Overcoming Truth Opponents (3 John 9-15) by Bro. John Lao

One of the things that we do when we subscribe to a tribe and test the confession of faith. As in the case of CHC, we subscribe to the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith. So aside from guarding the church from drifting to errors, we are standing on the shoulders of those who came before us who fought for the truth. And we could say that we are also saying that we are supporting the truth, the truth na pinaglaban ng ating mga predecessors during the 17th century. An our text today, while there’s a truth supporter there’s also a truth detractor. And in every age, the bride of Christ may find herself in, she will always have it. Therefore, for the sake of God’s truth, our duty as a church involves overcoming truth opponents. Please turn with me to 3rd John, the third letter of John. And for this afternoon, we’re going to be looking at verses 9 to 15. Third John verses 9 to 15. I’ll be reading from the English Standard Version. So here now the very words of God. I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true. I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, each by name.

Praise be to God for the reading of His word. Let us come before the Lord in prayer. Our Almighty Father, the God of truth who sent His Son the truth personified our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Oh God we thank You for Your truth, the saving truth of the Gospel which saves sinners from all their sins and have given us unfettered access to you as our Father. And as a church Lord, we ask that we would be firm, that we would stand on the solid rock of Your word and overcome opposition as it comes knowing that the world would always come up against You. We pray Father God that You would strengthen Your church to believe, to stand firm and to uphold Your truth knowing that You have called Your church to be a pillar and buttress of it. We ask this in the Name of Christ, amen.

There must have been a mixed feeling in the heart of the Apostle John as he was writing this letter to the person by the name of Gaius. A feeling of joy, a feeling of encouragement, but at the same time sorrow, urgency, anticipation considering everything that is happening within the church that Gaius was part of. A feeling of joy knowing that Gaius himself is faithful in supporting the brothers, and a feeling of sorrow because there are hindrances, there is opposition. And you know in John’s day a lot of Christian missionaries have gone out for the sake of the Gospel, leaving their homes leaving their jobs, proclaiming the saving message of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. But unlike today, there is no formal support from descending church para sa mga Christian missionaries na iyon. Unlike today, minsan nag-a-arrange tayo ng regular remuneration. But during those times, hindi yun common. What actually happens is that the local church that was being visited are the ones tasked to provide the food, lodging and even support for their next missionary journey so that they can continue preaching the word. What true preachers of the Gospel were out and about proclaiming the gospel, the false teachers as well have also gone out to proclaim their false doctrines confusing the church, confusing everyone para lalo silang malayo sa Gospel. Pagan ideologies are there, philosophies, gnosticism, early forms of Docetism na nagsasabi na Christ seemed to be like a man, but not necessarily, and it is disturbing the church’s unity. It is in this occasion that the Apostle John knowing these dangerous doctrines can affect the church, faced it head on. Inaddress niya ang mga churches within Asia Minor, or modern day Turkey, to warn them, to assure them, to comfort them to tell them that indeed as an eyewitness, as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is real, He indeed became a man, He died for sinners on their behalf so that they can be forgiven of their sins and be saved. And being a pastor who faithfully cares and loves the sheep, he wrote three letters at familiar sa atin iyon, yung first John. And this is something for general consumptions sa lahat ng mga churches. It is something that they ought to to read whenever they gather. It handles doctrinal issues, behavioural, or even yung mga harmful attitudes that are breeding in the church. Because of the harmful doctrines that were taught by the false teachers. Nagkaroon ng mga understanding on sinless perfection. Sinasabi nila that they love God but then they hate the brethren, they hate the members of the church. Seven letter of John was addressed to one of the churches and he warns them against welcoming or giving a greeting upon those who are teaching false doctrines . And in the third letter that we are looking at this afternoon, it is about welcoming the true teachers of the word, the faithful preachers, the ones who proclaim Christ and Him crucified. He addressed this letter to a man named Gaius who is very dear to him. We know that because several times in the letter maya’t-maya, he is referring to him beloved, beloved, whom I love in truth, beloved. He referred to him as beloved several times and he himself said to him that whom I love in truth. and what we have learned about this man is is that he is a loving and hospitable Christian whose life is so saturated by the truth of God’s word, that it overflows with his love and service and hospitality to the Christian missionaries. At ang sabi ni Apostle John sa kaniya, keep on doing it. I encourage you to continually support. It is a faithful thing that you’re doing for these brothers. And in this section, we will see the problem which also prompted the Apostle John to write this letter to Gaius. There is an opponent within the church who hinders these supports. Yung mga support n dapat, nararapat. Sa mga Christian missionaries, merong isang member who apparently ascended himself and found a way into the leadership of the church and does everything to stop the message of the gospel. And John exhorts him that he should not in any way imitate that evil deed that is being done by this man but instead belonging to God, being in union with Christ, imitate what is good to emulate the ones whose lives speaks of the truthfulness of the Gospel, the reality of their faithfulness, their fidelity upon the Lord Jesus Christ even if it means confronting conflict, undergoing severe suffering, persecution because he’s going against the type of this person who is doing everything to stop the gospel. And this is the same in our time today. We can see people even within the church, making some efforts to stop the truth, to hinder the truth. And so brothers and sisters, despite opposition, and if we encounter opposition against the gospel hindering the truth, the church must continue supporting and imitating faithful truth-bearers. Yun po ang mensahe natin this afternoon.

