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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
 
Title:The 'Fairest' Friend
Text:3 John 11-14 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Servanthood
 
Preached:2000-08-06
Added:2007-12-24
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


“The ‘Fairest’ Friend”

Sermon by

Rev. S. Bajema

on 3 John 11-14

Scripture Reading: 1 John 2:28-3:10; 3 John

 

 

Dear Friend...

 

All is not what it seems in your relationship with another Christian. You’ve had a severe falling out. Someone you had looked up a lot, in the Lord, has put you in such a state that you wonder whether you are the Lord’s at all!

It seems also that whoever else had been a help to you before has been quite clearly removed from the scene. The one left above you, in the Lord, is the one who’s got it in for you. He makes you feel both so insecure and inadequate and yet so completely dependent on him.

For a while you hadn’t been able to make it out. Like many Christians, you had given him the benefit of the doubt. To tell the truth, you were actually terribly gullible.

But something or someone got through to you. Like a blind man suddenly healed, the scales fell from your eyes. Now you know! You’ve been conned!

 

Congregation, it’s situations like this that have turned many away from the faith altogether. Rather than see that the one who so devastatingly misled them was clearly ungodly, they take his example as the Christian model and leave God for a long time - if not for all time!

Perhaps they weren’t Christians after all. Maybe they will be restored later. But the connection between nearly all of these people is that they didn’t then see something was wrong.

Gaius could have been one of them. Or he may have already known about Diotrephes. Whichever the case, the apostle John is very anxious to point out another model for Gaius than the one who’s most prominently before him there.

The word “imitate” shows this with its imperative tense. “Don’t copy him Gaius!” “Do what’s good!”

This is the clearest warning against Diotrephes. “He’s a phoney Gaius!” “Get real man!” “Then you’re God’s!” “Otherwise you’re just as bad!”

 

The structure of verse 11 shapes a warning. The “evil … good … good … evil” is a clear pattern. Regardless of whether Gaius realises or not, it has just got to be asked... IS YOUR FRIEND OF GOD? This is our first point to looking at this text... IS YOUR FRIEND OF GOD?

Taking up the second sentence of verse 11, the apostle points out that there is a definite model to biblical friendship. There is a way to tell if you’re being led down the wrong path. The most simple way. You only have to ask yourself: Does that friend do good?

It may seem so obvious - a Christian should be known by being Christ-like. Yet church history is littered with believers blatantly failing to deal with a friend in sin!

Take, for example, when this affects the leadership of a church. If a minister has enough charisma he can get away with murder - yes, the death of a church’s standing in the community and the death of many a relationship within that church. There has been many a time when the elders of a church have failed to stop their pastor’s ministry when the evidence was overwhelming about a public sin.

Just as many among the church’s membership haven’t challenged their fellows believer when he slipped off the rails. They knew it was wrong. But they wanted to stay friends. Or they thought it wasn’t so bad compared with other sins.

 

Congregation, there couldn’t be anything further away from true friendship than failing to address sin. It’s genuine friendship which has to see that person lovingly rebuked for that sin.

And if that doesn’t stop then you have to take it further with another believer; and, failing that, even to involve the elders of the church! Proverbs 27 says it well, “The kisses of an enemy may be profuse, but faithful are the wounds of a friend.” (v6)

John is deadly serious! We must test all our believing relationships by nothing less than the truth itself. Discipline in the church starts first with you - the person in the pew.

 

Perhaps using the word “discipline” seems a bit drastic. That’s what the elders do. But also, dear friend, you too! Don’t forget the question...IS YOUR FRIEND OF GOD?

To help Gaius in this John gives an example. And there’s nothing quite like an actual example to show us clearly what’s meant - is there?

John introduces Demetrius. Like Gaius it was a name that appeared several time for different people in Scripture. Whether he is one of those, or another, isn’t known. What his relation to Gaius is isn’t precisely known either. Some have suggested he was one of the objects of Diotrephes’ wrath. In other words, he’s one of the local church who had already fallen out because of his principled stand.

The most likely option, however, is that he is the one who brought this letter to Gaius. Such a person was usually commended in the letter to the person sent the letter. It would usually be in the line of caring for him, respecting him, recognising his fellow labour, and so on.

Here, though, it’s different. And the reason why Demetrius is used in this instance is perhaps why it’s he John asked, in particular, to bring this letter to Gaius. Because he shows us exactly what Christian friendship is meant to be. In fact, since his lifestyle is so dedicated to the Lord, his life is reflecting a living Bible.

 

How could Gaius be sure this was so? John gives him - and us - three marks of the good friend in verse 12.

The first of these begins the verse, “Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone.” Naturally, this is a commendation from where Demetrius had been before. It was certainly something Gaius could check out. Just like a vacant church will check with different members in the church of the minister they’re interested in calling.

It is a positive thing for a future relationship to know that their past relationships have been good ones. For you young single people, it can also help you know who might be a good marriage prospect. I mean, how does that person you’re keen on relate now to those around them? Are they co-operative? Does he work well with their boss? Is he kind and helpful toward those he’s in charge over? Is he always ready to help anyone in trouble? Does he treat members of the opposite sex as equals? How much does he stick to the speed limit?

