Memphis Belle

Untitled Document
1 John 1:1-4 New England Series
1 John 1:5-7 New England series
1 John 1:8-10 New England series
1 John 2:1-2 1 John 2:3-6
1 John 2:7-11
1 John 2:12-17
1 John 2:18-27
1 John 3:1-9 1John 3: 10-23
1 John 3:24 to 4:6
1 John 4:7-16
1st John 4:17-21
1st John 5:4-13 1st John 5:14-15
  1 John 5:16-17   1 John 5:18-21  
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1st John 4:17-21; 5:1-3

 

“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment.  He that feareth is not made perfect in love.  We love him, because he first loved us.  If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?  And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 John 4:17-21).  “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ [Hebrew: Meshiach, Messiah] is born of God:  and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1st John 5:1-3).

 

Good morning.  If your belly is rumbling, you can know that you don’t have to go all the way home after the service.  We have about an hour and a half and you can get some food downstairs or outside somewhere around there, depending on how they set it up, based upon the weather.  After the service we’re having a little hot-dog social, food and whatever, there’s more than just hot dogs, so if you don’t like hot dogs there’s other options for you too.  We’d just love to spend some time with you, hang out with you, so something you can be part of before you head home today.  I’d ask you to continue to pray about the radio, just such a key time.  Next October it is possible that, you know last year a lot of us were involved in a Festival of Life in New York City, about a thousand people from around the Country came to New York City to be part of this evangelistic team.  And we were one church that was involved with the organization and also the evangelism.  And in a cool way it does look, there was a meeting this week, and there’s planning, but it does appear, God willing, that next October there will be a Festival of Life, Central New England, where Mike McIntosh will come and some big-name bands potentially and other people like that.  There’s a lot that goes into it.  And I’ll spend a few days in Boston and around the city of Boston, colleges and everything.  And then one day, one other location than in Boston, we’ll be here in Fitchburg, right next door.  So, maybe hundreds of people coming to our community for a day anyway, just to share the love of Christ on the streets during the day, and do all sorts of things from clowning ministries to whatever….there’s all kinds of things.  And then the outreach next door at night.  So, radio would be great.  If we got FM radio before then, we could get the word out from here to Provincetown, and that would be cool.  So, lots of other reasons too.  If you’d like, on Tuesdays, some folks are fasting on Tuesdays for specifically the radio, and I do believe there is power in fasting, not so much, ah, it just prepares our heart, isn’t anything mystical about it, it just prepares our heart, gets the heart really focused on prayer.  You’re welcome to be part of that this Tuesday, just setting aside some time, and whatever it means to you to fast, to pray for the radio situation.  Let’s say a word of prayer.  We’re going to continue in our study of 1st John.  This morning we pick up in chapter 4 towards the end, and we’ll move into a couple verses of chapter 5, God willing.  And of course, 1st John is just a 5 chapter Epistle, so we’re starting to close in on the end of this Epistle.  This is our fifteenth study, I believe.  And I’ve never had so many studies in such a short Epistle, but you can’t help but take your time as you go through 1st John.  We could have taken a lot longer than we have.  Let’s say a word of prayer and get started.  ‘Lord, we thank you that we can study this together.  We thank you that we can open our hearts to you even now, and receive further light and love and blessing from you, Lord.  I thank you that you tell us very clearly in your Word that your Word is used to build us up.  And we need to be built up, we desire to be built up as born-again believers.  We want to be more like you, Jesus.  And we thank you that you use even the study of your Word and the hearing of your Word to mold us more and more into the image of Christ.  But we thank you too Lord for this opportunity even using radio this morning, in a time in our State and in our Nation when things are getting darker and darker, to stand and just declare the truth and the love of Jesus Christ.  So thank you Lord for this privilege, and we would ask Holy Spirit that you’d bless our time together, that you would bless the study and teaching of the Word, that you’d be upon all of us, and even upon myself now as we go through your Word, in Jesus name Amen.’ 

