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3 John 1:1 by Robert Dean
Series:3rd John (2003)
Duration:1 hr 3 mins 8 secs

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Personal Friendship; Loyalty; 3 John 1

 

3 John 1:1 NASB "The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth."

Review:

1.  Genuine love must be based on integrity. A declaration of love from any individual is only as strong as their personal integrity. If they lack integrity their declaration of love is worthless. If they are a person of tremendous integrity then it has value. If they are a believer and their integrity is based on a relationship with God, they are filled with the Spirit and have Bible doctrine as the foundation for their live, then their love has incredible value.

2.  The model for all love is that of God who gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross as a substitute for mankind. John 3:16 NASB "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." John 15:13 NASB "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." This can only come from an understanding of pure selflessness, that someone recognises a value system that is outside of the person. It can only take place where there is an external system of absolutes based on objectivity. 1 John 3:16 NASB "We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." This can only come because we have in our soul Bible doctrine through the filling of the Holy Spirit to understand ultimate reality. A person who is not in right relationship with God, who is operating in carnality or an unbeliever, cannot have an ultimate frame of reference that enables them to live outside themselves.

3.  The unbeliever and the carnal believer can only produce a relative integrity that comes from the human good production of the sin nature. Everything that an unbeliever does proceeds from the one and only nature that he has which is the sin nature. It has no spiritual value, it does not impress God, and it does not produce any benefit to him spiritually. The sin nature can produce a counterfeit virtue, a counterfeit love, a counterfeit integrity. This is not demeaning it but it is not the same as the integrity, the virtue, the love that is produced by God the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.

4.  Genuine love can only come from Bible doctrine plus the filling of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:14 NASB "For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the {statement,} "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." Then Paul makes a detour in his argument in Galatians 5:16 NASB "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." The point that he is making is that there is a certain production of the sin nature that mimics or imitates this kind of love. He then says that the first fruit of the Spirit is love, so the love that we are talking about that characterises the friendships of a believer, the romance of a believer, and marriage, is a love that is based on the integrity of God and is produced by God the Holy Spirit. This makes is a radically different kind of love and his relationship should be markedly different from the relationships of those around him who are living in carnality or are not believers.

5.  This means that genuine love is based on personal love for God the Father. That is the starting point, the motivation, the foundation. 1 John 4:20 NASB "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen." The implication is that love for God which is developed from learning doctrine has as its by-product a genuine love for another believer.

6.  Impersonal love for all mankind must be the basis for all love relationships between humans, romantic or friendship.

The doctrine of friendship

1.  There are different categories of friendship. For example, we have those who are acquaintances. There are those with whom we work or function on a team with. Then there is the category of intimate friendship. There are very few intimate friendships that we have in our life.

2.  Friendship is based on impersonal love and integrity. It is not based on what you get out of the relationship, on emotion or attractiveness. True friendship is based on the integrity of the one who is loving and includes a desire for the best for the object of one's love.

3.  Intimate friendship must be based on eternal values which provide objectivity. We can't know what is truly best for someone unless we have an objective frame of reference. That objective frame of reference can only come from Bible doctrine resident in the soul.

4.  Friendship can promote or destroy one's spiritual life. One's spiritual life is not dependent upon one's friendship. Friendship isn't a factor in our own spiritual life or spiritual growth but friendships may promote or destroy our spiritual life. One the one hand, if we have a friend who is positive and a spiritually maturing believer and can be a source of mutual encouragement and divine viewpoint wisdom and advice, then that is someone who will give good counsel and who will help motivate us as we grow and mature in the spiritual life. On the other hand, if we have a friend or friends who are negative to doctrine, who are not growing, whose value system is not biblical, then these people will be a hindrance and a negative influence to us spiritually, and if we don't cut them out of our life then eventually we will find our spiritual life being destroyed. 1 Corinthians 15:33 NASB "Do not be deceived: 'Bad company corrupts good morals'."

5.  To have virtuous friendships one must first be a virtuous friend. It is not dependent on the other person; it is dependent on ourselves, our growth, our integrity, and our spiritual maturity.

6.  True friends are those that we can count on in times of adversity. This is because that friend has real objectivity. Proverbs 17:17 NASB "A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity." This is not a contrast. The emphasis is positive with both the friend and the brother and that both of these are true. There is a parallelism here. A friend is there at all times. "A brother is born for adversity," that is, it recognises the principle that at times it is important when we go through tough times that we have someone close to us who can encourage us from the Word of God from the position of objectivity which only Bible doctrine provides.

