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How to Properly Hold the Rope

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
March 1, 2024 12:00 am

How to Properly Hold the Rope

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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March 1, 2024 12:00 am

Listen to the full-length version or read the manuscript of this message here:  No matter where we live or what stage of life we're in, as believers we are called be ambassadors for Christ right where we're planted. Some are called to go--often to the far reaches of the globe. But, as Pastor Davey explains here, even if we can't personally go out into the world to start an orphanage, preach to Muslims, or live in the jungles, we can become "rope-holders", supporting with prayers, finances, and encouragement those who do go.


His name is above every other name. The apostles preach there is salvation in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. The gospel and the name of Jesus are exclusively, absolutely, entirely, inseparably linked.

You can't have one without the other. Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation. There's no hope for anyone outside of faith in him. As believers, we're called to be ambassadors for Jesus wherever we find ourselves. Some of us are called to go to the far reaches of the globe and share the truth there. But as Stephen explains today, even if you're not called to go to a foreign country to preach the gospel, all of us are called to support God's work around the world. The way we do that is with our prayers, our finances, and our encouragement to those who do go. This is wisdom for the heart.

Today, Stephen Davey continues through his series from 3 John with this message called How to Properly Hold the Rope. You'll be challenged and encouraged regarding the role you play in God's global work as you listen to today's lesson. Many of you may be familiar with William Carey, a man we refer to as the father of modern mission serving Christ for more than 40 years in India. He preached, planted churches in the late 1700s, early 1800s, built schools. In fact, he started a school for poor children where he taught them, among other subjects, accounting so that they could make a living when they grew older.

He founded the first degree-awarding university in the entire country of India. No doubt his most lasting legacy was his tireless effort to translate the scriptures into a number of dialects and languages for the people throughout this country. I have read and underlined and often mused on his classic biography written by his great-grandson where he retold the narrative of William who is a simple, ordinary shoe maker developed by the grace of God in his heart a passion for the world.

In fact, he had over his workbench where he repaired shoes a map he made of leather of the world, and he would pray for the untold millions who knew not Christ. He providentially became close friends with four businessmen, and they promised to support him. Carey would often refer to descending into the gold mine of India, and that idea kind of caught on with the other four men, and they even came up with an expression called the rope-holding pledge or promise.

Carey said, and I quote, I will go down into the mine if you will hold the rope. Before he departed from England and descended into India where he would give his life, one of his four supporters remembered, and again I quote, William took an oath from each of us as it were at the mouth of the pit that while we lived we should never let go of the rope. I'm glad to report to you, beloved, that all four men kept their promise, and as long as they lived never let go. I've often thought their biographies have never been written, at least not on earth, but their biographies these four men have been recorded in heaven. The lives of Fuller, Pierce, Ryland, and Sutcliffe are for the most part unknown to us. They are not unknown to Christ. They're not unknown to William Carey.

They're not unknown to a multitude who even now inhabit heaven. They held the rope as he climbed down. The apostle John happens to be writing a letter to a rope holder named Gaius, and in case you miss it he's going to inform us that every one of us have a part to play. We also have been sent. We give.

We pray. We may send others elsewhere, but all of us play a critical role in hanging on to the rope. I want you to turn with me in your New Testament to an inspired lesson on how to properly hold the rope. We call it Third John, so turn there. The rope holder, in this case, is a man named Gaius. Gaius has quite a reputation for caring for traveling preachers and evangelists, church planters, ambassadors of the gospel, the William Carries of the first century in his part of the world. Today we find a description of what exactly he did and how to do it best. We arrive at verse five. Note there.

Beloved, you could render it again. My dearest friend, he's referring to Gaius, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brothers, the brethren, and especially when they are strangers. That is, they're unknown to you. 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.

Stop there for a moment. He is commending Gaius and he commends him for a couple of things. First of all, for being and having a faithful reputation. John writes, Gaius, you are acting faithfully.

You can render it loyally. You are acting loyally to the workers of the gospel. In simple terms, Gaius is more loyal to them than to himself.

