In today’s blog I am switching formats from a virtual worship service with songs and a video message to a blog remembering our glorious and free country and the homegoing of my mother-in-law Liesa. She was a dedicated servant of God and His Son Jesus Christ. If you want to find our live worship service visit our Facebook click here.
I have always been a huge fan of Canada Day because I am Canadian eh? I was born in Canada’s centennial year which puts me into the class of the centennial babies of 1967. This year we celebrated Canada’s one hundred and fifty-third year of Confederation and God’s Dominion of our land from sea to sea to sea. If you would have had the opportunity to ask me how I enjoyed the Day I would have told you it was a celebration like no other I have ever experienced in my life.
As a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the midst of COVID-19, I was looking for a day to just unwind and enjoy a restful celebration. I was hoping it would have been a fun-filled social distancing visit with family, at a cottage. The LORD had something else in mind.
During the initial months while COVID-19 was emerging as a threat to the world, my mother-in-law had her own battle with cancer. Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, her biological clock was ticking away toward her homegoing to be with her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in Heaven.
It was my prayer that mom would make it beyond the COVID crisis to her 85th birthday in August. Instead God took mom home on Canada’s birthday. How fitting it was for mom to depart on this day. Like many immigrants she came to Canada in 1956 from her war torn country of Germany to start a new life with her newlywed husband. The fifties were very prosperous years for North Americans and countless Germans immigrated to North America with their exceptional trades and hard working ethic. It was a win-win situation.
Liesa and her husband ended up in Hamilton where they began their family of four children (the youngest daughter became my beautiful bride). God faithfully provided for them and revealed His love to them more and more each day. By God’s grace, Liesa began a more intimate, “born again love relationship” with God in the fellowship of believers who would form the German Mission Baptist.
Liesa’s full-surrender-conversion to Christ Jesus meant she put God first in all her plans, hopes and relationships. Her God given talents and gifts were used to bless God, family, church, neighbourhood and country. She became a shining witness for Jesus telling children and anyone who would listen the importance of God’s saving grace through Jesus’ death on the cross. She was a witness by her actions of love and her continuous prayers. Her own children heard the message of Jesus’ salvation and were saved one by one.
Fast forward to today! I thank God for this special woman who also had a huge impact on my life. She encouraged my faith and my call, with her daughter Marion, into pastoral ministry. My wife’s endless zeal to serve Jesus, love mankind and to love Jesus’s Body of believers was modeled by her mother. This love for Jesus and this love for Canada was well celebrated on Canada Day 2020 when mom was taken to her eternal home after she fought the good fight and kept her faith.
The apostle Paul wrote in his second letter to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV)”
What glory to enter the presence of the Almighty and fully know the truth of His love!! That is worth celebrating forever!! Eh?
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV).” Do you know God’s everlasting love? Why not bow your head in prayer and ask Jesus to be your LORD and Saviour right now. Just say, “Jesus thank you for dying on the cross for my sin. Thank you for forgiving me. I want to follow you now with my whole heart and life. Thank you for your endless love. Make me into the person you want me to be so that I can serve You and share your love with this world. AMEN”
Aufwiedersehen mom! I love you and miss you today, but we will see you again soon.
I will be taking the next two weeks off to be with family and prepare for mom’s celebration of life service on Monday, July 27 at Mission Baptist Church in Hamilton. God bless you!
What to watch for below: I hope you have found these video messages to be encouraging and challenging in these past four months. This video worship service will be my last one unless we have to close the church in the future. This has been quite the trying time for us as a church body along with so many other sister churches around the globe. The pandemic is not over, but opportunity for live services and live streaming will arrive next week. You can visit www.calvarybiblechurch.ca for more info before Sunday, July 19th. God bless you as you worship with the videos below. Until we meet again either here on earth or in Heaven! Revelation 4. Keep Jesus the centre of your life!
Sermon Manuscript: Do We Know Him? Does He Keep Us Calm?
I am experiencing a sad-happy if that makes any sense to you. These online videos and messages from www.gregandluke923.life are coming to an end. I have had some fun with my daughter in creating these videos, but we now are in the process of nailing down the details to live stream our services. I am happy to announce that our live, onsite church services are resuming on July 19th with the capability of live streaming. Live streaming information will be forthcoming next week. A mass email will be sent out with more instruction.
Overall, I praise God that the pandemic in our Lanark county has been kept to a minimum and resuming church services has become a viable option for now. Keep praying about this “new normal.”
I write this message today with a bit of sadness. The sadness, that is in my heart, is based on the truth that we have come to the end of the apostle John’s letter. John’s Holy-Spirit-inspired-letter, which is Holy Scripture to us today, has been a perfect “Word” in guiding us away from false teaching and leading us into the truth about being children of a loving God who sent His Son to bring salvation and eternal life to everyone who believes in Him. 1 John 3:16 is one of the main verses that sums up the purpose of this letter – it reads, “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 and sisters.”
Take the time to reread this powerful letter. As you do so, take note of the times the apostle says, “I write” and be encouraged that no matter what you face in life you can have the assurance of salvation because we serve a living, loving and all-powerful God.
Do you believe in God’s testimony about His Son? Marvel at these following verses and accept them into your heart from 1 John 5:11-12, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” Do you believe Jesus Christ to be God’s Son? If you want eternal life fall in love with God’s Son and accept Him as your Saviour and LORD today! Pray these words to Him, “Jesus, I love you! Forgive me of my sins! I turn to you now, I deny myself, I take up my cross and follow You (Luke 9:23)!”
Keep Calm and Carry On
My first blog (or personal website post) occurred on March 18, 2020 just as our country went into lockdown and into a state of emergency to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In the midst of the panic and the unknown I was reminded of those black T-shirts or posters that proclaimed “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
Here is how I ended my first blog, “It’s like looking at our dark world at night with a LED flashlight and we can see a number of metres ahead of us. We can stumble along if we are not careful, but when the sun comes up in the morning how useful is our flashlight? The Sun out shines the little flashlight and darkness is dispelled around us. The Son of God outshines the little hope or the little faith we have when burdened by the circumstances around us. Let’s keep calm and carry on as we keep Jesus the main Light to our daily experience and marvel at how He loved the Father and how God brought Him through all His challenges right to the resurrection from the grave!” John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
My words above, and John 17:3, are appropriate commentary for the apostle John’s final written words in His first letter to the churches in Asia Minor. Look for the connections in the “we know” statements as you read 1 John 5:18-21, “18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. 19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”
Let us look at the three “we know” affirmations, as believers in Jesus, and how they can “keep us calm and help us carry on” no matter what comes our way…come hell, high water or a pandemic.
Three “We knows” that Keep us Calm
1. We know to be born of God means not to continue in sin
Verse 18 makes this first affirmation, “18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.” As we saw in chapter 1 of John’s letter, a child of God is not immune to sin, but it is no longer their nature to sin habitually. In other words, the born again Christian when he or she sins comes under such heartfelt conviction that they have to repent because they have been freed from the shackles of sin and do not want sin to impede their relationship with God or with others. The devil wants to “keep” the believer in a sin cycle believing that a child of God can be immobilized by the entanglements of sin. However, God affirms here in verse 18 that the One (Jesus) born of God will “keep” (original Greek tereo – watch out for and guard) the children of God from the evil one and bring safety and security to them.
