1 John 1:5-2:2

I. INTRO

A.  Last Sunday we saw from verses 3 and 4 that John makes the message of Christ (call it theology, or doctrine) the basis of all significant Christian fellowship.

B.  Ecc 4:12, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

C.  1:3: “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you so that you may have fellowship with us.” In order to create and nurture deep (honest) Christian fellowship we have to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is at the center – and who He is and what He taught is both the standard and the ultimate goal of our lives.

D.  This week:

1.  God Is Light – 1 John 1:5-10

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no [notice John’s use of absolute terms] darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. [From this we get an idea of what some of the false teachers have been preaching…]

2:18 – Antichrists, 
2) 2:22 – Liars/Antichrists, 3) 2:26 – Deceivers
, 4) 3:7 – Deceivers
, 5) 4:1 – False Prophets, 6) 4:3 – Antichrists

2.  Jesus Christ Is Our Advocate (and Propitiation) — 1 John 2:1-2

[Grandpa Pastor John] 1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself [He became] is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

II.    BODY

A.  There are 2 parts to this message.

1.  God is Light

a.  Here is the overall structure of verses 5-10:

1)  Verse 5 is the foundation: God is light.

2)  Verses 6-7 are the application: Walk in the Light.

3)  Verses 8-10 are the clarification: No one can claim to be without sin.

b.  Walking in darkness destroys fellowship with God – and authentic fellowship with one another.  We are as sick as our secrets.

2.  Jesus Christ is our Advocate (2:1) – and our Propitiation (2:2).

B.  God is light

1.  We could talk about the fact that everything in the universe cycles, or circles, around the sun.

2.  We could talk about photosynthesis – the chemical process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds using the energy from sunlight.

3.  Does the Bible ever talk about what it means to “walk in the light”?  Yes, Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount is quite clear about what it means to walk in the light.  View them as stepping stones – as we continuously cycle through the Beatitudes we will continue to grow deeper in God

4.  The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10) A lifeline to spiritual formation

a.  The Beatitudes (Mat. 5:3-12) describe eight qualities that characterize the life of Jesus Christ, and therefore our life in Jesus Christ.  Following is an overview of how one unfolds into the next… (This, BTW, will be the pathway for our transition season here at SBF…)

1) Blessed are the poor in spirit… [Blessed are those who know their need for God]. To enter into God’s kingdom, we are invited to admit that we have come to the end of ourselves and are in need of God’s help and care.  It’s the realization that, “I can’t get there from here;”  “I killed Christ;” “I am more depraved…”

2) Blessed are those who mourn… As we are honest about our own sinful tendencies there will be a transforming grief, or repentance, that surfaces – not only for our own lives, but also for the injustice, greed, and suffering that grips our world.

3) Blessed are the meek…Grieving over sin and suffering places us in a humble posture that helps us become life-long learners (disciple means learner). Meekness is not weakness, but the power of your potential under Christ’s control – like a broken horse. (Take you, break you, and give you.)  As meek people we become learners (disciples).

4) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…To be hungry and thirsty is the desire to be empty of those things that don’t reflect God, and initiates a deep longing for wholeness in our lives.

5) Blessed are the merciful…As we receive God’s mercy we begin to give mercy – to ourselves and to others.

6) Blessed are the pure in heart… Mercy cleanses our heart and restores purity to our lives. 2 Cor 11:2  – For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.

7) Blessed are the peacemakers… Purity gives way to a personal serenity and peacefulness. Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the absence of anxiety in the midst of inevitable conflict – and when others encounter it, they want it too.  Peacemakers vs. peacekeepers.  False peace at any price.

8) Blessed are the persecuted… Living life from a kingdom of God perspective will place us in conflict with those that oppose it (susually it’s “religious” people!).

C.  Let’s go back to 1 John and look at chapter 2:1-2.  1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

1.  Jesus Christ is our Advocate and our Propitiation.

a.  Advocate

1) Greek: paraklētos

2) Lit., “called to one’s side,” i.e., to one’s aid. It was used in a court of justice to denote a legal assistant, counsel for the defense, or, one who pleads another’s cause, an intercessor.

3) Or Comforter when speaking of the Holy Spirit, in Jhn 14:16; 15:26; and 16:7.

b.  Propitiation

1) Greek: hilasmos

2) Propitiation is a term that we don’t use regularly. It is possible to go through high school and college and never to learn the meaning of this word.

