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Faithlife

Get Real

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Good morning again Northvale family, our time this morning is changed slightly. Last week we began a two part series entitled superficial vs. supernatural faith: looking at how often God and the things of God are just superficial to us: not really real to us. And so I wanted to take a few minutes today to give some of you the chance to testify of how the real God is working, and I want to ensure to you God is working here. Sometimes there are assumptions made without realizing all that is happening behind the scenes at Northvale: how many Bible studies are occuring outside of this church, how much service is being done but not publicized: lives are changing, and the gospel is advancing. Our God is alive, he is moving, he is real. Our theme this morning is our God is real: so in response today: let’s get real with Him.
Testimonies; I again appreciate the testimonies this morning and it is something that we do not do enough of here. One of my favorite questions to ask is what is God doing in your life right now? And I just want to encourage you if ever you feel the conviction to share something God has put on your heart, to share what God is doing: just let me know and I would definitely encourage you to share with us. Last week we focused in on superficial vs. supernatural faith: it seems so common to see a belief in God that doesn’t really show true belief: it’s just superficial. As Paul wrote Timothy in : it’s an appearance of godliness that denies the power. Maybe it’s a denial of the power of the gospel, maybe a denial of the power of the spirit: to produce joy, patience, love in our life, maybe a denial of the spirit to equip us and empower us with spiritual gifts, maybe a denial of the power of the unstoppable church, maybe a denial of the power of God’s grace and love extending even to our enemies: whatever it is: it’s a superficial faith, a faith like the Pharisees that is on the surface but has no root, has no depth. We also saw how Peter demonstrated supernatural faith in , yet shortly after superficial faith when it came to the cross of Jesus, superficial faith: Jesus was saying blessed are you Simon, next get behind me Satan. Each of us, like Peter, have those times of doubt in our lives, each have those times and those areas of our life where we believe, but then the test comes and shows our belief to be quite superficial. I think it’s important to evaluate and to challenge ourselves in every area of our life: is Jesus Lord, in every area of our life: are we believing the gospel: in every area of our life: are we walking by faith? Is God real to you? Or is God some superficial being you hold on to as a crutch?
Read with me: is this real to you?
Revelation 5:11–13 ESV
11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
Revelation 5
I again appreciate the testimonies this morning and it is something that we do not do enough of here. One of my favorite questions to ask is what is God doing in your life right now? And I just want to encourage you if ever you feel the conviction to share something God has put on your heart: just let me know and I would definitely encourage you to share with us. Last week we focused in on superficial vs. supernatural faith: it seems so common to see a belief in God that doesn’t really show true belief: it’s just superficial. As Paul wrote Timothy in : it’s an appearance of godliness that denies the power. Maybe it’s a denial of the power of the gospel, maybe a denial of the power of the spirit: to produce joy, patience, love in our life, maybe a denial of the spirit to equip us and empower us with spiritual gifts, maybe a denial of the power of the unstoppable church, maybe a denial of the power of God’s grace and love extending even to our enemies: whatever it is: it’s a superficial faith, a faith like the Pharisees that is on the surface but has no root, has no depth. We also saw how Peter demonstrated supernatural faith in , yet shortly after superficial faith when it came to the cross of Jesus: Jesus was saying blessed are you Simon, next get behind me Satan. Each of us, like Peter, have those times of doubt in our lives, each have those times and those areas of our life where we believe, but then the test comes and shows our belief to be quite superficial. The testimonies, I believe help to hear how the Real God is at work, but maybe for some of you they don’t. Because maybe even when you hear a testimony: you become cynical: to the point you think yea right: that did not happen. I think it’s important to evaluate and to challenge ourselves in every area of our life: is Jesus Lord, in every area of our life: are we believing the gospel: in every area of our life: are we walking by faith? Is God real to you? Or is God some superficial belief you hold on to a crutch?
John said I saw 10,000 times 10,000 angels around the throne. That’s 100 million angels: can you even try to picture that? The population of our state is around 3 million: just imagine about 33 Arkansas: This is not make believe: right now in Heaven: 100 million angels all around the throne of God: can you even try to imagine that. That’s why were here: to join that heavenly chorus: to shout: worthy is the lamb! We are a small dot compared to this gathering of angels, but we come to say we agree: you alone are worthy to receive the power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! You can continue in this passage to see the lighting and thunder of the throne, the seven pillars of fire surrounding the throne, 100 million angels surrounding the throne. This is amazing: there is this being, this one and only God sitting on his throne with 100 million angels worshipping him and declaring worthy is the lamb. There is this God who in his sovereignty right now controls whether or not I live to preach the entirety of this message, who controls whether or not I receive oxygen to live another day, to determine precisely the rhythms of my heart. This isn’t imaginary, this is the real, awesome, powerful God.