On August 13, 2004, Hurricane Charley brought fierce destruction to areas of Florida. During the storm, 25-year-old Danny Williams went outside to seek protection under the branches of a 55-year old banyan tree. Friends and family said that the protective branches of the spreading tree had been a favorite peaceful place for the Fort Meyers man. But on that day, his place of safety became a death trap. The tree fell on Williams and killed him.
Sometimes, the places and situations we look to for protection can ultimately be the most harmful. (Source: First Coast News)
If you are born of God, how is your faith doing in the midst of the devil’s temptations? Do you think you can outwit, outplay or outlast the devil? Take my advice and run to safety into God’s fortress of security and protection. When you solely trust in God, He will keep you from harm so that you can carry on.
The second “we know” in this passage that keeps us calm is…
2. We know to be children of God is to be under God’s control not the evil one.
Verse 19 makes this second affirmation, “19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” This verse draws clear lines of identity for the child of God. A child of God is not under the devil’s control. God keeps his children from the control of the devil. This is done by the Holy Spirit continually convicting us of sin, leading us to repentance and warning us of worldly lusts and its trappings (John 16:8-11, Romans 12:1, 2).
Theologian John R. W. Stott (The Letters of John: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries) wrote, “The evil one does not “touch” the Christian, but the world is helplessly in his grasp…Everyone is therefore either of God or under the control of the evil one. There is no third category.”
The apostle Paul agrees with John’s affirmation in his letter to the church in Corinth – 1 Corinthians 10:13, “13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
God will keep you from the control of the devil by always providing a way out. Are you in a difficult situation in life where you might be suffering abuse or under the unhealthy control of someone? Ask God to keep you in His strength and help you to take the way out even if it means separation from an abusive relationship. God wants to bring healing to you and the person or spouse who is trying to control you. Is there someone you can trust and talk to for help? Have a chat with your pastor or a spiritual leader in your church who genuinely cares about you. Freedom from the devil’s control and schemes is John’s second affirmation for the believer.
The third affirmation is…
3. We know the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is the true God and eternal life
Verse 20 makes this third and final affirmation, “20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”
This affirmation is the most foundational one for a child of God’s faith because it assures him or her that Jesus (the Son of God) has come in the flesh and He has given understanding to know God. The result is we may intimately know Jesus and be included in His relationship with the true God – His Heavenly Father. This brings us back full circle to John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Jesus and God the Father are One.
Do you know Jesus as God’s Son? If so then you have a relationship with God the Father and you have eternal life. This is the best news you will ever here and believe. This truth and affirmation will help you become an overcomer in the heartaches and trials of this world.
The final exhortation John gives to the churches is verse 21, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” God will keep us from the devil’s harm and from his control as we remain in His Son. The best way to remain in His Son, or be kept safe in His Son, is to “keep ourselves from idols.” Can you list some idols the Early Church in John’s day were tempted by? The idols could have been: self-ambition, self-righteousness, sexual immorality, other religions such as Roman or Greek gods and goddesses, power, wealth, materialism, jealousy, drunkenness etc. (Galatians 5:19-21).
19th century Preacher D.L. Moody said, “You don’t have to go to heathen lands today to find false gods. America is full of them. Whatever you love more than God is your idol. (D.L. Moody – in Who said that? By George Sweeting, p. 270).
As we conclude this series on the first letter of John, ask the Holy Spirit to point out any idols in your life and bring them in submission to God so that they will not have a hold on you and give the devil a foothold in your life. Resist the devil in these uncertain times. Draw near to God and the devil will flee (James 4:6-8).
Blessings to you as we see the Day approaching and Jesus, the Son of God, will reign forever and ever. Keep calm and carry on in Jesus! AMEN!
What to watch for below: In today’s virtual service, you will have the option to listen to worship music and join with open hearts in praise singing. This blog post is also a continuation of last week’s lesson from the apostle John’s letter ~ 1 John 5:13-15. Due to the stress in getting our church sanctuary opened at 30%, the messages on this passage are incomplete and thus need help from author Robert J. Morgan and his book, 100 Bible Verses: Everyone should know by heart. I did not ask him permission to post excerpts of his book, but by faith I have included the necessary copyright information so that you can purchase his book. I’m assuming Mr. Morgan will be grateful for this. As you come to the end of this service, don’t forget to pray with me. God is good and He loves to hear His children pray!
100 Bible Verses ~ Robert J. Morgan (page 82-83)
Copyright c 2010 by Robert J. Morgan
Published by B&H Publishing Group
18. 1 John 5:15
And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.
The Bible is full of facts about prayer; it’s the world’s greatest text-book on the subject. Here, near the end of Scripture, are two verses that seem to sum up the subject – 1 John 5:14-15. Notice the sustained repetition that drives this passage into our hearts.
This is the confidence . . . we know . . .we know.
Whenever we ask . . . whatever we ask.
Anything according to His will.
He hears . . . He hears . . . we have.
Archbishop Trench said, “We must not conceive of prayer as an overcoming of God’s reluctance but as a laying hold of His highest willingness.” It’s great to pray spontaneously throughout the day, before meetings, at stressful times, prior to responding in tense situations. But we need a regular time each morning and/or evening for a daily scheduled appointment with God. There we praise Him, confess our sins to Him, and bring to Him our needs. God often says yes to our requests. Sometimes it’s no or wait. But this is our confidence: He hears . . . He hears . . . We know . . . We have.
When God says No
Abraham earnestly prayed that Ishmael would become the son of promise and the heir of his legacy, BUT God said no. He had something better, a line of descent through the boy Isaac.
Moses earnestly prayed to cross the river Jordan with the children of Israel, but God said no. He had a younger leader named Joshua and a better promised land for the aged Moses.
David prayed earnestly for the joy of building a temple to the Lord, but God said no. He had something better- for David to plan the project and for his son Solomon to do the work.
Jonah prayed earnestly that he would die, but God said no. He had something better- for Jonah to learn the lessons of compassion and write it down in a book that would thrill the ages.
The healed demonic in Mark 5 prayed that he could travel around as a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, but the Lord said no. He had something better- that he go home to his friends and tell them what great things the Lord had done for him and had shown him mercy.
The apostle Paul prayer earnestly to be healed form his disease, which he described as a thorn in the flesh. But God said no. He had something better- for Paul to discover the all-sufficiency of His grace.
Jesus prayed earnestly that the cup of suffering would pass from Him, but God said no. He had something better- that a fountain would be opened for all the world for the forgiveness of sin.
I never prayed sincerely for anything, but it came, at some time… somehow, in some shape. -Adoniram Judson
Click the arrow below to hear the closing prayer. Blessings in Jesus!
What to watch for: In today’s video you will get a tour of our church set up and the message continues in 1 John 5. Enjoy the worship songs as well and listen to God speak to you. Don’t forget the closing prayer.
100 Bible Verses ~ Robert J. Morgan (page 80-81)
Copyright c 2010 by Robert J. Morgan
Published by B&H Publishing Group
1 John 5:14
This verse and the next offer one of the Bible’s best definitions of prayer. It’s easy to memorize when you notice how the verses unfold and expand. The meaning and marvel of prayer grows deeper and more practical as phrase builds upon phrase. Prayer is…
Coming before Him.
