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Would You Be Found Faithful?

January 26, 2009

If Jesus were to return today would He find you faithful to Him? The scriptures declare that Jesus is going to return, whether the world likes it or not and in Lu 18:8 we read: “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” This is the question that stands before us today. Will Jesus find faith on the earth? And we are not talking about so called “people of faith?” The question being asked is this; Will there be anyone on the earth who truly loves the Lord; who walks with God daily, who lives to do the Father’s will? Are you eagerly awaiting His coming? Is your prayer, “Even so, come Lord Jesus”? There will be many who will be ashamed to look Him in the face. 


We read in Zec 12:10  “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. Many will shriek with fear and as is stated in the book of Lu 23:30 “Then they will begin TO SAY TO THE MOUNTAINS, ‘FALL ON US,’ AND TO THE HILLS, ‘COVER US.’ Why will they say this? It is because they seek to flee “from the wrath of the Lamb.” Re 6:16


The scriptures declare that He will appear in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 1Co 15:52 In one of His parables found in (Luke 12:44) Jesus spoke of a servant who was placed in charge of His master’s household. When one is put in charge of something the understanding is that he is now responsible to discharge whatever duties pertain to the job. And Jesus said…“Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. “Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.


Now the testimony of Jesus’ life was that He was always about His Father’s business, that He always did what was pleasing to His Father. And as Christians (the name means ‘little Christ’ or ‘like Christ’) we have been called to be imitators of Jesus Christ, to live as He lived, to walk as He walked: to be about our Father’s business. “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” 1Jo 2:6 Blessed is that slave whom his Master finds so doing when He comes…


This is our calling! But not everyone who calls themselves “Christian” has such zeal, such love for God. Many say they are “Christians” but demonstrate by their lives that they are disciples of another ‘master.’ Many say “Lord, Lord” but they do not do the things Jesus said. There are many wolves who are masquerading in sheep’s clothing: who have come in to destroy the flock of God. Like their master the devil they seek someone to devour. They have come with another gospel: a false gospel which has been packaged in such a way so as to look like the real thing. Those who propagate cultish teachings reveal their rebellious heart of unbelief. By their actions they have demonstrated contempt for Jesus and His truth: which is the only truth. They have declared that there is no God and in doing so have revealed themselves to be fools. Those who teach falsehood and those who follow false teachers are on the same path; the broad road that leads to hell.


They are like the foolish man in Proverbs 7 who listened to the harlot. This dangerous woman would lure her victim to her house for sex by saying that her husband has gone on a long journey and won’t be back for a long time so ‘let’s go have some fun.’ Many people are deceived by the flattering words of the adulteress but what they find is not fun! Consider what our Lord says in verse 22 “Suddenly he follows her as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as one in fetters to the discipline of a fool, 23 until an arrow pierces through his liver; as a bird hastens to the snare, so he does not know that it will cost him his life.

Now in what is called the parable of the faithful steward found in Luke 12 the context is that the Master has gone on a long journey and has left no word as to when he would be back. This parallels the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He left, saying that He would return but He didn’t say when! The slave understood that he must be about his master’s business so that when he returned, all things would be in order and that he, the slave, would be found doing what he was supposed to be doing. In the same way, we have been called to be about our Father’s business. We have been called to a life of obedience to the commands of Jesus Christ. Are we being faithful to what He has called us to?


Jesus reveals the thought process of the wicked servant which I believe reflects the mindset of many so called believers. We read in verse 45 saying: “But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master will be a long time in coming,’ and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk… this man is stumbling down the road to destruction. He has decided that he has plenty of time to live it up, to do whatever he wants to do. It is interesting that these ‘so called’ believers have the mindset revealed in 2Pe 3:4. Their god is their bellies, their end is destruction which is demonstrated in the fact that they have set their minds on earthly things saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.


There are severe consequences in store for the unfaithful servant!


Notice that this unfaithful servant has the same mindset as the harlot of Proverbs 7: “The master’s away, let’s go out and play.” He begins to get drunk and beat his fellow servants. He has basically decided to “have a good time” which really means that he has decided to “tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!” I’m sure you recognize the words of Psalm 2. And if so you also know the end of such sinners. God will laugh and then He will have them in derision. Indeed “the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. Having been found faithless and rebellious, there will be hell to pay!


I want for us now to spend the rest of our time this morning in 3rd John and we will be looking at three characters in whom we will see a representation of those who are faithful and those who are faithless. Their names are Gaius, Demetrius and Diotrephes. Now Gaius and Demetrius were both lovers of truth. Their lives were characterized by faithful service to the Lord Jesus Christ. Diotrephes on the other hand, demonstrated by his actions that he was a ravenous wolf, a servant of Satan, masquerading as a minister of righteousness. His actions proved that he hated God and His truth, loved himself and would go to any length to destroy the faith for personal gain!


John addresses this letter in verse 1The elder. Now as an apostle he was indeed an elder, having been personally called and commanded by Jesus Christ to feed the flock of God. He has a pastor’s heart: he loves the flock of God that is before Him and as a faithful under-shepherd he reproves, rebukes and exhorts in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, warning them of danger, teaching them truth and comforting them concerning their blessed hope in Christ.