Is God real to you? That revelation is a gift: I hope you realize: faith is a gift from the father: : by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God.” What is the gift of God: salvation: yes? But also faith. Faith is not by your own doing: it is a gift by God. I look throughout the years at how God has built my faith, how God has gifted me with faith, how God has maintained my walk of faith. It’s not me in anyway: it’s him. Some of what I say: may be yea right moments for you: but I want to tell you that the God I worship here today is not a figment of my imagination: he is real; he is alive; he is working. I’ll just give you one example from my life: namely my calling to be a preacher, and it is humiliating so you know to share some of what I share, but may I be humbled so that God may be exalted. ILL:When I was in my mother’s womb she shares that she had an overwhelming feeling that God has spoke to her and told her she was going to have a son and he would be a minister. She went to the doctor not long after who instructed her that she would have another girl. She was a bit saddened by this, not disappointed because she would be having a second girl, but disappointed because she thought she heard from God, but now it didn’t seem so. But, as she told me dad this: I love his response, he asked her: well, are you going to believe the doctor or are you going to believe God. Several weeks later: she had a little boy and they named me Byron. My mom did tell me that story as I was growing up, but I never felt pressure at all to be a minister; in fact she shared with me that this does not necessarily mean you’l be a preacher: it just means you’re going to serve God in someway: it could be youth pastor, or missionary, or pastor, or Sunday School teacher even: she just never wanted to put that pressure over my head. And there was so much of my life: I didn’t believe or didn’t want to believe what Gold told her: not about being a boy so you know; I always knew God had that gender part right; in this day and age I feel like I have to clarify there: but the ministry thing I doubted. As I grew up this whole getting up and talking in front of people: was not me, okay? This: I was not born with this at all. I was the kid with the brown bag: before having to get in class and do a book report; I could not stand it. I thought there is no way I can do this. In fact, I remember one of my first jobs I had: there was this guy that was kind of mocking me: because I rarely talked: he just started listing things I could never be because I didn’t talk: he said you could never be a politician, you could never be a sportscaster, you could never be a presenter, you could never and then he said it: a preacher. I believed him too. I got into high school, senior year and then early years of college: and I was trying to do the one foot in the ways of God and one foot in the ways of the world thing. What I really was doing was running away from God and I don’t know if you realize this: but you cannot runaway from God. You can run away and before you know it God has booked you a three day three night stay in the belly of a fish sleeping on a blubber mattress: and what I looked like was a dog on a leash: thinking he’s not on a leash: I run as fast as I can and then whiplash: I’m still in God’s hand. Praise God he never let’s go, because I sure do. Eventually there was a whiplash that got my attention: because certainly it was a time I was living with superficial faith. I was partying it up and within 3 weeks time: God wrecked my life: car wreck, $150 parking ticket (that hurts when your a college student), speeding ticket, dormitory write up:, and eventually ending up in hand cuffs and the back of a police car because I rode with one of my great buddies who was functioning about as well as Otis Campbell on a Saturday night. I didn’t want to go back to my dorm as my good Christian friend might see me wasted so I rode with someone more wasted than me. The whiplash of running away from God hurts. I repented, I humbled myself: and I surrendered to the Lord’s calling. And then within two years time: it is just amazing how God equipped me and how he used unexpected things in my life to develop me. I learned to play the guitar, and began to sing: I never sang before in my life: now I was playing, singing, and shortly after learning became very involved in a youth group in Fayeteville, began leading worship there.
