A STUMBLING BLOCK OR A STEPPING STONE / A Tale of Three Men In 3rd John
Delivered By
Dr Tom Hover
Delivered On
December 4, 2022
Subject
A STUMBLING BLOCK OR A STEPPING STONE / A Tale of Three Men In 3rd John
Description

A STUMBLING BLOCK OR A STEPPING STONE
While in Wal-Mart almost 40 years ago, I noticed a table full of books on sale for one and two dollars each. My eyes soon were fastened on a book written by a Christian businessman by the name of Robert J McKain. The book held this title, “How To get On Top and Stay There”.  I opened the book and read this poem which I have never forgotten.            
“Isn’t it strange
That princes and kings 
And Clowns that caper 
In sawdust rings 
And common people 
Like you and me 
Are builders for eternity?  
Each is given a bag of tools 
A shapeless mass 
A book of rules 
And each must make 
Ere life has flown 
A stumbling block 
Or a stepping stone.”
Right now, everyone is building a life that serves as a stepping stone or a stumbling block. We are helping people to step up or trip up! Romans 14:13 (The church was arguing over days and diets) Many today are Oblivious to the Obvious. They want a Normality of Immorality. Truth is Betrayed and Lies Reign. Our only Hope is Jesus. Ephesians 2:8-10 The gospel of Jesus Christ is gloriously simple & simply glorious. It is so simple many people overlook it; & so free many find it hard to believe. Romans10:13 John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. Without the Way; there’s No Going; without the Truth there’s No Knowing; without the Life there’s No Living!  Look to Jesus.  You see, Jesus Is Not just a navigator pointing to The Way, He is the WAY! Jesus Is Not just educator teaching Truth, HE is TRUTH! And Jesus is not a philosopher describing Life He is LIFE! Acts 4:12  
Have you considered how that what saved some was an obstacle to others.
Some stumble at: Repentance Others use it as a Stepping Stone
Some stumble at: Worship Others use it as a Stepping Stone
Some stumble at: Jesus Name Others use it as a Stepping Stone
Some stumble at: One God Others use it as a Stepping Stone
Some stumble at: Holiness Others use it as a Stepping Stone
Some stumble at: Altar Others use it as a Stepping Stone
Some stumble at: The Word Others use it as a Stepping Stone
Life is a cup with two handles on it, one Faith and the other Fear. Fear deludes and darkens; Faith brightens and enlightens. God has said, “I Will Never Leave You nor Forsake You”. That is a forever never without any exceptions ever.  Hebrews 13:5-6 So why do we feel so along sometimes! When leaders (or anyone) trips, falls, falters, or get depressed or get negative they bring others down with them. Romans 14:7, Psalm 111:10 The realization of the awesomeness of our Great God’s presence brings me to my knees. I fear God immensely; yet ironically, I am not afraid of Him. If a person has a Biblically based fear of God, that person has no reason ever to fear anything else. Ps. 56:11,3:6,111:10, Pro. 9:10, Rev.1:17, Ps. 119:165

I. THE SINFUL STUMBLING BLOCKS Malachi 2:7–9
As Christians the space we occupy serves as our pulpit, and the life we live serves as our sermon. Paul’s concern about himself: I Corinthians 9:27   Life has a way of throwing stuff at us. Things get in our way, or don’t go our way. Projects don’t work out. Relationships go sour. Life gets hard. But as they say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. The best way to handle the stumbling blocks strewn in your path is to use them as stepping stones. But how? Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones! HOW? 
A. BY REFRAMING THINGS IN YOUR LIFE! 
Matthew 6:33 This verse is more than a Precept it is a Promise!
1. By Seeking God’s Will in Your Daily Life. Matt.6:33
JOY has always been the Flag that is Flown from the Castle of the Heart when KING JESUS is Enthroned. Ps. 43:4, John 15:11,14:6, Rom. 14:17,15:13
Proverbs 3:6 This verse is more than a Precept it is a Promise!
2. By Seeking God’s Righteousness in You Daily Life. 
Matthew 6:33, I Thessalonians 5:23-24 (The whole person)
B. BY REACHING OUT TO OTHERS! James 5:16 
C. BY NEVER STOP GROWING! II Peter 3:18, II Corinthians 6:3–10  
  
II. A RIGHTEOUS STUMBLING BLOCK
As Strange and Paradoxical as it sounds there is One Righteous Stumbling Block! 
I Peter 2:5–9, Romans 9:31–32 
A.) LIFT UP JESUS  1 Corinthians 1:21–24, John 12:32The blood of Christ makes us safe; the Word of God makes us sure; and the Spirit of God makes us strong. 
B.) STAY POSITIVE Joy is a powerful magnet that draws people toward you simply because it is something they desperately desire for themselves. SO: Stay away from the Devil's Darkroom of Discouragement. It is there where the negatives of failure are developed.  Philippians 4:8 A dynamic Christian answers ridicule with resolve; derision with determination; hate with love; hardness with kindness; and despair with joy. Proverbs 4:18–19  


