Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said. John 2:13-22

All the males in Israel were required to appear before the LORD God at the temple in Jerusalem at the feast of the Passover. In addition to other sacrifices, an unblemished lamb was to be sacrificed and eaten and temple taxes were to be paid. As a result, the outer courts of the temple became a place where merchants, for a profit, sold animals for sacrifice and exchanged money for the coins needed for the temple tax.

Jesus, when He saw it, made a whip of cords and drove them out of the temple, saying, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!”

When asked for a sign to prove His Messianic claims and his authority to do this, Jesus told the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Jesus wasn’t referring to the temple building in Jerusalem but to His own body. The sign He gave to verify that He is the Messiah and has the authority to drive out those who abuse His Father’s house is His own resurrection from the dead; for as He said would happen, the Jews destroyed the temple of His body, but He raised it up again on the third day.

The Jews misunderstood His words, thinking of the new Jewish temple, which had been under construction already for 46 years and was not yet finished. But Jesus’ disciples came to understand His words after He had risen from the dead.

What would Jesus do should He walk into our church buildings today? Would He be pleased with our activities and programs, or would He drive them out? Each church should be “a house of prayer,” not “a den of thieves” (cf. Matthew 21:12ff. where Jesus again cleansed the temple in the week of His crucifixion).

Would Jesus be pleased with those who use the churches to sell their goods or advance their careers? Would He say it is okay for groups to sell insurance and retirement plans in connection with the church? Would it be alright to hold all manner of sales and raffles to raise money? What about the many fundraisers and campaigns to support the work of the church? These are tough questions that churches must prayerfully consider and answer with the guidance of God’s Word.

But what about the temples of our bodies? The Scriptures tell all who believe: “You are the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:16); and, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

Jesus is zealous for God’s house, as the Scriptures say, “Zeal for Your house has eaten me up” (Psalm 69:9). Not only is Jesus concerned for the earthly temples built with our hands; He is concerned with the temples of our bodies which He has created and redeemed. What would He cast out and cleanse away in your body or in your life?

Are our bodies a “house of prayer” devoted to the LORD God and seeking His glory? Does “the Word of Christ dwell in (us) richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in (our) hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16)? Or, are our bodies and lives filled with our own selfishness and greed? Are we living for ourselves rather than for Christ Jesus, who both created us and then also redeemed us with His own precious blood?

Is Jesus even welcome in the temples of our bodies, or do we question His authority to come into our lives and cast out what is offensive to Him?

Though we, by our sins, destroyed the temple of Jesus’ body — He was crucified and suffered on the cross for our sins and the sins of the whole world, being condemned of God and dying in our stead — Jesus rose again from the dead in victory on the third day! He is God’s Son and our Messiah and Savior! He has redeemed us and made full atonement for our sins and the sins of the whole world! His resurrection is proof! It is the sign!

Jesus has the authority to cast out what is evil from our lives. He has the right to cleanse us, and He is zealous for us and our holiness. He comes to us as believers and dwells in us by His Holy Spirit, and He desires that we be wholly devoted to the will and service of God our Father.

God grant that we not challenge His authority to purify and cleanse but welcome His coming and rejoice in the mercy and forgiveness He gives to us for the sake of His innocent sufferings and death and His victorious resurrection! Jesus has paid in full the punishment for our sins, and He forgives and accepts us when we look to Him in faith. At the same time, He also works in us to cleanse us so that we might live our lives for Him!

O dearest Jesus, come into my heart and cast out whatever offends. Forgive me for the sake of Your precious blood shed for my sins, and cleanse my heart and soul that I might live for You. Amen.

[Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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Genesis 3:1-13

1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”
4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”
10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”
12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”
13 And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The paradise which God created in the first two chapters of Genesis did not last long, for chapter three tells of the temptation of the devil, a fallen angel, who came to Eve in the form of the serpent.

“Did God really say that that you should not eat from any tree of the garden?” he asked, creating a question in the woman’s mind. And when Eve said the prohibition and warning that disobedience would bring about death — alienation and separation from God — was only in regard to the tree in the middle of the garden, the devil distorted the truth by saying, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Thus, he caused her to think that perhaps God was somehow holding out on her and keeping from her and her husband something good and desirable.

Of course, this still happens every day. The devil comes to us through friends and coworkers, through the media and entertainment industries, and in our own thoughts and minds and says, “Does God really expect you to keep all those commandments in the Bible?”

And he works hard to convince us that God is trying to keep us from having fun and enjoying life, or that He is placing an impossible burden upon us, that He really doesn’t expect us to keep all of His commandments, or that breaking just a few of the commandments now and then won’t really alienate and separate us from God — after all, everybody does it.

