************ Sermon on 3 John 1:1-8 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on August 2, 2020

3 John 1:1-8
Installation of Elders and Deacons

1 John was written to the church in general -- the church of Asia Minor. 2 John was written to a family -- the chosen lady and her children. 3 John was written to an individual -- Gaius.

Who is Gaius? There are a number of men with that name in the New Testament. There is Gaius Aristarchus, Paul's traveling companion from Macedonia (Acts 19:29), Gaius from Derbe (Acts 20:4), Gaius who hosted Paul in Rome (Rom 16:23), and Gaius of Corinth whom Paul baptized (1 Cor 1:14). We don't know if any of these are the same man John writes to in his third letter. A bit of research indicates that Gaius was a very common name in the Roman Empire -- something like John or Smith in America.

Who is Gaius? He is a dear friend of John.

Who is Gaius? Gaius was an esteemed and honored leader in the church of Asia Minor. What made him such a good leader? John mentions three qualities about Gaius, qualities which should also be seen in our elders and deacons: he walked in love and truth, his was spiritual health, and he participated in practical ministry.

I Walk in Love and Truth
A Why was Gaius an esteemed and honored leader in the church? The first reason is that he walked in love.

John starts by calling Gaius his "beloved." John can't stop using "beloved" or "love" to describe Gaius (1,1,2,5,6). There is no question that John dearly loved this man. He called him "my dear friend" in his greeting -- literally, "the well beloved, the dearly loved, the cherished." I get a letter and it starts with, "Dear Adrian" -- whether or not the person even knows me. But John knew Gaius. He truly loved Gaius. Gaius was dear to him. John meant what he said in his greeting: "To Gaius, my dear friend, my beloved friend, my cherished friend." Gaius was highly respected and loved by John.

B "To my dear friend, Gaius, whom I love ..." But immediately John qualifies this: "Gaius, whom I love." In what? "Gaius, whom I love in the truth." In the truth. Truth was the sphere in which John loved Gaius.

When someone comes into my life who has the same passion and devotion to the truth that I have, I want their fellowship, I seek out their company, I enjoy their presence. Even with strangers I have never met before, there is a bond between them and me if they love the truth. But when someone in my life does not hold to the truth of the Gospel, if they part company from the truth of God, if they abandon the truth, I am pushed away.

Love and truth go hand-in-hand. Love is built upon truth. There is a big push today to have inter-faith prayer -- even with Muslims. We are told we worship the same God so we can't make offensive statements about each other’s faith. Do you know what this is? It is love without truth. At a recent classical exam of one of our Reformed churches, a man was approved for the ministry who denied the doctrine of justification. Again, love without truth. A Synod which opts for unity rather than truth also chooses love without truth.

John loved Gaius "in the truth." That is, they shared the same commitment to the truth of the Gospel, the truth of the Bible, the truth about Jesus.

Elders and deacons, like Gaius you need to be committed to the truth of the Gospel. If so, then John loves you like he loved Gaius. Does he? Does John love you like he loved Gaius?

C John was not the only one to love Gaius in the truth. Some of the brothers had made several visits to Gaius, and they joyfully reported to John that Gaius was faithful to the truth and walked in truth. More than once in the ministry people have come up to me and said, "I hear so and so is a member of your church." Sometimes this makes my blood pressure go up and puts me on edge as I wonder what will be said. But John never had anything to worry about when Gaius was mentioned.

Do you hear what I am saying? Everybody loved Gaius: He was loved by John, he was loved by the Christian community, he was loved by God. Why? Because of his commitment to the truth!

Gaius is every minister's dream elder or deacon, every minister's greatest joy. Elders and deacons, you want to keep your preacher happy? If so, walk in the truth -- like Gaius.

And, do you know what is the best thing any elder or deacon can ever hear when they get to heaven? "Well done, my good and faithful servant." Faithful to what? Faithful to love in the truth. Faithful to the Gospel. Faithful to the Bible.

II Spiritual Health
A Why was Gaius an esteemed and honored leader in the church? The second quality of this Christian leader is that he was spiritually healthy. Did you hear the comparison between body and soul in verse 2?
(3 Jn 1:2) Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

"I pray that you may enjoy good health." John prays for physical health. "And that all may go well with you." John prays for prosperity. Now hear this: John wants the physical health of Gaius to match his spiritual health. Gaius has a prosperous spiritual life. His soul is flourishing. That is, his soul is sound in the faith and healthy.

