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It is a great privilege to be here today. proclaiming the Word of God.
Today is an exciting day! We are kicking off our Vacation Bible School. I hope that all of you are as excited for this as I am! For the next three nights we are going to be looking at the themes of Following, Obedience, and Trust as seen in some fishy stories from the Bible. Now when I say fishy, I’m not talking about the validity of the stories, but rather all of these stories have fish in them. We’re even going to have fishy snacks. But don’t worry, my request for sushi got shut down. Think more like goldfish crackers and some other fish-themed, non-seafood snacks. Our VBS has been entitled, “Fishers of Men” And we want to encourage young people and adults alike to take joy in following the Lord. Jesus has called those who know and love Him to be fishers of men.
This idea comes from Jesus calling the disciples in that manner:
Mark 1:17 ESV
And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”
The disciples who had made their living as fishermen would have understood what Jesus meant here. He was calling them to lay down their fishing nets, follow Him, and they would be trained to cast out the metaphorical nets of preaching the gospel for the purpose of gathering in sinners and pointing them to Jesus.
Mark 1:18 ESV
And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
They were still going to be fishing, just in a different method and a different trophy to pull in.
Now anytime we read God’s Word we have to think about its proper application. In these verses, Jesus walked up to a couple of fishermen named Simon and Andrew. He gave this directive of follow Him and become fishers of men to them. We have to ask our selves, is this a directive for us today, or is this a description of the specific calling Jesus gave to them?
I am so thankful for the whole of God’s Word because through the study of it as a whole we can ensure that we are gaining the proper context of a particular passage.
When writing to the church in Corinth, in one of my favorite passages that I reference often, Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and after explaining how Christ has reconciled all those who believe in Him back to God from whom they were separated by their sin, Paul writes:
2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
So if you have been reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ, you are now an ambassador of Christ. Given the responsibility of going out into the world as a representative of Christ, imploring others to join you in being reconciled to God.
“Ambassador” and “Fisher of men” are two different analogies to describe the same goal. Cast the net of the gospel, be used by God to share the gospel, and be a part of sharing the message of salvation to the world that needs it so desperately.
As a church and as individual believers of the gospel, the life, death, and resurrection for the atonement of sin, we have the joy, honor, and responsibility to be Fishers of Men.
The Great Commission doesn’t use any analogies, but gives the church this message:
Matthew 28:19 ESV
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Make disciples! Cast the nets of the gospel! Teach them about the goodness of what Christ has done, let them show their understanding of His salvation through baptism. Go! Get out on the Water and start fishing!
This is our calling as a church. This is what we want to be doing with in our church. Our #1 Core Value is, “We value a right relationship with God through Christ; therefore, we share His message with our world.” We are fishers of men.
Now to tie this in with what we are seeing as we are walking through the epistle of 2 John, remember that John is writing to this unnamed group as a loving pastor. It is his great joy to see them living out their faith, to see them participating in the good works God has prepared for them. His intention is to equip them to be effective fishers in waters that are not always still.
You see young and unexperienced fishermen need guidance and direction or they can easily get themselves in trouble.
I once went on a fishing trip with a couple of buddies to the New River pretty close to Blacksburg, Virginia. We had our campsite right on the riverbank, just a few hundred feet down river from an elevated rock line. The ridge, extending across the river, was probably an 8 foot drop to the water level in front of our campsite. One day we decided to wade out in the river on the elevated side, beyond the rocks and start casting. Now for all I know, this was a terrible spot to go fishing, but as a young man I thought it was cool to be by all the rushing water heading towards that drop. After some time of not catching a thing, we decided to give it up and head in. But the problem was that I was now too close to the drop. As I was walking towards the shore, I found myself being pulled towards that drop off. I tried with all my strength to lunge between the rocks, heading towards the side of the river. On my second or third lunge between the rocks, I realized I had underestimated how slippery these rocks would be. Before I knew it, I was pulled into the rapid with no life jacket. I still remember the fear I had as I was sucked underwater and over the edge of that drop. I could feel as my sides were bashing into rocks all around me. I sincerely did not know if I would ever surface again. Somehow, by the providence of God, I didn’t get hung on anything and made it back to the surface. I doggy paddled over to our campsite and just laid there thinking about how bad it could have ended.
