Pastor Kirk

Notes from Scio Community Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Antichrists, 1 John 2:18-27, 17 May 2015

Antichrists
Series: Love Illuminated
Scio Community Church
Kirk Schneemann
May 17, 2015

Series Overview:
This will be a verse-by-verse presentation of this essential letter.

Big Idea: We must know the Truth and avoid the lies.

Scripture: 1 John 2:18-27

  Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
  But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
  As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—eternal life.
  I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

Introduction

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word…antichrist?

My mind races to the book of Revelation, end times movies, Christian persecution, and global chaos.

As we continue in our study of the book of 1 John—a letter written by one of Jesus’ best friends and the author of the Gospel of John—this word “antichrist” emerges.

To review last week’s text that precedes this week’s scripture, John writes

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

There’s a great contrast between God’s ways and the world’s ways, and that distinction will continue to be expressed in today’s passage.

Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. (1 John 2:18)

“Little children” is used again, speaking to the babies in the faith. John tells them it’s the last hour, which sounds like one of those end times movies again with earthquakes and people disappearing and chaos ensuing. You may have noticed it has been the last hour for quite some time! On the one hand, it’s tempting to dismiss You might not be around tomorrow.

Antichrist can mean against Christ or it can mean instead of Christ, a substitute.

There is going to be an antichrist but there were many in John’s day. They denied the deity of Christ, that Jesus was God. Many claimed to be Christ. Revelation 13 describes a wild beast that is called forth by satan, a political ruler against Christ and also a wolf in sheep’s clothing who pretends to be Christ, a religious ruler. Both can be called antichrist, one against and one instead of Jesus.

They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. (1 John 2:19)

Have you ever seen someone excited about something, only to lose their enthusiasm? In sports, we call these fair-weather fans. They’ll support a team as long as they’re winning, but when the championships end, they jump on the bandwagon of another team.

This happens frequently in the marketplace. A person will be passionate about their job until it gets difficult and they’ll quit or—worse—complain.

Faithfulness is never more evident than in relationships. The reason marriage is more than just a piece of paper is the commitment it records.

I have seen so-called followers of Jesus abandon the faith, and there is nothing more tragic. Eleven of the twelve disciples were faithful, but Judas did not remain with them.

A popular argument among Christians is whether or not you can lose your salvation. Some suggest if you can, you were never a Christian in the first place. I’m not here to debate the issue here, but Jesus said in Luke 8 that the Word of God is like seed, some of which falls on the path, some on rocky ground, some among thorns, and some on good soil that took root and persevered and produced a crop.

Are you truly a follower of Jesus? Are you a new creation? Why? Is it simply for what you can get from God? What if He fails to meet your “needs” and He disappoints you?

Paul said

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Three chapters later he added

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)

Does this describe your life? Are you standing firm in the faith? How do we do that? By filling our mind with God’s Word, our heart with prayer, and our hands with service to others. Simply, we know and follow Jesus.

John continues

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. (1 John 2:20)

We need the Holy Spirit. The Spirit helps us understand the truth.

I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. (1 John 2:21-23)

They had the truth but lies are entering. Some see the world as the enemy, but the real enemy is inside the church.

Again, there are many antichrists, then and now, those who deny Jesus is the Messiah.

If Jesus is not God, we’re in trouble.
If Jesus is not human, we’re in trouble.

As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. (1 John 2:24)

We must remain. We must abide. We must persevere. We must continue daily to follow Jesus…hourly…every moment!

This requires discipline. That’s not a popular word, but I heard a great definition of discipline this week:

doing what you don’t want to do so you can do what you want to do (Jeff Fisher)

Sometimes I don’t want to jog, but I overcome that objection by thinking about the reward of being physically fit.

Sometimes I don’t want to invest time in my relationship with God, but I overcome that objection by thinking about the reward of knowing Jesus.

Sometimes I don’t want to invest money in savings, but I overcome that objection by thinking about the reward of having an emergency fund or resources for the future.