PM
A Tale of Three Men In 3rd John
 3 John1-14
OVERVIEW
This short epistle is not just about showing hospitality and material support to itinerant gospel preachers. Its main value is to expose the type of domineering, egotistical, selfishly-ambitious, lord-it-over-the-flock mentality that too easily creeps into church leadership and stifles the ministry of the Holy Spirit. My conjecture is that Diotrephes is one of the earliest examples of the perversion of the NT model of plurality of elder church government. Here you have one leader seeking to be in charge over the other church leaders rather than exhibiting a servant-heart in oversight. The Apostle John recognized the danger and takes steps to address the problem.
I. BACKGROUND INFORMATION
A.) A COMPARISON BETWEEN SECOND AND THIRD JOHN
1. Both letters focus on the words "love" and "truth"-2Jn 1;3Jn 1
2. But notice this difference:
a. In 2nd John, love is enjoined, but there is a warning against tolerating those who denied the truth
b. In 3rd John, love is praised, and there is commendation for supporting those who proclaimed the truth
3. Another comparison:
a. 2nd John condemns the departure from the truth which is known as "heresy"
b. 3rd John condemns the lack of love among Christians which results in "schism"
II. THE THREE MEN OF THIRD JOHN
A. GAIUS -- A MAN WHOM JOHN WOULD HAVE PROSPER (1-8)
1. A dear friend of John, whom he prayed would prosper physically as well as he did spiritually - 3 John 1-2
2. John so loved and prayed for Gaius, because he was a man who...
a. Had a good reputation - 3Jn 3a
b. Walked in the truth - 3Jn 3b
c. Gave John great joy when hearing of his faithfulness - 3Jn 4
d. Was hospitable toward all - 3Jn 5-6a
e. Was encouraged to continue supporting gospel preachers - 3Jn 6b-8
B. DIOTREPHES -- A MAN WHO WOULD BE PREEMINENT (9-11)
1. A description of Diotrephes' character...
a. Self-promoter / Egotistical  -- he strove to be first - 3Jn 9a
b. Insubordinate / Rebellious -- he would not receive the [authority of] apostles - 3Jn 9b  
c. Slanderous -- He spoke nonsense, and slandered - 3Jn 10a
d. Vindictive / Domineering-- He would not receive certain brethren, and cast out other brethren - 3Jn 10b
2. Diotrephes' character serves as a warning:  "he who does evil has not seen God" - 3Jn 11b
C. DEMETRIUS -- A MAN WHO WOULD BE A PATTERN (11-12)
1. John encourages Gaius to imitate what is good, for he who does good is of God - 3Jn 11
2. Demetrius appears to be offered as a pattern for Gaius, for Demetrius had a good report... - 3 John 12  
a. From all the brethren
b. From the truth itself ("Demetrius lived according to the mandates of God's Word so that his life showed clear evidence of the truth"
c. From John and the apostles
Thus we have these pen portraits of three men preserved in this letter, giving us some insight into the life of the early church. There were some good men (Gaius, Demetrius), but sadly there were some bad as well (Diotrephes). Not much different today, is it?  That being the case, then perhaps we should remember these...
 III. LESSONS FROM THIRD JOHN
A. CHRISTIANS ARE NOT ALWAYS WHAT THEY SHOULD BE...
1. We may have to serve in the face of opposition from other brethren
2. Will we allow this to effect our service?
3. Will we allow this to effect our fellowship with God?
B. CHRISTIANS OFTEN IMITATE OTHER CHRISTIANS...
1. John says to imitate what is good for two reasons:
a. Those who do good are of God
b. Those who do evil do not know God
2. What example are we setting in the local church?  
Who are we imitating?
3. Gaius had the example of Diotrephes and Demetrius.  Who do you suppose he would seek to imitate?
C. CHRISTIANS OFTEN ALLOW THE "SPIRIT OF DIOTREPHES" TO REIGN...
1. Diotrephes was successful because some of the members...
a. Allowed Diotrephes to dominate
b. Would not take a stand for the truth
c. Would not support those who took a stand for the truth
2. Diotrephes was successful because there was a certain climate of complacency and cowardice within the local church
3. NOTE:  That Diotrephes was able to get away with his domination strongly suggests to me that Gaius and Diotrephes were not members of the same congregation, but in different congregations
CONCLUSION
WHY STUDY THIS BOOK?
• To expose church leaders who try to lord it over the flock and exercise a domineering spirit
• To highlight the joy of seeing believers with whom we have a close connection walking faithfully in the truth
• To encourage appropriate material support for those engaged in gospel ministry
• To emphasize both the need and the process of confronting divisive and dangerous practices in the church
• To exhort believers to imitate what is good and avoid what is evil
This is a brief look at "The Three Men Of Third John" hopefully will stimulate our thinking...
a. What kind of example are we setting?
b. If John had written a letter in which your name was mentioned, what would he have said about you?
1) Would he have prayed for your prosperity?
2) Would he have condemned your desire for prominence?
3) Or would he have set you up as a pattern for others to follow?
c. If we will but "walk in the truth" like Gaius, we will have a  good "testimony" from all like Demetrius!

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