“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.”3 John 9
Consider this one point in three aspects, and we’ll be through. Assuming they did not know that the letter they received from John was an inspired epistle, how was it ‘okay’ to administer such a scathing rebuke? When we answer this, we shall also address the place of newsletters, articles, books, and blogs (like Spiritual Reload) in a Christian’s walk with God.
First of all, the letter lined up with established Scripture. John’s writing occurred contemporarily with Paul’s and Peter’s writings.
At that time, the apostles were able to read and judge the things that were written. Peter acknowledged Paul’s writings as Scripture.
John told them to follow that which is good. That is what Paul had told his converts: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) John exhorted them not to follow that which was evil. This reflects Peter’s epistle: “Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.” (1 Peter 3:11) The counsel agreed.
Match the advice, the words, the approach, and the examples that you read here with Scripture. If Spiritual Reload is not 100 out of 100, unsubscribe and go back to your Twitter feed. If your source claims to be Biblical, yet continually ‘corrects’ the word of God, drop it. At least Twitter has never claimed to be a supplier of truth…
This is why we begin with a verse. Because that alone is the hinge on which all our thoughts open or close. Every Reload, every Fireside, every Live Coal exists because of a profound Scripture. The words in the King James Bible, “they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63b)
Second of all, the letter came from an established source. John was not just any apostle, he was “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” (John 21:20)
With letter-writing being the primary form of messaging in the first century you can be sure there was no lack of material. With all the political upheaval in Rome, there was no lack of gossip. After Christ rose from the dead, there was no lack of conspiracy theory. John, through his written gospel, through the testimony of his two other letters, and through his preaching had proved to be a consistent source of truth to believers all over Asia Minor.
Today, with the internet being the primary form of communication in the twenty-first century, you face an equal challenge as the early church to discern good from evil. How do you determine if something is an established source of truth worth reading?
Rate what you consume. People who have a bad experience at a restaurant rarely return. They don’t want to put poorly cooked or poorly presented food in their bodies. Don’t consume junk with your eyes either. Rate what you read. You don’t have time for all the other stuff. If it only gets 3 out of 5 stars for you, then drop it. Spend your valuable time getting quality input.
Give your podcast and subscriptions the Philippians 4:8 test: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Look for all eight in your media.
Read your Bible separate from any other reading. No devotional should take the place of personal Bible ingestion. Getting your Bible secondhand would be like giving up a Ribeye steak and baked potato for a hot dog and reheated french fries. Quality is rarely preserved in the processing. If your devotional reading encroaches into, or tries to control your Bible-reading time, I would seriously question the intentions of that author.
Relay what you learn to another believer. We need to realize we are not the best ‘proofers’ in the room. Your pastor, the person who led you to Christ, or the one who taught you the Bible may be able to spot heresies or problems with a source you’ve never considered. Getting extra eyes on target is crucial to be sure what you are reading is doctrinally accurate and spiritually profitable.
When learning about his new-found faith and calling in Christ, Paul said, “Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.” (Galatians 1:16b-17) Paul took his commission straight from the Lord, and from the Scriptures. But when he began preaching his Gospel, he says, “Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days… Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.” (Galatians 1:18, 2:1-2)
The final piece of assurance for Paul was Peter’s judgment. That says a lot for Paul’s estimation of Peter! Peter also had a respect for Paul when it came to knowing and being a conduit of Scripture. (See above.)
What would your pastor think of what you read? Does he agree? Could he point you in a better direction? You need that advice. Paul did.
Spiritual Reload does not claim to be an inspired publication. It is basically the outlet of a forgiven sinner reveling in what his Saviour has done for him. I’m not just any sinner: I’m a sinner whom Jesus loved.
Suffer a sinner whose heart overflows,
Loving his Saviour to tell what he knows
Once more to tell it would I embrace:
I'm only a sinner, saved by grace!
This is my story- to God be the glory:
I'm only a sinner, saved by grace.
Thirdly, the letter led to the furtherance of the Gospel, an established goal.
Even good things, when out of due order or out of place can become a hinderance to the Gospel. Jesus Christ advised his disciples to be “wise as serpents” (Matthew 10:16) when he sent them forth. John was one of those Twelve who learned the value of discretion without compromise.
Paul understood this when in his letters he wrote: “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” (Ephesians 4:15) Truth first, followed by and delivered with love.
John followed this pattern. In 3 John, he emphasized the truth primarily in verses 1-4.
- He loved in the truth, verse 1
- He rejoiced in the testimony of truth, verse 3
- He rejoiced in his children walking in truth, verse 4
John did not neglect to encourage charity in verses 5-8.
- Doing for brethren and strangers, verse 5
- Bringing others forward after a godly sort, verse 6
- Receiving poor believers into their home, verses 7-8
And even the focus of his charity was this: “We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow-helpers to the truth.” (3 John 8)
Neither Diotrephes, nor any man who resisted the plain goals of truth and charity would help this church. Men like him hinder the work of the local church, and break down fellowship within its communion.
Men like that work on behalf of the devil. Jesus Christ said, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” (Matthew 12:30) Diotrephes was a scatterer. He was throwing people out of the congregation.
Prov. 6:16-19 says the Lord hates “He that soweth discord among brethren.” Diotrephes used malicious words against his fellow believers. He was a sower of discord.
He used his tongue against the gospel, that makes him an enemy of truth. Withholding help from someone in need makes you an enemy of charity.
John knew there was too much at stake to let this be. His whole life he had bore witness to the truth. He had seen Jesus with his own eyes, heard from Christ’s own mouth, and wrote a personal account of his time with the Lord. This fueled John’s passion for the Gospel, and galvanized him against anyone who would hinder that message.
The Lord will not sacrifice truth on the altar of unity. But he also will not tolerate the truth being hindered by disunity through a disobedient faction. He told them to get out from under Diotrepehes’ influence.
I doubt that many would take such a direct instruction via letter today. We have become to blinded in our comfortable circumstances to desire a purge, a betterment. We rarely take rebuke, reproof, correction, or instruction from the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16) so when we hear it from a pulpit, or read it as a Reload, we dismiss it.
But that didn’t discourage John from writing once and again.
And it doesn’t change the Lord’s desire to see you walking in the truth.
It is this premise which propels the Spiritual Reload. Because it’s NOT ‘okay’ to misrepresent the truth. It’s NOT ‘okay’ to become complacent in charity. So much of what we think is normal is not ‘okay’ at all according to the Book.
So, if we manage to hurt your feelings now and again- that’s ‘okay’. Everybody has a voice on the issues. We believe God should have one as well.