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These Friends are Forever

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
March 7, 2024 12:00 am

These Friends are Forever

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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March 7, 2024 12:00 am

Listen to the full-length version or read the manuscript of this message here: https://wfth.me/postcards.  As the Apostle John closes his brief letter in which he was just describing a godly man for us to emulate, his inspired words also reveal why he, John, is also worthy of imitation. Pastor Davey expounds upon these character traits of personal investment, personal influence, and personal interest in others, and why they matter. And he reminds us that when we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ like this, we become a beautiful reflection of our Lord's regard for us.

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John uses that term friend because he wants to emphasize their loving relationship with one another. Remember, he's writing to a church that's been ripped apart and friendships have been lost. Here's the after, he's kicking people out of the church, making them take sides because of his strange view, his corrupt defiance as it relates to the apostolic authority. He's abducted this church. And John comes along and in just a brief phrase, it's a volume. Hey, you happen to be friends.

Come on. Friendships and relationships were extremely important to the Apostle John. John has shown in his short third epistle how much he invested in and cared for his fellow believers. Their lives of faithful living were very important to him.

He wanted their relationships with each other to be marked by love. We too can and should follow John's example and make an effort to care about the needs and spiritual well-being of the friends that God has brought into our lives. That's the theme Stephen explores today in a lesson called These Friends Are Forever. This is Wisdom for the Heart. And today, Stephen Davey concludes his series through 2nd and 3rd John with this important message on relationships.

Let's get started. We come today to the end of our exposition and study together of 2nd and 3rd John, which we've called Postcards from John. 2nd John, just 13 verses long, we study together. A brief note written to a godly woman, a godly mother about her family. 3rd John, a postcard written to a godly man about his church, but they are much more than postcards. They are inspired by the Spirit of God and they are the Word of God.

Peter writes it this way in 2nd Peter 1 21. Men, these authors, referring to these prophets and apostles, were moved by the Holy Spirit and they spoke from God. So when you read a letter like you're reading along with me, 3rd John, it's more than John, it's the Spirit of God moving, compelling, guiding him, but it is also God using the human instrument and the personality and the vocabulary and the passion and the heart of John. John's not a robot. His hand is not moving mysteriously by itself.

He's not in a trance. The Holy Spirit is allowing John's personality and passion to frame these lines. God is impressing and guiding his engaged mind and his personality. And I say that because when we come here, we're going to pick up things that are different and unique because they're related to John. He's different than Paul.

He's different than Mark. He's different than Isaiah, Jeremiah, David. And so understand that God uses the human instrument as he delivers inspired truth. We come for the last time in our study to the little book of 3rd John.

So turn back there if you're not there already. If you were with us in our last study, last Lord's Day, John recommended that the church imitate Demetrius. They follow his example. Well, peaking in between the lines in these last few lines are the heart and maturity and passion of John. And let me tell you, he's worthy of imitation as well. We're going to pick up some things and I want to give you two or three of them worthy of imitation.

First of all, we want to he's worthy of imitation because of his personal investment in the lives of people. Notice verse 13. I had many things to write to you, but I'm not willing to write them to you with pen. Now, the way John writes this informs us that when he sat down originally to write to Gaius in his mind, there were a lot of things he planned on writing about.

So this original construction that we could we could sort of amplify this translation to read, I had many things to write to you when I first started writing. But now, rather abruptly, he's decided not to write anymore. The Spirit of God is telling him that's all.

Land the plane. You're finished. There was a little more on his mind, perhaps a lot more. I mean, wouldn't you like to know what those many things were that he had planned on writing? I can use another chapter, right?

We could use another year of study then, correct? We don't know what those things were, but we do know that God's Spirit is saying this is enough. God doesn't necessarily give us everything we'd like, but he gives us enough of what he needs for us to know. Now, given the information and context of both Second and Third John, this is why I've enjoyed studying them so closely together. They were written to members of the same church, more than likely. In fact, if you glance across the page at the way John closes his second letter, Second John, he writes, Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink. Now, notice Third John 13, I had many things to write to you, but I am not willing to write them to you with pen and ink. The only substantive difference in this conclusion is that John mentions paper in Second John and a pen in Third John, and there is no deep spiritual meaning in that distinction. In this case, John is not boycotting pencils. He's not giving us some deep truth here. If anything, it points to the same author, same vocabulary, same conclusion. Now, we can get all hung up on all that stuff, and we're going to get into the weeds a little bit this morning, but it's easy to miss the fact that John's writing. We mentioned that in Second John. He's writing.

