3 John: Truth and Love In Life

Sermon by J. Ligon Duncan on April 25, 2004

The Lord’s Day
April 25, 2004

3 John 1-8
Truth and Love in Life

Turn with me to 3 John, as we continue to make our way
through these three, little letters of the Apostle John. We have just finished
a brief look at the 2nd letter, and today we are moving into that 3rd
letter, a letter short enough to be written on one single sheet of papyrus in
John’s day. It is addressed from “the elder” again, just like 2nd
John. This time, however, instead of being addressed to “the elect lady,” a
local congregation, it is addressed to one man in a particular local
congregation. It’s addressed to one Gaius. We don’t know who Gaius was. There
were many speculations in the days of the Early Church as to who exactly this
Gaius was. It’s a very, very common name in the Greco-Roman world. But we know
this: He was a leader. He was a respected part of this local congregation. He
was a person with responsibility. We’ll say why in just a few moments.

3 John is a companion letter to 2
John. 2 and 3 John have the same, or similar, pastoral concerns behind them. 2
John was concerned to encourage Christians not to show hospitality to
false teachers, whereas 3 John is concerned to encourage Christians to show
hospitality to true, faithful Christian missionaries and evangelists. And you
can see the similar context of the pastoral concern. If John is in 2 John
warning these Christians against showing hospitality and giving support to and
showing respect towards false teachers, he now doesn’t want them to overreact
and stop showing hospitality to and support for and encouragement of true and
faithful Christian teachers, evangelists, and missionaries. And that gives us
the backdrop of this particular little book. So the positive instruction of 3
John–‘Christians, show hospitality to missionaries who are visiting’–balances
the negative instruction of 2 John–‘Christians, do not show support or
hospitality towards those who deny the teaching of the Bible, Jesus’ teaching
about Himself, the apostles’ teaching about Him.’

Let me outline the passage for
you today before we look at it. There are three parts to the passage: Verses 1
and 2 give us a salutation, a word of greeting; verses 3 and 4 give us a
celebration where John rejoices in the news that he has heard about this
faithful Christian named Gaius; and then in verses 5-8 we see a
commendation–John both commends Gaius for his behavior and he encourages and
exhorts him to continue on in that behavior, hospitality towards those
missionaries who are visiting with them. Now before we hear God’s word read and
proclaimed, let’s look to Him in prayer and ask the aid of His Holy Spirit in
the hearing of His word. Let’s pray.

Our Lord and our God, every word of
Scripture is given from Your own mouth, breathed out by Your Spirit, and it is
profitable for our reproof and correction and training in righteousness so that
we would be built up to maturity, equipped for every good work. And so we pray
as we hear this word read and expounded today that we would receive it for what
it is, not as the words and opinions of man but as the very word of God. By
Your Spirit enable us not only to understand it but to believe, embrace, and
live it. In Jesus’ name we ask. Amen.

Hear God’s word. “The elder to the
beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. 2Beloved, I pray that in all
respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.
3
For I was very glad when brethren came and testified to your truth,
that is, how you are walking in truth. 4I have no greater joy than
this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. 5Beloved, you
are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and
especially when they are strangers; 6and they have testified to
your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a
manner worthy of God. 7For they went out for the sake of the Name,
accepting nothing from the Gentiles. 8Therefore we ought to
support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.”

Amen. And thus ends this reading of God’s holy, inspired,
and inerrant word. May He write its eternal truth upon our hearts.

In this short letter and in this short passage
of this letter, we see three great words, three great truths to which I would
draw your attention. They pertain to spiritual health, to the balance of
doctrine and love in the Christian life, and to gospel hospitality. You see
each of these words in the sections we’ve already outlined. There is a
salutation, a greeting, in verses 1 and 2, and it speaks to the significance of
spiritual health. Then there is the celebration in verses 3 and 4, John’s glad
reaction to the balance of belief and love, of doctrine and practice in the life
of this church leader named Gaius. And then there is this commendation in
verses 5-8, John’s appreciation of Gaius’ gospel hospitality, and his calling on
him to continue to show that kind of hospitality in the church. And I want to
explore these three themes with you today.