Is God real to you? That revelation is a gift: I hope you realize: faith is a gift from the father: : by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God.” What is the gift of God: salvation: yes? But also faith. Faith is not by your own doing: it is a gift by God. I look throughout the years at how God has built my faith, how God has gifted me with faith, how God has maintained my walk of faith. It’s not me in anyway: it’s him. Some of what I say: may be yea right moments for you: but I want to tell you that the God I worship here today is not a figment of my imagination: he is real; he is alive; he is working. I’ll just give you one example from my life: namely my calling to be a preacher, and it is humiliating so you know to share some of what I share, but may I be humbled so that God may be exalted. ILL:When I was in my mother’s womb she shares that she had an overwhelming feeling that God has spoke to her and told her she was going to have a son and he would be a minister. She went to the doctor not long after who instructed her that she would have another girl. She was a bit saddened by this, not disappointed because she would be having a second girl, but disappointed because she thought she heard from God, but now it didn’t seem so. But, as she told me dad this: I love his response, he asked her: well, are you going to believe the doctor or are you going to believe God. Several weeks later: she had a little boy and they named me Byron. My mom did tell me that story as I was growing up, but I never felt pressure at all to be a minister; in fact she shared with me that this does not necessarily mean you’l be a preacher: it just means you’re going to serve God in someway: it could be youth pastor, or missionary, or pastor, or Sunday School teacher even: she just never wanted to put that pressure over my head. And there was so much of my life: I didn’t believe or didn’t want to believe what Gold told her: not the boy thing so you know; in this day and age I feel like I have to clarify there: but the ministry thing. As I grew up this whole getting up and talking in front of people: was not me, okay? This: I was not born with this at all. I was the kid with the brown bag: before having to get in class and do a book report; I could not stand it. I thought there is no way I can do this. In fact, I remember one of my first jobs I had: there was this guy that was kind of mocking me: because I rarely talked: he just started listing things I could never be because I didn’t talk: he said you could never be a politician, you could never be a sportscaster, you could never be a presenter, you could never and then he said it: a preacher. I believed him too. I got into high school, senior year and then early years of college: and I was trying to do the one foot in the ways of God and one foot in the ways of the world thing. What I really was doing was running away from God: and what I looked like was a dog on a leash: thinking he’s not on a leash: I run as fast as I can and then whiplash: I’m still in God’s hand. Praise God he never let’s go, because I sure do. Eventually there was a whiplash that got my attention: because certainly it was a time I was living with superficial faith. I was partying it up and within 3 weeks time: God wrecked my life: car wreck, $150 parking ticket (that hurts when your a college student), speeding ticket, dormitory write up:, and eventually ending up in hand cuffs and the back of a police car for riding with one of my great buddies who was functioning about as well as Otis Campbell on a Saturday night. I repented, I humbled myself: and I surrendered to the Lord’s calling. And then within two years time: it is just amazing how God equipped me and how he used unexpected things in my life to develop me. I learned to play the guitar, and began to sing: I never sang before in my life: now I was playing, singing, and shortly after learning became very involved in a youth group in Fayeteville, began leading worship there.
Then, one night the youth pastor asked me if I would bring the message the next week. I was one of those guys: I will sing in front of a crowd, but don’t make me talk. I promised God I would not say no: I said yes, and immediately regretted it. I still remember that first message: this was right when Walk the Line came out, a movie about Johnny Cash: so I did a message on the life of Johnny Cash, entitled walk the line: I sang probably about 5 examples of his songs: to illustrate the different stages of his life that you can see in his lyrics. I was so scared: I held my guitar the entire time, I held the microphone like this: I would look back at my wife and she was laughing her head off at me. But, it was actually not bad: I remember talking to many of the youth afterwards, it was a pretty big youth group: who God spoke to that night, God worked in that nervous kid. A few weeks after that: the youth pastor just asked a random question and invited anyone to come up and answer it: I went up and shared for about 5 minutes, remember who I am by nature: I hate that: but I came back and sat down and Shannon was just like wow, you are a really good speaker: I am, me? Something’s going on here. A bashful kid does not just wake up one morning saying you know what I want to do for the rest of my life: I want to speak in front of crowds, you don’t just wake up with that ability either, but all of a sudden: God had powerfully equipped me. It wasn’t that I practiced enough: and got it down; it wasn’t that I took a college class on speech: I never took a college class on speech: I was sure I avoided all of them. Yet, here I was, and it wasn’t long after that: I was an interim pastor here in Pyatt, and then in Jordan, and then youth pastor, and then here. It’s amazing to me what God has done. And he’s not done with me yet, he’s just beginning to reveal to me how real he is, and he certainly has much more work to do in me. How real His Spirit is within me, how real His fruit is, how real His grace is, how real His love is, how real he is. I hope that we can open our eyes to Him: to see Him: but more than that to intimately know Him.