How unique is that, especially today? It's not easy for him. He's not writing because he just has time on his hands. He's in his early to mid 90s. He's discipling. He's church planting.

He's leading. He has a lot of things to do, and certainly writing in the first century was not nearly as convenient as it is today. For us, emails are easy. Texts are easy.

Selfies are irritating, but we can do that. We can communicate a message, but who in the world writes a note by hand or a letter? Think about the fact that John doesn't have a drawer full of ballpoint pens to reach over and a ream of paper and cartridges of ink. He more than likely had to mix some ingredients to make the ink. This is the only time this word for pen appears in the entire New Testament.

I'm glad he did because it gives us a window into his world. It's the word for the reed plant from which pens were made. In fact, you could literally translate this phrase. I'm not willing to write you with reed and ink. These pens were hollowed out reeds into which they poured the ink, covered the top with wax or gum so the ink wouldn't spill back out, carved the other end to a point, then put a little slit cut in the end of it, which allowed the ink to draw through. The word for ink is a word that lets us know this is the common ink of his day, melanos.

It refers to simply a mixture of water and charcoal and a little tree resin. I say all that to say writing wasn't easy. It was a time-consuming investment in the lives of people. You can also pick up, by the way, from this opening line that John was thinking about this church. He was thinking about its members. He had a number of things on his heart. God didn't want him to write it and he didn't write it, but still he had that churning in his heart. He still had those thoughts and those ideas and those truths that he originally thought, I need to share this with this group of people.

That's it. No, save it for personal contact. But what a model for us to follow in simply taking the time to think about people and desire to make a personal investment in the lives of people.

Secondly, there's this element of personal influence in the lives of other people. Notice he writes in verse 14, but I hope to see you shortly so that we can talk face to face. It says the same thing in the second letter, speaking face to face. Literally in the Greek text is mouth to mouth. That's what the language means, stoma pros stoma, mouth to mouth, which conjures up in the English mind some kind of medical emergency out by the swimming pool where you need to provide mouth to mouth resuscitation. It's hard to translate this idiom. In our day we would say face to face. I think even that might be inadequate. I'd rather it say heart to heart.

That's what he wants. This is referring to close personal conversation. John wants to spend that kind of personal time with them so he can bring his wise, his elderly, his experience, his wisdom, experience wisdom, to bear in a church that has been hijacked by an unwise, ungodly man, unfortunately more than likely the pastor teacher. Now if you put the timeline of these two postcards together, more than likely 2 John is arriving to this godly woman's house.

She reads it, quickly shares it with the other believers in this assembly. Soon afterward 3 John arrives, this time to one of the godly church members, a man named Gaius. John announces again, we'll see it in a minute, he's going to arrive soon, he doesn't give a date. I think there's a reason for that because he's going to follow them up a few days later in a personal appearance, all of it wisely planned, wisely timed by John so that the congregation is notified but there's not enough time for diographies to marshal his forces. You know, call one of those infamous church meetings, close the door so John can't get in. So John doesn't give the date but notice what he does tell them is that he plans to come to them shortly. That word shortly is Mark's favorite word in the gospel by Mark, translated over and over again immediately, immediately. I am coming your way immediately, might as well pull up a chair, put out another dinner plate because I'm going to be there for supper.

Get ready because I'm on my way, that's the idea. John wants to make a personal investment in the lives of people, he wants to share godly influence in the lives of people. Thirdly, John has a personal interest in people and that might sound a little redundant, it isn't. In fact, I want to make the point here, you see it's possible, it's possible to want to influence people and not really care about people.

