Thursday, December 10, 2020

102. Second and Third John, Jude

Thru the Bible #57: 2 and 3 John, Jude. J. Vernon McGee. 1979. 132 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: A man whom I knew years ago in the South had the best way to divide the three epistles of John that I have ever heard.

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read probably thirty or so of his commentaries. Most recently 1 John.

I really am LOVING McGee. This has been the best idea--to correspond my Bible reading with commentary reading. 

This volume was great. These three SHORT epistles are ones that I've almost always skimmed over as "not as important" as the others. They're short--a bit repetitive. Quick reads, no doubt, easy to read. But I never really considered them WEIGHTY and RELEVANT. But these three are weighty and relevant. 

  • When truth and love come into conflict, truth is the one that is to predominate; it is the one that has top priority. Have you noticed that in 1 Corinthians 13: 13 Paul didn’t say, “Now abideth faith, hope, truth, and love”? He just said, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity [love], these three; but the greatest of these is charity [love].” But when truth is brought in, then truth comes first.
  • In other words, truth is worth contending for, and it is wrong to receive false teachers.
  • I believe that the truth in the Word of God is worth contending for. When I say truth, I mean, first, that which is basic to the fact that the Bible is the Word of God—there is no question in my mind about it.
  • The second thing of essential importance is the deity of Christ and His work upon the cross for us. When I meet a man who is true on these essentials, then he and I can disagree on non-essentials.
  • The key word in John’s first epistle is love, but it is a love that is confined to the family of God. The little children are to love each other in the family of God. This is the mark of a child of God: he loves Christ, and he loves the brethren. How God’s little children are to love each other is the entire sum and substance of that epistle.
  • You cannot wiggle out of this: if you do not practice righteousness in your life, you are not of God. This is the outward badge of a child of God. You are to know the Lord Jesus as your Savior, and the proof to others is that you practice righteousness in your life. And if you do not love your brother (your Christian brother—this is not the universal brotherhood of man, for the Bible does not teach that), then you are not a child of God.
  • We are to love people to the extent of taking the gospel to them.
  • You cannot love the sinners and their sin—we are not asked to do that. We are asked to love them enough to take the gospel to them. That is the important thing. We are to love them in that sense because God loves them. And then, when they turn to Christ, we will love them also.
  • All of this “love, love, love” stuff today actually is not biblical at all. We are told to love everybody, but there are some whom the Scriptures tell us not to love but to be very careful of.
  • The things that are in the world are identified with the people who are in the world and who have made it as it is. Our love is to take the gospel to them, to give them the Word of God.
  • The so-called apostle of love is going to shock you and me out of our sentimental complacency and our sloppy notion of love. Which one should prevail—truth or love? His startling reply is that truth comes first. Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” He didn’t say, “I am love,” but He said, “… I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14: 6). You have to come to the Father through Jesus Christ. There is no other way.
  • Love can be expressed only within the limitation and boundary that Scripture sets. Therefore, what about the false teacher? May I say to you, you are not to love the false teacher.
  • Truth and light are the same; they are the Word of God. As we have already seen, love and truth are inseparable. Christ is the epitome of both; He is the incarnation of both. He is the Truth, and He is love. God is love, and He is God. In addition to truth, there is a second word which is featured in this brief epistle—it is the word walk.
  • Our contemporary idea of “love, love, love,” that we are to love everyone who comes along, I do not find in the Word of God.
  • Salvation all stems from the love of God, but God does not save by His love or His mercy. After all, our God is a holy God, and the Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son …” (John 3: 16): You see, God did not so love the world that He saved the world—He didn’t do that. God so loved the world that by His mercy He provided a Savior for the world, and He can now save by grace.
  • Salvation is not only the expression of the love of God, but it is also an expression of the justice and righteousness of God. We not only need John 3: 16, but we also need Romans 3: 26: “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
  • “For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us forever.” You will know that these great truths are not something which God is going to change. He is not going to change His mind tomorrow and say, “Well, I’m going to act differently. I think public opinion is going in another direction, so I’ll change and go with public opinion.” God doesn’t change; He is not a weather vane.
  • There are folk who write to me and say, “You are very dogmatic in your teaching.” I always appreciate those letters because I am not always sure that I give that impression. I want to give that impression when I am teaching the Word of God. I am very dogmatic about it.
  • I do not quite understand this idea of watering down the Christian faith and saying that we are to love everybody, because I know that when you make a statement like that, you don’t love everybody. It is just impossible to do that. There are too many in this world who are unlovely.