"I pray your physical health is as good as your spiritual health." Would you want someone to pray this way over you? If your spiritual health is weak, apathetic, lukewarm, it ends up being a curse on you and your body. If your spiritual health is strong and prosperous, this is a wonderful petition. John knew that the inner life of Gaius was strong, healthy, prosperous.

B A number of years ago Ruth and I went for a walk along Venice Beach by Los Angeles. We came across a group of body-builders in a cage. These guys and gals had muscles on muscles. They stood there and posed for the crowd. Their muscles, their health, their figure, were on display for everyone to see. In the same way everyone could see the spiritual health of Gaius.

Physical health is the result of nutrition, exercise, cleanliness, proper rest, disciplined living, and adequate medical care. Spiritual health is the result of similar factors. So we understand that Gaius nourished himself by reading the Word of God and meditating on it because meditation is to the soul what digestion is to the body. He exercised his faith with godly living (1 Tim 4:6-7). He kept himself clean (2 Cor 7:1) and avoided the contamination and pollution that is in the world (2 Pet 1:4; James 1:27). He found his rest in the Lord and gained new strength from Him. The Lord was the Physician of his soul.

John knows that physical health and life are important. That's why John prayed the way he did for Gaius. That's why we offer up all the prayers we do for the sick and those facing surgery. But spiritual health is even more important. Like Gaius, good leaders in the church, elders and deacons and pastors, are concerned about spiritual health -- their own as well as of the people under them.

III Practical Ministry
A Why was Gaius an esteemed and honored leader in the church? The third quality of this Christian leader is that he was engaged in practical ministry. In practical ways he assisted those who ministered the Word. We have no indication that Gaius himself was a preacher or a teacher, but he opened his heart and home to those who were.

Now, as I told you when we studied 2 John, in the ancient world hospitality was a necessity. Back then, preachers and teachers traveled from place to place. Where did they stay? Where did they eat and sleep and rest? Preachers and missionaries did not stay in inns and hotels. Because inns were places of prostitution, places of disease, places that were totally unacceptable, places that Christians did not want to use. Where did they stay? In people's homes.

False preachers and teachers saw this as an opportunity for a free lunch. They would come into town, find the church, and claim to be true teachers of the gospel. They would claim to speak the words of God. They would ask for a place to stay. And once there they would teach their lies, seek converts, and destroy the church.

B When it comes to hospitality, 2 John is mostly negative, warning the elect lady to stop welcoming false teachers into her home. Third John is mostly positive, commending Gaius because he received and welcomed and encouraged true preachers and teachers with the gift of hospitality. Gaius set an example for the church by lodging, feeding, and supporting these men.
(3 Jn 1:5) Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you.

Gaius embraced and welcomed and encouraged preachers and teachers. He loved them though they were strangers. Why? First, because these preachers and teachers were faithful to the truth. "It was for the sake of Name that they went out" (3 Jn 1:5). Here is a reminder of why we do evangelism and missions. Not just for the sake of the sinner, but especially for the sake of the Name. What Name? The Name of Jesus. We evangelize for the honor and glory of God and Christ. We evangelize because we love Jesus. We evangelize because Jesus is worthy of everyone's love and adoration and praise and thanks. Gaius knew that every conversion causes joy among the angels and brings praise to Jesus. So he supported the preachers and teachers of the church for the sake of the Name.

Gaius embraced and welcomed and encouraged preachers and teachers. He loved them. Why? Second, because these men had no other means of support. The world was not going to help them; in fact, they didn't want help from the pagan world. So Gaius supported them. And, John urges Gaius to keep supporting them after they leave (3 Jn 1:6).

Gaius didn't go around preaching and teaching. Gaius did not go on missionary journeys like Paul. Gaius received and welcomed and encouraged true preachers and teachers with the gift of hospitality. Do you know what this means? John says this means Gaius worked with them for the truth (3 Jn 1:8). He was a fellow worker in God's vineyard.

Elders and deacons, your calling is the same as Gaius. You may not preach, you may not go on missionary journeys, but it is your calling to support and encourage those who do: your pastors, our missionaries, and all those who work for the Name.

Be like Gaius, elders and deacons. The qualities displayed by Gaius should be displayed by each of you: walk in love and truth, spiritual health, and practical ministry.

Let me finish by saying this is a description not just for those in church office but for all God's people. All of us should display the qualities found in Gaius: walk in love and truth, spiritual health, and practical ministry.
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