This coming Sunday (Feb. 15) at 9:00 a.m. some of our adult classes at MoSt Church will continue in a study entitled Eluding Our Idols. It’s a close look at what’s commonly known as John’s letters (1, 2 & 3 John). To help you get ready for this encounter with Scripture and our discussion of it, you’ll find the following here: (a) the text of 3 John and (b) twenty questions and exercises to go along with this reading.
receiving the word
The elder, to my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.
I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.
Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.
I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name. (3 John NIV)
wrestling with this word
1. Who is “the elder” (vs.1a)?
2. How would your bodily health be doing if it was based on your spiritual health (vs. 2)?
3. Circle every occurrence in 3 John of the phrase “the truth.”
4. When you hear the phrase “the truth” among disciples today, what is typically discussed?
5. To what does “the elder” have reference in 3 John when he uses the phrase “the truth?”
6. Make a comprehensive list of all the people (or groups of people) mentioned in 3 John.
7. According to 3 John, how can you tell if one is walking in the truth (vs. 4)? Make a list.
8. A person’s character is just as important as the content of what they teach. T or F? Explain.
9. Which is discussed most in 3 John: one’s actions toward others or one’s beliefs about God?
10. Who speaks well of Gaius (vs. 1-4)? Who speaks well of Demetrius (vs. 12)?
11. That some abuse hospitality mustn’t cause us to become inhospitable (vs. 5-8). Discuss.
12. Travelers must be treated in a God-honoring way (vs. 6b). What might that look like?
13. “… for the sake of the Name they went out …” (vs. 7a)? What does that mean?
14. Vs. 7b could mean “And so, if you don’t help them, who will?” And, perhaps what else?
15. Of whom does Diotrophes speak and what does he have to say about them (vs. 9-10)?
16. Drink in vs. 10’s drama. What can happen to a church if intolerable behavior is tolerated?
17. Why might Gaius need encouragement not to imitate Diotrophes (vs. 11a)?
18. What role does Demetrius play in this letter? (vs. 11-12)
19. Have believers seen God? How do you know (vs. 11b)?
20. What significance is there in greeting the friends “by name?” (vs. 14).
NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (June 15) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.
Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this morning’s sermon.
To hold up the ways of God our Father before all who seek to be like Him when they grow up.
These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.
• I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” (Psalm 122.1 NRSV)
• … and the Lord … said, “This is what you are to … tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” … The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” (Exodus 19.3-6,8a NIV)
• … watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children. (Deuteronomy 4.9-10 NIV)
• In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established … Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” (Isaiah 2.2-3a NRSV)
• … you can glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ together with one voice. (Romans 15.6 CEB)
• Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. (Ephesians 6.4 The Message)
Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.
1. Tell us of something important you saw modeled by your father, a parent, or guardian.
2. Complete this sentence as you understand him now: “God is ____.” What makes you think so?
These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this sermon.
1. Read Deut. 4.1-40 aloud with each group member reading a single verse. What’s emphasized?
2. Read Ps. 122. What emotion is noted in vs.1-2? What action (v.3-5)? What expectation (vs. 6-9)?
These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.
1. If a man is a Christian father, what are his highest priorities before the Lord to his children?
2. Name some society/”life” barriers to more involvement on your part with our church family?
3. Name the greatest barriers within you to greater/consistent participation in church life?
4. What benefits and blessings accrue to children when Christian parents are sold out to Christ?
5. List your priorities based on your beliefs. Then list your priorities based on time spent. Pray.
These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid in living out today’s message in the coming days.
1. Consider what your current level of interaction and service with our church family is conveying to, and doing for, yourself and others. Maximize your committed involvement.
You’ve taught me since my youth, God, and I’m still proclaiming your wondrous deeds! (Psalm 71.17)
Authority & personal experience: Sola Experienca is For Real. [essential reading]
“There was a time when experience saluted Scripture.”
* “Choosing a church (or non-church) where we ‘fit,’ may be the strongest guarantee that we will never be asked to change. This, I suspect, is why we do it. In church, as in the rest of life, we don’t want transformation as much as we say we do. We’d rather have comfort. The best thing many of us could do is envisage church as an opportunity to embrace that which is outside of us, that which does not – at least on the surface – appeal to what we already are.
* “The documents of the NT, with a few exceptions, are addressed to communities and not to individuals. Many of us know this and it may not be too shocking, but the significances of this reality must continue to transform how we envision Christian identity.”
Commitment, endurance, faithfulness, love, selflessness & vision: Father-Son Duo, Team Hoyt, Celebrates 37 Years of Inspiring Teamwork With One Last Boston Marathon
“In 1962, Dick and Judy Hoyt welcomed their son, Rick, into an unsuspecting world — a world that would forever be changed by their presence and sacrifice. Because of complications with his birth, Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. … Dick remembers the advice of the doctors who suggested that his son would essentially be non-functioning, and that he should place him in an institution. Dick refused.”
Gossip: Gossip is a Spiritual Issue
“Whether it’s cloaked in a prayer request, ‘concern’ for another or simply news from the grapevine, Christians have a problem with gossip. I have yet to find a place where gossip isn’t present on some level or another.”
Hearing, listening, preaching, responsibility & sermons: When Hearing Fails
“We can control what we preach, but we cannot control how the message is heard. This is frustrating, but it is also something we need to come to grips with. We have no power or control over how another person hears our words.”
Jesus, sacrifice, & suicide: Did Jesus Commit Suicide?
“So Jesus did not kill himself, but he did act in such a way so as to bring about his death. In some extraordinary way he seemed to control those final hours and what ultimately happened to him.”
Marriage: Letter to Our Grandsons on Choosing a Wife [essential reading]
“The typical thinking has always been that the main issue for marriage is ‘do we love each other?’ It isn’t.”