You Have Reason to Rejoice!
Lord Jesus, You have made me Your witness. Help me daily to understand and appreciate the privilege, the responsibility, and the necessity for this calling. Teach me and guide me with Your Word so that I am well equipped to speak of You to others. Open my eyes to see the opportunities You prepare for me, and then give me boldness to take those opportunities and share Your Word. Be with all who share the Gospel in places I cannot. Cause their labors and my own to be effective for the spread of Your Kingdom. Amen.
Imprisonment may seem like a setback for the Apostle Paul’s mission work. This was not the case. While imprisoned, Paul was able to share the Gospel with the whole palace guard. Meanwhile, others were preaching Christ but with wrong motives. Nevertheless Paul rejoiced because the Gospel was being preached. Wherever the Gospel is preached God’s Kingdom will spread, and that is cause for rejoicing.
Before ascending into Heaven, Jesus drew the connection between His work and the work of His disciples. Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament promises and accomplish salvation for sinners. The disciples of Jesus—then and now—are witnesses of all that Jesus has done.
Text: 3 John 1-8
To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth:
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.
So it’s time for another mission festival. Is there any good reason for such a special occasion? Is there cause for such a celebration of the spreading of God’s Word. The middle east, the cradle of civilization and the beginning of Christianity is in constant turmoil and the place where God’s chosen people once dwelt is not a place now where you’d find Christians in great number. Europe, which was the stage of the great reformation which we’ll be remembering in just a couple of weeks seems to have slid a long way backwards away from that time. Even our own nation, founded as a Christian nation seems to be losing a grip on what is god pleasing. Is there any hope? Won’t anyone hear our message anymore, is it too outdated, not relevant. It becomes so difficult when there are people doing horrendous things in the name of Jesus, bombing abortion clinics and bashing the homosexual community. Yes it is discouraging at times. But God’s word shows us that we have Reason to Rejoice I. There are those who are walking in the truth, and II. The Kingdom of God is Growing.
John, now one of the elder apostles is writing a short letter to a faithful brother and layperson, Gaius. It brings this aged apostle great joy to hear that one of the Christians whom God had likely converted through John’s preaching and teaching is still abiding in the truth.
John was no stranger to opposition of the word, he knew how troubled the times were even back then. It is probable that when John had written this letter to his beloved friend Gaius that most of the apostles had already been martyred. Persecution abounded and there were errors infiltrating that young Christian church. In purely human terms we look at this as the most dire of situations and would be tempted to write it off as a lost cause.
But the Holy Spirit reveals to us in this letter that even among all the hardship, no matter how grim things started to look there is reason to rejoice. There is reason to rejoice exceedingly, John was extremely joyful, he was ecstatic that Gaius had continued in the truth. Rejoicing in these dark times because is it clear that God’s grace and the power of his word can overcome anything, it can beat the odds, accomplish the seemingly impossible. It can create and sustain the faith of anyone, no matter what the circumstances are.
Do we have reason to rejoice? We get to be quite skilled at getting ourselves into thinking that there is no longer reason to rejoice. Perhaps we get caught up in our own personal struggles, battling our own personal demons that we feel there is no reason for God to use us in spreading his word, or that we become discouraged with church attendance, with strife even among Christian brothers and sisters. Even in such times perhaps we feel like Elijah did sorrowing under that broom tree saying, there cannot be anyone left, the world is so wicked.
Be encouraged there is reason to rejoice! Any time there is someone going through adult information class, that is reason to rejoice. Rejoice that there are those who are looking for what God’s Word has to say. Rejoice that there are those around the world that want to walk in the truth and be sustained and refreshed by the living water of the scriptures:
- Pastor Angowi in Tanzania
- Pastor Gideon in Togo
- Essiens in Nigeria
- D. Paul, Moses, Baskar, Sampat, Victor, Rajamani, and the Benjamin Family in India.
These are only a few, those who are also leading others in the truth. Yes there is reason to rejoice. Surely they are no stranger to difficulty but let us rejoice with them and pray for them that the Lord continue to sustain and encourage these faithful servants of God’s Word.
This summer during the Mission Helper Trip to India when some of the mission helpers came to Nellore, just a little ways north of Chennai. the city where my good friend Pastor Moses resides, we had the chance to be a part of something pretty unique, something wonderful. The young people in pastor Moses congregation have taken it upon themselves to come and gather on the Saturdays that they don’t have school. For a greater part of the day they devote themselves to the study of God’s Word.