I. Christian love and spiritual
health (1-2) – John’s loving words to a beloved disciple

Let’s begin in verse 1 and 2 with the salutation. Here John speaks some
beautiful and loving words to this faithful disciple, and we learn something
both about Christian love and spiritual health even in this word of greeting.
He says, “The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. Beloved, I pray
that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul
prospers.” Notice again, just like in 2 John, that John identifies himself only
as “the elder.” Why does he do it? I don’t know. Is he drawing attention to
his age? John was probably getting up there in years by the time he wrote this
letter. Is he mentioning it by way of seniority? This man who would be the
last of the apostles, surely he deserved respect for that kind of seniority.
Was he doing it because of his own respect for that office of elder? Though he
could’ve called himself an apostle, yet he refers to himself as an
elder
. Or is this a way to protect the safety of this church just in case
this letter falls into the wrong hands? He doesn’t identify himself lest the
recipients bear the scourge because of his association with it. I don’t know.
But the elder John writes this letter and he writes it to Gaius.

And whoever Gaius is, he is clearly a person who is in
leadership and has significant responsibility in this church. How do I know
that? Well, just look at what John says about him. First of all, the visiting
missionaries that come to this local church are staying with Gaius. He’s the
one who hosts the evangelists. He’s the one who hosts the missionaries who come
into town. He clearly has a role of leadership in the church in the showing of
hospitality to these who were sent out in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to
spread the word of the gospel. They stay with him when they come to town.

Secondly, notice that John will speak to Gaius about the
problem of the fellow who’s spreading dissention in the local church.
Diotrephes is raising questions about John’s authority, and he is encouraging
the congregation not to receive missionaries, not to support them,
not to bless them and send them on their way. And John writes to Gaius
about this. Now look: If Gaius isn’t a church leader, then all this is, is
gossip…and we would not expect John to gossip.

John is writing to Gaius about Diotrephes because he is in a
position of authority. Perhaps he’s a leading elder in this congregation,
perhaps he’s the pastor in this congregation. Whoever he is, he’s a person of
authority who can be expected to deal in a pastoral and sensitive but biblical
and forceful way with this man who is rejecting the authority of the Apostle
John and is causing dissention in the church and undercutting the support of
missionaries.

Thirdly, however, notice what John calls him, “Beloved,
Gaius.” Now you could say, “Well, yes, but that’s what John thinks about Gaius.
He’s beloved to John.” And that is true. John tells you that in the very next
phrase of verse 1, “Whom I love in truth.” But John seems to be saying
something more when he calls him, “Beloved Gaius.” In other words, John is not
simply saying, ‘Gaius, you are beloved to me.’ No, he’s saying, ‘Gaius, you’re
beloved to all the brothers and sisters. The brothers and sisters in this local
congregation love you.’ And John makes it clear later on that certainly the
missionaries who have received Gaius’ hospitality love him. They come back to
John and they say, ‘Let me tell you about this fellow Gaius that we met there.
He unburdened our hearts just to be with him. He welcomed us into his home. He
helped us. He encouraged us. He supported us. He sent us on our way with
blessing. John, this Christian is the total package. This Christian encouraged
us. He’s beloved to us.’ So you see for all these reasons we can tell that
this Gaius is a person of responsibility and leadership in this local
congregation.

And John tells us that he loves him in the truth. And
John’s not just saying, ‘Gaius, I love you sincerely.’ That’s true. John does
love him sincerely. But he’s saying, ‘Gaius, I love you in the truth.
Gaius, we love the same God. Gaius, we love the same Christ and Savior. Gaius,
we serve the same mission. Gaius, we love the same Scriptures. Gaius, we love
the same truth. We are in the sphere of the influence of the same truth, the
same ultimate truth. And as we have that bond together in gospel truth, I tell
you, my friend, I love you.’ John is expressing his love to Gaius but he’s
noting that the bond, the deep bond they share, is bound in the truth, bound in
the gospel, bound in Jesus Christ
. That binds them together however they
may be different otherwise.