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So, I want to charge you this morning with the title of this message: get real. Get real: take off the mask and get real; take off the hypocrisy and get real, take off the sin and get real. Maybe some here today are living a lie. Maybe some today are in the darkness: darkness Biblically speaking of confusion, or depression, or habitual sin. Let’s get real and come to the light today. And if we are just going to come into a building, sing some songs, and hear a message without getting real: let’s just forget it about, just call it a day and go home. Some perhaps are wondering why is my faith so superficial, why does the promised joy of Christianity feel so fake to me, why do I not feel close to God anymore: what you think God changed? You think God left you? You think God ceases to exist now: and is no longer real? No, there is something else going on in our hearts when we feel this way: it is a measure of hypocrisy, it is a measure of darkness, of pride, of selfishness, and of idolatry. It is failure to get real with God, and as we fail to get real with God: we fail to get real with each other: that’s why not only is our belief superficial, but so often our relationships in the church are so superficial: we’re family, right: sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. Get real. I want to share with you briefly from the book of 1 John this morning, join me if you have a copy of God’s Word:
Some of us are there today, wondering why is my faith so superficial, why does the promised joy of Christianity feel so fake to me, why do I not feel close to God anymore: what you think God changed? You think God left you? You think God ceases to exist now: and is no longer real? No, there is something else going on in our hearts when we feel this way: it is a measure of hypocrisy, it is a measure of darkness, of pride, of selfishness, and of idolatry. It is failure to get real with God, and as we fail to get real with God: we fail to get real with each other: that’s why not only is our belief superficial, but so often our relationships in the church are so superficial: we’re family, right: sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. Get real. I want to share with you briefly from the book of 1 John this morning, join me if you have a copy of God’s Word:
1 John 1:1–4 ESV
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
1 John 1:
Notice what he is saying: he’s saying this Christianity stuff is not superficial; it’s not imagination; it’s real to us: we have seen it, we have touched it, the life has been revealed to us: and so we share it with you: why: so that you may have fellowship: so that our fellowship would be real, and so your fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ would be real, and so in those things our joy may be complete. Why does John write this letter of 1 John: for fellowship with each other and God, for joy to be complete. You see John recognized there’s something missing here and our joy in this congregation is not complete. I think most of you have to recognize this: there’s something missing: what church should be is just not what we have. Why am I preaching this: as John says so that our joy, so that Northvale’s joy may be complete: how is it complete: we come to the light. But then it seems like John contradicts himself at the end of the letter because he says in
1 John 5:13 ESV
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.
Well, which is it John: it’s both. You cannot have the joy of Christian fellowship, you cannot have the joy of fellowship with God unless you have belief and you have confidence of eternal life. He’s not giving different reasons: it’s the same reason. What John writes between these to passages is just beautiful: what he does is he gives us tests throughout this epistle: here’s how you can know that you have eternal life, here’s how you can know that you don’t have eternal life: it’s a series of tests, and yet at the same time: he shows us what is stripping us of that joy of fellowship, what in our lives fills us with superficial belief rather than supernatural belief, what fills us with superficial fellowship rather than intimate, supernatural fellowship. Some of you: I think you’re asking questions that will be answered here: why do I not feel as close to God, why do I not feel joy in the body of Christ? Why is fellowship, koinoia, sharing intimacy with God and his church: just superficial to me? First, let’s look at this superficial fellowship with God:
Superficial Fellowship with God
1 John 1:5–6 ESV
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
1 Joh1:5-6n
John starts with a list of misconceptions, and the first misconception about God. He says listen God is light and in him is no darkness at all, none notta, not a drop. If we are going to escape darkness: it has to start with God. There are many today, however, that reject God as real because of the presence of darkness in the world. How can a good God allow bad to exist? How can a good God allow babies, small children to die of natural causes? How can a good God allow such events, such as: the Sandy Hook shootings, or the Columbine shootings, or the continual wars around the world taking innocent lives to occur? How could a good God allow such chaos to occur around the world? Thus, many either reject the existence of any God at all, or reject the teaching that God is 100% good when there is so much darkness in this life.
