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Walk in the Truth (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
December 5, 2023 3:00 am

Walk in the Truth (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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December 5, 2023 3:00 am

It’s encouraging when someone promises to pray for you, but it’s better when they immediately pray with you. Similarly, if we love our fellow Christians, it’s important to show them. Learn how love is made visible on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!

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It's encouraging when someone offers to pray for you.

It's even better when they stop right there and pray with you. In the same way, it's nice to say we love our Christian brothers and sisters, but it's better when we do something that shows it. Today on Truth for Life, we'll learn how love is made visible. Alistair Begg is teaching from the opening verses in 3rd John. There are four words that we were employing in order to try and come to an understanding of these opening eight verses—essentially half of this little letter. Our first word was prosperity, under verses 1 and 2, noting that while we disdain any notion of a prosperity gospel, we cannot avoid the fact that John is concerned for the prosperity, the well-being of this man by the name of Gaius, and that that prosperity extends beyond simply his spiritual well-being, but it actually has to do with his health, and indeed it would have to do with his business, and it would have to do with every legitimate aspect of his life.

We then went to verses 3 and 4 and noted the testimony—that was the second word—the testimony that came concerning these circumstances, and particularly concerning Gaius and the nature of his love. And the responsibility, the privilege, the obligation of a pastor, the supreme concern of a pastor, is to help his flock know the truth and then to live by the truth that they have come to know. And for most of us, that is going to mean in the details of our routine lives.

We may not like to think of them as being routine, but all of us do have a routine one way or another, and even the absence of a routine is usually fairly routine after a while. But every one of us has the privilege and the responsibility of taking the exhortation to walk in the truth and then work it out in the everyday details of our lives. And eventually, when the record is opened up, and when in heaven the books are unfastened, as it were, and the story is told, it will be the story of God's grace and goodness in the lives of many people who are unsung, unknown, and yet who have made for the cause of the gospel, in many cases, great sacrifices that have been unknown to others and also great advances for the kingdom.

And frankly, I delight when I discover that what we might refer to as those who are the unsung heroes, the ones who in the realm of the history of the church wouldn't be known beyond their immediate circuit of influence. For example, how many of you know who Fred Mitchell was? Fred Mitchell was a chemist. He was, that is, a pharmacist. He was a pharmacist in Yorkshire in the 40s and 50s. He was, if you like, a Christian layman committed to his wife and to his family and to his work. And he was also heavily committed to the world of missions. In fact, he became the general director of the China Inland Mission, following a man by the name of D.E.

Host, whose names some may know but probably most won't. That man, having followed the first general director of the China Inland Mission—namely Hudson Taylor, whose name more will know but all won't. On the 3rd of May, 1953, there was the announcement of the fact that a comet—that is, an airplane, a comet airliner bound for London from Singapore—was missing. All contact with it had been lost six minutes after it came off the end of the runway, just outside of Calcutta. The last signal that came from the cockpit to ground control was a phrase by the captain, climbing on track.

And then the loss of radio contact, and finally, the aircraft found with no survivors. On that plane, coming from Calcutta, was Fred Mitchell. And when they finally put together a little biography of him—a biography that I cherish amongst many that are more significant—they simply called his biography Climbing on Track.

And in the early section of it, they make this point, which is being purposefully quoted to you in order to reinforce this vital importance of every person involved in ministry. And this is what the biographer says. The abiding message of Fred Mitchell's life is that he accomplished no great thing. His name was linked with many Christian organizations, but he was a founder of none. He turned the feet of many into the paths of righteousness, but not more than others of his contemporaries. He made no spectacular and inspiring sacrifices.

He affected no reforms. For the first forty-five years of his life, the pathway he traversed was similar to that of thousands of others, of other self-made, moderately successful businessmen. From village school to chemist's shop would have been an appropriate summing up of his outward course. And then here's the sentence. On that ordinary humdrum track, however, he walked with God, climbing steadily in spiritual experience.

It's relatively easy to walk with God when the track isn't humdrum, when the band is playing, when the enthusiasm of the surrounding company gives you some kind of energy that you don't even bring to the journey. But that's not routine. What's routine is routine. And unless we learn to climb steadily on the humdrum track, we will never climb steadily at all. So perhaps a little word in passing to those of you who were saying, Oh goodness, back to the same old stuff tomorrow morning, the same old business, yet again.

What an immense privilege each of us has! Prosperity. And now, generosity. The testimony that he's heard is an encouraging one concerning Gaius, and he says in verse 5, Listen, my dear friend, you're faithful in what you're doing for the brothers, even though they're strangers to you. Now, the whole foundation of these comments here has to do with the nature of Gaius's use of his resources.

