“The elder unto the well-beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well; Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow-helpers to the truth. I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true. I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: but I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name” (verses 1-14).
“Good morning. Great to be with you again. I don’t know if I’ve ever missed so many Sundays, but the Lord of course is the ultimate shepherd of this church. But it’s great to be back with you. Turn in your Bibles to 3rd John….On November, I’m sure you’re going to be itching to go to a men’s retreat, and this year we have Larry with us from southern California. He pastors a Wesleyan church, he used to be part of this denomination in the early years, was at our headquarters church when we were there, he headed up the school of evangelism. And the Wesleyan church, it was interesting, you know a lot of great movements historically, you know, God does a great work, and then because of the hearts of men and women, whatever, it seems that people start to get traditional and start to forget the basic things of the spirit. The Wesleyan Church has tremendous history, but in many instances, and this isn’t all, there are some churches that are Wesleyan that are just very, you know what I’m saying, they’re not where they used to be, and that’s not a criticism. In fact, I believe the Wesleyan denomination would testify to that in some cases. But anyway, interesting, the Wesleyan denomination was watching our denomination in southern California and came to us and said “We have a Wesleyan church in San Diego that we would like one of your pastors to come and pastor our church, because we want to see a renewal of life in our denomination.” So Larry is an example of that, he’s pastoring a Wesleyan church, kind of a neat experience. So he’ll be with us….Let’s say a word of prayer. 3rd John, chapter 1, there’s only one chapter. Let’s say a word of prayer and prepare our hearts, as we already have, but just to let God speak to our hearts. ‘Lord we thank you that we can consider your Scripture this morning. Amazing, these words that are written here, most of us believe they are inspired by God, so these are words from heaven to us as individuals. Of course they were written specifically initially to one individual about different individuals. But it’s a message to your Church, and that means it’s a message to us as Christians. So incredible, you speak to us. Of course, we don’t want our time here to be in vain, we don’t want it to be that we’re thinking about what we’re going to do next today, or about other things. We want to hear you. I mean, it’s amazing, the Creator of the heavens and the universe, you God, want to speak to us. And man, that’s a person that I want to hear from, is from you Lord. So open our eyes and our hearts now even Holy Spirit, be upon all of us and upon myself even now as we go through your Word, in Jesus name, Amen.’
Two kinds of people
As we look at this 3rd Epistle we’re going to consider three different men. You’ll note that John references three different men by name. And the apostle John, of course true to his personality, true to his writing style, he has strong words to say about each one of these men. And what he says about these guys has everything to do with their witness. Their witness before God, their witness in testimony before other people. Their testimony has been seen and has been heard by the very things that they say and do, and so he’s going to say some strong things about their witness. Now it’s true, every one of us here, born-again believers in Jesus Christ, we are witnesses before others, we’re a witness before God, a testimony before God, but also we’re a witness before other people. When you and I leave this sanctuary today, when we go to wherever we’re going to go, we’re going to be a witness for Jesus Christ in one way or another. And that’s whether or not we want to be a witness, we will be a witness. For some of us, God is going to use our Christ-like character as we go out today and throughout this week, he’s going to use our Christ-like life to powerfully draw others to Christ, to touch their hearts, he’s going to use us as an instrument to encourage others in their faith, and to convict hearts of the need for salvation, simply by the way that we live. But then for some of us, for others of us, and this is true of every church, as we go out this week, rather than being a instrument in the hands of God for good, we’re going to be used maybe to hinder the Gospel. And by the things that we say and by the things that we do, by the carnal lives that we live, by the selfishness that is in us, we’re going to go out, and though we call ourselves a Christian [or Messianic believer in Yeshua], we’re certainly not going to be giving glory to God. And that certainly is true in many instances, the things that we say and the things that we do will be even a shame, even an affront to the Gospel. Well maybe you’ve had this experience, I’ve had this experience a number of times, talking with a non-believer in the community. And the conversation turns to the church, you know, the church I attend, the church I am a part of, and maybe you’ve had this experience where that happens. And the individual says, ‘Oh I’ve heard of that church, in fact I know so and so who goes there.’ Now depending on who they say, you know, ‘So and so’, you have a different experience. There are times when they say ‘so and so’, you’re like ‘ughh’, and now you want to change the subject to something else, you don’t want to talk about the church anymore. Right? It’s true, you’ve had those experiences. Why? It’s because the way that person lives. It’s an affront to the Gospel to call themselves a Christian, but that individual knows them, and now you’re like ‘I need to apologize’. That’s what you feel. But then there are other times where you’re speaking to a non-believer, and the church comes up, and they say ‘I know so and so’, and you’re like, ‘Man, now I really have a basis to share Christ.’ They’ve been watching this person’s life. And that person lives passionately for Jesus Christ [or Yeshua haMeshiach], and because of that, I know God’s been using this individual in that person’s life. So you’re ready to share the love of Jesus Christ with them. We’ve had that kind of experience, I’m sure many of us often times.