Ex. Maybe in some form you have accused God of having darkness. Maybe at some point or another while dealing with the loss of a loved one: you pointed your finger at God accusing him of darkness. Maybe you became heavy burdened physically, emotionally, financially, and so you turn to the conclusion that maybe in fact God is not all light, maybe he in fact has some darkness in him. And so you question God: is he even real? Is his goodness even real? Is his love even real? You blame God; you threaten God, and instead of bringing glory to his name as is your calling you do the very opposite: painting God with a dark side. Misconception 1: God is not light, John says: no, God is all light and in him no darkness. Now he moves that first misconception as the basis of arguing against the second misconception. “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” John is talking about a superficial fellowship. John is challenging his congregation, some false teachers namely: You say you have an intimate walk with God: you’re guilty of two things: first of all you’re guilty that you’re walking in the darkness, and secondly you’re guilty because you are a liar and not practicing truth. And maybe I should discuss briefly what it means to walk in the darkness: this walking speaks of habitual action, it speaks of continuity: it’s not stumbling, it’s walking. I think Jesus through John summarizes it well in the Gospel of :
“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” John is talking about a superficial fellowship. John is challenging his congregation, some false teachers namely: You say you have an intimate walk with God: you’re guilty of two things: first of all you’re guilty that you’re walking in the darkness, and secondly you’re guilty because you are a liar and not practicing truth. And maybe I should discuss briefly what it means to walk in the darkness: this walking speaks of habitual action, it speaks of continuity: it’s not stumbling, it’s walking. I think Jesus through John summarizes it well in the Gospel of :
What is walking in light and darkness:
John 3:19–21 ESV
19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
Walking in darkness: is loving the darkness, it’s doing wicked things, it’s rejecting the Light, Jesus, it’s hating the light, Jesus, it’s not coming to the light, Jesus, it’s living in secret so works would not be exposed.You cannot have fellowship with God while walking in the darkness: John makes that extremely clear, not only in this opening passage, but also throughout 1 John.
You cannot have fellowship with God while walking in the darkness: John makes that extremely clear, not only in this opening passage, but also throughout 1 John.
1 John 2:3–6 ESV
3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
1 John 2:3-
1 John 2:15 ESV
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1 John 3:4–10 ESV
4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
1 John 3:24 ESV
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.
John is saying there are no grey areas when it comes to God: you pursue holiness or you don’t: you belong to him or you don’t. Yet, the Christian culture that is comfortable and popular is: kind of the Carrie Underwood Christianity if you will, and this is not to put Carrie Underwood under the bus, I’m a fan. But, you know when she was really getting famous and started she came out with Jesus take the Wheel, and then another song: I dug my keys into the side of his pretty little suped up four wheel drive, carved my name into the leather seats, took a Louisville slugger to both head lights, slashed a hole in all four tire: you know you can’t have both of those: you can’t have Jesus take the wheel at the same time as I’m taking a chainsaw to my boyfriend’s steering wheel. It’s one or the other. Either Jesus is Lord of your life or he’s not.
I thought I might illustrate this a bit with a Francis Chan illustration with my own twist: so I brought some chicken poop from the house with me today. Hope you can smell it to get the full effectiveness of this illustration. Maybe this will help (turn fan on). I need you to use your imagination with me for a second: can you imagine this area up here being your living room and right in the middle there is this big pile of chicken poop? And you’re like going around (dust the furniture, spray windex, scrape one tiny spot) while there is a big pile of chicken poop. Do you see how ridiculous this is? But, I feel that’s what we do here. People are doing this, singing some songs, hearing a good message, a few bucks in the plate, meanwhile there’s this big load of disgusting junk that you never deal with, and never get real with God. And you might think that’s disgusting and crossing the line to bring chicken manure in church, first: I would challenge you to look at the object lessons God did through Isaiah and Ezekiel first, but let me also say: it is much more disgusting is to put on hypocritical masks while holding on to the filthiness of our sins. Walking in the darkness leads to a superficial relationship with God, secondly:
Walking in the darkness leads to a superficial relationship with God, secondly:
1 John 1:7 ESV
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
In the darkness we have only a superficial walk with God, but notice what else is affected by this: it’s our fellowship with one another. This is a big if: if we walk in the light, if: then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus: cleanses us from all sin. Well, what do we imply for the reverse then? If we walk in the darkness: then what: we don’t have fellowship with one another, and we don’t have a cleansing from sin: that’s the only way you can see it. Why a superficial fellowship with others, with the body of Christ: the issue goes deeper than we often do in answering that question: it’s darkness. If we need more confirmation for that: John gives it to us clearly in the rest of 1 John.