Remember, though, they might ask the same questions of you! And just thinking of that possibility may make you see some areas to work at. But it is a questioning which John is absolutely sure Demetrius will pass.

 

Then, secondly, there’s the truth itself which speaks about Demetrius. John almost makes the truth sound like a person. He means, of course, the Bible. God’s Word is Demetrius’ handbook. He reads it, meditates upon it, and definitely lives by it. He would have no difficulty being questioned about it and what it means in his life.

You see, if you were to discuss the Word with him, you would see that its pages are being lived out in his own life. He’s the living Bible which the people around him are reading every day!

Friend - is that the Christ-like picture those around see in you? Maybe you ought to get to know God’s Word a lot better. Read it every day, pray over it, and think about it. As a model to follow it will rub off on you.

 

In the third place, John and those with him speak well of Demetrius. The aged and very wise disciple of Jesus has got to know a thing or two about what makes up a disciple. And while he’s rejoiced already for what he knows in happening in Gaius’ life, he knows that Demeterius will help him to grow in the Lord even more.

This is a little like what another apostle, Paul, wrote about himself. In his second letter to the Thessalonians he urged on them the importance of work, when they were being distracted by waiting for Jesus’ return, by his own example. He wrote there, “we worked night and day, labouring and toiling so that we wouldn’t be a burden to any you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow.” (2 Thess.3:8f.)

Most of all, however, in referring to his own testimony, I believe that John is pointing directly to the Lord Jesus. Remember that John had a close friendship with the Master. And when he speaks of his testimony here we can’t help but think of the direct eye-witness testimony he has of Christ. At the end of his gospel he describes that this way, “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.” (John 21:24.)

 

There are three different areas of witness to Demetrius. It was convincing enough for Gaius. IS YOUR FRIEND OF GOD?

With these criteria this question is answered affirmatively about Demetrius. And it’s also what leads directly to a second part. For if your friend is of God, the second point follows that...THEN YOU WILL SEE GOD!

Here we go back to verse 11. There it is said negatively, “Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.”

So the situation of where you’re standing with the Lord is described by whether you see Him or not. Now, getting to see the Lord, or anyone for that matter, takes an effort. When John writes in the verses 13 and 14 of not sending more than this brief letter now, because he’s going to see him soon, and then speak to him, there is this same concept.

I mean, all Gaius knew about Demetrius was words before then, but soon he would see just how true it was! And especially God’s Word itself would be proved right. Just as Gaius already knew well enough about the apostle himself.     

Diotrephes certainly shows this the other way. By his bad example he’s clearly on the way to hell. He wants nothing to do with anyone who’s a possible threat to his position - you’re only useful if he can take from you. He’s got to be number 1! And there’s no number 2!

In a complete contrast there’s the example of the apostle. He shows what it is to see God by proving how much he wants to see him - Gaius! In fact, John does it in such a way that he draws Gaius right into his inner circle of friendship. The language is such that he’s privileged in the richest way possible. As if Jesus Himself was coming to visit.

    

And, you know, that’s what actually happens. Jesus does visit. The Lord’s own blessing is given, “Peace to you.”

While the letter has started by getting straight to the point, and so leaving aside the usual greeting in the name of the Lord, it’s not going to finish that way. The phrase which echoed the time of the resurrected Jesus meeting His disciples behind that locked door, is bringing Gaius face to face with the Lord too. Or, to use the original, it will be a meeting ‘mouth-to-mouth.’ That’s a dialogue congregation!

So, while it speaks of when John may meet Gaius, it also speaks of a true meeting between the Lord and His people too! And speaking of meetings, John brings is even further the thrust of what we have together, by actually living that out together. He writes about the greetings from all those with him. All of them had been praying for Gaius and the whole congregation there. They wanted those believers to know that they weren’t alone. Others were concerned. The church is a lot bigger and much wider than any one man band.

The phrase, “greeting the friends there by name” not only suggests that Gaius knows them all but that John and his group know many of them too. John Stott believes it means churches should be of such a size that the minister, the elders, and the members, know each other by name. So there are distinct relationships right throughout a church. Just like the Good Shepherd calls His own sheep by name so our fellowship in a church should be the same.

It makes sense - doesn’t it? That means we’re friends! Amen.

 

 

PRAYER:

Let’s pray...

     O Loving Heavenly Father, what a love you have shown in relating to us in Your Son, Jesus Christ. You gave of Yourself in Him - not looking at all to what You could get. How much different that is to the spirit of this world, and especially to the character of the prince of this world, Satan himself.

     Lord, help us to resist and fight evil in our lives by being a true friend to Your people and by living Christ’s life in this community. By Your Spirit prove us to be from You and then they will see You! In the name of the light of this world, our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray, Amen.

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: www.rcnz.org.nz

(c) Copyright 2000, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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