A Christian Father’s Greatest Joy

3 September 2023 AM – 3 John 1:4 – Father’s Day – Scott Childs
Introduction: Fathers, what one thing could your children do that would give you the greatest joy? Keep out of trouble, become a respectable citizen, succeed financially, be honoured academically, become a sports hero, etc. Look with me at the Apostle John’s answer to that question in 3 John 1:4.
Transition: In order for a Christian father to have great joy in hearing that his children walk in truth, four events must take place.
The first event that must take place is that …
1.     He must be a father.
a.      A man with no children cannot grasp this truth.
1)         Men without physical children cannot comprehend fully because they have no children.
2)         It is nearly impossible to grasp something fully that you have never experienced. Growing up on a farm, I was privileged to experience milking cows, feeding pigs, watching the birth of a calf, making Maple syrup, bailing hay, climbing a 24m grain silo, ploughing a field and much more. If you have never experienced those events, you cannot fully grasp them.
3)         The same is true with having children. Having children is an eye-opener in many ways.
b.      The children of whom John spoke were spiritual.
1)         You may not have any physical children, but you can have many spiritual children. If you have led someone to Christ, that person is your spiritual child. I know that evangelism is not easy, but ask God for a passion for souls. Pass out tracts. Seek to speak out for Christ. Share the Gospel Hand.
2)         Gaius was John’s spiritual child. Note the tender words with which John opened this brief letter. (Read v.1-3).
3)         The apostle Paul frequently spoke of his spiritual children (e.g., 1Co 4:14-15; Gal 4:19; 1Ti 1:2; Tit 1:4; Phm 1:10).
4)         If you have led your physical children to Christ, this truth has a double benefit for you.
The second event that must take place is that …
2.     A father must know the truth himself.
a.      John uses the word “truth” more than forty times in his writings.
1)         John recorded Jesus asking the Father to, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17). God’s Word, the Bible, is the truth that we must know.
2)         For us to know the truth, we must study the Bible. Bible study is a step beyond reading the Bible. It is digging in the Scripture and mining God’s gems that the casual reader overlooks.
b.      Sadly, many fathers know little of God’s truth.
1)         How much time have you devoted this week to studying the Bible? What have you learned? If you need help with your Bible study, come see me. I would be happy to help.
2)         Until a father knows God’s truth, he cannot teach his children, nor can he even evaluate their walk in the truth.
The third event that must take place is that …
3.     A father must teach the truth to his children.
a.      God gives fathers the primary duty of teaching their children truth.
1)         No father can expect his children to walk in truth if he has not sought to teach truth to his children.
2)         While fathers cannot force their children to believe God’s truth or to receive Christ as their Saviour, fathers have the God-given duty to keep the Gospel before their children regularly. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9) “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
a)         Lead a daily family Bible time with your children.
b)         Teach them how to personally study the Bible and how to find principles to feed their souls.
c)         Regularly, share principles that you learned in your daily Bible study.
d)         Teach them how to memorise Scripture and quiz them on it.
e)         Encourage spiritual table talk rather than just talking about sports, hobbies, or other things.
f)          Share blessings and answers to prayer together.
g)         Pray regularly with each of your children.
h)         Plan times alone with each child when you can check up on their spiritual life and give them fatherly encouragement.
3)         Many fathers neglect their fatherly role of teaching their children God’s truth. Yes, it will take time, but the time spent will count for eternity. I challenge you to look back over the past eight months. How much of what you have done this year will count for eternity? Parenting years pass like a speeding train. They will be gone before you know it.
b.      We must also teach our spiritual children.
1)         Are you mentoring a younger believer? Is there someone with whom you could have a Bible study?
2)         You do not need to be a Bible scholar to help someone else. You just need to be a growing Christian who spends quality time learning the truth and be willing to share what you are learning.
3)         If you want to have a Bible study with someone, but you don’t know quite how to do it, talk to me about it. I will help you.
The fourth event that must take place is that …
4.     A father must observe that his children walk in truth.
a.      John heard this news from others.
1)         Travelling preachers, who knew Gaius, told John that he was a man of truth and that he walked in the truth (v.3).
2)         The evidence that Gaius walked in the truth was that he lovingly cared for Christian brothers and Christian strangers and helped them on their journeys (v.5-6).
3)         This news gave John great joy.
4)         I can relate. When we ministered in PNG, I had an outreach to a small trade school. I met weekly with several young men from the school for a time of preaching and Bible study. Several years later, I was told that Daniel, one of the young man who trusted Christ during those weekly meetings, was now preaching the Gospel back in his remote village. That still brings great joy to my heart.
b.      Fathers, are your children walking in God’s truth?
1)         If they are, let that bring great joy to your heart. Praise God for that fact. If they are not, do as the father of the prodigal son in Luke 15, keep loving, keep praying and keep watching.
2)         If your children are still under your care, are they making progress spiritually? Are they walking in the truth? What could you do to help them improve their walk in the truth?
3)         If your children do not yet know the Lord, make that your focus and constant prayer.
4)         Children, before we wrap this up, let’s take a look at it from another perspective. (Proverbs 15:20) “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.
a)         Does your walk give your father great joy?
b)         Can your father truly see that you are walking in the truth?
c)         What areas of your life need to change so that your father (and the LORD) can greatly rejoice?
d)         Have you trusted Christ to save your soul? If not, why not?
Conclusion: We have noted four events that must take place before you can greatly rejoice that your children walk in truth. (Review) Fathers, what would God have you do to help your children walk more in truth?
We are all children. Each of us has or had a father. If you had a believing father, does your Christian walk give him great joy? If not, what do you need to change so that your walk could give him great joy?
Song: Have Thine Own Way – 388