Knowledge is Power

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As we come to the end of John’s first letter, we must remember his purpose in writing was to dispel false teachers who had begun to deceive the first century church.

John makes 22 statements of truth that he wants the readers to grasp throughout the letter, and in these final verses he makes five more claims of truth.  

1: We can know that we have eternal life (1 John 5:13).

If there was one verse that sums up the entire letter, this is it.

John tells his readers that you do not have to doubt your salvation.

The whole book revolves around belief, obedience and the love of God. Our feelings can deceive us, but faith in the truth of God’s word is what will sustain us. (See John 10:28–29).   

2: We can know that God answers prayer (1 John 5:14-15).

We often turn to prayer when we have exhausted every available option and solution. But prayer should be the very first thing we should do when faced with life’s challenges.

R. A. Torrey said, “Prayer is the key that unlocks all the storehouses of God’s infinite grace and power. All that God is and all that God has is at the disposal of prayer. But we must use the key. Prayer can do anything that God can do and since God can do anything, prayer is omnipotent.”

John says, we come to God because we have confidence. Confidence ultimately stems from relationship.

Sadly, too many Christians are practical atheists. Let me explain, I often hear statements to the effect, “I know God can do anything”, and then they say, “but the reality is…”

It doesn’t matter what you say after that, that is the talk of a practical atheist. God is the ultimate reality and as we grow in our relationship with Him, we trust Him with our prayers.

Verse 14 continues, “…that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us”.  This is not an excuse for not persisting in prayer, rather we persist in prayer until we discern God’s will, and then we pray His will.

George Mueller said, “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance. It is laying hold of God’s willingness.”

So how can we know God’s will? Romans 8:26 tells us that the Holy Spirit helps us in our prayers and intercedes with us and for us. We can discern God’s will by reading God’s word and listening to the Spirit. Frequently we don’t know because we don’t wait on the Lord, we rush in and out of His presence before we let Him speak.

We need to know our position before God as we pray (see Ephesians 2:6 and Hebrews 4:16). As God’s children, do we come before the throne and approach Him as our perfect and loving Heavenly Father?

Prayer is the spiritual thermometer of our lives. It is an indicator of our relationship and trust of our Heavenly Father. It has been said that prayer to the Christian is like breathing for our physical bodies.

(For a detailed explanation of verse 16 and 17 please watch the sermon video)

3: We can know victory over sin (1 John 5:18).

There are three incredible statements in this verse, explaining how we can have victory over sin.

  1. As we know from 1 John 3, a Christian does not habitually sin. Unconfessed and ongoing sin is not a part of the life of a believer. If you sin habitually and don’t have a problem with it, are you born again?
  2. We have the promise of the protection from sin by Jesus the son of God. Jesus paid for our salvation, now in heaven, he maintains our salvation (see Jude 24).
  3. The final phrase of the verse, “and the evil one does not touch him.” Satan wants nothing more than to destroy the followers of Jesus, to grab us and do us harm, but because we are covered by the blood of Jesus, he cannot touch us.

4: We know we belong to God (1 John 5:19).

As followers of Jesus, we are not of this world. The world is under the power of Satan, and he for a time has the world tied in slavery. Satan is the one who deceives and blinds unbelievers. The war for the souls of mankind is very real. We must be alert and pray with a wartime mentality. Remember we have the amazing promise of 1 John 4:4.

5: We can know what is true (1 John 5:20).  

John ends his letter the way he began, that Jesus is the Son of God. He uses the word, “true” three times. Jesus is really God and in him we have eternal life.

As Christians we live in reality, not the reality of the news media, education systems, science, or what people think to be true. Ultimate reality is found in the supernatural God who holds every atom in place.

A miracle is God breaking into the natural world and changing reality (see Matthew 6:10).

Then John adds a final sentence, almost a postscript, in verse 21 it can easily get glossed over, but it is crucial. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols”.

An idol is anything that you love, pursue, or enjoy more than God. We can easily make idols of things in our daily lives.  It could be money, sport, relationships, education, or desire for recognition, the list is endless of things we can value more than God.

Warren Wiersbe writes, “The thing we serve is the thing we worship! Whatever controls our lives and “calls the signals” is our god.”

Idolatry is a subtle way that Satan uses to control us, and we find ourselves living for the unreal instead of the real.

What lie are you believing today? If God is speaking to you today about any of these truths that you have not believed, repent and allow the Holy Spirit to impress these truths into your heart.

Irrefutable Evidence.

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Can you know anything for certain? We all have a deep desire to know things for certain.

As the church, we have the truth, but sadly people even within the church do not know and believe the truth for themselves.

Today, truth is under attack. Truth has been relegated to opinion and feelings. Truth is found in God alone; He is the ultimate reality.

John wrote this letter with the primary purpose of refuting the false teachers of the day. The people to whom John was writing were exposed to a popular false teacher named Cerinthus. He claimed that Jesus was merely a man on whom “the Christ” had come when Jesus was baptized and then left him on the cross, so Jesus died an ordinary human being.

How do we know that Jesus Christ is God?

Some of the people who lived during the time of Jesus called him a liar and a deceiver. Others today call him a good teacher of life principles, maybe even a great prophet.