          Just the other day my wife was talking to our neighbor.  Our neighbor is from Chile, a nice lady, and they were talking.  We have a little garden that we put in beside our house, and just a little one with some vegetables and things.  And they were talking, and being from Chile, she mentions to my wife that she’s noticed that the fruit here in the United States, you know, the ones you buy in the grocery stores, seem to be less sweet than the fruit that you can get in Chile.  And so they were talking about this, and then she explained, she says, ‘The reason why’, she was explaining this to my wife who was getting ready to pick some tomatoes and things, ‘that it’s best to leave the fruit on the vine or on the tree as long as possible as it ripens, because the longer you leave it on there, especially the fruit, it becomes more ripe.’  In America, of course, we’re taking our fruit, we’re picking it, we’re shipping it everywhere, so we’re picking it early so it doesn’t spoil before it gets to the consumer.  And because we pick it a little early, it’s less sweet.  So, evidently, if you take a watermelon this summer and you bite into it and it’s really, really sweet, it’s indicative that it’s been on the vine longer than that which is less sweet.  Of course it will ripen if it’s not on the vine, but it gets that nourishment, it feeds and gets some nourishment a little longer, that helps it become even sweeter.  Well I start with that picture because I think of that as maybe a picture to make, just to declare again what we’re seeing here in 1st John and the principle that John has been sharing with us.  That is, you can tell how well a believer is abiding in Christ.  He’s been saying that to us, you can tell if you’re abiding in Christ, there’s a close connection between you and the Lord, you can tell, because it will have an impact upon your life.  You’ll be receiving spiritual nourishment if you’re close to the Lord.  And that nourishment will effect you as a person, sort of like becoming sweeter fruit.  As John has been saying, you’ll be abiding more and more in the Lord, and abiding more and more in love, abounding more in love.  Last week John told us, last verse we looked at, verse 16 of 1st John 4, “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”  He says if a believer tastes sweet, if they’re overflowing with love, then it is clear, it is indicative that they are abiding in the Lord, because God is love.  But on the other hand, if somebody doesn’t taste very sweet, a Christian, and I’m using that just as an analogy, they don’t taste sweet, meaning they don’t overflow in the love of the Lord, then it’s indicative that they’re not abiding in the Lord, something is hindering their fellowship with God.  Now, we’ve been studying this subject of love, you remember that John weaves in and out of different subjects [love, obedience, truth vs. error], and as he comes back, he emphasizes it even more.  And we started again into the subject of love last week.  But of course there’s a lot more to love than just tasting sweet, just being a blessing to someone else, a source of blessing.  There’s a lot more to that.  He’s been telling us that even love in our lives is proof positive that we are what we say we are, that we are indeed born-again Christians, that we are children of God.  And it’s also a powerful witness through us to the world, that God, there’s a God in heaven, a real God in heaven that greatly desires a personal relationship with man, and that he’s proven his love for others by sending his one and only Son, Jesus Christ to die on a cross for their sin.  Well, for these reasons and others, John, the apostle John continues to focus on this subject of love.  And we’re going to see that he has even more for us, to share with us today.  And further, just stating and testifying to you and I as believers, that there is a great need for us to overflow in the love of the Lord.

 

“boldness in the day of judgment”

 