It is impossible to set that aside. To whatever level he has been given a dimension of prosperity, that prosperity has not been hoarded in a selfish way, but it is that which he has been prepared to use in the service of God's kingdom and to the benefit of others. If you like, Gaius has taken seriously the exhortation of Paul in Romans 12, share with God's people who are in need, practice hospitality. And by his efforts on behalf of his brothers, he is embodying his conviction regarding the truth and his affection, which is this expression of love. And his love has become visible. They have told the church, verse 6, about your love. They've told them about his love.

I wonder what that meant. They told us about your love. If you like, in Chapman's stuff for Moody, all those books about love languages, Gaius's love language, if we want to use this, was expressed in his generosity. You wouldn't have known his love, because he kept going around, going, I love you, I love you, I love you, but his love would have been expressed in the utilization of that which he'd been uniquely entrusted with by God himself. So they were able to come back and explain to the church, Gaius really loves us.

How did they figure that out? Because of what was visible. What was visible. His generosity. And again I say to you that if you're going to have some kind of genuine, tangible expression of love amongst the family of faith, it has to be that which is able to weather disappointments, disagreements, disharmony, because all of that is wrapped up in being a family. Brothers and sisters argue. They disappoint one another. They misunderstand each other.

They take things the wrong way. So if love, then, as conceived within a family, has to do with everything being hunky-dory all the time, then of course we have to conclude that there are great periods of time where love has just vanished out the door. No, not necessarily. Hence, these expressions of generosity. And notice—and again, this is simply to build upon what we have seen prior to this—that his expression of generosity is not because these brothers are his buddies. Because we read there at the end of verse 5 that you are faithful in what you're doing for the brothers, even though they're strangers to you. So this is remarkable.

This is the kind of thing that makes people sit up and take notice. Well, why would you be doing that for those people? You don't even know who they are. Why would you extend generosity to these people that you have never met and you perhaps never will meet this side of eternity? Well, Gaius said to my brothers, we stand side by side in the cause of the gospel. We have the same heavenly Father. We are followers of the same Lord Jesus Christ. And hence, from the life of Gaius flow these practical expressions of love.

Now, if you think about it—and of course, this is by no means certain—but if we are correct in assuming that these brothers were bearing the letter that is mentioned in verse 9, and in going to the church faced the rejection of diatrophes, and as a result of the bad reaction of diatrophes, they were cast upon the hospitality of Gaius, then it is perfectly understandable that having been driven, as it were, into the hands and the arms of the affection of Gaius, they would come back to the sending establishment and say, Hey, you gotta meet this fellow Gaius. He doesn't know us from a hole in the ground. But he gave us a bed, we had three square meals a day, and he gave us pocket money when we left, so that on our journey we would be okay. Generosity.

Generosity. Now, we have to learn this lesson, don't we? And I'm sure we need to learn it again and again. We do well to keep in mind the words of Jesus that are recorded for us in Matthew 25. I won't read them all, just a snippet.

You're familiar with them. Here we go. Jesus says, I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink.

I was a stranger, and you invited me in. And you remember the disciples said, Hey, Lord, we don't remember any of that. Lord, when did we see you like this? And then Jesus words, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. In other words, the brothers, although they are strangers, are the servants of God, they represent God, and therefore Gaius treats them as he would treat Jesus. Now, John is a loving soul, isn't he, as he writes these letters?

But he's also masterful in the little nudges that he gives. And I think there is a little nudge here in the second sentence of verse 6. They've told the church about your love.

That's a kind of attaboy. Well done. Your love is here. And then he says, You would do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. In other words, come on now. You've started well.

Let's keep it going. You've encouraged them by your hospitality, but make sure that you enable them in their going by their generosity. In other words, those who are the servants of the gospel, those who are the bearers of good news, those who are the teachers in the fledgling first-century church, who are dependent upon the generosity of those who have resources so that they might have a place to stay, so that they might have food and clothes to wear—they receive no remuneration from anywhere, they're entirely dependent on this generosity—would have occasioned to bless Gaius. Of course, keep in mind the warning that has already been given concerning those who are unscrupulous, those who are seeking to use the gospel as a means of lining their nest, those who are, in 2 Corinthians 4 terminology, pegglers of the Word of God for profit.

The warning has already been given concerning the unscrupulous nature of those characters, and it is the part of the Christian to exercise discernment so as to make sure that we are not providing resources to those who illegitimately demand payment for their work in the gospel, but we are, for those who live in the service of the gospel, prepared to recognize that such individuals are worthy of thanks in a tangible way. Final word is synergy. Synergy. The actual Greek word that gives us our English word synergy is right here in the final phrase of verse 8. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men—notice the phrase in the NIV—"so that we may work together for the truth." That we may work together for the truth. In the Greek, it reads as follows. Hina gonomitha sonergoi en aletheia. In other words, hina that we gonomitha may be sonergoi fellow workers te aletheia. In the truth.