To refute the false teaching John needed proof, he needed witnesses who would make the case that Jesus was indeed God in the flesh. The Mosaic Law required that two or three witnesses were needed to confirm a matter (Deut. 19:15). In the case of Jesus, we have six witnesses.

John begins his defence in verse 6, “This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood.”

1: Witness of Baptism

The water refers to Jesus being baptized by John in Matthew 3. It was a declaration and a witness to who he was. When Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him like a dove and the Father spoke from heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”. At his Baptism and beginning of his ministry, the entire Trinity was present as a witness.

2: Witness of Crucifixion

The second witness is the blood that Jesus shed on the cross. There were multitudes of people who witnessed the supernatural events of that day. In Matthew 27 we read that there was a long period of darkness, an earthquake, people came back to life and walked into Jerusalem, the temple veil was torn by God and the centurion and those who witnessed these events testified, “Truly this was the Sonof God!” Matthew 27:54b.

The crucifixion of Jesus was not a mistake or the death of a martyr. It was the divine plan of the trinity before the beginning of time to provide salvation by means of a perfect willing sacrifice and the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were present and witnessing to who Jesus was.

3: Witness of the Holy Spirit

The third witness is the Holy Spirit. Verse 6 continues, “And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.”

The primary role of the Holy Spirit is to testify about who Jesus is (John 15:26). Jesus said that the Holy Spirit is the spirit of truth, a reliable witness. The Holy Spirit is the only person who is active on the earth today who was present when Jesus was ministering on the earth.

4: Witness of the Father

In verse 9 and 10, John steps up the level of argument saying that if you believe the testimony of men, God’s testimony regarding His son is infinitely greater.

God gave testimony to the person of Jesus multiple times during and before his life on the earth. Jesus himself said in John 5:37a, “And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me.”

As a result of this, we are forced to decide, accept that Jesus is the son of God or reject him, there is no third option. John writes in verse 10 that to reject these testimonies about Jesus, is to make God out to be a liar.

There is so much evidence of who Jesus is and what he has done, it is not that people are ignorant, it is that people willingly choose to rebel against God.

5: Witness of our own conversion

The first sentence of verse 10, John turns the spotlight of the witness box on us. “Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself”. (1 John 5:10a)

We have these outward testimonies, and witnesses, but what about the testimony of the believer? (See Romans 8:15-16). His witness is our inner confidence that we belong to Christ, a confidence that God gives us.

Many people can point back to a moment when they decided to follow Christ, but our testimony is daily walking in the knowledge of our savior. Having that daily walk and personal relationship with Jesus through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our life. our lives are marked by daily encounters, “God moments”, as you walk out your God given calling.

6: Witness of Eternal Life

The final witness is one that many people don’t realize that we can already experience. Verse 11 reads, “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”

Our eternal life is our testimony. Eternal life is not endless life. Eternal life is true life, beginning from conversion in relationship with God. Eternal life is sharing the very life of God, through the power of the indwelling presence of God (See John 17:3).

Do you have this eternal life today?

If you choose to reject all these witnesses and reject the offer of salvation, you will not have life. You will be a walking dead person. Sadly, there are people in the church today who are not living an eternal life. It is possible to have a belief in the historic facts about Jesus, even say the right words, but without faith in Jesus Christ you are not living the eternal life that God is offering you.

Jesus is God; this is foundational to everything else.

God is Love

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“God is Love” is a fundamental statement about the nature of God.

AB Simpson on God is love, “God is not justice. God is not wisdom. God is not power. God has all these attributes but none of them is great enough to constitute His essence. But love is His very nature and in love all other attributes find their completeness.”

Satan will constantly attempt to twist the world’s understanding of the nature of God. The Bible says “God is love,” the world says, “love is love.” The world defines love as something that we possess and usually this is a selfish desire and sexual in nature. The world ignores the pure and essential nature of God as being the source of love.

This does not mean that only Christians are capable of love.  We must remember that we are created in the image of God and have His nature of love within us.  However, Satan has perverted it and twisted it into something selfish.

See what Jesus said in John 15:12-13. Love is a commandment, it is a commitment, it is not an optional extra driven by feelings.

1 John 4:7 reads, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”

Real, authentic love has its source in God and gives evidence that we have been born again. This is not only loving people who love us in return, but also the ability to love those who are hurting us and annoying us, loving our enemies. This is the supernatural love of God that He displays on our behalf.

Verse 8 is a verse that should make us very uncomfortable, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” The verse doesn’t say, “anyone who does not love his friends…does not know God.”  No, anyone who doesn’t love, including those not displaying love to those who are unlovely, those who are oppressing us, those who might reject us and hurt us, does not know God.

The great news of the Gospel is that God made the first move simply because we are not capable of loving this way. Verse 9 says, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”

This is something we need to be reminded of. Do you know how much you are loved?

God loves you so much that He sent His only son to free us from the bondage and penalty of separation from God. We don’t even begin to understand the magnitude of the phrase, “God sent His son.

1 John 4:10 reads, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Jesus, the eternally existing, creator God, was sent to the earth by the Father. The Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit have always existed in perfect eternal communion and love. God doesn’t need us, but He loves us and made a way for us to be reconciled with Him. The only possible way to accomplish this was the spotless Lamb of God had to be sacrificed to atone for our sins. We were not looking for God, He reached out towards us. God took the initiative. God sent His son to die (Romans 5:8).

