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Gospel Friends and Gospel Foes

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3 John is a personal letter written to a man named Gaius. Gaius is one of these Bible characters which we don’t know much about, except what is written here in this epistle. The name Gaius is a bit like the name “John” or “Joe” in that it is very common. There are several characters in the New Testament named Gaius: A Gaius of Macedonia in the book of Acts, A Gaius who accompanied Paul on his last trip to Jerusalem, and there was a Gaius in Corinth in whose house Paul lived while writing the letter to the Romans. Nothing in this letter or outside this letter ties this Gaius to any of those, and although it may leave our curiosity bubbling, what is imprtnat for us to know about this Gaius is found in this epistle.
There are three major Characters in the letter:
Gaius, to whom the letter is adressed
Diotrophes, a man who is stirring up trouble,
Demetrius, who is held up as an example of good, and is quite possibly the one carrying the letter.
Three very short character sketches. No family history, no background information, no photographs, no information about their jobs, hobbies, driving records, nothing! The historians in the room are going crazy right now because they want more information! But again, what is important for us to know about all three of these characters is found right here in this epistle.
What is made clear in this epistle is that when it comes to the Gospel, to the truth, there are friends and there are foes. Friends and Foes of the truth come in various forms, from various backgrounds, with various ethnicities, various occupations, skill sets, personality traits, etc. And the interesting thing is that although all that information plays into their overall personhood, that information is basically irrelevant to whether they are a friend of the Gospel or a foe of the Gospel.
Over the next two weeks i want to sketch these three characters with you, and in doing so to highlight the importance of our standing with or against the truth. Like these three men, history may never remember the details of your life, there may never be written a great biography about you, there may never be any streets or parks or buildings bearing your name, but for all eternity what will remain vital is whether you are a friend or a foe of the truth.
When Jesus healed a demon possessed man who was blind and mute, the Pharisees accused him of doing it in the power of Satan. Jesus response was apt then and it is apt for the epistle of 3 John as well.
Luke 11:23 ESV
Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

What is most important about us is whether we are a friend of the Gospel or a foe of the Gospel.

Today I want to look just at Gaius, who was clearly a friend of the Gospel, a friend of the truth, and I want to see two distinctions about Him that John makes known.
The Truth of Gauis
The Love of Gauis

I. The Truth of Gaius - Vv. 1-4

John begins his address to Gaius by reminding him of his love for him, but not just any love, it was a love in the truth.
2 John 1 ESV
The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth,
Why is this important? Any individuals, saved or lost, can express some measure of love to one another. They can express that in kindness of action and words, in charitable behavior and good intentions toward one another, but what sets the believers apart from this common love is that our love is grounded in the truth. Truth is the common sphere in which genuine biblical love is found. As we will see later on, truth and love are inseparable. Where there is truth, there is also a true sense and experience of love, and wherever there is a true expression of love, it is grounded in truth.
This encompasses all spheres of life, all manner of people, all times of history. We will not actually love someone unless we love them according to the truth.
What is truth?
1 John 5:20 ESV
And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
John 14:6 ESV
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Truth is Jesus Christ. Truth is the Word of God.
In the first four verses alone the word truth is used 4 times, and 7 times throughout the entire letter. Truth is an important theme in all three of John’s epistles, and John’s Gospel Record exists to tell us about the one who is the truth.
It is obvious from the content of John’s letter that Gaius is one who had heard the truth of the Gospel, that that truth was now in him, and that truth was causing him to flourish in his spiritual life.
3 John 2 ESV
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.
3 John 2
The wish that all may go well and that Gaius would be in good health was a proper and standard greeting found in many personal letters written in this time frame. This was a matter of respect, and an indication that the relationship between Gaius and John was in god standing, not strained. This was a common way to say hello to a friend.
But John makes this common greeting into something more profound, for he turns it into a prayer for Gaius. He prays for his physical health, but compares that with his spiritual health. It is not clear whether or not Gaius was in good physical health, perhaps he had a track record of being ill. But what is very clear in this epistle is that Gaius’ spiritual health was thriving and alive!
There is no direct connection between our physical health and our spiritual health. Think of Paul, who was the greatest christian servant in the scriptures, yet he suffered greatly. Think of Stephen who was a fervent follower of Christ yet was martyred for his faith. Scripture and history are replete with examples of men and women who were faithful servants of Christ, yet were plagued with physical ailment or even died for their faith. Being a follower of Christ is no guarantee of health or wealth, and to believe so is to be deceived.
However, pause for a moment and imagine if the prayer John prayed for Gaius was prayed for you, and was granted? If someone prayed this prayer for you, would it be a positive prayer, or would it be a curse? How would your physical health be if it matched your spiritual health? How would your wellness of body be if it was directly correspondent to your wellness of soul? If your physical heartbeat kept pace with your spiritual heartbeat, would you have a lively pulse, or would you be in need of a pacemaker? This prayer for Gaius was an incredible compliment and a testimony of his faith.
Not only did John give testimony to the truth of Gaius, but others gave testimony as well.
3 John 3 ESV
For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth.
The fact that Gaius was “walking in truth” was clear not just to john from a distance, but also those who had recently been with Gaius face-to-face. It seems from the context of the letter that these were probably travelling preachers, or missionaries, who had come into the church where Gaius was serving. They clearly were loved and treated very well, for when they made there way to the Apostle John, their words about Gaius could not have been sweeter.
They didn’t complain about the food Gaius served them, they didn’t murmur about him being course or unkind, they didn’t say “i’m never going back to that church,” and they didn’t call Gaius a hypocrite. Their testimony of him was a testimony to him “walking in the truth.”
This is not new language for John.
2 John 4–6 ESV
I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.
Psalm 86:11 ESV
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
Galatians 5
Galatians 5:16 ESV
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
The word for walk speaks of the encompassing principle of one’s life. If you are walking in truth, your life is surrounded by truth. You are immersed in truth. You are preoccupied with truth. You are grounded in truth. You are settled on the truth.
And the fact that Gaius was walking in truth gave John great Joy.
3 John 4 ESV
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
John here was not speaking of his physical children, but his spiritual children. The ones whom he saw come to faith. The ones whom he discipled and taught and prayed for and mentored and poured into. John knew that not everyone who began walking down the road of truth stayed the course. This is true, is it not? We all have friends, family members, children, loved ones, who at a time seemed to believe and know the Lord, but have since gone back to walking according to the spirit of disobedience. This is a contrast that is telling of where our focus is. Are we heartbroken when someone is not walking in the truth, or are we unaffected? On the other hand, are we elated when someone is walking in the truth, or are we more concerned about their physical wellbeing? John prayed for Gaius’ health physically, but what brought him joy was his spiritual health.
Gaius is a friend of the Gospel, and friends of the Gospel are founded and resting on truth.

