3 John 1-8 | Fellow Workers | Andrew Gutierrez
Topic: Worship Gatherings Passage: 3 John :1–:8
I’m only going to say this two times, but open your Bible to Third John. Some of you are saying, yeah, right; you’ll lengthen that if you can. My goal, my hope, is to do Third John 1-8 this morning and then finish out the book next week. We just completed Second John, and prior to that, we were in the Gospel of John. It’s been great to listen to the one who Jesus loved teach us about what it means to be a follower of Christ.
I’ve entitled the message this morning “Fellow Workers.” Third John 1-8:
1 The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.
2 Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. 3For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
5 Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, 6 who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. 7 For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. 8 Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.
Going through the books of Second and Third John, and in Second and Third John you hear two words over and over again: love, truth. Love, truth—over and over again. And John who’s known as the “love apostle” or the “love disciple” teaches us a lot about what true love looks like. We looked at that a lot in Second John.
He also teaches us what truth looks like and how to have those things working together. And part of what truth looks like is rejecting false teaching, is calling out error. But what love and truth also do together is, they support the ministry of the gospel. John talks about the fact that believers have been loved by God and, therefore, are to love others.
And how do you do that? The best way to love others is to proclaim the gospel of Christ to them—the ultimate message of love. So John teaches us what it looks like to partner with other people who are propagating that gospel message, who are preaching and proclaiming that gospel message.
And I want to read for you from a book, a book that I believe every pastor and every elder should read. It’s called Gaining by Losing, by J. D. Greer. His call is for churches to gain by losing, to give themselves away, to give their resources, people, time, efforts away, to sending out the gospel ministry. It’s a great book. It’s called Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches that Send. And I believe a lot of these things that Greer talks about reverberate in Third John 1-8, specifically verses 5 through 8. Let me read to you a little bit about what Greer writes. He says this:
I believe we need a fundamental shift in how we think about the mission of the church. Let me illustrate, using three types of ships.
Some Christians see the church as a cruise liner, offering Christian luxuries for the whole family, such as sports, entertainment, childcare services, and business networking. They shop at church asking only, “Can this church improve my religious quality of life? Does it have good family ministry facilities? Does the pastor preach funny, time-conscious messages that meet my felt needs? Do I like the music?”
If their church ever ceases to cater to their preferences … well, there are plenty of other cruise ships in the harbor. In fact, often they get involved with three or four of them at once.
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Other Christians believe their church is more like a battleship. The church is made for mission, and its success should be seen in how loudly and dramatically it fights the mission. This is certainly better than the “cruise liner”; however, it implies it is the church institution that does most of the fighting. The role of church members is to pay the pastors to find the targets and fire the guns each week as they gather to watch.
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I would like to suggest a third metaphor for the church: aircraft carrier. Like battleships, aircraft carriers engage in battle, but not in the same way. Aircraft carriers equip planes to carry the battle elsewhere. My grandfather served on the USS Yorktown during World War II, and he explained to me that the last place an aircraft carrier ever wanted to find itself engaged in battle was on its own deck. … When you are on an aircraft carrier, he said, the goal is to keep the battle as far away from you as possible. You load up the planes to carry the battle to the enemy.
[Christians] that want to “prevail against the gates of hell” must learn to see themselves like aircraft carriers, not like battleships and certainly not like cruise liners. Members need to learn to share the gospel, without the help of the pastor, in the community, and start ministries and Bible studies … in places without them. Churches must become discipleship factories, “sending” agencies that equip their members to take the battle to the enemy.
Then in another section Greer writes what I believe the church today needs to hear. Listen to these paragraphs.
[T]he trajectory of discipleship is toward giving away, not taking in. As Bonhoeffer famously said, “When Christ bids a man to follow, he bids him come and die.” Jesus did not say come and grow, but come and die. And he showed us what that means by his own example.
When Jesus laid down his life on that hill in Jerusalem, he had nothing left. Soldiers gambled for his last remaining possessions on earth. Everything he owned had been either given away or taken from him. But out of that death came our life. In giving everything away, he gained us. In Jesus’ resurrection from death, God brought unimaginable life to the world—to you and to me. Jesus was the first of many seeds planted into the ground to die.
Why would it surprise us the power of God spreads throughout the earth in the same manner? Life for the world comes only through the death of the church. Not always our physical, bodily death (though it includes that sometimes), but death in the giving away of our resources. Death in the forfeiture of our personal dreams. Death in our faithful proclamation of the gospel in an increasingly hostile world. Death in sending our precious resources, our best leaders, our best friends.
