Sermon #1945                                                                                 Miscellaneous Sermons

 

      Title:                                                         Missionaries

And

Fellow-helpers to the Truth

 

      Text:                      3 John 5-8

      Subject:   Supporting Faithful Missionaries

      Date:                    Sunday Morning — December 11, 2011

      Tape #     AA-43

      Reading: 3rd John 1-14

 

“1 The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.

2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

 

3 For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.

4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

5 Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;

6 Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well:

7 Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.

8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow-helpers to the truth.

 

9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth [them] out of the church.

11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

 

12 Demetrius hath good report of all [men], and of the truth itself: yea, and we [also] bear record; and ye know that our record is true.

13 I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee:

14 But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace [be] to thee. [Our] friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.”     (3 John 1:1-14)

 

Introduction

 

From the beginning of our labors together in the cause of Christ, I have tried to convey to you a sense of responsibility to the kingdom of God throughout the world. This congregation has generously assisted in the support of faithful, Gospel preaching pastors and missionaries around the world from the earliest beginning of our labors together.

Š      Walter & Betty Groover in Mexico for 47 years. — 39 Gospel Churches

Š      Cliff & Martie Hellar in New Guinea for 45 years — Translating Scriptures — Planting Churches

Š      Daniel & Sandy Parks in St Croix

Š      Cody & Winna Groover in Mexico for 16 years — Preachers’ School — Planting Churches

Š      Lance & Robin Hellar in New Guinea — Planting Churches — Translating Scripture

Š      The Preachers’ School and Preachers in Mexico — (Gilberto in Calcehteok— Elio in Dzidzantun— Jose in Tekal — Rutilio in Yobain — Rogelio in Seye — Gerbacio in Tecoh — Javier in Izamal — Marcelo in Tadzibichen — Churches in Opichen, Merida, Acanke, and Cancun)

Š      Pastors and Churches in the USA

 

Every year you send your pastor on at least one missionary trip to encourage and assist these missionaries, pastors, and churches. As you know, Bro. Don Raneri and I spent this past week with the Groovers in Merida, Mexico. I lectured twice in the Preachers’ School on Tuesday and preached

Š      Tuesday night in Dzidzantun,

Š      Wednesday night in Calcehteok, and

Š      Thursday night in Merida.

If you wish, you can listen to the messages and the lectures at the Preachers’ School on FreeGraceRadio.com.

 

I believe the Lord blessed our visit and the messages to many. Needless to say, all week long my mind has been on the labors of those faithful men and the churches under their care. And I believe the Lord has given me a message for you that is directly related to them. Turn with me to the book of 3rd John. Our text will be verses 5-8. — 3rd John 5-8.

 

(3 John 1:5-8) “Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; 6 Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: 7 Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. 8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow-helpers to the truth.”

 

Fellow-helpers to the truth” — The title of my message is — Missionaries and “Fellow-helpers to the Truth.”

 

Proposition: Our brethren on the field are missionaries; and we who support them and assist them in whatever way the Lord enables us are “fellow-helpers to the truth.”

 

Why?

 

You might reasonably ask, “Pastor, Why should we support missionaries?” Times are tough. Money is tight. We are not a congregation of affluent businessmen and professionals. We are a small, rural church. We often have difficulty meeting our own monthly expenses. — “Why should we support missionaries?” That’s a good, reasonable question. If you will give me your attention for just a few minutes, I will give you some answers, answers that will, I trust, by the blessing of God be helpful to your souls.

 

Reason for our Existence

 

There is only one reason for our existence as a local church, only one reason for the existence of any local church in this world. That reason is the furtherance of the Gospel. The church exists on earth only for the preaching of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The church of God is a sounding board for the Gospel. It is our responsibility to use every means at our disposal to proclaim the Gospel of Christ as fully and universally as we possibly can to the generation in which we live. We have no other commission and no other purpose for our existence (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-48; Acts 1:8).

 

(Matthew 28:18-20) “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.”

 

(Mark 16:15-16) “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

 

(Luke 24:46-48) “And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things.”