Three kinds of witnesses,
Our first witness, ‘Gaius the Generous’
So today, let’s begin with a series of questions. What sort of witness will you be this week?---before your families, before your co-workers, before other believers, before other non-believers, people who are watching you who desperately need to hear about Jesus Christ and the Gospel? They need to see it lived out in you, so that they can understand that they need Jesus as the Savior of their life. What kind of witness are we going to be this week? And let’s consider three witnesses here that John references in his letter. Starting with verses 1-4, “The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. Beloved I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” Well “the elder”, just like 2nd John, this is the apostle John. He refers to himself as “the elder”. You can go back and review our study in 2nd John if you want to know all the reasons why it’s John. But it’s pretty clearly the apostle John. This is a short book, just like 2nd John. We noted in our study of 2nd John that it’s the shortest book of New Testament. But if you actually look at the original Greek, 3rd John is shorter, in the original Greek language it is the shortest of all the letters. Similar to 2nd John too, we assume this is probably written between 85 and 95AD, we don’t know for sure, but that’s probably a really good guess. Well he writes initially, he writes this letter and he initially addresses this Gaius. And that brings us to our first witness. And I’m going to call him ‘Gaius the Generous’, or if you want, ‘Gaius the godly’, and this man is a tremendous man of God. And either one is a good description of his life and his testimony. This man is full of a love for God, and as you can see in these verses that even the apostle John, he has a special heart for this man, because he is a godly man. He’s a tremendous witness, he has a real affection for him, especially for those reasons. And as the result of that, as you already see in the couple of verses I read, but four times in these short verses, 14 verses, he refers to this man as “beloved”, four times in just a short time, “beloved, beloved”. In fact, if you have the King James Version with you, the way he says “beloved” in verse 1, the King James translates it “Well-beloved”, and there’s that possibility in the Greek, “well-beloved”. So he really has an affection and an affinity, a love for this man Gaius. Now we don’t know for sure who Gaius is. If you are a good studier of the New Testament, you probably know there’s a number of Gaius’s in the New Testament, and he could be any one of them, or maybe not. There is Gaius from Macedonia. Remember Paul when he goes into Ephesus, this man is with him, if you remember there’s a riot that gets started in Ephesus in the Book of Acts. They go into the stadium, and this crowd is out of control, and one of the men that is there with Paul who’s brought forth into the theater is this man Gaius from Macedonia. There’s also in the Book of Acts a Gaius of Derby that’s noted. And then Paul in his Letter to the Church in Corinth, his first letter, he refers to another Gaius. He says “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius.” So there seems to be, even in the New Testament, multiple guys that have this name. Is he one of the three? We don’t know for sure. There is an early church tradition that says that this man was sent by John to be the overseer of the Church in Perganum, which isn’t too far from Ephesus. So that might be something that’s true, it’s a tradition, we don’t know for sure. Now, like in 2nd John when John writes to this “elect lady”, he says “whom I love in truth”, same phrase here, “whom I love in truth.” Of course, John very clearly, we studied this, love and truth to him go hand in hand, that yes you can speak the truth and still be expressing a sincere love for somebody. And that would mean that you could also reject somebody’s behavior and still have a heart of love towards them. So for John it isn’t a ‘hate crime’ to say that certain behavior is sin. You can actually say that in love, according to John. And if it’s said with a right heart, you can say ‘Hey, this is wrong, you need to change this in your life, and I say that because I love you.’ Right? Love and truth, they go together. We see that consistently with John.
Verse 2, he greets him with these words, and this Scripture is sometimes taken out of context, but he says, “Beloved I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” Now what is he saying here? Is he endorsing the doctrine of health and prosperity that is a very prominent doctrine today that you hear from the televisions [and some notorious televangelists], and you hear around the Church this type of doctrine. Personally I would say ‘no way’, you know, emphatically no, he’s not endorsing it at all. In fact, those that teach this health and prosperity doctrine, which I believe is a false teaching, will take this verse and try to use it to endorse their teaching. But I believe they’re pulling it out of context. You remember that anything, any verse that you interpret in the Bible has to balance with all the other verses of the Bible. So if I take this out and say ‘Well look, he’s praying that he’ll prosper, he’ll be healthy, and that must mean that God promises that all the time in all our lives, and it’s just a matter of our faith, if we have enough faith God will do that in our lives. And if I have that interpretation, then it has to balance with the rest of Scripture. And the deal is, is that it doesn’t balance with the rest of Scripture. In fact, it doesn’t even balance with the rest of John’s Epistles. 1st John, you remember what John said so emphatically in chapter 2, verses 15-17, he says “Do not love the world, neither the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lusts of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever.” He says, ‘Don’t love the world.’ Don’t be trapped with a passion for the things of the world, because it’s only temporary. The Bible’s clear, have an eternal perspective, be focused on those things, and not focused on the horizontal, the physical things. Well, understand too, he writes to a man, when he says this, he writes to a man, you’ll see this especially as we go on, this man is a committed servant of God [Gaius]. He’s committed to Jesus Christ. Without a doubt, he’s one whose seeking first the kingdom of God, that is his priority. ‘I want to live for you, Lord. I want to be used to further your kingdom.’ So, with that in mind, I mean, especially John can say it to him. ‘Hey, man, I pray that God blesses your life, even materially, even with good health’, knowing that that isn’t going to distract this man from his course. This man has set his eyes on God’s kingdom, no doubt about it. Seek first the kingdom of God, that is where he’s at. [cf. Matthew 6:19-34.] He’s not going to get distracted too much with the things of the world. Well with that, the great difference between what John is saying here and the health and wealth, prosperity doctrine, is the emphasis on the heart. That’s the real difference. You can say something like this, and emphasize it in a different way, with a different heart. And the difference makes all the difference in the world. When John says these things to him, he’s just speaking to a man that loves the Lord, and he’s not in any way trying to get him to start praying for a Mercedes and praying for the biggest house in the neighborhood, that’s just not his intent. His intent is that things would just go well. Note first that he says, “just as your soul prospers”. So this man is prospering spiritually. So just as you’re growing and being used of God, I pray God just continues to bring resources and blessing into your life, that all the more you can be freed up just to serve him. And of course, this man would do that. I’m sure anything that came into his life, he’d be using it for the glory of God. Well, that’s just this point we can make before going on. But you know, at the same time this verse also helps keep us a little balanced, because you don’t want to go from one side to the other side. Right? And it doesn’t mean that, the Bible doesn’t say to be poor is to be godly, either, you know. You can have a lot and still be very godly. It’s just the heart. The heart of a godly person is to be content in all things at all times, regardless. You got a lot, you’ve got a little, whatever tomorrow brings I am content in Jesus Christ. So that’s the heart of the Scripture. Now, some have suggested that this is a common greeting of the day too. It basically is saying this ‘Beloved, concerning all things, I hope you’re having a good journey through life, in all things.’ It’s just a common, ‘Man, I hope things are going well, and I pray things are going well for you’ kind of deal.
Well now in verse 3 John notes again how his heart is warmed greatly, when he hears and considers what is going on in Gaius’s life. This man has a great testimony and witness. Various people have come to John and they’ve reported about Gaius and they’ve said ‘This guy has a strong walk with the Lord.’ And that really blesses the heart of John. Now if you are able to look at the Greek here and examine it closely, there is an indication in the Greek that it’s constantly happening, that John is often having people come his way that are saying ‘You know that guy Gaius, hey I was at his house, and hey I was at his church’, often he’s hearing things, he’s constantly hearing great feedback about this guy, that’s kind of the tense of the Greek. And man it just blesses his heart to hear it. In fact, the word “to hear” in verse 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear”, that word “to hear” is in the present indicative, which implies that he’s regularly hearing, not just occasionally, but regularly hearing. So people would come to John, based on their conversations with Gaius, based on the time they spent with him observing his lifestyle, they could only have good things to say. That’s all they would have to say: ‘This man loves God, this man loves the truth. This man feared God, this man stuck to sound doctrine.’ So, how about you today? How about you today? What are your family members saying about your life? What are your family members saying about your lifestyle, your living witness? What are your co-workers thinking about Jesus Christ? The people who work with you and watch you? Or the people at school that are attending classes with you, what are they thinking about Jesus Christ after spending time with you, watching your life and being around your life? Is there a sweet aroma that’s coming forth from your life, from your home, into your neighborhood, from your cubicle at work into your workplace? Is there an aroma that’s speaking to people of the love of Jesus Christ, and the need to follow Jesus Christ and to turn to him? What is your reputation like? Gaius spent everything, when it comes from Christians to John, ‘this guy is sold out to Jesus, man.’ So what are people saying? That’s interesting to consider. There are a lot of leaders and servants in the Church who had heard great things about Gaius, and as John says, “I have no greater joy.” Man, when I hear stuff like that, there is nothing more that moves my heart. And I think we can relate to that in one way or another
Now verse 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” I know, it’s interesting, whenever I go back to the West Coast to the church there, it’s been a repeated pattern the last few years, I mean, large church, multiple services on Sunday, and each time I go I run into a couple families every time. And they are families that used to be in our home fellowship back in this same church. And one of those families, I remember then, were really struggling, just getting going with the Lord, really struggling with issues in their lives. But every year I go back, it’s like a little reminder, you know. They’re doing great in Jesus, they’re serving the Lord, and I run into them every time. You know, thousands of people [now in this church congregation], hey, there they are shaking my hand again, ‘How is it? I hear great reports.’ And it’s just kind of cool, maybe I did something right nine years ago, maybe I did. But then there are times too, I hear reports through them of others that were in our home Bible study, in some instances struggling, and not doing so well in the Lord, maybe have gotten off on a road, you know, that’s kind of destructive, and those [reports] are always sad to hear. And so John says “I have no greater joy” because I’m living for eternity, and that’s what I got my eyes glued on, and ‘to hear that you’re walking with God. Man it just blesses my heart.’
