PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
Robert D. Pace
DESIRES OF A GODLY PARENT
Our Scripture text is in III John. John was elderly when he wrote I, II, and III John. In fact, John is recognized as the last Apostle of Christ to die. Moreover, when we speak of the chronology of the New Testament, III John could be the last book written. We know this because John had been released from his exile on the Isle of Patmos where he wrote Revelation. With this background in mind, let’s read our text.
3 John 1-4
As an aged fatherly figure the Apostle John addresses his readers as if they were his children. And his grand desire was for them to ‘prosper and be in health, even as their soul prospers.’ As a parent, I agree with John, and I’m sure you do too. Christian parents want what is best for their children. There’s nothing in life that grieves Christian parents more than seeing their children ignore God or live contrary to His plan. On the other hand, there’s nothing that brings more joy to parents than seeing their children faithfully serve God. Godly parents want their children to commit to Christ and make life count. Like John said, it brings great joy when this happens.
I want to discuss some things that are sure to bring joy to Christian parents. And since the Apostle John was uniquely chosen to write Scripture, I want him to express the desires that godly parents have for their children.
(Transition) The first thing John mentions is in verse two when he says: “I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you.” The NAS and the KJV say: “prosper and be in health.”
I. Godly Parents Want their Children to Prosper
I understand this Scripture has been twisted to imply God wants everybody wealthy. But that’s an inaccurate interpretation of this Scripture. In fact, it creates more condemnation than edification to suggest God wants everybody wealthy. When people hear this construed in such a manner and yet they do not attain wealth they assume:
They don’t have enough faith to achieve what God wants for their life.
They must have an un-confessed sin in their life.
Or, they just aren’t measuring up to God.
Don’t misunderstand me. God wants to bless His children, but He doesn’t gauge our overall welfare according to our material treasures. The Bible says man is comprised of spirit, soul, and body. And John wanted each aspect of our being to prosper. He wanted people spiritually complete, mentally sound, and physically strong. And that’s what godly parents want. They want their children blessed at every point.
(Illustration) I heard the story of the boy that wondered where babies came from so he asked his mother. “Mom, how did I get here?” She wasn’t quite prepared, so she told him a tall tale about a stork delivering him. Without further questions he scampered upstairs to see his grandmother. “Grandma, where did my mom come from?” Her story deviated slightly but she painted a tale of a beautiful white bird that delivered her from a faraway island. Later that afternoon his mother overheard Johnny’s conversation with a friend. He said, “You know Billy, I asked my mom and grandma about my family history today and I’m worried. There hasn’t been a normal birth in our family for three generations.”
(Illustration) Awhile back the New Yorker magazine ran a cartoon about a father scowling at his son’s deficient Report Card. In defense of himself the boy was pictured standing by and asking: “What do you think the problem is Dad: Heredity or environment?”
Anyway, the Apostle John says he desires his children to prosper in every way—spirit, soul, and body. And the Good News is God gives us the spiritual heredity and environment to do that. The Bible says you are “heirs of God [and] . . . joint heirs with Jesus” and that’s a spiritual stock that enriches every child of God. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we are adopted into the family of God and we’re connected to God in such a way that we become His divine offspring. In some mysterious and supernatural manner He imparts His divine nature within us. I don’t exactly know how that happens, but I believe it because that’s what the Bible says.
Listen to Acts 17:28, “in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children’ [some versions say “offspring.”]. Now what does it mean to be God’s child/offspring? When you are infused with the divine nature that means you have the ability to manifest the character of God. I’m not talking about the incommunicable attributes of God—such as omnipotence or omnipresence. I’m talking about the attributes listed in Galatians 5:22 & 23 that Paul calls the “fruit of the Spirit.”
When God imputes His divine nature He gives us the ability to manifest love, joy, peace, patience, meekness, kindness, temperance, faithfulness, and self control.” This is the character our Heavenly Father wants His children to manifest. And this is what a godly father and mother desire for their children. I encourage you to pray for the character and spiritual welfare of your children:
Pray that they will be more attracted to the Lord Jesus Christ than to any Hollywood star or pop artist.
Pray that they will make the Bible their guide for living and use it as the final authority of life.
Pray for your children to be “strong in the Lord” so they can recognize and reject harmful influences.
Pray that they will prosper at every point!
(Transition) These are spiritual traits that godly parents desire for their children. But secondly, godly parents want their children to walk in truth.
II. Godly Parents Want their Children to Walk In Truth
Look at verse three again: “It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. (4) I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
(Illustration) Some years back I heard about the little boy that loved baseball. Not having anyone to play with he gathered his gear and went out back for some practice. His mom heard him talking to himself: “I’m the greatest hitter in the world.” Tossing the ball into the air he swung and missed. “Strike one!” He retrieved the ball and said again, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world.” Throwing it into the air he swung again and missed. “Strike two!” He paused, straightened his cap, checked his bat and threw the ball up once again but like before missed. His mom, watching it all, heard him say, “Incredible! Strike three! What a pitcher! I’m the greatest pitcher in the world!”
That’s a cute story but, truthfully, this kid is not the greatest hitter or pitcher in the world. And eventually he’ll be forced to face the truth! And we must always be willing to face the truth. This is what John meant when he rejoiced that his children “walked in truth”—not that they merely knew the truth, but that they “walked” in it! And there is a difference between knowing the truth and walking it in! Knowing the truth is only the starting point, but walking out the truth is what’s necessary. For example, notice some things that we know are factual but we don’t always practice:
Health experts have uncovered the danger of poor nutrition and lack of exercise but . . . that doesn’t matter to many people because it’s not enough to motivate them to get off the sofa, exercise, and eat right.
