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    Oct 12, 2014

    Class 8: Becoming a "World Christian"

    Series: Missions

    Category: Core Seminars, The Glory of God, The Gospel, Evangelism, International Missions

    Detail:

    Introduction:

    So this is a sort of transition class where I’d like us to think through how the theological issues we’ve been considering impact our relation to the Lord’s mission project. To that end please turn to 3rd John. Here we find John’s advice and encouragement to his friend Gaius about how to live the Christian life. John has been encouraged by a report from some “brothers” who have returned from the church where Gaius is a member and they brought a good report of Gaius’ spiritual health.

    John is now writing to instruct Gaius about how he should live as a Christian and how the church should conduct itself. Let’s look and see two specific actions are commended –one implicitly and one explicitly – as evidence of a love for God’s name and a faithfulness to work for his truth.

    III John 1-8
    1The elder,
    To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
    2Dear 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. 3It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
    5Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. 6They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. 7It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. 8We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth.

    There are two faithful reactions to the mission project described here: can you pick them out?

    Solicit responses and comments. Once the two have been identified…

    Let’s now look more carefully at these three responses in turn.

    I. Those sent – the “go-ers”

    The characteristics of a goer are described in verses 5-7.
    5 Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. 6 They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. 7 It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans.

    We see that John commends these “brothers” to Gaius, thanking him for the way he has supported them in the past and encouraging him to continue to do it all the more in the future, and says specifically that he should treat them in a manner worthy of God. And then he mentions two things about these men that mark them out as Go-ers that especially deserve honor and assistance from the Church. So what marked out these “brothers” as God honoring go-ers that should be honored and supported?

    • They went out for the sake of “the Name”

    First, John commends these Christians to Gaius because they “went out.” They had intentionally left they place that they were living and moved or traveled to another place. Gaius did not know them, so they were apparently not from his church, and it appears they were going cross-culturally, or to strangers at least. Also, there is an implied understanding of some personal sacrifice and inconvenience, expense and difficulty. It would certainly have seemed to have been easier for these brothers to have stayed where they were, safe and secure in their own city, but they didn’t do that…they went out.

    But the reason they went out is what’s critical. They didn’t go out for the love of travel, or because their business forced them to relocate – they didn’t go out because they were curious about other cultures or longed for adventure. Rather, they went out “for the sake of the name.” It was because they longed to bring Glory to the name of Christ Jesus that they went out. It was because they longed to see people who didn’t know and love the name of Jesus come to worship him for his mercy.

    They had a high opinion of God and his glory. That John say’s “the Name” is significant. This was the term used by the Jews before Christ to refer to God. His name was too holy to pronounce so they simply called him “the Name”. So those who would make such a sacrifice are showing they held the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in reverence. We know “the Name” is perfectly revealed in Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

    • They took no help from the pagans (unbelievers)

    And, John makes it clear that this was a Christian mission, not a business trip – not that being quick to share the gospel while on a business trip is not good, it is. But this shows they were motivated supremely by a desire to preach the Gospel. They were not charging people a fee to teach the Gospel, rather they relied on the support of the churches or on their own financial resources, or both.

    Going out for the sake of the Name is a special ministry that the church confers on individuals and which John commends highly. When it is done for the glory of God it works to expand the knowledge of his truth and brings pleasure to God.

    So...what about us personally and as a church? Have you considered being a sent one? Does your desire to bring glory to God prompt you to think about a personal, active involvement in cross-cultural missions?

    1. Consider what claims the evangelistic imperative to share the Gospel might have on your activities and opportunities now.
    2. Pray and consider whether you should go out. Are the things preventing you from doing so “God honoring”? And they may be – this is not a guilt trip, just a reminder to be honest about your motives.
    3. Talk to other Christians you respect about this issue. There is a tendency to want to “be serious” about such a thing before you talk with others, but such an attitude (while pretty natural) robs you of good counsel and Godly encouragement.
    4. Talk to the CHBC elders early on in your thoughts. We as elders, and as a church body, want and need to be a part of your consideration of involvement in cross-cultural evangelism. Don’t wait until you are sure before you approach an elder, or church staff. Use them to help you with the process.
    5. Consider involvement in a short-term overseas opportunity. Andy is away this week on just such a trip and I think a couple of the normal class attenders are with him. Keep your ears open and talk to an elder or CHBC staff if you want to consider that more seriously.
    6. Take advantage of opportunities to talk with people who have “gone out for the sake of the name.” The Clines will be with us this winter.
    7. Read some good books from the Books stall on Missions like:
    a. Mack and Leeann’s Guide to Short-term Missions
    b. Let the Nations be Glad, by John Piper
    c. Operation World