In John 15, Jesus said if we abide/remain/persevere/invest our lives in Him we will bear fruit, but it doesn’t happen automatically or instantly.

What did they hear from the beginning?

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. (1 John 1:1)

And this is what he promised us—eternal life. (1 John 2:25)

God promised us eternal life. That’s a long time! It’s not just eternal but life! If we trust Jesus with our lives, eternal life is promised.

I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. (1 John 2:26-27)

Who’s trying to lead us astray? Anyone who is not teaching the Word of God. Do you know it well enough to know the truth from the lies? Never trust me over the Bible…and let me know if you ever hear a word that doesn’t align with the Bible.

I’m learning. I’m growing. I’m in process. The more I learn, the more I realize I need to learn!

My favorite theological quote is from Leonard Sweet who said, “20% of my theology is wrong. I just don’t what 20%”

He’s not saying we don’t need teachers, but we especially need the Holy Spirit.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:13)

So What?

There are many false teachings and false teachers. They perpetuate myths. Can you think of any? Here are some:

  • God wants you happy. God wants you rich.
  • God won’t give you more than you can handle.
  • It doesn’t matter what you do.
  • It doesn’t matter what you believe.
  • Praise God when things go well. Ignore Him when things go poorly.
  • Jesus was a good teacher but never died.
  • Jesus was a good teacher but never rose from the dead.
  • Jesus was not God.
  • Jesus was not human.
  • God helps those who help themselves.
  • All good people go to heaven.
  • Only good people go to heaven.
  • Success is always measured by numbers.
  • There is only one road you can take, one plan God has for your life.
  • If you’re not busy, you’re lazy.
  • God is not okay with doubt and questions
  • There are bad sins (abortion) and acceptable ones (gossip)
  • Your behavior affects God’s love for you
  • The church is a building or a gathering
  • All pastors are perfect, holy, and super spiritual
  • The Bible is all about rules
  • The Bible is boring

Finally, challenge what you hear from me, challenge what you read in the media, challenge what you see in our culture. Does it align with the Word of God? It’s so tempting to follow conventional wisdom or what is politically correct without wrestling with the scriptures. Yes, sometimes they’re difficult to understand. Some things are controversial, but we must humbly seek the truth, asking the Holy Spirit to guide us. This is why we have elders. This is why we have Life Groups. This is why we have a Facebook page and Q&A in sermons…to study, wrestle, and seek to understand the truth…both the words on the page and Jesus, the Truth.

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

The World, 1 John 2:15-17, 10 May 2015

Big Idea: We are not citizens of this world, but citizens of heaven on God's mission in our world.

Scripture: 1 John 2:15-17

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Introduction

Do you like to travel? What’s the most fascinating place you’ve visited? Why?

There’s a common expression many make regarding a place. The phrase is…

“It’s a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

There are various reasons people give for their statement, but interestingly enough virtually every visited place has people that live there!

In 1972 Christian music pioneer Larry Norman released an album called “Only Visiting This Planet.” More recently, t-shirts have proclaimed, “Don’t mind me, I’m just visiting this planet.”

Visitors and residents live very different lives, don’t they? I was with a friend from out of town last week during the election and they weren’t too concerned about whether or not Proposal 1 was going to pass. They don’t have to drive on our crater-filled roads each day!

Actually, it would be quite odd if they were deeply concerned about the election, aside from their interest in how it would affect me.

This past week I joined a group of people in downtown Ann Arbor for the National Day of Prayer observance, an annual half hour of prayer at the Federal Building flagpole. While I appreciated their concerns and prayers, I was struck by how opinionated their prayers were, certain of God’s will for the United States and ever so bold in telling God how politicians and leaders should vote, with hardly a word of thanks for the freedoms we enjoy, the progress we’ve made, or even worship for God simply being God. A day set aside for talking with our Dad turned into a laundry list of fear, angst, and pleas for power.

I’m quite sure I over-reacted to their prayers, but today’s passage from the first epistle of John reminds us not to be overly concerned with this world. I want to live in peace and freedom and smooth roads as much as the next guy, but we’re just visiting!