We know alcohol and narcotics destroy health and rip apart families.
We understand the social consequences of pornography and how it deviant behavior.
We know that lurid lyrics in songs and violence in movies provoke people to assault others.
We know that sexual deviance can incur the scourge of sexually transmitted diseases.
But despite what truth we know, we don’t always practice what is right. A terrible trait of our generation is that people can stare at sheer, unadulterated truth and dismiss it. Like Paul said in Romans 6, man succumbs to doing what he shouldn’t do and fails to do what should be done.
There’s a reason people have such difficulty obeying the truth of God. It’s because Satan fights truth! As the “father of lies,” his job is to deny and subvert truth. And unfortunately he’s doing a great job. As a matter of fact, the Bible says that in the “Last Days” he will mastermind a plan of deception that will engulf the vast majority of unsuspecting souls. Most of the world will be cast under the spell of deception and totally rebellious. Listen to what 2 Thessalonians 2:3 says concerning the Endtimes: “that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed.” Paul characterizes the Last Days as a time rebellion, anarchy, and insurrection. Do you realize we are experiencing this right now? Just consider what terrorism has done to our lives.
We can’t go through airports without emptying our pockets, opening our luggage, passing through metal detectors, and perhaps being physically searched.
When you enter Federal Buildings and government agencies you’ll be greeted by security guards, video devices, and more metal detectors.
Protecting Americans has become such an important issue that we have developed a Department of Homeland Security, which now has budget of around $70 billion!
Are Christians getting the message? Do you know why these safety measures are imposed? It’s because a sprit of rebellion girdles our globe. Jesus said the Endtimes would be marked with the same chaotic climate of Noah’s day—violence, bloodshed, and terrorism. And everything is unfolding exactly as Scripture foretold it. God has given us specific signs to mark the time that Jesus would return to earth. And don’t ever forget that Jesus is returning!
(Transition) Now let me address the issue of human rebellion. We as Christians need to guard against the temptation to ignore or reject God’s commands. It is easy to stray from what we know God desires for us.
God’s Children Struggle with Rebellion
In the OT when God spoke of Israel, His divinely chosen inheritance, do you know how He characterized them? He used the word “rebellious”!
In Deuteronomy 31:27 He called them “rebellious and stiff-necked.”
Psalm 78:8 calls them a “rebellious generation.”
Jeremiah 5:23 identifies them with “stubborn and rebellious hearts.”
Ezekiel 2:3 calls Israel a “rebellious nation” and two verses later they’re called a “rebellious house.”
Even God’s “called out” and “chosen” people struggle with ignoring His Word and living as they please. But there is an antidote. The cure for spiritual disobedience comes by humbling yourself before God and requesting His help to walk in truth. Be humble enough to admit you need God’s help to stay on track.
When you wake up each morning ask Him to make you aware of temptations and traps that would snare you.
Ask Him to make you discerning of skillfully crafted arguments that distort or deny truth.
Pray the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray when He said, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.”
It is vital that Christians seek to walk in truth! We must guard our belief system. And please hear me: It is getting much harder to stand for truth within the ranks of society. Unfortunately, political correctness owns the marketplace. And there are occasions when speaking unadulterated truth is the most dangerous risk a public figure could take.
(Example) James Huckabee was a 2008 Presidential candidate. In one of his speeches Governor Huckabee said he did not believe in the concept of Evolution. And because Evolution is a politically protected belief, the Press relentlessly scolded the governor’s remarks.
Saints of God, Truth—the Word of God—is under assault! It always has been and it will be until Christ returns. Isaiah 59:13 says: “[Men are] conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words. (14) Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the street, and uprightness cannot enter. (15) Yes, truth is lacking.” The words of Isaiah perfectly describe this generation. But never forget:
This generation may has thrown truth into the gutters and trampled on it.
Honest people will be lampooned for practicing God’s Word.
Certain truths will be banned from the classroom and barred from the courtroom.
Truth will be ridiculed by clever comedians who know just the right way to make it look ridiculous.
This is what the Bible has predicted!
(Example) Think about what is happening today. We are witnessing religious extremists strap on bombs and kill crowds of people in the name of their god. They are willing to commit suicide in hopes of obtaining an eternal reward. Even non-religious people understand the delusion of religious terrorists. Nevertheless, some extremists are willing to “die for a lie.” But do you realize while this delusion is odious, many others are also willing to “die for a lie” of a different sort. They have adopted a worldview that blatantly contradicts Scripture and that worldview will ultimately forbid their entrance into heaven.
Don’t jeopardize your eternal welfare by compromising the truths of God’s Word. Read it often! Meditate on it. Practice it. It’s the security of your soul. The Bible says: “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord abides forever.” You can stake your eternal welfare on everything God says in this Book!
(Transition) I am urging everyone here to embrace a deep commitment to this Word of Truth. When you stand before God on that coming Day of Judgment, you will realize God’s Word never failed you!
Now do you understand why the Apostle John wrote this verse that says, “I wish above all things that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers”? Do you understand why he wanted his spiritual offspring to “walk in truth”? Claiming the Crown of Life at the end of our time on earth is the imperative!
Let me conclude by encouraging the parents that have faithfully prayed for a transformation in their wayward children. Here is my word to you: Keep on praying! Don’t give up! Keep believing that God will change their heart. God’s grace is enough to rescue anyone, anywhere!