Have you met people like that? Christians…and you meet them
and for a few moments there’s such an evident manifestation of the fruit of the
Spirit. They have such qualities that only God could have put there, and they
encourage you in extraordinary ways. Just this last week I was together with a
fellowship of ministers, and many of us came to that fellowship not knowing one
another. But let me tell you by the time we left there were some tremendous
bonds of friendship which had been established. And there were men saying of
people that they had only known for 48-hours, “I love that man.” Have you had
that experience before? It’s what John’s saying about Gaius here. It’s a word
about the depth of Christian love for another Christian.

But here’s the word that I want you to concentrate on. Look
at verse 2. In this greeting, instead of giving the typical Greek greeting,
“Be well! May the gods give you health and prosper you!” John spins that a
little bit. He changes it. He gives an entirely different emphasis. He says,
“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health,
just as your soul prospers.”

In other words, John is not simply wishing Gaius physical
well-being and prosperity in addition to his spiritual well being. He’s saying,
‘Gaius, you know I don’t have to pray for your spiritual well being. That’s
evident to everyone, and it’s been reported to me. I just…I just pray that
you’ll be physically well and prosperous in your labors, as you are spiritually
healthy.’ Now, my friends, I have to say, I tremble a little bit at the thought
that you may give me that blessing. For you to say that of me, I might wind up
in the hospital for a few months. To ask that the Lord would make me as
physically healthy as I am spiritually healthy…? Isn’t that a tremendous
comment of encouragement about this man Gaius, that John can say, ‘Your
spiritual health is evident to everyone. I just pray that you’re as well in
terms of your physical health as you are spiritually, Gaius. I hope that your
labors are prospered the way that you are spiritually healthy.’ Friends, we
ought to desire to be spiritually healthy like that
, so that we could give
one another that commendation. We ought to aim to
emulate that kind of spiritual
health, so that that kind of commendation could be given.

I need to pause right here and say…Because this passage is a
key passage for the “prosperity gospel,” I need to say that this verse has been
sadly misconstrued and misused and misapplied by many, many Christian teachers
in our own day and time. You know, for a while in the 1970s and 80s it looked
like the “prosperity gospel” was on the wane. Well, it is back with a
vengeance. You cannot turn on the television today without someone preaching
you “health and wealth.” And 3 John 2 is one of the key verses appealed to by
prosperity preachers. And the “prosperity gospel,” “the health and wealth
gospel,” is the gospel that says that God not only wants your soul’s salvation,
but He wants you to be healthy and wealthy. And if you are not it is because
you do not realize that promise or you don’t have enough faith. And if you
would only have enough faith you would be healthy and wealthy as well as saved
in eternity. And so prosperity preachers go around telling Christians that if
they will contribute to their ministries or if they will become involved in some
particular way in making a vow of faith, they will receive health and prosperity
if they will simply ask for it in faith and make a commitment to their
ministry. We see it everywhere we turn, in churches and on the television, and
3 John verse 2 is one of the verses that they will base this on. Listen to it
again, “I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just
as your soul prospers.”

