No Greater Joy

Earl E. Robertson
Xenia, Ohio

"For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." (3 John 3, 4)

It is the height of joy to know that one's toil and labor flourishes with the same vigor and intent in those who follow as in the one who began it. The aged John says he "rejoiced greatly," and that he could "have no greater joy" than what he experienced when his ears heard the glad message borne by brethren that those whom John had taught were standing in the breach, fighting the warfare of faith.

Old Examples

Exodus 32 reveals the sad truth that the children of Israel went into idolatry within just a matter of days -- the few days that Moses was on the Mount receiving the law. God said, "They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them" (Ex. 32:8). Moses recognized their action as sin (Ex. 32:21), and Aaron said the people were "set on mischief" (Ex. 32:22). They had been taught to have "no other gods" before them, but this teaching apparently did not stay with them.

One great anxiety in Paul's heart, constantly gnawing, was his daily concern for the churches (2 Cor. I 1: 28). The Galatians were being removed so soon from the gospel and the Christ of that gospel that Paul marveled (Gal. 1:6,7). He could take no joy in this. Yet, to the Philippians he could write, "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you" (Phil. 1:3). The joy to this grand apostle was to find "his children" walking in the way of the Lord faithfully (I Thess. 3: 1 5.)

Incentives And Warnings

Many are the hours of preparation and actual work in getting men and women to become Christians. Each "minister by whom ye believed" (I Cor. 3:5-7) should realize early that the power to convert is the gospel of Christ and the power to keep is the gospel, and consequently the gospel must: be preached "in season and out of season" (2 Tim. 4:2) in its fullness. No apostate could blame an apostle of Christ for having failed to preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:26, 27), but this is not always the case in modem times. Men today have itching ears and stubborn hearts as in the days of the apostles, and it appears in some cases they are accommodated by men in the pulpit. Sometimes we preachers simply do not preach distinctively; we wish to be heard, but not clearly. The way to do this is preach in circles, or talk so the hearers will not comprehend whether you are for or against it! If one is for something, he should have biblical authority for it; if he is against such, he should be able to show that there is no divine authority for the action. (See Col. 3:17.) This should be done in a convincing manner.

Brother J. W. McGarvey preached for the Bethlehem church in Clark County, Kentucky for nineteen years, being opposed to instrumental music in New Testament worship. However, after all these years of service in preaching, that church did, upon the termination of his service, immediately install through majority vote an organ into the worship. This happened more than once in his lifetime. Sometime in deference to him some churches would not use the organ when brother McGarvey visited them to preach (See W. C. Morro, Brother McGarvey, pp. 135, 136.)


Brethren, we need to preach the truth in love (Eph: 4:15), but we need to preach the truth. We need to preach the truth on every, occasion, whether it is popular to do so or not. We need to deliver our souls! Only after having done this can we truthfully speak like John. If we are not interested sufficiently to tell the whole story of redemption to the lost, what business do we have in saying "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth?" If we preach the gospel as it is written and some who become obedient to it fall by the wayside, we have every right to be perturbed. And if we faithfully preach the truth to the saved, the chances are greater that that church will remain true. However, we do not conclude that because the truth is preached faithfully to, a church that that congregation will never go astray. But the burden resting upon the teacher is that he teaches the truth.

What if every child of God had no greater joy than to know that all baptized believers remained faithful to the Lord all their days upon this earth? Let me ask you: Is this your greatest joy?

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 28, pp. 10-11
May 20, 1971