What Does it Mean That The Just Shall Live By Faith? + Should You Show Hospitality to EVERYBODY? #346
Happy Monday, friends! I am writing this episode on Saturday, December 5, and am really quite curious about what Monday, and this whole week will look like. As you might have heard, my state of California is preparing to undergo lockdown again, and while our county of Monterey hasn’t been fully locked down yet, I am quite sure it is coming – may the Lord preserve us!
Welcome aboard to new listeners from Tel Aviv, Israel, Southwest England – maybe the Plymouth area?, Bangladesh, Sikkim, India, Columbus, Ohio, New York, New York and the Boston/Manchester area.
Today we read 2nd Chronicles 7, Habakkuk 2, Luke 21 and 2nd John. I think Habakkuk is probably the hardest to spell book in the Bible (one ‘b’, two ‘k’s in the middle, and one at the end) and one of the most underrated books in the Bible. I love this book, and haven’t preached through it nearly enough, so I am part of the problem. In this book, only three chapters long, the prophet Habakkuk has some questions for God, and he boldly asks them. He asks some of the biggest questions we have: Why do we cry out to God for help, and He doesn’t answer us? Why does God tolerate injustice and wickedness without punishing some of the wickedest people and nations in the world? Why does God use unrighteous people like the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Babylonians, etc, to punish His people, the Israelites, when the people doing the punishing are usually worse than the Israelites? Why is there so much justice and oppression in the world? For a short book, Habakkuk packs a lot of deep questions! Interestingly enough, God gives him some answers too, and they are, in the long run, deeply and ultimately satisfying…but in the short run of our lives, perhaps less so. This book is a wonderful reminder that God is the God of eternity and not merely focused on the immediate present.
In Habakkuk one, the prophet asks all of His questions, and God gives him a small answer. Habakkuk asks why God tolerates so much sin and oppression and injustice, and God says – I am doing something about it – I am calling in the Chaldeans to punish my people. (Reminding us that judgment begins in the household of God! 1 Peter 4:17) This answer seems unfair to Habakkuk, who points out that the ones doing the punishing are worse and more evil. Then, He waits for God to answer this second complaint:
I will stand at my guard post
and station myself on the lookout tower.
I will watch to see what he will say to me
and what I should reply about my complaint.
Let’s read the whole passage in Habakkuk and discuss God’s answer to his concerns.
First, God says to write down His answer and to make it plain. So many motivational preachers and teachers have used this verse, “write the vision and make it plain.” as if God was giving advice in how to motivate yourself for life, or something like that. I find this a weird use of this particular passage – God simply seems to be saying to Habakkuk something like, “I am going to answer your question, so write down my answer and make it clear so you can share it with others.” This isn’t a passage that is really focused at all on how to set goals and reach them and maximize your productivity, or whatever.
Instead, God’s answer to Habakkuk’s queries is pretty fascinating – He basically says that He will ultimately and finally punish all of the wicked, that idols can’t help anything, and that God is in His Holy Temple, and all men should be quiet before Him. (Perhaps a warning to Habakkuk and us to be careful in His questioning?) In the midst of that answer, however, God gives us this amazing drop of wisdom:
But the righteous one will live by his faith.
This verse is quoted at least 3 times in the New Testament, Hebrews 10, Romans 1 and Galatians 3. In the context of Habakkuk, it appears that God is saying something like, “You have many questions about how I am running the world according to my sovereign plan, but you need to have faith that I am going to do the right and the best thing, and you need to have faith that ultimately, the wicked will be cut off and the righteous will be saved.” Paul and the writer of Hebrews builds off of this to further proclaim that faith doesn’t merely assure you that God is just and will reward the righteous and punish the wicked, but also that salvation is not by our own innate goodness or by our volumes of good works, but by faith in God and faith in the sacrifice of Jesus to save us from our sins. Ultimately faith in God and His goodness and faith in Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins and faith in Jesus and His promise of eternal life leaves us in the place where we can hear God say:
But the Lord is in his holy temple;
let the whole earth
be silent in his presence.
And we can say, “amen!”
Second question: Remember yesterday (or the day before…sometimes these episodes run together in my head) when we talked about how we must get the whole counsel of God on a particular topic by searching through the Word? Today we have a great example of the importance of that principle. Hospitality was and is a huge deal in the Middle Eastern world that Jesus grew up in. To fail to show hospitality to somebody in need was a really monstrous thing in that culture, and it is a necessity for Christians. We see this in more than one place in Scripture:
Be hospitable to one another without complaining.
1 Peter 4:9
Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality.
Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.
So – we should show hospitality in EVERY situation to EVERY person, right? Well, actually – no, we haven’t gotten the WHOLE and FULL counsel of the Word of God on this situation yet. Let’s read the letter of 2nd John and see what we are missing!
10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your home, and do not greet him; 11 for the one who greets him shares in his evil works.
2nd John 10-11
So – this is a pretty stark warning! Even though the word ‘hospitality’ isn’t used here, it is clear what John is saying: We must NOT show hospitality or even greet somebody who is going around teaching false things about Jesus. Specifically the falsehood that John is warning about here is those who say Jesus did not come in the flesh (the heresy known as Docetism) PLUS the going beyond the Bible/orthodox teaching about Jesus. In other words, adding to the Word of God, which many groups do who have splintered off from Christianity. John says to us, when those people knock on your door and want to talk to you, then this is the ONE instance where Christians are specifically forbidden from showing hospitality or even greetings. Why should we do this? Because we do not want to encourage false teachers of Jesus in any way, shape or form. I note here that this does not condone hostility or attack, or aggression, or any sort of thing like that – simply to not greet, or receive a known false teacher into your home – to not help them spread false teaching around. Here are some strong words from Spurgeon on this topic:
(As he who aids and abets a thief cannot be an honest man, so he who encourages a false teacher is a sharer in his crime.)
C. H. Spurgeon, The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1964), 758.
Also, I believe that pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones is quite correct here in applying John’s position on not welcoming false teachers into your home, to also not welcoming them into your church home, which, as Paul says, is the pillar and household of the faith:
The Apostle John in his Second Epistle says: ‘If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.’ We must act on this principle. It is my duty never to allow a man to occupy the pulpit of the church where I am the pastor who has a wrong view of any one of these cardinal doctrines. He is not only not a true preacher, he is an enemy and a menace. He is not only of no value, he is a danger. If I can help him, all well and good, but I must not welcome him into my house, I must not regard him as a brother, I must not be friendly with such a man. I must show that there is an essential difference between us.
There is nothing that is so fatal to spiritual vigour and power as a wrong attitude to the Word of God and to the cardinal Christian doctrines. That is why the Apostle wrote the First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 15. Certain people were denying the Resurrection. Why is Paul concerned about this? ‘Because evil communications corrupt good manners.’ The life will go wrong if the doctrine is wrong. And I have no hesitation in asserting again that one of the main causes of the condition of the Christian Church today is the departure during the past century from a belief in the divine and plenary inspiration of the Holy Scripture, and its final authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Christian Soldier: An Exposition of Ephesians 6:10–20 (Edinburgh; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1977), 151–152.