He is self-sacrificing. He essentially opens his home and his stable and his barn and his refrigerator and his checkbook to these traveling ambassadors of Christ. These are brothers. What do we know of them? Well, they're unnamed. John calls them. If you look down at verse eight, he tells the church to support such men.

And he uses language here in the original construction that creates this class, this category of men. They're known for the fact that they have gone to spread the gospel. And of course, every church member, by the way, is an ambassador for Christ.

We are all called to represent him in the arena where he's placed us. But this league of men, this band of brothers, so to speak, are unique in that they have taken it on the road. That's the idea.

They've taken it out on the road. And as we've already discussed, that isn't easy. Here's the point. Gaius is more faithful. He is more loyal to the taking care of others than in his own loyalty for his own household and the taking care of the conveniences and the comfortable patterns of his own life.

And that's convicting to me because I've got some patterns, don't you? Let me point out one more thing about Gaius. He not only has a reputation for being faithful, he has a reputation for being loving. Notice verse six again where John points out, they have testified to your love. I think it's interesting that John didn't call it hospitality.

It was. John doesn't specifically refer to cooking and cleaning and giving, which it was. He called it love. And that's because all the cooking and cleaning and inconvenience, conversing and giving were demonstrations of and rooted in and out of agape, that word for love John uses here, which is a demonstration of the love of God for us. And evidently, it made it into the testimony meeting.

Notice these guests testified in the church, literally in church. That is, in a church meeting, they testified, Gaius, of your reputation and care. Evidently, the word has already traveled back to Ephesus where John is living about the treatment Gaius is offering to these strangers, these ambassadors, these church workers, and the entire church now hears of the hospitality of Gaius. Evidently, God wanted Gaius to rub off on them and on us. Now John urges Gaius to keep on doing the same thing. Notice the latter part of verse six.

You will do well to send them on their way. You're doing well, Gaius. Keep it up. That word used for well, you do well, can be translated in the New Testament with the word good. You're doing good.

Notice the standard against which he's measured and how he's acting. Look again at verse six. You do well, you're doing beautifully to send them on their way. Notice, in a manner worthy of God.

Wow, that ratchets the whole thing up. You're doing something that is worthy of God. You could understand that genitive to be rendered in the sense that Gaius, what you're doing in the view of God is worthy. I would agree with those that would understand it and that could certainly be true and it may be both of these but he's using it in the sense of Gaius, you are treating them in a worthy manner in which you would treat God.

Can you imagine? Gaius, take care of them. Keep doing this like you would take care of God.

If Jesus showed up at your home, I mean the first thing you're going to think is I didn't, you know, vacuum the rug. You get past that but how are you going to treat them? Are you going to give them the back room or the best room? Are you going to feed them leftovers or are you going to prepare something fresh?

Something that is probably topped off with chocolate cake just in case you're wondering. That's, you know, that's beautiful. John says treat them like you would treat God and how does God treat us? How does God love us? How does God demonstrate his grace upon us?

Paul wrote in Ephesians chapter 1 verse 8, he lavishes his grace on us. He's over the top. Can you imagine a church ever being criticized in its treatment of church workers for being, you guys, I mean you're way over the top.

You're lavish. Can you imagine this is the reputation of Gaius who is treating them as if he would treat God should God show up and it's a reminder to us that as we treat those that represent him, we are indeed treating him. As I spent time in this text, of course, my mind was flooded with many memories growing up as a missionary kid traveling with my parents and my three brothers and we always took that annual summer vacation trip to Minnesota, the birthplace of my father and grandfather where I was born in Worthington, Minnesota and and all along the way it took a while to get there because my parents sort of built into that trip two or three stops at the homes of supporters that supported them and my parents just retired after 63 years and you know for the four of us boys, we didn't really get it. We didn't really care. We just kind of wonder what they had, you know, what could we play with.