When Christ calls any of us to follow him—whether he is speaking to us as individuals, or to our churches and ministries—he bids us, “Come and die.”
[Listen] it is not through our success that God saves the world, but through our sacrifice. He calls us first to an altar, not a platform.
Well said. I believe in a day and age where it can be tempting to build your own kingdom and build your own brand as a church, we need to hear that the gospel has constantly gone out by people sacrificing to get it out—an altar, not a platform.
John commends a man who gets this—who gets this. Gaius in this text is a man who has worked, has displayed effort, has sought to help those who are missionaries of that time to get the gospel out, to send them on their way, to support them in the work they do. And Gaius is contrasted with a man later on that we’ll get to next week, Diotrephes.
Look at verses 9 and 10. John writes this:
9 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. 10 So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that [listen to this, listen to Diotrephes], he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.
So notice what’s happening here. Gaius is known for having missionaries come to him that he hasn’t known before and sending them on their way with his resources so that the ministry of the gospel would continue. Diotrephes is a man in the church telling people, don’t do that.
What else do we learn about Diotrephes? He likes to be first. I think that Diotrephes is a consumeristic Christian. He wants the best for himself. Keep the resources. Don’t give your time and efforts to send missionaries out because you can use that money. There’s a big difference between Gaius and Diotrephes. We want to be the Gaiuses of the world. Giving. Seeing the gospel go out beyond even our local ministry.
This is what it should look like for every local church. You can go through the letters of Paul and see this expectation he had that other churches would support other churches and churches would support other Christians, especially in their gospel ministry and their gospel work.
Paul evidently wasn’t a big fan of churches building their own kingdoms and leaving other churches to fend for themselves or other Christians to fend for themselves as they were engaged in gospel ministry.
What are the expectations God has for us? Well, Gaius is called a fellow worker; hence the title of this sermon. Fellow workers. And I believe this passage shows us two expectations that God has for fellow workers. The first is he expects us to send generously. We’ll get to that in a little bit, but this starts in verse 5.
But before that, the greeting—the greeting that is typical of most greetings of the first century. This isn’t just typical of Christian greetings, but most greetings look like this. If you wrote a letter, of which this was, you would start in this sort of way. “The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.” We know the elder from Second John is John. John speaking and writing to this man, Gaius, who is loved. John loves this man and he loves him in the truth. And again, back in Second John we said that he loves him in the truth of the gospel. Gaius has been saved by the forgiving love of Christ. He’s been reconciled to the Father through Jesus Christ, and John loves him as he is part of that truth community.
He writes this: “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” John is simply expressing his desire that Gaius would prosper in all things: in his soul (his spiritual life) and in his health. I want you to prosper. I love you; I want you to prosper.
Verse 3: “For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth.” Now we find out what’s happening here. Evidently, the brothers—and you saw them here in verse 3, and you also saw them in verse 10—who are these brothers?
Evidently, there were some Christians who John knew and who possibly lived where John lived at the time, maybe even belonged to the local body of believers that John belonged to at the time. There are these brothers who had gone to the church, most likely in Ephesus where Gaius was a part of, and these brothers were helped back on their way by Gaius. And so, John is saying these brothers came back and gave a report about you. And the idea is they gave a report a couple of times about you. They kept talking about you and how you’re living.
One of the things that they noted about this man’s life is that he was walking in the truth. They testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. So, brothers came back and said, John, you’ve gotta know about the way Gaius is living. He belongs to the truth. He trusts the truth of God’s word. He is committed to the truth, and he lives like it.
Isn’t it great to have a life where you live out what you believe? Really, sin for a believer is failing to live out what we believe. We say we believe the Bible. We say that we believe that the Lord’s words are perfect and the best thing for us, and then we go and sin. To be known to be like Gaius, a person who lives out the truth that he believes so that he is known to be walking in the truth.
So John commends him: You are walking in the truth. And as we heard in Second John, John loves it when his children do this. “I have no greater joy [verse 4] than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” There’s the greeting.
So evidently, this man, Gaius, is to be commended. He’s living out the truth that he knows. But why else is he commended? That really comes in verses 5 through 8. There are two things, as I said, that we can learn from this. Two expectations God has for his fellow workers.
1. Send Generously
Here’s the first: send generously. Verses 5 and 6. Gaius is commended for the way that he supported gospel workers. Not just that he did, but the way in which he did. Verse 5: “Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do …” Faithful. The word “faithful”: characterized by steadfast love and affection. So, John is saying, Gaius, you’re living in a way where you are characterized by steadfast love for other people and action. You are invested. You are doing something, and you are faithful.
“Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are …” So, Gaius has evidently put forth some effort—work, toil—for these brothers who are out doing gospel ministry. They’re traveling missionaries. He has put forth effort to help them, and guess what, he never had a clue who they were before they showed up. He didn’t know them. They were strangers.
The word “stranger” is a person in a different environment than they are normally in, usually from a different geographic location. So these men came evidently to Gaius’ church and said, we need help to continue our work for the Lord, and Gaius evidently went through the effort to help them on their way. That’s what he’s known for.
Contrast that with Diotrephes who wasn’t going to help these men and evidently told other people in the church, don’t help these men.
Verse 6. He helped them “in all your efforts, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church.” They came back and told John about all that he had done for them. “You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God.” These workers went back to John, testified about Gaius and how he helped them, and John knew it and said, “You do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God.” So keep doing this type of thing. You’re known for doing this. Keep doing it.
And it’s important to understand this was essential in the first century. Christians were not well liked in the first century. They didn’t have radio programs freely on public radio. They weren’t liked. They were despised, persecuted, oftentimes killed. And so Christian hospitality was a huge deal in the first century. And the apostles, specifically Peter in First Peter 4:9 writes to the church in a tremendous time of persecution—writes to the church that says extend hospitality to one another without grumbling. Bring people in—in parentheses: who you don’t know—without grumbling.
See, Peter was writing to people who were receiving this letter from Peter who had to welcome in people from other areas who were on the run for their lives, escaping Rome, and he expected the church in other areas to house them, to keep them, and to do so without grumbling. Why that? Because when you are kind to someone and do something for someone, if they don’t respond perfectly in the way that they should in complete thanksgiving, you can grumble about it. “I’m doing all this for you, and you treat me this way.” Extend hospitality without grumbling. Just care for these people. Love these people.
Christian hospitality was huge in the first century. And by the way, it’s still important today. You’ve got people all over the world suffering to proclaim the gospel, and the message for us today is, don’t forget about them.
Gaius’ life stands out to John. He’s known for this. John gives an exhortation: “send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God.” What’s that mean? In a way that God would approve. God’s watching. God is watching how churches give of themselves to support his gospel going out. God’s watching.
John wants Gaius to send them on their way. John wants all churches to send workers on their way. Paul wants churches to send workers on their way. You can’t go through much of Paul’s letters without seeing this over and over again. Romans. First Corinthians. Second Corinthians. Titus. Paul’s always expecting that the churches would help to send him and other gospel workers on their way. Send them on their way. Send them on their way.
Why is this a big deal to Paul? Why is this a big deal to John? Because God is a sending God, isn’t he? God sent you your Sunday school teacher to bring you the gospel, and you believed. God sent you your grandfather. God sent you some friend who gave you a Bible back when you were in college. God has always been a sending God.
Sin comes into the world (Genesis 3). God says, I’m gonna send a seed from the woman to crush the serpent’s head. Sending God. God chooses a man, an idol worshiper, in Genesis 12, Abram, and he sent him to a different land, not just so that this idol worshiper can all of a sudden receive the blessings of the living God, but so that in his seed, in his line, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. God sends a man to start a nation who would have children of faith from his line that would bless the entire world. And we today are an example of that. God sent Abraham. God sent him.
God took a man named Jonah and sent him. Did Jonah like that? No. God sent Jonah to the Ninevites, this horrible group of people who did horrible things, tremendous atrocities, and God determined that he would grant them repentance and that they would come to the living God.
God sent Israelites to a heinous group of people, a heinous group of Gentiles. Why? Because God is a sending and saving God. God sent the Israelites to Canaan. What were they supposed to do? They were supposed to live as a kingdom of priests and to show other nations what God was like so that other nations would come and submit to the one true and living God. Israel didn’t obey. Doesn’t mean that God’s not a sending God. God is a sending God.
Remember Jesus, Jesus the one sent by God? “For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son.” Why does God send? Why is he a sending God? Because he’s a loving God. Loved the world; sent his Son that whoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life. God sent Jesus, his Son, because he’s a loving God. And by the way, was Jesus like Jonah? “Yeah, they’re wicked; I’m not going.” No, Jesus—perfectly in line with the mission of God because he is God in the flesh—said, I’m going. You’re sending me? I’m going.
Remember what Jesus said in the upper room before he left the apostles? I’m sending you. Sending. God is a sending God. He sent prophets. He sent Israel. He sent his Son. His Son sent the apostles. The apostles send the church. The apostles—John—expects that Gaius will be a sending Christian. Gaius isn’t even a pastor, by the way. He’s a Christian man expected to send, send, send.