This was God’s plan from the beginning of time, and it was not a martyr dying in some horrible, cosmic mistake. Jesus willingly laid down his life, taking our place, and bearing the punishment that we deserved.

The word “propitiation” is a rich word that means, “An offering that turns away the wrath of God.

The holiness of God required that for us to be reconciled with Him, there needed to be a sacrifice for the penalty of our sins. We deserved punishment, but Jesus took the punishment that we deserved so that we can be saved.

Christian love is based on this. It is not simply excusing sin or allowing someone to do whatever they want. Christian love is standing in the gap, and it is in the shape of a cross.

Considering this great truth, we have been forgiven and set free, so how are we to respond?

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:11.

Sadly, Christians are not known for their love of others. Many people outside the church only know the church for what we condemn, and not for our love for them. These may be people who oppose our message and even try to harm us and the church. What did Jesus say about these people? (See Matthew 5:44-45).

God does not show partiality in His love for people, and as children of God, neither can we.

Loving others is not simply an obligation that we have to perform out of duty. Rather, as we grow in our walk with the Lord and the Holy Spirit transforms us, we naturally begin to display the love of God for those around us.

Why does God call us to love others?  1 John 4:12 says, “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.”

By living out the love of God, we display the nature of God for others to see. This becomes a practical display of the Gospel. This will always cost us something, but this is the normal Christian life (see Romans 5:5).

Everyone faces crisis and loss in their lives, and pain has a way of cutting through the fluff of life and the image we want to portray. When the crisis comes, how do we love?

Will we love sacrificially and with endurance? It is usually in times of crisis that community is born and strengthened.

We need to remember that as we display the love of God, we display the nature of God. There are few things in life that can possibly be more rewarding or more important.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God…”

Who are you listening to?

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Who are you Listening to?

In the first few verses of 1 John 4, we have a warning against false prophets, who are deceiving the church. Satan is the master liar and manipulator.

John says in verse 1, “many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Satan is constantly sending out evil spirits to deceive and spread a false message, influencing false teachers to teach a false Gospel.

We need to be alert, ready and praying for discernment, especially in our world of mass media where we can view thousands of hours of teaching on any subject we choose.

A prophet is a person who declares the truth of God and seldom is it in the context of foretelling the future.

The Bible warns us that not everyone who claims to be speaking for God is actually a prophet of God (Matthew 7:15 and Matthew 24:11). With the advent of the internet, we have seen a rise in false prophets.

In this passage, six times John uses the term “from God”, and six times he uses the term, “the World”. We must not be so naïve as to think that those who are from the world, are not in the church. Satan’s greatest attack against the church has always been from inside the church.

John gives us four tests we can use to avoid being led astray.

1: Am I being deceived? (1 John 4:1).

The problem is that we are theologically lazy. The vast majority of the church is Biblically illiterate or weak at best. How can we know if someone is speaking God’s truth or not if we don’t know the Word of God. Satan and his demons know the Bible and how to twist the word and make it sound true when it is not. Satan is still casting doubt in people’s minds as he did in Genesis 3:1.

Behind every prophet there is an empowering spirit, and their message will let us know if they are from God are not. We don’t have to look further than the recent history of high-profile church leaders who had incredible ministries, but behind the scenes there was manipulation, control, and sexual sin. These sins were often excused by the incredible “fruit” from their ministry. But God is not mocked, and hundreds and thousands of people are hurt in the end.

2: Are they proclaiming the true Jesus? (1 John 4:2).

Christianity is about Jesus. What do you believe about Jesus.

Is he simply a great religious leader? Is he just one option amongst many? Or Is he God in the flesh, fully God and fully man, the only way the truth and the life.

The best way to test the spirits is to ask the Jesus question. The Holy Spirit of God will always honor Jesus Christ, the Son of God (John 16:14).

The alternative is in verse 3, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

John writes that false prophets will not confess that Jesus is the Christ. Many false teachers today, even in some mainline denominations refuse to acknowledge that Jesus is God. This is the spirit of the Antichrist. As we looked at in 1 John 2:22 on June 26, http://atholbarnes.com/2022/06/26/sermon-sunday-june-26-2022-who-is-jesus/

The spirit of Antichrist always diminishes the person and work of Jesus. Rejecting that he is fully God and fully man, rejecting the fact that his blood atones for our sins.

3: Who are you trusting? (1 John 4:4).

What an incredible promise, “for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

Are you trusting in the greater spirit?

Satan and his demons have a large following, the world seems to be powerfully opposed to the things of God. The daily attacks are sometimes overwhelming. But all of Satan’s plans are divinely destined to fail (Matthew 16:18).

Notice the tense of verse 4, “you are of God, and have overcome them…”

We have the misconception that spiritual warfare is about swinging the sword of the spirit and slaying demons. However, the victory has already been won. Spiritual Warfare is about standing firm and declaring the promises of God’s word, as Watchman Nee writes in his book, “Sit, Walk, Stand”.  

As we commit our lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, his victory becomes our victory and God’s Spirit lives in us. The Holy Spirit is the one who glorifies Christ through our lives as we stand firm on the promises of God.

As believers we need to be reminded of this, we hide and don’t speak up in the public square. We pray for Jesus to come again so that we can put all this messy world behind us. But Jesus calls us to live victoriously with a supernatural assurance that the victory is already won. Are we living daily from that victory, boldly living for Christ?