They got a ball or something. I remember one house always had a crab apple tree that was always, I mean they were perfect for, oh never mind what we did with those crab apples, but at any rate I remember many years later when I did finally get it. I was a college freshman and came home. It was on break and my dad had to preach in a supporting church about an hour and a half away and I said, hey can I go with you?

And he said, absolutely. So he and I traveled about an hour and a half. We got up early Sunday morning, got there by the service time. My dad preached and afterward we greeted folks and it was pretty clear we weren't going anywhere for lunch and that was fine with me because we hit the road and probably get to pick our place to eat and I remember I could still see, in fact I can still picture my dad on the other side of the car as we walked out to the parking lot where the car was parked and I asked him, so you know where are we going to go eat?

I've been thinking about that for an hour or so, you know. I was a college student, you know, remember six meals a day is a good day and so I was, where are we going to eat dad? And I remember he hesitated and then he said, I think we can make it home and I said, wait a minute, don't you have any money? I didn't.

He didn't either. He didn't say, he didn't respond but I said, didn't they give you money? I mean, you preached for them. Didn't they give you gas money? Didn't they give you lunch money? They give you anything?

And he just paused and then he smiled at me again and he simply said, I think we can make it home. You know, I often think of them when I think of what we do. I've been in the homes of missionaries overseas. I remember being in one home where he told me he'd just received a box from a supporting church filled with used teabags, not exactly lavish. How do you handle that kind of indignity?

How do you handle that kind of perverse frugality? We've had it. We're going to give it to you and maybe you can get something out of it. Can you imagine Jesus showing up and you're inviting him into the living room saying, let's have a hot cup of tea. Let me use the tea bag first.

Here, there's probably some left in there for you. Have we forgotten who these people are? You want to know why we want to treat servants of Christ who've given their lives to the gospel as beautifully and as generously as we possibly can? Well, John gives us two reasons why.

First, because of the name they serve. Notice the beginning of verse seven. But they went out for the sake of the name. Now, that's an absolute use of the word name, which is why it's probably capitalized in your translation. It's found like that, again, though not capitalized as it ought to be, but it's found in the book of Acts in chapter five where we're told that the apostles were ordered never to speak again in the name, never to speak again in the name, in that name. John 5 28.

In fact, later on, again, in that same chapter in verse 40, they're told never to speak again in the name of Jesus. If there's any doubt about what name we're talking about, that's it. In that same chapter, Luke records that after the apostles were flogged by the religious leaders for their preaching, that they went out rejoicing because they had been counted worthy to suffer for, here it is again, the name.

I love that. See, when you see a reference to the name, it's an expression that represents everything that Jesus Christ represents. It's everything about his nature and his attributes and his deity and his gospel.

This is who he is. His name is who he is. This is why his name is above every other name because he is superior to all others.

Philippians chapter two, verse nine, because of the fact that his name represents him in all his glory. In fact, the apostles preach there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. The gospel and the name of Jesus are exclusively, absolutely, entirely, inseparably linked.

You can't have one without the other. John will write in his gospel, those who believe will have life in his name. John 20, 31. You want to know why we hold the rope? We hold the rope. They are worthy of our lavish support because of the name they serve.

Secondly, they are worthy of our generous and loyal support because of the life they've sacrificed. Notice verse seven again, but they went out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. The term Gentile simply refers to unbelievers.

That may be the way it's translated in your text or pagan. These are the unbelievers. Now, to apply this principle broadly to the church today, the church doesn't ask the world to fund her mission. We don't write letters to unbelievers asking for money.

If somebody finds out you're going and they give you money, wonderful, but you don't go after them. We don't raise our mission's budget by doing bazaars and bake sales and flea markets. We will sell our stuff to our neighborhoods hoping they'll buy our stuff so we can send another team to the field. That turns everything upside down. In fact, it cheapens the gospel. It distorts our mission. We end up selling to people we should be reaching with the gospel.

It turns it upside down. To narrow the context to the people John is referring to, these traveling preachers and evangelists and church planters and pastors and translators and whoever, full-time Christian workers, they didn't raise their support from the Gentiles. In other words, God has designed the church to fund the mission of the church, to support those who represent the gospel of the church, which is the gospel of Christ. That's the pattern. A healthy church follows that pattern.

