This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday November 10th, 2019.
Two months and eight sermons ago we started our current series “Love Letter” which is a study through the epistle of 1 John. You may recall that this letter was written by the Apostle John to a church in Asia Minor who had recently experienced great turmoil and a division over bad doctrine and false teaching. John writes this letter to encourage the church in remaining faithful to God and to know and grow in love for God and one another. So far, we have looked extensively at the theme of love and how it applied to the church he is writing and to us personally and as a church.
Now, some of you may be getting tired of reading about about love and all that it entails. John mentions the word “love” nearly 30 times in chapter four alone. I believe the repetition referring to love is intentional as John stresses how God and love go hand in hand. John is trying to drive the point home, if you love God, then you will be obedient to him and His commands, you will show respect and dignity to others (friends and enemies), and you will love one another. This repetition reminds me of a story I read a while back and I am not sure of the source or even if it is true or not, but it goes like this…
A pastor was hired by a church with the hope that this preacher would bring new life to the church and challenge the parishioners weekly in God’s Word. The first week the Pastor preached an amazing sermon about love and he exceeded the expectations of the church with his Biblical stance and understanding of God’s Word. The next week he preached just as compelling a message as the week before, in fact it was the same sermon, but few people caught on to this, and it went pretty much unnoticed and the people praised him for his wonderful sermon. The third week he preached the same message as the previous weeks and people started to notice this sermon sounded familiar. Week four comes and goes and he preaches the same message again and the people were starting to get frustrated because it seemed like the pastor was being lazy and preaching the same sermon week after week. When the church gathered for week five, a few disgruntled congregants went to the leadership board and said, “We noticed the pastor has been preaching the same sermon for the past four weeks, if he preaches the same sermon this Sunday, we will need you talk to him. Sure enough, he preached the same exact message word for word. After the service the leadership team went to the Pastor and confronted him on what seemed to be the pastor being lazy in sermon prep and delivery. They asked, “Surely, you have more messages to preach than the one you have been for the past five weeks.” They reminded him that they hired him with the great expectation to bring new life to the church and usher them into new heights. The Pastor hears their concerns and thoughtfully responds to the leadership team, “Yes, I have more sermons to preach, and yes I have taken great care in preparing and studying for these sermons, but the congregation still is not practicing the love that I am preaching about week after week. When the congregation finally gets what I am saying and starts putting this love into practice, then I will move on to my next sermon.”
I believe this is what John may be doing as well. He repeatedly writes, “Love, love, love…” This message of love what the church needed to hear over and over again and he will continually preach so they understand the importance of love… and we need to hear this message continually today.
Last week we looked at the words penned by the Apostle John and determined three truths about the nature of God’s love…
Today we pick up in 1 John 4:13 – 21 (Read)
Vs 13: John now goes back to the idea of abiding or remaining in God. He wrote earlier in the letter about the evidence of God abiding in us when we obey God’s commands, love him and show love to one another. Now John writes one more truth about God’s abiding (remaining) in us and that is by giving us His Spirit. Paul affirms this in 1 Corinthians 6:19 – 20, “Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.” God’s abiding Spirit in us give assurance that He remains in us and we will remain in him. Through love (the Spirit) we can know that we will be kept continually in Jesus. Through love God has bestowed on us His Spirit (his nature, his essence or the divine nature of Christ).
Vs 14: John is an eyewitness to this. John writes this to show that he has the credibility as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, and this validates the message he is giving. He saw Jesus live and die in the flesh. He sat under the teaching of Jesus and learned from Him. He was with Jesus on the night of his transfiguration in Matthew 17:5 where he heard the audible voice of God affirming that Jesus was His beloved son in whom he was well pleased.
Vs. 15: He testifies that confessing Jesus as the son also assures that God abides in them. Jesus says in Matthew 10:32, 33, “Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge me before others, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven, but whoever denies me before others, I will also deny him before my Father in heaven.” Since we have the Spirit of God in us, we can love as God loves and we remain (are kept) in God through confession of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. If we acknowledge and believe in our hearts Jesus is the manifestation of God, then He abides in us and we in Him.
Vs 16: Through Jesus we have seen God’s love displayed, and through this display we can know AND believe the great love that God has for us, his children.
To summarize these four verses, I love what Pastor John Stott writes in his commentary on 1 John, “In our fallen and unredeemed state we are both blind (unable to believe) and selfish (unable to love). It is only by the grace of the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth and whose first fruit is love, that we ever come to believe in Christ and to love others… This, then, is the sequence of thought: we know we live in God and God in us ‘because he has given us his Spirit, and we know he has given us his Spirit because we have come to ‘acknowledge that Jesus is the ‘Son of God’, and to ‘live in love’.”
Vs 17: When we abide in God and He in us, His love is made complete and perfected in us. This complete and perfect love gives us confidence and boldness (Assurance) that we belong to Him and we have no reason to fear on the Day of Judgment. To the unbeliever (the one who does not love because he/she has rejected the Father’s love) there is fear and terror in death because for them the result is fear, uncertainty and ultimately punishment. For the believer, there is no fear whatsoever. There is no room for worry or anxiety over death and judgment because we are kept by God’s abiding Spirit through Jesus Christ.
Vs 18: There is no room for fear when God’s love is present. Thus, believers have no need to fear the past, present or future because perfect love (God’s love) removes all fear. Because through this perfect love (which is displayed through Jesus Christ) we may boldly enter the presence of God as His child and in confidence because we abide in Jesus Christ.
God’s desires for believers is to live in His perfect love and security. He does not want us to live in fear. The secret to our boldness is, “As He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). We know that “we shall be like Him” when He returns (1 John 3:1–2), and “He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject everything to himself.” (Phil. 3:20–21). Positionally, we are right now “as He is.” We are so closely identified with Christ, as members of His body, that our position in this world is like His exalted position in heaven. Warren Weirsbe writes “This means that the Father deals with us as He deals with His own beloved Son. How, then, can we ever be afraid?” 
The one who lives in continual fear does not have the love of the Father. If you need to hear anything today, hear this, if you are a child of God you are loved far greater than you deserve and you are made complete and kept through His perfect love. Thus, you have nothing to fear. Through the love of God, you can have confidence and assurance on judgement day
Vs 19 - 21: At the conclusion of this chapter John re-iterates that we can love because God first loved us and displayed His love through Jesus Christ. As Christians our characteristic is love and not fear and this is because God first loved us.
Thus, as Christians our love for God is found in the confidence to stand before the Father and in loving concern for those we call our brother and sister in Christ. Since we love God, then we must love our brothers and sisters and John doesn’t candy coat his words when speaking to those who are unloving towards others. He says if you say you love someone and your actions and words show different, then you are a liar. These are harsh words, but true words. Our words and actions do speak volumes about our relationship with God. John concludes with reminding us the Old Testament commands of Deuteronomy 6:5, 6, “Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words I am giving you today are to be in your heart.” And the second part of Leviticus 19:18, “love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.” Because when we truly love God, we MUST in turn love our brother and sister in Christ.
Love one another – I stated earlier in the message that John mentions the word love almost 30 times. He also tells his readers of this letter to love one another three times in this passage. Do you think he is trying to say something important? Do you think maybe, just maybe John is trying to stress the importance of believers loving one another? We are called to love one another (Jesus’ command), we are able to love one another (through God’s manifest Spirit in us), we know why we are able to love (because God displayed His love to us by sending Jesus Christ to be the propitiation of our sins) and we know that we have no fear of the past, present or future because the perfect love of God removes fear and doubt and replaces it with joy and confidence. So, let us continually be reminded to love one another. Let us understand that the ability to truly love cannot exist outside of God. Any other kind of love is a false love.
 Stott, John R.W. (1964, c1988). The Letters of John: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries "Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press p. 166
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (1 Jn 4:17). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.
This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday November 3rd, 2019.
In the past six verses of chapter 4 John talked about testing the spirits. Last week I talked a little about these verses and how they can apply to us today. If you missed this message, then it is available online by going through the church’s Facebook page or on you can go to my personal website jeffreyholton.com to listen. Today I would like to continue in our study and look at chapter 4 verses 7 – 12.
In verse seven John makes an abrupt change in subject from discernment of spirits to love. As I have stated throughout this series the theme of this letter is love and John does not fail to remind us about the importance of love in a believer’s life throughout this epistle. In today’s message we are going to look at John’s complete definition of love, how love equates to God, and since love comes from God, we must love one another.
Once again John refers to his readers as “beloved”; this word is used six times throughout this short letter and it just continues to show the heart and passion he has for this struggling congregation. He loves these people like they are his own family. John continue to stress that this letter is a message of love and encouragement and is not necessarily one of rebuke and criticism.
So, to make thing easier I have broken todays passage it up into six bullet points to help us understand exactly what John is trying to get across to his readers. I will briefly introduce each point and then take a few minutes to touch on each point as we break down this passage and see how John makes the connection between love and God.
1.Love one another – Verse 7
2.Love comes from God – Verse 7b
3.God is love – Verse 8
4.God’s love is manifested through Jesus Christ – Verse 9
5.We love because God first loved us – Verse 10
6.Love one another – Verses 11, 12
(Read 1 John 4:7 – 12)
Vs 7: John continues his exhortation for believers to love one another. This is the third time John tells his readers to love one another. Not only do I believe that his repetition If you say something more than once you are trying to stress the importance of what you are saying) shows the importance of loving one another since it was commanded by Jesus and is the evidence of Jesus in you, but also that we are to love because love is the nature of God and love is grounded in God.
Jesus spoke of loving one another as one of the two great commandments for all believers to keep, ““Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” (Matthew 22:37 – 40). The love spoken about in this verse does not refer to that emotional feeling one gets when they are around someone they are attracted to, I talked about how this concept of love and how it cheapens the truth of real biblical love. The word “love” in this verse is agapeo which means to love dearly, to be fond of, to be well pleased, and be contented at or with a thing. As believers we are called to be fond of one another, to love one another dearly or as I would put it… find great pleasure and satisfaction in being with those you consider your spiritual family. I have heard people say, “I know Jesus said I have to love fellow believers but that doesn’t mean I have to like them.” I disagree… I believe the translation of this word Agapeo does in fact mean that we are also called to like fellow believers.