And, like Eve, when we look at the thing we are being tempted to do, it looks good and desirable to us. We think it will be fun or pleasurable, it will work out for our good, it won’t hurt anything, no one will know.

And so, we rationalize and give in to the temptation and to our own sinful desires, and the result is death! We recognize our nakedness and guilt before God. We may attempt to cover it up or even learn to cope with it, but the guilt remains. We are afraid to stand in His presence. We would rather not hear God’s Word or walk into His house of prayer.

Why? Because our sin, though it may have appeared to be good at the time, brought about spiritual death and separation from God. When confronted with the presence of God and His truth, we hide. When questioned about our disobedience, we make excuses and blame others.

As a result of Adam and Eve’s sin, we are all born into this world sinners — our very thoughts and desires are turned away from God and His holy commandments. What David wrote is true of each of us as a result of that first sin: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5).

Instead of loving God, trusting Him and desiring to honor and glorify His name, we think only of ourselves, question and doubt God’s Word and seek our own honor and glory. We are born in spiritual death and are alienated from God.

That is why we so desperately need God’s pardon and forgiveness. We need Him to find us, forgive us, cover our shame and nakedness, and give us life again! And God has come to us and reached out to us in love and forgiveness. He desires to free us from our guilt and shame and give us life everlasting with Him!

He did this by sending His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to overcome temptation and sin for us and then go to the cross to be condemned, forsaken of God, and to die in our stead that we might have God’s pardon and forgiveness through faith in His name and not be afraid of God or troubled by our guilt and shame any longer.

In Christ Jesus and His cross, atonement has been made for the sins of the world. And in Christ Jesus, when we trust in Him and His atoning sacrifice in our stead, your sins and my sins are pardoned and forgiven, and we are made acceptable in God’s sight.

O dearest Jesus, Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on me, find me, and wash away the guilt of my sin in Your shed blood. And, dear Lord Jesus, grant me a place in Your everlasting kingdom. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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“This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” John 2:11 (Read John 2:1-11)

Jesus’ presence at a wedding feast in Cana and His turning water into wine has troubled some, especially those who are teetotallers for “religious” reasons. “Why would Jesus attend a wedding feast where wine was served,” some wonder? “And why would Jesus turn water into wine, making some 120-180 gallons of it for the wedding guests to drink?”

Jesus’ presence at this wedding — and we do not know precisely why He was invited — shows His respect for the divine institution of marriage between a man and a woman (cf. Gen. 2:18ff., Matt. 19:4-9). And His making wine, as well as drinking it, shows that drinking wine or alcoholic beverages is not of itself sinful, nor is one holier or more righteous through abstinence. What is sinful is the overindulgence in it and drunkenness.

St. Paul wrote to Timothy, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities” (1 Tim. 5:23); and he wrote to the Ephesians, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18; cf. Matt. 11:18-19; Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:19-21).

But far more important in this account is what His miracle teaches us about Jesus. Even though it was not yet His time to be revealed as the Son of God in human flesh and the Messiah and Savior of the world, Jesus used the divine power He possessed to come to the aid of a wedding party in a potentially embarrassing situation — they had run out of wine. And not only did Jesus turn water into wine; it was the best wine served at the feast.

And this miracle, of which many at the feast had no knowledge, revealed the glory and power which Jesus possessed as the Son of God to a few — to Mary, to the servants who drew the water, and to Jesus’ disciples.

The result was not only a wedding feast without the embarrassment to the hosts of running out of wine; it was a revelation of His person to His disciples, causing them to believe that He indeed was and is the Son of God and the promised Messiah and Savior of Israel.

The Apostle John, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, records this miracle for us that we too might see and believe that this same Jesus who humbled Himself and lived among us as a true man is more than just a man or even a great prophet and teacher. Jesus was and is Jehovah God Himself in human flesh! And this was necessary in order for Him to pay the price required for the sins of the world!

This miracle is but one proof of that fact. He also healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, fed the multitudes, raised the dead, and rose from the dead Himself after being crucified!

Through the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit reveals to us Jesus’ divine glory and might; and through the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit reveals to us that Jesus redeemed us and all mankind from sin and death by His own innocent sufferings and death in our stead. Jesus’ resurrection is proof that atonement for our sins has been made — we’ve been redeemed by the blood of “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)!

And, through faith in Christ Jesus, God the Son and our Savior, the forgiveness and life He won for all when He paid the price for our sins upon the cross becomes our own. Through faith in Christ Jesus, we have forgiveness of sins and life everlasting!

Oh, that all would see and believe that Jesus is God the Son and that He has paid the price and redeemed us from all our sins!

