2 John 4: I was glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father.
As we saw in the sermon this morning, John addresses this second epistle to a church that he calls the "chosen Lady." This Lady is the mother in a home, for she has children, the individual members of the church. John writes to the Lady so that she and her children will know ahead of time what kinds of threats they face, and will know that they have to watch themselves if they are going to remain on the way of obedience and righteousness.
Though John is speaking to a church, the instructions he gives have some implications for family life. And so, as an elder of the church, let me speak to you as the Lord and Lady of your house, and apply some of what John says to you and your children.
First, this event today, this baptism, places Miller on the pathway of the Truth. Through baptism, he becomes a disciple, a member of the church which is the body of Christ. He is already your child, but this event of baptism makes him one of the children of the chosen Lady, the church of Jesus Christ, and of Trinity Reformed Church in particular. This means he is not free to choose any way or path in life that he wants. His way has been chosen for him, and the way is the way of a disciple.
Second, this event today is the beginning of his journey and not the end. While he can look back to his baptism and be assured that he belongs to Jesus, and is a child of God, he must also respond to God's favor in faith and the obedience that comes from faith. He is being marked as a disciple today, but he must also live as a disciple. If he wants to reach the destination, and not lose what has been accomplished, and receive his full reward, he has to stay on the path. He stays on it by the grace of God, but he must stay on it. Children who are not walking in the truth are not going to reach the destination. So, don’t just remind Miller of the privileges and blessings he received from his baptism, but remind him of the obligations it places on him.
Third, what are these obligations? John says that we are called to walk in "truth." That means that we are called to continue in the right doctrine and teaching of the church. We must walk with trust in the Bible and in the gospel. But the truth is ultimately Jesus Himself, and walking in Truth means walking in fellowship with Him. John says that our walk must be a walk of obedience to the commandments of God. And these commandments are the commandments to believe in Jesus and to love one another. Teach Miller the way of obedience to the commandments of God. Teach him to love God and God's people. Teach him to walk in Truth and in obedience.
Fourth, John is warning the chosen Lady and her children that there are deceivers out there ready to pounce on the unsuspecting. There are false teachers, and there are Satantic powers that want to entice or frighten people off the way. This is a warning for you: You are going to face various deceiving voices as you raise your children. You are going to hear voices urging you to slack off, voices that urge you not to take Jesus so seriously, voices that encourage you toward unbelief and disobedience, voices that say you shouldn't impose your religion on your children, voices that say you shouldn't spank your children. And it is a warning for your children: Your children are going to face various deceivers, they are going to be tempted to listen to tempting voices, that would lead them away from the way they started on in their baptisms. Warn them that these deceivers await them, and teach them the discernment they need to
Parents frequently joke about the hardships and challenges of raising children. And there are hardships and challenges, as you already know. But John gives us hope for something better. He tells us that there is gladness and joy in raising children, as we see our children "walking in truth" and in obedience to the commandments of God. Teach Miller to walk in the way of his baptism, and be glad when you see him walking in the way of Truth.
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Sunday, February 18, 2007 at 08:40 AM
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