3)  If we have to learn a big word, then let’s do it by giving to it a short definition: Propitiation refers to satisfaction.  Remember Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones?  “I can’t get no satisfaction…” Well Mick, yes you can. Another word is appeasement.

4)  The personal means by whom God shows mercy to the sinner who believes on Christ as the One provided. In the former passage He is described as “the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.” God is holy… God’s wrath = anger (at sin) and longing (for His children to find their comfort and joy in Him).

III.  CONCLUSION

A.  The final word of the text is that we must not keep this consolation for ourselves alone. “And he is not the propitiation for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world.”

B.  CS Lewis:  The Christian doesn’t think God will love us because we’re good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.

C.  Without the knowledge of our extreme sin, the payment of the Cross seems trivial and does not electrify or transform.

D.  But without the knowledge of Christ’s completely satisfying life and death, the knowledge of sin would crush us – or move us to deny and repress it.

E.  By walking in the light we hold our depravity and the Cross in a healthy and dynamic tension that will lead to transformation and renewal.

The Great Commandment Pt 2 – Matthew 22:39

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

I.   INTRO/REVIEW

A.   We have been looking at what the Bible refers to as the Great Commandment, which is for us, important preliminary vision passage because it synthesizes so much of the Scripture into two VERY straightforward commands.

B.    (It is quite important for us to understand that when the NT authors declare God’s commands for us to be holy and to love our neighbor, etc. These commands are not there to show our ability, but to reveal our inability – and to remind us of our continual dependence on the grace of God to do in us and through us what we cannot do on our own.)

C.    Matthew 22:33-40 (NAS): “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Notice the order – and notice that Jesus was asked to answer with one commandment, but He gave them two…)

D.   We have multiplied this passage into two messages…

  1. Last week: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind – this is the great and foremost commandment.” (Click here to read that post.)
  2. Review of last week: How do we love God?
  • Come alive to God.
  • Find your true joy and delight in the message of the Gospel – and the Person of Jesus Christ.
  •  Come to grips with the idolatry that grips ALL of our lives.

(i)    Idolatry is not just a failure to obey God; it is setting our heart and affections on something, or someone other than God.

(ii)  This cannot be remedied by repenting that you have an idol – or by engaging willpower to try and live differently.

(iii) If we uproot our idols (through repentance) but fail to plant the love of God (or, delight in God) in its place, the idol will grow back – like mowing a weed.  Repentance and rejoicing must go together.

E.  This week: (v. 39)“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  And here’s the questions we’re asking as we unpack these verses…

  • What is God’s heart/vision for Southside Bible Fellowship?
  • And for you?

II.  BODY

A.   The life-changing context of this commandment:

 ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

  1. The overwhelming commandment to “neighbor love.”  Who is my neighbor?  This passage retold in Luke 10 – and is followed by Jesus unpacking the Good Samaritan and Mary and Martha.
  2. John Piper: This is a staggering commandment. If this is what it means, then something unbelievably powerful and reconstructing will have to happen in our souls.  It seems to demand that I tear the skin off my body and wrap it around another person so that I feel that I am that other person; and all the longings that I have for my own safety, health, success, and happiness I now feel for that other person as though s/he were me.

B.    Loving God is invisible. It is an internal passion of the soul. But it comes to expression when we love others.  (Similar to James 2:18: “I will show you my faith by my works.”)

  1. Idolatry and pride are at the root of our sinfulness.  Pride is the desire for our own happiness apart from God and apart from the happiness of others in God.
  2. Pride is the pursuit of happiness anywhere but in the glory of God and the good of other people.

C.   So, Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  How do we get there from here? Four points (adapted from John Piper):

1.     Understand that our self-love is a creation of God.

  • Jesus says in effect: I start with your inborn, deep, defining human trait—your love for yourself.  It’s a given.  Jesus is saying, I don’t command it — I assume it.
  • We all have a powerful instinct of self-preservation and self-fulfillment. We all want to be happy, to live and love with satisfaction, we want enough food, we want enough clothes, we want a place to live, we want protection from violence, we want meaningful or important work, we want sincere and meaningful friendships, and we want our lives to count!  All this is self-love.
  • Self-love is the deep longing to diminish pain and to increase joy. That’s what Jesus starts with when he says, “as yourself.”
  • This is common to all people. We don’t have to learn it, it comes with our humanity. Our Father created it. These longings are natural…