          Let’s look at verses 17-19, “Love has been perfected among us in this, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.  But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.  We love him, because he first loved us.”  Now here as he continues with this subject of love, it is clear he focuses in verses 17 and 18, he brings us to consider God’s judgment, specifically that is, the day of judgment, as you see the words that he’s referring to.  The Bible is very clear that one day not too long from now, maybe sooner than we think, I would say sooner than we think, there will be a day that is called “The Day of Judgment.”  It is an awesome day, as the Bible describes, it is a day when all the angels and all mankind stand before the throne of God, gathered around his throne.  And we are told on that day that the heaven’s books will be opened, that includes the book of life, and heaven’s court will be in session, and behind the judgment bench there, the judge’s bench, so to speak, will be Jesus Christ himself.  So, this day of judgment, the Bible declares and gives us different pieces and ideas of what it’s about.  Daniel chapter 7, verse 9, I’ll read his vision of that day.  [this is the coronation ceremony of Jesus Christ, just before his 2nd coming, which when it occurs puts down the Beast empire]  “I watched until thrones were put in place [King James “I beheld till the thrones were cast down” meaning the thrones of the Beast empire being cast down.]  “and the Ancient of days was seated,  His garment was white as snow and the hair of his head was like pure wool.  His throne was a fiery flame, it’s wheels of burning fire, [cf. Ezekiel 1:14-21, God’s, Yahweh’s, Jesus Christ’s portable throne, wheels within a wheel.]  and a fiery stream issued and came forth from before the him.  Thousand thousands ministered to him, ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.  The court was seated, and the books were opened.”  So, this day of judgment, Daniel describes in a vision.  [And taken in context with all of Daniel 7, this is at or just after the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ, when the beast empire has been defeated, cf. Revelation 19:11-21.]  Martin Lowe Jones, describing this day said “The day of judgment will be something formal, it’ll be public, and it will be final.”  So continuing with that thought, he said “Every action in my life while here on earth is important.”  And he says further, “There is nothing that is more important than our attitude towards the day of judgment.”  So there’s a day coming.  [There are two real “days” of judgment.  One is being referred to here in Daniel 7, which occurs at the 2nd coming of Christ, the other in Revelation 20:11-13 is the Great White throne judgment at the 2nd resurrection, 1,000 years later.]  We’re all going to stand before the throne of God, and God is going to render his verdict on all are lives.  [This is the Bemis seat judgment, which Peter refers to as when the household of God receives judgment.]  It’s a day on all of our calendars, nobody’s going to miss this day, we’re all heading to that day, we’ll all be together, all of mankind for that day [looks like he’s confusing, or lumping the two judgment days into one].  And just imagine standing before the throne of God with millions of people, even billions of people standing there, and then hearing God give his verdict upon your life, hearing him render his judgment on your life, hearing all of your life, all of your deeds exposed for what they really are.  Certainly then that is something we need to consider, constantly, because we’re going to be there not too long from now, publicly, with millions and billions, and God is going to say….my life is going to be seen for what it is.  Certainly it is something that is vitally important for us to consider, and John takes us there.  Now when John writes about it here, though, one thing that will have a tremendous impact upon that day for us, whether it will be a very terrible day for us or a day that is one of confidence and one of peace, one where we’re unashamed before God is this issue again of love.  That is, if love has been perfected in me, I will have boldness on this day, that’s what he says in verse 17, “love has been perfected among us, in that we may have boldness in the day of judgment.”  But if love is not perfected in me, I will lack boldness, I will lack confidence on that day.  So it is true.  It is true, this day is coming, it is true, love is going to make a significant difference.  Loving others will result in boldness for me on the day of judgment.  Now, you’re thinking, ‘Day of judgment, confidence, ashamed, boldness, I thought as a Christian I stood in the righteousness of Christ, and that I had no fear of the day of judgment as a Christian.’  That is true, as a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, when I stand before the judgment seat of Christ, I will stand in Christ’s righteousness, and that is something that we are so thankful for, I will stand there forgiven of all my sin, and the penalty of my sin has already been dealt with at the cross.  But at the same time, it also appears as born-again believers, though I may not be facing this dreadful day of judgment for my sin, this day may still be yet one that isn’t quite glorious, because there’s still potentially shame, as we look at different verses.  As Paul writes of some believers on that day in 1st Corinthians 3:12-13, he says “Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stone, wood, hay, straw, each one’s works will become clear, for the day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test each one’s work of what sort it is.  If anyone’s work which he has built on endures, he will receive a reward.  If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, yet as though through fire.”  So he says, that day for some believers will be a day of loss.  He will suffer loss, though he will be saved as yet through fire.  So there is this potential, to stand there on the day of judgment, be a born-again believer, not being judged for your sin, but go ‘Oh man, oh man, a day of loss, a day of loss’ and all that that would mean, a day of potentially being ashamed on that day.  