In his third epistle John wrote to one man, Gaius–and through him to all believers of all time. Gaius was clearly a believer (v. 2-4). John’s purpose in writing was twofold: (1) to ask Gaius to continue giving material aid (food, clothing, shelter) to traveling evangelists who are clear on the Gospel (v. 5-8; see also 2 John 7-11 where John commands believers not to aid those who distort the message), and (2) to urge Gaius to continue to walk in the truth by following the godly example of men like Demetrius (v.12), not the ungodly example of men like Diotrephes (v. 9-11).
The eleventh verse is said by many to deal with Gospel truth. John indicates that “he who does good is of God.” Does this mean, as many suggest, that all “true” believers will persevere in obedience and godliness? Does it mean that those who slip into carnality and wickedness were never saved in the first place? Or that they lost their salvation?
The answer to each of those questions is no.
The expression “he is of God” in this context does not mean “he is a Christian.” Rather, it means, “he is a godly person,” or “he is man of God.” In this context it is a fellowship expression.
If we as believers do good deeds, we are of God in our experience. The source of good deeds is God and the new nature which all believers have from Him.
On the other hand, God is never the source of believers doing bad deeds. When we as believers do bad deeds, we are not of God in that experience. Indeed, John goes on in v. 11 to say: “he who does evil has not seen God [in that experience].” Sin is never an expression of seeing God. On the contrary, sin is always an act of spiritual blindness.
There is no such thing as once-for-all experiential sanctification. No matter how focused a believer may be on God today, tomorrow will test his commitment anew in many ways. That is why we must daily take up our crosses and follow Christ. That is why we must constantly look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). That is why we must pray without ceasing. That is why we must make God’s Word our constant companion. We need daily input from God to keep our perspective right. The world can and will overcome the believer who fails to look to God as a way of life. To be overcomers we must be committed God gazers.
The story is told of an old saint who in his youth had written in his Bible’s flyleaf, “Sin will keep me from this book, and this book will keep me from sin.” How true that is. We will never grow to the point where God’s Word is optional for us. We can only neglect God’s Word to the detriment of our daily walk.
Each day the truth of 3 John 11 should challenge us. Am I of God in my experience today? Never mind about yesterday. I am to forget what lies behind and reach forward to the rewards which lie ahead for the faithful (Phil. 3:13-14). Whether I did well or poorly in my walk with God yesterday, today is a new day. Each day is filled with its own challenges.
Unfortunately, there are many like Diotrephes in the church today. Many believers do not set the sort of example that we should follow. We must take care, as did Gaius, to follow instead the examples of godly men and women like Demetrius.
He who does good is of God. To have said of you after you died, “He did good; he was a man of God” or “She did good; she was a woman of God” would be a glorious epitaph, wouldn’t it? Such people will hear the Lord’s “well done” at the Judgment Seat of Christ. That is my prayer for each of you, dear friends.