates and false teachers. Perhaps even going into more detail in what the truth is in us and how we can walk in it.
iv. Still – John reaches the end of what he wishes to convey in this medium.
b. [Slide 3] I do not want to do so with paper and ink
i. Now more than ever we understand the limits of human interaction via text.
ii. Our whole world is text.
iii. We have social media platforms devoted to textual conversation, and even some where no words only pictures are shared.
iv. There are strengths to things in written word. Certainly, God chose to reveal Himself through breathing out his message to writers who used pen and ink along with their own personalities to record God’s breathed out word.
v. However, there are also severe limitations to interactions over text.
1. Communication includes body language
2. Conversations do not proceed as fluidly over text as they do in person – even in our digital and instant age.
3. Anonymity and hiding behind screens and keyboards, pen and ink can embolden people to deal more harshly than they would in person. Paul seems to relay this message to the Galatians in chapter 4 as he wishes to soften his written tone by being among them.
4. Motives and intentions can often be missed. Subtle and simple meanings can be twisted with written word.
5. It is incumbent upon both the writer and the reader to afford even more mercy and grace to the other lest they fail to be clear and present their tone and motives well.
vi. As wonderful as written word is – it is simply no substitution for…
c. [Slide 4] But I hope to come visit you and speak face to face,
i. There is an expression, one that even 1st Century Jews were at least thematically aware of, that the eyes are windows to the soul.
ii. When you can look someone in the eye, it humanizes them and humbles you. Boldness is suddenly all the more difficult.
iii. Confrontation over text and phone can cause butterflies to stir, but confrontation in person can often paralyze and even prevent a confrontation altogether.
iv. Positively, meeting face to face can ensure that the words spoken, even if harsh, are with love and grace. It is far more difficult for words to be twisted or motives assumed when someone meets face to face. It is still possible just less likely.
v. Furthermore, there is just something about God’s people gathering together in person.
vi. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that – especially now.
vii. It is no wonder that John expresses what he does next.
d. [Slide 5] So that our joy may be complete
i. Joy is happiness rooted in faith.
ii. Just as biblical love is not a love of emotion but a love rooted in choice, a love rooted in promise.
iii. So Joy is biblical happiness rooted in faith. It is happiness drawn, not from present situations but from God’s promises. It is a fruit of the Spirit – in that God actually raises up this choice for happiness in us as He gives us truth and the great promises and hopes of God’s truth lead us to choose to rejoice.
iv. And our joy is complete when we are present with one another. Why?
v. Because it reminds us of our savior. We all are one body – the body of Christ.
vi. We see in each and every true believer, unity and conformity to Christ.
vii. We see the love of God bubbling out, the faith of Christ filing us up, and the obedience the Spirit enables flowing from each other.
viii. When we gather face to face it foreshadows the coming eternal Kingdom where we will not only be together in perfect peace and harmony, but will be with our Savior face to face… forever.
e. [Slide 6] Passage Truth: Set against the harsh words of rejection toward false teachers, John’s warm thoughts conclude as he began. He wishes his readers to know that he greatly looks forward to meeting them to discuss this and other things face to face. Joy – Joy is the product of Christians gathering together.
f. Passage Application: Although no application is mentioned, there is certainly an application his readers were to infer. That to gather together with believers who have held fast to the same truth, is the completion of joy. So, they should also look forward to meeting with John and experiencing that joy too.
g. [Slide 7] Broader Biblical Truth: As we zoom out from II John and comb the scriptures we find similar statements of love, hope, joy, and peace found throughout as the New Testament writers speak of the church of Christ. Paul describes us as many members of one body. John as the bride of Christ. We are one in the Spirit, the Son, and the Father. And in that is joy.
h. Broader Biblical Application: And so, we gather together – face to face – so that our fellowship can be sweet, and our joy complete. No other group or organization on earth is this way. Not even families get this close. We are one and when we are separated – our joy is at best incomplete.