But love, love perfected in me will have such an impact on that day that I will stand with boldness, I will stand with confidence before the Lord.  You know, I think here of an experience I had when I was young, when I was in second grade.  My dad was in the Air Force, so we moved to Germany, he was stationed there for four years, and our first year there we spent in a little village up in the Tonis Mountains, about an hour’s drive from the city of Wiesbaden, that’s where my dad worked and that’s where we went to school, and we would drive back and forth.  And there were a couple of American families in this little village, but being American and not really knowing much German at the time, I immediately gravitated as a kid towards the other kids in these [American] families.  And there was this one particular boy named John, he was the same age as I was, John Freeman.  Well, I have this memory, and I don’t have a lot of memories of second grade before that, but there’s one that I do have, and it’s standing there in the road, I could see off in the distance down the road, John Freeman’s house, and there’s a sadness in my heart because that particular day I was told, ‘You can’t play with John anymore’, or at least I couldn’t for awhile.  And the reason why is his parents were upset at me.  They were upset at me because of the things, the way I was treating John, some of the words I was teaching him, things like that, he started to say, mom and dad heard that, he got in trouble, and they said ‘You’re not playing with that bad little boy George for a good while.’  So, I remember that day.   I remember just second grade, wrestling, feeling like a bad little boy, not able to play with John because his parents won’t let me.  Well, eventually they let me, and I guess maybe I wised up a little bit.  But I think this is a little bit of what John is saying here.  When we get to heaven [into the kingdom of heaven, it’s gonna end up on earth] we’re going to stand before God the Father.  And just as the Freeman’s were concerned about their son, the way he was treated, and they responded to me based on how I treated their son, when we get to heaven and stand before God the Father, in this same way God’s going to look at us and say ‘How’d you treat my kids?  How’d you treat that little sister that, that little daughter I gave to you to be your wife.  How do you treat these brothers and sisters that live next to you?’  We’re going to stand there and give an account to God the Father on how we treated his children.  [Actually, this Bemis judgment takes place at the 2nd coming, as you’ve seen in Daniel, so it is God the Son, Jesus Christ, who will be on this throne on earth, asking us this question, as shown in Matthew 25:31-46.  The pastor is a little confused, but that’s alright, we all make mistakes.]  So, in that way, love makes a big difference, love makes a big difference, if I’ve loved his kids, if I’ve loved my brothers and sisters in Christ, if I’ve loved my fellow man.  Then I’ll stand on that day, and I’ll have that confidence.  He’ll say, ‘Good deal.  Good deal, you blessed my other kids, you’re a source of blessing to them.’  We studied this recently to a degree in Matthew 25, in fact, we were told there that Jesus will equate our treatment of others as our treatment of him, Matthew chapter 25:40, “Assuredly I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”  That he will say to men, to women on the day of judgment.  Just imagine, too, as another illustration, having a long awaited visit with a government official, something that you had hoped to do, and sought with a lot of work, went through the channels to meet with this official, maybe it was concern over a certain issue or pending legislation, you sit in this government official’s office, and as you sit there, you notice as you look across his desk, you notice he has a picture there of his kids.  And to your horror as you look across and see that picture, there’s a face there that’s very familiar to you.  Happens to be a face of somebody you know, one of his kids, you didn’t know you knew him.  This particular son of his, somebody you shared time with at work, and for whatever reason, you weren’t very kind, some issues that happened, and even in fact some things that happened where you knew you’d hurt this individual, and you’d never resolved it.  Now you sit with this governing official hoping to get some kind of grace from him, but then you see, ‘Man, I hope he doesn’t know, hope he doesn’t recognize the name, you know, I hope he hasn’t heard about that incident that I had with his son.’  That’s the kind of picture, I think, that is being said here, that one day not too long from now we’re going stand before God.  And the heart of the matter is how did I treat other people.  He’s their Creator, he’s their father.  He loves them very much, as he loves you and loves myself.  Now the word that John uses here for love, verse 17, “love”, that first word here in Greek has the definite article in front of it, which means that it then refers to the love previously spoken about, and that is specific, the love of God in the believer, the love of God.  And that means, that this is that love of God that’s something I didn’t come up with, but something that was in my heart that he gave to me and was overflowing from my heart, his very love, agape’ love.  And if I saw that, his love in me, overflowing from me to others, if I’ve seen that, then there will be a confidence that I’ve been a good witness in this world, as he says, that I’ve been as he is, as he was when he was in the world.  As you see at the end of verse 17, “because as he is, so are we in this world.”  Meaning we were loving just as he was, or he did as he worked through us.  But if that hasn’t been the case, if his love hasn’t been working through me, then I’m going to lack confidence on that day.  Man, just think, picture in your mind, standing there, it’s not too long from now, you’re going be there, I’m going to be there, we’re all going to be there together, lots of people, and it’s going to be such an awesome day. 

