3 John 1:5-7 by Robert Dean
Series:3rd John (2003)
Duration:1 hr 11 mins 37 secs

The Importance of Missions and Missionaries; 3Jo 5-7

3 John 1:5  Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially {when they are} strangers; [6] and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. [7] For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles."

As we grow and advance and come to understand grace one area which is to impact us is in the arena of our own hospitality, and especially to those who have dedicated their life to the communication of God's Word. Gauis is being praised for his generous support and hospitality toward the travelling evangelists and missionaries. We see in verse 6 that he sends them on their way. The verb is not apostello [a)postellw] which is the verb related to the noun apostollos, from which we get our word "apostle"; it is a different word, an adverbial participle of means. Actually the way the sentence reads in the Greek is "you will do well by sending them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God." The main verb in this second part of the clause is "You will do well." So sending them out is a key word in understanding the role of missionaries.

Verse 7 goes on to say they "went forth for His name's sake." They are going forth because of who Jesus Christ is. The "name" is Scripture brings into focus that person's character, who they are. They go forth because of who he is, and the verb here for going forth is exerchomai [e)cerxomai] which means to go forth, to go out from or to go out of. So they are sending these people forward, and that brings up the entire concept of missions.

What is the biblical foundation for missions? There is a lot of confusion about what missions is and there are some technical aspects of the definition that those write on this subject deal with.

1.  The idea of sending authorised and trained people. They are people who are designated by a local church, recognised by a local church, to carry out a specific task related to evangelism and biblical training. They are people who are identified and recognised by a local church. They should not be people who simply jump up and do it on their own. The biblical model is that we see them set apart by a local church and sent forth. They may not be supported only but they have that local church grounding.

2.  They are trained. That training does not have to be formal seminary training but there needs to be some sort of training. People need to be trained and taught in skills related to teaching the gospel, skills related to working with people in cross-cultural circumstances. The main idea in missions per se is cross-cultural. It may not necessarily involve a cross-language situation. Another category that usually fits under missions is the support of seminary and Bible colleges for the training of people who can operate in these areas. It has been a standard way of approaching missions in many churches to classify missions in terms of foreign missions and home missions. Home missions would include a lot of kinds of cross-cultural evangelistic operations, but it could also include Christian camping and other things of that nature. But we can probably cover all this by saying it is crossing language and/or cultural division. The first point that had to do with training people takes up the importance of seminaries and Bible colleges and Bible institutes. Their purpose is to communicate the gospel and to teach the Word of God and the whole realm of Bible doctrine beyond the cultural border of the local home church. After there evangelism there has to be training and teaching converts the whole counsel, to then go on and train indigenous leaders and to establish a self-governing indigenous church—the ultimate goal. Establishing an indigenous church may even take a century or two.

3.  Technical definition: Missions technically refers to a form of cross-cultural evangelism with designated individuals who are set apart by a local church to carry out the work of communicating the gospel, teaching the Word of God and the whole realm of Bible doctrine, with the end result of creating a self-supporting indigenous ministry. Part of any such endeavour involves the training and preparation of those involved to actively handle and teach the Word of God. Thus the support of such training institutions is also a part of missions.

If we define missions as cross-cultural evangelism where we are sending the message of the grace of God into a hostile culture then our first example of that occurs in Genesis 3:15, right after the fall. The earth is now a hostile environment—"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed." This is the first indication of the gospel. The first seed is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ, and notice that this is one of the very few places where the term "seed" is related to a woman. The seed is usually related to the male, not the female. Here it is the seed of the woman and it is specifically related to the virgin birth. So we see that God has a plan to penetrate the rebellious human viewpoint pagan culture of man from the beginning. The next example we see of God penetrating the world with the truth of the gospel is with Noah in Genesis 6:3ff. God gave 120 years of grace before judgment. Noah got involved in a 120-year evangelistic ministry. One of the great lessons to learn from Noah is the lesson of perseverance, because Noah did not have a single convert. God's standard isn't numbers, it is: Are you faithful to my Word and are you teaching the truth? 2 Peter 2:5 NASB "and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness…" He proclaimed righteousness and the way to righteousness through faith alone in Christ alone, promising a coming Saviour, and was completely rejected for that 120-year period of time.

After the flood man continued to deteriorate. Romans 1:21-23 NASB "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures." So there was a complete deterioration by the time of the tower of Babel and the revolt against God.

God is concerned about communicating His grace in the gospel even to these rebellious peoples. So He has a new plan, i.e. Abraham. He was not brought up in a home where he was taught the truth. Joshua 24:2 NASB "Joshua said to all the people, 'Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, {namely,} Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods." He came out of a home where they worshipped the moon god and all the fertility gods that were popular in Ur of the Chaldees. But eventually Abraham heard the gospel and trusted in God, and God calls him out, chose him in grace, and entered into a covenant which is the basis for world-wide blessing. Genesis 12:1-3 NASB "Now the LORD said to Abram, 'Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed'." God's approach is not just to Abraham, not just to the Jews, but to the whole world through Abraham, so God has a world vision from the beginning. His goal is to get the gospel throughout the world. He is going to do this specifically through the nation Israel and they are set apart as a kingdom of priests. The Abrahamic covenant has three parts—land, seed and blessing. It is the last part, blessing, that is the foundation for missions because God through Abraham is going to provide a blessing for all the nations. So we have to have a vision for that.

Exodus 19:6 NASB "and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." This was God's missionary plan in the Old Testament with Israel. It wasn't the idea of going out and taking the gospel throughout the world, it was to make a nation of them and the whole world was to come to them and they would give them the gospel. Israel was located at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea where there were trade routes which intersected in Israel. It was there that God was setting up a tremendous counter culture, a nation called Israel, and they were to be a witness. Israel would be seen as a nation that was ruled by law, a nation where there was freedom, a nation where there was an understanding of God—a personal God, a holy and a righteous God. As this was seen and some were saved they would take the gospel back to their homeland. Israel was to be a witness to the nations and in many cases they were. The only example we have in the Old Testament of a missionary going out from Israel was the reluctant missionary, Jonah. There was a classic example of a Gentile nation that responded positively to the gospel, and their history was extended another 200 years because of their response to the gospel taught by Jonah. One individual can make a tremendous difference.

Isaiah also prophesies in several places about the impact of the gospel on the nations. Isaiah 49:6 NASB "He says, 'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth'."

Isaiah 56:7 NASB "Even those [the Gentiles] I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples [nations]." So the Old Testament clearly prophesies an international impact of the gospel, that God has a desire to see the Gentiles saved. This same verse is picked up by Christ and recorded in Mark 11:17. There He is teaching in the synagogue. NASB "And He {began} to teach and say to them, "Is it not written, 'MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE NATIONS'? But you have made it a ROBBERS' DEN."