Do not love the world or anything in the world. (1 John 2:15a)

This is not a reference to creation or the planet. It’s not a reference to people in the world. It’s a reference to the world’s system, to worldly things, to temporary things.

Since sin was introduced to our world, evil has been present, causing death, pain, and destruction…all disguised beautifully in tempting forms…like chocolate covered poop!

Jesus spoke of this world. Although he created it, he has allowed satan and his demons to tempt and deceive, presenting us with daily choices to follow God or the world. Jesus called him the prince of this world (John 14:30; John 16:11).

I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, (John 14:30)

…and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. (John 16:11)

In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul spoke of what it was like for people before they followed Jesus.

…in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. (Ephesians 2:2)

Evil is real. Just watch the news! Every day we are bombarded with lies that suggest we will be truly satisfied when we have __________.

Fill in the blank: money, sex, power, the latest cell phone, the fastest car, the best clothes, the most Facebook friends, the most encounters with celebrities, the biggest paycheck, the most prestigious job, the best grades, the finest school, the most beautiful family…

Paul told the Galatians…

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)

The cross and the world are in tension. Good and evil are in tension. God and satan are in tension.

Peter recognized the evil in our world.

If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. (2 Peter 2:20)

John continues…

If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. (1 John 2:15b)

This is harsh, but true. Jesus said nobody can serve two masters.

Have you ever had two bosses?

A few years ago I found myself driving a fifteen passenger van in Los Angeles with three navigators! I finally had to tell two of them to put away their GPS devices so I could follow one person.

You can’t run with the devil during the week and run with the LORD on Sunday!

You can’t love sin and God. We are in the world but not of the world.

There is a perpetual conflict between our old sinful nature and our new, righteous nature given to us through Jesus.

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. (1 John 2:16)

God gives us all desires. Those desires are not bad since they were from God, but we are often tempted to meet those desires in unhealthy, sinful ways.

It’s like running a marathon, wanting to finish, and then taking a taxi to the finish line.

The flesh, the eyes, and pride. Notice how these themes appear repeatedly in the Bible.

The lust of the flesh. Our bodies have cravings. Gluttony is a real temptation. Eve was tempted by satan to eat the forbidden fruit. It wasn’t that God said she couldn’t eat, but rather she couldn’t eat from just one tree in the garden.

Jesus was also tempted this way in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. He was hungry after fasting for forty days (duh!) and satan tempted him to turn stones into bread to inappropriately feed his flesh. He even misquoted scripture to lure Jesus into sin.

By the way, temptation is not sin. It’s what we do with the temptation that matters. Eve said yes and Jesus said no.

The lust of the eyes. Our eyes are drawn to attractive things. They are often the gateway to lust, pornography, or materialism. The tree looked good to Eve. The fruit looked good.

Jesus was also tempted this way. He was taken to a high place and satan showed him the kingdoms of this world, offering them to Jesus if he would only worship satan.

The pride of life. Eve was told if she ate the fruit she would be wise. It wasn’t simply an urge to eat something tasty, but a desire to be like God.

Jesus was also tempted this way. He was told to jump off the top of the Jerusalem temple and show his superiority by summoning angels to protect him. Jesus never performed a miracle to impress people.

The stomach, beauty, and even religion can be deadly and of the world when we give into sinful temptation. Here’s why:

The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:17)

The Roman Empire, Michael Jordan’s athleticism, the wealth of many who invested in Enron and Radio Shack, …

It All Goes Back In The Box

Author and pastor John Ortberg tells a great story about learning to play Monopoly from his grandmother. She repeatedly beat him and finally said John needed to risk it all, go for broke, buy every house and hotel possible and accumulate as much wealth as possible. She said, “One day you’ll learn to play the game.”

So he played with a neighbor all summer long, understanding money and possessions were the way to keep score. That fall he sat down to play with grandmother and ruthlessly beat her, taking every last dollar she had! She had one more thing to teach John. She said, “Now it all goes back in the box. All of the houses and hotels, railroads and utilities and money goes back in the box. None of it was really yours. It was here before you came along and it will be around after you’re gone.”