Someone was sent to you to bring you the gospel, and the expectation is that you would continue to send out. This is how Christianity continues. It’s how it’s continued for 2,000 years. A Christian who supports missionaries is greatly commended and exhorted to continue sending in a manner worthy of God.
Don’t you love Romans 10:13? Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Don’t you love that passage? Call on the name of the Lord, and it will impact your next 20 billion years. Just call on him. Cry out to him. You are dead in sin. Cry out to God. That’s a great verse, but how in the world are people going to call on the name of the Lord when they’ve never even heard of the Lord?
Romans 10:14-15: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” Sending is crucial.
He sent his Son for you and for me when we were dead in our trespasses and sins, and that’s why we send other people to bring the gospel to others beyond our walls. That’s why. It’s rooted in the character of God. Our God is a sending God; therefore, we are going to be a sending people.
Just to kind of give you an insight about how this theology of sending fleshes itself out in the life of our church, we have a lot of new members in our church here, and maybe you haven’t heard me talk about this for some time and maybe you’ve heard it since the beginning of our church life. Well, here we go; you can hear it again.
But here’s our philosophy of being senders, our philosophy of supporting people doing Christian ministry work in our city and also outside of our borders. Our philosophy is to give a lot to a little rather than giving a little to a lot. We believe that the apostle Paul, the apostle John, calls for generous sending.
So, we’ve determined, our elders determined from the very beginning, we want to give generously to people doing that missions work. Rather than give twenty ministries ten dollars a month, we’d rather give maybe a few ministries hundreds of dollars a month.
I have a friend who’s a missionary to Malawi, and he told me that when they come back on furlough to the United States, they certainly want to see his family, his mom and dad and his family. They certainly want to see her family, her mom and dad. And they also need to go to the numerous churches that support them. And so, they go to all these churches who support them.
And I said, well, the way we determined to do it is to maybe support fewer people with more money, but hopefully one day we can support a lot of people with a lot of money. That’s the hope. And I’ll never forget what he said to me. He said, I wish more churches did it that way. He liked the idea of not having to come home, pack up the van, and go visit thirty other churches who give them fifty bucks a month.
Wouldn’t it be great if a missionary could come back to maybe a handful of churches that fully support them and not have to worry about the income but just go and focus on the ministry. Go focus on the ministry. Now, there’s also a good part, actually, of having lots of support. A lot of people praying for you. That’s wonderful too.
But wouldn’t it be a great blessing to missionaries if they didn’t have to worry about support. They could just go. Go translate the New Testament into the language of that people because they’ve never had a New Testament. Go. Well, what about … I need this for food? We got it. Go! But I’m having another kid and that costs … Go! We got it. Go. That’s the goal here. That’s the idea.
And just so you know, when you give every week, we give every week. A portion of that giving goes toward these ministries that we support, so you are doing that as a church. We’re grateful to you. You have that giving spirit. You don’t kick against that idea. You know God’s a sending God, and you want to be a sending people. Praise the Lord for this church. You get that. And every week you are contributing to the gospel going out into Prescott and in Nicaragua. You’re doing that. Praise the Lord for that.
Now, just because this one person might be in here who says, I’ve got my own struggles; I’ve got my own things to deal with. I can’t focus on what’s going on outside of me, beyond me. This is maybe something I’ll do twenty years later when I kinda get my act together. I’d encourage you, don’t think that way.
Sometimes when people go through trials and are the victims of abuse or things that have happened to them, the temptation can be to only focus on what it means for them. And I get that. Pain is real and trials are real. But I think one thing to understand when we have difficulties arise in our life, there could be a temptation to focus just on ourselves.
I think some of the best counsel to give someone who’s been the victim of someone else or someone who’s hurting or struggling or maybe the finances aren’t all there is to encourage them to think of how you can serve others. We’re never going to be perfectly healed and perfectly treated by everyone. Think about how you can give yourself to others. And in doing so, there’ll be great joy in that.
Isn’t that how our Lord lived? He was abused all the time, suffered all the time. Kept giving. Kept giving. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame.
Paul commends a group of people, a group of churches, in Second Corinthians. Evidently these churches were not wealthy, did not have a lot of money. And notice what he says about them.
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction [the churches in Macedonia are in a severe test of affliction], their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints.
2 Corinthians 8:1-4
So, Paul—I’m just imagining the picture here—is talking to these churches of Macedonia who did not have very much at all, and they were going through some sort of test of affliction. And he made known to them that there are these churches in Jerusalem, there are these Christians in Jerusalem who are suffering. They are poor, perhaps because of persecution, but I picture Paul here maybe not wanting to say too much to them because he knows they were going through their own trials, and they have their own poverty to deal with.
