This morning we recognize Orphan Sunday. A Sunday in which we consider the sufferings of orphaned and vulnerable children and examine the commands of Christ to love our neighbor. Sadly, we seldom think about foster children or orphans. We fail to see them and their need for protection and love. And yet, the church is specifically called to love, care for and shelter these little ones. God is calling the church to be mobilized on their behalf in the Name of Christ and our motivation for caring for these children must not be humanitarianism but rather the glory of Christ. Supplemental Text: Psalm 68:1-10
As part of Missions Sunday, this morning we step out of our series in Malachi and examine who we are as Christians and why we exist. As the Apostle Peter so beautifully writes, we-the church- are a holy nation made to proclaim the excellencies of Christ. We participate in God's good plan to reach the nations through faithfully proclaiming the life giving news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God continues to confront his people's sins through the prophet Malachi. The people of Israel have been unfaithful to the covenant they have made with the Lord by refusing to offer acceptable tithes and offerings. They have robbed God by failing to be faithful in their worship of God through tithing. God calls the people to repent and return to him, demonstrating their faith through making appropriate tithes and sacrifices. If they do, the Lord promises to show himself faithful to them and provide for them.
To a wicked and grumbling people, God sends word that He is going to send two messengers. The first will prepare the way for the second, who is the Lord. And when the Lord comes, He will come suddenly and like a refiner's fire, purifying the people. But those who reject the Word of the Lord and his Messenger of the covenant will be judged.
After their return from exile and the rebuilding of the temple, the people of Israel are spiritually lukewarm and disinterested in God. As a result, they fail to honor God and worship Him with reverence. Even the priests lack devotion and respect for the Lord. And as a nation they are languishing in self-pity. The prophet Malachi was sent as a wake up call to Israel to call the people back to the proper worship of the LORD as Father, Master and King and be renewed in their understanding of God's love for them.
John's third letter is meant to be an encouragement to Gaius and also a warning. A man, Diotrephes has risen to a position of authority in the church and is harming the the church. He is filled with personal ambition, inhospitable, authoritarian in his leadership and slanders the Apostle John. He stands as the antithesis of biblical leadership. There is no room in the church for this kind of leadership.
John writes again to the same congregation for which he has much love and tender affection for. He writes to warn them about specific deceivers that have gone out and are seeking to infiltrate the church. The church must be on guard against any person or doctrine claiming to go ahead, progress or advance the original message of the gospel delivered once for all to the saints. For such persons who would disseminate such a message, indeed a false gospel, we, individually and corporately, must have nothing to do with them.
John has written that the church might be assured of their salvation and confirmed in their understanding of the gospel. He now concludes that though the world is in the control of the evil one, the church- which finds its origin, being and life in Christ- is secure as it is protected by Christ.
When we have assurance of our salvation, knowing that we are His children, we can have confidence in prayer. We can rejoice that all of our requests that are according to his will shall be answered! God will even use our prayers for a wayward or backslidden brother or sister as the means of reviving them again and restoring them in faith.
As we come to the conclusion of John's epistle, John shares the purpose of his letter, that 'you may know that you have eternal life'. John desires to affirm the faith of those in the church and he wants them to have certainty, confidence that they are in Christ and have received eternal life. God has given them eternal life through his Son, Jesus Christ. If we have faith in the Son, we have received eternal life.