    Now lets turn to the second category…

    II. Those sending – supporting missions for the sake of “the Name”

    Going is good and we rightly honor those who do go. But do not think less of those staying – the Bible assumes that most will stay so as to minister locally and to be “senders” and this is a God honoring thing to do. This is not a second mission, or a secondary role; it is an intrinsic part of The Mission.

    But what if you are unable to “go” for various reasons, at least not longer term? What is your responsibility in light of God’s missionary passion? There is a second response that John also commends in this letter. And this response is the primary stated basis for John’s confidence the spiritual health of his friend Gaius. John says that he hopes Gaius will enjoy good health and good circumstances in keeping with his evident good spiritual health (v.1). He hears that Gaius is faithful and walking in the truth. And is proved by Gaius’ faithful support for the brothers, these itinerate missionaries to the Gentiles. A love for missionaries is not the sole mark of a healthy Christian, but it is a significant mark of spiritual health.

    John recognizes that most, like Gaius, are not sent out into the mission field. But there is a mission for those who don’t go. Their mission is to provide support for those who do go, to deliberately, intentionally and lovingly support the spread of the Gospel at home and abroad.

    Look again at what John writes to Gaius in verses 5-8…
    5Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. 6They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. 7It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. 8We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth.

    Sending, or supporting, is a vital part of the missionary enterprise. Without senders, it seems that God would not will to have the Great Commission be fulfilled. And that’s not all, we are commanded by Scripture to not only support and show hospitality to such workers, but to do so “in a manner worthy of God.”

    Just as going shows a hunger for the glory of “the Name”, so to can sending. It demonstrates in a tangible way the love we feel for God and that our priorities are right before him. Look at how Paul views the sacrifices made by the poor church at Philippi for the cause of missions.

    Philippians 4:14-18
    “Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church share with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice pleasing to God.”

    Such support is rendered quietly and is often not seen by men, but God sees it and he will, as Paul indicates, “credit it to your account”.

    Application:

    So what does this mean for us? If we personally, and as a church, intend to be faithful as sender/supporters what questions should we ask ourselves?

    • Personally:

    Consciously plan your life to allow you to support workers who have gone out for the sake of “the Name”? Adopt a war time mentality and prioritize accordingly. Does this mean we should all be Christian utilitarian ascetics? No, this is not a guilt trip. Having a nice car and enjoying yourself is not wrong. God has given us “all things richly to enjoy.” But live deliberately. Be aware of the choices you are making. Do not allow the world’s values to determine yours.

    How would you define “extravagance” for a Christian? What are some ways that we can work to cultivate an appropriate wartime mentality?

    Solicit class suggestions and thoughts on how we can do this:

    ڤ Is your lifestyle, the house you live in, the car you drive, the job you hold, the school you send your children to, the clothes you buy, the vacations you take, the things you do with your time: are they in large measure calculated to allow you to better advance the praise of “the Name” among all peoples?

    ڤ Do you pray regularly for the workers that we support from CHBC? They are listed in the back of the church directory for just that purpose.

    ڤ Find ways to personally show support and encouragement to the Christian workers. The Laws are coming in a few weeks, as are the Penneys… Many in our church showed wonderful hospitality to the Buss family and to others – have you?

    ڤ What is the key issue in having a deliberate sending mentality, outward behavior or inward motivation?

    ڤ Other responses…

    • Corporately

    What about in our life together as a church? What implications does this passage have for the manner and degree to which we should work to support those who we “send,” either directly from our fellowship or as friends of our fellowship? Since we should make sure the nature of our care is not shoddy or half-way, but in a “manner worthy of God. What might that look like?