I cannot reveal Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world to anyone. All I can do is preach the Gospel and tell those terrified by the threats of God’s Law of the comforting promises of the Gospel — the promise of forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all who look to Christ Jesus and His cross in faith.

I can repeat the words of Jesus, such as those found in John 3:14-18: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ, by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel, reveals Himself to those whom He wills. It is as Jesus said in Matthew 11:27: “All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him” (cf. John 1:10-14).

Jesus also said in John 6:44,63: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day”; and, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

It is as we confess in the Unaltered Augsburg Confession (Art. V, Of the Ministry): “That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ’s sake, justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ’s sake.”

As we think about this miracle worked by our Lord Jesus, I invite you to also think about Holy Baptism. I, of myself, can’t wash away sins or give the Holy Spirit to anyone by pouring or sprinkling water on them. But when water is used in connection with God’s Word, Jesus does wash away sins and give His Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2:38-39; 22:16; Titus 3:3-7; Eph. 5:25-27).

John the Baptist said in Mark 1:7-8: “There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” (cf. Matt. 3:11).

Think about the Lord’s Supper, of which we are about to partake. I can’t turn water into wine, but Jesus can and did. And, I cannot cause Christ’s body and blood to be present, distributed and received in the Supper (in, with and under the bread and wine), but Jesus can and still does through His words of institution spoken on the night when He was betrayed (1 Cor. 11:23ff.).

Through His words of institution, He offers and gives to all who eat and drink of His Supper to partake of His sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world — of His body which was given into death for our sins, and of His blood which was shed for the remission of our sins. And, through faith in Christ’s life-giving words, we receive the blessings He won for us when He was sacrificed for our sins. We are given and receive forgiveness for all our sins and life everlasting for Jesus’ sake!

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, grant that I see your divine glory and believe that You indeed are my God and my Savior and place my trust in You for forgiveness and life everlasting. Amen.

[Scripture quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.” 3 John 1

Personal letters can often shed light on historical events and times not revealed in other historical records. And reading letters can often reveal the innermost thoughts of the writers.

Certainly, that is the case in John’s letter to Gaius. Though we do not know with certainty who Gaius was – whether he is the same Gaius mentioned in Acts 19:29; Romans 16:23 and 1 Corinthians 1:14 or another Gaius who came to faith through the preaching of the apostle John we can only guess – but we do learn through John’s letter that this Gaius was deeply loved of the apostle John and continued to walk in the truth of God’s Word and hold fast to Christ Jesus as His Savior.

Again, the apostle refers to himself only as “the elder” rather than exercising authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ. Why? we might ask. John’s appeal was based on the truth revealed in God’s Word and taught by God’s Spirit; not upon his own authority.

Note that John addressed Gaius as well-beloved and adds, “whom I love in the truth.” John speaks of Gaius as being a recipient of the selfless (agape) love, and this is the kind of love John has for Gaius and for all who walk in the truth.

This, of course, tells us of the relationship between being beloved children of God through faith in Christ Jesus and reflecting and sharing that same kind of love for all our brethren – all who share in the same faith and belief of the truth which is revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures.

Since God loves us as His own children in Christ Jesus, we love those who receive God’s love and mercy through faith in our Savior.

O God, we know that You have loved us and given Your Son to die for us. Grant that we love You in return and love all those who walk in the truth of Your Word. Amen.

“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” 3 John 2

Is there anything wrong with being in good health and prospering in this world? This was the apostle John’s desire for Gaius. John indicated that the soul of Gaius was prospering, and it was his expressed desire that he also prosper and be in good health.

As we read this letter, we see that such a wish was not for carnal gain but because Gaius was using the blessings God gave him to advance the Gospel. He was receiving those who faithfully preached and taught the truth and helping them on their way. He was a mission supporter; and, instead of receiving those who advance lies and false teaching, he received those who held to the truth of God’s Word and became a partaker in their good deeds.

If God blesses us with the things of this world, we should rejoice because He has enabled us to support the advancement of God’s kingdom by aiding those who preach and teach Christ Jesus and the truth revealed to us through God’s Word.

I thank You, O heavenly Father, for all Your blessings upon me. Move and enable me to use the blessings You have entrusted to me to aid in the preaching and teaching of the truth which is in Christ Jesus. Amen.

“For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” 3 John 3-4

What joy John had when his fellow believers came and testified of the faith and love for the truth which was in Gaius! John rejoiced when he learned that Gaius not only claimed to believe the truth but also lived according to it and helped those who shared in the true faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son made man to redeem fallen mankind.