Now once you understand the context, that a well-wish for
health and for prosperity was part of the politenesses of the age when letters
were exchanged, and that John takes that sincere expression of desire on the
part of one writing a letter to the person who’s receiving the letter and makes
a spiritual comment to Gaius, you can see that that interpretation is wrong.
For instance, Oral
Roberts went to this verse to base his entire ministry. We’re told that one
morning Oral Roberts was rushing out to catch a bus to go to class when he
realized he’d forgotten to read the Scriptures, and so he went back into the
house. He opened his Bible up at random, and his eyes fell on 3 John 2, and
this verse became the foundation for his prosperity ministry. Now, my friends,
Oral Roberts is still living. Did you know that? You haven’t heard about Oral
Roberts very much recently. He’s in California now, very far away from the base
of his ministry in Oklahoma. In California, Oral Roberts is quietly suffering
from Alzheimer’s Disease. Now there’s a reason why that’s not being mentioned
by the folks that are carrying on his ministry. It would certainly disturb the
faithful, wouldn’t it, to know that the founder of this “health and wealth /
prosperity ministry” was himself suffering from a debilitating disease? Now I
do not say that to make fun of Oral Roberts or to belittle him in any way, but
simply to say, isn’t it interesting that this has not been brought to our
attention?

This is not what John is talking about in this passage.
John is not saying that every Christian is going to be fabulously wealthy,
deliriously prosperous, and unendingly healthy
. Those things would indeed
be a blessing–were the Lord to give us wealth or were the Lord to give us
health–but these are not things that are promised to every believer. The Lord
Jesus Christ’s own life bears witness of this. At any rate, John’s point in
this passage is to raise the issue of the spiritual health of Gaius which is
described in the following verses. And we too should long to have that kind of
spiritual maturity and growth manifested in our lives.

II. Christian joy in Christians
walking in truth/love (3-4) [Celebration: John’s glad reaction to a disciples’
belief/love]
The second thing I want
you to draw your attention to you’ll see in verses 3 and 4. Here is John’s
celebration of this report about Gaius, John’s glad reaction to a disciple’s
belief and love. And John reminds us here of the joy, the Christian joy, that
we ought to have when we see fellow Christians walking in truth and love: “For I
was very glad when brethren came and testified to your truth, that is, how you
are walking in truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children
walking in the truth.”

John may well have been Gaius’
spiritual father. He may well have been the one who led him to faith in Christ,
and so he may be grouping Gaius amongst his spiritual children in the sense of
those whom he has led to the Lord. But whatever the case is, John is delighting
in Gaius’ life and faithfulness. And what’s he delighting about? Well, at the
end of verse 3 and at the end of verse 4, John twice emphasizes that he’s
delighting that Gaius is walking in the truth. What does John mean by that?
That Gaius is sound in the doctrine that he embraces, that he loves the Christ
preached by John, that he loves the Christ of the Bible, the Christ of the
gospels, that he is sound in fundamental Christian doctrine.

But then, secondly, if you look
at verse 6, John is also delighting that Gaius is not only committed to sound
doctrine, he is living out that doctrine in real, tangible Christian love. In
other words, John is saying, ‘In Gaius I see both truth and love. I see right
doctrine, right belief, and commitment to Christian love. In Gaius I see
doctrine and love, truth and practice joined.’ What a beautiful description of
the balance of the Christian life: A healthy disciple who loves the truth of
God’s word and is committed to living that out in love…in this case in the
support of visiting missionaries in the local congregation.

Friends, doctrine and love are
often set against one another in the Christian life. You’ve heard people say,
“Well, he loves truth more than he loves people.” Or you’ve heard people say,
“He cares too much about doctrine and doesn’t show enough love.” But in Gaius
we see a man who loves the truth and he loves people. He loves sound,
biblical, apostolic doctrine and he is committed to living out that truth in
love in his life. And it causes John’s heart to rejoice. There is this
coordination of belief and practice in Gaius that causes John to rejoice. And,
again, this is an example to be emulated because Jesus Himself is the One in
whose image Gaius is being recreated. And what does John say about Jesus? That
He was full of grace and truth. And there is the picture of the complete
Christian. And all of us will be weak in one area or another of those, and we
need to exalt the one without the expense of the other and not play them off
against one another. You know Jesus never said to the Pharisees, ‘Your problem
is you care too much about the truth.’ Jesus never said that. They did have a
problem in many of the practical expressions of the true love of God in their
lives, but He never says to them, ‘Forget the truth; be loving.’ No, truth
and love go together, and they were together in the life of this disciple, Gaius.