Advertisers do it all day long, they want to influence you but they don't care about you. It's possible that John wants to influence them but he doesn't really care about them, he really does care about them. He wants to show up here to influence this church and it's not just because he has a free weekend or because the assembly meets on the coast and he wants some fresh air or he's got a new series of messages, he wants a pulpit time, maybe an honorarium or whatever, no, he's interested in them. For those who are committed to Bible exposition, those pastors and teachers, I'm a little concerned over the last number of years, I hear a lot about loving to preach, loving to expound scripture, loving to be an exegete, loving that.

We don't love preaching, we love the people to whom we are preaching. John is interested in them, not just delivering a sermon and it shows up here in this text two different ways, his interest for them. First John offers comfort to them, notice the first phrase in verse 15, peace be to you, it's a sweet thing to say, there's no peace in their world, there isn't peace even in the church, it's all messed up, peace. The verb you'll notice in your text is italicized, which means the translator supplied it, it's not in the original text, to try to make sense and sometimes it's wonderful, sometimes it's unfortunate, this time I think it is so, because John is not expressing a wish that they get peace, drop out the verb and you have a statement, John is making a statement that they've already got it and the implication is you've got it because you're in Christ, not give it away, you are in Christ, Peter would write it that way, because you are in Christ you have peace, because you have peace with God, because you have the peace of God, now treat each other that way. How about a little peace in the church?

I think that's the subtle implication in this original construction. By the way this is the exact same phrase in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, when the brothers show up to Joseph and Joseph has every right to execute them, he has every authority and ability to torment them and torture them and his first word to them is peace to you. By the way this happens to be the first word the Lord delivered to his disciples as they're huddled in that upper room after his resurrection, they're terrified.

He supernaturally just moves through that closed door and he shows up and he has every right to discard them, he has every right to give them a tongue lashing they will never forget and yet John, who by the way was there, never forgot this because he said to them, peace to you. Same phrase here that John now ends, his letter, peace. What a word of comfort. By the way this is a word for you today, maybe in your world there is nothing like peace, it's all tumultuous, it's all rough waves, it's all difficult.

You've come in here and perhaps this has been the first hour of your week where it's been quiet and you've stayed still for 60 minutes. You have it because you're in Christ. You are in this peaceful state because you belong to Christ.

He is delivering to you the promise of his peace and with that strength and grace to help you walk through it, peace to you. John not only offers comfort, he offers consideration to them. Notice the last phrase in verse 15, the friends greet you.

Greet the friends by name. John uses that term friend twice not because he's run out of synonyms but because he wants to emphasize their loving relationship with one another. Remember he's writing to a church that's been ripped apart and friendships have been lost. Here's the after, he's kicking people out of the church, making them take sides because of his strange view, his corrupt defiance as it relates to the apostolic authority. He wants to be his own man, he's defying John. He won't provide hospitality to those church workers who are coming. He's abducted this church.

He would say it belongs to him. So you've got all of this turmoil, you've got all these friendships that are being shattered. John comes along and in just a brief phrase, it's a volume. Hey, you happen to be friends, come on. You're friends. The word is philoi, you're friends. Philia, that's a Greek word family that carries the idea of caring, affectionate love. We use the term today, phila, philos, philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.

Some of you are from Philadelphia and you know from personal experience that it is an affectionate loving city. The truth is making friends isn't automatically easy. It requires self-sacrifice.

It requires intentionality. It requires going out of your way. It requires saying not to God, I will wait for someone to be friendly to me, but Lord give me someone to be friendly to.

It isn't easy. Friendships are difficult. It's as if John is closing this postcard asking that Gaius remind people who haven't perhaps spoken to each other since the divisions occurred and all the tumultuous events began to take place under the tyrannical rule of diatrophes.

Diatrophes is destroying friendships. John says, Gaius, I want you to go along and I want you to begin restoring friendships and here's the best way to start. Go tell them they have friends back in Ephesus.

Go tell them they belong to an assembly that's a brother assembly. Battered and bruised though they may be, go and greet each of them by their name. It's hard to be an enemy with somebody when you greet them by their name. Someone wrote that your name is the sweetest and most important, most powerful sound in your language.

