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Sermon on 1 John 3.11-24

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Sermon on 1 John 3:19-20

Title:  Having a Cardiac At Rest

Theme:  Christians may have confidence in the grace through Jesus Christ.

Goal:  to encourage believers to have confidence in grace through Jesus Christ

Need:  we often have an erosion of our confidence in grace due to others and our own hearts accusations.

Sermon

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

  Erode:  Miriam Webster’s dictionary defines it like this

 1 : to diminish or destroy by degrees:

a : to eat into or away by slow destruction of substance (as by acid, infection, or cancer)

b : to wear away by the action of water, wind, or glacial ice

c : to cause to deteriorate or disappear as if by eating or wearing away 〈inflation eroding buying power[1]

          We see erosion in nature all the time some of the grandest examples of erosion are the landscapes in the southwest united states where over time rock has been eroded by water and wind to such a point that boulders seem to be teetering on the top of the small piece of uneroded rock.   Perhaps a little push would send the boulder toppling over.

          What we hear about in our passage for this evening is a timeless problem that John had to address in this first letter.  The timeless problem is the erosion of the confidence in grace.  It’s the erosion of our confidence to say that we know we belong to Jesus Christ and belong to him because we are permitted access to eternal life by grace alone.

          At one point in our life, perhaps when we first felt the tug on our heart to join with the church and live by the power of the Holy Spirit we may have been confident and sure that we truly could do nothing to earn our salvation.  We are confident in grace.  We are confident that we can do nothing to deserve that grace and that the grace of God is accessed for me through the blood of Christ.

         

Causes of the Erosion of Our Confidence in Grace

Perhaps we were confident at one time.  But over time the confidence begins to wear away.  John mentions two different ways that our confidence in grace can be eroded.  The first one we hear in verse 13. 

The accusations of ‘the world’ (vs 13)

          Verse 13 goes like this, 1 John 3:13 (NIV)
13 Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.[2]  Obviously the church in John’s day was experiencing some outward pressure.  There were pressures from all side.  The Greeks, the Jews, the religious, the non-religious.  It was bad enough pressure from the world that John himself was exiled away on the island of Patmos for a time.  The world hates you. 

          John reminds the church of the story of Cain and Abel from genesis 4.  Cain kills Abel because Abel’s sacrifice to God was given out of reverence for God where Cain did it out of what, empty ritual or because it seemed like it might be a good idea.  The pressure from the outside is enormous.  The pressure killed Abel, and was pushing some early Christians to their breaking point. 

          We experience the outside pressure in more of a psychological way today. Little jabs here and there by people who study biology and astronomy and philosophy.  “O how quaint those antiquated Christians are.  Still believing in a real historical Jesus and a real historical death and resurrection.  Don’t they all realize that that is so 2nd millennium.  Join the 3rd millennium people.  Faith in nothing at all is where it is at.”  And the outside influences start to wear away ones confidence in grace.  Those voices of doubt.  “we can’t all be right.  What if I’m the one that’s wrong”  What if the naturalists are right and all that’s left after this is to rot and become part of the life energy of the world?

         

The condemnation by our own hearts (vs 20)

Another cause for the erosion of our confidence in grace comes from a little bit of surprising place.  John points to it in what he says in verse 20.  1 John 3:19-20 (NIV)
19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
[3] 

Whenever our hearts condemn us.  Even when we get past the outside voices, the devil manages to get our own hearts and minds to accuse us as well.  We know what that’s like.  “you haven’t been good enough.”  “Jesus wouldn’t live in this dump of a heart.  Look how much sin is in here.”  “You could have done more couldn’t you have?”  Our own hearts used as a tool against us. 

These things erode our confidence in the grace of Jesus Christ.  At its best its just a little unsettling.  At its worst it causes fear and insecurity as we fight life’s final war with pain.  Whatever sport we are at, it takes this heart that should be completely at peace with Jesus Christ This cardia needs to be at rest again.

In order to have this cardia at rest, we need to have a restoration of or confidence in the grace of Jesus Christ. 

Live generously, love generously.  Christ was generous (vs 16-18)

The first way that we can begin to have this restoration in the surety of the grace of Jesus Christ is to heed the advice of John in verses 16-18 1 John 3:16-18 (NIV)
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
[4] 

          John speaks of generosity.  We know love because Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  We know love like a builder knows wood.  We have experienced it.  We have lived it.  And the way we restore the confidence in the grace of Christ is to live out that grace to others.

          It talks about financial generosity.  Absolutely financially we can and ought to be generous.  When we freely give out of the kindness of our hearts, we get more intouch with the method that Christ used to give.  He saw us in need and he supplied that need.  We are blessed so that we can supply the need of someone else.  Live generously.  By Wednesday make the effort to step up your generosity and while you do that, think about the generosity of God.  Put meat on your love.  Put your love in action.

         

Know God is greater than even our condemning heart (vs 20)

The next way we restore our confidence in grace and have a heart at rest in that grace is to know that God is greater than even our condemning hearts.  Again verses 19-20 say, “1 John 3:19-20 (NIV)
19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
[5]

          God is greater than our hearts.  Our hearts are so unreliable yet we seem to trust them to tell us the truth.  Childhood love is so difficult because your first infatuation, your heart is telling you that girl or guy is just as enamored with you as you are with them.  Then you get up the nerve to ask them on a date and you find out your heart told you wrong.  The heart is puny compared to God.  The heart is only a part of broken creation.  God is not.  God is beyond all that.  He is greater than even our condemning heart.

          And John ties that closely with the third part in verse 20.  Its says, 1 John 3:19-20 (NIV)
19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

[6]

          He knows everything.  We can rest our hearts in the fact that no matter what pressures we face from the outside.  Or whatever doubt we have on the inside, God is the one with a perspective that is beyond.  He is outside of our time frames.  He is outside of the boxes we try to put him in. He understands concepts that freedom and grace and you can’t do anything to save yourself in ways we just don’t feel and can’t seem to accept.  But God is bigger.  He is allknowing and allpowerful.  He is the God that truly puts our hearts at rest. 

          If we put our love into action it doesn’t save us, but it can help shore up our confidence that God acts the same way generous.  Love in action with no strings attached.  When our hearts try to make us doubt and worry, just remember that the things we don’t understand are concepts created by the God who understands the ununderstandable.  He puts our hearts at rest.  Oh God, we rest these hearts in you. 

AMEN


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[1]Merriam-Webster, Inc: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed. Springfield, Mass., U.S.A. : Merriam-Webster, 1996, c1993

[2]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

[3]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

[4]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

[5]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

[6]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

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