2.     Make your self-seeking the measure of your self-giving.

  • When Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” the word “as” is very radical: That’s a BIG word: It means: If you are energetic in pursing your own happiness, be AS energetic in pursuing the happiness of your neighbor. If you are creative in pursuing your own happiness, be AS creative in pursuing the happiness of your neighbor. If you are persevering in pursuing your own happiness, be AS persevering in pursuing the happiness of your neighbor.
  • In other words, Jesus is not just saying: seek for your neighbor the same things you seek for yourself, but also seek them in the same way—with the same zeal, energy, creativity, and perseverance. The same life and death commitment when you are in danger.  Make your own self-seeking the measure of your self-giving.
  • Here’s where this gets difficult: We feel that if we take Jesus seriously, we will not just have to love others “as we love ourselves,” but we will have to love others “instead of loving ourselves.”
  • See the handout: “Developing Practical Skills to Love Well”… (This handout should be in the foyer at SBF.)

3.     It’s the first commandment that makes the second doable.

  • This is why the first commandment is the first commandment.
  • If we try to accomplish the 2nd Commandment without FULLY engaging the 1st it will become the suicide of our own happiness.
  • The 1st commandment is the basis of the 2nd commandment. The 2nd  commandment is a visible expression of the 1st commandment.

4.     Make God the focus of your self-seeking.

  • Take all your self-love—all your longing for joy, hope, love, security, fulfillment, and significance—take all that, and take it to God, until He satisfies your heart, soul, and mind.
  • What you will find is that this is not a canceling out of self-love. This is a fulfillment and transformation of self-love. Self-love is the desire for life and satisfaction rather than frustration and death.
  • God says, “Come to me, and I will give you fullness of joy. I will satisfy your heart, soul, and mind with My glory. This is the first and great commandment…
  • And with that great discovery—that God is the never-ending fountain of our joy—the way we love others will be forever changed.
  • Our quest for joy and happiness becomes a life-long quest for God. And He can be be found [only] in the Person Jesus Christ.  (I wish “all paths” led to God, but they do not…)

III. CONCLUSION

A.   As we bring this to a close, we can say that our ultimate GOAL is to love God with all of our heart, soul, and strength – and the FRUIT is that we will splash His love onto people.

B.    God’s word for us this morning is that we embrace these commandments with tremendous focus and authenticity during this season of learning to express the redemptive love of God in and through SBF.

C.    Let these verses deeply touch and challenge your soul – and remake your priorities.

D.   Get alone with God and deal with Him about these things. Let’s not assume that we fully know what love is – or that love has the proper centrality in our lives.

E.    God is saying:  All of Scripture, all God’s plans for history, hang on these two great purposes: that 1) he be loved with all our heart, and 2) that we love each other as we love ourselves.

F.    A closing verse:  Gal 6:10 – “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”

It’s Not Our Righteousness But Christ’s

I came across John Piper’s summary of the first five chapters of Paul’s letter to the church at Rome – and found it to be excellent and worth passing on…

There is none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). All are guilty before God because of union with Adam in his first sin (5:12-14). And we all become our “own little Adams” when our depravity meets the Law of God and overflows in specific acts of transgression (5:16, 20). Therefore, there is no getting right with God – no justification – on the basis of deeds done by us in righteousness (3:20). Instead there is one and only one hope for sinners: a second Adam, Jesus Christ, has come into the world and provided both blood (5:9) and righteousness (5:18). Blood to cover all our sins, and righteousness so that our account is not empty but filled with perfect obedience – the obedience of Jesus (5:19). Therefore, it is by faith and by faith alone that we receive this grace of justification (3:28; 5:17) and obtain eternal life – the hope of glory.

What are some strategic implications?

  • Our right (or legal) standing with God is based on who God is and what he has done, not on who we are or what we have done – or, not done.
  • God credits to us his own righteousness in Christ through our faith in his righteousness.
  • For hundreds of years theologians have used the phrase “imputed righteousness.” This simply means that God imputes, or attributes, or deposits his righteousness to your account through faith because of Jesus Christ’s obedience.
  • This is a HUGE concept – to see that what we have access to is Christ’s righteousness. It doesn’t get better when our faith is strong. It doesn’t get worse when our faith is weak. It is perfect, because he is perfect.
  • Our faith is not our righteousness. Our faith unites us to Christ so that God’s righteousness in Christ is credited to us.

For Martin Luther and John Bunyan the discovery of the imputed righteousness of Christ was the greatest life-changing experience they ever had. Luther said it was like entering a paradise of peace with God. For Bunyan it was the end of years of spiritual torture and uncertainty.