Vs 7b: Love is from God. We can love because love comes from God. When we are obedient to Christ’s command and display love to one another we know that we are born of God. “Being born of God” is a metaphor of God making or adopting us as his son’s and daughter’s through faith in Jesus Christ’s work on the cross. We will see in a moment the reality that God is the very essence of love. Author Stephen S. Smalley writes, “(L)ove originates in God, and thus it belongs to the divine dimension”
Vs 8: “The one who does not love does not know God…” Once again John re-iterates that if one chooses not to love as Christ commanded then this person does not know God. The reason being is not only is love from God, but God is love. According to Gary Burge, “It is important to note what John is not saying. He is not saying that ‘God is loving’ (though this is true). Nor is he saying that one of God’s activities is ‘to love us’ (though this is true as well). John is saying that God is love, that all his ‘activity is loving.’ Love is the essence of his being. But the reverse is not the case. We cannot say, in other words, that ‘love is God’ as if any displayed affection suddenly qualifies as divine.” I believe the saying “God is love” happens to be one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible and often quoted out of context because people confuse the word love with such words as tolerant, passive, and accepting of everything… including sin. The truth is God is tolerant with us and accepting of us, however He will not excuse or justify sin in our lives. You and I know that love does not mean that you get to or can do whatever you want. We learn this with our own children. We discipline, guide, correct and withhold things from them as acts of love; because we know that not everything is beneficial to our children. The truth is we need to say, “no” at times and not allow them to do certain things because they are harmful. Thus we need to understand that “God is love” does not mean God will let you do whatever you want or get away with anything you want. So, I feel it is important for us to look at three observations about what “God is love” does and does not mean.
A summary of observations about what “God is love” does and does not mean.
John shows that His love is his essence and now in verse 9 he shows us God’s love looks like.
Vs 9: This is what God’s love looks like – God’s love was revealed among us... His greatest display of love was shown through sending His beloved son Jesus Christ. Verse 9 is very similar to John 3:16 which says, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Verse 9 tells us that Jesus came so that “we might live through him.” When you break this sentence down in the original language it essentially says, “God sent His one and only son into the world so we may be made alive (to enjoy real life, to have true life) through Jesus.” God’s love is a sacrificial in the reality that He sent his son to die so we may have life. This love not self-serving but life giving.
Vs 10: “Love consists of this: not that we loved God, but he loved us…” This is God’s representation of love. We are not able to love correctly outside of God. We have the ability to love God and others because God first loved us, and he loved us by sending Jesus Christ to be the atoning sacrifice (Christ is the “the propitiation of sin, because by his becoming our substitute and assuming our obligations he expiated our guilt, covered it, by the vicarious punishment which he endured.) for our sins. So, when we look at the full context, we conclude that God’s love is shown through Him sending Jesus Christ and we might have abundant life through Him. Since Jesus was God’s way of showing His love, we can love both God and one another. We can love properly because God has loved us properly.
Vs 11: Since God showed us how much He loves us through Jesus Christ, then we can love one another. I have found two truths that painfully obvious in verses 10 & 11, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point them out.
1.God showed how much He loves you through sending Jesus as an atoning sacrifice. Think about that for a moment. God loves you that He gave his most beloved son. s. I am sure many of you have heard people say, “If God is such a loving God then how does he let (insert tragedy or difficulty) happen to me?” The answer to that question is “God shows how loving He is through His son Jesus Christ to die on the cross so that you may be made alive through Him, enjoy life and be a partaker in the Kingdom of heaven.” Isn’t that enough? God doesn’t owe you or me anything! But since He so loves you and me, He has made provisions for us to live a full Kingdom life.
2.We must love one another. John tells us “If God loved us in this way (sacrificially), then we must love one another. We should look at the word MUST. I believe this word makes this a command and NOT a suggestion. There is no clause stating that we should only love those who love us, it says that we must love one another period. The very minimum you or I must do as Christians is love one another. Many Christians cannot even do this, but this is entry level Christianity. We have the obligation to love one another.
Vs 12: “No one has ever seen God….” This seems like the statement was just thrown in there as it doesn’t seem to fit the flow of this portion of the letter, but as Stephen Smalley writes, “John maintains that God cannot, in fact, be seen; but he goes on to draw a contrast between this truth and the equal truth that he can (in any case) be spiritually discerned through the exercise of love which he himself inspires.” This is true… No one has ever physically seen God, but they have seen Jesus (John 1:18). We are told in Exodus 33:20, “But he added, "You cannot see my face, for humans cannot see me and live.” However, God dwells in us and this is evidenced when we show love for one another, and for him. We do not need to see God for him to dwell in us. God dwells in us, so we can show him to others by loving others. By loving one another it shows that God is in us and when we love one another we are loving completely or the way that God intended. The truth, reality and concluding thought to this passage is We can love properly because God has loved us properly.
 Smalley, Stephen S. Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 51 – 1, 2, 3 John. Word Books, Waco. 1984. Page 237
 Burge, Gary M. The NIV Application Commentary: The Letters of John. Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids. 1996. Page 186, 187
 Smalley, Stephen S. Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 51 – 1, 2, 3 John. Word Books, Waco. 1984. Page 246
This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday October 27th, 2019.
There are many teachings, beliefs and religions claiming to possess “the way” to God in this world today. All or most of them either claim to have the key eternal life, nirvana or happiness or they mix and match different theological and philosophical beliefs together to make up a personal religion custom designed for every person. We live in a pluralist society where the idea of one truth, one means of salvation and one God are considered narrow minded and ridiculous teaching. Religious tolerance is proclaimed across the globe and if you even think about exposing a certain teaching as false you are judged as hateful, judgmental person and is intolerant.
Christians are often looked upon as people who are stuck in the dark ages because we have committed to living our lives believing Jesus is the only way, the only truth and the only life and without him you cannot have the eternal life. We live in a consumer-minded culture where the consumer can pick and choose wherever he/she desires (restaurants, department stores, electronics etc.). People in the world cannot grasp the concept of there being only one way when it comes to faith.
Many years ago, Oprah Winfrey was confronted by a member of her television studio audience in relation to her views about God. The person mentioned the words of Jesus being the way, the truth and the life and she responded, “There couldn’t possibly be only one way… there are millions of ways that lead a person to the Light or what others call god!” In Oprah’s mind there are millions of ways to finding your way to what one thinks is God.
With the millions of philosophical thoughts, ideas, and teachings how is one ever able to discern the truth? How can you and I ever find the truth in this plethora of religious thought that the world is so lovingly embracing and pushing on us and our children? Is there a litmus test, if I may, in discerning the truth? If so, how can you and I know that our way is the only way? I will address some of those questions today.
Today we are picking up in our study of 1 John in chapter 4. We are God’s children and we live righteous lives by pursuing holiness or right living through loving one another. We have learned and established that world will know we are God’s children by how we live and how we treat one another. In 3:24 John reminds us to keep the commands of God (Love God and love others) and we can do this because His Spirit abides in us. The Spirit of God dwells in every believer and only through His Spirit we can love and live the way God intended.
At the conclusion of chapter 3 John references the Spirit of God that abides in us and in chapter 4 John reminds his readers the warning against false teachers/prophets who were out in the world teaching under the inspiration and authority of other spirits that are not from God. Apparently with this church division there were individuals who had come in and divided the church over bad doctrine and false teaching and John continues to remind them to be on guard of people claiming to proclaim a different Gospel.
“In the 1st century it was common for people to claim special inspiration for their teachings, as the apostles claimed the Holy Spirit as the source of their teaching. Now John warns the church to test teachers who claim to give inspired teaching for that teaching’s source.”
During the early Church most communities met in homes. Being a young church, they didn’t have many formalities, no creeds or doctrines to unify (or divide) the body. There certainly wasn’t a New Testament because it hadn’t been written or established yet. All these home churches had were the letters from the Apostles, commissioned teachers from the apostles and accounts from eye witnesses of Jesus Christ. Oral communication was necessary because these churches relied on representatives of the Gospel who would come and teach. Paul had sent out letters and Timothy and Silas as representatives. John did the same and sent out His elders. Unlike today sometimes these churches didn’t know who was going to preach when they met. Problems arose in the church when certain teachers would come to town (called Pneumatics – Teachers claiming their message was divine) claiming to have the authority of God and teaching a different Gospel. Many churches were susceptible to false teachings because they didn’t understand what was true and what was false. The churches simply trusted the person claiming authority had authority. John was telling this church to not trust every teaching that comes into the church. John reminds the recipients of this letter that they have the TRUE Spirit of God, so it is their job to be able to discern between the truth and false teaching.
1 John 4:1-6
Vs 1 – Beloved – esteemed, dear, dearly beloved. John continues to speak to this church as people who he loves and holds close to his heart. He is assuring them that he is not being a harsh dictator but as one who has a great love and affection for this body of believers.
“do not believe every spirit” – He warns his readers to not commit to, be persuaded by or have confidence in every doctrine of teaching that comes through the church doors. The word “spirit” is from the Greek word “Pneuma” and it means breath or a movement of air, a simple essence. It also refers to an immaterial being who is higher than man but lower than God (i.e. angels, demons etc). So, John is referring to spiritual beings, but I think he is also referring to those who represent these spiritual beings; false prophets. He warns the church to test any breath that breathes words spoken in the name of God. So, John is saying, “do not be quick to commit yourself to any old teaching that sounds spiritual, religious or even enticing.”
“test the spirits” – Instead John calls the church to test, examine or conclude after examination to see if this spirit is from God or not. The applies today as there are a plethora of spiritual teachings in this world and honestly some of them sound appealing and in some cases could be much easier to accept than the truth of the true biblical Gospel. John writes that we are to examine the teachings we hold dear, what we believe and why we believe it. Just because something sounds nice, positive or spiritual does not necessarily mean it is from God.
“for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” There are people in the world who are spreading false teachings. There are men and women who say Jesus is not and cannot be the only way. They may claim to have an enlightening experience where God showed them something more, had a dream or vision, or are just plain devious and desire to lure you from the truth.