 

“there is no fear in love”

 

          Now verse 18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment.   He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”  Where there is love, he says, there is the removal of fear.  John writes specifically ‘Perfect love casts out fear.’  Interesting.  The word here that John uses for “fear” is the Greek word phobos, in which we get our English word “phobia”.  So, just as perfect love drives out fear, the love of God in a person’s heart is certainly a cure for any phobia, any fear.  There’s something really peaceful and settling about the love of God in our hearts.  As a believer in Jesus Christ, as I experience the love of God I grow in confidence, and there is nothing, as I grow in that confidence, there’s nothing, and I know there’s nothing that I need to fear, nothing in the past, nothing in the present, nothing in the future.  I’m sure that all things work together for good, began to know and understand the love of God, and I’m seeing God love through me, and I just have this sense because of what God is, and who he is in his heart, that there’s nothing to fear, man.  He’s got it all under control.  Some difficult things come into my life, God’s got it all under control.  Any difficult things in the future, God’s got it all under control, I have nothing to fear.  And I have nothing to fear on that day of judgment.  Paul also reminded us, as he reminded the Romans, Romans 8, verse 15, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”  [Abba, Hebrew: Daddy]  You did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but now you have this wonderful relationship with God the Father.  He also wrote to Timothy.  Paul said “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).  Certainly the love of God is a cure to any phobia.  If you have a phobia this morning, there’s a fear in your life, a fear of something that just burdens you, is debilitating to you, you understand, the love of God will cure that.  Get in the Word and just let God minister to you, let God open your eyes all the more to his love and it will cure any phobia, that’s for sure.  God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind.  Well, the love, perfect love casts out fear.  And when I’m growing in that love there’s a confidence that, yeah man, there’s nothing to fear.  So, when I understand the love of God and I walk in that love, I will not fear.  That is not true of an unbeliever, that is not true of an unbeliever.  Certainly there are many people in this world who are overcome with fear.  There are many people who have financial fears, marital fears, health fears, societal fears, fears about nuclear war, fears about economic crisis, fear about the violence.  Lots of people have fear, even fear of the future.  In fact, it is natural for an unbeliever to fear the future, to fear even the day of judgment.  In fact, it would be healthy for them to fear the day of judgment, because if you do not have Christ, the day of judgment will be a dreadfully, dreadfully fearful day.  In fact it’s described a number of times, Jesus even used the words to describe it as a day of weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Gnashing of teeth, I mean, I’ve never done that in my life.  Have you gnashed your teeth?  But the day of judgment for the unbeliever will be a day of gnashing of teeth, it will be such an intensely dreadful day [the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ will be such a day for all mankind who are not believers, cf. Revelation 11:15-18].  So, love, perfect love though, the love of God in my heart casts out fear.  So the question to you, have you considered the day of judgment?  It’s wise to consider that day, it’s not long from now.  Have you also considered how you’re going to fare on that day?  How are you going to fare on the day of judgment?  What do you think?  Is there peace?  Is there a confidence?  Is there a fear?  Is it going to be a fearful experience or a glorious one?  What do you think?  Where do you stand with Christ?  And then the question, are you born-again?  If you’re not born-again, consider then the message of John here, and the clear message of the Bible, and today I would exhort you, encourage you, even plead with you, today put your faith in Jesus Christ.  Receive him as your Saviour.  And the day of judgment will be a very different day for you.  [Most who are not saved will end up dying in the great tribulation, which is the Bible’s terminology for World War III.  Jesus Christ returns to cut short that period of intense warfare, which would, if allowed to continue, cause the total destruction of mankind.  Most of the United States, England, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will die in that horrendous warfare, and those that do survive will be taken captive.  Then the warfare will engulf Europe and Russia and their allies as well.  The judgment that befalls most of the world will arrive in the form of this WWIII, and their real judgment day before God will be the Great White throne judgment, where all the unsaved dead are judged.  Different denominations have differing interpretations as to what happens to the “unsaved dead” who are resurrected enmass 1,000 years after the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ.  For some interesting views on that topic, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm.]  It will be a day when you can stand in the righteousness of Christ, and you will not be judged for your sin.  But if you go before God without Christ, you will stand in your sin, and you will be judged for your sin.  And that is a dreadful, dreadful experience.  But if you’re without Christ today, today you can turn to Jesus Christ, even at the end of this service this morning, we’ll give you and opportunity, so stay tuned. 