4: Are you listening to the right teachers? (1 John 4:5-6).

False teachers are not of God, but from the world and the domain of Satan and his demons. False teachers have a secular worldview.  

If you have a Biblical worldview, based on the promises and the truths of God’s word, then you will have an eternal perspective on everything, marriage, sexuality, abortion, death, war, finances, and even the pain and challenges of life (1 Corinthians 4:16-18).

A secular worldview proclaims that this is all there is, grab as much as you can, pursue pleasure, make a name for yourself, leave a legacy. A secular world view leads to hopelessness.

Who are you listening to?

Boldness Through Faith

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How bold are your prayers?

What are you praying for right now that requires a supernatural move of God?

Prayer is an outflow of our relationship and a declaration of faith.

The boldness of our prayers must come from our faith in the statement, “God is love”, and that we are abiding, or are rooted in the promises of God’s Word.

The Bible frequently talks about the human heart. Our innermost being that is vulnerable, complex, and if properly aligned with God, our hearts are a blessing.

The world around us frequently tells us, “Trust your heart”, “go with what your gut is telling you”. But the Bible tells us in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Many people struggle with their heart and the feelings of self-condemnation. The apostle John recognized that as followers of Jesus, we still struggle with emotions, condemnation, and guilt. He also knew that the truth of God’s word provides healing and a re-alignment of our hearts.

Thus, the question, “How bold is your prayer life” might be preceded by the question, “How is your heart?”

1 John 3:19 says, “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him.”

And as children of God, we have confidence in His presence.

1 John 3:20 may seem confusing at first, “for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.”

Even though we know the scriptures and have heard the Gospel hundreds of times, sometimes we experience condemnation and guilt as Satan brings back to mind past sins. When we experience condemnation, we must go back to the promises of 1 John 1:9 and Romans 8:1.

We must remember who we are, “in Christ”. We stand before the all-knowing God, our Father, covered in the righteousness of Christ. It is a heart issue, we can be misled by our emotions and feelings. That is why King David wrote this in Psalm 139:23, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts”.

Ask God to expose the lies in your life and begin to live by God’s promises.

Like the promises of verses 21-22, “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”

When we have confidence in our standing before God, we can have confidence in our prayers.

Charles Spurgeon wrote, He who has a clear conscience comes to God with confidence, and that confidence of faith ensures to him the answer of his prayer. Childlike confidence makes us pray as none else can. It makes a man pray for great things, which he would never have asked for if he had not learned this confidence; and makes him pray for little things which a great many are afraid to ask for, because they have not yet felt towards God the confidence of children.… The man of obedience is the man whom God will hear, because his obedient heart leads him to pray humbly, and with submission, for he feels it to be his highest desire that the Lord’s will should be done. Hence it is that the man or obedient heart prays like an oracle; his prayers are prophecies. Is he not one with God? Doth he not desire and ask for exactly what God intends? How can a prayer shot from such a bow ever fail to reach its target?”

Sadly, many Christians are living command oriented Christian lives. We know God’s holy requirements and we are so committed to do the right thing, so that God will approve of us and answer our prayers.

God wants us to live by His promises, from a heart of pure relationship with Him, then we will live every day in the power of His spirit, leading us in obedience, out of relationship.

How are you living today? In fear and law or love and relationship?

Verse 23 says, there is one thing that we need to begin with. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.”

It all begins and ends with belief in Jesus Christ as Lord. A personal relationship with the Creator of the universe.

Believing that Jesus is the son of God, the eternal God, who became like one of his creation 2000 years ago. He lived a perfect sinless life and was crucified and died as a willing sacrifice for our sins. This same Jesus rose from the dead three days later and lives forever today, interceding for us at the Father’s right hand. Believing that Jesus is preparing a place for us and that he will one day return to take the Church to be with him in glory.

Finally looking at verse 24, “Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.”

King David knew his purpose in life, found in Psalm 27:4. David knew that the greatest goal in life was to abide in God’s presence.

The Spirit of God is given to us and by the Holy Spirit, we know that God abides with us and we with Him. There is an assurance that comes from abiding.

The presence of the Holy Spirit is not something that we can earn or merit by obedience.  As we abide in Christ, the Holy Spirit gives us the strength and the passion for obeying God. As we abide in God and He in us, we come to know God as our perfect Heavenly Father.

Prayer is an outflow of our relationship with God.

The more we abide in Him and He in us, the bolder our prayers will become, because we will know Him as a good and perfect heavenly Father, who is generous in His gifts.

How Bold is your prayer life?

Are you praying like a child who has absolute confidence in your father?

How is Your Love Life?

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Up to this point in the letter, John has focused on the theme, “God is Light” (1 John 1:5).

Now he shifts focus and introduces the theme, “God is love” (1 John 3:11).

It is essential that as Christians, we display God’s love, by loving one another. Jesus taught this in John 13:35.

John begins this section by using the first example we have in the Bible of hate, Cain murdering his brother Abel in Genesis 4 (1 John 3:12).

Why did God reject Cain’s offering? I believe it was the heart posture. Man looks at the outer things, but God looks at the heart. And God saw that Cain’s heart was not in his worship.

Love is at the heart of the Gospel, the phrase to “love one another” is found throughout the New Testament.  God thinks that our loving one another is really important.