Now, if someone experienced had been with us, they could have told me how foolish the endeavor was to begin with. Sure, I made it out alive this time, but there was no reason to even play in such a manner.
Today, as we look at the second half of 2 John, the loving pastor gives the hearers a warning so they can avoid such foolishness in their lives.
If you have not already, turn in your Bibles to 2 John verse 7. Last week, we looked at the first 6 verses of this letter and saw the intrinsic relatedness of love and truth. We are called to love one another and love is walking according to the commandments of God. True love is joyful obedience to the God of the universe. We discussed how important it is for these pastoral reminders to center us on on our mission as we go about our lives in this world full of distractions. Now, where we pick up today, we are given a pastoral warning. Read with me verse 7
2 John 7 ESV
For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
The loving pastor is writing to the flock and warning them about deceivers. If the first half of this letter shows the connection between truth and love, here we see the connection between deception and hate. And thing that distinguishes love and truth from deception and hate is your view of Jesus. Now in John’s specific instruction here, he is referring to the same heretical group that he spoke against in 1 John. These were early gnostics promoting a view called docetism. That is that Jesus wasn’t actually human. He was a spirit, a projection, a heavenly illusion that just looked like a person walking around doing the things that He did. This is utter heresy for a variety of reasons. First of all, if Jesus was just a hologram, then why would the resurrection be anything to marvel at? It would be no great feat for an ethereal image to appear, go away, and appear again. There would be no defeat of death. Further, Jesus said His body would be broken, His blood would poor out for the forgiveness of sin. That is more than symbology! That is reality. Jesus really wore that crown of thorns. The nails really driven in His hands and feet. The spear was really thrust in His side. The scars He showed to Thomas were proof of the physical marks He received as died for us on the cross. Docetism is and must be rejected! John tells us that anyone espousing such nonsense is actually propagating not only false doctrine, but demonic doctrine!
Hear me carefully hear, a wrong view of Jesus is not only wrong, it is demonic! On one side, we shouldn’t sensationalize this to think that everyone who teaches wrongly about Jesus has a secret closet in their house full of pentagrams and sacrificing goats. But on the other side, we should take this to realize the seriousness of false teaching! False teaching, specifically about Jesus comes straight from Satan. In 2 John, John is warning about those who say Jesus was not a man. In the gospel of John we see Jesus rebuking the false teachers who deny Him and say He was nothing more than a man. Look with me at John 8.
Jesus is talking with the Jewish religious leaders who are trying to descredit, trap, and even kill Jesus. He says to them:
John 8:42–47 ESV
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
Remember, truth and love are of God! Those who know the truth, love Jesus Christ. They are of God. They are His people. Those disinterested in the truth of God, that is that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God, are of the devil!
We need to know this because we need to realize just how serious it is for someone to be teaching a false view of Jesus. The real Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible, is fully God and Fully man, He sympathizes with our weakness and yet knows no sin. He got thirsty on His travels and is the everlasting water. He naps in the ship and wakes up to calm the seas. He is not more man than God nor more God than man. He is the great hypostatic union of humanity and divinity. And don’t let anyone preach to you anything different!
That is the warning that John is giving to the group we have been looking at in 2 John. Stick to the truth. Living out the truth is love. False teaching is deception that needs to be rejected.
He goes on to show us why it is so important that we reject false teaching:
2 John 8 ESV
Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.
False teachers pose a serious threat that we should all be attentive towards. Here we are seeing that falling into false teaching has real consequences. John is the loving, compassionate elder writing to this group and he doesn’t want to see any harm come their way. This kind of caring warning is given all through the epistles.
Paul expresses his concern for the church at Corinth in
2 Corinthians 11:3–4 ESV
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
He doesn’t want them to put up with and live along side false teachers, why?
2 Corinthians 11:13–15 ESV
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
We much watch out for false teachers, even those that on the surface would appear good, because in the end they only lead to destruction.
Deceptive, false teachers are destructive. Not only will they lead lost sheep right off the edge of a cliff, but even when those who are saved and sealed for the day of redemption begin to buy in to the false teaching, they too will be hurt.
look back to our verse
2 John 8 ESV
Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.