Vs. 2 – 3: These two verses serve as a litmus test for genuine Christian faith. As Christians you and I have devoted our lives to Jesus Christ and we have surrendered our will, life and very being to Him. We purpose to live with Christ as the head of our lives and have committed to living in obedience, love and in a manner glorifying to the Father. Christians are to love God with our whole being. We are completely and utterly in love with Jesus and we are committed to living in obedience to His commands. We are committed to love one another, to live our lives sacrificially for one another, and live life together as brothers and sisters in Christ for the glory of God. Since we are followers of Jesus Christ any teaching that pushes us away from Him is not of God.
If anything, or anyone comes proclaiming a message that takes away from the Lordship of Jesus Christ in your life is not from God. Anyone who says Jesus did not come in the flesh, did not die on the cross, was not raised from the dead and did not ascend to heaven and sits at the Father’s right hand is not of God. Maybe you have heard someone say, “I believe Jesus was a good moral teacher but he is certainly not the ONLY way to God” or you may have heard someone say, “I like some of the things Jesus says, but I like some teachings of Buddha, Confucius, and Vishnu. I like some of the words of the Bhagavad Gita, and the Koran… all religions have some good components to them and I like to pick and choose what I believe.” One that is becoming more and more common, “I don’t believe in any kind of God and I certainly don’t believe the myth of Jesus Christ.” These are not God inspired statements. John says, “If a spirit confesses Jesus as God incarnate it is from God. If it doesn’t it is not.” It is a simple test, yet it is effective for the Christian.
If a spirit does not confess Jesus is it not from God, and it is from the evil one… the antichrist; the adversary of the messiah. These teachings are dangerous and as believers we are not to concede to or embrace them.
Vs 4 – We are children of God… Take moment and let that sink in. We possess the Spirit of truth in us; thus, we have overcome the false teachings of the world. The Spirit of God resides in you (if you are a believer) and is more powerful, it is greater than any power, being or spiritual force that is out there. Romans 8:38 – 39 says, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We are victorious as believers and the ways of the world cannot and will not overtake you or separate you from the love of God.
Vs 5 – False teachers and teachings are rooted in the world. If you recall the world is synonymous to the godless world system. The philosophies, theology and teachings of the world are anti-God. They are opposed to God so they will not point to God being the ONLY way. People will love these false teachers because of their false teachings. The world will embrace the idea of living your life however you want, you do not need accountability, God cannot be the only way, you don’t need to commit to only one God, don’t worry about sin, don’t bother with pursuing holiness or right living. Live for yourself and you will find happiness and heaven. This is what the world loves and embraces.
Vs 6 – We are from God and not of the world, so the way we live our lives should look VERY different from the way the world lives. The way we live our lives should distinguish us from the world. We are called to live separate from the world. While we do abide in the world, we are not to embrace the ways of the world. Devotion to God will separate us from the world and it will cause tension in our lives.
How to protect ourselves from spiritual deception
Richards, L. O. (1991; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996). The Bible readers companion (electronic ed.) (895). Wheaton: Victor Books.
This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday October 20th, 2019.
First John is a letter that was written by the Apostle John to a struggling church in Asia Minor. He is also the author of the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation. We are currently in an ongoing series in 1 John entitled, “Love Letter”. We have been going through this book verse by verse as we see the context in which John was writing (Who was he writing to and for what purpose), and how this epistle is applicable to us today as well (What is it saying to us today). As you all should know from previous sermons, the main topic of this book is love. The love spoken in this context is the kind of love that leads to a transformational life and gives us a picture as to what our lives should look like. In addition to the message of love John gives warnings to the believers of this church to not be deceived by false teachers and doctrines that were in this church and he also warns them to keep their affections for the world at bay.
Last week, I talked about the incredible privilege we believers have in being named children of God. Since we are children of God, we have a responsibility as to how we conduct our lives. The concluding thought for the message was this…the life you live reveals who you serve. This means that how you conduct your daily lives speaks volumes about the God (or god) whom you serve. The person who continually lives in willful sin and disobedience to God, serves the devil. However, the one who lives in obedience to God’s Word and His commands serves Jesus.
Today we are going to continue in this series as we look at 1 John Chapter 3:11 -24. This portion of scripture is what commentator Stephen S. Smalley writes, “The second condition for living as God’s children: obedience.” This passage bridges the former topic what it looks to be a child of God (you are a child of God so remain in Him) to how to live as a child of God (since you are a child of God you must live in obedient love).
Verse ten is the connecting verse to this new condition. The concluding thought is that the life you live reveals the God you serve, but in the same sense it sets up the introduction of the new condition of obedience, which basically means that if you are a believer you will live your life in obedience to the commands of God.
Verse 11: The message of loving one another is something believers have heard from the beginning. The command of Jesus Christ was to love one another, in John 13:34, 35 He said, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” This new command, love one another, is the message that they have heard since the establishing of the Christian faith. We will soon see that love is the foundation of the Christian life because not only are we commanded to love, but we are commanded to love as Jesus loved. The love you have for one another will be evidence of your faith in Jesus Christ… It will identify you as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
John has talked about loving and hating your brothers and sisters. In the previous verse John says that someone who is not doing right in God’s eyes is the one who does not love his brother or sister, so it is imperative to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Verse 12: Interestingly John shows the direct opposite example of what love is not through the story of Cain and Able. I assume you are all familiar with the story of Cain and Abel. Even if you are not familiar with the Bible it is more than likely that you know this murderous story found in Genesis 4:3 - 7. (Go to passage).
Here are some things we know about the story of Cain and Abel…
The reason Cain murdered his brother was because his deeds (actions) were evil and his brother’s deeds were righteous. Cain was not right with God and this led to him choosing the path of evil over the ways of God.
Verse 13: If Cain hated his brother because his deeds were righteous, then we should not be surprised when the world, who does not know God, hates us when we do what is right or stand up for righteousness sake. I do not think it is wrong to speculate that Cain was jealous of his brother’s righteous deeds and this was the early seed to his hatred. His jealousy led to hatred and his hatred led to murder and this is not uncommon in the world today. In the world today, people are often criticized or even punished for doing what is right, and this is simply because the world does not know God. Evil, hatred and murder all begin in the heart
Verse 14: When we choose to live in obedience to God’s command to love, we choose life. But the one who does not, chooses disobedience to God’s command and has chosen the pathway of death and he/she will remain in the clutches of death. Choosing the former pathway often leads to bitterness, anger, hatred, etc.
Verse 15: John now gets to the root of hated and he calls it what it really is… murder. John recollects the words and teaching of Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount.in Matthew 5:21 – 22 (Read). It is in the sermon Jesus shows that sin is not only a physical act, but it is also and primarily a matter of the heart.
Jesus teaches these three truths about hate and murder
Verse 16: We are now shown the true act of love. We love because Jesus showed us how to love properly. Jesus gave us an example of love through his sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. But Jesus’ love wasn’t just an example of love, it was love displayed and given. Jesus gave his life on the cross because of his love for us and he displayed this love through his sacrifice
John opens our eyes to the truth of love as an act of sacrifice. We show true love to others by sacrificing. Sadly, our society has cheapened the act of love by defining love as an intense emotional attraction and feeling you have towards someone that just happens naturally. An example is a man saying, “My girlfriend and I fell in love…” This insinuates that the act of love was stumbled upon or tripped into, like a random act rooted in an intense emotional connection and feeling. Many also define love as the act of sex. Many people who believe they are in love because they have shared the physical act of sex, when in fact the physical act of sex is not what makes people love one another. In both instances love is cheapened because these worldly definitions are temporary. I have heard married couples say, “We have fallen out of love.” True biblical love does not have an end to it.
True biblical marriage is an example of sacrificial love. Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church…” How did he love the church? He loved the church by giving his life for her. Men, we ought to love our wives this way. Men/husbands we have a responsibility to love our wives sacrificially. We must be willing to die for our wives. We must not only say we love; we must show we love.
Fortunately for us Jesus never “falls out of love with us.” True biblical love defined could be summed up in one word…sacrifice. Jesus gave his life for us, and this was the ultimate example and action of love by God. So, John says that since Jesus showed His love to us in this way, then we ought to do the same for one another. How do you do that practically?
Verse 17: John gives us one example of this love in action and it is still true today. He is speaking to believers who have material possessions and responding to needs. He says if one has worldly or material possessions and can share and refuses to show compassion by helping those in need, this person does not truly have the love of God in them. John is not speaking just to the wealthy; he is speaking to all Christians who are able to help, and they should do so as well. You see, sometimes we expect the wealthy to care for the poor and needy, but those of us who have what we need to live have the responsibility to share with the needy as well.
What this looks like practically varies from believer to believer. Christians should be generous givers. Now, I believe John is speaking to those within the church and really there should be no person in the body of Christ who is destitute and in need of the essentials of life. Since John is speaking to the believers of this church, on the other hand we know that Jesus commands us in Matthew 5:38 – 48 to love our neighbors as well. (Read)
Verse 18: John takes this thought one step further by saying that we must not only love in word or speech, but through our actions and in truth. This means that love must be active and not hypothetical. We are not called to just speak love, but we are to show love through our actions which are divinely inspired works from God, through the Holy Spirit. Christians are called and commanded to love actively and genuinely.
Verses 19 – 24: Once again John tells us and his readers that our words and actions show that we belong to Him and gives us assurance in knowing that we are not condemned. Our hearts and emotions may try and condemn us, but God is bigger than our hearts and emotions. We must allow God to be the one who give us assurance and not our emotions and feelings. In fact, everything is grounded in God and faith in Jesus Christ.
Now, as John concludes this chapter, he ties everything together by reminding us that love alone is not all that we as Christians are required to do. First and foremost, if we are to truly love the way God intends for us to love it must be rooted in Jesus Christ. Gary Burge writes in his commentary of 1 John, “We are to believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another. Verse 24 make explicit that the success of such love only comes when we are living in intimacy with the Son, an intimacy that takes place when the Son is genuinely living in us and we in Him…The virtues of the Christian life cannot be lived apart from a relationship with God, a relationship defined and sustained by Jesus Christ.”