So What?

This world is not our home. No matter how exciting it can be to experience money, sex, power, fame, and comfort, the thrill will eventually wear off. Then what?

What really matters?

We are just visiting this planet.

As odd as that may sound, we’re not the only ones. Jesus made a visit, and He set for us a great example of how to live here while being citizens of heaven. He only visited for about 33 years. He said to give to Caesar’s what is Caesar’s and to God what belongs to God. He never demonstrated fear, even when seemingly most of the world wanted him dead. There is no record of him campaigning for a candidate or even a political issue, though his sermons were loaded with radical commands and ideas no politician would dare utter.

Some Christians are so heavenly minded they’re no earthly good. We need to be involved in this world, but only to the extent that we’re on mission, that we are obediently following our assignment to make disciples, to love others, to lose our lives for God’s sake.

A growing trend in travel is eco tourism where people do more than visit and consume; they serve the residents, perhaps through digging a well or volunteering at a soup kitchen. They are on a mission, but permanent residency is not part of the arrangement. The tourists know they will eventually return home.

This world is not our home. We’re just visitors. Let’s live like it! In the meantime, let’s complete our mission and leave this world in better shape than we found it!

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast
here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Children, Youth, and Fathers, 1 John 2:12-14, 4 May 2015

Big Idea: Spiritually mature disciples reproduce.

Scripture: 1 John 2:12-14

Introduction

Communication is a fascinating aspect of humanity. We are social creatures with the primal need to convey our thoughts, needs, feelings, and ideas.

Once upon a time we had only verbal and body language.

Hieroglyphic drawings came next.

Written words followed.

The advent of the telephone was a tremendous way to connect with distant people.

Paging, e-mail, and texting introduced new technologies for instant communication.

Today FaceTime, Skype, and other video apps allow face-to-face teleconferencing.

What’s next? Hologram is one emerging tool.

An unsolicited bit of advice: choose the appropriate form of communication for the appropriate message. Texting is great for a short grocery list, but don’t use it to break up with your girlfriend! If you really want your message to get noticed, buy a pen, a card, and a stamp and…write a note!

Writing

Every writer has a message and an audience. They are both critically important. Have you ever texted the wrong person? It can be embarrassing, especially if the note is personal or private.

We are studying a letter, the first epistle written by John, one of Jesus’ three best friends. In this fourth week of our series, Love Illuminated, John reveals his audience (plural).

At first glance it seems odd to include details about his recipients in the middle of the letter, yet the details reveal much about them.

Scripture: 1 John 2:12-14

  I am writing to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. (12)

This phrase “little” children literally means “born ones.” Perhaps we could call them born again ones. This refers to all believers who have been forgiven by the precious blood of Jesus shed for us on on the cross, by His broken body which was pierced for us.

John continues…

I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.

Fathers here refers to mature saints who have known Jesus for many years. They know Him who is from the beginning—Jesus.

John began his gospel with these words:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1-2)

Fathers know Jesus. They know Him well.

I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one. (13)

It seems young men are more mature than children but not as mature as the fathers. They have faced temptation and won. This is immensely important today. Though it could be said of every generation, the world is filled with lies from the evil one that wants to steal, kill, and destroy.

What are some?

You need money, sex and power…now.
The first shall be first.
He who dies with the most toys wins.
It’s all about you.

John is acknowledging a group of young men who have chosen to live radical, counter-cultural lives. They don’t care what’s politically correct, but instead they live what’s biblically correct.

Now John goes back to the children.

I write to you, dear children,
because you know the Father. (14a)

These immature believers know they are children of God. They know their Daddy!

Now John seems to repeat himself somewhat.

I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning. (14b)


It does not say they know about God. John says mature believers know God. Paul said it this way:

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)

These verses are loaded! Suffice it to say if you truly want to know someone, walk in their shoes. Last month featured “Take Your Child To Work” day. Thousands of children skipped school to be with their mom or dad, watching and sometimes experiencing life in the real world.