Now we have to really look at what is being said here to understand its implications. John tells this group that he does not want them to lose what they have worked for. He wants them to win a full reward.
John here is undoubtedly talking to a group of believers. We spoke briefly about it last week, but he opens his letter by addressing it to “The Elect Lady” this is either referring to a specific woman and family who are saved by the grace of God, or it is referring to a church who are likewise saved by the grace of God. So when John speaks about losing reward here, he is not talking about salvation. The Baptist Faith and Message states “Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end.” But even better than a statement of faith is the Scripture from which is derived!
Romans 5:1 ESV
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:1 ESV
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
1 Peter 1:3–5 ESV
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved and their ain’t nothing that is going to change that. That is an imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance kept in heaven for you kept and held onto by the power of God!
So then what is the full reward John is talking about here in 2 John 8 when he says reward in full?
This is referring to an often overlooked but biblical principle of being rewarded in heaven for the things we have done for the Lord in our lives. I am not espousing some sort of works based salvation. That has already been settled. By the power of God our salvation is secure. But as we go about this life as fishers of men and ambassadors of Christ, we should take great joy and humble motivation knowing that the Lord is pleased with us as we serve Him! What we do for the Lord are the only things we do that will have eternal significance!
1 Corinthians 3:10–15 ESV
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Revelation 22:12 ESV
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.
We will be rewarded in heaven for the ways that we serve the Lord in this life. As any loving caregiver would, John wants to this group fully rewarded! If they start leaning into false doctrine and it influences the way they live their work will be futile! It will all be burned up. It brings no glory to God. It’s worthless.
The message is stick to loving the right way, that is walking in the commandments of the Lord, and your reward will be great in heaven.
To put it back into our fishing analogy, this is John, the elder captain warning the less experienced fishermen not start fishing with broken nets. It’s not they wont be fishermen any longer, but rather that they’ll just be waisting their time.
For our context and application today, we need to understand that we don’t need to add anything to Scripture. We shouldn’t get caught up in anyone teaching anything that adds to Scripture.
With the accessibility of online content, this may be a more important message now than ever before! Just because someone calls themself a pastor and makes a youtube channel does not mean that we should be accepting everything they say as truth. This is why the local church is important. Not only do we keep one another accountable, but you hold me accountable! If the teaching you are receiver is adding to or twisting Scripture, rebuke it! Even if that means rebuking me! I don’t care if it takes an uncomfortable conversation, if I need to be corrected, for the glory of God correct me! Those celebrity false teachers have walls built around them and think that they have risen above rebuke. If we can’t correct their teaching we must reject it and flee from it!
And Scripture is the barometer by which we make those judgments. Look at verse 9.
2 John 9 ESV
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.
All of Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. And God’s Word is so good at that, that it does need ANYONE adding anything to it.
John says that those who go ahead of the teaching of Christ, instead of abiding, that is dwelling, remaining in it, that they don’t have God. Those who remain in the teaching have both the Father and the Son. It’s not God’s Word plus mine. It’s just God’s Word. And if God’s Word isn’t good enough for the teacher, that is a big problem. And the problem isn’t with the Word but with the pastor.
Test your teaching and test your teachers. Test them by the Word of God. And when you find something that isn’t congruent, don’t side with the teacher for the sake of peace, side with Scripture for the glory of God. If the teacher won’t receive correction, have NOTHING to do with them. That is the final bit of instruction from our text today:
2 John 10–11 ESV
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
If churches, ministers, preachers, or teachers are bringing you anything but teaching wholly centered upon the Word of God, you should have absolutely nothing to do with them. If in our charity, we invite them into our lives, our homes, our social media feeds, and just brush past all of the antibiblical bits, we are passively or purposely becoming a part of their false and deceptive ministry.
May we watch ourselves, hold one another accountable, charitably and for the glory of God. So that we may all win a full reward and praise the God of our salvation.
The truth that we are centered upon is too great to need any addition or revision.

3 Circles Graphic

God the Son put on flesh to save sinners who were lost in their flesh and by the grace of God the Father and the power of God the Holy Spirit we are drawn to conviction of that sin. We are empowered to repent and believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord. We live daily in submission to Him, walking in His commands and His alone. His Word doesn’t need our help. We need it.
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