We should be a giving church, a giving people
Now, verses 5-8, “Beloved you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well. Because they went forth for his name sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such that we may become fellow-workers for the truth.” So here we go again, “beloved”, “beloved”, already three times in four verses, five verses, he says “beloved, beloved.” And I know, we can all agree I’m sure, that man, I like when my brothers and sisters look at me that way, and see me that way, and have that kind of compassion. I was with Randy Cahill two Monday nights ago, you know, before I went to France, I was supposed to go to a huddle in New England, we have every year a huddle with the pastors of New England, and we always bring a lot of leaders from our church, just to go and be blessed and be exposed to some of the teaching. And leaving on Tuesday morning now for France, huddle starts on Monday, I just went up for Monday night to be part of a little bit there of the sessions. But it was a good time for me, and I think it was God ordered and ordained time. But after the sessions ended, Randy Cahill wanted to speak to me. Randy had taught earlier at our church. And he had some matters he wanted to discuss with me, and we kind of went through it. But you know, it really blessed me as we were talking, and I hear this from him multiple, multiple times, but he says to me “Tom, I really like you and your wife.” This time he says, I’m with him and we’re talking, he says, “Man, I want you to know, Sheryl and I really love you and Grace.” And I mean, he actually said it, I mean he had a tear in his eye. And I’m looking at him, going, wow, thank you Jesus. Because personally I respect him a lot. And I know you guys here me say that. I look to him as a leader. God has raised him up as a leader in New England in this denomination. And I love the man. And the fact that God has put my wife and I on his heart, I say, good deal. I say it’s a good deal for the church too, to have affection towards us in that way. And I’m sure Gaius is reading this (in 3rd John) going ‘Good deal’, I mean, hearing this from the apostle John. Of course, John the apostle of love loves everybody, but he’s making a point, man, ‘You just bless my socks off man’, that’s what he’s saying. ‘I just love you, man.’ So, we can relate to that. His heart really goes out to this guy, ‘Gaius the generous’, ‘Gaius the giver’, I think that’s how we can describe it pretty well here, in these verses, 5 to 8. John says that this man is given much to hospitality, he’s a hospitable man. You come into his neighborhood, his town, and you know as the culture then, often they would wait at the city gate. Right? Waiting for a place to stay. Because notoriously, the inns at the time, the places that you could rent for a night, were notorious at that time, not very nice. It wasn’t like here where you’ve got a Best Western, you’ve got a Sheraton, you’ve got these hotels you can go pick. It was like you’ve got these really raunchy places if you have to go there. And there’s stuff that would go on that wasn’t very nice either, so it was important for the Church to open their homes to other believers that were passing through, especially missionaries and leaders and pastors and music groups that would going through. It was important for them to be hospitable. And the manner in which he did it is noteworthy, because John says, ‘Man, I mean, people stay with you, and they’re just blessed. You just love them, and you’re so good to them, and so kind to them, and that’s just cool.’ And that’s the way he’s noted it here, and I think he can be described here as ‘Gaius the generous, the giver.’ Now, as the people would pass through, some of them he would know, some of them he wouldn’t know, as you can see there. It says “Whatever you do for the brethren, and for strangers”, some of the believers he knew, some of them he didn’t know. But it didn’t matter, whatever, whoever, if they were especially serving the Lord, man, he would reach out to them and bless them. So because of that, verse 6, these people would go back. It says, “Who have borne witness of your love [King James: “charitableness”]” They come back just testifying, ‘You are a loving, hospitable, very kind man.’ You know, I thank God to be part of this church with you guys. And I see in this congregation a tremendous amount of generosity, a tremendous amount of giving, and it just blesses my heart. And I believe that we as a body, I mean we have somewhat of a witness around the world. Because I pick up on little vibes, I mean, the world is big, and there’s only so many people that know us. Yet the world is small, I can tell you the small world stories too. I had one recently, but I won’t go there. But there’s a witness, there’s a witness coming from this congregation about being a giving church. There are missionaries that are talking about your faithfulness in supporting them and being a blessing to them and upholding them. And I think that’s cool, although we can’t get conceited about it. We can’t even get confident about it. Because, all the more, all the more, man, lay down our lives, serving one another, serving those that are laying down their lives in other parts of the world. So that’s what’s happening here, word keeps coming back about this man, maybe he’s even a pastor of a church, some believe that, and they’re just reaching out and loving servants of the Lord, especially. I remember last year, if you were here in November when Dave Sylvester came and he taught at our church, if you remember that experience, that was the first missionary we started to support. And to be honest with you, we support that church significantly in various ways. I mean, from offering scholarships for students to paying for all the cost of the missions house, we’ve completely paid for it, and so that people can stay there. And we help support ministry in other ways. But anyway, remember, we started supporting him five years ago, the church at that time in York, England was very small. But a year or so ago he was spending some time, the way he described it, “I was walking along,” he said “and I was thinking on all that God has done in the last five years, look at all these things, look at the college, look at the seminary, look at church, look at all these people.” And then he says he thought of us, and he says he wanted to come here, and update us, and just thank us, but also to say “Look at what God has done. Look at what we’re doing together.” And that’s the kind of deal. And man, all the more, I think that’s cool. All the more, man. Verse 6, He says “if you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God you will do well.” So he makes it clear that a church that does that, does well. An individual that does that, does well. Right? It’s good to give. It’s good to give sacrificially. You know, I wrestle at times here, we have a building project [trying to get their sanctuary finished in the massive old mill-factory building they’ve leased]. You know when I talked to Randy Cahill, we talked, and at the end of the conversation he said, “I have one criticism”, and of course, you’ve got criticism, oh man….and he says “your church isn’t carpeted yet.” And he says “I don’t think you’re representing Christ. I mean, you’ve had plywood on the floor, and you’ve had it for awhile.” And you know, I gave him a list of excuses [laughter], I tried to do this song and dance. But I walked away, man, ‘this is a man, God, that you put in my life, and I look to him, and I believe you are saying something to me.’ So I’ve been praying, and I’m thinking, January 1st, man, Lord, carpet, carpet, churches have carpet. It isn’t that big of a deal. Right? But in order to have carpet, we’ve got to paint, basically, is what we’ve got to do. And then it would be great to have carpet. But we want to represent Christ. And that was a criticism. The man had a lot of great things to say, but he had that criticism. And, ah, why am I saying that? That’s a good question, too. [I think what is coming out of this, is churches should use balance, giving both to overseas missions, while not neglecting their own essential building projects, balance in all things. Look at it this way. The first priority of spending should be for the church building or hall rental because that is where the members congregation to be nourished spiritually (as well as to pay for the pastor). Without that weekly spiritual nourishment the congregation would soon shrink down to nothing, and there’d be no money for missions. So there’s a balance. But missions and their support is extremely important for the body of Christ to be doing.]] But anyway, ‘If you send them forward on a journey, you do well if you give.’ Well, here’s the point, but after that, maybe we shouldn’t give so much to missions. Maybe that’s the issue here. And of course, I went to India with Bob Caldwell, and Bob Caldwell told me repeatedly, he said, “We always give to India first, and then God built our buildings, every time, he built our churches.” And I’ve always believed that. And I came back to what Randy said going, ‘Lord, what am I supposed to do, are we supposed to cut back on this and that.’ I just felt even through this study here in this text, God says, ‘No, man, you can’t out-give me.’ But at the same time we need to be faithful, and trust the Lord. Well, one writer put it this way, “We are never more Godlike than when we are sacrificing to serve others.” I mean, that’s the life. Right? Sacrificing to serve others. Remember Jesus’ words, he said “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous mans reward.” When you reach out and bless a prophet and a righteous man, you get a reward in return as the Scripture says, Jesus says that. Well he gives us a number of reasons that we should be a giving church. Let’s just note them real quick. For one, he says “these folks, verse 7, “Because they went forth for his name’s sake”, there, joining God in his work. And we want to be part of God’s work, so when you’re supporting somebody else who’s part of God’s work, you’re just joining God in his work, for his name’s sake, what a thrill. At the same time, in many cases, missionaries are making great personal sacrifices in order to go to some of the places that they go to join God in his work. So there’s a great need. So we get the blessing of joining them, by providing bodies sometimes, sometimes physical relief and financial support. You know, not to toot our horn again, but just coming back from one of the trips recently and having a message again, so often we get messages Warez, Mexico, these guys are just blessed by you guys. They’re always in communication with us, I get calls from Mexico, Warez Mexico, El Paso, Texas, and they are just blessed by how you give and help. They’re very poor. A group of us, 15 of us went. And some of you individually support them. And they are blessed, and so they are calling all the time, keeping us updated. But yet they have need, that’s why we do it, they have great need, that’s for sure. They’re very poor. But also, he says, “taking nothing from the Gentiles”, when he says Gentiles here, meaning those that are non-believers. And of course it is the Church’s responsibility to support those that are ministering, the servants of the Lord. It certainly isn’t the world’s responsibility. In fact, I think it’s a lousy witness when the world has to step in. In fact, I don’t even think it’s healthy for a church or for us to be looking to the world for monies. Now there’s some governmental legislation that’s come down where churches today in America, you can actually apply for grants to get money from the government. So I get conference literature all the time, ‘Come to this conference, and we guarantee just about 100 percent, we’ll help you apply for one of these grants, you’ll get money for your homeless ministry, you’ll get money from the government for this ministry’, and I grieve when I get it, to be honest with you. I toss it in the trash can, because I don’t believe that’s God’s order. [George Mueller didn’t believe in accepting money from wealthy non-believers for his Christian orphanages either, he was dead set against it.] In fact….when we get money from the world, the world later will go, you know, the State, Senate, or whatever will say “Such and such church, that great homeless ministry, but hey, we’ve had a part in it, we’ve given money” and hey, I don’t want to share the glory with God, and we certainly don’t want the world taking part in trying to take some of God’s glory. And so I don’t believe it’s God’s order. We don’t in any way pursue monies from the world, and if people offer it, it’s highly unlikely we’ll receive it, like Abraham, that is from non-believers, because it’s the Church, it’s our responsibility to be giving, be giving, blessing and investing in the community and around the world. [that is exactly what George Mueller’s policy was.] And if that hasn’t got you thinking, it says “therefore we ought to receive such”, the word “receive” there means to “uphold and support”. It isn’t just like you just had them in your home, but that you’re reaching out and helping in providing their needs. And so he says “We ought to”, I mean it’s essentially a command. God says “Go and do”, and so that’s why we do it, “that we may become fellow-workers for the truth.” [This website highlights a very special orphanage in India, which does not receive very much in the way of offerings from churches outside their own area. And those churches in their area are very poor. So this orphanage operates on a financial shoe-string. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/sisterchurches/BlessiOrphanHome.htm. I have noticed that American Christians and the Christian churches they attend are loathe to give to poor missions overseas, for whatever reason. Unlike the church denomination this pastor is from whose giving this sermon, most of the body of Christ in America take a fractionalized view of missions and the body of Christ, instead of a unified view, instead of a view that projects a “we’re all in this together” outlook. This fractionalized view is most definitely hurting missions overseas, and seriously hindering the growth of the body of Christ around the world. I would have to admit that this fractionalized view, which states “overseas missions in poor countries should be self-supporting, getting the support they need from their own areas”, is more of Satan than of Christ. This website also proposes an easy to follow giving plan that covers three of the major overseas or international missions organizations, for it is often difficult to know who to give to. See the site’s Mission Statement at http://www.unityinchrist.com/missionstatement.htm ] When we were on the West Coast there was a group of leaders from this church, and one of the missionaries we support, I just think this family is so cool, I can never pronounce their last name, but I love these people. These guys are cool, man. This family, three daughters, husband and wife, they live the book of Acts, they went into Greece, and they sought to plant a church. And I didn’t know them then, so I don’t how all that worked out. We’ve only known them since they’ve been in Germany. We met them in a huddle in southern California. They left Greece, they were done there, they went to Germany, they planted a church in Germany, it’s now a church I believe larger than this church [400+]. Got a letter one day, he says, “I feel led to turn this church over to someone else and we’re going to go and plant a church somewhere else, so we’re not going to take any more salary from the church, we’re just moving on as missionaries, going off to plant another church.” And now they’re going to Spain. Well I just think they’re cool. And I was with him when he was at the huddle, and I made sure, I said ‘Hey listen, can we have you at our dinner table, I’d love you to talk to other leaders in the church’, just to get to know him, ‘because I am just blessed, I am so blessed by what you do.’ ‘I think it’s a thrill, every time I see a check go through that’s going to you guys, man, what a thrill, the way you guys are just laying your lives down.’ And next year they’re getting kind of geared up, doing trips to Spain, they intend to plant a church in Spain, and I hope we’re a part of it. Man, I hope we’re a part of it. [One of those three major international evangelistic groups mentioned on this site’s Mission Statement has been responsible for planting more Christian churches in 3rd world nations than I would say any other international evangelistic organization or denomination has been in the 20th century. Be sure to log onto the Mission Statement to check it out.] Just what he says here, “that we may become fellow-workers”---joined together, partaking in the same deal.
Second witness, ‘Diotrephes the Defiant’
“Do not touch my anointed ones, and do my prophet no harm”,
What comes out of our mouths matters
Verse 9, “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not God” (KJV). Now what a difference. Right? Gaius, Gaius, tremendous godly man. We get to the second guy, Diotrephes, and the way I would describe him as Diotrephes the Defiant. He says “I wrote to the church”, but this guy Diotrephes is just making my life hard, but “I wrote to the church”. He may be referring to, some commentators say he’s referring to a second letter, we’ve already studied, maybe that’s the letter, maybe our “elect lady” is this church that these guys are a part of. It’s a possibility. Although at that time traveling ministers would also carry a recommendation from a ministry they came from, and they would bring that to the body, and I think that probably really well fits the context here. That the people who went to this congregation that Diotrephes is overseeing came with a letter from John, like a recommendation. But he says this guy, Diotrephes, “who loves to have the preeminence among them.” He loves to have the preeminence, the attitude here, is that in the Greek, he likes to consistently promote himself, it’s his constant attitude. And it’s interesting when it says “preeminence” there, you might remember from your study in the Bible, that word only comes up one other time, the Greek word. And it’s in Colossians chapter 1, verse 18, referring to Jesus, “and he is the head of the Body, the Church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he may have the preeminence.” Jesus is the preeminence. But certainly it’s in the hearts of men, this man loved to be the one that has the preeminence. Same word, same word. “He loves to have the preeminence, and does not receive us.” Amazing, he doesn’t receive the apostle John. Isn’t that amazing, when you read that? Early Church, there are twelve disciples with Jesus, twelve that actually as part of a witness those three and a half years with Jesus. I mean, I would, there would be a holy fear in my heart when I was with these twelve, you know. But this man, because of the ugliness in his heart does not even recognize the apostle John. It’s incredible. The Greek word there for “receive” actually includes, you’ve got the word “epi” and epi means “upon”. So it has a sense of being “on top of”, he does not “see John’s authority above him”. [The Greek word is: epidechomai, Strongs #1926: “to admit (as a guest or teacher):--receive.”] And in that, he sees himself above the apostle John. Amazing. And in a sense, Paul dealt with this too. You remember the church in Corinth, these guys who see themselves as super-apostles. He’s above the apostle John (in his own eyes). He sees himself as far as authority, he doesn’t recognize John’s authority. Well verse 10 he says, “Therefore if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does.” That means in the Greek, actually it’s suggested he’s going to do it publicly, and the “deeds he does”, it’s consistently, it’s in the present tense, it’s consistently, this is the way he lives. So basically he’s going to expose his character. [To say nothing of being exposed for all eternity in the Word of God.] And by exposing his character, he’s going to say ‘Hey, look at these things that he does, this is this man’s character.’ He’s going to come and he’s going to deal with it. That includes his prating, “prating against us with malicious words.” He’s got a malicious heart. And out of the heart the mouth speaks. Right? He’s got criticalness, bitterness. He’s got malicious words. And he’s ripping on John. And that’s pretty ugly, man. The Greek means to talk idly or falsely, to prattle, to speak nonsense, doesn’t even know what he’s talking about. It’s amazing, we do it. But being a leader now I’m sometimes on the other end, people will say things, in criticalness of me, and I’m like, ‘they weren’t a part of any of those meetings, they don’t have any part of the phone calls, they know very little about what they’re talking about. You know what I mean? Yet they go “Stab!”, with a knife. They have no idea what they’re talking about. And that’s the kind of thing he’s doing, he doesn’t even know what he’s talking about, just this bitterness coming from his heart, speaking nonsense. Well, you read that, and if it’s describing him that way, we know we don’t want to be like that. Right? John’s pretty tough in what he says. We want to be careful what we say about others. We want to be careful when they’re not around, especially, but also when they’re around. We want to be careful what we say, because they’re children of the Lord, and they’re God’s sheep, man. You’ve got to give an account to him when you speak negatively and harshly about one of his own, that’s for sure. He loves his Bride, man. And you talk negatively about anybody’s bride, and you’re critical about some buck guy’s bride, man, you’d better watch out. And the Church is God’s Bride, that’s just the truth [cf. Revelation 19:8-9a]. We need to be careful what we say about people in leadership. Psalm 105 says “Do not touch my anointed ones, and do my prophet no harm.” And man, if you ever hear me say something negative about Randy Cahill, Ken Graves, two leaders God’s raised up in New England, Mike McIntosh, I don’t know, I really seek to speak positively of my pastor. And sure, there will be times when I don’t agree with him, but he’s my pastor. You know what I’m saying? So I want to speak good of him. If I don’t agree, I’ll pray about it, pray for him. And if there’s something about me, I’ll talk to him about it. But I want to be real careful, because he’s my pastor, and I fear God, and I just recognize that God has got him in my life, and why do I want to speak against him, because I’m speaking against God. People do it, because there’s an issue in their heart. Malicious words, from a malicious heart, pride and bitterness. When you got pride and bitterness, you have division, right, eventually, discord. This guy is so prideful that he’s speaking badly, he won’t receive John, he won’t receive anybody associated with John, ‘and if you want to be associated with John or anyone associated with him, you’re outa the church man, because I’m the guy’ is what basically his attitude is, ‘and I’m not going to recognize’ somebody who clearly has been put in authority above me,’ i.e. the apostle John. Man, that is an ugly heart. So we got Diotrephes the Defiant, and man, keep a tight lip, that’s always good. Pray. You know, it’s amazing to me, sometimes I’ll even receive letters, and this is just part of being a leader, you know. I’ll receive letters where somebody will just drill me, like a machinegun, and they don’t even attend the church [laughter], and this has happened, they don’t even attend the church, and then they start attending the church. I mean, you just said I had horns and a tail, and you’re going to come and attend the church? [chuckles]. Isn’t that strange? Malicious prating, people often condemn themselves when they do it. You know what I’m saying? To be critical of a church leader, and then to be under their leadership and remain under it by choice, is to condemn yourself. Isn’t that true? You know, if I don’t respect the leadership, I’m just going to move on. You know what I’m saying? But if I don’t respect you, and I’m going to come and listen to you, you’re condemning yourself is what you’re doing. So, I say that because it happens so often. Well, not content just speaking, man, he is representative of just incredible discord, and I tell you what, man, what does the Proverb say? Solomon wrote, there’s a few things that God hates, this is a list of what God hates, and the chief on the list is “Those who sow discord among brethren.” God says “I absolutely despise and hate it.” And I pray for this church that there’s harmony in this church. Because when there’s discord, God does not bless. And there’s generally only discord because there’s an issue in a person’s heart. It’s maliciousness, pride ultimately. There’s a way to deal with things when you don’t agree with them, and that is you just go to the leaders, and you talk to them, and you pray with them. And if you can’t agree, and it’s significant to you, you just leave quietly. [And that is just exactly what I did when I could no longer agree with the new Worldwide Church of God. I didn’t sow discord. I love the brethren. But their doctrines were changing in such a way that I could no longer walk in harmony with them. So I left quietly, not making a stir whatsoever. That is the only way to handle such things.] There’s plenty of other churches in this day and age to be a part of. But to be malicious and to speak about somebody, ah, you’re accountable for your words before God, and so am I, and when I speak too. Well, he says in verse 11, “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.” When he says good and evil here, when he’s talking about imitating good, he’s not just saying occasionally going out and doing a good deed. The words in the Greek mean that it’s your lifestyle, it’s a lifestyle of being good and being benevolent, your very person, you personify Christ, the benevolence of God, the charity, the love of God. “Beloved do not imitate what is evil”, live a life that is good, don’t live a life like this guy Diotrephes, don’t be that type of testimony or witness. “He who does good is of God”, it’s just that clear, “but he who does not has not seen God.” When he says “has not seen God”, he means, it’s a figurative way to mean you’re not experiencing God, you’re not walking with God, you’re not in a relationship with God, you don’t know his character. Some commentators say that Diotrephes isn’t even a born-again believer. Maybe he is or is not. Maybe he has really gotten trapped up by Satan, been hooked like in 1st Timothy, hooked by pride like Satan was. But, wow. “He who does good is of God”, if you’re really a godly person, man, you’re life just shows it very simply. “But he who does evil has not seen God.”
