Sunday, April 26, 2020

What to watch for below: It is my hope to bring glory to God through another collage of videos and messages this beautiful spring Sunday under COVID-19 lockdown. Please find below a few worship song videos followed by my video message from 1 John 2:28 – 3:10. I have included a closing prayer and my sermon manuscript for a fuller understanding of this passage. God bless you as you live as a child of God in these important times. I miss you and love you. Keep your eyes and faith focused on Jesus!

No Longer Slaves (Official Lyric Video) – Jonathan David and Melissa Helser | We Will Not Be Shaken. Visit their site at https://www.jonathanhelser.com/
Canadian Worship Leader Matt Maher. Visit his site at https://www.mattmahermusic.com/
Sung by Stuart Townend and choir. Visit his site at https://www.stuarttownend.co.uk/biography/

CLICK THE ARROW BELOW TO HEAR THE CLOSING PRAYER

Sermon Manuscript entitled, “Do You Know Your Identity Markers?”

Text: 1 John 2:29 -3:10 and other passages are from New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

I. Introduction

Have you ever been mistaken for someone else? How do you feel when you are called by someone else’s name? If you have siblings, how did you feel being called your brother or sister’s name instead of your own? You can let it pass for the first or second time, but if the person continually calls you by a wrong name you might get a little annoyed or offended.

Think for a moment about identical twins you may know. Have you noticed that close relatives and close friends are able to tell them apart? How do they do it? They rely on certain identity markers. These identity markers could be physical like: dimples, different hairlines, moles, freckles, and birth marks. These identity markers can be character differences such as one being introverted while the other is extroverted. These identity markers could also include habits, talents, or mannerisms. Identity markers are important in telling twins apart.

Photo by malcolm garret on Pexels.com

II. Transition

Are there identity markers that set children of God apart from others? When our Canadian culture was steeped in Christian values and principles it wasn’t uncommon to hear people say, “we are all God’s children.” It was a religious assumption in our Christian nation that everyone knew God. Unfortunately, our culture has changed dramatically and many today don’t know what Christians believe in and don’t even know the significance of Christmas or Easter. In some cases, Christians can be working together for years and not know that their co-worker is a believer in Jesus. How sad is that?

In my sermon series from the First Letter of John, the apostle John is writing to warn children of God not to live by a false identity because many were being deceived by a false gospel and false doctrine. False teachers were convincing them to believe that all matter and flesh were evil. They began to believe Jesus was not fully God and fully man. These false teachers were the forefathers to what would later be called “Gnosticism” which is a knowledge cult promoting spiritual ascendency beyond human form. The apostle John held up a true standard against these falsities when he wrote this letter.

As you read today’s passage in 1 John 2:29-3:10 below, look for identity markers that set true believers in Jesus apart from these false teachers…  

“28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. Chapter 3:1, See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 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.”

III. Your True Identity Revealed

Let us look at John’s identity markers for true children of God. John describes them this way. They are…

1) Abiding in God – again we read in verse 28a, “And now, dear children, continue in him…”  The word “continue” comes from the Greek word “meno” which can be translated “abide or continue.”

How does it look like to abide in God or continue in Him as a child of God? Think of the happiest moment in your life. Think about the best visit you ever had with a loved one or relative. Think about the joy you saw in the faces of your children on Christmas day. Think about the time you really felt God’s presence in your life. During these incredible moments and encounters, did you ever have the feeling, “I want this moment to last forever!” This could be the feeling of two lovers. Others cherish loving company and wish, “I want to stay longer. I don’t want my kids to grow up. I want to enjoy this time a little bit longer.”  It’s like my grandson Fletcher who comes over to swing on a cheap little plastic swing and when its time to go home he wants to swing just a little bit longer. The swing is a big part of his enjoyment, but he loves our attention too.

Abiding in God is remaining in His presence where you sense and know His love, His peace and you just want to enjoy Him more and more. God wants this for you continually. Children of God who know God intimately in this way just want to abide, rest and be with Him. It leads to the next identity marker which is – they are…

2) Confident and unashamed – we find this in verse 28b – “so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.” The apostle John is telling us here that Jesus will return one day. When He does, will He find us confident in our faith and unashamed to see him? If Jesus returned right now, would your faith roll out the red carpet for Him or would you want to hide behind a rock?

Here’s a poetic monologue that rings true with unashamed confidence in identifying yourself with Christ. It is entitled, “No Turning Back.”