 

“God loved us first”

 

          Verse 19, he says “We love him, because he first loved us.”  We love him, we love him because he first loved us.  To me that’s a very simple straight forward statement, and as I believe, it’s also clear with this verse and other verses, that God loved me even while I was a sinner.  God loved me even when I was just a wretched sinner, God loved me first.  He loved me very much.  I believe the Bible does teach very clearly that God loves the sinner and he hates the sin.  You’ll find some in the Church who’ll teach ‘No, God hates sinners’, but I believe---in fact we even had it go over our radio before, people teach that---but I believe very clearly that God loved me first, meaning loved me, Romans 5:8, while I was yet a sinner.  Hated my sin, but he loved me as a sinner.  That’s his heart towards people in the world.  And if that’s his heart towards people in the world, that should also be our hearts as Christians in this world---loving sinners, loving them very much, hating sin, but loving sinners.  God loved me first, I can argue this point, it’s simply true.  Before I ever loved him, he loved me.  But adding to this marvel, he didn’t love me because I was lovable, he didn’t look down and go ‘Oh man, look at that Paul, oh my goodness.’  That wasn’t his experience at all.  In fact the Bible says, he looked and said “That guy is desperately wicked, desperately wicked.”  In fact, Paul says in Romans 5:10 and Colossians 1:21 that I was alienated from God, I was an enemy of God, an enemy of God in my own mind, set against him.  So it wasn’t that I was lovable.  He looked at me because of who he is, and he loved me.  He loved me with an incredible love.  He loved me with an infinite love.  In fact, I believe if I was the only man on the planet, God would have sent his Son Jesus Christ to come to this earth to die on the cross for me.  Wow!  For me, only person, if I was the only person who ever lived, he’d have sent his Son, God the Son to die for me, so that I could have a relationship with him, and so that I could be forgiven of my sin.  So, with this thought John says in verse 19, stated here is the reason why I love God, and that is I love God because he first loved me.  I love God because it’s a natural response.  My eyes opened one day and I realized God loves me so much.  I looked at the cross, it’s unbelievable, he loves me that much.  And because my eyes were opened to his incredible love for me, I couldn’t help but say “Wow!”, and I opened my heart to him, and I began to worship him, and I began to adore him and I began to love him.  It is a natural response.  That’s what John says here about loving God, it is a natural response, it is not some religion, something we try to force ourselves to do, but something where we just open our eyes and we see the love of God for us, and you just can’t help but love God in response [and also as God is pouring his love into us, through his Holy Spirit].  Becoming a Christian [or Messianic Jewish believer] is not legalism, it is not religion.  Over and over we say here on Sunday mornings, a Christian, a Christian is a love relationship with God.  I follow God because I love him, because I love him, and that is in response to the fact that he loves me.  That’s why I do it.  I don’t do it because I have to do it, I don’t do it because ‘Well it’s the right thing’, I do it because I love God, I love him.  That’s because he loves me, and I’m blown away.  So I follow him.  Now, do you understand that God loves you this morning?  Do you understand that?  Do you see at the cross the extent of the love that he has for you?  If so, isn’t it only natural for you and for me to love God with all our heart, all soul, and all our minds?

 

For those who say “I love God but hate my brother”

 

