By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.
“Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God. He that doeth evil hath not seen God.” (3 John 11)
In this brief pastoral letter, the Apostle John addresses several important issues that affect us in the Church today. It deals with our daily conduct within the Body of Christ and in the community at large! It also tells us that the same problems that we may be facing today were prevalent in A.D. 90.
St. John has been aptly called the ‘Apostle of Love’, but I would name him the ‘Apostle of Tough Love’. Although he was filled with God’s agape love, he knew how to discipline those who turned from the truth! The love he wrote of was grounded and guarded in ‘TRUTH’.
In this general letter he wrote about three men – Gaius, Diotrephes and Demetrius - and how their characters, life-styles and actions either helped or harmed the Church! The Bible states that these things were written for our admonition as well as a warning. (1 Cor.10: 11)
St. John writes: “The elder unto the well beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.” (v.1) The Scripture teaches that Jesus is the truth, and that God’s love is safeguarded by truth! His love for Gaius was anchored in Jesus Christ Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6; John 1:17; Eph.4: 21)
ALL SCRIPTURE IS INSPIRED OF GOD!
Here is his prayer of blessing for this faithful servant of Jesus Christ: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health even as thy soul doth prosper.” (3 John 2)
The Apostle’s desire or wish for Gaius is exactly the same as God’s desire for us. It is the will of God that we prosper in every area of our lives and be healthy, even as soul prospers spiritually! Since all Scripture is “inspired of God” (2 Tim.3:16; 2 Peter 1:21), therefore we know that God desires the best for His children. The first two blessings, however, are contingent upon how much we allow the Lord to bless us spiritually!
Evidently, Gaius was Apostle John’s son in the faith and was a humble, selfless, devoted, generous servant of God who lived a pious life! It doesn’t appear that Gaius was a gifted preacher but was a man who was sold out to God and a genuine follower of Christ who was beloved by the church and cared deeply about the saints!
He wrote: “For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 3, 4)
John the Apostle was a great preacher of LOVE but he was even a stronger preacher of TRUTH. In other words, truth trumps love when it is not anchored in truth. True love is honest, truthful and allows no hypocrisy! And God’s agape love is pure, selfless, genuine, unfeigned and unconditional.
After rejoicing with Gaius because of his Christ-life which exuded the Truth of the Gospel and exemplified the Lord Jesus through his loving and caring lifestyle, he commended him for his generosity to itinerant preachers, whom he had helped and befriended before the church, even reaching out to help strangers who were spreading the Gospel with no visible support!
They were encouraged to help those who preach the Gospel in Spirit and in truth and turn men to Christ, do so “for His name’s sake”. (3 John 7) Whatever one does in word or deed to exalt the name of Jesus Christ and build His Eternal Kingdom is worthy of our support!
St. John encouraged him to continue helping those who were called of God and by faith had stepped out to share Jesus and His Gospel to those who knew Him not! By doing so he writes: “We become fellow helpers to the Truth.” (3 John 5-8).
JESUS & HIS GOSPEL!
Who is the Truth and what is the Truth? Jesus Himself is the Truth! The Gospel of Eternal Salvation purchased for us through His sacrificial all-atoning death on Calvary’s cross embodies the Truth. (Rev.5: 1-14)
His glorious resurrection from the dead conquered Satan’s evil kingdom of lies and deception, substantiating Christ’s eternal claim to Truth. (Rom.1: 3,4) And our Saviour’s on-going intercession for us as our High Priest at His Father’s right hand verifies His unblemished perfection and righteousness! (Heb.7: 25)
Hallelujah to the Lamb of God forever and ever!
Diotrephes was the second man St. John refers to in this epistle. He appears to have been a well known man in a church. He may have been a bishop or a pastor because he had authority to make important decisions.
The Apostle did not have any good words to report about Diotrephes. He was a proud individual who loved to have the preeminence and had even opposed St. John the Apostle. He was jealous and wanted the spotlight on himself only and had refused to help itinerant preachers who had put themselves at great risk fearlessly preaching Christ’s true Gospel!
He writes: “I wrote unto the church; but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, will remember his deeds, which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doeth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.” (3 John 9,10)
Then, the great Apostle gives some sound advice: “Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: But he that doeth evil hath not seen God.” (v. 11)
In his great tent crusades, Dr. Oral Roberts often repeated the following slogan: ‘God is a Good God and the devil is a Bad devil. Everything that is good comes from God and everything that is bad comes from the devil. God is a Good God and the devil is a Bad devil.’
TAKE THE HIGH ROAD!
Taking the High Road to Victory demands that we follow Jesus. He said: “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I eill give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls, For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matt.11:28-30)
Our Lord said: “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8: 34); “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt.6: 33)
Taking the High Road to Victory is committing oneself without reservation to follow Jesus Christ and rejecting the world, the flesh and the devil. (1 John 2: 15-18). The High Road to Victory is attainable only through “the blood of Lamb and the Word of God in our testimony.” (Rev. 12: 11)
It is casting all our cares upon Him because He cares for us.” (1 Peter 5: 7)
Every obstacle is but an opportunity to demonstrate the love and grace of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ and the awesome overcoming power of His great and glorious Gospel.
The third man St John referred to in His letter was Demetrius. What a wonderful man he was. He seemed to have been a well known person, probably a gifted preacher with a powerful ministry and a genuinely kind heart and gracious spirit!
He had good report of all men, believers and non believers. His testimony for Jesus Christ was crystal clear, his lifestyle was transparent and godly and his ministry was Biblical and doctrinally sound! St. John could vouch for him without hesitation because Christ was living in him.
This old poem carries a powerful message for us today:
To every man there openeth
A way and ways and a way
The high soul flies the high way
And the low soul gropes the low
And in between on the misty flats
The rest drift to and fro
But to every man there openeth
Only a high way and a low
And every man must decide
Which way his soul shall go