II. The Love of Gaius - Vv. 5-8

Continuing off of the testinomony of these missionaries who had just been with Gaius, John commends him not just for his walking in truth, but for his showing of true Christian love.
Hospitality was the norm for the culture that John was writing in, but it is clear that Gaius went above and beyond. These men were strangers in the flesh, they had no relation, no connection, no ties in business or commerce, no connection on facebook, no email correspondence or phone calls. Before these missionaries came, Gaius wouldn’t know them from a hole in the ground - but one thing tied them together in a way that was stronger than any friendship or familial tie - the Gospel.
3 John 5 ESV
Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are,
John commends Gaius for his love, for his “efforts for these brothers.”
This Christian Hospitality that Gaius shows has several characteristics
it is faithful
it is not for selfish gain, it is not just for lipservice or cultural expediency, it is faithfulness to Christ. This is not just common decency or general kindness, but a work of faithfulness.
It is hard work
This is not just being friendly, but rather Gaius goes out of his way to serve these men. It is a labor of love, and an effort truth.
It is Unbiased
As we will see next week, it does not always come naturally to welcome the stranger, but Gaius shows love and hospitality even though he has no former connection to these missionaries. He loves them because they are his brothers in Christ.
It is compelling (Vs. 6)
this love that Gaius showed had a lasting effect on these men. They remembered it. They told others about it. When Gaius came to their mind, the love of Christ came to their minds.
John commends Gaius for his treatment of these men, but then he encourages Gaius to continue doing so. Herein we fine an exhortation as well.
3 John 6–7 ESV
who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.
John encourages Gaius to continue this pattern of selfless behavior toward those who come in the name of Christ. He gives Gaius three reasons to do so, and these reasons apply to us as well.
They have gone out for the sake of the name.
God’s name represents his character. His work is is a worthy work, and when someone is doing the work of God, they are doing the most important thing they can do.
2 Corinthians 4:15 ESV
For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
When God’s work is done, his glory is spread abroad. When we come across those who are doing the Lord’s work, whether it is a missionary who comes to visit, a preacher or sunday school teacher, a faithful believer who is living their life to the glory of God, it is our duty of Christian Hospitality to show them love, for they are doing what they do for the sake of the name.
They were not getting support from outside the faith.
The word here for “gentiles” may be better understood as pagans, or those outside the faith, and not simply as those who were not Jewish. John is reiterating the fact that when you center your life on doing the Lord’s Will, you will not receive support from the unbelievers for doing so. The world may be quick to jump on board in support for general humanitarian aid, or a foundation that fights oppression or a disease, but when it comes to the work of the Gospel, the general population isn’t going to start a kickstarter campaign to fund you.
This is why it is so critical for us to continue our faithfulness in giving to the Lord’s Work. This involves giving toward the work in our local body, which is local missions, and giving toward the work abroad, which is world missions. True servants of the Gospel are not in it for the money, this is what separates the sheep from the wolves. But when it is in our power to do so, we ought to shower the servants of Christ with love and blessing.
“send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.”
We ought to do our share in a manner that is worthy of God. Whether our lot is to give or to God, we do so faithfully and fervently, knowing the words of Christ.
John 15:20 ESV
Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
Doing so allows us to be partners for the Truth.
3 John 8 ESV
Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.
This is directly opposite the warning John gives in II John
2 John 10–11 ESV
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
The principle is thus - we are friends of what we support. If we are supportive of evil, then we are friends of evil. But if we support the truth and the workers of truth, then we are friends of the truth indeed.

A man’s circumstances may be such that he cannot become a missionary or a preacher. Life may have put him in a position where he must get on with a secular job, and where he must stay in the one place, and carry out the routine duties of life and living. But where he cannot go his money and his prayers and his practical support can go; and, if he gives that support, he has made himself an ally of the truth. It is not everyone who can be, so to speak, in the front line; but every man by supporting those who are in the front line can make himself an ally of the truth.

There is room for all believers in the effort for the Gospel. And all should be friends of the truth. There is no greater work than the work of the Lord, and there is no greater task than spreading the truth.

What is most important about us is whether we are a friend of the Gospel or a foe of the Gospel.

Friends of the Gospel are exemplified by truth and love.
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