          Verse 20, “If someone says ‘I love God’, and hates his brother, he is a liar.  For he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”  If someone says “I love God” and hates his brother, John says he is a liar.  That is such a strong, emphatic statement.  He gives us more reasons here for loving others.  He says I should love my brother, basically he says in this verse, I should love my brother for it is easier to love my brother than it is to love God.  Secondly, he says I should love my brother because it isn’t optional as a Christian, it is obligatory, it is a command.  But he states firmly that I cannot say that I love God if I hate my brother.  If I say I love God and hate my brother, he says, “I am a liar.”  My heart towards my brother [if I don’t love him] clearly proves that I don’t love God.  Why is that the case?  And his reasoning, again, is because I can see my brother, and I can’t see God.  I can see my brother, and I can’t see God.  And it is easier to love what we see than to love what we do not see.  There’s an old Latin author who once said that the eyes are our leaders in love.  And it’s easier to love something you see as opposed to something you don’t see.  So he says if you aren’t loving your brother, how can you say you love God whom you don’t see?  I’m sure you’ve had this experience, I’ve had it at times, most of us if not all of us have had the experience at times, of wishing for a moment we could see God.  We’re struggling, we’re wrestling through our relationship with him, we’re struggling because of situations, maybe you’re on your knees trying to pray and you’re like ‘Man, if I could just go, if the Temple of God were just down the road, and like the Lincoln Memorial, Lincoln sitting on the deal there, if I could just go into God’s Temple and say ‘Hey Jesus, listen….’ and see him face to face and talk to him, man it would make it a lot easier.  Wouldn’t it?  There’s no doubt about it.  It’s easier, when you see, to love, to understand.  So, if you don’t love your brother whom you see, and that’s easier, then loving God is harder.  It’s harder to love God because you don’t see him.  If you don’t love your brother, he says, then it doesn’t make any sense, you can’t say you love God, it just doesn’t make any sense.  You’re not doing something that’s easier, and you’re saying that you’re able to do something that’s harder.  So, clear and simple point.  It’s easier to love others than to love God.  You know Jesus Christ walked this earth two thousand years ago, I wasn’t here then.  I don’t know what he looked like.  But I love him.  But just think about that, I’m loving somebody who was here two thousand years ago.  Lot easier for me to love somebody right here before me, we can talk, we can hang out.  But I love Jesus.  Walked this planet two thousand years ago.  I mean, he’s using just clear logic, clear logic.  Now, maybe you’re thinking, ‘No, no, no, no way man, it’s easier to love God, God is really cool, God is really gracious.  People aren’t, it’s easier to love God.’  And you’re thinking, ‘That’s not true George.’  It is true, because God’s Word says it’s true.  We’re just stating what’s said right here.  He says ‘How can he say he loves God whom he has not seen, and hate his brother whom he has seen?’  That’s what he states right there.  It’s a reality for all of us.  It’s easier to love somebody you see than to love God whom you don’t see.  Now I’m not saying it’s not hard to love God, there’s always this struggle of walking by faith.  We walk by faith, not by sight.  But yet at the same time, it’s very natural to because God loves me so much.  [Also, what he’s not stating here, but has stated elsewhere, that God’s supernatural agape’ love is being poured down into us giving us the ability, supernatural ability to love both mankind and God in a way that we could never do before.]  Well, a good reason to love is it’s easier to love man than it is to love God.  We see others, and we don’t see him.  But John continues to drive this issue home.  He reminds us very clearly, verse 21, “And this commandment have we from him.  That he who loveth God love his brother also.”  ….There was this particular church in England, and something happened, and people were hurt, and this pastor left the church, and years went on and he never resolved it.  And he was on his deathbed, and on his deathbed, these other people who were involved in this little incident when there was this splitting apart in this church heard that he was dying, and they said “You know, we should go and make peace with him.  Man, it’s been all these years, and he’s going to die.  Let’s go and just humble our hearts and make peace with him.”  So they went to the place where he was in bed there dying, and this former church leader was told, ‘Hey, they’re outside, they’d like to come and just talk to you, and make peace with you.’  And Lloyd Jones says this man wasn’t willing to do it, wasn’t willing to do it.  Wow.  Lloyd Jones goes on in his commentary, ‘Can you imagine then, dying, and standing before God an instant later [or at his resurrection to immortality at the 2nd coming for those who believe in “soul sleep”], and at that moment he was not willing to love his brothers, to love his brothers.  This is so vital, so important.  He says if you do not love your brothers, and you say you’re a born-again Christian, you are in disobedience, disobedience to God.  And it will indeed, as he said earlier in this Epistle, it’ll hinder your fellowship with God.  It will hinder your fellowship with God.  You know, I found that there are times when my relationship with God, just something doesn’t seem to be happening, and he seems far away.  I have no confidence in my prayer, and I’m wondering why, why is there this sense of separation?  And almost every time, almost every single time I got down on my knees, opened my heart before God, and maybe I expect that he’s going to reveal to me whatever kind of sin, but often the sin is not what I expect, often it is ‘You know, you weren’t very loving to Joe the other day.  And now you expect to come and pray to me?’  I’ve had that experience.  I would believe as Christians you’ve had that experience too.  It’s a big deal to God.  I’ve learned that in my own private prayer-closet.  It’s a big deal to God, if I’m not loving to my brothers and sisters.  It hinders my relationship with God.  So, it is a command.  If you love God, you will obey God.  Love and obedience go hand in hand, this is where the rubber meets the road.  Romans chapter 13, verses 8-10, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law, for the commandments, You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not covet, and if there is any other commandment, they’re all summed up in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  Love does no harm to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”  So, when we love, we’re doing all that God commands, we’re fulfilling his law.  Well, there are those though that seek to be pious and religious and holy, yet you can see there’s no love in them, and if there’s no love in them, they are not what they think they are.  But then there are those that are very humble, and very loving, and man, those people are walking tight with Jesus Christ.  That’s what John is telling us.  [Again, the true historical example of love, just unearthed by recent historical finds and put together by Rodney Stark in his fascinating volume The Rise of Christianity.  Discover the Legacy of Love left by the early Judeo-Christians of Asia Minor and the Gentile Christians of North Africa.  It is a love almost unmatched in the annuls of Christian history.  Log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/LegacyOfLove.htm.]