Coming before Him with confidence.
Coming before Him with confidence and asking.
Coming before Him with confidence and asking according to His will.
Coming before Him with confidence and asking according to His will, knowing that He hears us.
Writing near the end of the Bible and at the end of the apostolic age, the apostle John wanted us to know something about the biblical promises related to prayer. They are all conditioned by God’s will. In his Gospel, for example, John quoted Jesus as saying, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:14 NIV). Anything is a huge word, and perhaps some of John’s readers had taken it a bit too literally. So in 1 John 5:14, he reminds us that the promise of answered prayer is dependent on the phrase “according to His will.”
From the perspective of infinity, our God knows what’s best from beginning to end. He sees the outcomes of every chain reaction in life. He knows how the dominoes fall and how the cookies crumble. His perfect, providential oversight makes no mistakes and always results in the best for His children.
Our vantage point is as limited as a person who’s fallen into a hole and can only see a circle of sky above him. We don’t always know the landscape, and we can’t see distant vistas. So we pray earnestly and ask God for our needs, our wants, our wishes, and our desires. But we always pray with the attitude, “if it be Your will.” In that we can have total confidence.
Sometimes when I purchase roses or plants from a nursery catalog, there’s a little box on the order form saying, “If we are out of the item you want, may we substitute one of equal or greater value? I always say no, because I don’t think the workers in the warehouse know what’s best for my garden. But with the LORD we should always say, “Yes, LORD! You may substitute. You may grant an alternative answer of equal or greater value. I trust You with substitutions.”
The purpose of prayer is to get God’s will done…The greatest prayer any one can offer is “Thy will be done.” It will be offered in a thousand different forms, with a thousand details, as needs arise daily. But every true prayer comes under those four words – S. D. Gordon
What to watch for below: This post is dedicated to our Gracious Father in Heaven and to our earthly fathers as we celebrate Father’s Day today. Enjoy worshiping our Good Father with the songs below. May the video message encourage you to be a witness for God’s Son. Before you go, take a moment to pray with me during the closing prayer and if you want to dig deeper the sermon manuscript is available. God bless all our fathers!
This morning we want to honour our fathers. If there is one thing that we were created to experience in this life, it is the love of a father. It seems the love from a mother is something that is more guaranteed inherently and instinctively, but every child needs the presence of a loving father to help them be ready to face the world.
This may or may not have been true for you, but for me my father was one of the greatest witnesses of my life. He was present to witness the first day of my life. He was there to see my first steps and save me from walking into danger. He witnessed and guided my first solo bicycling run without training wheels. He witnessed birthday after birthday. He was present at the most significant times of my life – my High School graduation, baptism, my lowest moments in illness, my wedding, my university graduation, witness my move out west, witnessing me hold my first child, my graduation from seminary and witness the places where I served the LORD over the years.
I am profoundly grateful for having a father who has been a faithful witness and encouragement in my life.
Was this true for you? It was true for Jesus.
In my series of sermons from the First Letter of John, today’s passage has an important message to fathers. It is this: God was a faithful support to His Son be the same for your children. Let’s explore this as we read 1 John 5:6-12,“This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
S.D. Gilbert was quoted saying, “It may be hard on some fathers not to have a son, but it is so much harder on a boy not to have a father.” Source: King Me, Steve Farrar
Maybe you have noticed in this passage that there is a word that repeats itself a number of times. It is the word – “testimony.” This word comes from the original Greek word “marturia” which can also be translated to “witness.” In the Jewish religion according to Deuteronomy 19:15, “A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”
It is in this passage that the apostle John wants to establish the truth that there was enough testimony to confirm the true identity of Jesus being the incarnate Son of God. He presents three witnesses. Let us hear from these witnesses.
Three Witnesses of Jesus as the Incarnate Son of God
1. The Water testifies of Jesus’s Ministry
John brings this forward in verses 6, ““This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.” Commentators believe the water John is referring to refers to Jesus’s baptism.
Jesus’s ministry began at the Jordan River when He came forward to be baptized by John the Baptist. He did not come to be baptized for the washing or repentance of His sins for He was sinless. He came forward so that His Heavenly Father could bless and initiate His ministry with His Spirit’s power and presence. The apostle Matthew records it this way in His gospel Matthew 3:16,17, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Three important phrases every father needs to express to His children are found in this last verse: 1) This is my son or my child – this gives foundational identity and the importance of belonging; 2) whom I love – this gives a child support, acceptance and care; and finally 3) with him (her) I am well pleased – this gives a child confidence, assurance, blessing and proper initiation into living out your life. This is what Jesus needed from His Father in heaven to empower Him in His life and ministry.
Fathers, when was the last time you empowered your child with your presence, love and blessing? Can you say to your child, “I’m proud to be your father, I love you and I bless you!” These words will do wonders for your child’s well-being and future. Jesus needed it – how much more your child?
Here is a side note: Have you been baptized? Your baptism is a beautiful time to publicly profess your faith in Jesus, but it is also a time for your Heavenly Father to say the same words over your life, “This is my child, whom I love; with him or her I am well pleased.”
2.The Blood testifies of Jesus’s Death
The second witness that testified that Jesus is the Son of God is the blood. Again, from verse 6 we read, “He did not come by water only, but by water and blood.”
The apostle John emphasizes that Jesus is not only declared the Son of God at His baptism, but He is also declared the Son of God at His death on the cross. When Jesus blood was spilled at the cross it broke the curse of sin over us.
The death and suffering of Jesus is very important for John to state here because the false teachers of his day were promoting the idea that the Spirit that descended on Jesus at His baptism left Jesus before He suffered and died. They did not believe in a substitutionary death for mankind. John is reaffirming that Jesus was fully God incarnate at His death.
Jesus had to be the perfect substitute for us. God paid for our freedom by the blood of His Son. The apostle John wrote this in the previous chapter – 1 John 4:10, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
The apostle Paul joins in this chorus of love from God the Father in Romans 6:32, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”
How do we respond to this love? How do we respond to God sacrificing His Son for us? I love this quote from C.T. Studd, ““If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” Fathers, how are you leading your children in living sacrificial lives for God?
3. God the Father testifies that His Son is Life
The water and the blood (Jesus’s baptism and death) are witnesses of Jesus being the Son of God, and the third witness is God the Father Himself. John wrote in verses 11 & 12, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
God is testifying to all mankind that Eternal Life is in His Son. If you accept Jesus as God’s Son, if you believe He is the Christ, you too will have this eternal life and God’s testimony of Jesus will be in you. John brings home this truth in verse 10, “Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony.” Jesus was revealed to be this Eternal Life when God raised Him from the dead on the third day.
Have you accepted this testimony from God about His Son? It is not enough that you accept my words about Jesus being the Son of God you need to say, “God I accept your testimony about Jesus that He is your Son and that He is eternal Life. I believe Him to be my Saviour and my LORD.”
Why is this important to accept God’s testimony about His Son? John says in verse 9, “We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.” Do you have God’s testimony about Jesus in your heart?
God was present in Jesus’ life as a loving Father. Not only did God empower Jesus at His baptism, He gave Jesus the strength to endure the cross, and finally He raised His Son back to life revealing that He is eternal life and that life is in His Son. Can you see the love of God the Father for His Son? Are you now a witness for Jesus Christ?
