Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part I: Defining Who To INCLUDE In God's Circle Of True Fellowship
(3 John 1-8)
  1. Introduction
    1. In our effort Biblically to withdraw from fellowship with parties who are opposed to fellowship with God, there is an inherent danger of wrongly excluding fellowship with those who truly walk with God.
    2. 3 John was written to show the extent to which God's fellowship INCLUDES others who walk with God, and 3 John 1-8 gives us insight on the basis of who to include in God's circle of true fellowship:
  2. Defining Who To INCLUDE In God's Circle Of True Fellowship, 3 John 1-8.
    1. John revealed he enjoyed close spiritual fellowship with his spiritual brother in Gaius, for Gaius ordered his life in accord with the truth of God's Word, 3 John 1-4:
      1. John revealed he loved Gaius with a Christian love based upon God's truth, 3 John 1.
      2. Because of this love, John expressed his hope Gaius would continue to enjoy material prosperity and physical good health as Gaius did for his spiritual soul, 3 John 2.
      3. The reason for John's expression of fellowship with Gaius is revealed in John's mention that Gaius walked in the truth (3 John 3), a fact that brought great joy to the Apostle John, cf. 3 John 4.
      4. Well, to "walk in the truth" as John defined it meant heeding Scripture, cf. Isaiah 8:20-9:2.
      5. Thus, John revealed his close spiritual fellowship with Gaius was based upon the mutual commitment John and Gaius had with the TRUTH of God's Word.
    2. John also revealed Gaius was to continue to extend his circle fellowship to include itinerant Christian evangelists who also walked in the light. That walk was partly evidenced by their refusing to receive financial support from unbelievers in defense of the credibility of the Gospel they proclaimed, 3 John 5-8:
      1. John wrote he knew of Gaius' ministry of housing traveling Christian evangelists, financially aiding them to continue their journeys, 3 John 5-6 NIV, ESV.
      2. The reason this work by Gaius is approved by God comes from the way these evangelists walked in the truth in their evangelistic ministries (as follows):
        1. The itinerant evangelists in the context had refused to receive financial support from unbelievers, for they did not want to appear either to be in league with those in darkness or they did not want to appear to be "selling" the Gospel for money, producing an errant and discrediting belief, 3 John 7.
        2. This stand is consistent with Scripture precedent: In the Old Testament, God told a godly prophet who traveled from Judah to have no fellowship with anyone in the godless Northern Kingdom of Israel when he went there to predict God's judgment on its idolatry; this command was given to protect the credibility of the message of this prophet as he was thus kept from contacts with the many apostates in Israel, contacts that would dilute the credibility of his ministry and thus of his message, 1 Kings 13:7-10. When this prophet disobeyed God by eating with an errant, deceptive prophet of Israel (1 Kings 13:11-23), God disciplined the first prophet from Judah to be slain by a lion, 1 Kings 13:24. This event then led even the deceiving prophet of Israel to see that the message which was first predicted through the prophet of Judah would TRULY be fulfilled, 1 Kings 13:25-30 and 1 Kings 13:31-32!
        3. So, these preachers of Christ's Gospel in John's day had avoided any possible harm to the credibility of their Gospel or its ministry by refusing support offers from unbelievers, 3 John 7.
        4. Thus, John claimed the circle of Gaius' fellowship was properly EXTENDED to include such evangelists of like CREDIBILITY via the HOLINESS of their WALK, 3 John 8.
Lesson: (1) When other believers HEED the TRUTH in their ministries and LIVES, and that to the point of their OWN Biblical exclusion of those in darkness from their circle of fellowship, we are to INCLUDE such believers in our fellowship when we are in contact with them, helping them spiritually and materially. (2) We are NOT to receive material support from any party that THEREBY dilutes the CREDIBILITY of our MINISTRY or MESSAGE, but receive help only from those who heed Scripture!

Application: May we thus INCLUDE in our circle of fellowship ALL who HEED SCRIPTURE. In particular, this involves including those who separate from darkness as Scripture dictates WE must do!