Despite Opposition The Church Must Continue Supporting And Imitating Faithful Truth Bearers. And based on the letter of John to Gaius, he exhorts him as I’ve mentioned earlier, do not imitate what is evil and imitate what is good, then there are two examples that he is highlighting to us in this particular letter. And that that’s going to be our two points for this afternoon, the two examples. So the first one we will look at the evil example, The Evil Example. This example is something that the church should not do, okay, The Evil Example. And the second example is The Excellent Example. And this is the example that the church ought to emulate.

And so let’s look at the first point The Evil Example. Now we see a report from the Apostle John concerning a member of the local church who goes by the name of the Diotrephes. And by the looks of it, he was able to secure a leadership position within the church. However, hindi eto yung First Timothy chapter 3 qualified elder or even a lay leader within the church. There is a problem with the behaviour of this person. Verse 9 (of 3 John) says I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, That is the problem. Literally, medyo soft pa yung ginamit ng ESV translation dito — likes to put himself first. The original language tells us that he loved preeminence. He seek to be, he sought to be superior and was enamoured by the power and the prestige that he had over the church to the point that ayaw niya ng any form of authority even from the authority of the Apostles. He would reject the authority of the Apostle John. He does not acknowledge the authority of the Apostles. And most commentators agree that he destroyed the letter that the Apostle John is referring to sa verse 9. Hindi lang iyon. He slanders and makes unfounded charges against the Apostle and his envoys. Yung mga representatives niya na pumupunta sa church ni Gaius. Saying wicked things about them that are not true and not being content with that. Sabi ni Apostle John, unlike Gaius, hindi nya winelcome. He refused to exercise hospitality to the brothers, nor provided support to them. So just imagine, you are a traveling missionary, you are dependent to the church that you’re going to, but you don’t get any support. He hindered those who want to help to the point that he would censure them, that he would put them out of the church. In other words, he did the complete opposite. He did this evil thing of not supporting. And I would dare say not loving the brethren which is against the teaching of the Apostle John in the earlier letters, the the letter of First John whoever does not love has not seen God, was which is also stated in this particular letter. Instead of solving hospitality, showed hostility. Rather than displaying humility, he displayed haughtiness. He didn’t show love, but expressed hatred against them. Why? Because by loving preeminence, by wanting to become superior in the church, he sees to it that he maintains his authority and anything that would challenge his position is a threat to him. He had a pride problem. Yun yung problema niya. He loved preeminence because he had a prideful heart. His attitude and actions caused harm against the church corporately, but knowing that he is putting out members from the church, he is even hurting them individually. This is how dangerous Pride could get. If it harbours in our hearts, seeking to be first loving preeminence, loving you um putting your importance forward rather than others, it will be dangerous in the body of Christ. Pride harms and spoils the church’s fellowship. Let’s say there’s a choir. Sa isang choir na yun, it is known to make amazing performances but for some reason, one of the choir members, nagkaroon ng away; had a fight with the, how do you call that.. the conductor. A And then deliberately, he sang out of tune and then the succeeding performance of course the audiences will be expecting a great performance from this choir.