From this letter, it appears that men who studied under the apostle were sent out to strengthen believers in the truth and to carry that truth to cities and villages which had not heard of the salvation won for all by the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of Christ Jesus. When these men returned to John, they testified of the faith of Gaius and to his support of the truth by receiving them into his home and helping them on their way.

As John wrote: “For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”

We too have cause to rejoice when we hear of believers who walk in the truth of God’s Word, hold fast to the salvation won for all by Christ’s death and resurrection, and who labor to share and spread the saving Gospel of forgiveness and life eternal in Christ Jesus! God also grant that we model our lives after the example of Gaius.

O Spirit of God, You have sanctified us and brought us to know the truth of our sinfulness and of the salvation provided for us in Christ Jesus. Keep us in the truth and move us to live our lives in accord with it. Amen.

“Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; 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: because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.” 3 John 5-8

The inspired Scriptures tell us: “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:16). The Bible also says: “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:1-2).

God would have us do good and share the blessings He has given us with others. And even though we live in times of fear and lovelessness, God would have us love our fellow believers and entertain strangers, reminding us of those in the Bible who had taken in angels unawares.

The apostle John commends and encourages Gaius for his kindness to the brethren – even to those he did not know – encouraging him to receive them into his home and help them on their journey, for they went forth in the name of Christ Jesus and to advance the true and saving doctrine. They went to the unbelieving Gentiles, taking nothing from them but sharing with them the good news of salvation in Christ Jesus.

John points out that Gaius, by receiving and helping such, was a fellow helper to the truth.

We may not all be able to travel abroad to help spread the truth about the salvation God has provided for sinful mankind in His only-begotten Son; but when we help those whom God has called and sent, we become fellow helpers to the truth.

Dear Father in heaven, move us to abide in Your love toward us in Christ Jesus and give us selfless love for all who hold fast to the truth of Your Word and to the salvation You have given us in the Son. Enable and move us to be fellow helpers in the ministry of the truth. Amen.

“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 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.” 3 John 9-10

Not all was well with the local church in the city where Gaius lived. While we don’t know a lot about him, the letter of John tells us of a man there named Diotrephes who apparently tried to have his way in the church. When John wrote to the church and sent men to further the preaching of the truth, Diotrephes would not receive John’s letter or those whom John sent. Instead, he challenged the authority of the apostle and spoke against him and his apostolic ministry. And not only did he refuse to receive the brethren sent out from John, he forbade those who would have received them and excommunicated them from the church.

Whether Diotrephes was an elder or pastor in the church or just a dominating member, we don’t know; but he withstood and spoke evil of the truth and its messengers.

Sad to say, congregations today often have pastors or members who seek to rule over their congregations, wishing to have everything their own way. Sometimes, that even leads to speaking against the truth of God’s Word and against those who faithfully proclaim it. How sad that men (or women) would place themselves above the Word of God and the true doctrine revealed in it! How sad when people who do not know Christ Jesus and His doctrine rise up to lead and rule in the church!

All of this reveals to us how important it is for us to use the utmost care when calling pastors and teachers or choosing church officers that we choose godly men who seek not their own gain but to advance the truth and make known the salvation Christ has won for all by His death and resurrection and offers and gives to us through His Word and Sacraments.

O gracious God, remove from us all selfish desires to rule over Your church and grant that we submit unto our Head, our Lord Jesus who gave Himself for us and who leads and guides us through Your Word. Amen.

“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.” 3 John 11

Again, John refers to Gaius as a beloved brother in the Lord Jesus. And, the apostle encourages him to follow the example of those who love the truth and do good rather than that of those who reject the truth and do evil.

He reminds Gaius of that truth which he taught in his other epistles: Those who are born of God and have God’s Spirit dwelling in them cannot continue to do evil. While we cannot see faith in the heart, we can see its fruits. “He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.” Thus, those who willfully continue on in their sinful ways, impenitent, are not really Christians and do not know the Father and the Son.

We, too, ought to heed John’s message and not follow the example of those who continue in evil – who reject the truth (or parts of it) revealed in God’s Word and place themselves and their own desires, views and opinions above the Word of God. Rather, we ought to follow the example of those who humbly submit to the Word of God, admit their wretched and sinful condition and place their hope and trust in Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice upon the cross.

O gracious and merciful Father, grant that we do not follow the example of those who reject the truth and continue on in their evil ways, but grant to us true repentance and faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

“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.” 3 John 12

Again, we know little of this Demetrius – it was a common Greek name. But John tells us that the witness of all concerning Demetrius was good. He was a faithful witness to the truth, something to which those who held the truth could testify. And the apostle John himself, and those with him, could testify of the character and faithfulness of Demetrius.