We are called to love one another consistently and without favoritism. This is impossible in the natural realm, the love that we have for one another in Christ, is a supernatural love that comes from the Father. When we display love in the church, we display not only who we are, but we display who’s we are. We belong to our heavenly Father.

Verse 12 says that Cain murdered because he was of the evil one, he was a child of Satan. Jesus said the same thing in John 8:44.  

The truth is, you are either a child of God or you are a child of the devil. There is no third option.

The Bible makes it absolutely clear that only those who have been born again, who have given their lives to the lordship of Jesus Christ, can be called Children of God.

If you have not been born again, you are a child of the devil (Matthew 5:21-22).

Hate is equivalent to murder, the only difference between the hate and murder is the actual taking of a life, the intent of the heart is the same.

This does not mean, of course, that hatred in the heart does the same amount of damage, or involves the same degree of guilt, as actual murder. But in God’s sight, hatred is the moral equivalent of murder, and if left unbridled it leads to murder.

One of the benefits of loving one another from the heart, is the assurance that we have been born again. We are given a supernatural love as the Holy Spirit fills us (1 John 3:14).

John doesn’t say that we are saved by our love for one another, rather we are saved by grace and the proof of our salvation is our love for one another.

On the opposite end, those whose lives are characterized by a lack of love and concern give evidence that they are not saved (1 John 3:15).

Love and hate cannot reside in the same heart at the same time. Real love is very practical, it is spoken, and it is demonstrated.

How do we really know what Holy Spirit fueled love really is? Here are two practical explanations of Christian love.

1: Love is displayed by dying for others.

God demonstrated his love for us on the cross and then calls us to lay down our lives for others. Does this mean that we run the risk of being used by other people? Yes, and if we struggle with that we need to go back to the cross. We need to keep going back to the cross until we grasp the depth of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.  

Jesus died the death that we should have died, because of love. Love at the core is about self-sacrifice and service. Jesus didn’t die as a martyr, he willingly laid down his life.

“Self-preservation” is the first law of physical life,

But

 “self-sacrifice” is the first law of spiritual life.

Warren Wiersbe

If we think about what has been given to us, we won’t feel obligated to be grateful, we will joyfully present our lives as a living sacrifice in worship.

2: Service to others always involves giving.

In verse 17 and 18, John gets practical.

In our modern cities, there are multiple social agencies that help people in need, and it is easy to simply refer people to an agency when the Lord has told us to step in. It is easy for Christians to forget their obligations (see Galatians 6:10).

Let us not confuse doing good, by simply writing a check or handing over a dollar bill. This doing good that Paul writes about includes giving of our time and physical help. There are many people in our church and community who simply need someone to show them love and concern.

Our lives are busy, and our schedules are full. Sadly people “pray about” getting involved, when really, they are thinking about how much it is going to cost them. The reality is that it will cost to live this lifestyle of love.

If it doesn’t cost us anything to love, is it really love?

It cost Jesus everything, why should we think we are exempt from showing practical love.

It takes faith. Giving our time, our finances, our energy, needs to come from a lifestyle of faith. At times, God calls us to give that which we don’t have and simply trust Him for the provision.

I think sometimes we need to be reminded of the abundance of the Kingdom of God. We cannot outgive God.

In verse 18, John concludes with the word, “truth”. John is addressing our motivation for giving. We are tempted to give to be noticed or even to manipulate, our motives are impure. God cares about our motives.

“What does it look like? It has hands to help others, feet to hasten to the poor and needy, eyes to see misery and want, ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” Augustine.

How is your love life?

Sermon, Sunday April 24, 2022 – A Life Like No Other

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Jonathan Haidt recently wrote, “Artificial intelligence is close to enabling the limitless spread of highly believable disinformation.”

We live in a world where truth is almost unbelievable because of the saturation of lies and false narratives that are being promoted globally. Objective truth has been denied and sadly many Christians do not turn to the Word of God for truth and discernment. We should not be surprised by the ever-increasing volume of lies and misinformation in a world where Satan has his domain (John 8:44)

In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. Jesus embodies truth. He is truth. John the Beloved disciple of Jesus wrote three short letters to the church in and around Ephesus. The primary purpose of the letters was to counter false teaching, causing confusion in the early church. The primary lie that was being promoted in the early church in Asia Minor was that Jesus was not God.

The fact the Jesus is the creator God himself is the foundational truth of the church. If that is not true, then his death and resurrection have no redemptive purpose.

Looking at the first four verses of 1 John, the author focuses our gaze on the Word of Life, the Son of God. In these verses we will see three aspects of how we relate to the truth that is Jesus. It is essential that we get the correct understanding of this man who is fully God and fully man at the same time.

1: A passion to know Jesus.

John wants us to know Jesus, the Word of Life who came down from heaven, and by his life, death, and resurrection provided a way for us to have fellowship with God the Father, now and for eternity. In the first 2 verses, John highlights two key truths about the uniqueness of Jesus.

A: He Is Divine

He begins with, “that which was from the beginning.” And in verse 2, “the eternal life that was with the Father…”

Jesus has always eternally existed with the Father as God. There has never been a time when the Son did not exist (John 8:58 and John 10:30). There never was a time when the Son was not fully God.

