This study of 3 John was taught by pastor Barry on Sunday 31st Jan 2021 as part of Calvary Portsmouth’s on-line family service.
John’s 3rd epistle is written to his close friend Gaius. Although we know little of Gaius, it is clear the bond between him and John was strong. But not for natural reasons; it wasn’t that they just ‘hit it off’ or had things in common. That may all have been true, but this relationship was built on Christ. There is nothing more precious than friendship with a believer who stirs your heart toward Christ. Someone with whom the central topic of conversation is Jesus. Someone who ‘gets it’ and shares your passion for Christ, Someone who makes you want to be more like Jesus. That was evidently the bond between these two men.
John writes to encourage Gaius to continue showing love and hospitality to Christian preachers who would pass through, and who would need somewhere to stay for a few days. ‘Hotels’ in the first century were dangerous places, but John encourages Gaius to bless these brothers in Christ and so play his part in the furthering of the gospel. We all can do something to fulfil the Great Commission – to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19-20). You may not be called to the mission field; you may not see yourself as an evangelist (although that should never be used as an excuse to not share the gospel!), but you can support financially if you have the means, or like Gaius, show hospitality, or even simply pray! There is no excuse for doing nothing!
In contrast to Gaius loving and generous heart, John also writes of another individual in the church, Diotrephes. He had already rejected John’s apostolic authority and had no time for visiting preachers – and even threw out of ‘his church’ anyone who tried to show love and support to them!
Some years ago my parents had arranged for the late New Zealand evangelist Barry Smith to come and speak at a local leisure centre on a Saturday night. He was a wonderful godly man with a passion to see souls saved and taught powerfully about the reality and imminence of the LORD’s return. Hundreds of people attended the evening (many were saved!). He was then due to speak at the local Anglican church on the Sunday evening. However, the minister of the Anglican church attended the Saturday night event and at the end of the evening stood up and declared “I’m not having that man speak in my church!” Diotrephes was just like that. He did not want anyone to come and teach in his church, he did not want anyone to question his authority or what he was teaching. In truth, both the Anglican minister (renowned for watering down and undermining the authority of scripture) and Diotrephes were afraid of a challenge to their position, their ‘calling’.
But scripture tells us that perfect love casts out fear, and that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. If we are ‘In Christ’ we will have confidence in our calling, we will not fear man, for our trust will be in God. We will not be intent on defending ourselves or constantly trying to vindicate ourselves. It is not our ministry or our church, it’s His!
Are you ordained? It’s a question I’ve heard a number of times. But the question is not ‘have you been ordained by men’ but ‘have you been ordained by God’! Gaius was clearly ordained of God, Diotrephes was not!
If we are ordained to ministry in Christ, if we are in His will (and that’s the key – to be in His will, not our own) we will know that He has called us (we will not be afraid if someone challenges us), He makes us stand (it’s His Gospel not our agenda we are to proclaim), He sustains us (it is not our natural resources that we are relying on), He provides for us (it is not our education or wisdom that got us here in the first place!), He guides us (it is not our 5-step church-planting growth-plan that we are following!), He protects us and deals with all who would be against us. It is not our battle, it is His!
The lessons are clear: Be ‘in-Christ’, walk with Him, show love and hospitality to your brothers and sisters in Christ and do all you can to further the preaching of the Gospel to a lost and dying world in the days we have left before Jesus comes!
May you be blessed and encouraged by this study. (PowerPoint slides used for this study are available for free download).
For the record, Barry Smith was subsequently invited speak at a local Baptist church on the Sunday instead! Barry Smith is now home in Heaven with his LORD, having no doubt heard those words “Well done good and faithful servant!”.