I once read a story about an 11-year-old boy who bundled up on a rainy, cold Sunday afternoon to pass out gospel tracts about salvation through Jesus. His father who was a pastor said, “Son, it is very cold outside, and it is pouring down rain. The surprised son replied, “But Dad, aren’t people still going to hell even though it is raining?” The son convinced his father to let him go out alone. After two hours of walking in the rain, he was soaking wet. With one final tract he approached the nearest house and rang the doorbell. He rang it again and again with no response. Finally, the door slowly opened, and a very sad-looking woman said, “What can I do for you son?” With a smile he said, “Ma’am, I just want to tell you that Jesus really loves you, and I want to give you my last Gospel tract that will tell you all about Jesus and His great love.” The following Sunday morning the pastor asked if anyone had a testimony to share. A woman stood up and said, “Last Sunday I no longer had any hope or will to live. So, I went to my attic and prepared to hang myself. As I stood on a chair with a rope tied around my neck, I was about to jump, but then I heard the doorbell ringing. I thought I would wait until it stopped, but it kept on ringing. Finally, I loosened the rope and went to answer the door. I could hardly believe my eyes! The most radiant, angelic boy I had ever seen stood there telling me that Jesus loved me. I accepted the tract he offered me and became a Christian.” (Lou Nicholes – Author and Missionary).
Fathers let us encourage our children to be witnesses for Jesus and do it by example. Happy Father’s Day! You are loved!
What to watch for below: Today you will be brought into the presence of our awesome God through worship. Prepare your heart to meet the LORD Jesus as you sing the songs below, watch the video message and read His Word. Don’t forget to pray with me in the closing prayer and give thanks to God that soon we will be together in worship again!
Click the arrow below to hear the closing prayer
Sermon Manuscript:Everyone Who Believes Jesus is the Christ
I have a grandson who is learning to speak more words as he makes the quick transition from being a baby into a little toddler. One of his favorite words is “moon.” I just love the way he drags out the word – “moooon” and then he looks up in the sky hoping to see it. “Mooon!”
In 2024 Nasa is hoping to put the next astronauts on the moon in preparation for a greater expedition to Mars. It is their hope to create a new space station that will orbit the moon from which they will then send astronauts to Mars. They are calling this new space station “Gateway.” Once the astronauts reach Gateway, they will then get into another space craft that will either take them to the moon or to Mars.
I don’t know about you, but there are days I would like to leave the pains and disappointments of this Earth and be transported to a new peaceful frontier. You may realize that we live in a broken, sinful world doomed to destruction. The root of the problem is “sin.” Sin separates us from God and from each other. Sin simply disobedience to God because the focus is on self and self-gratification.
Jesus came to save us from our sin and one day to deliver us from the presence of sin entirely. In other words, every believer in Jesus has the hope of leaving this Earth and living in God’s paradise where there will be no sin. Nasa can have the moon and Mars, but my sights are being in God’s presence a new Heaven and a new Earth as the apostle John saw in Revelation 21.
In my series of sermons, in the First Letter of John, the apostle John continually upholds the importance of faith, love and obedience as identity markers for the child of God. John does the same in today’s passage. Read this passage from 1 John 5:1-5, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”
According to this passage there are four significant changes that occur to everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ. These changes point back to an authentic faith.
Four Changes for The Believer in Christ
1. New Identity
The first change for the believer is a change in “identity.” Every believer gets a new identity. John launches this truth in verse 1a, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God…” Jesus told a Pharisee named Nicodemus as John records it in his Gospel in John 3:5,6, “Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” This is a birth from above where the Holy Spirit, upon the believer’s confession of faith in Jesus, brings new life and forgiveness of sins.
If you have ever confessed Jesus as your Saviour from your sin and acknowledge Him as the Son of God, then you are born of God and becoming God’s new creation. Paul says this in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Dr Neil Anderson from Freedom in Christ Ministries puts it this way, Suppose that you are a prostitute. One day you hear that the king has decreed that all prostitutes are forgiven. Since you’re a prostitute, that’s great news! But would it necessarily change your behavior or your self-perception? Probably not. You may dance in the streets for a while, but chances are you would continue in your same vocation. You would see yourself as nothing more than a forgiven prostitute.
Now suppose the king not only forgave you, but he made you his bride as well. You’re a queen. Would that change your behavior? Of course. Why would you want to live as a prostitute if you were a queen?
The church is the bride of Christ! You are far more likely to promote the kingdom if you are the queen rather than a forgiven prostitute.
As a one who is born of God, how well are you living out of your new identity? How grateful are you for being born of God?
2. New Family
The second change is a change in “family.” Every believer gets a new family. John observes this truth in verse 1b, “and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.” We are not saved from our sin to live in isolation. We are saved to live together as a family. The apostle Paul supports this truth in Romans 12:5, “so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
If we neglect the fact that we need to love our brothers and sisters in the LORD, then we are not free from our selfishness. It is like saying, “God I want you as my Heavenly Father, but I don’t want to be associated with your kids.” I want you on my terms and not on yours.
C.S. Lewis, in his book The Four Loves wrote – To love at all is to be venerable. 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 or 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 only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers…of love is Hell. C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1960, p.169.
How well you love God’s children is a reflection on how well you love God the Father. Is there anything preventing you from loving a brother or sister in the LORD? You may not like them. They may not be your closest friend, but you must love them because you are family and it pleases the Father to stay united as one body. Who do you need to love more in God’s family? Who do you need to forgive?
3. New House Rules
The third change is a change in “house rules.” Every believer gets new house rules that are not burdensome. John informs us of this in verses 2 and 3, “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”
It would be marvelous if upon our profession of faith in Jesus that we would be the perfect child and perfect lover of God’s family. The truth is we need a progressive transformation from our old habits into our new holy habits. This is called “sanctification.” God wants to mature us by giving us the power of His Holy Spirit to be more like His Son Jesus. This is done by obeying God’s commands which leads to His desired character for you.
Dr. B.J. Miller once said, “It is a great deal easier to do that which God gives us to do, no matter how hard it is, than to face the responsibilities of not doing it.” Today in The Word, November, 1989, p.11.
God’s house rules are well summed up in the “Greatest Commandments and the Golden Rule.” They are found in Mark 12:30, 31,“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” And Matthew 7:12,“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
How well are you keeping God’s house rules? Is the world around you a better place because of it? Do people take notice?
4. New Freedom
Finally, the fourth change is a change in “freedom.” Every believer overcomes the world as they live in God’s kingdom both now and when Christ returns. John gives this breakthrough in verses 4 and 5, “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”
This new freedom is like being free of this Earth’s gravity. As long as we live on this Earth this world’s secular humanistic philosophies and postmodern viewpoints war against our Biblical, Christ-centred worldview. It is by faith that we keep resisting temptation to fall under its influence and hold on us. Final sanctification will happen when we overcome the presence of sin. We have the victory in Jesus now, but every day we need to appropriate that victory. Every day we need to be overcomers by faith. Jesus has given us all we need to overcome by remaining focused on Him and His Word in the power of the Holy Spirit.
One of the most tragic events during the Reagan Presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept.