What Luther and Bunyan discovered was the Gospel message in its entirety. They discovered that the good news was, not only the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross as payment for their sins (which is certainly great news), but they also discovered that Christ’s perfect life of responsive obedience to his Father was imputed to their account.

One final thought…the word “gospel” simply means “good news” and this concept, or doctrine, of imputed righteousness is a key ingredient (see Rom 1:16-17).

Stages of Renewal

I listened to a lecture the other day that concluded with Mark Driscoll quoting Rick Warren on seven stages of renewal.  I can certainly see the pattern to be accurate in my experience and I thought it was very succinctly stated.

I have incorporated some of my thoughts and experience to each of the seven stages and conclude with two quotes that, from my viewpoint, help us to to engage the stages.

1. Personal renewal is about loving God and begins with acknowledging Jesus Christ as our greatest treasure and the object of worship. Personal renewal occurs as we recognize our spiritual poverty and surrender afresh to loving care and instruction of a God who is alive and available. The outflow of this active and intentional surrender is prayer, the reading and study of Scripture, and a growing worship of Jesus and connectedness with him – which renews us from the inside out.

2. Relational renewal is about authentically loving others.  As we embrace personal renewal with Jesus an initial effect is that we have new hope for people and pursue them in love. If married, relational renewal begins with our spouse. And, if we are parents our children ensue. Relational renewal allows us to be authentic around others, stop pretending and performing, and simply be in loving community where we are known and know others, with deep gratitude for the work of the gospel.

3. Missional renewal awakens in us a hope and love for the Great Co-mission. Once we have personal and relational renewal, the result is that God’s people want to be on mission together doing what God calls the church to accomplish. Without personal renewal, a church cannot have relational renewal. And, without both a church has no life or unity that allows them to press forward on mission with God together.

4. Internal cultural renewal happens as the fruit of personal, relational, and missional renewal forms a new culture of grace internally and new passion for lost people externally. In a church this results in people trusting their leaders and one another more, wanting to spend more time together, worshiping with greater intensity, and hanging out longer after services – as they begin to realize they are becoming a unified community.  This also increases innovation, a willingness to risk, and a burgeoning missiology.

5. Structural renewal is necessary once the personal, relational, missional, and internal renewals have been initiated and creates the need to change how a church operates. What structures have hindered growth?  What structures can be implemented so the church won’t have a bottleneck as the church grows? There is no perfect structure in Scripture because every situation is different. Rick Warren speaks of changing structures just about every year at Saddleback. We can’t put new wine in old wineskins. As a church begins to get healthier and healthier, the structure needs to change.

6. Institutional renewal happens when Christianity’s institutions change. Institutions – like seminaries and denominations are usually the last ones to change; they have difficulty with the change process. Unfortunately, institutions generally exist to preserve the change of the previous generation. It’s like a tree – the growth of a tree is not on the trunk but on the new branches. Institutions are like trunks. They provide stability not innovation.  Innovation happens at the local church level.

7. External cultural renewal is the fruit of personal, relational, missional, internal, structural, and institutional renewal. It might be best described as the outworking of Acts 2:43-47: A renewed sense of awe, wonders and signs taking place, refreshed and authentic community, mutual identification amongst classes and cultures, equality, unity, enthusiastic joy, heartfelt praise, favor with all the people, and salvations.

Here are two quotes that seem to reflect the attitude that initiates the process:

Charles Spurgeon was converted on January 6, 1850, and on February 1 he wrote the following prayer of consecration:

“O great and unsearchable God, who knows my heart, and tries all my ways; with a humble dependence upon the support of Your Holy Spirit, I yield up myself to You; as Your own reasonable sacrifice, I return to You your own. I would be forever, unreservedly, perpetually Yours; while I am on earth, I would serve You; and may I enjoy you and praise You for ever! Amen.”

James Burns, in Revival, Their Laws and Leaders writes:

“To the church, a revival means humiliation, a bitter knowledge of unworthiness and an open humiliating confession of sin on the part of her [pastors] and people.  It is not the easy and glorious thing many think it to be, who imagine it filled the pews and reinstated the church in power and authority.  It comes to scorch before it heals; it comes to [convict] people for their unfaithful witness, for their selfish living, for their neglect of the cross, and to call them to daily renunciation and to a deep and daily consecration.  That is why a revival has ever been unpopular with large numbers within the church.  Because it says nothing to them of power, or of ease, or of success; it accuses them of sin; it tells them they are dead; it calls them to awake, to renounce the world [system] and to follow Christ.”