 

(Acts 1:8) “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

 

Without the Gospel sinners are without hope of eternal salvation. We preach the Gospel for the salvation of chosen, redeemed sinners. This is the means by which God calls out His elect (Romans 1:15-17; 10:17).

 

(Romans 1:15-17) “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.”

 

“16 ¶ For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

 

(Romans 10:9-17) “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

 

“12 ¶ For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

 

We use every means at our disposal to preach the Gospel to poor, needy sinners.

Š      Our Worship Services

Š      Our Bulletins

Š      Our Books

Š      Our Videos

Š      Our Recordings

Š      FreeGraceRadio.com

 

One of the most effective means we have of preaching the Gospel, in any age, is Gospel missions, sending out missionaries to preach the good news of redemption and grace in Christ around the world. God honors those who honor Him, and our congregation has been blessed of God, greatly blessed. The more we undertake the more we are able to do. The more we give the more we have to give. We have lost nothing, but have gained much, just as our Lord promised (Luke 6:38; Philippians 4:19).

 

(Luke 6:38) “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

 

(Philippians 4:19) “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

 

In the future I intend to call upon myself and you to make greater sacrifices, to give more, and do more for the cause of Christ, so that any man God raises up to preach the Gospel of Christ anywhere in the world will not lack material support for his family. Why? Why do I ask for such commitment? Why do I call upon God’s people to give to missions? Why should we support missionaries? In this message I want to give some plain, biblical answers to that question.

 

Missionary Defined

 

First let me clearly define what a missionary is. The word “missionary” is not used in the Bible, but that shouldn’t disturb us. Neither is the word “Trinity’. We practice missions, as we believe the doctrine of the Trinity, because the concept is clearly taught. The biblical word for missionary is “evangelist.”

Š      Paul and Barnabas were missionaries sent out from the Church at Antioch to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 13:1-3).

Š      Philip the evangelist was a missionary (Acts 21:8). All pastors are to do the work of an evangelist, or missionary (2 Timothy 4:5).

Š      But God has given some to his church who are specifically called to be missionaries or evangelists (Ephesians 4:11).

 

(Ephesians 4:8-12) “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

 

A missionary is a man. — No woman can serve as an evangelist. An evangelist is a preacher and God does not call women to preach the Gospel (1 Corinthians 14:35; 1 Timothy 2:11-12). The wife of a missionary, that is, of an evangelist, is not herself a missionary in the true sense of the word, any more than the fact of being the wife of the President makes the First Lady herself the President of the United States.

 

A missionary is a man with God’s message. — First and foremost, like every other man called to the work of the Gospel, the missionary is a preacher. If a man is not gifted to preach, he cannot serve as a missionary. And the message he preaches is, and must be, the Gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ. The missionary is a proclaimer of good news; and the good news he proclaims is the redemption Christ accomplished for sinners.

 

A missionary is a man with God’s mission. — Missionaries are men called and gifted of God to establish Gospel churches, train pastors, and help establish those pastors and churches in the Gospel of the grace of God, so that they might carry on the work of the Gospel for the years to come. Medical missionaries, educational missionaries, and cultural missionaries are not missionaries and should not be supported by local churches. Missionaries are men who have a mission from God, and their mission is to preach the Gospel of Christ.

 

With these things in mind, I want us to examine what the Spirit of God teaches in 3rd John about the Church’s responsibility to missionaries. Here is a letter written by the Apostle John to his beloved son in the faith, Gaius. Gaius was not a pastor, preacher, or elder. He was a man God had saved, a believer, a member of a local church, which had been visited by some missionaries. These missionaries were travelling about, preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles. In their journeys they stopped at the town where Gaius lived, to visit the brethren there. So Gaius took them into his house, fed them, entertained them and lodged them for several days, perhaps for several weeks, and when they left he gave them some travelling money to help with their expenses.

 

When they got back to the church of which John was the pastor, these travelling evangelists, these missionaries, could not stop talking about Gaius. They told John about him. They told their friends about him. They told the whole church about Gaius. When John heard these men talking about his spiritual son, his heart bubbled up with joy and gratitude. He wrote this letter, by the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, to commend Gaius. And he does commend him! He tells us that…

Š      Gaius loved the Gospel (vv. 3-4). — He “walked in the truth.