In this passage we have seen the importance of obedient love. Jesus commands us to love and He has shown us what love it through His actions. Jesus did not merely tell about His love, He modeled it and displayed it on the cross of Calvary. Since he has shown us love through sacrifice, we should love sacrificially as well. What does that look like for you?
We also see that speaking love is not enough. Our words must be through our deeds. If we say we love and do not care for our brothers and sisters in need, then the love of God is not is us. How can you make these changes in your life?
Our love in action means nothing in a spiritual sense if it is not all based in Jesus Christ. So, let everything you do be done in the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.
 Smalley, Stephen S. Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 51 – 1, 2, 3 John. Word Books, Waco. 1984. Page 145
 Wenham, G. J. (1987). Genesis 1–15 (Vol. 1, p. 104). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
 Burge, Gary M. The NIV Application Commentary: The Letters of John. Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids. 1996. Page 165
This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday October 13th, 2019.
For the past five weeks we have been going through the epistle 1 John. Today continue our study as we dig into chapter 2:28 – 3:10. If you recall, this short letter was written to a church in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) who was going through a hard time as they had recently faced a church split or a division that was caused by false teaching and bad doctrine. Up to this point in the letter the apostle John has written to warn this church to stay away from these false teachers and their heretical doctrine. He also wrote to exhort his readers to stay faithful and grounded in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. He spends some time writing about the conduct of a believer in order to show who he/she belongs to by living in obedience to God, thus he should live a God-honoring life. The faithfulness and obedience of the believer to God is foundational because according to the Apostle they were living in the last hour, and this would result in people being deceived.
Last week we I talked about the four pathways to deception which were apathy, deceit, confusion, and temptation. I then talked about the two ways we can safeguard ourselves so that we do not fall into the deception of the last hour. We are to be rooted in the Word of God by reading, studying and even memorizing it and by also allowing the Holy Spirit to be our teacher and guide.
Now John changes course in his letter as he directs his readers to know the privilege they have in being children of God and this should bring them confidence in God and His promises.
1 John 2:28 – 3:10
Vs 28: “So now little children…” John continues this train of thought… He writes specifically to the Christians (little children) in the church “since we are living in the last hour it is important for you to remain, continue, or abide in Jesus. John is referencing the second coming of Jesus Christ. He is encouraging believers to continue living in obedience and love to Jesus. Remaining faithful and obedient will give confidence to the believer when Jesus does come back.
In regards to the second-coming of Jesus The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 14:10b – 11, “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” There will be a day when we stand before the throne of God and those who have believed on the name of Jesus and remained in Him will stand in confidence before the throne. However, we will not stand in our own confidence (proud or boastful because we were able to live a disciplined and holy life), we will stand in the confidence of what Jesus has done for us. Believers can and will have confidence at his second coming. We are not in danger of losing our salvation (they/we are his children; we belong to Jesus Christ already.) This will be a glorious day for us who believe and a horrible day for those who do not.
There will be two reactions at Christ’s appearance
Justification means that we are declared innocent before God. This is grace in action. Romans 8:30 says, “And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.” Now, keep your attention on this passage as I will be talking about glorification a little later. If you are a true believer in Jesus Christ you can have confidence in the truth that God has predestined (chose) you to be his, thus he has called you to himself, and since he called you to be his child, you have been justified. When you responded to God’s call in your life through faith in Jesus Christ you were justified in the presence of God. Through him you are declared innocent (you are no longer declared guilty because of your sins) because through the shed blood of Jesus Christ you are justified. So, your righteousness (doing what is right, obedient, following Jesus, justification) is evidence of your rebirth. Note, your righteousness is not why you have been given new life, it is the evidence of new life.
Vs 3:1: Do you understand how much God loves you? Since you have been justified, you are not only declared innocent, you are now declared a child of God. This is a privilege we all have through grace. We do not deserve to be sons and daughters of God, but because of God’s great love and grace for us he has adopted us as his children. The idea of being adopted sons and daughters is spoken of by the Apostle Paul who paints a beautiful picture of what it means to be adopted, listen and let this truth sink in as I read Ephesians 1:4 – 6, “For He chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy, blameless in love before him. He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One.” Through God’s grace we have become adopted sons and daughters of Jesus Christ. We belong to him and since we belong to him we have the right and privilege to be called his children.
“See what great love the Father has given to us that we should be called God’s children – and we are!” I love this final declaration… “And we are!” We can see John’s excitement in his declaration, and this should excite us as well. Commentator I. Howard Marshall says that this (exclamation) is an act of “legitimation” and Gary Burge says, “This is an act of legitimation in which the father names his child and thereby makes a permanent claim to identity and ownership. Hence it is not in the child’s hands! Rather, this identity is entirely in the Father’s hands, so that the child’s security is assured.”
Now, as Christians or children of God we are commanded to not love or be influenced by the world. Since we do not love the world, the world does not and cannot know us because we are God’s children and the world does not know our Father.
Verse 2: We are God’s children and we know our Father; however, we do not fully know everything about the Father, and about what we will be like at the second coming of Jesus Christ. Stephen S. Smalley writes in his commentary of 1 John, “The Christians knowledge of heaven, and indeed of God himself, is bound to be incomplete during our earthly pilgrimage. We shall only ‘know fully as we are fully known’ when we see the Lord ‘face to face’, Meanwhile a humble confession of our ignorance about the ultimate truth of God, and the salvation in Christ which makes possible, is a desirable attitude for the Christian to take.” Even though we do not have the specific details and full knowledge of God, we do know that when we stand before the Lord at the end we will be like Him.
Glorification: The end of this chapter describes a theological term that is the final step in the soteriological process. Now, this is a big way of saying that glorification is the final step in the act of God redeeming us. Glorification is what we become when die and stand in the presence of God. The doctrine of glorification describes what the Christian will become once he has died and is resurrected in the presence of the Father. It is the state where we will be given new bodies, all our unrighteous deeds and acts will be burned away like chaff, and we will be made fully holy and righteous.
Verse 3: This gives us hope. We have hope because we have been purified and one day we will be glorified. Our hope lies in the truth that we are currently children of God, and one day we will be glorified in the presence of God. This hope is both present and future. We have hope today because Jesus died for our sins and we have been justified before God and our hope is future because one day we will stand before the Lord and receive new bodies and made holy and righteous.
Verse 4: John now turns his discussion from justification and glorification to the tension or pull between sin and righteousness. John writes, “Everyone who commits sin practices lawlessness and sin is lawlessness.” In this passage we have a clear and concise definition of sin… sin is lawlessness. He is declaring that sinners break the law. The law is considered the rule or word given by God and when one has disregard for the law and pays no heed to it and does as they please, they commit sin. Christians are called to live lives of obedience to God’s Word and commands, and antichrists live lives of disobedience and rebellion to His Word and commands.
Verse 5: Jesus came and died so that sin may be defeated. He gave his life so that anyone who believes in Him is called, justified and ultimately glorified. He was the perfect sacrifice because Jesus is sinless.
Verse 6: If we go back 1 John 2:28 we know that we are called to abide or remain in Jesus. Those who abide in Jesus do not live in sin (we do not run to sin, allow sin to rule in their lives… willful, ongoing sin). We need to be careful that we do not misunderstand what John is saying. He is not saying that the Christian can aspire to live a holy and sin free life here on earth. He is speaking specifically to those who live in willful sin and they are not from God. We must also be careful to not misunderstand that since we are Christians, we do sin and since God is in the forgiving business it is ok to remain in sin. The Apostle Paul confronted people who tried to justify sinful living and being a Christian. In Romans 6:1 – 3a he writes, “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” John and Paul both agree that those who belong to Jesus cannot live in willful disobedience and sin. Truth be told, we are sinners saved by grace and we all struggle with sin in some capacity in our lives. Sometimes we give in to our sins and often, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can refrain from sin. I do not believe that this is the sin Paul and John are talking about… I believe they are confronting those who are living openly and unashamedly in sin, all the while calling themselves Christians.
Even though this passage can be a bit confusing I do not believe John is indicating that one can reach a state of sinless perfection, nor does God require it from his children. We are, however, to pursue holiness in our lives, but we will not be perfected until the day we stand before the Father in glorification.
Verses 8 – 10: If one remains in sin and continues living in sin is from the devil. The devil has been in the sin business since he was kicked out of heaven. The sole purpose in Jesus coming to the earth was to destroy the devils work and to glorify God.
So, if you are born of God (a true believer in Jesus Christ) then you will not live in sin. But the one who continues and abides in sin is of the devil. If you only hear one thing today I want you to hear this… The life you live reveals who you serve. How you conduct your daily lives speaks volumes about who you serve. If you continually live in willful sin and disobedience, then you serve the devil. However, if you live in obedience to God’s Word and His commands then you serve your Jesus. So, if you consider yourself a born-again believer in Jesus Christ then know you are an ambassador of Christ. According to 2 Corinthians 5:20, we are ambassadors of Jesus Christ and since we are ambassadors, we represent our Father, so we must live our lives to honor and glorify his name.
 Marshall, I Howard. The Epistles of John, Eerdmans Books, Grand Rapids. 19978 Page 170 - 171
 Burge, Gary M. The NIV Application Commentary: The Letters of John. Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids. 1996. Page 146
 Smalley, Stephen S. Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 51 – 1, 2, 3 John. Word Books, Waco. 1984. Page 145
This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday October 6th, 2019.
We are continuing our series through John’s first Epistle. Last week I talked about loving God, and not the world. I talked about how the world has nothing for you that is of eternal value. The world may offer what falsely looks to be a promise of fun, excitement, and freedom but the end results in the shackles of evil, emptiness, and estrangement from God.
Today we will be looking at 1 John 1:18 – 27 and we will see how we are living in the last hour and in this last hour we are susceptible to being deceived by those who oppose Jesus. In our time together we will look at ways we can be deceived and look at the safeguards we can take to protect us from deception.