He has addressed this particular letter “to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.” Now was this man the pastor of a church or was he one of the elders of a local congregation? My opinion is that he was not. It would seem that the evil Diotrephes held that position. Diotrephes is an example of what happens when we lay hands suddenly on someone. People get in a hurry or don’t pay attention to details, or don’t heed the warning signs and presto, a wolf in the pulpit!


Now Gaius was a man who truly loved Jesus. He was faithful to the teaching of our Lord and demonstrated his faithfulness to the commands of God by loving his fellow brothers in Christ. He loved, not merely in word or in tongue but instead demonstrated that love in deed and in truth! And having obeyed his Lord’s command to love his brothers and sisters in Christ he so proved that he was His disciple. 

To this man John says: 2Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. Now I want to call to your attention this prayer. John prays that Gaius may be in good health. This is something that we do also. But why do we pray for each other’s health? The answer ought to be, “so that we may serve our Lord Jesus Christ with all of our strength.”


But I also want you to remember Paul’s prayer concerning the thorn in the flesh! It would seem that whatever this was, it was impairing him in some way or else why would he pray three times that God would remove it! But remember the words of our Lord. “My grace is sufficient for you” and, “my strength is made perfect in your weakness” In the end, we all serve God by the strength and the grace He gives us.


I would also like you to consider another aspect of John’s prayer. Remember the doctrine of the Gnostics. To them anything physical, anything that you could see, touch, taste or smell was evil. The body was especially evil as it was through the body that you could experience all of these things. Therefore they scorned the body and looked to the health of the soul. (They taught that you were going to sin anyway so why resist.) This of course is blasphemous for we are called to serve God with all of our heart, soul mind and strength. Then too we read in 1Co 6:15 “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.” As you can see, there are no loopholes for us to indulge the wicked desires of the fallen nature!


Consider a few other passages with me. It is important that we take care of both our bodies and our souls. They are connected and we must nurture them for Paul said in (Eph 5:29) “Nobody ever hated his own (physical) body; he feeds it and looks after it. And that is what Christ does for his (spiritual) Body, the Church.” 


Then in (1Ti 4:8) Paul says “for bodily discipline (or exercise) is only of little profit, I don’t know how many preachers I have heard who have used this verse as an excuse to let their physical bodies deteriorate. It doesn’t say that exercise is of no profit but instead it is of a little profit. It has its place but when compared to godliness (or spiritual discipline) it is like what Christ said: “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:26). Matthew’s Gospel states it another way. “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. (Matt 10:37) We are to love our earthly parents and families but that love, when compared to our love for Jesus should look like hatred in comparison. That is what Jesus is talking about.


In the same way, it is ok to exercise: it’s even good for you. But you mustn’t let physical things take precedence over spiritual things. Exercise has its place but you must not let anything take precedence over relationship to Jesus. You mustn’t become a hedonist; one who despises spirituality and instead worships the physical. This is the opposite of a Gnostic who despises the physical world (but gives himself a license to sin) and worships the spiritual. Either way you are wrong. And worse still, you have become an idolater for you have set up an idol in your heart in place of the true God who said clearly that “YOU WILL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME!” The man of God is to do all things as unto the Lord: to pursue godliness which as Paul said is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Therefore Paul says in 1Co 9:27 “but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”


Gaius was a man who pursued a life that was pleasing to God because he loved Him! And his spiritual life was prospering as he sought to be conformed to the image of his beloved Jesus. Consider the testimony of this blessed man which John gives in verse 3For I was very glad when brethren came and testified to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth. What a testimony! Do people speak of us in this manner? What is your testimony before the world? Before your fellow believers! Before God!


Think back to the words of 1John 2:4-6 where we read: “The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him (the man or woman who says they are Christians) ought himself to walk or live in the same manner as He walked. (lived) This is the testimony of Gaius. He demonstrated that he loved his Lord by his actions. He walked as Jesus walked and so glorified his Father in heaven. This truth brought great joy to John.


Listen to his pastor’s heart as he speaks to us this morning. He says: 4I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. What a joy it is to preach and teach God’s truth to those who listen and apply the truth to their lives: to those who look intently into the law of liberty. On the other hand, what a source of sorrow and misery it is to preach the truth of God to those who call themselves believers but who will not obey the word of God. It is a sad thing to preach the truth, to handle accurately the word of God, to be faithful to preach the whole council of God and then to have the message of the truth scorned by forgetful hearers who cast aside the message they heard the second they hear the closing “Amen.”


People like this demonstrate the fact that they hate God and they give visible evidence that they were never born again. True believers live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. The Christian life is to be a life of service both to God and man. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength: doing all that we do in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, giving glory and honor to God the Father through Him. And we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.


You ask, “How can I serve God? What can I do? 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. Indeed the writer of Hebrews said Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”(Heb 13:2) 



John says “You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. What does that mean? It means take care of them as if you were doing it unto Him. Jesus said, “When you did it to the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Mt 25:40 God’s servants don’t run around saying “we’re serving God and so we need your support. We need as much as you can give.” No the true servant of God trusts in God to meet his needs as he seeks first God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness. Where God guides, God provides.