B: He Is Human

In these same verses John makes a clear case for the humanity of Jesus. He speaks as an eyewitness of the life and ministry of Jesus. He speaks about hearing Jesus, seeing Jesus and touching Jesus. He was a real person.

At the time, there was a false teaching that John was countering, an early form of what is called “Gnosticism,” a term based on the Greek word that means knowledge. They believed that all matter was evil and that salvation is by a mystical spiritual knowledge. Some of the Gnostics taught that Jesus only appeared to be human.

It is essential that we believe that, Jesus really became a human being in the flesh (John 1:14).

John Piper wrote, “When God becomes a man, man ceases to be the measure of all things, and this man becomes the measure of all things. This is simply intolerable to the rebellious heart of men and women. The incarnation is a violation of the bill of human rights written by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It is totalitarian. It’s authoritarian! Imperialism! Despotism! Usurpation! Absolutism! Who does he think he is! GOD!”

2: Once we know Jesus, we will have a passion to Share Jesus.

“That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you…” 1 John 1:3a.

Jesus chose twelve men, and they were so impacted by following him that the world was turned upside down (Acts 17:6). They were ordinary uneducated men who were compelled to take this Gospel message to the entire world. What they had experienced in Jesus they wanted others to experience too.

Everyone in the Bible who encountered Jesus, was compelled to share Jesus with others. Many believers today excuse themselves from sharing the Gospel because they feel that they don’t have the gift of evangelism. But it is not about a spiritual gift, it is about encountering Jesus. Simply put, encountering Jesus leads to speaking about Jesus.

If you are not sharing Jesus, you are not encountering Jesus. Which begs the question, do you know Jesus?

And what is the purpose of this sharing? Verse 3 continues, “…so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

This sharing is an invitation to relationship with Jesus, and an added blessing is the family that we get introduced to as a result. The invitation is open to everyone.

This fellowship that we enjoy as the body of Christ is far deeper than a gathering of like-minded people, or a social club or a fraternity. We are invited into a family that transcends all earthly barriers. Christianity is all about relationships being restored, firstly our relationship with God, and then we get millions of brothers and sisters all around the world.

3: We will enjoy Jesus.

And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete” 1 John 1:4. John wrote this letter so that we might know the fulness of Joy. Jesus also said this in John 15:11.

That fullness of joy is ours through our friendship with one another and with God, who is now our Father. And all of it made possible by the gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s Son.

As we walk this earth daily confronted by sin and pain, how can we experience joy?

The real issue is the difference between Joy and happiness. Happiness is short lived and dependent on external factors. Joy is peace based on security. We have Joy because we are in Christ and we have a certainty of his love for us, displayed on the cross and promised in his return.

To enjoy Jesus, we must receive him as he is; the eternal son of God, crucified, and raised back to life for our sins and coming back again. And as we submit to him as Lord, we will fully enjoy him.

Do you know this Jesus?

Are you sharing this Jesus?

Are you enjoying this Jesus?

Sermon Sunday March 27, 2022 – I am the Good Shepherd – John 10:1-15

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In John 10 verse 11, Jesus called himself, the Good Shepherd, contrasting himself to a hired hand who simply cares for the sheep to get paid. Then Jesus called the Pharisees, “hired hands” in verse 12.

Jesus continues (verse 11 and 15) to say that the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. To those listening, a shepherd was supposed to be brave and fight off wild animals, but dying for the sheep was a tragedy and not the intention of the shepherd.

In John 10, Jesus stated five times that he was going to lay down his own life, and Jesus clearly affirmed the sacrificial nature of His death. He did not die as a martyr, he died as a substitute, willingly laying down his life for us. Remember how John the Baptist identified Jesus when he met him (see John 1:29).

Furthermore in John 10:14 Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.” How well do you know Jesus?

When we think of Jesus as the Good Shepherd many of us think of Psalm 23. It is a wonderful Psalm, but utterly meaningless if you don’t know the Shepherd personally. When you go to church or open the Bible, do you simply want to know about God, or do you desire to know Him personally. This is the personal relationship that Jesus offers us.  

Because God knows our natures, He also knows our needs before we are even aware of them. As the shepherd cares for the sheep, the sheep get to know their shepherd better. The Good Shepherd knows His sheep and His sheep know Him. They get to know Him better by listening to His voice (the Word) and experiencing His daily care.

There are three important aspects between the Shepherd and his sheep.

1: The Shepherd knows his sheep.

The Bible describes close relationships between shepherds and their flocks (See John 10:14-15a). There is an intimacy and a closeness of relationship between Jesus and his followers. Jesus goes on to say in John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me…”

In the Gospel of John, the word “know” means much more than intellectual awareness. It speaks of an intimate relationship between God and His people. The shepherd knows each of his sheep personally and therefore knows best how to care for them.

How is your relationship with Jesus? Do you listen for his voice daily? Are you following him as he leads you besides still waters? This is the normal Christian life.

Christ, as the Good Shepherd, knows his sheep perfectly. There is nothing about you that he does not know, from the most obvious to what you think is the most hidden, he knows it all!

Spend a few minutes reading and meditating on Psalm 139:1-4. Verse 4 says, “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.”

He doesn’t just know it after I say it, he knows it before I say it. Who else would we want to know us this well but the one who promises to be with us, to hem us in, to safeguard us, and to minister to us in our weakness? (Psalm 139:5).

