Sermon: Hospitality, truth, love, and missions

Hospitality, Truth, Love, and Missions, Pt. 1
3 John 1-6
September 21, 2014

One thing we speak of frequently at GBC is the shape of our church ministry: what will we do and how will we do it? There are so many competing ideas of what a church is and how it should function that we want to regularly keep in front of us the framework for doing church ministry biblically (and Keith and I are going to do that again with a 7-week series beginning in mid-October).

But one part of church ministry that is often overlooked is our peripheral relationships. With whom will we identify ourselves? For instance, when I came to GBC, I was quickly exhorted by another pastor to get involved in the local ministerial alliance, something I just as quickly decided against. And then there is the continual question about missionaries — whom will we support and what is our obligation to them? And what is their obligation to us?

When young men are sent into pastoral ministry, they are given much instruction about the church and how the church is to function and when they have questions, they are encouraged to turn to the Pastoral Epistles — one professor encouraged us to read them at least monthly. But this week I have discovered a hidden gem of pastoral counsel to churches for how they are to function and relate to one another, and particularly how they are to relate to those who are part of their broader ministry — the missionaries they send out and the missionaries they receive.

That counsel is given in the shortest book in the NT (only 219 words in Greek, about half the length of Jude) — the book of 3 John. This letter was likely sent by John with Demetrius at the same time he sent 2 John to the unnamed woman and her children and it has similar themes. But while 2 John served as a warning that while church members are to love one another, they are not to be hospitable to known false teachers, this letter is an encouragement to love faithful teachers by continuing to provide tangible care for them. And it too has a warning, though here the warning (which we’ll see next time) is not to withhold care for those who are genuine and faithful teachers of the gospel. And as John unfolds his brief instructions, we are left with a letter that really serves as a manual for developing a philosophy of ministry for missions.

Be hospitably loving to missionaries who are faithful to the truth.

Here are two patterns for cultivating biblical fellowship in the church body and in our extended ministries (next time we’ll see three more):

  1. The Framework of a Faithful Ministry (vv. 1-4)
  • Church members who love each other (v. 1)
  • Church members who pray for each other (v. 2)
  • Church members who are joyful for each other (vv. 3-4)
  1. The Commendation of a Loving Giver (vv. 5-6)
  • His giving was an outgrowth of his faith (v. 5a)
  • His giving was genuine and affirmed (vv. 5b-6a)
  • His giving was not finished (v. 6b)
  • His giving was to be characteristic of God’s giving (v. 6c)

3.    The Characteristics of a Faithful Recipient (vv. 7-8)
4.    The Chastisement of a Self-Serving Leader (vv. 9-10)
5.    The Conclusion for a Good Minister and Ministry (vv. 11-15)

Download the rest of this sermon on 3 John 1-6.

The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.

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