I think this is exemplified in verse 7For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. They went out to serve the Lord and were relying upon Him to take care of their needs. Paul was determined to make the gospel free of charge to those to whom he was sent. He relied upon God for his needs. And his fellow believers would provide offerings from time to time. He also relied on the skill God had given him for making tents. These also trusted in God for their needs.


Like Paul they too were taken care of by their brothers in Christ. And the church shouldn’t have to be browbeaten into demonstrating love for those who serve them in the ministry. The true believers in the church ought to understand that when they are giving an offering, they are worshiping God. It is an act of worship to God when we sing, pray, listen to the sermon and when we give.


John says as much in verse 8Therefore we ought to support such men, in other words, it should come naturally. We should willingly bear one another’s burdens for in doing so we understand that we are fulfilling the law of Christ. We should willingly, naturally love one another for in so doing we prove that we are His disciples. We should naturally love one another, not merely in word or tongue but in deed and in truth so that we may be fellow workers with the truth. This is the exact opposite of what is being done in churches across our land today where the assemblies of the called out ones resemble the love feasts of Corinth where some men ate and drank and others went hungry. This should not be so but when the visible Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is being run in a manner that is opposite of the word of God what do you expect. When the congregation is in charge no good thing can come of it. When false teachers, wolves in sheeps clothing are leading the flock, no good thing can come of it.


Gaius was a man of God. But the man we are about to meet was not. Enter Diotrephes.


This was in the church but he was an antichrist. He opposed the truth and hated, rather than loved the brethren. He would not allow the light of truth to enter in lest his evil deeds be exposed.  John says, 9I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. He was like Jannes and Jambres who opposed Moses. He was like Dathan and Abiram, Koreh, Achan, Nadab and Abihu, Ananias and Sapphira, and Judas: all enemies of God and of His Christ. John specifically declares that Diotrephes did not accept what John and the other apostles said. He opposed the truth of God. He was antichrist! How different than Gaius who loved God and His truth. Diotrephes sought his own, wanted recognition for himself. He wanted to be worshiped and adored much like the Pharisees who loved greetings in the marketplace and the best seats in the synagogue, and to be called Rabbi. He was a self seeking man!


But though antichrist prospers for a season, in the end they will all bow before God and declare that Jesus is Lord. They will not go unpunished. John says, 10For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.


Do you need any further proof that this man was an antichrist? He hates God and His truth, and his people! And if any one dares to take as stand for the truth of the word of God, he excommunicates them! The man was pure evil. And he was in the church, in the leadership! But he had for all intents and purposes, taken over and made the church into a place where he, not Jesus Christ, was worshiped.


There are many such men in positions of leadership in churches throughout the world who oppose God. They love themselves and are seeking their own glory and suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness. They are in the ministry for money, fame, and prestige. But like the Pharisees, they have received their reward. You can know them their fruit.


John gives us a clear command here in verse 11 when he says “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good.” We are to “come out from among them and be separate, sanctified to the Lord: a people fit for the Masters use. There is a clear and simple difference between those who are sons of God and those who are masquerading as sons of light. He says “The one who does good” the one who practices righteousness “is of God” he proves he is Christ’s disciple by his godly life.


On the other hand “the one who does evil” the one who practices sin, the worker of iniquity, this person “has not seen God.” You can safely say that the one who practices sin has never seen God. He has never known God. And more frightening than this, God does not know him.


So we have set before us in clear and unmistakable terms, examples of both true and false disciples. Returning to the question I asked at the outset of this lesson, if Jesus were to come back today would he find us among the faithful? Would He call us His disciples? Are we known in heaven? Does the Father know us? These questions are simple yet profound. We can say, “I believe in God” but if we are like Diotrephes, then we’re only kidding ourselves.


Now he closes with a final example of what a faithful brother in the Lord is.

Enter 12Demetrius (who we are told) has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself; and we add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true. Wow!


Consider the witnesses that testify about Demetrius. The members of the local churches testify that he is a true disciple. The truth according to which he has conformed his life: that is, the word of God testifies to the genuineness of his profession of faith. The Apostles declare that this man is one of Gods children. All these testify that Demetrius is a true believer, a genuine child of God, a brother in the faith. This man loved Jesus and it was evident to all. If Demetrius were put on trial with the charge of being a Christian, I dare say that he would be convicted.


Would we?


What is the testimony of your life? Do others see Jesus in you? Or is your life one that blends in with the world? The testimonies of Gaius and Demetrius are as humbling as that of Diotrephes is terrifying! And understand that our Lord Jesus Christ has given them to us as examples by which we may clearly compare ourselves to, to see whether we are in the faith. 


Do you understand that Every day brings God’s salvation nearer than the day in which we took the first step of faith. 12 The night is nearly over; the day has almost dawned. Let us therefore fling away the things that men do in the dark, let us arm ourselves for the fight of the day! 13 Let us live cleanly, as in the daylight, not in the delights of getting drunk or playing with sex, nor yet in quarrelling or jealousies. 14 Let us be Christ’s men from head to foot, and give no chances to the flesh to have its fling.” (Romans 13:12-14) Philips Translation

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