It’s one thing for my son to know intellectually I am his father.
It’s another thing for my son to have met me.
It’s yet another thing for him to be told I work very part-time as a DJ.
It’s still another thing for him to watch me play music at a wedding reception.
It’s an even greater thing for him to work alongside me, entertaining guests.
It’s perhaps the greatest thing for him to live with me, watching me every day.

At each level, my relationship with him grows. He may even decide someday to take over my DJ business, following in my footsteps.

Knowing Jesus does not end at a worship gathering or a Life Group. It’s only the beginning.

We need the Word of God. It’s food. It’s daily bread. Most of us don’t eat weekly. We don’t even eat daily. We eat several times a day.

You can’t expect on meal to nourish you for seven days!

Do you know Jesus? Do you live with Jesus? Do you do life with Jesus?

John continues…

I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one. (14c)

The strong overcome the evil one by the word of God, it’s the only weapon of offense, the sword of the Spirit. Many aren’t in the word of God, but we need it if we are to grow strong.

Summary

John is writing to three groups of people.

  I am writing to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. (12)
because you know the Father.

They know God the Father.

I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
because you know him who is from the beginning.

They know God.

I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one. (13)
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one. (14)

They are strong, they have overcome the evil one, the word of God lives in them.

So What?

Are you a child, a young man, or a father? Many overestimate where they are on their journey, thinking because they have great biblical knowledge they are mature believers. The Pharisees were just such a people. Their minds were full but their heads were big. Their hands were idle. Their hearts were hard.

Jesus said we are to come to Him like little children…and grow…looking increasing like Him.

As we said previously, God’s love language is obedience. If we love Him, we will do what He commands. Most Christians—including myself—are educated far beyond our level of obedience.

There’s a great verse in the book of Ezra that describes a spiritual father. It says

For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel. (Ezra 7:10)

He studied God’s Word. That’s the first step. Children read books.

He observed or practiced the commands of God. That’s what young men do, they are strong and they obey God.

Finally, he taught God’s Word. Some of this may have been in a classroom, but likely it involved modeling…discipleship…reproduction.

Who Are You?

Are you a spiritual child, young adult, or parent? It has nothing to do with your physical age. In fact, it has nothing to do with your spiritual age. There are people who have called themselves Christians for decades who disobey God habitually. None of us is perfect, but we choose to repent or repeat our sins.

Maybe you feel pretty good about your life and actions. You have a heart for God, spend time in pray and studying God’s Word each day. Keep it up! I want to challenge you: who are your disciples? To whom are you a spiritual father or mother? Do they know?!

Parents have kids. We are all commanded to have spiritual kids, disciples.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

There’s only one verb in verse 19: make. Spiritual parents make disciples. They intentionally invest their lives in others. They do life together with them. By definition they parent them spiritually.

You don’t have to be old to be a spiritual parent; you simply need to help another grow, help them take their next steps.


You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Love and Hate, 1 John 2:7-11, 26 April 2015

Big Idea: Followers of Jesus are to love one another, and this requires sacrificial action, not mere tolerance.

Scripture: 1 John 2:7-11

Autenticity

Two weeks ago while visiting our daughter in New York City I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I love the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Art Institute of Chicago but this was my first visit to The Met. It is a fantastic home to priceless sculptures, pottery, musical instruments, and, of course, paintings.

Heather and I recently saw a powerful film, The Woman in Gold, an historical movie about a painting captured by the Nazis and the quest by the rightful owner to have it returned. Spoiler alert: it was eventually returned…and sold in 2006 for over $130 million!

That’s pocket change, though, compared to the February sale of Paul Gauguin’s “Nafea Faa Ipoipo? (When Will You Marry?) for $300 million!

Which begs three questions:

  • Who has that kind of money?
  • Why would you choose to spend that much on that painting?
  • How do you know it’s real?

Can you imagine spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a painting and discovering it to be a fake?

