Valuing Truth

Steve Viars July 15, 2006 2 John 0:

- Most of us have had the experience of somebody asking if we would be willing to sell something that we owned...
- maybe you were asked that about a car --- would you ever consider selling that?...
- or maybe someone asked you that about your house...have you ever thought about selling your house?...
- perhaps it was something less valuable...and maybe the question even caught you by surprise...would you consider selling that?...

- if that has ever happened to you, how did you respond?...would you sell your car, sell your house...
- perhaps you’ve heard some people answer that question like this...anything I have is for sale...
- in other words, for the right price, I would part with anything I have...

- now, maybe that position is acceptable when it comes to material things...but isn’t this also the case...some people seem to even have that attitude towards things they should never be willing to sell...for the right price, you could even have that...
- for advancement in the company, some people would sell their integrity...
- for a fleeting pleasure, some would sell their marriage...
- for popularity, some would sell their purity...
- for acceptance, some would sell out a friend...

- all of a sudden, the saying “anything I have is for sale” isn’t nearly as clever...
- would you ever consider selling that?...

- did you know that the Bible specifically speaks about a commodity you should never sell...
- now by implication, you could say that about a lot of things Scripture says we should prize...
- but with at least one item, God’s Word says...buy this...and never sell it...
- do you know what that commodity is?...the truth...

- [power point – not handout] - Proverbs 23:23 - Buy the truth, and do not sell it, Also wisdom and instruction and understanding.
- can you imagine a person ever selling the truth?...
- can you imagine a church or an organization ever selling the truth?...
- regrettably we would all have to say, yes I can...
- we’ve seen it happen with others....and if we’re honest, we’ve all been guilty of it ourselves in some way or another...
- Buy the truth and do not sell it...

- you may remember that Jesus Christ gave a series of parables about this very subject in Matthew 13...one of them was the parable of the hidden treasure... Matthew 13:44 - Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
- we’re talking about a person who would do all he could to gain the truth of God, and would never, ever sell it.
- all year long we’ve been focusing on the theme of Gearing Up for Greater Effectiveness...
- last week I walked us through a 6 month update of whether there is evidence church-wide that we are trying to accomplish that goal...
- and I think it is reasonable to conclude that an amazing amount of progress has been made by various people and groups in our church family to accomplish what we believe God’s wants us to do...to God be the glory, great things He has done...
- of course each individual would do well to perform some sort of 6 month audit on whether you have taken specific steps to gear up...but from an overall church family perspective, there is a lot to be excited about and thankful for...

- this month, we are trying to advance that mentality by looks at the 4 shortest books in the NT [Philemon, II-III John, and Jude...] – Small Books with Big Messages
- last week we studied Philemon – and talked about the importance of the church Model (ing) the Power of Forgiveness.
- this morning, we’re going to look at the book of 2 John – which speaks about the crucial matter of Value (ing)  the Truth.
- please open your Bible to 2 John...page 187 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you or page 1522 of our Chinese English Bibles.

- As you are turning there, I should tell you that even though this is one of the shortest books in the Bible—it contains less than 300 words in the language in which it was originally written and could have easily been written on one piece of papyrus---but, it actually presents a rather interesting interpretive challenge...
- and that is, is 2 John written to an individual, or to a church?...
- the book begins with the words...The elder to the chosen lady and her children...
- Bible students agree that “the elder” is the apostle John because of the similarities between this book and other letters that we know he wrote...
- but who is the lady and her children?...
- some people believe it is written to a literal woman and her children...and this book ought to be viewed a piece of personal correspondence warning her about showing hospitality in a way that could actually be spiritually dangerous to she and her children...
- others would say, no, the phrase “chosen lady and her children” is speaking about a church and its members, and this is a warning to the church family not showing hospitality when they shouldn’t...
- a third view is, it is written to an individual, but to a lady like Philemon who we studied last week, who had a house large enough for the church to meet in, so it is written to both an individual and a church...
- now, you might say, which one is right?...here’s the official Faith Baptist Church approved answer...we don’t know for sure...
- the letter just isn’t specific enough for us to know that, so apparently God didn’t think that detail was important....
- so around here, here’s how we handle something like that...
- where the Bible is clear---and it usually is, we believe it, period...its God’s truth...
- but where the Lord chooses not to give us all the details or does it in a way where good people could honestly differ...there’s freedom within a range of acceptable options...so some people around here might lean one way on that question, others might see it differently...and we’re not nervous about that...
- ultimately, the point of the book is the same regardless, and it has applications to individuals, families, and churches regardless...
- now, with that in mind, let’s read the book – read II John 1:1-13
- the theme this morning is...if we really want to gear up for greater effectiveness, then as individuals and as a church, we have to live and function in such a way that we can honestly say that truth is a very valuable commodity around here...
- we seek to obey the admonition of Proverbs 23:23 – Buy the truth and do not sell it.