They had just finished studying the book of Acts and Pastor Moses had asked us to put together about 100 quiz questions about the book of Acts. I’d say they answered all but four or five of them correctly, and even that was probably due to something that had gotten lost in translation. It was certainly reason to rejoice to see the Spirit at work among them and one couldn’t help admire their hunger for the Word of God and see them thirsting for that living water.
This is just one example of countless many others. Just as John was ecstatic when he heard the report about Gaius, so we too can rejoice when we get the reports in from Missionary Koenig and the Mission Board, and the eyewitness accounts that are shared from the countless mission helpers who have gone to Africa and India over the years. Any one of them will be able to testify to the fact that there are many far and wide walking in the truth.
There are those who treasure the timeless and priceless truths that we hold so dear. The truth that we were lost in the darkness of rebellion against our creator God. And that even while we were God’s greatest enemies and all His anger and wrath was to be poured out on us, he showed us mercy, placing Jesus in the middle to take on the full load of punishment, to absorb the full force of God’s anger against sin. And now has guaranteed our forgiveness through his death and resurrection, and has made us citizens with Christ in His heavenly kingdom. Yes there are those who still walk in these wonderful truths of God’s Word.
Not only are there those still walking in the truth which causes us along with all the angels in heaven to rejoice but God has not finished bringing people into his kingdom. Our God is a God who doesn’t take any pleasure when the wicked perish He would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. You have reason to rejoice because the Kingdom of God is still Growing.
Just a few weeks ago word was received that a small group in Nepal had contacted the CLC, wanting to find out more about the teachings of the Bible. Keep in mind that only one half of one percent of all people in Nepal are Christian and that Christian work in Nepal has only been going on for the past fifty years. It is not likely that this group found out about us because we are world renown or do such an excellent job of advertising our synod’s presence in the world. No this is our ever persistent God going after and finding a small group of Christians in need of support, encouragement, and prayers. This is an example of Christ as head of the church looking out for the best interests of his believers.
But we couldn’t possibly explore another field of foreign missions could we? We’re already stretched so thin, right? It didn’t seem likely that we’d even have a second foreign missionary, plus we’re such a tiny church body. Sure it’s an exciting possibility but what can realistically be done?
As a response to doubts like these that arise, Missionary Koenig put it very well when he said, “Let’s put the fleshly responses doubts where they properly belong, dead and buried along with all those Midianites who underestimated the living God and His weak Gideon and puny army of 300.”
John commending Gaius in the second half of our text for taking in and supporting the workers in God’s kingdom. This he did for those carrying the message of salvation through Christ. These were not people that he knew, it even says that he did this for them while they were strangers. There was no other reason for Gaius to take in and support these messengers other than the fact that God had joined them together in a common faith. Yes, they were strangers, but at the same time they were brothers.
Notice also Gaius was not an apostle, he was not trained to be a professional evangelist or teacher, he was a faithful layperson who was performing mission work right from his own home. It was customary when a Christian preacher came to town to take him in, feed him, and send him on his way with enough supplies to reach his next destination. This does not mean that whenever you have a guest speaker that you must have a pot luck, that’s simply good old Lutheran tradition, and it is much appreciated by the way.
Gaius was a fellow worker in the truth by supporting those who were out in the field. John encourages all Christians to do the same, to support the proclamation of the Gospel by supporting those who proclaim it.
You have the privilege of being invited to come to God with prayer, He is the Lord of the harvest. Pray for strength and courage to share your faith personally. Pray that this congregation would be a light set on a hill so that all around can see what God has done for them.
Pray for Pastor D. Paul, the president of the BELC that he may continue to recover from his motorcycle accident leaving him with a fractured knee and injured shoulder. Pray that he regain his strength so that his body may keep up with the zeal that the Lord has given him for the work in His kingdom.
We have many opportunities to support mission work, whichever form it may take, and wherever it is carried out. First and foremost, join with your brothers and sisters fervently praying on behalf of Christ’s church.
Yes, while it may seem at times like we are fighting a losing battle, where we may not always see the results we expect or want, take heart, be encouraged the Word that goes out will accomplish what God has planned for it. You have Reason to rejoice. There are many still walking in the truth and God’s kingdom is still growing.
—Immanuel Lutheran Seminarian, Michael Gurath