And we need to ask ourselves,
“How do we measure in this balance? And are we praying for one another
in this area?” In another congregation that I served, I met a ruling elder who
was the elder in that church that cared most about doctrine. He was an elder
who was always reading sound Christian books. He loved to study his
Westminster Confession of Faith
. He was a beaver for the Bible. He loved
to be studying the Bible. He loved to be memorizing Bible passages. But he was
also the elder that was the most faithful to do personal evangelism. And
that combination blew me away, that a man who loved the Bible this much and
loved truth this much was also so faithful and zealous to witness to
Jesus. My friends, there are elders and leaders in this church that have those
kinds of combinations. But, you know, we ought to be praying for one another
that we would all in some measure manifest that kind of balance in the Christian
life, of concern for truth and expression of love. How are we praying for one
another in this very area? Well, there’s John’s celebration, this reaction to a
disciple who has a balance of belief and love in his life.

III. Christian appreciation of
and incitement to Gospel hospitality (5-8) [Commendation and Exhortation: John’s
appreciation of Gaius’ hospitality and call for continuance]
And then, thirdly, if
you look at verses 5-8 you’ll see John’s commendation, his expression of
appreciation for Gaius’ hospitality and his call for Gaius to continue in that
hospitality. And he reminds us here of this Christian appreciation for gospel
hospitality for missionaries that we all ought to have. Gaius, we’re told in
verses 5 and 6, has shown hospitality to the brethren. “You are acting
faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they
are strangers.”

Here’s the circumstance: In the
Early Church there were itinerant evangelists and missionaries. They left their
full-time labors and they devoted themselves to the spread of the gospel. They
traveled from church-to-church and they launched out to preach the gospel to
Gentiles in places where the gospel could not be heard, and Gaius is welcoming
these traveling evangelists and missionaries who love the truth into his home.
He’s encouraging them. He’s supporting them. He’s giving them food and means
that they can go about their missionary labors…even when he doesn’t have
a personal relationship with those teachers. Some of these teachers he
knows–they’re brothers that he knows–but others, John says, are strangers. When
they first come, he doesn’t even know them.They’re certified by the church;
they’re faithful in their doctrine; but he didn’t know them before. But he
takes them in and he shows them hospitality. And John in verses 5 and 6 says,
‘Well done, Gaius! That’s how we ought to be behaving towards missionaries,
Gaius. Keep it up! Way to go!’

And then at the end of verse 6 he
says, ‘And, Gaius, don’t let anybody turn you back. You keep on doing this.
You keep on showing this kind of care and provision and encouragement for
missionaries. You keep on supporting missionaries.’ Now we’re going to learn
next week, God willing, why John has to say this to Gaius, because there’s
somebody in the church that’s trying to undercut this. And so he says, ‘Gaius,
you keep on showing this kind of support.’

In fact, in verses 7 and 8 John gives three
reasons why Gaius ought to support these missionaries. First, he says
they went out for the sake of the Name. He says, ‘Let me tell you something
about these faithful teachers, Gaius. They have left home and lands and
inheritance and friends and family for one reason and one reason only, to spread
the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. They have left for the Name, the
Name which is above every name, the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. They’ve left
for that reason. That alone, Gaius, compels our support of them. We owe them
support because they’ve left everything for the Name.’ It’s a pretty good
reason to support a missionary, isn’t it? That missionary has left everything
for the Name. John says, ‘That’s a good reason to support them, Gaius.’ But
he’s not done.