There’s an old expression that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Things are not always as they appear, and our world is filled with counterfeits, be they paintings, money, or even people.

In our series “Love Illuminated” we’re looking at the book of 1 John, a letter from one of Jesus’ best friends to early believers of the movement we know as Christianity. The early church was threatened by outsiders who wanted to dismiss, disrupt, or even destroy this new religion. An even greater threat, however, came from within, those who claimed to follow Jesus but failed to do so.

One of John’s goals in this letter is to test the authenticity of their spiritual vigor. Last week we saw two of those tests:

Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. (1 John 2:4)

I suggested God’s love language is probably obedience. Knowing God involves action. It’s not simply going to church or reading the Bible or even memorizing scriptures, but rather it is responding to the commands of God. It is obeying god.

Two verses later John wrote

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2:6)

This phrase “to live in Him” is the Greek term “meno” which John used forty times in his gospel and 27 times in this epistle. It speaks of the indwelling of the Christian in God or even possibly of God indwelling us. It is to abide or remain, to truly know God. Jesus did not come to begin a new religion, but rather He showed us what it means to be human and He invites us to follow Him, His teachings, and His example.

1 John 2:7-11

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. (1 John 2:7)

What’s the old command? Love God and love you neighbor. It was presented generations earlier.

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

One way we love God is by loving our neighbor.

“ ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:18)

John’s audience had been told love God. They had been told to love their neighbor.

Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. (1 John 2:8)

Jesus not only taught commands, He followed them. He said

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43-45)

Those are strong and difficult words! Jesus demonstrated them, however, even praying for those who crucified Him.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

The center of God’s will is to love one another, and what made it new was Jesus. He showed us what it truly means to love—not tolerate, not co-exist, but love.

What’s so exciting to me is the Holy Spirit filled Jesus with unconditional love and offers it to us, too, if we are willing to ask and receive.

How crazy would it be for Jesus to just say, “Love” and walk away? The first part of the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5 is love. We are to receive God’s love from the Holy Spirit and let it overflow in our lives to others.

This is not about trying harder. It’s about aligning ourselves with the Light.

The moon has no internal light. It cannot be brighter for us by trying harder. In fact, it can’t shine at all…unless it is aligned with the sun.

We, also, must be aligned with the Son, S-o-n. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit, letting go and letting God. We are to die and surrender our lives daily to God if we hope to experience His presence and power in our lives and be a blessing to others. We need to grow daily and we grow by feeding upon bread, the Word.

John’s first test of authentic believers was obedience. The second was love that looks like Christ’s love.

Here’s the third:

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. (1 John 2:9)

None of us hate, right?! This is church, after all!

Hate is the absence of the deeds of love. That could include indifference! We often think hate is only expressed in violence or harm, but passivity or inaction could be hateful. Love unexpressed is not love at all. It is not neutral.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. contrasted hate and love beautifully when he said,

“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.” -
Strength to Love

He’s undoubtedly reflecting John’s words, which continue…

Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. (1 John 2:10-11)

Haters are in darkness. Lovers are in the light.

Love

Loving others—especially other believers—is the test of genuine faith. We’re family. Family loves through thick and thin.

Have you ever noticed the power of love in a family? Some families say and do terrible things to one another, yet there is an understanding of love, a lifelong commitment to the other person. The real test of one’s love is not found in the good times, but in the midst of suffering. You see who your true friends and family are when things get hard.

Increasingly in our culture family is not merely people with the same last name, but those with whom we do life. This was, perhaps, even more true in the early church where believers were persecuted, resources were often scarce, and the movement of Jesus was spreading virally—without social media!

God’s redemptive plan was never to get people saved or get people to an altar…the plan of God was to reconcile people to His family. Jesus came to rebuild God’s family.

Let’s face it, love is hard! It sounds easy, but it’s not. By love I don’t mean nice or tolerant. I mean looking out for the best interest of the other person. Love involves action. It involves sacrifice. It involves!