  • A lot of us are unlovely, and, as a result, we are not loved. But God loves the world. We are not worth loving, but God loves us all. The important thing is that He tells believers to take the gospel to the world.
  • That is the way that you and I can show our concern and love, if you want to call it that. We are to take the gospel to the lost because God loves them, and then if we take it to them, a love will be begotten in our hearts for those who are actually our enemies.
  • We are so often urged today to get rid of that which separates us. My friend, if we get rid of all that separates us, there will not be anything left to hold us together.
  • The mark of the believer is to walk in truth. Truth is that which is dominant. The summum bonum for the Christian is whether or not he is walking in the truth and walking in the light. It isn’t how you walk but where you walk that is important. Are you walking in the truth?
  • “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” John had been the pastor of the church in Ephesus and had led many to the Lord. It is a great joy to him, now that he is an old man, to hear that his converts, scattered out over the area of Asia, are still walking in truth.
  • Here again “walking in truth” means walking in right doctrine and in love for the brethren—his children manifested these things.
  • Studying the little Epistle of Jude is like working a gold mine because of all the rich nuggets which are here just for the mining.
  • We are beloved by God the Father and preserved for Jesus Christ. There are several words I must deal with in this text because of their importance. The first word is preserved. It is this word that gives us the key to the Book of Jude which presents the apostasy as it is presented nowhere else in Scripture. How frightful it is! But Jude doesn’t write just to frighten the daylights out of us. Nor does he write just to draw a vivid picture for our information; he gives us this background in order that he might give assurance in days of apostasy.
  • Now if a sheep is kept in safety, it is no credit to the sheep. A sheep cannot defend itself. It doesn’t have sharp fangs and claws to fight its enemy. Neither can it run. A jackrabbit can’t defend itself either, but a jackrabbit can get away from trouble. A sheep can’t even do that. A sheep is helpless. When one of God’s sheep says that he knows he is saved, he is not boasting of his own merit; he is boasting of his Shepherd.
  • He has a wonderful Shepherd. My friend, if you are saying that you are not sure of your salvation, you really are reflecting upon your Shepherd, because He says that He can keep you. He says that no created thing is able to take you out of His Father’s hand. It is a question of whether or not you can hold on to Him. It is a question of His holding on to you.
  • You see, salvation rests upon the Word of God. It is up to you whether you will believe Him or not. Your assurance of salvation rests upon that because He has made it very clear that you have a sure salvation. Here in Jude we are presented with the dark days of apostasy, and God still says that He is able to keep His own.
  • “And called.” Not only are we preserved in Jesus Christ, safe in Him, but we are also called. The word called, as it is used in Scripture, is not only an invitation that is sent out, but it is an invitation that is sent out and accepted and made real because of the Spirit of God.
  • We need to recognize the difference between these three words: mercy, peace, and love; then we need to see the strong relationship between them. Love is an attribute of God. Because God is love, He is merciful and has provided grace.
  • Although God loved you, He did not save you by love. You see, God has other attributes. He is holy. He is righteous. He is just. He simply cannot let down the bars of heaven and, by lowering His standards, bring you in. He cannot do that any more than a human judge can uphold the laws of the land and yet accept a bribe under the table for letting a criminal off.
  • If he does that, he is a crooked judge. And if God is going to do that with human beings, He is no better than a crooked judge. I do not mean to be irreverent because God is not a crooked judge. God has to maintain His holiness and His righteousness and His justice.
  • However, sin has brought tragedy to the human family. We often hear the question: Why does a God of love permit cancer? Well, disease and death came to the human family as consequences of sin. God sees the misery that sin has caused, and the mercy of God goes out to man. God is rich in mercy. If you come to Him as a sinner and accept His salvation, He will save you by grace. Then, because He is rich in mercy, He will extend His mercy to you. He will bring comfort to you at that time. He will help you and comfort your heart. You can trust Him in your time of need.
  • A sinner needs the grace of God, and he sure needs a whole lot of mercy—I’ve been using a great deal of it these past few years. Let me share with you from
  • Men must be justified before they can be sanctified. In the order of the manifestation of God’s purposes of salvation, the grace of God must go before the mercy of God. The grace must go before and take away and make way for the mercy of God.
  • Peace with God is to know that God is not difficult to get along with. He is not making it hard for me; He is not making it hard for you. He wants us to know that He hasn’t anything against us now that we know that we are sinners and have trusted Christ as our Savior.
  • “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8: 28). Dr. R. A. Torrey used to call this verse a soft pillow for a tired heart. What a wonderful promise it is!
  • My friend, certainly there are parts of the Word of God that you will not enjoy reading. There are sections that will step on your toes, and you would like to avoid that. But today it is necessary to build up ourselves on our most holy faith because these are days of apostasy.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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