And then all of a sudden, one member of the choir sang out of tune. It spoils the entire performance. It’s gonna be noticed, it’s gonna be heard. Lahat in sync but for this one person who deliberately sang out of tune, will be heard that it’s going to be distracting, it’s gonna affect the entire performance of the choir. Pride, if tolerated and left unchecked within our hearts, my dear brethren will get in the way of our fellowship. It is destructive. Instead of allowing the truth to reach and penetrate the lives of its hearers, a man who is full of it… full of himself will hinder it. His person, his views, his importance, his interests and his preferences will be more important than the first thing above all than anyone else. It says: I call the shots. I’m gonna do things my way. This is my position, this is my church, and if you’re not with me you’re gonna be against me. And when pride is characterised among God’s people especially in the leadership, God’s authority will be cast out. It will be laid on the side. When Diotrephes did not acknowledge John’s apostolic authority, it was not a mere rejection of the Apostle John dahil may away sila. But no! It is a refusal to acknowledge the authority of the head of the church. And who is the Head of the church? It is Jesus Christ because as an apostle of Christ, Christ sent him. And rejecting Christ means rejecting the Father Himself.

Matthew chapter 10 verses 40 to 42 when He sent the disciples talking to the apostles themselves, eto yung sinabi ni Christ: whoever receives you receives Me, talking to the apostles. Whoever receives me receives Him who sent Me. And when he does not acknowledge the authority of John, he is ultimately rejecting the authority of Christ Himself. Since God’s truth is set aside, then the effect is going to be we would be creating our own standards of what is good, what we ought to do, how to become a church, how to structure everything, manage the members, and we’ll begin hating those and even censuring the ones who will not agree with us. We have to be careful of having this kind of attitude brethren.

Consider the words of the Lord Jesus in our scripture reading earlier. Matthew chapter 20 verses 25 to 28. Now, Jesus is addressing the disciples about seeking preeminence. This is the third time that the Lord Jesus Christ foretold of His death. But what were the disciples thinking particularly si James tsaka si John? Sabi nung nanay nila, ask the Lord to make you sit on your left hand and on your right hand. They were seeking preeminence. And He said in verse 25, the nations around them lord it over, exercises authority over them. Now, ang sinasabi ni Christ dito, the pagan nations, the Gentile nations are exercising dominance upon its people. But in verse 26 He says it shall not be so among you. This shouldn’t be the thing that is happening within the church. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant. And whoever would be first among you must be your slave. The paradox of the Christian life. Why? Even as the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. Unlike the pagan nations who seek the possessions of authority in order to enjoy the honour and the vain glory that comes from it, Christians should be characterised with a humble attitude, looking to the humility of Christ, looking to the to the word of Christ, submitting under His authority and looking to Him as a Saviour who came to redeem unworthy sinners like us. And because of His work, He has provided the only sufficient means in which we, as sinners, can have peace with Him. And apart from Him dear friend, if you haven’t believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, you do not have peace with God. You are in enmity with Him and the only way that you can have peace with Him is by turning away from your sins and placing your faith in Jesus Christ. Listening to this, and you know for yourself that you have not surrendered your life to Christ, turn away from your sins, repent and come to Jesus, the only Saviour of our souls. And if the Son of God who has rights over all His creation, my dear brothers and sisters, He humbled Himself for our sake and then His people all the more should exhibit humility.