1 John 2:9–11 ESV
9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
1 John 2:
1 John 3:14–15 ESV
14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
1 John 3:14 ESV
14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
1 John 3:14-
1 John 4:20 ESV
20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
1 John 4:
These may be surprising statements to you. John makes it seem like it is absolutely impossible to have anything other than love for another believer or Christ. That is how powerful Christian fellowship is! Yet, we have all seen this form of superficial fellowship where we come in on Sundays with our nice clothes on, fake a feeling of joy to smile and shake each other’s hands and then peel out of the parking lot as fast as we can to get away from each other and go eat lunch. We think that’s fellowship? I think we struggle with a superficial belief here: that there really is no power in Christian fellowship, that there’s no power in just being united in Christ. I see that: that well I can only have fellowship with people like same age as me, I can only have fellowship with people same interests as me, I can only have fellowship if we have more fellowship events. I had that superficial belief for so long: thinking I needed a church that looked exactly like me: I need young people like me, that like the same music genre and worship style as me, I need young couples. But, I have come to realize some of my closest Christian fellowship has been with men who could be my dad, or even my grandpa, and as I get older that will turn into: even my son. Where does it come from: our fellowship with each other comes from our fellowship with the Lord, from walking in his light together. Walking in the darkness and attempting to walk in the light at the same time: yields superficial fellowship with God, superficial fellowship with each other, and third superficial righteousness.
Yet, we have all seen this form of superficial fellowship where we come in on Sundays with our nice clothes on, fake a feeling of joy to smile and shake each other’s hands and then peel out of the parking lot as fast as we can to get away from each other and go eat lunch. We think that’s fellowship? I think we struggle with a superficial belief here: that there really is no power in Christian fellowship, that there’s no power in just being united in Christ. I see that: that well I can only have fellowship with people like same age as me, I can only have fellowship with people same interests as me, I can only have fellowship if we have more fellowship events. I had that superficial belief for so long: thinking I needed a church that looked exactly like me: I need young people like me, that like the same music genre and worship style as me, I need young couples. But, I have come to realize some of my closest Christian fellowship has been with men who could be my dad, or even my grandpa, and as I get older that will turn into: even my son. Where does it come from: our fellowship with each other comes from our fellowship with the Lord, from walking in his light together. Walking in the darkness and attempting to walk in the light at the same time: yields superficial fellowship with God, superficial fellowship with each other, and third superficial righteousness.
1 John 1:8–10 ESV
8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
1 John 1:8 ESV
8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
:8-
Apparently, there were others of John’s church claiming that they were without sin, thus did not need cleansing from sin as they had no sin to be cleansed from. And to the people with this believe he replies: you are deceiving yourselves and the truth is not in you. So, if this statement is incorrect, then the opposite must be true, right? Therefore, if we say that we do have sin, we are not deceiving ourselves, and the truth is in us. You are a sinner; I am a sinner, and together we both struggle with sin. As long as we always realize that fact, and as long as we are constantly on our knees in repentance seeking Christ: we are in the truth. But, if we ever get to the point where we start making this statement in verse 8: we are in trouble; we are deceived; we are in pride, and pride is one of the ugliest, most dangerous sins of them all. The darkness produces a superficial righteousness, a religious eliteness in our eyes looking down on others and if course if you’re always looking down on others you can not look up to Him above.
Then, in verse 10: he says something very similar, again:
Apparently, there were others of John’s church claiming that they were without sin, thus did not need cleansing from sin as they had no sin to be cleansed from. And to the people with this believe he replies: you are deceiving yourselves and the truth is not in you. So, if this statement is incorrect, then the opposite must be true, right? Therefore, if we say that we do have sin, we are not deceiving ourselves, and the truth is in us. Sometimes someone will come up to me and ask me did you prepare that sermon for me: it seemed like you did; it seemed like you were talking to my exact situation. The truth is that I do know you because you are just like me. You are a sinner; I am a sinner, and together we both struggle with sin. As long as we always realize that fact, and as long as we are constantly on our knees in repentance seeking Christ: we are in the truth. But, if we ever get to the point where we start making this statement in verse 8: we are in trouble; we are deceived; we are in pride, and pride is one of the ugliest, most dangerous sins of them all.
Then, in verse 10: he says something very similar, again:
1 John 1:10 ESV
10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
This statement is very similar to the statement made in verse 8, except this one is even worse and even more ignorant. Thus, in verse 8 the argument is that one continues to sin in the present, and here in verse 10, the argument is that all have sin in their past. So, the statement is: I do not have sin in my past. This is a much nastier statement, and because of that John gives them a nastier rebuke. This time not only is the truth not in us, but also: we make him, God, out to be a liar. How so, because God said that “all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” (). Therefore, we certainly know that those making this statement do not belong to God and “the word” is not in them.