7.  We must be careful of those whom we call friends. Few will stand with us in adversity and those who wouldn't are those that would probably slander us, ridicule us and laugh about us down the road. Proverbs 18:24 NASB "A man of {too many} friends {comes} to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." We shouldn't put our trust in a lot of different people.

8.  People who are celebrities, people who are wealthy or powerful, in positions of prominence or popularity, must be extremely cautious about whom they select as friends. People will use others to get whatever they want out of them. Proverbs 19:4 NASB "Wealth adds many friends, But a poor man is separated from his friend."

9.  A true friend is objective enough to tell the truth even when it is unpleasant or difficult. This is only because they have an external standard of objectivity. Proverbs 27:6 NASB "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy."  Proverbs 27:9 NASB "Oil and perfume make the heart glad, So a man's counsel is sweet to his friend." If a friend gives counsel or advice, if it is coming from doctrine or objectivity it is more valuable to you than anything else that you may value in life. But it takes maturity and spiritual growth to be able to recognise that and to have the humility to listen to someone who tells us things that we may not particularly desire to hear.

10.  A person who is not able to maintain and sustain long-term intimate friendships is not a good candidate for marriage. Proverbs 27:14 NASB "He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, It will be reckoned a curse to him."

11.   Friendship also entails loyalty. Loyalty is a concept that is often misunderstood. Many people have a distorted view of loyalty, they think that if you are loyal you are always going to agree with someone; if you are loyal you are always going to do what someone wants you to do, you are always going to validate someone else's agenda. That is a distorted and a perverted view of loyalty, a loyalty that is not based ultimately on the truth. True loyalty has as its first objective loyalty to the Word of God and loyalty to the plan of God. When that is the foundation of loyalty then we can have true objective loyalty in every other area of life.

Friendship and loyalty

1.  Loyalty is not blind. Genuine loyalty is based on love, objectivity and truth.

2.  Loyalty needs to be faithful, steadfast or consistent in one's allegiance to a person or group of persons, which would include a church or school or any organization, or even a creed or set of beliefs.

3.  The biblical term that is usually translated "loyalty" in the Old Testament is the Hebrew verb chesed. This is one of the most important words related to grace and love in the Old Testament. It is usually translated faithful love, enduring love, never-failing love, or loyal love. This is the love that God demonstrates to man, that God is loyal to His covenant even when man fails.

4.  Genuine loyalty, then, is a faithfulness that is erected on integrity and objectivity. That can only come from Bible doctrine and it endures through impersonal love.

5.  Loyalty may be engendered by gratitude. Gratitude cannot be converted into loyalty. When gratitude becomes the motivator instead of integrity then what happens is that emotions enter in and blur objectivity.

6.  Though both believer and unbeliever is capable of loyalty only believers under the filling ministry of the Holy Spirit can have a loyalty based on the truth.

7.  Loyalty, like genuine love, must ultimately be based on the truth and the plan of God. This enables the believer to have objectivity in his loyalty and divorce it from emotion. He keeps the priorities straight.

There are several biblical examples of failures in loyalty. First of all, Adam flunked the loyalty test when he followed Isha into sin. He was to be loyal to God as the image-bearer of God and obey God's mandate. When Isha ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and offered that to him, instead of obeying God and staying with the truth, he went with the pressures of the moment. So he failed in his loyalty test to God. Second, Abraham flunked the loyalty to God's test when he disobeyed God and left the land during a time of famine. Eventually Abraham grew spiritually so that at the end of his life he was called the friend of God, James 2:23. Third, Joab who was David's right-hand man and the commander of his army failed the loyalty test when he obeyed David's order to assassinate Uriah. Loyalty must always be to the truth first and to people secondarily. Fourth, Peter failed the loyalty test when he denied the Lord because he never understood that the plan was for Jesus to go to the cross. He was building all of his loyalty on emotion, and because he was all emotion and didn't understand the truth he failed under pressure. Fifth, believers fail the loyalty test when they place loyalty to a person or a cause or a creed over Bble doctrine. Bible doctrine must always be first.

Finally, there is a positive example of loyalty in the Scriptures found in Philippians 2:19 NASB "But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. [20] For I have no one {else} of kindred spirit …." He can trust Timothy. Timothy has grown to spiritual maturity and has integrity so that he can be entrusted with a crucial mission of taking a letter of Paul's to the Philippians. The others have fallen by the wayside and distracted by different details of life and Timothy is the only one who has maintained his loyalty, the only one who has been steadfast to the truth. "…who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. [21] For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus." A person cannot be a friend if their primary agenda is their own interests. Timothy was loyal to Paul because his first loyalty was to Bible doctrine and to the Scriptures. That gave him integrity in his soul so that he could be loyal in his friendships.