Verse 18: Once again, John is talking specifically to the believers in this church and he is informing them that it is the last (final, lowest) hour (season or specific time).The last hour refers specifically to the time between Jesus’ ascension and his imminent second coming. John is talking about an undetermined time for all of God’s promises to be fulfilled. According to Gary Burge in his commentary on 1 John, “Sometimes the ‘last hour’ refers to a short period; sometimes its length is longer. Peter warns that God’s measuring of time is not like ours, for to the Lord a thousand years is like a day. God is above time. But when the end does come – and here the New Testament writers are in one accord – it will surprise everyone, including Christians. It will be seen by unbelievers as an unexpected catastrophe.” Since Jesus’ Second Coming has not happened yet, it is safe to say that we are still living in the last hour, so this warning also applies to us today.
Apparently, the teaching of Antichrist was common knowledge among the people. Antichrist(s) are those who are adversary/opponent of the Messiah. Broadly, the term antichrist is anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ. However, John speaks of a person (who has been spoken of as coming) who will be a representative of “the evil one” of whom Jesus spoke of in his prayer, plus he speaks of the many antichrists or adversaries of Jesus who had already come during this time and these antichrist’s have continued throughout history and these are who John refers to as antichrists. With the rise of the opposition to Jesus (antichrists) this is evidence that they/we are in fact living in the last hour.
Verse 19: These present and past antichrists or adversaries of Jesus Christ or more specifically the false teachers had left the church and they did not continue in the ways of Jesus. They continued to teach and spread a false gospel and caused many to stray from the true faith of Jesus Christ. John tells the readers that these adversaries were not of God for if they had been true to the Gospel then they would have stayed in the Church. Their departure was evidence of their evil ways and anti-Christian teachings, and they were never part of the church in the first place.
Verse 20: However, those who have remained in the church are faithful and they have been anointed by the Holy Spirit. These are the true believers and those who have true faith in Jesus Christ. I will speak more directly on this in verse 27.
Verse 21: John is writing to this church because they know the truth, since they know the truth, they should not be susceptible the deceit and lies of those who teach them. This congregation has been equipped through the anointing of the Holy Spirit and thus have the Spirit of truth in them
Verse 22: Antichrist defined – The antichrist is a liar and he is one who denies or rejects God and Jesus Christ. One who is unregenerate and has refused the Gospel in their life. They are liars and there is no truth in them. If you look ahead to 1 John 4:2 – 3 it says, “This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is from God, but every spirit that does not confess Jesus in not from God. This is the spirit of antichrist, which you have heard is coming; even now it is already in the world.”
Verse 23: John now shows the oneness of Jesus Christ and God. He states if you deny one then you deny the other. On the other hand, if you confess the Son then the Father is present in your life.
Verse 24: John encourages his readers to stay true (and not stray from the false teachings) to what they heard from the beginning because this is the true authentic Gospel Message of Jesus Christ (life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus). If they hold to the truth of the Gospel, then Jesus Christ will abide in God the Father and Jesus the Son. What happens when we stray from the truth of the Gospel? We are deceived by those who oppose Jesus Christ.
Verse 25: The Gospel message contains a promise… “Those who believe in Jesus, confess their sins and abide in Jesus Christ will have eternal life (which begins here on earth).
Verse 26: The letter is written so that the believers would not be deceived. Unfortunately, there are some in the church who are trying to deceive the believers and John is telling them to be on guard. Deception comes in various forms and it is very subtle, and I believe it is important to identify how we can be led down the pat of deception. Here are four ways… These are by no means the only four pathways to deception.
Four Pathways to Deception
Verse 27: The anointing – anything smeared or poured on. The Holy Spirit has been smeared or poured out on us (unction) and is continually present in us. John tells his readers since the Holy Spirit dwells in them then the Holy Spirit is their teacher and they have no need for other teachers who claim to have the Spirit in them and teach them. This is true for us. Ultimately the Holy Spirit is our guide and teacher in this life.
John is not saying that biblical teachers are unnecessary; he is saying that teachers who come claiming a new Gospel are not from God. One author wrote, “It is no contradiction that we should listen receptively to other believers, especially when they admonish and instruct us. They also have the same Spirit, and the confusion generated by false teaching is a real danger.” The Holy Spirit is our teacher and He will reveal the truth to us when we abide in Him (Christ), however, God does empower and use men and women who are anointed by the Spirit to teach us the truths of God and Scripture.
We are living in the last/final hour, so we need to be ready, prepared and on guard because there are people in the world who are teaching false Gospels. These people are working against Jesus. They promote a false message that is deceptive and give a false sense of security. There are teachers teaching a false messages of prosperity Gospel, or one that tells you that God’s main concern is your health, wealth and happiness. They teach that you are the center of God’s universe and if you are faithful to Him (and the pastor preaching the message) you will be blessed with an abundance of wealth, a life free from sickness, and a happiness that is rooted in possessions. To the unfaithful they will not receive God’s blessing thus being unhealthy, poor, and miserable. We know this is to untrue. The Gospel is not based on you and your happiness. It is grounded in Jesus and what He has done and the promise he made to all who believe. These false teachers are working against Jesus and the Kingdom and therefore they are called antichrists.
Unfortunately, a plethora of people are beings deceived on regular basis. They are deceived primarily by the four pathways that I spoke of earlier. So, how do safeguard ourselves from deception? Well, I believe the answer is found in this passage. Here are
2 safeguards from deception found in vss. 24 – 28
 Burge, Gary M. The NIV Application Commentary: The Letters of John. Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids. 1996. Page 127
This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday Sept. 29th, 2019.
Love God, Not the World
1 John 2:12 - 17
We are continuing our series through John’s first Epistle. Last week I talked about the importance of obedient love. I challenged you to ask yourself a core question regarding your relationship with God and it was, “What is the motivating factor in your relationship with God?”
Outline of the text
This week we will continue in 1 John 2 as I will talk about verses 12 – 17. These seven verses are divided into two sections.
Now, if you went ahead and read these passages and you are a bit confused, don’t worry because even theologians are a but mystified by verses 12, 13, and 14. One commentator writes, “If we have been following John’s argument thus far, the present text, particularly verses 12 – 14, seems to fuel the observation of many interpreters that portions of the letter lack logical coherence.” What he is saying is that up to this point John seems to have a logical train of thought in writing this letter, but now his thought process seems to take a slight diversion… but he continues, “However, these verses are a parenthesis, a pause, designed to reassure, John’s readers about their own relationship to God and, as (John) Stott says,’ to rob counterfeit Christians of their false assurance’.”
What makes these verses difficult to interpret is that uncertainty of who John is speaking to (children, fathers, young men… I will speak to this in a moment) and the repetition in his writing (He repeats himself in these verses).
However, in verses 15 – 17 John resumes his thought process as he issues a warning about being mindful that we do not allow our affections for the world exceed our love for the Father.
(Read 1 John 2:12 – 17)
Little Children, Fathers, and Young Men
Verses 12 - 14
As I mention before, the first problem in interpreting this passage is determining who John is writing to. Some take the literal approach where they say that John is talking to the children, fathers, and young men of the church. On the other hand, some say that John is talking to people at various stages of their spiritual walk or development (i.e. children = new converts… your sins are forgiven, fathers = established in faith… you have known God from the beginning, and young men = those still growing in faith… you have conquered the evil one). The third is similar to the second one and shows that John is speaking to the church as a whole (little children: If you recall at the beginning of the chapter John refers to the people of this church he is writing as “My little children”). And then he addresses the fathers as those who are the spiritual leaders of the church (i.e. church officers…elders, presbyters). The young men refer to those who are more hands on in ministry (i.e. deacons or servants).
Regardless, John is writing to these individuals to let them know their sins are forgiven, they know the Father intimately and they have overcome evil because of Jesus Christ. This is true for us today. The body of Christ, the Church, those who have believed on the name of Jesus and have received him as Lord and Savior have been forgiven (Romans 10:9 - 10). Those of you who are mature or maturing in your faith belong to Jesus you now know the Father (1 Corinthians 8:3), you love the Father (1 John 4:19), and you obey the Father (1 John 2:3). Thus, we can know for certain that we have overcome the evil one (Romans 12:21).
Do Not Love the World
Everyone (whether we know it or not) has a choice to make in life. Will you live your life for the glory of God the Father (obedience), or will you invest your life in the world? In the second half of chapter two in John’s he pleads with this hurting group of believers to keep their affections for God.
John begins by saying “Do not love the world or the things in the world.” He implores them to not devote their lives serving and seeking approval from the godless world system.
The word love in verse fifteen in the Greek is Agapeo which means affection, to love dearly, to welcome and be fond of. The world he speaks of is translated as the order, government, whole mass of men that is alienated from God, or World affairs. It speaks of the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc., which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce people from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ.
John tells his readers “Do not welcome or have fond affection towards the world system (which is godless) that stirs up ungodly desires in our hearts. These desires may be fulfilling for a moment, but they are short lived, insubstantial, and ultimately they seduce people from following God. This world system does not promote or line up with the foundation for living a life that Jesus has established through his teaching, his death and resurrection.
This is a portion of scripture we need to take to heart. The pleasures of this world are passing and momentary. Anything or anyone that becomes a substitute for God in your lifes, or anyone who has a deeper love for earthly or material pleasures and possessions has, indeed, a greater love for the world and the love of the God is not present in them.
At this point we can ask some questions pertaining to our separation from the world. Is John talking about not loving the physical world or earth? Is he talking about not loving the ungodly or unbelievers? Is he telling us to have nothing to do with governments or world affairs? Should we just put up our Christian bubbles around us and live in them without having anything to do with the world outside? We will see in verse 16 what this world looks like.
John gives us the answer to these questions in verse 16. He writes that all that is in the world are the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions. In a nutshell this is what the godless world is at its core. It is a promotion of self and selfish gratification. The world John talks about has NOTHING to do with God and promoting His agenda.
Lust of the flesh – This is a craving, longing or lusting after the sensuous nature of man. The flesh represents the animal nature of humanity which leads to cravings to sin. It is our mere human nature, apart from divine nature (God); therefore, it inclined to sin and to oppose God. The lust or desire of the flesh is the craving or longing to allow the animal or human nature (the nature opposed to God) to be fulfilled. It is a shortsighted and selfish desire to fulfill our base and animalistic needs. William Barclay writes, “It is to live a life which is dominated by the senses. It is to be gluttonous in food; effeminate in luxury; slavish in pleasure; lustful and lax in morals; selfish in the use of possessions; regardless of all spiritual values; extravagant in the gratification of worldly, earthly and material desires. The flesh’s desire is forgetful of, blind to, or regardless of the commandments of God.” When people allow the lust of the flesh to rule their bodies and lives, they live a life that is contrary to God’s divine call. The lives they live are selfish, self-indulgent lives that goes against God’s Word.