Wherever I go, Christ is with me. He surrounds me and never abandons me, because he knows me. He knows that I am weak, and that I need the good shepherd. He gently cares for us and deals with us according to our need.

2: The Good Shepherd Protects His Sheep.

Jesus willingly died in order to save us. It is through his sacrifice that we are protected.

D.A. Carson wrote, “The shepherd does not die for his sheep to serve as an example, throwing himself off a cliff in a grotesque and futile display, while bellowing, ‘See how much I love you!’ No, the assumption is that the sheep are in mortal danger; that in their defense, the shepherd loses his life; and that by his death (and only by his death) could they be saved. This is what makes him the good shepherd above all else: he willingly dies for his sheep, to protect them.”

Normally, if a shepherd dies, the flock is abandoned to wild animals. There is no-one to protect them. So it is never a good thing for the shepherd to die.

In contrast Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, knows that if he does not die, his flock will be abandoned. Jesus is intentional about the sacrifice he offers. Jesus said in both verses 11 and 14, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” A shepherd may be willing to sacrifice his life, but Jesus doesn’t just say that he’s willing. He’s planning and pursuing it. It was his knowledge of what we needed and his willingness to meet that need that led to his death.

It wasn’t the power of Satan or even the Roman Empire, but the authority of the Son, that leads him to lay down his life, so that he might take it up again for us.

3: The Good Shepherd Provides for His Sheep

In Genesis 22 Isaac was spared and God provided a ram to be the sacrifice (see Genesis 22:14). We are introduced to God as our provider. A foreshadowing of the time when the Good Shepherd would lay down his life for his sheep.

It is still true today that the Good Shepherd is providing for his sheep even in the midst of the multiple crises that the world is facing. Our Good Shepherd sees us and provides for us.  

The last verse of Psalm 23 says, “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life…” God’s goodness is guaranteed for all our days.

God is still providing manna and multiplying food for the multitudes (see Philippians 4:19). The Lord knows what you need even before you do. Goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your life: it’s a promise that’s evidenced in his great provision in sacrificing himself for us. He provides for us now and will provide for you forevermore.

Do you know the Good Shepherd?

Sermon Sunday March 6, 2022 “I am the Bread of Life”.

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How easily do you get offended?

Jesus was not afraid to offend in order to reveal the heart. In John 6:35, Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life…” And it offended his followers.

(Please read John chapter 6 before reading any further.)

Aware that his disciples were grumbling about his statement, he said in verse 61, “Does this offend you?”

Throughout his time on the earth, Jesus asked many great questions, but this is one of the best.

The Greek verb for offense here is “Scandalizo”, which means to cause to trip or stumble.                       

When’s the last time Jesus offended you

What causes us to stumble in the Gospel’s?

How about…

  • Blessed are the meek? (Matthew 5:5)
  • Love your enemies? (Matthew 5:44)
  • Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. (Luke 6:28)
  • For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.  (Matthew 7:14)
  • Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  (Matthew 7:21)

As we read the Bible we should be “tripped up” all the time as our neatly packaged Western Christian mindset is challenged. It’s one of the only ways that we know that we’re truly following Jesus and not crafting him into our image, squeezing him through the lens of our expectations and sensibilities.

There are two reasons why we should be offended by Jesus.  

1. Jesus wants to confront our idols.

Jesus should always be offending our; theology, politics, lifestyles and our love for comfort and possessions (1 Corinthians 1:23).                      

Today, Christianity, true Biblical Christianity will still offend us and the world around us.

At the core of this is the question of Lordship. Jesus wants no other competing affection or anything that takes the place or priority of Jesus in our decision making.

2. Jesus wants us to grow more into his image.

The offense of Jesus is one of the best and most effective ways for us to grow into who he wants us to be (1 John 2:5-6).

We are saved to be transformed into the image of Christ and yet too many so-called Christians have a “jesus”, that they have created in their own image. One who will never confront their sin, who will never rebuke them and never ask them to give up anything. That is not Biblical Christianity.                              

When Jesus said, “I am…”, his followers were offended that he was referring to himself in the same way God revealed himself to Moses in Exodus 3.

They were offended when he said that the manna from Heaven was not as lasting as his own Bread.

They were offended when he declared that he was better than Moses.

And they were offended when Jesus said that they would have to eat his flesh and drink his blood.

We must remember that Jesus said everything he said with specific intent. He is not putting down Moses, the Manna, and their worship, rather he was saying, “I am the fulfillment of those things that were simply a picture”.

Jesus had to offend them to reveal the truth to them of who he was. And so must he do with us!

Sometimes we need to be offended by the truth of who Jesus is in order to put away some of what we have believed or been taught about who Jesus really is.

We get offended, we wrestle with truth and it is uncomfortable. However, we need to be confronted in order to grow in our Christian walk.

So, we need to experience his transformational offense in our lives for our own good.

Here are three practical ways that we can invite Jesus to offend us.

1.           Read the gospels and the Bible. Repeatedly.

As we read things in the Bible that we don’t know what to do with, we are challenged, and if we are honest, we get offended, and it is good for us as we wrestle with the truth.

2.           Invite his Spirit to offend. As we read the Word, invite the Holy Spirit to bring conviction and truth to us (Psalm 139:23-24).