Marine Corps Commandant Paul X Kelly visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt, Germany, hospital. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, severely wounded in the incident. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man; yet he survived.
As Kelly neared him, Nashton, struggling to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the Commandant. On the slip of paper were but two words — “Semper Fi” the Latin motto of the Marines meaning “forever faithful.” With those two simple words Nashton spoke for the millions of Americans who have sacrificed body and limb and their lives for their country — those who have remained faithful. J. Dobson & Gary Bauer, Children at Risk, Word, 1990, pp. 187-188.
Are you inspired by the apostle John to remain forever faithful? Verse 5,“Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” This is the person who continually entrusts their spiritual wellbeing to Christ. Is that you? Entrust your life to Jesus right now and He will help you to overcome.
Do you need a break from the bad news this world offers? Do you feel like leaving it all behind? Put your faith thrusters on the truths that the apostle John gave us today and find yourself lifting off from the negativity of this world into God’s kingdom reality for you. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has a new identity, a new family, new house rules and a new freedom both now and forevermore. This news is too good to keep to yourself share it with someone this week.
What to watch for below: We have entered another month hoping for the lifting of restrictions and anticipating meeting again. Until then may today’s video and written message be an encouragement to you. Please find a couple worship songs to magnify our great God and King followed by God’s messages as placed upon my heart and a closing prayer. Pray for the peace of our nations among all peoples which is perfectly possible in Christ alone. Come LORD Jesus and bring your everlasting Kingdom!
Have you ever met a person in your travels and your first impression of him or her was, “I wonder if that person is a believer in Jesus?” What was the evidence that tipped you off in this direction? Was it kindness? Was it courtesy? Was it friendliness? Was it a caring nature? Many of these characteristics do point to a person being a believer in Jesus, but are they enough to make that conclusion? I have met some genuinely nice and kind people who are not Christian at all. In fact, they are of other religions or have no religion at all.
How can somebody know if a person is actually a believer in God? This is an important question to answer because just as there are many nice people in our communities who are not believers in Jesus Christ so also there are a lot of people who attend church on a regular basis who are not believers in Jesus. These unbelieving church-goers go to church because their spouse, parent or grandparent make them go. They could be coming because they want to know more about God but have yet to receive Jesus as their Saviour and LORD. They could also be going to church because they treat it like a social club.
The apostle John wanted the churches who received his letter to look for evidence of a person’s salvation. These evidences can be revealed by answering this question, “How do we know God lives in us and we in Him?”
The apostle John answers this in 1 John 4:13-21, “This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
How do we know that we have a love relationship with God where He is living in us and we in Him? John gives us two reasons in this passage.
How do we know God is living in us and we in Him?
1. God has given us His Spirit
In verse 13, John makes it quite clear, “This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.” The apostle John records Jesus saying these words in his gospel, John 14:15-18, ““If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
When the Holy Spirit is given to a person, He enables faith and that person can see who Jesus really is. In 1 John 4:14 and 15, the disciples were able to recognize who Jesus really was, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.” The presence of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life is not just about niceties and good behaviour it is about acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God. Do you acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God? Do you acknowledge Him as your Saviour and LORD? If so, then you can have the assurance that the Holy Spirit has been given to you and He lives in you and you are saved. You are a child of God!
You can also know the Holy Spirit is given to you because He enables love. In verse 16, John continues, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
The story is told about a little boy who was flying a kite. It was a windy day, and the kite kept going higher and higher. Finally, it got so high that it was out of sight. A man passed by and saw the little boy holding onto the string. The man could not see the kite, and he asked the boy, “How do you even know you have a kite up there?” The boy replied, “Because I can feel it.” Source: A Firm Foundation, Paul Chappell.
Although we cannot see the Holy Spirit, we know He is given to us because we have this compelling love, this compassion, tugging on our hearts to tell people about Jesus. Is this true for you?
This leads us to the second reason we know God lives in us and we in Him…
2. God has given us His “Perfect” Love
John speaks about our love maturing and developing for God. It is not that our love will be perfect this side of heaven, but we can experience God’s perfect love in us and through us leading us to a greater love for God and for our brothers and sisters in the LORD. We will know that we have this perfected love in two ways.
First, we will have this confidence before God. In verse 17, “This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” The word confidence comes from the Greek word “parresia” which is an “unshrinkable boldness.”
John is making a radical statement about children of God here, “in this world we are like Jesus.” Therefore, just as Jesus the Son of God was dearly loved by His Father in Heaven, we (as the children of God) have the same love from our Heavenly Father. This means we can come boldly to our Heavenly Father and relate to Him, talk to Him and ask for what we need. We are not objects of God’s wrath which means we will not suffer on the Day of Judgment. Do you have this confidence of God’s love?
Secondly, we know that we have this perfected love because this confidence of God’s love drives out fear. John wrote in verse 18,“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
John is telling us that fear and love cannot coexist together. Love that has confidence or assurance in being a child of God does not hide from God in fear. This love is “complete” in its focus on God. This love has reached its goal in being without fear and thus has been perfected.
Pastor and Theologian John Piper says, “this perfected love is not flawless love. Perfected love is when you don’t just talk about the need to share Christ, you do it. It’s when you don’t just talk about the hungry, you feed them. It’s when you don’t just talk about floundering new believers, you disciple them. And so on. (Perfect Love Drives Out Fear – desiringgod.org)
Application – Do you have confidence in approaching God as your Heavenly Father? Is your love fearless? If not, come to God now and receive His Son Jesus as your Saviour from your sin and accept Jesus as Your LORD.
We know that God is living in us and we are living in Him by giving us His Holy Spirit and His perfect love to mature us in loving others.
John concludes this passage by giving us a lie detector test. We find it in verses 20 and 21, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
Have you ever been hurt by a brother or sister in the LORD? If not, you will be. As your pastor, I may have hurt you. And if I have, I am deeply sorry. Children of God are not perfect this side of Heaven. When you are hurt by a brother or sister your response should never be hatred instead it should be forgiveness. Someone has said, “we are most like God when we forgive.” Who do you need to forgive today?
How do we know God lives in us and we live in Him? God has given us His Holy Spirit, His perfect love, and in response we love and forgive our brothers and sisters when they hurt us. Perfect love drives out fear and hatred. As a child of God, make that your motto this week and live it!
What to look for below…Today’s video presentation is centred on God’s love based on the scripture passage from the Bible – 1 John 4:7-12. It begins with worship songs followed by the video message, a closing prayer and my sermon manuscript. Today is also Pentecost Sunday where we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus and the birth of the Church or Bride of Christ. Let us give thanks for the presence, the power and the gifts of the Holy Spirit that will keep us focused on Jesus until He returns! Hallelujah!
To hear the closing prayer below please click the arrow…
What was your first introduction to Christianity? If you didn’t grow up in a Christian church, I am assuming your first exposure to Christianity most likely happened through a Christian who invited you to a church service, youth group event, children’s program or some children’s camp sponsored by a church. Am I right?
I am also assuming that your decision to go was influenced by the person who invited you because they showed some genuine care and love for you.