Š      He was faithful in all things. — “Thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest” (v. 5).

Š      And Gaius was generous, charitable, and hospitable to his brethren, even to those who were total strangers (vv. 5-6).

Like Abraham, Gaius entertained strangers who came to him in the name of Christ, and in so doing, he entertained angels unawares (Genesis 18:3; Hebrews 13:2).

 

Four Reasons

 

After highly commending this man, Gaius, for all that he had done, John urged him to do even more. Realizing that God’s servants are to be supported entirely by the generous, free, voluntary gifts of His people, John gave Gaius, and us, four reasons why we should support faithful missionaries.

 

1. It is pleasing to God for us to do so. John told Gaius that when God’s servants come to our town, we are not only to care for them while they are with us, but we are to bring [them] forward on their journey after a godly sort (v. 6).

 

It is the responsibility of local churches to provide all those things which God’s servants need to carry on their work. Missionaries have all the earthly needs that the rest of us have and many that we do not have. They must have homes, food, and clothing for their families. They must provide health care for their households. They have to educate their children, and they have to have some means of transport, just like we do. In addition to these things, every expense for the work on the field comes out of the missionary’s pocket! (Bro. Cody Groover is spending over $400.00 a month on gas just to drive to Cancun alone!) Whatever it takes to keep faithful men free of earthly care, so that they may give themselves whole-heartedly to the work of the ministry, we must do!

 

John tells us that this is a godly sort of work. The marginal translation of these words is: this is a work “worthy of God.” It is a work becoming to those who serve God. If we do this, if we support God’s servants in the work of the Gospel, we do well. This is a work pleasing to God. God delights to see those who love Christ showing their love by generosity towards His servants. — (“God loveth a cheerful giver!” — 2 Corinthians 9:7)

 

2. We should give “for His name’s sake.” For His name’s sake they went forth” (v.7). — And “for His name’s sake” we must supply their needs.

 

There is only one thing that compels the true servant of God to take his wife and children to a remote, far distant country, to preach the Gospel, leaving behind the comforts of his homeland, the company of his friends, and the warmth of his family: — He is motivated by a burning jealousy for the name of Christ (Romans 1:5, 16-17).

 

That same burning jealousy for Christ’s name inspires God’s saints to give of their means to supply those men with the support they need. Every believer wants all men and women to hear the Gospel of Christ, so that our great Savior may be known, trusted, worshipped, and glorified throughout the world. The best means we have of accomplishing that great goal is giving of our means to support faithful Gospel-preaching missionaries.

 

Our Lord is so highly honoured by the service of those He sends out to preach the Gospel that he counts anything we do for them as having been done for him (Matthew 10:40-42), and indeed it is. God’s servants are His ambassadors. Those men who faithfully preach the Gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ (the Gospel of His electing love, accomplished redemption, effectual grace, and saving fulness) are God’s representatives and spokesmen in this world (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

 

(2 Corinthians 5:17-21) “Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

 

Anything we do to one of God’s ambassadors we do to Him. Anything done for God’s ambassador is done for Him; and anything done against God’s ambassador is done against Him.

 

3. We should generously support faithful men because faithful men have no other means of support. — Because that for His name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles” (v. 7). — These men preached to the Gentiles freely, refusing to seek, or even take financial support from unbelievers.

 

There are three things I want to say about preachers and money. I know what the people of this world think, and I know that the preachers of this world have a terrible reputation regarding money. Preachers, as a whole, are the poorest credit risks in our society. They have a terrible reputation for living beyond their means and not paying their bills. That is horribly shameful! But we must never make the mistake of stereotyping God’s servants with the characteristics of religious hirelings. God’s servants are worthy of our generous support. Because they are faithful to Christ, the Gospel of His grace, and the souls of men, they have no means of support other than the generosity of God’s people. There are three things we need to know about God’s servants.