We are to have an attitude that is that is found in Christ addressing the Church of Philippi. Ano sinabi Niya doon? That during that time there are some divisions taking place within the church, some conflicts. The council of the Apostle Paul that he told them in verse 5, have this mind that is found in Christ Jesus. And it goes on to explain the substitutionary work that He did, His humility to the point of death, even death on the cross. That ought to be the model, that ought to be the the antidote to our pride. If the Son of God Himself all glorious Son of God came down, humbled Himself for our sakes, then we ought to emulate that kind of humility. And so my first challenge dear brethren is Beware Of Harbouring Pride In Our Hearts. Recognise the danger of it. Recognise the danger that comes with it, how it could harm the church, the body of Christ. You will begin to consider prominence and even compare yourself with other brethren. Measuring them up based on the standards that you have laid up in your mind. Your importance in your opinion about things in the body of Christ is what matters. You’ll take uh you’ll take others with you and even desire affirmation and support on how you want things to be within the church. And you would reject the council even. Even the rebuke of your pastor, your fellow brethren na kapag nire-rebuke ka nila, sasabihin mo: “Ano’ng right mo for calling me out?” Not knowing that it is a covenant responsibility within the body of Christ, within our homes. So kung ano ang nangyayari sa labas, definitely it is something that happens within the confines of the four corners of your home. It can come in a form of demanding your rights from your spouse. “O, bakit Hindi ka nagsu-submit?” Instead of humbly recognising your role as a husband and wife in light of the Gospel, nage-expect ka na, you are expecting something from your spouse. And you’re becoming unreasonable to your children because they couldn’t keep up with your standards. At pag mangyari iyon, you will exasperate them. And of course yourself, when you exhibit pride, when you harbour pride within your hearts, it will put you in a position that you are contending against God Almighty Himself. What does the scripture say God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil, pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech, I hate! Proverbs chapter 8 verse 13. Proverbs chapter 16 verse 18 pride goes before destruction. It destroys us and the Holy Spirit before a fall.

So do you have an unhealthy desire for superiority? Do you think highly of yourself because you are more gifted, you are more learned, you are more experienced and as a result you’re looking down on the other on other people who doesn’t meet up on your standard. This is becoming a hindrance for you to fellowship with the church. And so, I want to ask also, how is God exercising His authority over your life? Is the scene in your pattern in life, yung pagiging prideful natin? Where do you spend most of your time? Do you lovingly and obediently submit yourself to the word of God? But knowing the dangers despite all of the warnings that accompanies pride. At times, we would even justify and maintain it. We would allow our hearts to rationalise and think how we want things should be. Recognising that God hates pride, be on guard against it brothers and sisters and friends. God’s hatred against sin and our hearts perversity is nowhere clearly seen but in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you would like to know how much God hates pride? It took the Son of God who is sinless, who did not even exhibit pride Himself within His heart, to die on the cross for unworthy sinners, proud and haughty, rebellious against Him so that He can save you and I.

One author said “you can summarise the history of pride in three small chapters. Chapter number one: the beginning of pride was in heaven. Chapter number two: the continuance of pride is on Earth. The end of pride is in hell, chapter three. This history shows how unprofitable pride is.” But take comfort if you are in Christ, our rebellion against Him have ceased. We’ve been forgiven and cleansed from all of our transgressions on the account of our dear God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. And let me give it a hope that our proud hearts can be mortified as we seek to continually be enabled by the grace of God that continuously sanctifies us into conformity to Christ Jesus. And being a recipient of God’s grace, we’ve seen what we ought not to imitate, what should we imitate now. And that’s gonna be what gonna look at on the second point The Excellent Example.