Third witness, Demetrius the Devoted
Verse 12, last witness, we have “Demetrius the Devoted”. “Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. And we also bear witness, and you know that our testimony is true.” He says he has a good testimony. And it’s in the Greek tense again that it’s ongoing, it’s continuing, this guy has consistently got a good testimony. It’s funny, he goes from Gaius to Diotrephes, and right back to Demetrius. It’s possible Demetrius has been effected by Diotrephes. Maybe because Demetrius has been associated with John, Diotrephes has started kind of nailing him, and shooting at him, and now he just says to Gaius, ‘this guy [Demetrius] is just a great man. He’s been ridiculed and ripped up and shredded.’ You know, you have to be careful what you hear about people in leadership. Often what you hear [if it’s negative] isn’t even true. It just isn’t. If you have questions about me or other leaders in this church, about the worship team or anybody, just come and ask. You know what I’m saying? You’ll be amazed that some things you hear are not even true. It’s just something that the enemy’s up to. [And don’t fail to notice that all this is talking place within the leadership structure, where one or two have to endure under the influence of a leader who apparently has turned south, or may never have been born-again, but nonetheless somehow worked his way into a leadership position in this particular congregation. I have witnessed this type of thing within the denomination I spent 30 years in. And the ones who faithfully kept serving God, and kept their mouths shut, God vindicated in the end. Not all those in the sheepfold are sheep, some are wolves in sheep’s clothing. But God is faithful, and expects us to act accordingly.] Well, “but this man has a good testimony from all.” When he says “from all” we would assume the church. Of course we wouldn’t necessarily assume the world. He might have a good testimony with some of the world, but generally if you’re living a godly life, you’re going to tick some people off in the world too. Remember Jesus said “Beware when everybody speaks well of you.” So when he says “all” here, he’s referring I would say especially to the church. Demetrius. That name’s special to me when I was in college. Young believer, I know Jesus was in my heart, man. But for a couple years I didn’t go to church, I lived a pretty secular college-20-year-old male kind of life, and I wish I hadn’t, and I wasn’t living for God, I was a pretty lousy witness. I can tell you stories about that, but I’ll save that. But there was a guy named Demetrius that loved Jesus, man, at the campus at Boston University, and I was just kind of in my knuckle-head stage, and I would come across him now and then. In fact, God had it when I first stayed at Boston University, this guy was sitting next to me on a bus that kind of took us to some place and I got to know him a little bit. And then I would run into him, and every time I would see him---in fact I think he sometimes would seek me out, I’m pretty sure he did, he’d invite me to this on-campus Bible study. And I thank God for Demetrius, I thank God for him. The Lord used him in my life. And my life has been going in a different direction, thank God for him. Good testimony, good witness. You can be used by God today. You can be used by God this week in a way that God uses you to powerfully impact other people’s lives. And they’ll be eternally thankful that they knew you and they crossed your path. Man, Demetrius the Devoted, that’s cool.
Last two verses, verses 13-14, “I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink, but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face. Peace to you, our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.” Look at 2nd John, man it’s almost identical. ‘I have many things to write, don’t want to put it all in pen, I want to do it face to face. I’d just like to hang out with you. And man, I hope to see you.’ Like in 2nd John, John notes that being together, the glory and the joy of fellowship, “that our joy may be full” he told the “elect lady” there at the end of the 2nd letter. “Peace to you, our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.” Wow, man. Too bad we’re done with these Epistles, I’ve enjoyed them. Good stuff. What a blessing to study the Word of God. [transcript of a sermon given somewhere in New England.]