[Slide 8(blank)] John’s conclusion could be over there – but there is one other aspect of love and assurance John wishes to impart to his readers.
II.) God’s true church knows no boundaries, so we must yearn to be with God’s people.
a. [Slide 9] 13 - The children of your elect sister
i. Once again, interpretationally we have suggested that these ladies are most likely churches, and their children are the actual assembly members.
ii. So the universal church is at work here, not just the local assembly.
iii. So what does this other local assembly say or do?
b. [Slide 10] Greet you
i. Now this could be just – they say hi.
ii. But given the context, after John just stated that they should not greet those who have brought a message that is different than the one they had received, it seems that this statement could be more than just – they say hi.
iii. Here John could very well be assuring his readers, through the greeting of another local church’s members, that they do have the truth in them.
iv. So from start to finish, John writes a note assuring his readers of their identity. This unites I and II John together in theme. Assurance to true believers.
v. However, John makes sure to add his word of exhortation in the middle of that assurance. So they may defend themselves against heretical teachings.
vi. Still by ending this way, John alludes to the unity of the church, as it knows no boundaries, language, culture, ethnicity, or empire. The Church of Christ is universal. And they recognize their own.
c. [Slide 11] Passage Truth: John to his readers imparts the assurance of knowing that the universal church, who believes as they believe, greets them in acceptance and assurance in that they are walking in truth.
d. Passage Application: This foreshadows and motivates God’s people to see the joy it is when not only a local assembly comes together, but when Christians of the church of Christ from the whole world, who share their confession, meet together.
e. [Slide 12] Broader Biblical Truth: Zooming out we know this to be true – indeed in I John 2 we saw how the gospel reaches the whole world. There is no tongue or tribe or nation or language to which the church belongs exclusively, rather God has given His Son to the world.
f. Broader Biblical Application: And in that, not only should we desire or yearn for the fellowship with one another as a local body – but also we should yearn and desire the fellowship of the universal church, together, in glory with our groom.
[Slide 13(end)] So how then shall we live?
Since this message in and of itself is so appropriate for us today – I think we should recognize that the assembling of the body of Christ together, united under one banner of unified truth, is a meeting that brings true and complete joy.
It is a symbol of the unity between the Father, Son and Spirit. It is the outpouring of the truth that we are all one in Christ. It is a foreshadowing of glory where we all with unveiled faces will behold the majesty and glory of the Father, and it is a blessing of sweet fellowship by those who are closer than family and friend could ever be. We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Son.
So to meet with one another face to face, eye to eye, nose to nose – is to meet in blessed intimacy with our common bond of peace, mercy and grace in the Son of God.
And having been recently deprived of this – perhaps that truth stings all the more. Perhaps that truth is hot on your heels. Perhaps that truth is sharp in your soul today. As we have sung together and ministered to one another. As we have seen each other… I hope and I trust that it has brought you complete joy. United in truth, face to face, we know true joy.
It is appropriate then for me to give applicational thought to the whole nature of the book of II John.
II John, sent to this church is clearly meant to warn them of apostate and false teachers. But what is clear, is that warning is motivated by love.
The unity, fellowship, and joy that is shared among those who cling to the received truth, who walk in truth, love, and obedience, that unity and fellowship and joy ought to be guarded and protected.
Love one another has perhaps never received such a sharp message. To love the sheep you must defend them from the wolves.
John’s loving and kind message is not soft. His compassionate and tender words are not of tolerance – but rather intolerance.
Let them be accursed so that when we come together again – face to face – our joy may be complete.
My friends, it was only a few years after John penned this letter that he found himself in prison on the isle of Patmos. From there he wrote the book of Revelation to the 7 churches. All but two had entertained sin or false teaching in their midst. All but two were rebuked by the ascended Christ.
If the church written to in II John was one of these 7, it is very likely that they did not heed John’s words.
We must be vigilant to guard the gospel of Jesus Christ. Why? Because our joy is complete when we are together, united under one confession, assembling face to face.