Hospitality, Truth, Love, and Missions, Pt. 2
3 John 7-14
October 5, 2014
Years ago, when then-speaker of the house Sam Rayburn discovered he had terminal cancer, he shocked everyone when he announced that he was going back to his small hometown of Bonham, Texas. He was often asked, “They have the finest facilities in Washington, D.C., why go back to Bonham?” His simple reply has been repeated often: “Because in Bonham, Texas they know if you’re sick and they care when you die.”
All people everywhere need community and fellowship. And of all people, those of us who are believers in Christ should demonstrate fellowship and our love for each other, as one writer has noted:
There are many things which a person can do alone, but being a Christian is not one of them. As the Christian life is, above all things, a state of union with Christ, and of union of his followers with one another, love of the brethren is inseparable from love of God. Resentment toward any human being cannot exist in the same heart with love to God. The personal relationship to Christ can only be realized when one has ‘come to himself’ as a member of His Body, the Christian fellowship.” [William T. Ham; CQOD, 11/26/02.]
We understand the importance of that in the local church fellowship, but what about broader relationships? With what other churches will we join in “common causes?” Should we join with anyone who has the name “church?” Are there any restrictions? And what about missionaries? Do we support all of them? None of them? Some of them? And what kind of care should we offer?
Those are questions that need answering because there is a tendency to go to one of two extremes: embrace everyone or help no one. Because of those tendencies, Third John is 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.
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. Like 2 John, this letter also has a warning, though here the warning is to not allow pride to keep one from caring for genuine, 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.
Last time we looked at the first two patters for cultivating biblical fellowship in the church body and in our extended ministries; here are the final three patterns for fellowship:
- The Framework of a Faithful Ministry (vv. 1-4)
- The Commendation of a Loving Giver (vv. 5-6)
- The Characteristics of a Faithful Recipient (vv. 7-8)
- They served so Christ’s salvation would be known (v. 7a)
- They served without expectation of provision (v. 7b)
- They served in partnership with those who gave (v. 8)
- The Chastisement of a Self-Serving Leader (vv. 9-10)
- He “served” so he could be preeminent (v. 9)
- He spread untrue gossip (v. 10a)
- He denied fellowship for true servants (v. 10b)
- He excommunicated faithful givers (v. 10c)
- The Conclusion for a Good Minister and Ministry (vv. 11-14)
- They desire to do good (v. 11)
- They have a good reputation (v. 12)
- They are friends (vv. 13-14)
Download the rest of this sermon on 3 John 7-14.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.