And the churches of Macedonia are pulling on his cloak saying, let us give to help them, out of their poverty. He says that they were begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints. This is how to live. This is good because this shows their future is on eternity not simply on their own trials for today. Their focus is on eternity.
In 1793 William Carey, who’s called the father of the modern missions’ movement, went to India. Now that might not seem like a big deal because we have missionaries going to places all the time, but it hadn’t happened like this in a long time. This was not normal. Carey was going to leave England and go to India to go to places where he didn’t know the language, to learn the language, try to bring the Scriptures to these unreached people groups, and to teach them about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
That might not seem like an amazing thing today, but this is like the first guy that kind of reinvigorated that effort—father of the modern missions’ movement. If you want a book on William Carey, his biography by Pierce Carey is a phenomenal read.
So, Carey is about to go to India, but he doesn’t have all the money to go and do this work, so Carey in 1793 is about to leave. He had had to talk the church in England into supporting him for quite a while. This was years in the making. And Carey had a good friend named Andrew Fuller. Andrew Fuller is a man who should be known in church history. Andrew Fuller was not a missionary. Andrew Fuller saw to it that Carey would never lack anything. Fuller was a sender. In that sense, he was a fellow worker with Carey.
We should either be Andrew Fullers or William Careys. Everyone: Fuller or Carey. Fuller says about the meeting they had right before Carey left, he said Carey was talking as if he were going down into a pit. And he said, I’ll go down into the pit if you will hold the rope. Fuller said we determined there to never ever let go of the rope for William Carey.
That’s the picture. Why? Because God is a sending God. God is a sending God, and he has determined that his gospel message would be proclaimed by people who are sent. God commends sending missionaries generously, and he also desires that we would send cooperatively.
Verses 7 through 8. Look down at the very bottom of those verses. Verse 8: “Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.” John does not intend that you would say, okay, I gave twenty bucks. You’re outta here. You kind of go do your thing. No, no, no, no. That twenty dollars and that prayer makes you a fellow worker in Nicaragua, a fellow worker in the ministry of the Gospel Rescue Mission, a fellow worker in the gospel ministry of the Community Pregnancy Center, a fellow worker in whatever missionary you support. You’re not just sending them and kind of sitting back and going, you do your thing. No, no, you’re sending them saying, you go do our thing. Go do our thing. Go make the gospel known. We’re fellow workers.
Verse 7: “For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.” So support them. Send them on their way in a manner worthy of God because they have gone out for the sake of the name. They’re not going out to do lesser community service projects, as important as those things are. They’re ministry is not to bring clean water to a place, and that’s an important thing. I’m not knocking that at all. But the ultimate thing is to go out for the sake of the name so that people would be turned to the living King of kings and Lord of lords and give him their lives and to say, we are worshipers of you.
That’s why missionaries go out—for the sake of the name. Listen, it’s not even that they’ve gone out so they can rescue people from hell. That’s a huge deal, too. But the ultimate reason is that those people rescued from hell would give glory to the name. It’s all about Christ. It’s all for the name. The name that’s above every other name. The name that all people of all times of all nations should be fascinated by and living for and worshiping and adoring. That’s why you go do missions—for his glory.
They’ve gone out for the sake of the name accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Why is that important? Why is it important that these Christian missionaries of the first century went out and went out without receiving help from the Gentiles? Because there were other missionaries during the time. The Pagan deities had missionaries. There were people that would go seeking money from other people that could go and contribute to the worship of Pagan deities.
So evidently these first century Christian missionaries did not want to be associated with them. I don’t want some guy down on my street to think that he’s giving money to me just like he’s giving money to the worship of Diana of the Ephesians. So they were clear. Like we’re not going to go and receive any of the money from the Gentiles. We’re just going to receive money from the church.
So, John’s argument here is the church should be doing these things. The church should be sending missionaries, not the Gentiles. The church should be doing this. He uses Gentiles in the negative sense here. Sometimes he uses it in the positive sense. It’s the negative sense here. Pagans is what he’s saying. They’re accepting nothing from these people. They don’t want to be confused with those people. They should be receiving these things from the church. Why? Because they’re going out for the sake of the name. The same name, Jesus Christ, that saved us is the name they’re trying to make known in the world.
John Piper says it this way: “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” That’s the whole reason. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship of the name, the name of Christ.
