“What is truth?”
I wonder how many leaders besides Pontius Pilate (John 18:38) have asked this question. And how would their answers line up? Who defines truth for queens, prime ministers, presidents, politicians, dictators? When objective truth is set aside the resulting chaotic subjectivity is all that is left.
News media put their spin on the truth. A ministry associate recently told me about watching American election results on three different television networks. The differences raised the question as to whether or not the same event was even being covered!
In 2 John, as in all of the 66 books of the canon of Scripture, truth matters. The key truth that establishes the plumbline for all truths in the Christian faith answers the question, ‘Who is Jesus Christ?’ The One who is the TRUTH, lived the TRUTH, spoke the TRUTH and established gospel truth as the very core of Christianity. ‘Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. He was buried. He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.’ Read John 5:39-40 or trace your way through Luke 24 and you’ll discover that the central focus of all of God’s written TRUTH is His living TRUTH, namely Jesus Christ.
So how does ‘The elder’ refer to truth in this thirteen verse general letter, unaddressed to any specific congregation by name, but profitably studied by all congregations gathered regularly in the name of the only Mediator between God and men.
v. 1 ‘I love in the truth’ Truth frames love. It establishes the boundaries and scope of genuine affection. Truth is at the core of Christian relationships. We love the GOD of TRUTH because HE first loved us (in truth.) We love others who follow the TRUTH. Come with me on a missions trip or visit an ethnic church service in Toronto and even when you do not grasp the nuances of the language used, you’ll sense a common love for the TRUTH.
v.1 ‘all who know the truth’ Truth divides. How much of the Bible addresses falsehoods, in doctrine and practice? Part of every Bible-centred ministry involves proclaiming truth and exposing error. Some walk away from their faith because the truth of God’s word is too convicting. Too often I’ve heard ‘professing’ believers say these tragic words – ‘I know the Bible says…..BUT….’ and then the litany of justification of sinful behaviour commences. God’s standards seem high. They are! God’s intolerance of sin seems restrictive. It is! But consider the consequences of abandoning His way–they’re eternal!
v.2 ‘the truth lives in us and will be with us forever:’ We are not left in a sea of subjectivity. Praise God, His word is forever settled in heaven. All Scripture is God-breathed. Once He has saved us, He provides us with the Spirit of TRUTH (John 16:13), the Word of TRUTH (John 17:17) as we press on in our relationship with the One who is the WAY, the TRUTH and the life… (John 14:6)
v.3 ‘some of your children walking in the truth…’ There is a consistency, though not perfection in their Christian lives. Truth is not something simply to be debated, though at times it must be defended. Truth is to be heard (‘Faith comes by hearing….’) and to be lived out (‘Be doers of the word and not hearers only….’)
Christology = The Doctrine of Christ. This is the acid test for John. Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. Hmm, sounds like the truth we sing and preach and study at Christmas. ‘The Word became flesh….’ ‘In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son…’
May we ask God, this Incarnation season, to enable us to speak and sing and share the message of Jesus Christ! Perhaps we like John will be led to write a letter using paper and ink, or perhaps, using the electronic tools so readily available we’ll use every means possible to share the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, with God’s help to make it all happen.