It represents you, who you are. Can you imagine the goodwill as Gaius treats them now like Jesus treats us who calls us his friends? I mean, imagine that. He calls us by our name, John 5 and John 10. I mean, it's one thing to know President so-and-so. It's another thing to know superstar so-and-so. It's another thing to know Senator so-and-so. But it's another thing entirely to say, oh, he or she, they're my friend. It's entirely different.

It takes it to a whole new level. Like when you were in fifth grade assuming you made it that far and you wrote a note to that little girl with pigtails and freckles in your class and you got right to the point, would you like to be my friend? And then you wrote a box and by it you wrote the word no and then another box, a big box, and next to it the word yes and then you passed it to her and she opened it and she got out her pencil, kind of looked over at you, and then she made a mark and then she handed it back to you and you haven't breathed yet.

You're holding your breath and you opened it and she checked yes. At least that's what all mine said when I got here. Not hardly. I mean, we learned early on. It's one thing to sit in the same class or on the same bus. It's another thing for you to be my friend. You've learned the same thing. You're in the same dorm room. You're in the same classroom. You're in the same shop. You're in the same boardroom. You're in the same church. John reminds the church that it is made up of friends and these friends are forever. This isn't a box to check.

This is a statement to live. Your friends greet you, greet all of our friends in your church by name. So just try to imagine what the next Lord's Day look like as Gaius, on behalf of John, goes around to all the brothers and sisters in the assembly.

I can just imagine much to the infuriation of diatrophies and to his irritation. Gaius has gone up. Hey, Bill. Hey, just want you to know that I'm coming to you on behalf of John the Apostle who wants you to know that the people back in his church consider you their friend. Who, me? Yeah, you. Hey, Sarah, can you come over here for just a second? I want to let you know that John sends you his personal greetings and wants to remind you how grateful he is that you're his friend. Who, me?

Yeah, you. What a different culture that creates in the assembly and to a church that no doubt needed this kind of kind, gracious conversation from John. Hey, you're friends of Christ's because of his cross work which you've believed in and you're not only friends of his, you're friends with each other. So live in that peace and demonstrate that peace with one another. Deepen your friendships.

Deepen them one name at a time. These are friendships that are going to last forever. And with that we bring to a close this message and this series. This is Wisdom for the Heart, the Bible teaching ministry of Stephen Davey.

Stephen is the president of Wisdom International. The message you just heard is called These Friends Are Forever. It comes from the series through 2nd and 3rd John called Postcards from John.

If you'd like to go back and listen to the series again, you can. All of the messages have been posted to our website. You'll find that at wisdomonline.org. We have a section on that page where all of Stephen's sermons are archived. They're organized by Book of the Bible, so when you scroll down to 2nd and 3rd John, you'll find it there. It's also available on our smartphone app.

The Wisdom International app is available free of charge in the iTunes and Google Play stores. If you'd like to add this series to your library of Christian resources, we have it available as a set of CDs. Information about that is also available on our website. Once again, that's wisdomonline.org. We can also give you information if you call us today. Our number is 866-48-BIBLE. That's 866-48-BIBLE or 866-482-4253.

I hope we hear from you today. Before we go, I want to offer you the next three months of Stephen's magazine as our gift to you. Stephen publishes a magazine called Heart to Heart. Each issue features a specific topic related to the Christian life. In the past, we've explored topics such as a literal six-day creation, the importance of thankfulness, how to study the scriptures, what can we learn from the life of Jonah, how can we face trials and difficulties in a way that honors God. The magazine also has a daily devotional guide. We've heard from dozens of readers who've told us how much they appreciate these devotions.

They're written by Stephen's son, Seth. We've expanded the magazine to give more room to the daily devotionals. They will help you remain grounded in God's word every day. We send Heart to Heart magazine to all of our wisdom partners, but we'd be happy to send you the next three issues if you'd like to see it for yourself. It's our gift to you, just for you taking the time to introduce yourself. You can sign up for it on our website, or you can call us today. Our number is 866-48-BIBLE. That's 866-482-4253. We're in the office on weekdays, and we'd love to talk with you, get to know you, and introduce you to this resource, Heart to Heart magazine. Inquire about that when you call us today. Then join us back here next time on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-07 00:39:21 / 2024-03-07 00:51:19 / 12

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