So, he says instead we must do this, verse 9: confess our sins because why: he is faithful, he is just to do what: to forgive us and to cleanse us.
What do we do then?
1 John 1:9 ESV
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
So, he says instead we must do this, verse 9: confess our sins because why: he is faithful, he is just to do what: to forgive us and to cleanse us. This is quite amazing: he’s faithful, but it does not only say he’s faithful, nor does it say he is faithful and merciful, or faithful and gracious: no he’s faithful and just. How can he be just? How can justice be done if he forgives us of our sins and rebellion. He tells us a couple of verse down:
1 John 2:1–2 ESV
1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
1 John
Propitiation is a hard word, and probably not one you use often in day to day conversation. BTW, some preachers say we should avoid words like this, don’t take people deep. I say 1) it’s my job to teach these words to you, because the richest truths of the Bible are found in the meanings of these words; and 2) if you can learn drink names at Starbucks, you can learn the meanings of these words. If my 2nd grader can learn the names of star wars characters and how to properly pronounce them: you can learn propitiation. The word “propitiation” means that a claim against you has been satisfied (literally, wrath has been absorbed and good will will has replaced ill will). For example, if you caused a traffic accident, doing several thousand dollars worth of damage to someone else’s car, they have a “charge” against you. When you pay the sum total of the damages caused to another person by your accident, that person is “propitiated.” They have no more claim against you. o Jesus propitiated the holy wrath of God against our sin by suffering the full penalty in our place. o On the cross, every ounce of penalty you and I deserved for our sin was poured into him. That’s why the cross was so bloody… “Why is it so bloody; blood is gross and gruesome.” That’s the point; your sin is gross and gruesome to God and only the blood of Jesus could pay the penalty for it.
Which leads me to the 2nd word: “Advocate.” “Advocate” is a legal term, referring to someone who argues your case before the bar of justice on your behalf. o If you are a Christian, Jesus is your advocate before the Father. He stands like there like a lawyer, pleading your case. o But what is he arguing? Usually an advocate argues your innocence. But we’ve established you don’t have any worthiness. So he argues his propitiation; his substitutionary work on your behalf. He says, “Father, you can’t hold Byron’s sin against him; I suffered the full penalty for that sin for him.” Notice vs. [9] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. o Not “merciful and kind” to forgive us our sin, but “faithful and just.” God forgives our sin not because he is lenient but because he is just. Because God is just he couldn’t demand two penalties for the same sin.
Notice vs. [9] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. o Not “merciful and kind” to forgive us our sin, but “faithful and just.” God forgives our sin not because he is lenient but because he is just. Because God is just he couldn’t demand two penalties for the same sin.
Are you in the darkness? Are you walking a superficial faith with a superficial relationship with the church and a superficial righteousness? How do we respond? We come to the light, repenting of darkness, turning from our wickedness out of love for the light and a hate for the darkness. In turning from darkness we turn from the superficial into the supernatural. We confess our sins: and he is faithful and just to forgive us, to cleanse us, to purify us. Confess. Without sugar coating it, without trying to blame the sin situation on others, without a casual approach to sin: confess. Here’s what we’re going to do: I’m going to give you a couple of minutes to be honest, completely honest before God. Because so often prayer is so habit to us: we don’t even realize how much we are lying to God and to each other, how casual we approach our sin, and how many excuses we give. I pray today you could just come before him and be real: God this was sick, this was evil, this was hypocrisy, get real with him today. David told God in : it is you and you alone I have sinned against: get real with him today. God I hate this person in my life: it’s hate, and it’s hate against you because that person was created in your image. God I have been lusting after women treating them as objects but they are your daughters, they are your children whom you love. God I have slandering others, and in turn slandering you because they belong to you. Don’t you remember : Ananias lies to Peter, Peter says you didn’t lie to me: you lied to the Holy Spirit. Don’t you remember : Jesus asked Paul: Paul why are you persecuting me: Paul was persecuting people not Jesus. Listen your sin against anyone is always a sin against God. Get real with him, come before him, and lay it all before him. If you can’t do that today: perhaps our statement is like that of what John is rebuking.
2 Timothy 1:5 ESV
5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.
1 Peter 1:22 ESV
22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,
Pride
Selfishness
Idolatry: Eyes on the World
Revelation 5
Revelation 5 ESV
Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
; ; ; John 1
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