Lust of the eyes – The eye(s) are a metaphor for sinful passions which lead to corruption. This refers to the act of coveting or desiring something that is not yours or for you. It is longing for or lustful looking at someone or something that stirs up sinful desires. Jesus addressed this in the Gospels when he said the act of immorality is not always committed in the physical act itself. He said that if you look upon someone with lust then you are just as guilty of committing the act of immorality. The lust of the eyes can also refer a delight in being seen in a grand and magnificent way. The lust of the eyes was/is still something people (Christian and non) struggle with. We live in a hyper-sexualized culture and lust has become a product that people capitalize from. One needs to watch any television show, read many magazines or books, and see commercials to see what I mean. Sex is a multi-billion-dollar business, and many are profiting from this ungodly means of income. However, lust of the eyes (sexual desires, adultery, etc.) is not just a modern day problem (it is just more accessible) but even Job admitted to his weakness in this area as he wrote in Job 31:1, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how could I gaze at a virgin?”
Pride of one’s lifestyle – This is boastful braggart talking. It means to trust in one’s self, and self-dependence. Many times, it is someone who is pretentious or as I call them “big talkers” or narcissists. These people love to tell stories that are modified to make themselves look better than they really are. They are the tall tale tellers who want all the attention focused on them. I have often found with these individuals they always have to one up you or have a more extreme story to tell or a possession that is better than anyone else. It is a self-reliance that makes one think he/she has no need for God or others.
The world and its lusts/or passions are not from God. It doesn’t take much to see how the world outside of Christ has a deep love and fondness for sexual gratification, an obsession with making something look so attractive that you “have to have it” , and it preys on the false teaching that the more you have and the excess indulges you partake in the better your life will be. Worldly thinking goes against God, thus as followers of Him we must not have any fondness or affection for a system that pushes us away from Him.
All that is associated with the world and its system (what we just looked at) are momentary and passing away. I have yet to meet someone who has lived a self-centered life full of indulging in the pleasures of the world without boundaries that is truly and completely satisfied and happy for an extended time. Investing in this world and its godless ways are futile and empty. However, when you invest in doing what God wants you to do (Having a Kingdom perspective) you will be continually walking in his ways and you will ultimately know true joy happiness and satisfaction that is grounded in Him.
So, what is our takeaway for today? Children of God, those who believe and accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, know that your sins are forgiven. You know God and He knows you. You are loved, you are blessed, and you have overcome evil. Sin does not need to run rampant in your life. Since this is the case you should not love the world and all that it has to offer. The world will try to pull you into it’s talons and push you away from God. But know and understand this… The world has nothing for you that is of eternal value. The world may offer what falsely looks to be a promise of fun, excitement, and freedom but the end results in shackles. Shackles of evil, emptiness, and estrangement from God. My friends, do not love the world, or the things of the world because a life dedicated to the world is a life separated from God.
 Burge, Gary M. The NIV Application Commentary: The Letters of John. Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids. 1996. Page 110
Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the text of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurrence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.) (G2889). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday Sept. 22nd, 2019.
Last week we began our series in the epistle I John entitled “Love Letter”. Throughout the next couple of months, we will go through this short epistle and look closely at the purpose of John in writing this letter. In the introduction last week, I gave some background as to why John had written this letter. He was writing to a church that had recently split as a result of bad doctrine and false teaching. Apparently, some influential leaders were teaching a false Gospel and refuting John’s Gospel he preached. These false teachings were an early form of what became popularized in the second century as Gnosticism. Gnosticism is a system of false teachings that existed during the early centuries of Christianity. Its name came from gnosis, the Greek word for knowledge. The Gnostics believed that knowledge was the way to salvation. For this reason, Gnosticism was condemned as false and heretical by several writers of the New Testament. These leaders arose and introduced doctrines that were unbiblical and went against the true teachings of Jesus Christ. According to the Gnostics, the aim of salvation is for the spirit to be awakened by knowledge so the inner person can be released from the earthly dungeon and return to the realm of light where the soul becomes reunited with God. As the soul ascends, however, it needs to penetrate the cosmic spheres that separate it from its heavenly destiny. This is accomplished by knowledge. One must understand certain formulas that are revealed only to the initiated. In a nutshell, Gnostic teachings are based on knowledge. They believe that salvation is attained by acquiring knowledge of God. They often taught that actions or outward words didn’t matter because a true relationship with Jesus is attained by knowledge.
Today, we will continue to look at chapter 2, starting with verse 3. Most of this chapter talks about the Christian walk and how obedience is reflective of the Christian life. He writes concerning the lifestyle a believer in Christ will live if he is truly a believer.
This chapter is a great introduction to how a believer should conduct his/her life for the glory of God. This passage gets to the core question we must all ask ourselves, “What is the motivating factor in your relationship with God?”
1 JOHN 2:3 - 11
In chapter 1 John spends a lot of time establishing the fact that all humans have the common denominator of sin. However, since Jesus Christ came as the manifested Word of God and willingly laid his life down for you and me, we can be cleansed from our sins and made right with God, if only we confess our sins and believe in faith. This does not mean we are no longer subject to sin, it simply means we now have the power and the will to say “no” to sin and it no longer has dominion in our lives.
Verse 3 – So how does one know if they are truly a believer? How does one have assurance that he/she has a relationship with God? Simple, the fruit (or life) we bear.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:15 – 20: “Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. 16 You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.
If you keep his commandments (or we are obedient to him), then you will know you are known by Him. This becomes a little sticky for some people because they can take this to mean that all one must do is follow the rules and this will reserve a spot in heaven for them. This isn’t what John is writing at all. He is writing that the life you live will be the evidence of your relationship with Jesus. I know of some people who are Christians, but they model their lives based upon “doing what is right” so they don’t get punished in the end. This is a fear-based relationship. Now I believe a little healthy fear is needed in the presence of a holy God; but your relationship cannot be based on fear. Fear-based Christians remind me of the kid in school who was always good and pleasant to be around when the teacher was in the room, but as soon as the teacher turned their back or left the room… WATCH OUT! All pandemonium breaks out. These people aren’t model students, nor do they respect the teacher, they just don’t want to get in trouble because if they do then they will be punished, and they don’t like punishment.
John is not talking about having this kind of relationship with God. He is talking about keeping the commandments of the Father because you love, respect, and honor the Father. Your obedience is motivated by love for Him, not consequences.
Verse 4 – 5 - Your actions need to match your profession of faith. If you call yourself a believer in Jesus Christ, but do not live your life in obedience to the Father, then there really is no relationship and you are living a lie. You are living a life of hypocrisy.
But if we live our lives fully committed and obedient to the teachings of Jesus Christ, then God’s love is complete in us. Ultimately, our knowledge (not just intellectual) of God and who He is should lead us to a life of obedience.
Jesus says in John 13:34 – 35, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”
Verse 6 – 8 - If you say you are a believer in Jesus Christ then you must walk in the ways He walked. According to Gary Burge, “To (abide) in him’ goes beyond merely imitating Christ in lifestyle or ‘living as Jesus lived.’ The verb generally describes the indwelling of the Christian in God. It may even depict God dwelling in us.”
Verse 9 -11 – This new/old commandment John speaks of in verse 7 deals with Jesus’ great commandment to love God and to love others. Anyone who calls himself a believer should be clothed in love. If one claims Christ and harbors hatred toward anyone then this person is still walking in the darkness. When we love one another, we are fulfilling God’s commandment by shining the light of Jesus’ love for all to see. When we love we do not give others permission to call us hypocrites or cause others to stumble. Love and hatred cannot co-exist. We cannot truly love if we harbor hatred, bitterness and darkness in our hearts.
One of the number one problems people have with Christians is that we promote love, but we do not necessarily practice it. Unfortunately, there are many who profess Christ yet when they are away from their place of worship or other Christian friends their life and conduct is no different from the rest of the worlds. One of the key indicators of being a Christian is shown in how we love one another and how we love those who are unlovely. Burge writes, “Love becomes a genuine value only when it is tested, only when we must reach beyond ourselves and love someone we do not wish to love. This is the caliber of love John has in mind.”
What does this kind of love look like? Goes against Gnostic teaching (it is more than intellectual… It is spiritual and physical.
3.Does not envy
4.Is not boastful
5.Is not arrogant
6.Is not rude
8.Is not irritable
9.Does not keep records of wrong doings
10.Rejoices in truth
11.Bears all things, believes all things, hopes in all things, endures in all things.
So, in these 8 verses we see the characteristics or qualities of a Christian life. The evidence of our faith is rooted our obedience to commands of the Father. Our obedience does not save us, tour obedience reflects our commitment to Jesus Christ. We are introduced the three claims found in verses 4, 6, 9.
We can sum up Verse 4, 6, 9 as follows.
The whole idea of Christian love verses the worlds love is amazing to me. I feel bad for people who have not experienced true love in the way God intended. So many of us think of love as this feeling we get when we have this overwhelming emotion that overtakes us. Yet the love Jesus displays, and shows is far greater than a feeling. Love is truly an action. This action is the evidence of affection we have towards something or someone (in this case it is God). When we truly love God, we will want to live our lives in obedience and not in fear. Our obedience is not our salvation. Obedience and love are the end result of our salvation. Take some time today and this week and reflect on the love God has shown to humanity. I leave you with a question this morning…, “What is the motivation behind your relationship with God?” Is it fear or is it love? Are you obedient only because you do not want to spend an eternity is torment, hellfire and brimstone? Or, are you obedient because you love Jesus, and His Word and you want to live your life for Him because He is your everything? Stephen Smalley writes, “To obey God necessarily involves Christlikeness and also love, which is the summation of God’ moral law.”
 Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). In Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
 Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). In Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
 Burge, Gary M. The NIV Application Commentary: The Letters of John. Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids. 1996. Page 99
 Burge, Gary M. The NIV Application Commentary: The Letters of John. Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids. 1996. Page 101
 Smalley, Stephen S. WORD BIBLICAL COMMENTARY: Volume 5 – 1, 2, 3 John. Word Books, Waco, Texas. 1984. Page 46
This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday Sept. 15th, 2019.
Today we are beginning an 11-week series that will take us through the book of first John. This is the first of three Epistles written by the Apostle John (He is also the author of the Gospel of John, and Revelation). If you were to read through this first epistle, you would find that love is the central theme, so naturally love will be the theme of this series, hence the title “Love Letter”. Throughout the next couple of months we will look at God’s love shown to us through Jesus Christ; at ways we can love God; how we are called to love one another; loving the truth; Gods love; and having confidence that we are loved because God has given us assurance of eternal life. My prayer for this series is for you is grasp and understand the importance of love in the Christian community (which is local church and the body of Christ at large). I pray that we can all know that when we show love to one another not only are we building community, but we are fulfilling Jesus’ great command to love.
BACKGROUND TO 1 JOHN
Before we get into our message for today, I would like to give some background information for this letter and why it was written. Since the overall picture of John is love, we can better understand how this letter can be applied to our lives today.
After the ascension of Jesus Christ and the disciples disbanded to go their way to fulfill the Great Commission, the Apostle John planted churches in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). This letter is probably directed to these churches or a specific church in general. We are not sure what happened with the church He is writing, but it is assumed that this once very healthy church (or Churches) were experiencing some troubling times. It is believed this church(es) he is writing to recently had a significant split and eventually divided. It is commonly believed that they were divided over bad doctrine. Some theologians believe a very early form of Gnosticism had begun to take root in this church and was the cause of this great uproar.
Gnosticism was a religious movement in early church history that plagiarized Christian themes by spreading false ideas of salvation. Gnostics taught salvation was attained through acquiring knowledge and not through faith in Jesus Christ. They also taught that salvation was attained through acknowledging or affirming the divine light that is already present in the human soul. (If you are interested in learning a little more about Gnosticism you can Google the topic and there are scores of articles written about the Gnostics.). The Gnostic movement was not popularized until the late second century (well after the Apostles were gone) but John was probably facing an early form of Gnosticism that was beginning to surface and take root.
John’s purpose in writing this letter was to set his readers/the church straight on the basics of Christianity, Christian love and unity. According to the notes in the ESV Study Bible, “(1 John) is not a letter of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’. It is rather a manifesto of ‘DONE’… (It) highlights what God the Father has ‘done’ in sending Christ the Son.”
John was an eyewitness to the accounts, words and works of Jesus Christ. He was present with Jesus when he was alive and after his death and resurrection thus this establishes him as an authority of the Gospel which had been so badly misinterpreted or changed. One of the churched John planted in Ephesus was made up of men and women who lived alongside Greeks and knew little to nothing about the O.T. or the ways of Judaism. They were not a group of believers who were caught up in rules and regulations, but instead had a firm dedication to Jesus Christ first and foremost. The church(es) had experienced great fellowship and community in its early stages. In the latter years they began to experience divisions and were being torn apart. Dissenters or rebellious individuals began to emerge in leadership who were very familiar with John’s Gospel account; however, they claimed to have a greater knowledge of God. They claimed to be inspired by God and challenged John’s Gospel message. A modern-day example would be synonymous to someone claiming, “The Gospel is no longer relevant for today. The message of sin, hell, crucifixion, and redemption is archaic. We are living in 2019 and nobody wants to hear this message anymore. People want to be encouraged, lifted up and assured eternal life because they are ultimately good at the core and do good things for in society.” Whenever the Gospel message is changed or perverted, we start seeing heretical teachings or bad theology proclaimed. These leaders in Asia Minor were basically saying, regardless of John’s eyewitness account and life spent with Jesus, his message is not really the message God wanted proclaimed or is not relevant for today. The leaders said, “regardless of what John said God spoke to us and told us that His message is wrong, irrelevant and outdated. What we have to say is actually the truth.” These people caused a great raucous in the church. People began to listen to these leaders while others declared them heretics and thus the fellowship was broken.
In response to this division John writes a letter in hopes of setting the church straight (doctrinally), and promoting love, unity and fellowship. His letter places great emphasis on Christian community and fellowship. The essential message is… “If you understand God’s love (through the teaching of Christ) then you will love God, you will love your brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, and you will love the truth.” Love originates from God and we can love the way He loves because He has given us His Spirit. Gary M. Burge writes in his commentary on the Letters of John, “God loves us, we love Him, and this love spills over to those near us.”
1 JOHN 1:1 – 10
John begins with a very complex and sometimes confusing opening paragraph. According to many commentaries this opening paragraph is a grammatical mess. It appears John had a lot on his mind that he wanted to say, and he just poured everything out on the paper in this first paragraph. He puts everything out there and decides to work out what he has just written throughout the letter. So basically, there is no outline, structure or organization to his letter.
Verse 1: This first verse refers to Jesus. The Word of Life = Jesus Christ. Since the beginning of His ministry John has been with Jesus. He was an eyewitness to all Jesus had said and done. He heard Jesus’ words with his own ears. He saw Jesus with his own eyes. He physically touched Jesus, ate with him, walked with him and he even rested on the chest of Jesus.
Verse 2 & 3: All John saw and heard from Jesus (his teachings) was for the distinct purpose of fellowship. He had fellowship with the Father, with the Apostles and the Apostles with the Father. The purpose of God’s incarnation through Jesus Christ was to reveal Himself to humanity. The revelation of himself to humanity was intended so we could have true fellowship with Him. We can have a relationship with God ONLY because He made himself available to us through Jesus Christ.
Verse 4: The purpose of this letter is intended for encouragement so the readers could experience the full joy of Christ.
Verse 5: The central message of Jesus was to proclaim God is essence of all that is good. He is perfect, pure and complete in all ways. His power, wisdom, mercy, judgment, love, grace & etc. are all perfect and complete. He is lacking nothing in any of these areas. God is the only one who is perfect and without sin. He has nothing to do with darkness or sin whatsoever.
Verse 6: Since we are followers of Jesus Christ, we have fellowship with God. Our lives should be modeled around our commitment to Him. If we have fellowship with God, then we should not pursue or walk in sin/darkness. Christian living = The pursuit holiness through the empowering of the Spirit. We determine to live a life that is distanced from sin. Sin should repulse us, and we should desire to cling to all that is good (God). In a Christians life light and darkness cannot coexist.
Verse 7: When we walk in the light of Jesus Christ, we can then truly experience fellowship with other believers. True Christian fellowship can be attained by walking in the light of Christ. When we walk in Jesus, we experience the ongoing joy of forgiveness of sin. When you have a relationship with Jesus Christ you have been washed in the blood of Jesus. The shed blood of Jesus is what cleanses us from sin and puts us in a right relationship with God.
(What is sin?) Verse 8 & 9: However, for you to become cleansed from sin, you must confess your sins and God is faithful to forgive you of your sins. The first step to living in the light of Christ is coming to terms with the fact that you are a sinner. It is imperative for all of us to know and accept that we are sinners. Since we are sinful, we are out of relation with God, so we must confess and repent from this state of being and seek the forgiveness of God. Without Jesus we cannot be cleansed and without being cleansed we cannot walk in the light.
If one believes he has no sin in his life and is at the core of his being a good person, then he is being fooled and is fed a lie. This lie is where the Gnostic teachings are taken head on. The Gnostic tell an individual she is a good person and has a divine aspect to them thus the issue of sin need not be acknowledged. I know some people are tired of hearing they are sinful and wish to only hear about the good things of Christianity. My friends, there are no good things to Christianity if you are unwilling to admit you are a sinner, we need to come to terms with this reality and seek the forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ.
Verse 1 – John affectionately refers to his readers as “My little children” and this reference exemplifies the deep love he has for the people of this church. This love and affection is equivalent a father’s love shown to his own children and it is a term generally used by teachers as they address their disciples. So, John is lovingly writing this letter to his disciples (who are like children to him) so they do not sin.
The word sin means to miss the mark, to be led astray or wander from the path of truth and go the wrong direction. It means to violate God’s law. John knew the impact these heretical leaders had on some of the reader’s faith and he was encouraging them to remain faithful to the true Gospel. He is writing so they would keep themselves from being led astray or wandering down the path of destruction. John was also reminding them that contrary to the false teachings of these leaders God still desires the believer to live a holy life.
He gives assurance to them that if they have already sinned or if they do sin that they do an advocate with God, who is Jesus Christ. The word “advocate” means one who pleads another’s cause with a judge. One who is a legal assistant. Interestingly this is the same word used to translate the word Jesus used when he talked about God sending another “Helper” when He was gone. We come to know this “helper” to be the Holy Spirit. We see this advocate is also Jesus Christ (this can show that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one in the same) who is perfect, upright, faultless, guiltless, approved of God and acceptable by God.
Verse 2 – Not only is Jesus our advocate but he is also the propitiation for our sins. This means Jesus is the appeasement, the source of our forgiveness before God; thus, His life and sacrifice is the new covenant. God’s anger with humanity has been appeased through Jesus giving his life for all humanity. Now some read this end verse to mean that Jesus’ sacrifice was universal and that everybody regardless of the life they live will have eternal life. I think it certainly means eternal life is available to all who accept it or who have “confessed their sins”. However, in chapter one John clearly notes that not everyone in the world will have eternal life. Salvation is only available to those who confess their sins and believe in their heart.
Some of you may have heard or even said yourself that you don’t really care about theology or doctrine; you only care about serving and loving Jesus. I say amen to that. However, I do think right or proper theology (the study of God) and good doctrine are important to the Christian faith. I do not think it is imperative to have a deep intellectual understanding of God we just need a proper understanding of God. As Christians we need to hold firmly to the truth of the Gospel, and we need to hold on to good theology. God loves us. We know this is true because He sent Jesus to die on the cross for you and me. Why did he do this? Because we are all sinful and at one time were separate from God. We can be made right with God when we believe in Jesus, confess our sins and devote our lives to living for His glory and honor.