So it's actually there. Fellow workers. This is the synergy. It's not a synergy, again, that has to do with the fact that we are a homogeneous group, that we've all come out of the same stable, that we're all interested in the same kind of music, that we all read the same kind of books, that we're all from the same socioeconomic demographic. It's not that at all.

No. The synergy that exists in the body of Christ is a God-ordained synergy, whereby he introduces us to the wonder of his salvation, and he then calls for us to be united in the cause of truth itself. These individuals, you will notice, are not simply members of the church. They're missionaries from the church. It was for the sake of the name, verse 7, that they went out. They went out. They have gone out under the banner of Christ and his kingdom. They've gone out for the sake of Christ's name. They haven't gone out for their own name.

They've not gone out to make a name for themselves. They've gone out to make much of the name of Jesus. Says Peterson, paraphrasing this, they set out under the banner of the name, and they get no help from unbelievers. So they deserve any support we can give them in providing meals and a bed. We become their companions in spreading the truth. That's the most important phrase.

In providing them with a bed and with a meal, we become their companions. We're involved in the synergy of spreading the truth. If, as lay people, you do not understand that, you will never, ever, ever get to the point where you recognize the privilege of releasing resources that God has given you in the work of the kingdom of God. Because it will simply appear that what you do is take something that you have and make it possible for others to do something.

But until you realize that in taking what you have, you are actually organically, synergistically involved in that endeavor, then suddenly it changes everything. In the past few weeks, on the island of Jersey, which is in the Channel Islands, about twelve miles off the coast of France, Sue and I went and visited the German war tunnels. When Germany invaded Jersey and occupied Germany in 1940, they built tunnels deep into the island. And it was in those tunnels that they did all kinds of things that we won't necessarily go into now.

The tunnels have now been renovated and opened up so that it is possible for historians, and others like ourselves, to go in and benefit from the discovery of what was happening between 1940 and 1945. And as we went through these tunnels—and they were wonderful, and I commend the opportunity to you if you ever go there—there were a number of things that stood out to both of us, and none more so than a plaque that was on a wall that said—and I meant to bring this in reality, I've forgotten it, but I can do it well enough—it was a plaque to the effect that this was from women of the sort of Compassionate Society of the Jersey Compassionate People to the members of the Royal Air Force. And basically it said, We send our love.

And then it said, And with their expressions of support they provide it. And then it said, Fifty-six pairs of mittens. Twenty-seven pairs of socks. Forty-five flying helmets. Fifteen sweaters. And so on. And it just went down a list. And I just stood and looked at it and said, I wonder who those women were. And some airmen, flying in the face of Nazi Germany's endeavor to take over the Western world, was secure and warm in the jersey provided by a lady from Jersey, who was just a knitter.

Oh, there's no just a knitter when your hands are freezing in an open-top plane. I think you get it, don't you? That's what John is saying here.

That's what he's talking about in relationship to synergy. These individuals were neither peddlers for profit nor were they like the begging friars of the Middle Ages. And so, says John to him, we ought to show hospitality to such men for two reasons. One, because we believe in the message they proclaim, namely the gospel, and two, because they have no other means of support. What a wonderful opportunity for involvement. What a required synergy in the work of mission in the world. All of us are not called to go, but all of us are called to give. Not all of us must preach, but all of us must provide. And when we stay behind, we support those who go. We enter into a joint participation in the work of spreading the truth so that others may come to know the truth, so that those who become our spiritual children learn to walk in the truth. That's actually what we're all involved in. Every last one of us in the place of God's appointing.

What a wonderful privilege. You're listening to Alistair beg on Truth for Life. As we learn from Alistair today, we stand side by side in the cause of the gospel. And while not everyone is called to preach or become a missionary, every time you give to Truth for Life, you are helping to spread God's word. So we're grateful for those of you who come alongside us.

The end of this year is not too far away. So if you have yet to reach out to support this 100% listener funded ministry, can you do that today? Any gift you give large or small helps bring Truth for Life to people, not just in the United States, but around the world. People who rely on Alistair's teaching for their daily time in God's word.

You can make your donation securely through the Truth for Life mobile app or online at slash donate, or you can call us at 888-588-7884. When you make a gift today, we will express our gratitude by sending you a bundle of three short classics. These are books that Alistair highly recommends you add to your 2024 reading list. You may not be familiar with all of these influential Christian writers, Henry Scoogle, Thomas Chalmers, and J.I. Packer, but their writings have encouraged believers for centuries. As you read these short paperbacks, you'll learn how to love God more than sin, how to defend the truth of the gospel, and how to pursue unity with God.

Each book is a profound piece of work that you will find yourself reflecting on long after you've finished reading. Ask for the short classics bundle today when you donate online at slash donate. I'm Bob Lapine, and as we're learning how to walk in the truth, it's also helpful to learn what not to do. Tomorrow, we'll learn some good lessons from bad behavior. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-05 07:24:36 / 2023-12-05 07:32:58 / 8

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