 

1st. God’s servants do not preach for earthly gain.  — These men described by John went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.” They did not go out seeking men’s goods. They went forth seeking men’s souls. It is never hard to tell whether a preacher is seeking your goods, or the good of your soul. If he spends the bulk of his time talking about your goods (health, wealth, and prosperity), you can be sure the rogue is after your money! If he spends his time and energy speaking to you about Christ and your soul, it is because he is seeking the good of your soul.

 

Paul condemned those pretentious, self-motivated, covetous, greedy false prophets who make merchandise of men’s souls and prostitute the Gospel for gain (2 Corinthians 2:17; 1 Thessalonians 2:5-9). God’s servants do not seek personal gain. They will not enrich themselves by the Gospel. It would be impossible to make a faithful pastor or missionary rich. If he is faithful that which he does not need he will give to someone who does. He has no desire to hoard up money, lands, or jewels. Can you imagine a rich prophet or apostle? — Ridiculous!

 

2nd. Our Lord expressly forbids His servants to solicit support, especially from unbelievers. When He sent His disciples out to preach, He said, Go not from house to house (Luke 10:7). That means, “Do not go begging, soliciting help, or in any way implying that the cause of Christ, His church, His Gospel, or His servants depend upon the aid and support of men.

 

If I am God’s servant, material, monetary, earthly considerations have nothing to do with what, where, when, or how I preach. In more than forty-four years of preaching, I’ve never asked anyone for a penny, nor even allowed the consideration of cost or expense to enter into any decision regarding the work of the ministry. I am God’s servant, and God meets my needs. This church is God’s church, and God supplies our needs. We will not dishonor our heavenly Father by begging and groveling before men for a little money. Any man who begs for money in the name of Christ, promising rewards from God if people give him their money, or implying that God’s work might fail if they do not, is a liar and a false prophet.

 

3rd. The Lord Jesus also forbids His servants to make provision for themselves (Matthew 10:9-10; Luke 10:4-7). God’s servants should not have to provide for themselves; and it is wrong for local churches to make it necessary for them to do so by being, selfish, niggardly misers. No servant of God, no man who truly ministers to the souls of men, should be required to provide even a piece of bread for himself or his family. It is the privilege and responsibility of local churches to take care of those who preach the Gospel and to see that those who preach the Gospel can live by the Gospel. The less earthly care a pastor or missionary has, the freer he is to give himself to the work of the ministry (prayer, study, preaching, writing, etc.); and the more he gives himself to these things, the more useful he is in the cause of Christ.

 

God’s saints are not misers! If God is in any work, anywhere in the world, God will supply the needs of that work through the free, voluntary, generous gifts of His people. Anything that has to be primed, pumped, pushed, pulled, and promoted by men is not of God.

 

4. We should faithfully and generously support God’s servants, faithful pastors and missionaries, because by our loving, free generous support of God’s faithful servants, we become “fellow-helpers to the truth (v. 8). — When we supply a man’s needs, so that he can preach the Gospel of Christ freely to others, we become allies with him in the work of preaching the Gospel. What a privilege! The work of the ministry is God’s work, but God does His work through the labors of faithful men, through the preaching of the Gospel. And those men do their work by the generosity of faithful men and women, who work hard and freely give of their means, so that the Gospel may be preached freely around the world.

 

God’s church is one, and we are one with those missionaries we are privileged to support. Their cause is our cause; their work is our work, and their reward is our reward.

 

The next time we have the opportunity to show hospitality to, entertain, give to, or do anything for, one of God’s servants, let us remember these things

1.    This is a work that is pleasing to God.

2.    This is a work that is done by faith in Christ and for the honor of His name.

3.    This is a work done for worthy men, men who have forsaken all to preach the Gospel. They are worthy to live by the Gospel.

4.    By these things we are “fellow-helpers to the truth.”

 

(2 Corinthians 8:7-9) “Therefore, as ye abound in every [thing, in] faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and [in] all diligence, and [in] your love to us, [see] that ye abound in this grace also. 8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. 9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”

 

Let each one of us do whatever God gives us the opportunity and the ability to do for Christ, His servants and the furtherance of the Gospel; and let us pray that God will continue to raise up men to preach the Gospel of His free grace in the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of His elect and the glory of His own great name. — “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2).

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

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