So after his report concerning Diotrephes, he begins exhorting Gaius pagdating ng verse 11. He says here, beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God, whoever does evil has not seen God. And so this consistent with this teaching found in his first letter to the church, and John reminds that grace enabled good actions, bear testimony of the reality of our union with Christ. And doing evil as in the case of the evil example Diotrephes, shows that person has not experienced the grace of God in Christ. And John is saying, do not be like him, do not follow his example. Instead, he must imitate good. Here we will see the excellent example of Demetrius in verse 12. And it tells him that he has received a good testimony from everyone. Everyone is speaking well about this person, everyone in the church. His life is in step and consistent with the truth, that the truth itself is testifying to the life of Demetrius. And to top it off, the Apostle John himself and the brothers says and we add our testimony as well. In other words, he is a man of unquestioned integrity. He’s telling Gaius here is a good man whose life is in accordance with the truth, who walks with the truth, who loves the truth. Imitate that person. Imitate him in doing what is good. And at that time, if you are tasked to bear the to bear a letter to another person, you don’t just hand it over. You’re not just a sender but are expected to interpret it faithfully sa inyong recipient. And hence it is important to highlight his character. And with the kind of character he possessed, he’s worthy of becoming an example to Gaius that he should follow. And being a brother and a bearer of the truth, so he must likewise show love and hospitality as he did with the other brothers.

And so tayo as a church, exemplary truth bearers, brethren, Godly men and women are worthy of support and imitation. You ought to look at their lives and look how they they follow the lord Jesus Christ. Look how they they endure suffering for the sake of Christ. Follow their example. And for the ones who are bearing the truth, proclaiming the truth, support them. When you support them, it allows the message of Christ to get to where it should be. It reaches those who haven’t heard it and it strengthens the saints who daily need the bread of life, Jesus Christ. And we can come alongside to support them by remembering them as we pray and come before the Lord, humbling ourselves to see our need and the need of others for the gospel, using our time, talents and treasures in order to support the work in any way that we can. And when we support the truth, it it gives our lord Jesus His rightful preeminence and authority and dominion over His people, allowing His word to be freely given to His people by the ones who are called to proclaim His message. Let us live Godly lives and perform the good work that the Lord Himself has prepared beforehand. To do them, we must look to their example and find encouragement in the way they walk and follow Christ. Look at their faithfulness in their families, in their vocation, in the way they teach, in their daily lives, when they conduct family worship, the way they lead their children, teaching them the ways of our Lord through His word. We ought to look at them for our encouragement.

The models you see in TV commercials are there to make you follow their example. So makakita kayo ng commercial na may soft and silky hair, and you know that this commercial model is using this kind of product. At ikaw, sinabi mo sa sarili mo na: “Oh I want that soft and silky hair.” Then you will follow their example and get the product. While the exemplary lives of our brethren is not there to simply make an advertisement or even put on a show, Scripture commands us to follow their example as they follow Jesus Christ. While doing good and imitating those who do good does not earn us the right to God. It reveals our true union with God and His people. It reveals the reality of our belongingness with God and His family. It honours God when we do good, when we uphold good works in our lives for the sake of the glory of God, and He uses us in order to bring about the message of the Gospel to advance the cause of the church, to make known the greatness and the glory of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And I challenge you support and imitate the example of your faithful brethren. Support And Imitate The Example Of Your Faithful Brethren.

And so my question to you is who are you imitating? Do you look to your brethren? Hindi niyo na kailangang sagutin iyon. Do you find yourself admiring the examples of your Godly brethren? Knowing that our brethren are also looking after us, how are we embodying godliness to them? Titus Chapter 2, older women ought to be teaching younger women; older men ought to be teaching younger men. And if the younger men are looking to the older men, and if the younger women are looking at the older women, then how do we embody godliness so that we can become an encouragement to the younger ones, to next generation. In the quest of pursuing to be to be what we imitate we put all of our energy and resources to it and the tragic part is when we imitate those who has everything but Christ. We put on all the work, we invest our time and everything that we have, we improve our craft for something, let us not bear a good example to our brothers. You may even justify that these things are not essentially sinful. But consider your deeds brethren. And equally tragic is when we neglect being an example to our fellow brethren, much worse, you are setting a bad example. We miss out on the great blessing of encouraging, edifying and building up one another as the purpose of the church. Paul says be imitators of me as I am of Christ. The Apostle John persevering an enduring love is seen in his letter to the churches. His commitment to deal with the issues affecting the church. Sabi niya, ako na mismo ang pupunta and deal with Diotrephes; meaning he would exercise the necessary discipline within the church. And his undying concern for the flock for Christ and their assurance is worthy of imitation. This is something that we can follow from the Apostle John. And we could also see this love in the end of this letter.