    Solicit class suggestions and thoughts on how we can do this:

    ڤ Support fewer missionaries with more complete financial support. Trying to be the main source of support for the workers we assist. This allows them to have to look to fewer churches for fundraising and helps them to have a greater accountability relationship with us. We don’t want to just fund a lot of workers…we want to fund workers in a manner worthy of God.

    ڤ Care for needs while they are state-side. So we host the Buss family, and have hosted the Cline family, and hope to host others in the future.

    ڤ Maintain personal contacts with them through letters, emails, etc.

    ڤ Try to make trips to visit and encourage them when possible. Just because you may not be going out for a lifetime doesn’t mean you can’t go to help.

    ڤ Pray for them faithfully. Paul saw this as one of his greatest needs, so he wrote to the church in Thessalonica saying simply, “Brothers, pray for us.”

    III. Purpose of the Mission

    As we consider developing a more Biblical worldview for missions there is one more thing that we need to consider. And that’s the overriding purpose for our missionary efforts. What is it that is driving us forward and what are we aiming at?

    A. That Christ would be glorified.
    a. In faithful disciples
    b. In a holy community


    B. In his church.

    Ephesians 3:8-11 - now through his church

    8Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    C. An understanding of church must be central to our

    Conclusion

    Every Christian must choose how he will live. There is a war going on in the world. Millions of people, thousands of people groups, have no chance yet to hear the gospel. If you are not a go-er, you must be a sender.

    We should not spend to much time thinking about rules for our lifestyles, but rather we should spend out time thinking of, meditating on, reading about, and praying to the one who poured out his life to purchase us for God. Our worldview should always be primarily cast in the wonderful, searing light of the Gospel. That, not a set of rules from the outside, will help us to develop an appropriately Biblical worldview.

    As we study through 3rd John I’d like you to ask yourself, “how am I going to relate to missions?” There is no such thing as a neutral position – either you advance the kingdom of God, or you discourage it. Either you use your time and resources in God’s service or in your own service. It is your choice. How will you resolve to live?

     


    Optional Final Illustration: Shortly before he and his four friends were killed by the Auca Indians in their attempts to bring them the Gospel, missionary Nate Saint wrote this:

    As we weigh the future and seek the will of God, does it seem right that we should hazard our lives for just a few savages? As we ask ourselves this question, we realize it is the simple intimation of the prophetic Word that there shall be some from every tribe in His presence in the last day, and in our hears we feel that it is pleasing to Him that we should interest ourselves in making an opening into the Auca prison for Christ.

    As we have a high old time this Christmas…may we be moved with compassion as our Lord was. May we shed tears of repentance for these we have failed to bring out of darkness. Beyond the smiling scenes of Bethlehem may we see the crushing agony of Golgotha. May God give us a new vision of His will concerning the lost and our responsibility.


    ڤ Other responses…

    Scripturely there are two responses by faithful believers to God’s missionary passion and plan… we must either “go out for the sake of the Name” or we must deliberately, intentionally and excellently encourage and support those who are sent.

    There is however another response recorded here in 3rd John, see verses 9- 11.
    9I wrote to the church, but Diotrophes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. 10So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.
    11Dear 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.

    III. Enemies of the Mission

    Some people, for various reasons, have no love for those who are sent out for the sake of the name, no desire to be sent or to send. In fact they may actively oppose and frustrate those who are sent. “Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.”

    • Active Opposition

    There can be various motivations for this:
    Pride. Here we see that Diotrephes loves to be preeminent. To this end he gossiped and maligned the brothers.
    Competition. He pushes himself to the fore and lords his position over other people. He may even be doing this in an apparently “spiritual” manner that deceives his followers.

    • Passive Opposition

    We may be sometimes characterized by apathy toward God’s global passion for his name, but I doubt anyone here is a vocal, active opponent of missions. But don’t be too quick to draw a clear dividing-line between this Diotrophes and us. What was the root of his evil actions?

    He made a bad investment with his heart – he chose to love himself and his place in this world, more than he loved the name of Christ. He didn’t love the brothers, and didn’t support them, because he loved himself and his place more than the Name for whose glory’s sake they’d went. What a stupid and tragic investment of his life and resources.