So verse 8: “Therefore [because they’re going out for the sake of the name, because they’re not receiving money from the Gentiles] we ought to support people like these, [so] that we may be fellow workers for the truth.” We ought to support them. This is our obligation. Reminds me of Paul’s language in Romans 1:14, right? I’m under obligation to get the gospel everywhere. It’s not that Paul woke up, and God said you’re gonna go do this, and he was like, fine; I’m obligated to go. No, no, his heart was obligating him. I want to go. I want to get to Spain because they still don’t know about Jesus Christ. I want to get to Spain. What’d he tell the Roman church? And I’d expect that you would send me on my way (Romans 15).
So, Paul has an expectation that getting the gospel to people who have never heard it is a good thing, and he has this expectation that the church would think, yeah, that’s a good thing. We’re going to help you. That’s just the expectation. John has the same expectation. Peter had the same expectation.
Fellow workers. In this way we are fellow workers. Think of the terms that we use for ourselves: Christians, saved, born again, saints, chosen ones, Christ-followers. Here’s another term that’s good: fellow workers for the truth. You can say I’m a Christian. You can also say I’m a fellow worker for the truth. Same thing. Same thing. This is what John intends us to be—fellow workers for the truth.
Again, you read Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, you read Paul’s letter to Titus (Titus 3), you read Romans 15, you read Romans 1—there’s this expectation that the churches will be sending people for this work. We can’t buy into the lie that the best thing for us to do is build our own brand, to keep all the resources for ourselves so that we would be made famous. That can’t be what we do.
We receive resources to contribute to the needs here in our body, to the needs in our cities, to the needs in our nation, to the needs in our world, and the whole goal of all of that is so that his name would be known. His name would be known.
Amy Carmichael, another famous missionary, said, “We will have all eternity to celebrate our victories but only a lifetime to win them.” That’s the attitude. Lord, take our mouths, take our money, take our time, take our prayers, take everything, and we’re going to aim it at making much of the name of Jesus Christ. We want him famous in this room. We want him famous outside of those walls. We want him famous in Nicaragua. We want him famous in all parts of the earth.
Why? Because that’s where all human history is pointing to. Revelation 5. People from every tribe, tongue and nation worshiping the slain and risen Lamb. That’s why we give. That’s why we go. That’s why we pray. That’s why we send. That’s why.
I said it before and I’ll say it again: May this phrase never be said in our church: I’m just not that in to missions. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, nooo! If you know the New Testament, if you know the whole revelation of Scripture, you will be in to missions. You might not be a goer, but you are sender. Every right-thinking Christian is in to missions because it’s about the sake of the name, not about our own kingdoms being built.
So I would encourage you, Canyon Bible Prescott, there are four groups that we have determined to support: the Community Pregnancy Center here in Prescott doing gospel ministry work, the Yavapai Territorial Gospel Rescue Mission here in Prescott we have determined to support in their gospel ministry, the churches of Nicaragua, and I said four because next week I’m going to introduce you to another foreign mission that we are going to be engaged in. You’re going to be excited about this. We are as elders. Can’t wait to tell you about it.
See yourself as a fellow worker in Nicaragua. You might not ever go there. You might not ever meet them until heaven. But see yourself as a fellow worker of what’s going on there. Do you know that today in Nicaragua even as we speak there are people in those churches who have just been converted and won to Christ in the last six months? You want to see the name of Christ magnified in their lives.
There are also people in those churches, if any other Sunday is true, in Nicaragua that are there today who don’t know the name of Christ. There are a number of false religions in Nicaragua, and we are partnering with people who are of the truth, who love in the truth, who are seeking to make the gospel message known in a place where you didn’t grow up learning the gospel like maybe you did here. That’s going on. Consider yourself a fellow worker with them. You are. Money you’ve given in the past has gone there. You are a fellow worker. Keep praying for them. Maybe consider going.
We’re fellow workers. Consider yourself a fellow worker with Community Pregnancy Center seeking to make the gospel known to families, broken and hurting families. Consider yourself a fellow worker with the Rescue Mission seeking to help families, first and foremost come to Christ and the gospel and to grow in him. Be a fellow worker: giving, prayer, and maybe even volunteering and helping. So many of you do that.
Again, I say this all the time and I mean it every time I say it, your elders are so proud of you. So proud of you. I can preach this in a lot of churches and get a lot of angry feedback. You understand giving yourself to the work of Christ.
A few years ago, our women’s ministry had a Christmas dinner, and they determined that they would give the money, the proceeds from it to the churches in Nicaragua. A year later they determined to give the proceeds, to be a help and be a blessing to the Gospel Rescue Mission. Guess what. They didn’t ask elder approval for that, and that’s fine with us. It’s just in their hearts to do. Just do it. Just give and go and support and pray and help and send. That’s been the testimony of you. We’re grateful for that. God commends us sending generously and sending cooperatively.