In verses 13 to 15, sabi niya I’m gonna put down the pen and ink. I wanna see you. I wanna see us face to face. In the second the second letter, sinabi. niya I will see you face to face so that our joy may be complete. Knowing that he loves God, knowing that he’s someone who is dear to him, of course seeing him face to face would complete his joy. And ano pa sinabi niya rito, in the midst of the conflict that is happening within the church, censure because of not agreeing to support the Christian missionaries. What great blessing, ang sinabi ni John kay Gaius, peace be to you. No greater blessing but to remind him that you have peace with Christ. You have it by virtue of your union with Him. This peace that is made available in Christ is available to him. And so he greeted the friends. There’s nothing wrong with the term friends. He is not referring to unbelievers within the church because Christ Himself said that greater love has none like this: that he would lay down his life for his friends. But with all of the examples that we have in Scripture. Kahit pumunta tayo in the Old Testament, in the New Testament except Jesus Christ. At the end of the day, they’re all sinners. John Calvin said this must always be observed so as to not follow any man except so far as it leads us into Christ. He is also referring to people in church history na ating tinitingnan. For example we’re looking at Martin Luther’s resolve and yung tapang niya in facing the Roman Catholic church and igniting the Protestant Reformation. But follow them for as long as they lead you to Christ. In other words, we can imitate them as they follow and lead us to the Lord Jesus Christ who has shown the great love for His people by laying His life down for them to redeem us. And the greater example that we have is Christ Himself. That great love which He did, which He demonstrated 2,000 years ago on the cross for our sake, for the sake of our salvation, to cleanse us from all of our sins. We look to Him. We look to His example of the kind of love that we ought to emulate and extend to our fellow brethren.

Dr. John MacArthur wrote a tribute to his father who goes by the name of Jack MacArthur, (actually John MacArthur did siya), but he has a nickname and he calls him Jack. So meron siyang tribute that he wrote entitled A Father’s Legacy. In this tribute, he describes his life, his ministry and the things he enjoyed like playing golf. He asked this to say about his father: “I thank God for gracing my life with a father who loved his Lord, his wife and children and set for me a pattern of faithfulness to the truth written and incarnate to the end. Until he went to heaven, his life was a model for integrity.” Have you heard some of the interviews of siguro sa mga leadership ni John McArthur. They would always praise him for his Integrity, usually yun yung nasasabi, discipline. More than 50 years in the ministry in Grace Community Church, unparalleled, unquestioned. And we can arguably say that he, somehow, and sinabi niya rin dito, in this letter, have seen a pattern from his father. By the grace of God, he still unleashes God’s truth one verse at a time, doing all those things. Medyo matanda na siya but he keeps on doing it. And the pattern of his faithfulness from his father proves through in his life. And I believe if you would also talk to him he would also look to him as his role model.

And so, imitate godly example in the church, continue supporting the brethren who continuously labour and proclaim the word of God for the sake of the salvation of sinners and the edification of His people. The church overcomes truth opponents when it courageously supports the spread of the gospel and imitate the Godly lives of their faithful brethren. May our gracious Triune, Thrice holy God saturate our lives with His and cause us to daily walk in light of it.

Let us pray. Our great God and Father, thank You because Your truth is sufficient, because Your truth, the gospel is Your power that saves sinners from their sins. And oh God, we pray that we will be faithful to the truth, that we would resolve to uphold it as Your church and to continually and faithfully proclaim it to the rest of the world, in our church knowing na nangangailangan pa rin po kami ng Inyong Gospel daily. We battle sin daily oh Lord and so we pray for strength and grace to overcome truth opponents. This we pray in Jesus’ Name amen.

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