Notice he goes on to say that
they have no other means of support. He says they accept nothing from the
Gentiles. You know, they’re not going out to say, ‘Gentiles, I’ve got good
news. Now pay me first and I’ll tell you.’ You know, any time you hear someone
on television saying, “Pay me first and I’ll tell you good news,” you know right
there you’re not dealing with a true preacher of the word. They’re not going to
the Gentiles to make money off of them. They’re going to give something
to the Gentiles, not to get something from the Gentiles. And,
therefore, John says, it is incumbent upon us who are already believers to
support the mission of evangelists to those who are not believers
. We’re
not going to ask those who are not believers to pay for the mission of the good
news to them. We’re going to pay for that.

It’s a pretty good reason to
support missionaries, isn’t it? Because we’re not going to ask those who are on
the fields of mission to get their support from those whom they are trying to
bless, who do not know Christ in the gospel. Oh, one day when they become
believers they too can support missionaries to go to unbelievers, but until then
we who are believers now will be the ones who will support those who are going
to tell the good news. They have no other means of support but from us. But,
thirdly, John…It’s a beautiful phrase, isn’t it? John says we should support
these men because when we do we become fellow workers in the truth:
“That we
may be fellow workers with the truth.” He says, ‘Our gifts cause us to be
mingled in their ministry. They’re going out to tell the truth. They’re
leaving home and family. But when we send our gifts it’s as if we’re going with
them.’ You know Charles Spurgeon has a great prayer about missionaries, asking
God to use every pence he gives that he might go as a fellow worker with those
missionaries around the world spreading the truth of the gospel. And these are
three good reasons to support our own missionaries, friends.

Do we have that kind of a vision
to show that kind of support and hospitality and provision and encouragement to
our missionaries? Notice that the gospel is the source of this kind of heart
for missionary support, and the gospel is a means to this kind of
hospitality. And this kind of hospitality and support has gospel ends: It has a
gospel goal to it. The goal of this support is the exaltation of Jesus
Christ and the spread of His gospel.
And John just pauses and he say,
‘Gaius, I so appreciate the example that you have set for the church for this
kind of support and encouragement of these itinerant missionaries.’ My friends,
this passage gives us a beautiful picture of the spiritual health of a church
leader, a picture to be aspired to, so that just like Paul can say, “Follow my
example,” we also should seek to follow Gaius’ example of spiritual health, of
walking in truth and love, and of support of those who are working to spread the
gospel. May God help us to do so. Let’s pray.

Lord and God, we thank You for Your
word. It is so applicable. And we acknowledge that Your word convicts us that
we have fallen short of that which You intend us to be. And so by Your grace,
by the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we ask that You would enable us to show
this kind of love to those who work for the gospel and spread the word of Christ
around the world, and to manifest this kind of spiritual maturity in truth and
love. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Peace be to the brethren from God the Father and our Lord
Jesus the Messiah. Amen.