- with the time we have left, let’s scour this book for 3 principles to help God’s people have a right relation to His truth.

I. God is Pleased When His Children Value Truth.


- even a casual reading of this book would tell us that it is all about truth...did you notice that as we were reading?
- verse after verse after verse ---
- whom I love in truth (v. 1)
- all who know the truth (v. 1)
- for the sake of the truth (v.2)
- in truth and love (v. 3)...

- buy the truth...do whatever you have to do to get...just like that field where a man would sell everything he had in order to obtain the treasure it contained...that’s the kind of value God wants us to assign to His truth...
- here’s a fair question...why?...why should we?

A. Because our relationship with God is based on our understanding of and belief in certain truths.
- sometimes people like to say that followers of Jesus Christ are not thoughtful people, or intelligent people...we don’t read, or study, or think...
- that position has always amazed me...
- what are Christians around the world doing right now, and taking the various time zones in mind, will be doing on Sundays around the globe...
- the answer is, studying...reading...learning...listening...contemplating...
- comparing...checking things out...
- and God’s people do that Sunday after Sunday, along with many other times of the week in many other settings as well...
- just think about the impact of all of that study multiplied week after week and year after year...
- the next time an unbelieving person throws that one in your face, sweetly ask them, how much studying do you typically do on Sunday morning?...
- Christianity is not some syrupy emotionalism...although emotions are involved because we are to love the Lord and worship Him with all of our being...
- but of primary importance to us is the issue of truth...
- Paul told the Corinthians in I Corinthians 14 – I Corinthians 14:15 – What is the outcome then?  I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.

- biblical Christianity is a personal relationship with God that is based on, that begins with, and is sustained by God’s truth...
- that’s why Jesus said... John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
- and there can be no way, and there can be no eternal life with the Father [which is what John 14 is all about]...without the truth...
- we might want to make up some T-shirts like the Got Milk advertisement...except ours should say...Got Truth?...do you value truth?...Buy truth and do not sell it...

- James made this important point -- James 1:18 - Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
- there is no relationship with God, there is no new birth, apart from truth...

- that’s why, by the way, when parents are working with their children, we encourage them to be sure they have taught enough truth so that their young ones really understand what it means to come to Christ...
- its not simply, do you want to go to heaven?...
- it starts by teaching them about sin...about the law of God and how His holiness reveals how far of that standard we fall...
- only then could a child understand the importance of the cross, of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ...
- and I believe even a small child can grasp the essentials of the gospel...but we need to pray for our parents, and pray for our children’s workers...as we faithfully try to teach our children God’s truth...

- now the apostle Peter added this idea... 1 Peter 1:22 - Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,
- we will undoubtedly have people who will attend our church today and they have heard the claims of Christ but they have adopted a casual stance toward the whole thing...
- God won’t mind if I believe His Word or not...
- listen, He minds a lot...at some point the gospel becomes not simply a gift to be accepted, or a message to be believed...it becomes a command to be obeyed...

