Monday, 28 March 2011

We Know and We Love because in Jesus, God has United Himself to Humanity Forever.

Notes on latest sermon (Beginning a series in 1 John):

Introduction to the Sermon Series
  • At its heart, Christianity is not a moral improvement programme, or a get out of Hell free ticket. It’s the birthing of a new humanity (2 Cor. 5:17). This new humanity is hallmarked by the Spirit of God coming to live inside of you, (John 14:23). It happens through God's initiative, (John 1:13) sending his own Son into the world to redeem the world, (John 3:16), so that they may be united to it (John 17:20-23).
  • In our culture knowledge is data – facts and figures, but in the bible, real knowledge is relational - taking something into yourself (Gen. 3:6, Gen. 4:1) We know God because we have received the Holy Spirit, (Rom. 8:15). The Spirit who has brought us right knowledge of God (John 16:8-11) is the same Spirit who births love and joy in our hearts to God and each other. (Rom 15:13, 1 Peter 1:8). It is God's presence in us and amongst us that distinguishes us from all the people on the face of the earth. (Exod. 33:15-16, John 17:21-23)
  • So we know and we love through the Spirit of God, who through the truths of the Gospel spoken over our dead hearts, (Ezek 37:1-14) has raised us up into the knowledge of God the Father as revealed uniquely through Jesus his Son, and to know each other as adopted sons and daughters in the same family. That same Spirit is teaching us what it is to love God and love each other through obeying the commands of Jesus.

So who was John?
  • He was Jesus’ cousin, the son of Mary’s sister Salome. So when Jesus called him to join him in his band of disciples, (Mark 1:19-20), if he didn’t see it coming, he knew what he was letting himself in for when it did. He would have known Jesus the longest of all the disciples, hence the family feel of his writing. He had as close an access to Jesus as anyone did in this life, (John 13:23).
  • He had seen much of God in his life and much of God’s faithfulness. He now writes with a tender fatherly heart to fledgling Christians all over modern day Turkey both to warn them of the threats that could drag them away from the true faith and to encourage them to nurture and grow the friendship they have with God and each other.

1 John 1
The physical reality of the Gospel
  • Christianity is not some Pie in the Sky when you Die if you Try religion. The eternal and indestructible second person of the trinity was sent by the Father (v1) and was united to our flesh and blood, space-time, mortal frailty. In Jesus, the DNA of God and humanity dance together, distinct but united as one. Christianity is grounded in the physical reality of life, God has been heard, seen, felt (and even smelt!).
  • Moreover, eternal life is not an elixir to be found somewhere deep in the Amazon jungle – it is Jesus. Everybody lives for ever. Life and death are nothing to do with consciousness in the Bible, but to do with relationship to God. (John 17:3)
  • The great mission of the church is to testify to this physical reality of God coming and uniting himself to humanity through the eternal Son of God, to catch up many into this new eternal life from God (Matt. 28:19-20). This is what makes their joy complete because a joy that cannot be shared is a shrivelled joy. Joy that can be shared is true joy. After all, what do you want to do when you get good news?
God is Light
  • Jesus is like the sun! The sun is not a god, but he is a preacher. He silently shouts the gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole world everyday. (Psalm 19:1-4)
  • Walking in darkness – like walking at night. You can’t see anything – including yourself, can’t test anything because you can’t see it. You live and act in ignorance of yourself and the rest of the world. Walking in the light of Jesus – the day time, you can see things clearly for what they are – including yourself. You can overcome obstacles and problems – all because the light shines on your behalf. In the light you can make all things good again. (John 3:19-20)
Confession is the Road to Healing
  • What is sin? It’s crucial we get this right, because plenty of “moral” people will be thrown into the lake of fire at the end of the age. In God’s eyes all our evil stems from our refusal to listen to Jesus (John 3:18). We have our fingers in our ears and our eyes shut.
  • In the Bible, there is no forgiveness for deliberate sin, (Heb.10:26-27) but confession reduces a deliberate sin to the status of an “unintentional” one and for that there is forgiveness (Ps. 19:12-13). It goes without saying that the confession has to be sincere (Isaiah 29:13).
  • Walking in the light is not about being clever, or perfect (God knew that, it’s why Jesus died for us), it’s about submitting yourself to the words of Jesus, and (quickly) being humble and honest with God and men.
  • Of course in time, you and those are around you should see growth in holiness, love for Jesus etc. If not, then we really have to ask ourselves what we’re playing at, but our confidence is never in our track record, always in God’s mercy, grateful that Jesus blood has paid the price for our wickedness and led us into a place of favour, blessing and soul-growth under God.

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