Evangelist D.L. Moody wrote: Show me a church where there is love, and I will show you a church that is a power in the community. In Chicago, a few years ago a little boy attended a Sunday school I know of. When his parents moved to another part of the city the little fellow still attended the same Sunday school, although it meant a long, tiresome walk each way. A friend asked him why he went so far and told him that there were plenty of others just as good nearer his home.
“They may be as good for others, but not for me,” was his reply.
“Why not?” she asked.
“Because they love a fellow over there,” he replied.
How easy it is to reach people through love. Those who are successful in showing love will be successful in winning people to Christ. Source: Life and Labours of Dwight. L. Moody, Henry Davenport Northrop.
The apostle John in his first letter to the churches is making a bold pronouncement that the duty of every believer in Christ is to “love one another.” Why is it so important for believers to love one another?
The apostle John writes in 1 John 4:7-12 that love among children of God is a primary duty because of three reasons. Can you find these reasons as you read this passage below?
1 John 4:7-12,“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
Let’s look at the three reasons believers need to do their duty in “loving one another.” I have received the help of Theologian John Stott to formulate these three reasons.
Three Reasons Christians need to Love One Another
1. God is love
The first reason children of God need to love one another is because God is love. We find this support in verse 7b, “for love comes from God;” and verses 8 and 16b, “God is love.” God is the author of love and His very nature is love which means everything He says, does, sees, commands, creates is done in love. When God disciplines His children that too He does in love. John Stott writes, “Far from condoning sin, his love has found a way to expose it without destroying the sinner, but rather saving him.”
Therefore, if God is love and love comes from Him then it only makes sense that His children must also resemble His character of love. This is what the apostle John is concluding as well. In fact, he takes a direct shot at false teachers who did not relate to God as a loving God in verse 8, “Whoever does not love does not know God.”
Love needs to define us as believers just as much as righteousness defines us. If we are sour pusses in the pews than we are no longer being proper representatives of God. If we fail to love our brothers and sisters in Jesus, then we are living out of our old nature which is at enmity with God.
A group of teenagers were enjoying a party, and someone suggested that they go to a certain restaurant for a good time. “I’d rather you took me home,” Jan said to her date. “My parents don’t approve of that place.” “Are you afraid your father will hurt you” one of the girls said sarcastically. “No,” Jan replied, “I’m afraid I might hurt my Father.” She understood the principle that a true child of God, who has experienced the love of God, has no desire to sin against that love. (Source Unknown).
Are you a child of God? If so, knowing that God is love and love comes from Him, make it your life’s pursuit to be like God in His loving nature. Is this your desire?
2. God demonstrated His love by Sending His Son
The second reason children of God need to love one another is because God demonstrated His love by sending His Son. We find this supported in verses 9 & 10, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
Love is not just an emotion, but it is best defined when it is put into action. God showed His love for us by not allowing us to die in our sins, but to save us from our sins by sending His Son Jesus to be our atoning sacrifice on the cross. In the original Greek language, the word for love here is “agape” which is a benevolent love that is other-focused. It is a love shown by a person who is truly selfless and sacrificial in showing love. This is what God demonstrated by sending His Son Jesus to die for us that we might have eternal life when we accept Jesus as our Saviour. John wrote about this power of love in 1 John 3:16, “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 and sisters.”
A certain medieval monk announced he would be preaching next Sunday evening on “The Love of God.” As the shadows fell and the light ceased to come in through the cathedral windows, the congregation gathered. In the darkness of the altar, the monk lit a candle and carried it to the crucifix. First of all, he illumined the crown of thorns, next, the two wounded hands, then the marks of the spear wound. In the hush that fell, he blew out the candle and left the chancel. There was nothing else to say.
The love God demonstrated to us cannot be earned because the apostle John highlights the truth that “He first loved us.” Therefore, when we love each other as believers we do it not gain acceptance from others, but to follow God’s example and bring praise to Him.
This week ask God to make your love more others-focused? Allow the Holy Spirit to probe your heart and see if the way you love others has strings attached?
3. God continues to love through us in perfect ways
The third reason children of God need to love one another is because God continues to love through us in perfect ways. We find this supported in verses 11 & 12, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
God’s children are a gateway for God to reveal his perfect (complete) love through us. In the Roman world, how many teachers were advocating a revolution of love in the apostle John’s lifetime? Only One!
It has always been the human ambition to divide and conquer. It is the human spirit to desire luxury and suppress the poor and marginalized. When Jesus came His message about the Kingdom began a revolution of love. In John 13:34-35, ““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
As believers loved one another and loved the poor, sick and marginalized, word got around that these people were disciples of Jesus. This mission of love, in the power of the Holy Spirit, transformed the Roman culture. In 313 AD, under the Edict of Milan, Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity and gave Christians the freedom to worship. Ten years later it became the official religion of the Roman Empire.
When people see the way we love each other, and how we love others, they will see the invisible God of the universe in us and loving perfectly through us. They will know what true love is!
A little four-year-old African girl had been sold as a slave. She had never known what love was. Even her name, Keodi, meant “Nobody loves me!”
When she grew to be about ten years old, her body became covered with ugly sores. The natives turned her out and would have nothing to do with her. But some kind missionaries took Keodi in and cleaned her up, cared for her sores, and put clothes on her.
At first, she could not believe anyone loved her. She went about saying, “I am only Keodi; nobody loves me.” The missionaries told her that Jesus loved her and tried to teach her what love meant. Then she looked down at her dress, clean body and bandaged sores, and said, “Is this love?” They told her that it was.
Jesus showed His love for us by giving His life for us. Should we not then give Him our whole lives and love one another? (Gospel Chimes)
Application – This pandemic can simply be a lesson for us to not take loving others for granted. Are you a part of today’s love revolution? It is so easy to complain about our government, our economy, our uncertain state of affairs, but if we seriously allowed God to continue to show His love through us how would our church and our culture change?
How have you been going out of your way to love a brother or sister in the LORD lately? How about making that a goal for this week? Ask God to show you whom you should love this week.
It is my hope when we are able to meet in our church building again that this pandemic will have taught us some lessons on love relationships with each other and sharing that love with our world.
Right now, frontline workers and essential workers are receiving a lot praise because of the risks they are taking to care for the sick and keep our daily needs met.
How much more do we need to become front-line or essential workers with God’s love in this sin-sick world?
Let’s change people’s first impressions of Christianity and God by taking the apostles words seriously today about “loving one another” with God’s love. Do you want to be a part of a God’s love revolution?
What to watch for below: In today’s video service we are continuing in the First Letter of John 4:1-6. I have prepared a Video Message that will challenge us to test the spirits or test the messages we hear about Jesus and test those who hear the message. Are we listening to the truth in this day and age of compromise? I conclude with an audio prayer and you can read my sermon manuscript for a deeper look at John’s passage. May you be encouraged as we get closer to the day that we will be together again! God bless you in Jesus Christ our Saviour, Redeemer and LORD!
There are a lot of metals that on the surface look similar to gold. Centuries ago, people discovered that unscrupulous operators would take advantage of this to trick people into paying for worthless metal. In order to determine whether gold was genuine or not, scientists devised an “acid test.” The item that is supposed to be gold is rubbed on a black stone, leaving a mark behind. Gold is what is called a noble metal, meaning that it is resistant to the corrosive effects of acid. If the mark is washed away by the acid, then the metal is not real gold. If it remains unchanged, the genuine nature of the gold is proven.