- and one of the worst mistakes a person can make is hear truth and hear truth and hear truth and refuse to believe...
- Hebrews 10:26-27 - For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.
- that passage is speaking about people who have around truth, and around the church, and around Christian people...but who have never accepted it for their own...there comes a time when their opportunity to believe is over...
- there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation...
- and if you say, what, are you trying to scare me?...no, I’m trying to tell you the truth...for those who choose to reject it, God’s message is inherently frightening...
- the apostle Paul made the same point when he said - 2 Thessalonians 2:12 - that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
- see, why should we buy truth?....because our relationship with God is dependent on it...

- there’s another reason in this passage...
B. Because God’s truth is eternal.
- 2 John 2 - because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever:
- thank God that --- Psalm 119:89 - Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.
- contrast that to what the apostle Paul says about people living in the last days...among other things, they are... 2 Timothy 3:7 - always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

- when we were working with this private Christian foundation that was talking to us about providing the funding to help us construct Vision of Hope, a faith-based residential treatment center for girls in need---that became somewhat of a negotiation...
- because we wanted to be sure that we were practicing full disclosure about who we are ...and our belief in the sufficiency of Scripture and an approach to helping people who are hurting with the message of Christ and His Word...
- and we had written right into the foundational documents that all of the counseling and ministry that is done in that ministry be consistent with the approach to biblical counseling we have practiced here for nearly 30 years...
- and thankfully, the foundation’s attitude was...that’s why we would like to see it built here---because we want all of this to be Christ centered and biblically based...
- and if you are wondering---well, what would happen if someone down the road came along and said---we would like to give the church a gift but God’s truth could not be the basis of ministry, what would we do?...
- I hope you know the answer...we would never sell out our convictions for any amount of money...buy the truth, and do not sell it...

- by the way, I mentioned to you last week that we were going to be interviewing some folks to work at Vision of Hope this last week...
- part of the challenge is that we have some many more excellent and well qualified applicants than we could possibly hire...
- but we had some great conversations this week...one of the persons was saying...I appreciate the people who are doing this work in the secular environment but so often it seems that folks get very excited about whatever the latest program is, but what is missing from each one of them is an emphasis on developing a relationship with the one Person who truly and the power to help an individual change...
- and we are not by any means saying that we are experts on any subject because there is so much more to learn and apply...but we have this confidence...everything that we learn from the Word of God is going to be useful for life...this truth abides in us and it will be with us forever...
- [could ask for prayer about the zoning issues related to VOH]

- why else should we value it?
C. Because God’s truth is practical.
- it’s not just something we know, or something we believe...it is something we act upon.
- 2 John 4 - I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth...
- 2 John 6 - This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.
- some people say, well, I know the truth because I can talk about it...or I can explain it, or I can discuss it, or I can regurgitate it...that is not what John is talking about at all...you don’t really know something until you are doing it...
- that issue comes up in counseling all the time...where people say, well, I know that, and I know that, and I know that...
- and we say...but you are not doing it...and they say, well, yeah...
- the message of Scripture is...you don’t really know something unless you are doing it...

- now, what about the person who would say...but learning God’s truth is so hard...
- here’s a very important point---the best way to learn more truth is...to work hard at obeying the truth you already know...Jesus said it this way...
- John 7:17 - If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
- there is such a thing as greater understanding that only comes through a willingness to act what you already know...
- [cf. counselees who don’t do their homework, or won’t follow certain principles from Scripture – it would be a mockery to say, well then, let’s study something else...]

- now, what does all of this have to do with our annual theme?...will the Lord find the people of FBC individuals who highly value His truth?...is that what our services are about?...is that what our decisions are about?...is that what our ministries are about?....is that what our lives are about?...buy the truth...

- now, let’s dig a bit deeper into this book...what was the problem?...
- either an individual woman, or perhaps a church family, was showing hospitality to a person who clearly denied the truth of Jesus Christ...
- the principle is...