The problem with that though, right, is it gives us as a church the responsibility. We better step up. The average global worker today, it'll take them about three or four years to raise their support because churches love to have, you know, a lot of missionaries, but we're going to give them $50 a month. It takes them a long time. What they need are people to come along who will hold the rope. You see, these people have left their homes.

They've taken it on the road. They may have left their home culture. They left their sources of income.

They've entered a ministry of faith. It's not about money. In fact, they've walked away from it, and in many cases, many of them have walked away from making a lot of it. There's no career path out there.

There's no promotion out there. I think of a doctor who sold a thriving practice in order to attend Shepherd's Seminary here and now is living on the meager income of a church planter. I think of a building contractor who sold a successful business he owned so that he could come and attend a seminary and now he and his family live in another culture in a hut with a dirt floor. Can I tell you, these choice servants of the Lord are hoping and they are praying that believers and churches will follow the counsel of the apostle John and the testimony of Gaius. In fact, the counsel of the apostle Paul, who with John, agreeing with John, wrote a little further on the subject to the Corinthians, this is the pattern of the church. He writes, for it is written in the law of Moses, you shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing. God is not simply concerned about oxen, is he?

In other words, that law wasn't just given for them, was it? No, Paul answers his own question. For our sake, it was written. He's talking to us. Here's how it works. For if and since we sowed spiritual things in you, Paul writes, is it too much if we reap material things from you?

Is that asking too much? In other words, this is how it's supposed to work. This is the relationship. They have given their lives to the spiritual ministry of the word and now they, who have invested in us spiritually, shouldn't they receive from us materially? The answer, of course, is yes, this is the pattern of giving. And what is the standard of our material generosity?

Is it used teabags or is it something that could be rendered generous and lavish? So the question for us today, are you holding any rope in your hands? When's the last time you've felt the strain of those ropes, the burden, the need, the mission? Has it strengthened the muscles of your faith with the way that you've gripped those ropes? Are you holding the rope of this church? Are we together holding it?

Is it really yours? Are you led by God and have you obediently enabled someone or some ministry outside the church who has impacted your life spiritually? They sow in you the word and you give back to them material things. I pray that when we all reach the end of our days, we all have, as it were, some rope burns in our hands, some calluses for the sake of the name which is above everything and the cause that is most glorious that we could only give ourselves to. It is the gospel of the One to whom we've often said today, to Him be the glory. And may it be through us even greater glory because of the fruit that abounds to His name as we hold the rope and we trust the Lord and we serve Him.

We trust the Lord and we serve Him by serving others together. The message you just heard today here on Wisdom for the Heart is called How to Properly Hold the Rope. Your Bible teacher, Stephen Davey, is working his way through the epistle of 3 John in a series called Postcards from John. There are four more messages to go in this series and we'll bring you those in the days ahead. In the meantime, I want to make you aware that if you joined us late today or if you missed any of the messages in this series so far, we've posted them to our website and our app.

You can find this series along with the complete archive of all Stephen's teaching if you go to We also have the app that you can install on your iPhone or Android smartphone or tablet. You'll be able to listen to each day's message, read the printed manuscript, watch the video of Stephen teaching, read our daily devotionals, and much more.

I encourage you to install the Wisdom International app or visit the website often. Stephen reminded us today of the importance of encouraging those who are involved in the work of the ministry and one of the things that encourages us is hearing from our listeners. We recently got this note. Josh writes, Stephen Davey has played a huge part in my growth as a young Christian.

I've been listening for five years now. What a blessing having this good resource for solid teaching. Well, thanks Josh for writing to us. We were really glad to hear from you. And friends, if you'd like to write to us or send a donation to help us continue this work, our address is Wisdom International, P.O. Box 37297, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27627. I hope we hear from you. Join us again for more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-01 00:42:41 / 2024-03-01 00:52:04 / 9

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