In our world, where it is easy to be taken advantage of, wouldn’t it be a relief to have an “acid test” to determine the genuineness of products you are buying? How about having an app on your mobile phone that simulates a “lie detector test” so that it will indicate if the person you are speaking with is telling you the truth or not? The draw back to having these tests is that we could become overly critical and suspicious people.
However, as we will see in today’s passage of Scripture, the apostle John actually commands believers to test the “message and the receivers of the message.” This of course is in response to the false teachers who have made their way into the churches of Asia Minor and are leading believers away from God’s truth. Would it benefit us today if we heeded the apostle’s command? Read today’s passage from 1 John 4:1-6.
1John 4:1-6,“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”
In testing the message and the receivers of the message I have narrowed down John’s test to two questions. Let us look at these questions below about the message and the messenger.
Questions to Know the Genuineness of the Message and the Hearer
1. Does the Message Centre on The True Jesus?
The first test that separates the false message from the true message is to answer this question, “Does the message centre on the true Jesus?” In verses 2 & 3 John clear indicates, “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.”
The true Jesus that must be preached is the Jesus who is not only fully God, but He is also fully man. For Jesus to come to this world as a man in the likeness of sinful flesh, but without sin, is called the “incarnation.” John highlights the incarnation in his gospel. In John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John is stating here that Jesus is the Word and is co-equal with God. Then in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Every spirit, every teaching or message that acknowledges Jesus has come in the flesh (incarnate) is from God.
The false teachers in John’s day had an extremely low regard of the flesh. They believed that the only way to spiritual ascendency and value was through the mind which was governed by the spiritual. They believed what they did in the flesh had no consequence on their spiritual pursuits. Therefore, the sins they committed in the body did not prevent their spiritual growth and their pursuit of godlikeness. They believed Jesus had a brief encounter with the flesh but did not come in the flesh. They did not believe in the incarnation.
Theologian Charles Ryrie in His book Basic Theology writes, “Without the Incarnation we would have no Savior. Sin requires death for its payment. God does not die. So the Savior must be human in order to be able to die. But the death of an ordinary man would not pay for sin eternally, so the Savior must also be God. We must have a God-man Savior, and we do in our Lord (Hebrews 10:1-10).”
Knowing that Jesus is God-incarnate, what practical daily significance does this have on your faith and life? The key is in what John says about the spirit that denies Jesus’s true identity in verse 3b, “This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”
Everyday we need to be on guard against the spirit of the antichrist. This spirit is from Satan who opposes the message of the gospel and the true identity of Jesus. When Jesus walked this earth, his main opposition was from the religious elite called the Pharisees. In one encounter, Jesus pulls no stops in calling out the lies that the Pharisees were believing and propagating in their teachings. John records Jesus’s words addressed to the Pharisees in his gospel in John 8:44, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” We see earlier in this letter John wrote, 1 John 3:10, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.”
Billy Bray was a Cornish miner who accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour in 1823 at the age of 29. He lived a life of drunkenness and debauchery before his salvation, but he became such an outgoing witness and testimony for God that he became known as “God’s glad man.”
One time he was digging potatoes from his garden and felt the devil oppressing him. It seemed to him that the devil said, “Billy Bray, God doesn’t love you. If He did, He wouldn’t give you such puny potatoes and so few.”
But Billy Bray didn’t listen to the devil’s temptation, he talked back to him. He said, “I served you long and true, Devil, and no better servant could a master ever have than I was to you. But when I served you, you didn’t give me any potatoes. When I served you, you didn’t give me anything good for my efforts.”
Billy Bray reminded himself that the burden he had serving Christ was lighter than the one he had had serving the devil. The yoke that he wore in partnership with and submission to Jesus was easier than the yoke he wore as one of the devil’s disciples.
Billy Bray once said, “I would rather be in Hell with Jesus than in Heaven without Jesus. For Hell with Jesus would seem just like Heaven to me and Heaven without Jesus would seem just like Hell to me.” Submitted by Dr. R. B Ouellette
Today I want to encourage you to take John’s command seriously to test the spirits and test the messages you hear about Jesus and the gospel. Do not believer every teaching you hear about Jesus. Does the message centre on the truth about Jesus that He is fully God and fully man in order to be the Saviour of the world? Also teach this truth so that the spirit of the antichrist will be thwarted from telling lies to others. Ask God to give you the boldness to be a witness about the truth of His Son Jesus so that many more people will be delivered from serving the lies of the devil. May verse 4 also give you courage, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
The second question that helps identify what truth is and what is false is…
2. Do the receivers of the true message of Jesus actually listen?
Look again at verses 5 and 6, “They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”
John makes it clear in this passage that there are two groups of people in this world. First there are those who are from the world speaking and listening to its viewpoint. Their viewpoint is based on human philosophy and human knowledge defining their reality and making in many cases their religion.
The second group are those who are from God. These are the children of God who listen to the truth about Jesus. To listen is more than being hearers of the Word, but also doers of the Word.
John is telling the children of God do not expect those who have the viewpoint of the world to listen to you. Those who do not listen are not from God.
Today I want to encourage you by this truth – when people are not listening to the gospel of Jesus Christ, they are not rejecting you, but they are rejecting the message because the are not from God. We cannot expect people of the world to embrace the message of God unless God opens their ears to it and their hearts to receive it. This is what we need to pray for. We cannot force people to listen to the gospel.
In honour of Ravi Zacharias (a formidable apologist) who died this week I want to conclude with his words that sum up today’s message very well:
“Every other person who is at the heart of any religion has had his or her beginning either in fancy or in fact. But nevertheless, there is a beginning. Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was a moment preceded by eternity. His being neither originated in time nor came about by the will of humanity. The Author of time, who lived in the eternal, was made incarnate in time that we might live with the eternal in view. In that sense, the message of Christ was not the introduction of a religion, but an introduction to truth about reality as God alone knows it. To deny Jesus’ message while pursuing spirituality is to conjure an imaginary religion in an attempt to see heaven while sight is confined to the earth. That is precisely what Jesus challenged when he said, “I have come that [you] may have life” (John 10:10). His life spells living. Your life or my life, apart from Him, spells death.” ― Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message
In our quickly changing world Jesus’s message remains the same. He loves you. He died for you and He wants you to spend eternity with Him. I invite you to accept Jesus (fully God and fully man) into your life as your Saviour from sin and become a lifelong listener and doer of His Word. This alone will keep you on the path of truth and the path of life everlasting. AMEN!
What to watch for below: Today let us worship God for His greatness! This is the apostle John’s encouragement to the church and it is exactly what we need to focus on during this pandemic. Enjoy two worship choruses praising God for His greatness followed by my video message from 1 John 3:19-24. I conclude with a closing prayer and for further study you can read my sermon manuscript. May God give you the confidence in following Him realizing, “How Great Thou Art!”
Click the arrow below to hear the closing prayer
Sermon Manuscript: Focusing on God Brings Encouragement
A man saw a span of horses drawing a very heavy load of logs, and as they came to a hard place they struggled and tried with all their force, strained every muscle to the highest tension, but they could not start the load. Then the driver took some of the logs off and tried to get them to start the load, but they would not. He rolled off some more, but those horses would not start. He rolled off still more, and at last took off every log, and then they started up the road. Those horses had been utterly discouraged; they had pulled with all their strength and failed, and anyone doing that, be it man or beast, is not able to accomplish half as much as a man who has not lost heart. (Source Unknown).