II. You Cannot Allow Those Who Deny Truth to Inordinately Influence Your Life.


- now, I tried to word that carefully because we are moving into a potential minefield here...
- perhaps a bit of historical background would help...
A. Historical background.
- at this time in the Roman Empire, the system of roads was better than ever before in history...
- also because of the spread of the Greek language...travel from one part of the empire to the other was easier and more common than ever...
- that was a very important aspect of the spread of the gospel...the ability of missionaries to be trained, approved, and then sent out...
- well, where were those people going to stay when they were away from home?
- it’s not like the Motel 6 was going to leave the light on for them...

- and there were some inns, but they were notorious for their filth, both literally and spiritually...so Christians would welcome these teachers into their homes, and into their churches...
- but invariably false teachers got in the act...because there was the possibility of free lodging or perhaps other financial gain...
- and so the point of this book is...

B. Truth must guide the expression of your love.
- there are some people whom you should not allow to stay in your home, or speak in your church...

C. Balance?

1. We are not talking about simple acts of hospitality.
- if your neighbor who does not know the Lord appears on your front porch asking to borrow a cup of sugar, it’s not like you have to say...fine, but stay here on the porch while I get it for you because the Bible says you can’t come into my house...
- this is speaking about those who you allow to influence your opinions and beliefs and lifestyle and decisions...

2. We are not talking about minor theological disagreements.
- 2 John 7 - For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
- for example, I mentioned one of those minor ones at the beginning of our time together---good people may differ on whether this book is written to an individual or to a church...its not like the next time you are thinking about someone over to your house, you say to them, now before we go any further, what is your view of the recipient of II John, because if our views are different, the Bible says I shouldn’t have you in my home...

- however, even with that balance...the point is crucial...one of the ways that too many of God’s children sell the truth is that they allow those who do not love Christ to inordinately influence the way they think and live...they have invited false teachers into their lives, and their homes, and their minds...

- I’ve seen that happen when people get a particular job...and all of a sudden they have a new set of friends...
- and maybe those friends have a different view of the sanctity and permanence of marriage...and they sit around and they gossip about their spouses...or they speak inappropriately about sexual involvement with people outside of marriage...
- and pretty soon that believing person starts changing...thinking things he/she would have never thought before...
- saying things he/she would have never thought before...
- contemplating things...
- planning things...
- and eventually doing things....

- do you know what happened there?....that person sold out...buy the truth, and do not sell it...
- we ought to have all kinds of friends, and all sorts of acquaintances...but we must not allow those who deny the Person and work of Jesus Christ to inordinately influence us...

- young person, be careful who you date...
- 1 Kings 11:3-4 – And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David.
- buy truth, and do not sell it...

- do you know how a lot of Christians violate this principle today?...
- it’s by what they allow into their home...through television...
- Proverbs 13:20 - He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.

- this also has application to educational choices – explain why you asked parents to allow you to attend a Christian high school as a sophomore...

-  you might ask, how does this fit in with our annual theme?...
- we are trying to be more and more involved in our community...and we value working together with others as much as possible...
- but making wise choices in those matters is very challenging...that’s what today and the next two weeks is about...
- from today, there is a danger of working with, or being associated with people in a way that compromises and confuses the gospel...we cannot do that...
- Paul said---2 Corinthians 6:17 - Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord...

- but next week we will see from the book of third John that it is possible to go too far in that direction...where you won’t associate with good people when you should...and end up being like a man named Diotrophes...
- then the week after that from the book of Jude...contend earnestly for the faith that once and for all delivered up for the saints...

- so, how does this book help us stay in balance?

III. There are Specific Steps You Can Take to Act on the Message of this Book.

A. Examine yourself and look for practical evidence that you are actively “buying truth”.

- develop possible ways that might be the case in a person’s life and family...
- talk about some of the opportunities this fall...

B. Seek to prepare yourself with as much of God’s truth as possible.

- Ephesians 6:14 - Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

C. Be a student of God’s truth so that you can interpret and apply it accurately.

- 2 Timothy 2:15 - Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

D. Guard against influences that would direct you to sell out.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video