C.S. Lewis said
“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
An Example: Reconciliation in Armenia
Although many are aware of my German roots, I’m also one quarter Armenian. This past week marked the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the slaughter of up to 1.5 million of the 2 million Armenians by Turks. Needless to say, for a century there has been tremendous animosity between Armenians and Turks.
How do you tell an Armenian Christian to just love Turks, knowing your ancestors were destroyed by their ancestors? It’s certainly akin to asking Jews to forgive Germans.
My great grandfather was a victim of the Genocide. Though not killed, he hid in a ditch filled with dead bodies, eventually able to escape to the United States.
Earlier this month, a group of Turkish Christians stood before TV cameras at the Armenian Genocide Memorial and said, “We came to share your pain. We have come here to apologize for what our ancestors did, to ask for your forgiveness.” The new report said
Gathered around the monument’s eternal flame, the more than twenty Turkish citizens spoke out simply, and repeatedly: “We plead with you, if you can, to forgive us and the crimes of our forefathers.”

Significantly, the Turks were joined by a number of local Armenian Christians who formed a huge circle, holding hands together around the memorial as they prayed aloud in Turkish and Armenian for their nations and peoples.

One Western observer of the Yerevan gathering confessed, “I may never see something like this ever again in my life. I was a spectator, watching the walls of division and hostility come down. It’s what the gospel of Christ should be doing all over the world, bringing true reconciliation.”

This is what love for one’s brother looks like. This is what it means to walk in the light.

The Bible is filled with descriptions of light and darkness. Few things contrast greater.

We’ve all been born into sin, into darkness, but we’ve been given an invitation to the Light, an invitation we can accept or reject.

Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.

So What?

Love, don’t hate. If only it were that simple!

You may be saying, “I don’t hate anybody. Haters gonna hate.” This isn’t about how you react to someone who cuts you off on the expressway, a momentary action. Hate in this context is a state of being, a habit of failing to love someone.

If we love, we’re in the light. If we’re in the light, we can love, we can shine. But it won’t happen if we merely try harder. We must abide. We must remain. We must be with God through prayer, worship, study of scripture, and fellowship.

Conclusion

If I were to purchase a million dollar painting I’d hire an expert to authenticate the work of art. They would surely have a variety of tests to determine whether it is a fake or the genuine article.

Likewise, John had tests to determine authentic followers of Jesus from fakers who talk the talk but fail to walk the walk.

Do you obey? Even when it’s inconvenient? Even when it’s costly?

Do you live as Jesus lived? Are you a “little Christ,” imitating His words and deeds?

Do you love? Your friends? Your family? Your neighbors? Your enemies? Not love in your head, but love in action?

Jesus did. He set the bar high, but He gives us the Holy Spirit to enable us to live like Christ.

AMEN!

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Sin and Obedience, 1 John 2:1-6, 19 April 2015

Big Idea: God’s love language is obedience

Q&A (question from last week)

Introduction

Last week we began a new series on the book of 1 John entitled Love Illuminated. Love and light are two dominant themes in this short book written to the early Church by one of Jesus’ three best friends, John, the same man who wrote the Gospel of John and Revelation.

John describes in the third verse of the book, which we examined last week, the purpose:

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3)

1 John is written to followers of Jesus so they might have fellowship with one another and with God.

Last week someone texted in a question about the plural “we.” It is a reference to the early Church leaders. Just as I might use “we” to describe Scio’s elders, so John is representing the first disciples of Jesus who have become “fathers” to new believers.

This is a book about fellowship, about relationship.

Have you ever had a strained relationship? How did it feel?

Sometimes people confuse position with status. For example, my position might be daddy to my kids, but the status of our relationship may be strained in a given moment.

Our passage today does not deal with salvation. John is writing to children of God. It does, however, deal with fellowship, the status of our relationships with God and one another.

PRAY

Love

Who do you love? It’s a simple question. Think about the people in your life that you most love. Why do you love them? How do you express that love?