There may be times in our lives, as believers in God, when we come across life challenges that may be quite deflating to our faith and confidence in the LORD. Our hearts may become downcast, depressed or uneasy and we hear that inner voice starting to question things like, “Why am I so sad? Why am I feeling so down? Where is Jesus in all of this? Did I do something wrong? Is there a sin I need to repent of?” Have you experienced any of these thoughts during our pandemic lockdown and isolation?
At the same time, you might come across people who have this incredible confidence during these same challenges. And you might be wondering, “Why don’t I have that same confidence? My faith in God really needs a boost!”
As we look at today’s passage of Scripture, the apostle John wants to encourage the believer’s hearts to have the assurance that they are saved, belonging in God’s truth which results in resting in His presence. How do we get our hearts and consciences focused on the truth and finding this rest? Look with me for the answers as your read 1 John 3:19-24.
1John 3:19-24,“This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”
Here are four ways the apostle John encourages the hearts of believers by bringing them to the right focus.
Focus Brings Encouragement
1. Focus on God’s greatness
To the heart that is battling condemnation or anxious thoughts John says in verse 20, “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts.”
The quickest way to immobilize faith is to have people believe that they are powerless. John’s antidote for this is for believers to focus in on the greatness of God. He is greater than our condemning hearts and fears.
A young boy traveling by airplane to visit his grandparents sat beside a man who happened to be a seminary professor. The boy was reading a Sunday school take-home paper when the professor thought he would have some fun with the lad. “Young man,” said the professor, “If you can tell me something God can do, I’ll give you a big, shiny apple.” The boy thought for a moment and then replied, “Mister, if you can tell me something God can’t do, I’ll give you a whole barrel of apples!” Today in the Word, April 1989, p. 43.
What we have to realize when our hearts are downcast is, we are believing that God is too small to handle what we are facing. As we focus on how great God’s power is, our problems will be put in the right perspective. I challenge you to focus on God’s greatness today and leave your trials and problems with Him. What a relief you will experience!
The second thing John wants believers to focus on is…
2. Focus on God’s omniscience
Not only is God’s greatness sufficient to handle what troubles our heart, John says in verse 20, “he knows everything.” God knows what is troubling you and he knows why it is troubling you because He knows you better than you know yourself. When we focus on the truth that God is all knowing or omniscient there is nothing that surprises God so it should not surprise you. Therefore, God must have a reason for allowing certain trials and troubles to come our way like this pandemic. We do not see the end of the story, but God know the end from the beginning.
Dwight Moody was traveling by boat on one of the Great Lakes when a really bad storm developed. The other passengers on the boat cowered in fear. They even started an impromptu prayer meeting asking God to deliver them from the storm. Moody didn’t join in this prayer meeting. When asked why not, he answered with these words, “I have a sister in Chicago and one in heaven and I don’t care which I see tonight.” (Source Unknown, Lou Nicholes – Missionary/Author)
When we know that God knows everything, we can put our trust into his plan just like Moody did. When was the last time you had that confidence? Can you pray, “God I am not going to worry about this because you know best.” Do you need to ask God to forgive you for succumbing to fear or faith-deflating-worry?
John wants us to focus on God’s greatness and that He knows everything. The third thing he wants us to focus on is…
3. Focus on pleasing God
John makes a transition from the condemning, deflated heart of a believer to a believer who has confidence. This transition is based on the fact of the believer pleasing God. Here again is what he wrote in verses 21-23,“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”
A child of God who pleases God and has confidence to come before Him and ask Him for anything according to God’s will. How is this possible? Because pleasing God involves two things: a child of God believes in God’s Son Jesus Christ and acts out that faith in love toward others.
This sums up the whole gospel and if we anchor our faith and our lives here, we will have confidence in coming to God and asking Him in prayer for that which pleases Him.
The story is told about two wives who were doing their laundry in a laundry mat. They were both mending their husband’s pants.
One wife said, “My husband is so miserable. Nothing goes right at work, and he can’t find anything good on television. Our home is a place of despair. When we go to church, the song leader is terrible, and the pastor is an idiot.
The other wife said, “My husband is so excited.” He can’t wait to go to church. He loves the sermons. We laugh all the time and enjoy our family.
It got very quiet in the laundry room as the women continued sewing the pants. One was patching the seat of the pants, and the other was patching the knees. (Source: Unknown)
Which of these two men pleased God with the right focus and with the right heart? The man with the worn out knees knew how to please God by confidently coming to God in prayer as a faithful and obedient child. Are you pleasing God? Does it show in confidence, obedience and in your prayer life? Focus on pleasing God this week by just talking to him.
Finally, John helps the discouraged, downhearted child of God by reminding him or her to…
4. Focus on the Spirit He Gave us
Look at verse 24, “The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” One of the most important things to remember about being a child of God is that we are “born again.” This means the Holy Spirit has given us new life (eternal life that is pardoned from sin with a new nature) by coming into our lives and regenerating us at the same moment of faith. The apostle Paul explains it this way to the believers in the church of Corinth in 2 Corinthians 5:5, “Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” A few verses later he writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin [Jesus] to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Who we are in Christ and realizing that the Holy Spirit lives in us is paramount in giving us the courage to face whatever comes our way because God does not abandon Himself. There is perfect unity between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Paul writes this to the believers in Rome in Romans 8:14-16, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
“Without the Spirit of God, we can do nothing. We are as ships without the wind, branches without sap, and like coals without fire, we are useless.”—Charles Spurgeon
Now take Charles Spurgeon’s quote and turn it to the positive to help you fight discouragement. “With the Spirit of God, I can do all things. I am a sailboat moved by His wind, a branch full of sap, a fire burning brightly fueled by Him and I am valuable in Him for His service.” Do you believe this? Focus on what The Holy Spirit has for your life and the work He has in bringing praise to Jesus.
During the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century, German pastor Paul Gerhardt and his family were forced to flee from their home. One night as they stayed in a small village inn, homeless and afraid, his wife broke down and cried openly in despair. To comfort her, Gerhardt reminded her of Scripture promises about God’s provision and keeping. Then, going out to the garden to be alone, he too broke down and wept. He felt he had come to his darkest hour. Soon afterward, Gerhardt felt the burden lifted and sensed anew the Lord’s presence. Taking his pen, he wrote a hymn that has brought comfort to many. “Give to the winds thy fears; hope and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears; God shall lift up thy head. Through waves and clouds and storms He gently clears the way. Wait thou His time, so shall the night soon end in joyous day.”
It is often in our darkest times that God makes His presence known most clearly. He uses our sufferings and troubles to show us that He is our only source of strength. And when we see this truth, like Pastor Gerhardt, we receive new hope. (Our Daily Bread, May 7, 1992.)
How are you managing through this pandemic? Take heart. Be encouraged as you focus on the truths the apostle John has given us as children of God…God is greater than all our fears, He knows everything, confidence comes in pleasing Him and He has put His Spirit in us guaranteeing His presence now and forever more. Be at rest! Amen!