Next week, as I told you, I’m going to update you on a new international mission that we are going to support. I’m going to update you on the churches in Nicaragua. But this morning I want to give you a little update on the two local ministries that we support. So, I’m going to have Dave and Yvonne Barreras from the Gospel Rescue Mission come up and also Al Anderson who’s a part of our church, who’s on the board of Community Pregnancy Center, come up. I’m gonna find the microphone. Here we go.
I just want you to hear a little about them. These are all friends of ours, and you might not often get to hear directly from them about their work, so I’m going to ask them two questions. The first is this: How is the gospel at the forefront of what you do? Again, we’re partnering with people who are first and foremost about the gospel being known, not just people who do good service projects around town. Again, as important as those things are, a person can have clean water and die separate from Christ. We want people to know Christ, so we partner with these organizations.
So, first, how is the gospel at the forefront of what you’re doing? And secondly, how can we as a local church come alongside you and be fellow workers? So, I’ll give this to Dave first from the Gospel Rescue Mission. We’ve been with the Gospel Rescue Mission, Dave, I don’t know, almost three years now, right? Pretty much from the beginning, right?
Dave: Yeah, right from the beginning.
Andrew: Okay, so how is the gospel at the forefront of what you do?
Dave: The gospel is everything we do. We don’t do a whole lot of going out and beating the bushes to bring people in because our focus is on discipling every person that comes to our door. So, it’s not about us going out and finding people to help. It’s about God sending those people to us. So, in the five years that we’ve been open—going on five years—we’ve had over 130 families come through, 130 women and children. Our goal is to disciple them with the gospel of Christ from the day they get there till the day they leave.
So, we do chapel four nights a week. We are closed on Sunday so that they don’t hide in our house. We want them to go to church. So, we do everything, and our kind of statement is that if everything else falls down, if we lose our building and lose our food and everything else, we’re gonna do gospel because when we focus on the things that God considers important, then God will bless what we’re doing.
So, it’s not about us being especially skilled or necessarily knowing what we’re doing. You can talk to Chuck and Connie. Chuck and Connie are here all the time. They’re always over at our place, and they ask us, so what do you want us to do? And our answer is, basically, I don’t know. Let’s just do what God did and see how that works.
So that’s our focus. What does Scripture say? How can we deal with issues of life as they come through the door, because we’ve had an unbelievable mix of ladies come through our door. We have newborns that come all the time with their moms. Eighteen-year-olds that have been kicked out because they were pregnant. Seventy-year-old French Jewish refugees whose parents were killed by the Nazis. We’ve had Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses, Wicca, professing witches, atheists, agnostics, and every once in a while, a Baptist will show up just to kind of, you know, make sure things are still going.
Andrew: Which is different.
Dave: Which is hard, yeah, yeah. Getting to know those church people, that’s hard. But yeah, we don’t judge who’s coming through the door. We look at our success as who’s going out.
Andrew: You’re gonna pursue after them?
Dave: Yeah, yeah. Every night.
Andrew: Thank you, my friend. Yvonne, Dave’s wife, also is there working at the mission. So, Yvonne, my question for you is, just as a local church, how can we best support … I mean, we just want to be fellow workers. So, how can we best support you guys?
Yvonne: Well, you’re already doing a wonderful job. For those of you who haven’t really gotten into the mix of it, who are new here, this church is super involved with the Gospel Rescue Mission, and we’re so appreciative. There are different ways to get involved. Several of you do chapel. Chapel is just pretty much a Bible study, sitting down and reading the word. And so, we have some wonderful people who share with our ladies, and there’s no special education that you have to have to do it. You just have to have the heart and just come and talk to me and that’s just __________.
Also, we have a non-cooking kitchen, and so a lot of ladies from this church come and bring our ladies and our children hot meals. If you’re not connected in that and you really want to do that, get a hold of Didi Farmer here at the church, and she can put you in contact with Meal Train. Where is Didi?
Andrew: She’s serving children. Typical, of course.
Yvonne: She’s serving. So, yeah, but just contact her and she’ll get you connected with the Meal Train that the church does for our Mission. Also, we can always use material donations. Anything that you have in your house that you’re not needing anymore, you can pass those on to the Mission. If we don’t utilize them at the Mission, we pass them on to the community for free.
And also, if you have a special gift or talent, just come and ask. See if it can be used there at the Mission. There are all sorts of ways to serve. I just, again, have to say thank you to all of you who already are connected. Thank you.