*****************************************

A Guide to the Morning
Service

The Reading of Scripture
Paul told Timothy “give attention to the public reading of Scripture” (1
Timothy 4:13) and so, at virtually every morning service, a minister reads a
substantial section of Scripture. The public reading of the Bible has been at
the heart of the worship of God since Old Testament times. In the reading of
God’s word, He speaks most directly to His people. We generally read
consecutively though Bible books. Currently, we are reading through Proverbs.
Adam Clarke comments of today’s reading: “Here wisdom is again personified; but
the prosopopoeia (“a figure of speech in which an absent or imaginary person is
represented as speaking”) is carried on to a greater length than before, and
with much more variety. It is represented in this chapter in a twofold point of
view: 1. Wisdom, the power of judging rightly, implying the knowledge of Divine
and human things. 2. As an attribute of God, particularly displayed in the
various and astonishing works of creation. Nor has it any other meaning in this
whole chapter, whatever some of the fathers may have dreamed, who find
allegorical meanings everywhere. The wise man seems as if suddenly awakened from
the distressful contemplation which he had before him,–of the ruin of young
persons in both worlds by means of debauchery,–by the voice of wisdom, who has
lifted up her voice in the most public places, where was the greatest concourse
of the people, to warn the yet unsnared, that they might avoid the way of
seduction and sin; and cause those who love her to inherit substance, and to
have their treasuries filled with durable riches.” Matthew Henry adds this
devotional-Christological perspective: “Wisdom, here, is Christ, in whom are all
the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; it is Christ in the word, and Christ in
the heart; not only Christ revealed to us, but Christ revealed in us. All
prudence and skill are from the Lord. Through the redemption of Christ’s
precious blood, the riches of His grace abound in all wisdom and prudence. Man
found out many inventions for ruin; God found one for our recovery. He hates
pride and arrogance, evil ways and forward conversation; these render men
unwilling to hear His humbling, awakening, holy instructions. True religion
gives men the best counsel in all difficult cases, and helps to make their way
plain. His wisdom makes all truly happy who receive it in the love of Christ
Jesus. Seek Him early, seek Him earnestly, seek Him before anything else. Christ
never said, Seek in vain. Those who love Christ, are such as have seen His
loveliness, and have had His love shed abroad in their hearts; therefore, they
are happy. They shall be happy in this world, or in that which is beyond compare
better. Wealth gotten by vanity will soon be diminished, but that which is well
got, will wear well; and that which is well spent upon works of piety and
charity, will be lasting. If they have not riches and honor in this world, they
shall have that which is infinitely better. They shall be happy in the grace of
God. Christ, by His Spirit, guides believers into all truth, and so leads them
in the way of righteousness; and they walk after the Spirit. Also, they shall be
happy in the glory of God hereafter. In Wisdom’s promises, believers have goods
laid up, not for days and years, but for eternity; her fruit therefore is better
than gold.”

The Sermon
We are continuing our study through 1, 2 and 3 John today, looking at 3 John
1-8. One commentator sums up this passage like this: “Those who are beloved of
Christ, will love the brethren for His sake. Soul prosperity is the greatest
blessing on this side of heaven. Grace and health are rich companions. Grace
will employ health. A rich soul may be lodged in a weak body; and grace must
then be exercised in submitting to such a dispensation. But we may wish and pray
that those who have prosperous souls, may have healthful bodies; that their
grace may shine where there is still more room for activity. How many professors
there are, about whom the apostle’s words must be reversed, and we must
earnestly wish and pray that their souls might prosper, as their health and
circumstances do! True faith will work by love. A good report is due from those
who receive good; they could not but testify to the church, what they found and
felt. Good men will rejoice in the soul prosperity of others; and they are glad
to hear of the grace and goodness of others. And as it is a joy to good parents,
it will be a joy to good ministers, to see their people adorn their profession.
Gaius overlooked petty differences among serious Christians, and freely helped
all who bore the image, and did the work of Christ. He was upright in what he
did, as a faithful servant. Faithful souls can hear their own praises without
being puffed up; the commendation of what is good in them, lays them at the foot
of the cross of Christ. Christians should consider not only what they must do,
but what they may do; and should do even the common actions of life, and of
goodwill, after a godly sort, serving God therein, and designing his glory.
Those who freely make known Christ’s gospel, should be helped by others to whom
God gives the means. Those who cannot themselves proclaim it, may yet receive,
help, and countenance those who do so.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)

This guide to worship is written
by the minister and provided to the congregation and our visitors in order (1)
to assist them in their worship by explaining why we do what we do in worship
and (2) to provide them background on the various elements of the service.

© 2019 First Presbyterian Church.

This transcribed message has been lightly edited and formatted for the Web site. No attempt has been made, however, to alter the basic extemporaneous delivery style, or to produce a grammatically accurate, publication-ready manuscript conforming to an established style template.

Should there be questions regarding grammar or theological content, the reader should presume any website error to be with the webmaster/transcriber/editor rather than with the original speaker. For full copyright, reproduction and permission information, please visit the First Presbyterian Church Copyright, Reproduction & Permission statement.

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