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. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 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. 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. 2 John 7-11
A few days ago I watched a hockey game. I haven’t viewed many games during the 2018-2019 season because following a team a time zone behind you is problematic. So many of the games end after my bedtime. With the regular season coming to a close, I discovered that the NHL streaming service was free for the last few games. Despite an 8:00 PM start time, I logged on to watch the Colorado Avalanche play the Winnipeg Jets. Despite the Avalanche going down by two quick goals in the first period, I kept watching. Much to my enjoyment, the team from Colorado brought the game to a tie in the middle of the third period.
To my dismay, with the game tied late in the final period, the Avalanche took a bad penalty. They got caught with too many men on the ice. As a result, the Jets would have one extra player on the ice for a power play during the final moments of the third period. The Avalanche penalty killing team played like I have never seen them play before. They were diving in front of every shot. The crowd went wild with every blocked shot. Every time the penalty killing team would sling the puck the length of the ice to keep the other team from attacking the net the fervor of the crowd grew. When the final seconds ticked off the clock, the crowd was roaring and the Colorado players were celebrating. All of his excitement about a tie that would send the game to overtime?
There is a significant detail I left out of in my telling about this game. In this 81st game of an 82 game season the team and fans knew they could secure a spot in the playoffs with 1 playoff point, which you get if you lose in overtime. Obviously, they would prefer the two points given for a victory, but they didn’t need them. Knowing what was at stake, the players selling out on every play and the crowd cheering wildly makes sense. They put it all on the line because they knew what the end reward was.
As we look at the passage from 2 John, we see that we are to be on guard for those who would deceive us and turn us from the true teaching of who Jesus is and what he has done. 2 John speaks forcefully. If someone denies who Jesus is, they not only deny Jesus but they also deny God the Father. They do not have God.
The book of 2 John talks about this in an emphatic way for a reason. Salvation is at stake. Jesus in his incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension solves a very specific problem. Sin has separated us from God and to have access to him we need a savior. A savior who won the victory over sin, death, and hell in flesh like ours.
It is because this teaching is essential to the faith that 2 John tells us to keep false teaching out. If we get Jesus wrong, then we do not have God. This what is at stake for us. We must be on guard from false teaching regarding Jesus. Checking our doctrine against scripture and doing everything in our power to be faithful in our teaching of Jesus. He is what matters, and he is to be what we center our faith on.
What a blessing it is to have a reminder of this truth in the coming weeks. As we remember the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday, we remember that Christ entered the city not to lead a political revolt but to suffer for the sins of his covenant people. On Good Friday we see that saving work on display as God the Son bears the wrath of God for our sin. On Easter, we celebrate the victory over sin, death, hell, and the devil in the glorious resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
These events help us understand what is at stake. May we, as the people of God, boldly defend this truth and celebrate the faithful proclamation of the truth of Jesus Christ.
Sermon from Lord's Day Worship on April 7, 2019 at First Reformed Church in Edgerton, MN