Andrew: To go and see these ladies and children and sit around a table and just open the Bible with them is one of the great joys of our life. Just to explain, and I just want to encourage you, you don’t have to study for twenty hours like you’re gonna preach a sermon. Take something you know from the Scriptures; teach them about your God. Teach them about the gospel. Keep it that simple. Teach them something from the Gospels. We’ve done that.
To see these ladies kind of walk in the room, kind of like uhhhh—guards up—and to walk through, you know, like even a passage where Jesus calls Zacchaeus to himself, and it says that I came to seek and save the lost, to explain that to them and to see kind of the walls go down, and they’re listening; it’s amazing. It just happens a couple blocks away. And to see them, maybe the next month you come back, and now they’ve got questions. It’s amazing.
So, whether you’re teaching or serving meals, whatever it is, it’s fellow workers. So, thank you both.
Al, representing the Community Pregnancy Center, so I’d ask you the same questions. How is the gospel at the forefront of what the CPC does?
Al: Can I do something first? Can I brag on these people?
Al: A lot of us, I think, when we grow up, we want to be baseball players or rock stars or whatever. But Dave might be the only guy I know whose mission in life, whose goal was to run a gospel rescue mission. I think that’s phenomenal. I haven’t met too many like this one, or these two.
As far as the gospel and the CPC, that is our core as well, and these two ministries work quite a bit together. There’s sometimes a misunderstanding and sometimes a consternation that we’re not political, and we really aren’t at the local level at all. We understand that if mom doesn’t have life, if she doesn’t know Jesus, there’s a lot of consequences to that. It’s just understandable that there’s gonna be disruption at all levels in the family. So, we know that without the gospel, there’s not any hope, and without the hope, the results are in.
We do focus on the mothers and their babies. Mom needs the gospel. Mom needs to know Jesus, and everything we do—the evangelism, the teaching (we do a lot of teaching), the physical goods—all of that is gospel-centered. Without it we might as well close our doors. We might be helpful but not ultimately.
Andrew: I remember seeing Brent, the head of the CPC—I was studying in Starbucks one day, and I looked up and Brent is meeting with what I guessed was a father, meeting with this dad at Starbucks, open Bibles. And Brent, I could just tell, he’s teaching him things; he’s pointing him to things, and it’s like—there you go. It’s more than just prolife. It’s pro-eternal life. And that was a precious thing to see.
How can we as a church best help and come alongside CPC?
Al: I’ll say a few things. One is familiarize yourself with the CPC, if you don’t mind. If any of you want a tour to see what we do, and we do a lot, call me. I’m in the church directory. I’ll give you a personal tour, show you everything, the counseling rooms, the ultrasound, and the baby store where we don’t sell babies, but we provide goods for those kids.
Secondly, we do appreciate your support, and we really, really appreciate your participation. So, there’s a lot of opportunity to participate, from secretarial to counseling to helping with the baby store as the diapers come in and as the clothing comes in to sort that and to retail it, so to speak.
And third, we need prayer. We need prayer in a big, big way. I say this last, but certainly not least. There’s a spiritual warfare going on, not just with every woman that comes through the door, but in this town and certainly nationally. The pregnancy centers right now have a huge target on their back. Our ministry has always run on prayer. It’s always been at the forefront of what we do. It’s what we do first thing in the morning. It’s the thing we do in each counseling session. It’s the thing we do as the doors close. We’re on our knees every weekend because there’s always things going on. But we need prayer. The warfare is getting really, really heavy at the moment. We would appreciate that.
Andrew: And just as a reminder, everything we put in that worship guide you have every Sunday is intentional. The devotional is written by church leaders. Every week there’s an outreach focus where one of these groups is detailed, and we just ask for prayer, prayer, prayer. So, as you see those, keep lifting them up in prayer, please, and you do that so well. It’s kind of like Gaius, you know, you’re doing this so well, you’re so faithful. Keep doing it. That’s, I think, the call for us today.
I want to have you guys all come up here, and let me just close in prayer for the ministry that’s going on.
Father, we’re thankful for these saints and the ministry that’s happening. We know that lives have been changed, but more importantly, eternal lives have been changed through their ministry and their time here in Prescott. We would ask you that you would unite our church’s heart all the more with them, that we would join them in prayer, in giving, in resources and help and whatever it is that they need to see their gospel ministry go forth every single day.
Father, we’re praying that families, mothers, children, fathers are saved, converted through their work, through their effort and pray that one of the great causes of celebration, exaltation when we all get to heaven one day is to look back and to see all you did through these ministries. We pray this all in the name of the Son, the only name that is higher than any other name in heaven and on earth. We pray in His name. Amen.
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