We know we’re in the right place, we think, if people there are like us. We feel most comfortable around people like ourselves. The world forms and functions with people that are similar and share a multitude of characteristics.
Christian churches, on the other hand, are supposed to be hospitable and welcoming to all. Diversity is appropriate for a church. Christians are the ones who have reached out to all.
However, is there anything we shouldn’t tolerate in a Christian church? Is there anyone we shouldn’t welcome?
In the church John wrote to in 2 John, there were two problems:
Problem #1: In verse 8, we see the problem of being deceived.
John gives two commands: in verses 8 and 9 he says to “watch out.” He tells them to watch out, so they can receive their reward in full.
John talks about reward in Revelation 3 speaking to the church in Philadelphia. There is never a concern that God’s elect will be lost. However, those who appear to be Christian, but are not, will be proven hypocrites at the last day. So for the true believer, they are encouraged to persevere in the truth of the Gospel to receive their reward (God’s pleasure).
As Christians, we need to take heed and watch out, or rather, watch in. Correct doctrine about Jesus matters. Our sincerity doesn’t make a savior. God taking on flesh in Jesus Christ alone makes a Savior. The best way to “watch in” is to study the Word, pray, and have biblical fellowship. We desire to see people fully enjoying God and pleasing Him and being pleased by Him. We need to not be deceived on who Jesus is.
In verse 9, John also says not to be deceived or you will be without God. In the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.”
The false teachers progressed beyond the teaching of Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life and denied the promises of Yahweh were fulfilled in Him. They left the true teaching about Jesus and, therefore, left fellowship with God.
Friend, you, too, can be deceived. We each have our own accountability apart from each other. We are, therefore, warned not to be deceived, regardless of the power or compelling message given by the speaker.
And, Christian, can I ask you: Do you judge, rate, or like your preachers by their talent or by what they teach? You should be concerned with what is being taught and not the style of teaching being used. There is no other way to God except through Christ, and we want to continue in this teaching so we have the Father and the Son.
Problem #2: In verse 10, we see the problem of helping deceive others.
“Do not receive him into your house” because John doesn’t want you to help deception by receiving these people. You can be a partaker in deception by just bringing them into your home or church.
The house John is probably referring to is the church since in those times people would probably spend their time of gathering in a house.
So, John would mean to not give these people a pulpit—a public place to teach falsehood. It may even mean forbidding them to be greeted. Literally, don’t even say “hello.” You shouldn’t house or supply them.
6 Biblical Truths to Remember About Reaching Non-Christians
Many would wonder then how are we to relate to our non-Christian friends and family members. John isn’t forbidding talking to them. He is making a warning against those who claim to be Christian.
As Christians, we need to be hospitable. John spoke of that throughout 1 John.
However, John is thinking that these false teachers took advantage of this and he warns us not to welcome those who claim to be Christian but don’t teach the truth of Christ.
Christian, your local church / congregation bears a responsibility for the teaching in the church. Paul wrote a similar teaching to Romans 16, 1 Corinthians 5, and Titus. John says to put this deceiver out of the community relationally. Why? So they won’t share in their wicked work.
So, from 2 John 11 we learn 6 lessons about how to relate to our non-Christian friends:
1. From history.
There has always been conflict in the Christian church. Most of the letters in the New Testament are about conflicts among Christians.
Christians back then were in danger of misunderstanding the Gospel and it is the same today. It is a part of the fallen state of the world.
We must guard our pulpits, what we allow our families to listen to, and what we personally entertain in terms of “preachers.”
2. About taking people in.
Churches should be marked by carefulness in accepting members and electing elders. We should be careful of their teaching and their beliefs of the truth.
And we should be careful of the beliefs of the members that are taken in.
3. About seeing people out.
At our church, if you are a member and you no longer believe something in the statement of faith, you should talk to one of the elders about it.
Churches need to watch out. Also, those who will not join a local church are not helping the witness of Christ.
4. About working with those for the good of other congregations.
Like in this letter, we should want to see all the churches that bear the name of Christ prosper. We should want to see the building up of other churches and encourage other churches.
5. About denominations and para-church organizations.
We shouldn’t support denominations or para-church organizations that allow significant false doctrines to be taught in the name of Christ.
When sending money to someone, their work is being made possible. Consent is then being given to their teaching. We shouldn’t support those who deny the Gospel that we rely our lives on.
6. About the congregation’s responsibility to elders
The congregation is responsible for the teaching of the church. If anyone preaches anything opposing the Gospel, they should be removed. Don’t help to deceive others by what you consent to!