While the letter does not specifically say it, Demetrius may have been the bearer of John’s letter to Gaius, in many ways similar to the letters of commendation ministers used to send with their members when they traveled and visited other churches of their own faith and confession so that they would be welcomed into the churches and received at the Lord’s Table.

Demetrius (and possibly others with him) may have been sent by the apostle not only to Gaius but to cities and regions beyond to preach the truth and strengthen believers in the true and saving faith. Thus, the apostle commends Demetrius and his faithfulness to the truth. And Gaius knows John’s witness is true.

What kind of commendation would we receive of our pastor and of our brethren? Would it be one of faithful attendance and devotion to Christ and His Word, or would it be one of uncertainty and question?

Sanctify us in the truth, O God, Your Word is truth. Move us to live and conduct ourselves in such a way that all can see and know of our faith in Christ Jesus and of our faithfulness to Your Word of truth. Amen.

“I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: but I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face.” 3 John 13-14a

Again John expresses his intention to come and visit Gaius, as well as the church there, soon. Face to face, he intends to address the evil deeds of Diotrephes. And, face to face, he intends to strengthen and encourage the brethren in the truth that they might stand fast in their faith in Jesus Christ, who is true God and true man and their Savior from sin, death and eternal damnation.

While writing with pen and ink (or with keyboard and computer) is a blessing, it cannot replace being able to gather together with our fellow believers and hear the Word of God explained and applied to our daily lives. It cannot replace the mutual admonition and encouragement from the Scriptures.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).

Grant me the wisdom, O God, to gather together with faithful believers who hold fast to the truth revealed in Your Word and cling by faith to their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May I be an encouragement for good to them, and they to me. Amen.

“Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.” 3 John 14b

The elder John closes this short letter with the words: “Peace be to thee.” Though we may think of these words speak of earthly peace and tranquility, they refer to the peace of God.

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). It is that peace which was brought into being when Christ Jesus took our sins upon Himself and bore upon the cross our just punishment, making us acceptable in God’s eyes through faith in our Savior. Jesus Christ won for us this peace, and it is ours only through faith in Him (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21). Thus, John assures Gaius of this peace of sins forgiven which is in Christ Jesus.

John sends also the greetings of his friends, and those of his companions and fellow ministers, and he encourages Gaius to extend his greeting to the friends – to those who continue in the truth – individually and by name.

We certainly see the personableness of the apostle. He wasn’t looking at numbers but at individuals and all were important to Him.

So also, the Lord knows each of us individually and by name. Though He died for all, His death was also for each of us individually.

Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine … My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one” (John 10:14, 27-30).

Thank You, dear Lord Jesus, for so loving me that You died for me and won my salvation. Keep me and all Your elect in the true faith unto life everlasting. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible]

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“Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” John 1:47 Cf. John 1:43-51

When Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus, saying, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45), Jesus said of Nathanael that he was a true Israelite in whom was no guile (or deceit).

What did this mean? We find the answer in Psalm 32, where David writes, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile” (v. 1-2).

To have guile is to be self-deceived and deny one’s utter sinfulness and hopelessness before the LORD God. Such self-deceit (thinking that one is righteous on the basis of his own life and works) keeps one from receiving and possessing the forgiveness which God gives through faith in His Son.

Nathanael was not deceived about himself as many others in Israel were at the time. Nathanael knew he had not kept the commandments of the LORD and was a sinner in need of a savior. Instead of pretending to be righteous of himself, he looked for salvation in the coming Messiah promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets. Thus, he was an “Israelite indeed”; and he came to know and trust in Jesus as the Son of God and the Savior of Israel.

Today, too, our churches are filled with people who have guile in their hearts. They are self-deceived and think that all is well with their souls because of their own lives and works. They think that by going to church, doing good works, saying their prayers, etc., they will find entrance into heaven.

Sad to say, this keeps many from coming to Jesus and placing their hope and confidence in His holy life and His innocent sufferings and death in their stead.

What about you? Do you have guile in your heart? Are you self-deceived into thinking that all is well with your soul because of what you believe and do? Think again! Read what God’s Word says of you in Romans 3:9-20. Look at what it says of your heart in Jeremiah 17:9.

Look to Jesus for your salvation! He is the Son of God in human flesh, and He has redeemed you by bearing on the cross the full punishment for your sins (cf. Colossians 1:19-23)! Only in Him can you be saved (cf. Acts 4:12)!

O dearest Jesus, reveal to us our utter sinfulness that we not be deceived and full of guile in our hearts; but also reveal to us the forgiveness and life You have won for us by Your innocent sufferings and death on the cross and made sure to us by Your glorious resurrection. By Your Spirit, graciously forgive our sins and renew our hearts. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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