As we see in the case of John and the church(es) of Asia Minor humans have the tendency to change and pervert the truth of God. In the remainder of this series I pray we can know, grasp and understand the true Gospel message (which I briefly shared with you a moment ago) and gain a better understanding of God through Jesus Christ. May we be on guard to preserve the Gospel message and hold it in our hearts so that we do not become like many who have chosen to believe a false message of Jesus Christ and ultimately miss out on the truth of Jesus Christ.
 The Holy Bible: ESV Study Bible. 2008. Wheaton: Crossway Bibles p. 2426
 Burge, Gary M. The NIV Application Commentary: The Letters of John. Zondervan Books, Grand Rapids. 1996. Page 37
On Sunday August 11th, 2019 I preached at Soutside Baptist Church in Florida. Here is the transcript of my sermon below.
Last week we began looking at the letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation (or Apocalypse) written by the Apostle John from the isolated island of Patmos. We are looking at the letters from both the historical perspective (What Jesus said to the actual historical church), a modern perspective (What does this letter say to the Church today) and a personal perspective (How can this apply to you personally). The structure of the all seven letters are very similar as they follow a consistent pattern; each letter begins with an address “To the angel of the church of [the city].…” They are always followed by the identification of Jesus Christ as the sender of the letter. In the seven letters, three of the churches receive commendation and criticism from Jesus. Two receive only praise from Jesus and two receive only criticism.
Last week I talked about the Letter to the Church in Ephesus. In this letter Jesus commends the church for not tolerating false teaching (especially the teachings of the Nicolaitans) and for persevering and enduring during times of trials and persecution. However, He did criticize the church because they had lost their first love. Jesus encourages them to remember where they had fallen, repent from their sins and return to Him so that presence of Jesus would remain in their church. This was also our takeaway for ourselves and as a congregation.
Today I want to go all the way to the final letter of revelation as we look at the words Jesus spoke to the Church of Laodicea.
City of Laodicea
Laodicea was also located in Asia Minor and it was a prosperous city; probably the wealthiest in the area due in part to the banking industry which was one of the features of the city. Their wealth was so great that it has been recorded that after an earthquake in 607 AD the city rebuilt without any financial assistance from Rome. Another contributing factor to the city’s wealth was that the countryside was perfect for raising sheep and they gained great wealth from the sale of the soft black wool from their sheep.
There was also a well-known medical school established in Laodicea and physicians followed the teachings of Herophilos who believed compound diseases require compound medicines. He would create mixtures of medicines including ointment for ears, and an eye salve made from a mixture of power and oil.
The city was located in an area where there were not many natural resources, so they had to bring water to the city from springs about six miles away through a system of stone pipes. During dry seasons it was not uncommon for the city to be left in a vulnerable and dangerous state.
The Letter to the Church of Laodicea
The Church of Laodicea, like the Church of Sardis, receives no word of praise or commendation from Jesus.
Verse 14: “The words of the Amen…” – This is a reference to Jesus.
Amen – So be it, trustworthy, firm. It is an expression of absolute confidence and trust. When used at the beginning of a discourse it means “truly, truly or of truth”. At the end means, “So be it, so it is, may it be fulfilled.” When we use this word (generally at the conclusion) in our prayers we are declaring that we put absolute trust and confidence in the one we are praying to. The word is almost identical to Hebrew word that means “believe” or “faithful”.
“the faithful and true witness” – This is a reference to Revelation 1:5 where it declares Jesus as the faithful witness.
“the beginning of God’s creation” – (The Alpha) – This is a reference to Colossians 1:15, 18 where Paul writes that Jesus is the firstborn of all creation and He is the Beginning. In Revelation 22:13 Jesus declares, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, beginning and the end.” Jesus is beginning and He is end and he is the absolute trustworthy, faithful and true witness. Nothing exists before him and nothing can exist after him and nothing is more trustworthy or deserving of trust than Jesus. He is all… He is eternal.
Verse 15: “I know your works…” Once again Jesus declares (as with the letters to all the churches) that he is familiar with their works. He is actively watching their deeds. Unfortunately, in Laodicea’s case their works are not pleasing to Jesus at all. In fact, they are repulsive as we will soon see.
“you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!” The Church of Laodicea was an ineffective church at best. They didn’t do anything for the continuation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They were seemingly just a church in name only. They were neither hot nor cold. Both hot and cold water can be useful, but lukewarm water rarely is.
Verse 16: Lukewarm – Tepid or ineffective. Since the city got its water from springs nearly six miles away the water of Laodicea was usually tepid and gross. So, the Laodiceans knew what Jesus was saying in his words. It is certainly symbolic to the faith of the Laodicean church. The lukewarm water was essentially ineffective as it came out of the pipes and Jesus states that the church is ineffective as well because of their lukewarm state.
“The adjectives “hot”, and “cold” are not necessarily to be taken as describing spiritual fervor (or lack of it) of the people.” The contrast is between the hot medicinal waters of Heiropolis and the cold, pure waters of Colosse. However, the church in Laodicea was ‘providing neither refreshment for the spiritually weary, nor healing for the spiritually sick.’”
Because they were lukewarm Jesus’ response is much like ours when we partake of something that is lukewarm (especially when you are expecting a hot or cold item).
“I will spit you out of my mouth” - Spew, vomit or throw up. Their sluggish and ineffective faith made Jesus want to vomit. These are very graphic words (and a very vivid). Because they were spiritually ineffective this was repulsive to Jesus and it made him sick.
Verse 17: (Their perception) “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing” – Since the Church was in a prosperous city it is believed that the church was probably a wealthy church. Unfortunately, the people thought that since they were experiencing prosperity that God was ok with them (a common fallacy even today), maybe even blessing them. They believed he was blessing them, and they weren’t even seeking the counsel of God at all. This seems all to true of people and churches of great financial wealth today. So many churches believe that all is good, and God is ok with them or maybe even blessing them because of their prosperity. They all but forget about God and their attitude becomes more like this, “He doesn’t need to be active here because there are so many other churches that are struggling and need his assistance. Don’t bother with us Jesus we got everything under control.”
(The reality) However Jesus was telling them different. “not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” In their prosperity they failed to see the truth… “We are not all we thought we were. We may be rich financially, but Jesus isn’t pleased with us at all. In fact, we are making him sick.”
Verse 18: (What the Church needs to do) “buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich.” Because of their spiritual depravity Jesus counsels, them to take their eyes off of their physical wealth and invest in Spiritual wealth. The purchase, so to speak, is to be made from Jesus himself because only he can provide the true wealth and health they need. If they do this then they will become truly rich.
“and white garments so you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen.” Certainly, the individuals were well dressed because of their wealth. This may have given the illusion that they had everything together spiritually. However, Jesus says they are naked and pitiful. The white robes symbolize righteousness and the covering of their nakedness is symbolic of judgment. Jesus tells them to invest in these garments of white so they will be clothed in righteousness and escape judgment.
“and salve to anoint your eyes.” This is a reference to the school of medicine and Herophilos. The Laodicean church is spiritually blind. They cannot see the spiritual state they are in. Jesus counsels them to get eye salve from him and anoint their eyes. Quit trusting in the remedies of man and trust Jesus. When this happens then you will truly see.
Verse 19: Jesus is not turning his back on this church. He loves the Church of Laodicea; yes, he is not pleased with them, but he tells them, “I am telling you to do this because I love you. You may think I am being harsh and mean, but I am telling you this for your own good.” Overall, Jesus is admonishing the Church of Laodicea to wake up from their spiritually dead and ineffective state and seek him so they may be a church that is pleasing to Him and who will share in his glory. He tells them to be zealous (desire earnestly or strive after) for Him and repent.
Verse 20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door; I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Jesus is addressing the believers in this congregation. The text suggests that Jesus has been at the door for some time. It also implies that he is continually knocking, patiently waiting to be invited in. He is at the threshold of their lives and church calling for them to open the door of repentance so that he may come in and have true fellowship with them once again.
“If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me.” If the believers at Laodicea will heed to his knocking he will then enter once again and sit at the table of fellowship. Jesus will be the guest and not the host. In the Middle Eastern culture eating a meal together is a sign of intimacy and trust. I believe the main idea behind this passage is Jesus’ desires to restore fellowship with the Laodicean believers and him. This can only happen through repentance, heeding to the call and responding to the knocking of Jesus that would ultimately lead to them being effective followers of Jesus Christ and of his Kingdom.
Verse 21, 22: The continued promise to those who conquer or are victorious as they participate with Jesus in his sovereign rule. This is the promise given to all the churches (and individuals) who heed the words of Jesus in the letters to these churches.
The Church of Laodicea for Us Today
The one thing a church does not want to be known for is their ineffectiveness and spiritual poverty. The Church has a glorious calling to be the light of the world, to represent Jesus to the nations and to be the hands and feet of Christ. For a church to be considered tepid or ineffective by Jesus should be cause for concern not only for the Church of Laodicea but should be a wakeup call for many churches today. As a Church body I feel it is necessary to evaluate where we stand in the eyes of Jesus according to this letter. Are we cool waters that bring refreshment to the spiritually weary? Are we hot medicinal waters that bring about spiritual healing? Are we warm tepid water that is essentially useless and ineffective and infected with germs that cause harmful results?
How about you personally? How would you evaluate your personal relationship with Jesus in comparison to his words to the Church of Laodicea? Are you under the false impression that you have everything you need when in fact you are blind, poor, wretched and naked? Are you spiritually bankrupt? Is Jesus standing at the threshold of your life calling you back to fellowship with him? Bring your spiritual destitution to Jesus be zealous and repent. Personally, I believe Jesus stands at the threshold of our lives and desires to come and dine and fellowship with him. He wants intimacy with you. He desires for you to commune and converse with him. The fact is Jesus loves you and wants to restore or resume fellowship with you once again. He desires to sit and sup with you at the table of fellowship. As a follower of Jesus, how will you respond to his knocking?
 The New International Commentary on the New Testament: Revelation (1977) Mounce, Robert: Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing. P. 125
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