3.           Allow people into your life who will speak truth.                                   

Who’s someone in your life that has offended you deeply and yet, it was the best thing that could have ever happened to you?

Sadly, we live in a culture where if someone offends you, you simply walk away. We sever relationship and maybe even leave the church. Rather, we should be pressing through the offense, growing through the truth and granting grace for one another in the process.

If Jesus offends you, either through his Word, the Holy Spirit, or through another believer who you trust, ask, “What about that offends me? Why?”

If you believe and receive the truth it becomes healthy to you. We grow through those experiences. But, in order to grow, we have to confront them.                                                                                                    When Jesus offended the disciples with the truth, many left him as we read in John 6:66. Jesus turns to the twelve in verse 67 and says, “do you want to go away as well?”

Peter quickly responds, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:68-69

What are you wrestling with today?

Maybe there is a difficult scripture that doesn’t fit your view of who God is?

Maybe you are offended at God because of a prayer that was not answered the way you wanted it to be answered?

Maybe you have an offense toward someone else in the church, who spoke the truth and you rejected it.

Humbly lean into the offense and see what the Lord might be teaching you. Ask a trusted Christian who has walked with the Lord for many years, and allow Jesus to continue to conform you into His image.

Sermon, Sunday January 30 2021, Ask Big

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2 Kings 4:1-7

What are you asking God for today? Is it big?

Are you boldly asking for a miracle from God? Many people don’t ask big, because they simply don’t believe that God can or will answer their prayers.

In 2 Kings 4, we read the account of a widow in desperate need, who reaches out to the prophet Elisha for help, knowing that he will have the answer. This poor widow had great confidence that reaching out to Elisha would save her family. She had no backup plan, she knew that she needed to speak to Elisha, he was the man of God who could help.

When you have a need, who do you turn to? Do you try to ask your social media “friends”? How quick are you to turn to prayer?

I have noticed that strangely many Christians ask for prayer, but they themselves are not praying for a miracle. Maybe the feeling is that God hears others who are perhaps more “holy” than me. We must remember that we all have equal access to the throne of grace.

Elisha asks the widow, “what shall I do for you?”  in verse 2.The need is obvious, but she must articulate it, and there is an act of faith in speaking out the need. Jesus required the same from Bartimaeus in Mark 10:51, “what do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus asked big, and he received his sight because he believed in the one who was standing in front of him.

Sometimes we are praying for crumbs when Jesus is inviting us to ask for a feast. Do you believe in the one who can supply all your needs?

Our needs are more than physical, our greatest need is spiritual. How desperate are you for God to intervene in power in your life? Jesus said in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

We don’t thirst for righteousness because we are lulled into comfort by the entertainment of the world, and we don’t realize our deepest need. Remember in all this, God is for you, and He is generous.

Elisha continues and asks the widow, “What have you in the house?” She had nothing left, only a small amount of oil, and she was ready to give that to the Lord.

What do you have that you can bring to Jesus? Sometimes all we have is a little faith. God can use that.

Elisha then gives her an unusual instruction, but it was the step of faith that she needed to take, “Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few.”

This was another test of her faith because the size of the miracle was dependent on the size of her faith; how many vessels she borrowed. There are times when we have to take a step in faith even before we see the miracle we are praying for.

I am certain if the family had known what would happen, they would have rented the local warehouse and brought in vessels from every city in the nation, but how could they have known. They acted in faith.  

In verse 6 we read how the miraculous flow of the oil ended when the vessels were all full. The miracle ended, not because God could not provide anymore, but because the capacity to receive had been exceeded.

The limiting factor is never God’s ability to give, it is our capacity to receive. What it boils down to, is how much of our lives are we willing to give over to the control of the Holy Spirit (see Luke 11:13).

Another lesson we can learn from this is that the oil was multiplied in the pouring out from the little she had. The way to increase what we have is to use it, sometimes to give it away.  It is not hoarding the talents, but trading with them, that doubles them (see Luke 19).

It takes faith to use what God has given you, especially when the world says, “hold on to what you have, you never know when a rainy day will come”. What talent is God inviting you to invest in the kingdom today?

Finally, notice that this miracle took place in the private place, the prophet told the widow to go into her room and close the door. Her need was met when she met certain conditions. One of the acts of obedience was to close the door, to be alone with her sons and the presence of God.

It was a personal miracle and she had to be the one doing the pouring, not Elisha or anyone else. When God tells you to do something, don’t look over your shoulder and see who might be a more qualified person to do it. What God has blessed you with will increase best in your own hands as you are obedient to God.

This miracle not only meets the widow’s needs, but she was blessed with abundance. God performed a powerful creative miracle and it all started with the level of expectation of the widow. She sent for Elisha because she had absolute confidence that a miracle would happen.

What are you praying for today? What is the level of your expectation?

Maybe if your heart was fully exposed, you don’t believe that God is going to give you what you are asking for? Deep down, you don’t believe he is able or that he is generous.

Another word for expectation is faith. Do you pray, believing in the God of the impossible? We read about men and women of faith in Hebrews 11, they all had an expectation in the power of God.

Duncan Campbell wrote, “there is a place beyond consecration, there is a place beyond sanctification, and that is the place of implicit confidence in God”

The level of your confidence in the power of God determines the size of your ask.

What are you asking for?