Today I was in Tipton, IN filling in for a pastor friend of mine who is taking several weeks of vacation. It is a small community church and occasionally I am asked to preach the messages when the pastor of the church is out of town. I was there several months ago, but today Janet and our oldest grandson, Connor, joined me for the ride 40 minutes north of Carmel. It is a rather small community of believers – maybe 60 or so in the service after the kids leave to go to their respective rooms, but Janet and I both feel rather close to the group of folks who call the church “home”.
With all the things that have gone on this summer, I just thought that it would be appropriate to preach on the topic of truth and how important this topic was to the apostle John. The message centered around the book of 3 John, a short book near the end of the New Testament that deals with a personal letter from John to Gaius – a believer who John led to the Lord many years before. The whole book is only 14 verses long but it packs a powerful message for all of us – even thousands of years after it was first written.
John was an old man – an elder, if you will, both in office and in age – and most theologians believe the book was written when John was nearly 90 years old. When the average life expectancy was perhaps 40-50 and 60 was “ancient”, it was rare to see anyone who attained an age beyond those years. Suffice it to say that John would have almost been something of a curiosity. There had been at least 2 generations that had lived since Jesus walked the earth before his ascension to the Father and those generations had been falling away from the faith. Problems arose from within the church – these weren’t outsiders – they were people who came from within the body of believers and created dissonance within the community. John, in his second epistle, encouraged believers to welcome itinerant pastors into their homes, but only after confirming that the visitors were clearly in the faith. They had to affirmatively answer the question about whether they believed that Jesus was diety – that he was in fact God.
People who did not believe this were referred to as “antichrists” – people who were either against Christ or believed in something instead of Christ. If they did not correctly answer the question about the deity of Christ, they were asked to move on and the community did not listen to their “false” teaching.
The third epistle encouraged people, including Gaius, to stay true to the work of God. John affirms time and again that truth is the number one thing – that truth and love were paramount. Teachers and itinerant pastors preached throughout the community the truth about Jesus Christ and His relationship to the Father. John knew that he wouldn’t be around for much longer, so his letters were written to assure believers that John had walked with Jesus and and talked with Jesus and actually had done ministry with Jesus during His earthly existence. It could be argued that John was perhaps the only living person who had the distinction of actually knowing Jesus and witnessing the actual crucifixion of His Savior.
The verse for tonight reminds us that truth is so very important to Jesus. In another of John’s writings, his Gospel, we are told in John 14:6, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Notice that Jesus refers to Himself as the “truth” and the “life” as well as the only way that people come to the Father. My encouragement this evening is that Jesus wants you to live in the truth as well. Only then can we love to the full extent that God desires for us. My prayer is that you will stay true to God and realize that a belief in God is the first and most important requirement to have a truly fulfilling life. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…