December 2

We are covering I John 5, II John, III John, Jude and Revelation 1 in The Message.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Jesus, thank you for your care for us that comes through in comforting letters of encouragement, instruction, warnings and pastoral inspiration. May we rise to the calling, the blessing, the deeds, and ‘the rest’ that you have planned for us. Amen.

I John 5 – The issue in this chapter is that you know for certain.  The word “know” doesn’t surface in today’s translation but it is a chapter of confidence from what you know about our God and Savior, our relationships, our destiny, future and eternity.  The core is that we know we have eternal life. We know that our prayers are heard by God. We know that God has us for we are His children and chosen ones; we are His own.  And we can believe our God who never lies. And in typical fashion with the rest of John’s writing we need to love others and keep God’s commands. Part of loving others, btw! is to exhort them to get away from/out of/and refrain from sin.  E.g. we are each others’ business, and helping fellow believers along in this way is part of our Christian experience.
2 John – is written to a beloved congregation. The “dear lady” doesn’t show up in the translation we read today, but that has been fhis familiar greeting through history. Was she a “school marm” type that all were endeared to? Was John referring to them as another thread of precious affection in the wedding gown of the church that was spreading across the continent? Memo: We, His followers, are the Briiiide of Christ…  The alternate suggestions may be inconsequential. The paramount reminder is certainly a theme of John’s – that they love each other.  This is John’s “chorus” since leaning on Jesus during the Last Supper. The people in this congregation (it may well have been a house church in Ephesus) they love in truth, know the truth, live in it, have God’s traits because of truth, and they walk in truth.  John also warned them, in their loving nature, to be alert to roving false teachers who are spreading lies that Jesus was never really here as a human-God-incarnate. These “anti-Christers” are to be labeled as such and ‘blocked at the door’! Don’t let them in or let them teach. They are “cancer” and should be dealt with like cancer.  John said as much in I John 2 – for 12 verses of that chapter.
3 John – John’s welcome to Gaius sounds like the meeting up of old friends who, upon arrival, come bearing hugs, and gifts, and well wishes. Paul had trained a number of good men to be pastors and they had launched into ministry. Their hospitality ministry was thriving and a golden testimony in the Holy Spirit.  John continued the oversight of these ministries and leaders. And it’s quite apparent that a certain man;  “Diotrephes” (another Pastor in Gaius’ region-but a malcontent) was a man who needed to feel he was  “top Dachsund at the wiener-dog race.” John gives him a talking to and advises others how to handle it.  Hey, pastoral care is not all cheery. John will tell them more in person when he arrives. And note that when John refers to himself as “the Elder”, it’s quite the label.  By this time, he is the only surviving member of the original 12 Apostles. It’s a well-deserved term.
Jude – this is another of Jesus’ brothers who was Joseph’s blood son and born to Mary. He was one of the 12 Apostles.  His original intent was to write a nice treatise about salvation. But that was abruptly eclipsed by the urgent need to address the issue of roving trouble makers who were scuttling around the Roman Empire and doing their devilish best to lead people of Church into pagan living.  Their insidious method was to teach cultic behavior and encourage people to do so AND remain in the church that they are in. Leviticus talks fo mixing things that shouldn’t be mixed.  Remember rat poison is 99.99% good food. Only 1/10,000th of it is poison. It is the mixing them together that ushers in the danger.  These trolling gremlins are trying to illicitly sexualize the congregations. History teaches that doing this systematically blurs the drive and focus of any cultural movement and vulnerably steers them into darkened aimlessness. These tramps that Jude is exposing want this for the churches.  They are truly groomed for this task by the devil himself. They won’t follow God, they deny Christ, they are moral “hyenas” (how’s that!?), pigs who have snuck in, selfish, fruitless men. They complain, scoff, criticize, brag and are only in church to tear it apart. They work for the Devil. And darkest judgment awaits these people who probably won’t even realize how bad they are and how bad their treatment is going to be.          But YOU, saints in the fold, keep to your doctrine and fellowship, for God is with you. Amen.
Revelation is God revealing what is to come. Just as God told us how our world began in Genesis, He tells us where things are headed in Revelation. He doesn’t leave us groping in the dark, wondering, sifting through pagan mysteries and man-made ideas which fill the heads of lost people. Revelation is the finale~, the triumph of Christ, the new heaven and new earth.  Know that Christ Jesus is the center of things in this book. It is prophecy as well as practicality. It calls for discussion, listening, searching, and prayer. !John didn’t write Revelation to split all the churches! He wrote it to assure them that evil will be vanquished, that paradise lost will be returned, and God’s children will be gathered once and for all in glorious manner. Remember to wait until you understand the book better before getting entrenched in opinions. It is interesting that commentaries on Revelation are very few. Biblical scholars (whose vocation is deducing and giving definitive answers) realize that doing this with Revelation is an extremely sketchy task. So most avoid it. We’ll touch on this more in the weeks to come; the views, the categories, and the schools of thought that arise from Revelation.   Today, chapter one, is John talking to the church about the things they had seen; what had already taken place. Ch.’s 2-3 was what they were experiencing now. Ch’s 4-22 is what will take place from then onward. Revelation is Holy Spirit driven. The number seven appears 16 times. There are seven beatitudes, 27 angel references, spiritual battles, smoke and fire, dragons, demons, signs and wonders.  Our prayer is that you are blessed beyond measure by Revelation this time through it – not confused or frightened – but inspired to press on to know that God that has such great plans for you.
Rev. 1 – It is stated that this is a testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessing is promised to those who read this revelation. The book closes with the same promise of blessing for its readers [22:7].  John greets the seven churches and lists them. Their sites can still be visited today east of the Aegean Sea in Western Turkey. John in his visions and in his concern for these congregations is not a railing senile old man “losing it” on his way to hospice. He deeply cares for them in a pastoral way as if they were his own children. The grand memo is summed up in three words: CHRIST IS EVERYTHING.  There is so much that people do not know about Jesus. His wonders, His miracles, His infinite wisdom. What we read of His deeds in the four gospels is a miniscule introduction to what we will know when we all meet Him face to face! John is writing this in 95 A.D. from Patmos, an island where prisoners were sent. Emperor Domitian had just finished torturing and executing 40,000 Christians in Rome for sport and a spectacle. Emperor Trajan would soon assume the same disposition in 98 A.D. John is fortunate to be exiled and free to write this marvelous book. And His vision of Christ is dazzling; overwhelming. This vision is a memo to the churches to put their full trust in Jesus who is all things marvelous. He’s been gentle and yet is a battle-suited and ready warrior set to conquer His frantic enemy.  This is all the more reason for the churches to make themselves ready for Christ; abandon all corruption, lukewarm living, disloyalty and such.

