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1 john 3 sermon 9/5/10 milton community church

Suppose you had lived in the days of jesus and had actually spent time in his presence.  Suppose that you had heard him teach, had seen the miracles he had performed, and had felt by the spirit the power of the testimony he bore of himself—that he came into the world to do the will of our Father, which included giving up his life.

Further, suppose you were a witness to his resurrection and had been privileged and worthy enough to see and feel the wounds made during his sacrifice, in part, for your sins.  How would you feel toward the savior?  How would you feel about a teaching spreading among some of your fellow Christians that jesus didn’t really suffer for anyone’s sins but merely seemed to do so?  Further, that he really wasn’t a partaker of mortality but only appeared to be and that the physical body the lord displayed after the resurrection was an illusion?

This was the problem facing john as he wrote his epistles.

Some Christians had adopted a form of Gnosticism.  Gnostic Christians were teaching that jesus could not have truly come in the flesh, for god is only spirit.  If jesus had god’s spirit with him, it was only during his ministry and the spirit was gone before he suffered, and that therefore, he suffered as a man..only the man, jesus, suffered on the cross and so he did not really suffer for our sins, nor could he save us from our sins.  This is what these so-called Christians were teaching because it made them popular with the Greeks and romans.

This was the problem facing john as he wrote his epistles.

Therefore as you consider the passages of scripture we read today, consider the power of john’s testimony as an eyewitness of jesus christ’s appearance in the flesh.  Consider also what john tells us in the scripture passages we share today about the definition of true Christianity, of true Christians.  I find we so easily shy away from john’s epistles because he tries to definitively separate the sheep from the goats and while we do not want to find ourselves amongst the goats, it may be that we are holding onto some habits or attitudes that are not Christian.

Let us go through these passages again….

We learn that there are only 2 choices…stand with Christ or stand with Satan…there are no in-betweens.  Remember that to sin is to rebel against Christ. This is a tough lesson, especially in today’s world wherein so many temptations call us to self-justify ourselves, to please ourselves above all else, thus stealing from our Father what is truly his creation—ourselves.  In truth we belong to our Father, our Creator, and living any other way is stealing ourselves from God.  The gift of Christ as we all know is the gift of repentance and forgiveness when we do sin, so that we can stand anew with him as his brethren. When we take communion, as we do today, we are testifying before the almighty by our actions that we return to Christ and away from sin.

And so if we choose to stand with Christ, what does this mean?  John speaks repeatedly and clearly throughout his works about love, as he does again in the passages of today.  We are told to love each other here, and in so many other scripture passages.  Just how do we do that?  Around me I see so many Christians willing to do for others, to love others, yet unwilling to receive love from their church families.  There is a false pride here, that we can give but are above receiving.  Can this be love or is it false pride?  Have we made self sufficiency an idol such that we hide and refuse to let others care for us through their actions when we have need?  Do we truly care for others when they have need?  In psychology, we talk about good relationships having something called reciprocity—give and take…we all know that to be true of good marriages, but do we apply the same principle to our church families?  Do we both give and take as needed without false pride?

   As we go forth today, let us take some quiet time,even a few minutes to reflect on john’s testimony to the world, here is his essential theme—an essential truth we must live to be Christians.

  1.  That god is love
  2. That love is the foundation upon which all personal righteousness rests.
  3. That all the purposes and plans of our Father are based on his infinite and eternal love and
  4. That if people will personify that love in their lives, they will become like the Lord himself and also have eternal life with him.

And let us remember that there are only 2 choices—we either stand with him or we stand against him, there are no in-betweens.