3 JNO 1:1,9
INTRO: I am glad for the few very personal letters which the providence of God chose to include in our New Testaments. We have looked at Pauls letter to Philemon and Johns letter to the elect lady. Both of those letters were very personal and included the warmth of dear friendships. This evening we will look at one more of those personal letters ... 3rd John. This little letter lets us see two men (actually, a third is mentioned), both of whom were apparently disciples. However, there is a vivid contrast between them, and John makes that contrast very clear in the letter. In this case, the letter names the principle characters (different from 2nd John when he simply addresses the elect lady). Our thoughts to tonight will center on how John describes the two men: Gaius and Diotrephes.
I GAIUS, WHOM I LOVE IN THE TRUTH
A. He is well beloved - v. 1
1. John had no trouble expressing his feelings of affection for others
2. I recall, too, Jno 21:20 - the disciple whom Jesus loved
3. I believe people about whom we care need to know, to hear us expressing our affection and love for them!
B. He is in the truth - v. 1
1. Jno 14:6 & Jno 17:17 are both critical to this expression
2. Gaius is in Christ, and his life is governed by Gods word!
3. John and Gaius, then, shared a like precious faith (2 Pet 1:1)
C. His soul prospereth - v. 2
1. notice that Johns wish is for him to prosper in health as his soul does
2. this tells me that here is a man whose spiritual life is excelling!
3. 2 Thes 1:3 - your faith groweth exceedingly
D. His brethren came and testified of him - v. 3
1. he was a man of excellent reputation!
2. how zealously do we guard our reputation as Christian people?
3. 2 Cor 3:2 - can we afford to be even the least bit careless?
E. His children walk in the truth - v. 4
1. so, he is a family man ... a faithful father
2. Eph 6:4 - Gaius had taken such a responsibility to heart!
3. it is too easy for fathers to give this responsibility to mothers
F. He was a man of great charity to brethren, and to strangers - vv. 5-8
1. so generous was he that others bore witness of his charity publically!
2. his specific interest? those who preached the word to others
3. a key statement is v. 8 - when we give assistance to others who preach and teach the gospel, we are fellowhelpers to the truth!!!!
II DIOTREPHES, WHO LOVED TO HAVE THE PREEMINENCE
A. He loveth to have the preeminence among them... - v. 9
1. there are certainly people who are prominent among Christians - their roles put in prominent places - teachers, preachers, elders, etc.
2. but they seek no preeminence ... they did not set out to be a position which would bring them public attention, etc. (or, should not have!)
3. but Diotrephes was full of pride, ambition, self importance - Prov 29:23
B. He receiveth us not - v. 9
1. Diotrephes refused to host, to receive, to listen to an apostle of Jesus!
2. by contrast note Jude 1:17 - apostolic teaching was vital to faithfulness
3. but apostolic presence would be a challenge to Diotrephes ... and he wanted no rival to his own power
C. He casteth them out of the church - v. 10
1. he treated the church as if it was his own! could do with it as he pleased
2. anyone who disagreed with him he threw out of the church!
3. he wanted his power, his preeminence to be supreme ... here was a tragic situation in a congregation of the church of the Lord
D. So, at v. 11 John gives wise advice, imperative advice...
1. the word follow is imitate - imitate that which is good
2. one writer commented, Everybody is an imitator - and thats so true
3. but John urges Christians to be careful about whom they choose to imitate ... certainly, not a Diotrephes
CLOSE: The letter closes with a brief word about friends. Gaius and John must have had mutual friends in Christ. It is always a blessing to hear from and be remembered by friends. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.
Cecil A. Hutson
09 May 2004
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)