The Thread Through the Streams

The issue that kept coming up was that love is more than just feeling good and roses and such. Love also requires “house-keeping”, cleansing, vigilance and removal of things that don’t mix with God.

Nov. 26 – Deut. 16-20   There were to be judges and officers, fairness and honesty must be adhered to. No sex cults in my country! No witchcraft, nor sorcery. And have cities of refuge so that the land isn’t controlled by murderous rage and endless paybacks. Moses also explained very practical issues of management that are sensible and keen to people’s needs.  I.e. Israel was not to be a crazy country filled with lunatic citizens.

Nov. 27 – Ezra 9 – Neh. 04   Back in Israel, some of the men had taken foreign wives and … painful as it all was, the wives (raised as pagans) had to go.  Israel couldn’t press on as a nation under God until this is dealt with. And Nehemiah had a vision for seeing Jerusalem rebuilt … but he had to get out of Persia. I.e. As with all of us, if we are going to grow, there are things that need to go.
Nov. 28 – Prov. 30-31  .The beginning of Prov. 30 makes it clear that doubt needs to go so you can get anywhere spiritually. Agur also asks that there be no lies, no destitution, no squalid excess for him. King Lemuel’s [mother] says, don’t waste your life on women (plural) The wisdom is to “stay with your one”. And for leaders especially, avoid the booze life.  Also don’t become callous to the suffering. ALL those attitudes/tendencies need removing.
Nov. 29 – Ezek. 36-38   Dry Bones: that was what’s left of Israel’s morale. And they best get ready to desert the hopeless, desolation, “whoa is me” mentality.  God is going to put it all back together. And there’s no room in this plan for an Eeyore mindset (remember his gloom?!). And the enemies of Israel are going to be ever-decimated. They have to go and Israel has to thrive in order to be a blessing to the whole world.
Nov. 30 – Zech 9:1-11:3  The neighbors of Jerusalem, harassing the Hebrews eternally, are going to be put down in a big way when Greece marches through. [Yet they left Jerusalem in tact!] Not only the pesky neighbors needed removal, the illicit leaders within the Hebrew culture; these “shepherds” who were virtually wolves at heart – they needed to be swept out! They were blocking people from understanding the love of God.
Dec. 01 – John 13:31 – 16:4   It was Last Supper time, and after the foot-washing, it was time to tell some wonderful things that applied to all of them except Judas. Judas needed to vacate before Jesus could move forward with His faithful Disciples. Now as for you 11 disciples, the jousting for position is done with. Love each other!.As for the Way to God – tell the world to abandon all other spiritual pursuits except Jesus. And as for pruning the excess, counter-productive things in your own lives… just let the Holy Spirit do that in you – that is if you want to remain on “my team”.  As for being accepted by the world –> let that go too

Dec. 02 – I John 5 – Rev. 1   The Church Stream this week exhorted the people over and again to block/shun/expel all false teachers.  It was intense house cleaning that needed to take place and they [WE!] must remain vigilant about.  You could even call it “steam-cleaning”, better yet “power-washing”!  It was a desperately vital task that needed to be executed immediately.  And vigilance against false teachers required eternal safeguards.

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