Dr. Gary Chapman’s best-selling book The Five Love Languages provides the five ways people express love (we’ve looked at these before):

  • words of affirmation
  • physical touch
  • quality time
  • acts of service
  • gifts

A note to couples, it is extremely rare for both of you to have the same love language and, therefore, you need to learn the language of the other person and speak their language…since speaking yours is rarely as meaningful.

I believe God’s love language is
obedience.

As a dad, I can tell you obedience—and physical touch/hugs—is my love language. If I ask my kids to clean their room and they buy me gifts and say nice things to me but leave Coke cans in their room attracting ants—or worse—I don’t feel loved! I feel disrespected and ignored. Daddy usually knows best…especially when the ants arrive!

So many people talk a great talk about following Jesus on Sunday, singing songs and putting money in the offering plate, but ignoring Him during the week. This is nothing new. When Saul disobeyed God, he told Samuel about the great things he did for God.

But Samuel replied:
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)

Which brings us to our passage for today.

Scripture: 1 John 2:1-6

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. (1 John 2:1a)

John speaks as a father to his children, his dear children, his spiritual children. The word “children” in the Greek is a term of endearment.

Sin is anything that separates us from God. By definition, it affects the status of that relationship. If I sin against you, our fellowship is strained. Any sin is ultimately a sin against God.

But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1b-2)

Here’s a good “but!” We all sin. We all fall short of God’s glory, His standard of perfection, His righteousness. Praise God for Jesus, the Advocate, the Righteous One who died for us. He is the propitiation for us, meaning He atoned for our sins, meaning His suffering paid for our sins. He took our punishment. The wages of sin is death, and Jesus died as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. He is the atoning sacrifice: at one moment Jesus died to reconcile us to our heavenly Dad.

This is truly good news!

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. (1 John 2:3)

Christians are not permitted to do whatever they please. They must do what pleases God. This is a radical notion, especially in our hyper-individualistic culture that says do it now, have it now, and seize your rights.

We know that we know…Him if…we keep His commands. You can’t know if you’re disobeying God. The assurance comes when we keep His commands. That brings peace. That bring joy.

Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. (1 John 2:4)

Strong words! Any mystery to what he is saying? A disobedient Christian is a liar!

Disobedience is proof we don’t know God.

Many people call themselves Christians but that doesn’t mean they are really God’s children.

Do you love God’s commands?

King David did. Perhaps that’s why he’s called a man after God’s own heart despite his own sins and shortcomings.

The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. (Psalm 19:8b)

Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. (Psalm 119:35)

Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. (Psalm 119:98)

I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands. (Psalm 119:131)

It’s easy to talk the talk, but walking the walk is another story.

The test of your car battery is not when it’s 70 degrees and sunny, but ten below zero.

The test of your patience is not when you’re relaxing at the beach, but when you’re stuck in an hour-long traffic backup.

The test of your faith is not what happens on Sunday morning, but 24 hours later when the boss—or teacher—barks out an order for you.

Jesus said…

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: (1 John 2:5)

The Word of God and the commandments of God.

The commandments are the Word of God.

The Word of God includes the commandments…and more.

Jesus said

“If you love me, keep my commands. (John 14:15)

Jesus replied,
“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23)

Children of God want to not only do the commandments but please the Father in all they do. Not “how far can I go and still be a Christian?” Is it ok for a Christian to _________? That’s the wrong question. The right question is, “What can I do to please my heavenly Father?”

Do you want to please God or yourself?

The commandments are one thing, but the word is another.

What is your attitude toward sin? What do you do when you sin?

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2:6)

Jesus is our example. He did the Father’s will. He obeyed the Father.

Do you think it pleased Jesus to die on the cross? No, but it pleased the Father.

So What?

Are you living as Jesus did? Of course we all fail to live up to His perfect standard, but each week it’s helpful to reflect, to remember, to read, to realize Jesus is the One we strive to follow.

We are not merely to obey commands but follow His example, be in fellowship with Him, do life with Him.

Jesus said the greatest thing in all of life is to

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:30)

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

E13U796O04I5BEO0