I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still. My past is redeemed, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, live by prayer and labor by His power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable and my mission clear. I cannot be bought, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go ‘till He comes, give ‘till I drop, preach ‘till all know and work ‘till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. Anonymous

Do you identify with this confidence as a child of God? Ask God to give it to you. Here is John’s next identity marker for children of God – they…

3) Know and Live in God’s Righteous – read verse 29, “If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.” This is one of the most distinct identity markers for children of God because in their moral behaviours, actions and good deeds they want to do what is pleasing and right in God’s sight. It is like your defining feature such as your nose or your sparkling eyes or your beautiful smile. John gives us more details of how this looks like in verses 2 to 10. It is a life where we are living like Christ. To be a Christian is to be a “little Christ.” To be a child of God is to be like God’s Son. We live by faith under the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that we make decisions and carry out actions that are sinless and blameless before our Righteous God.

A Bible commentator from https://www.gotquestions.org/imputed-righteousness.html wrote,

When we place our faith in Christ, God ascribes the perfect righteousness of Christ to our account so that we become perfect in His sight. “God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin [be a sin offering] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

By having the righteousness of Christ imputed, or attributed, to us, we can be seen as sinless, as Jesus is sinless. We are not righteous in ourselves; rather, we possess Christ’s righteousness applied to our account. It is not our perfection, but Christ’s that God sees when He brings us into fellowship with Himself. We are still sinners in practice, but the grace of God has declared us to have righteous standing before the law.

The apostle John encourages confession to purify us (children of God) from sin and unrighteousness. He wrote this earlier in chapter 1 verses 8 and 9, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

What a joy we have in knowing that God sees the righteousness of His Son Jesus in us and we are pardoned of our sin. As we wash our hands to prevent a COVID-19 virus infection, how much more should we wash our souls with daily repentance, confession and surrender to Christ’s righteous presence in us? The apostle states it well in verse 3, “All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” Are you washing?

Finally, the last identity marker of a child of God that I want to highlight is – they…

4) Know and Live in God’s love – in chapter 3:1, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

If righteousness is a distinct feature for a child of God, like the nose on your face, then knowing God’s love and living in His love is the believer’s DNA or blood type. The love that ran through Jesus’ veins is the love that must run through ours. The love and the compassion that spurred on Jesus’ ministry is what we need for one another.

This love, in question, is well defined in this phrase from verse 1, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us.” When we look at God’s love toward us what do we see? Most definitely the apostle is telling us to look at the cross. It was at the cross that Jesus poured out His love for us. He poured out His blood for our sin, as our sin offering to God, in order that God’s wrath would be satisfied in this payment; and by faith in receiving Jesus’ love for us in His sacrifice we are freed from eternal condemnation and thus enter into an intimate love relation with God where we cry out, as His children,  “Father! Daddy!” The apostle Paul compares it to a loving adoption when we receive Jesus and are born of His Holy Spirit in Romans 8:14 and 15, “14 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.”

I love the verb “lavished” in association with how great the Father’s love is for us. Google dictionary defines the word this way, “bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities on, and/or more literally, cover something thickly or liberally with.” The word comes from the Latin “to wash or flood.” Two images come to my mind. One is what some mothers experience at a baby shower for a newborn baby and the gifts are showered (bestowed) on the mother and her child. Another image is that of eating one of my favourite foods which is ice cream lavished in chocolate syrup and yummy treats.

Photo by Jer Chung on Pexels.com

In the same way, God pours out His love in great heaps desiring to saturate us so that we will love others as He has loved us. As children of God, we are no longer under God’s wrath, but we are now under His great love. How often do we forget this?

When we sin, or when we believe in lies about our true identity like our brothers and sisters did in the Early Church, we can easily feel like we don’t measure up to God. We can start condemning ourselves, but God’s antidote is simply reminding us with open arms like a Father that He loves us with a great, unending, downpour of love even when we fall and fail Him because He has adopted us into His loving family. Isn’t this truth delicious? I just don’t want this moment of truth to be forgotten. Do you?

IV. Conclusion

As a child of God, will you allow Him to shape you into the image of His Son every day? So that you will be assured of Jesus’ identity markers in your life? Can children of God, and those who live in sin, see that you: abide in God; are unashamedly confident in your faith; know and live in God’s righteousness; and finally know and live in God’s love? If your answer is “no” – get out from underneath that rock of falsehood and repent of your self-condemnation, self-pity and sin! Stop living in fear and selfishness like the world does! You are loved! You belong to God our Abba Father! Live in your true identity in Christ Jesus!

If you are not a child of God, ask God to open your eyes to the love He demonstrated for you at the cross through His Son Jesus. I plead with you to give your life over to Him now! He is lavishing His grace and His love upon you now! Accept Jesus, His Son, by faith and God will adopt you as His child. He knows your name and is calling you into and everlasting love relationship with Him.

I leave you with this joyous encounter that will never end…But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (verse 2b).” Hallelujah! Amen!

Photo by Ruvim on Pexels.com

Published by Greg Gaensler

Serving my LORD Jesus Christ at Calvary Bible Church in Smiths Falls, ON

One thought on “Sunday, April 26, 2020

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