 

1st John 5:1-3

Let’s look at chapter 5 now, verse 1, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and everyone who loves him who begot also loves him who is begotten of him.  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not burdensome.”  Wow, there’s a revelation for some.  He says ‘Whoever believes, whoever believes.’  Do you want to become a child of God this morning?  Do you want to be sure that you that you can go to heaven [gain entry into the kingdom of heaven, as some believers interpret the Scripture].  Do you want to be sure that you’re forgiven of your sin?  He says ‘Whoever believes, whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ.’  Are you wondering what you need to do in order to be saved?  Are you wondering what you need to do in order to be born-again?  There it is right there, he states it very clearly, he says “You need to believe that Jesus is the Christ [Christ, Greek of the Hebrew Messiah, Meshiach].  “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.”  That’s what it means to be born-again.  Is he born of God?  And that starts with believing that Jesus is who he is.  Now the word “believe” there, it means to  have a firm persuasion of the truth as a fact, it means that I believe that it is fact, he is the Messiah, he is the Christ, he is the Son of God that’s come into the world, I believe it, it is the real deal.  And because you really believe it is the real deal, therefore you follow him, you put your faith in him.  That’s what it means there to believe.  [And if you are not sure you believe Jesus is the promised Messiah, God-man, the Son of God, to read the proof log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/1stcoming.htm.]  And to do so is to be born again, or as he says “born of God”, and that word “of” is a great word, because that word “of” there, it’s important, because it literally means “born out of God”, meaning that you have received something of God himself.  So whoever believes is “born out of God”, meaning there’s life from him that you’ve received.  And that’s what Peter said in 2nd Peter chapter 1, verse 4.  “By which having been given unto us exceedingly and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature.”---Partakers of the nature of God.  So, born of God, born of God, born out of God is what he’s saying.

 

We’re part of the same Family

 

  “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.  And everyone who loves him who begot also loves him who is begotten.”  And what is he saying?  Another way to say this is “Everyone loving the one who gave birth to him, that is Jesus, also loves the one born of him.”  What is his point?  John gives us another good reason to love, and that is we love one another because we’re part of the same family, we’re part of the same family, and we have the same destination.  That is referring to loving others in the Church.  Man, we’re part of the same family.  We look at other Christians, as I look, no matter what they’re like, no matter what their struggles are, it should be in my heart when I look, that I say, ‘You know, we’re in the same place.  We’re in the same disposition.  We both owe everything to the grace of God.  We are what we are because of the grace of God, not because of what we do.’  We realize as I look at them, we realize that in spite of my sinfulness, in spite of their sinfulness, God has sent his Son to die for us, and because he’s done that, because their saved and I’m saved, I can look at somebody else in the Church and say “Man, you’re my brother, you’re my sister.”  So, chapter 5, verse 1,”Everyone who loves him who begot loves him who is begotten of him.”  Man, just love others in the family, it’s a natural thing to do that.  We begin to love as we see that we’re heading for the same place, same destination, we have the same Father, we’re all going to be around the banquet table together.  That’s helped me at times.  There’s been times, as I was growing in the Lord, you know, wondering about ‘Should I fellowship with them in that church?  That church is kind of strange.  I think they’re Christians, yeah they’re Christians, but man they’re really strange.’  Sometimes you think that.  Right?  And at times, I’ve been defensive, even early on in pasturing, I was like ‘Well, that church, I don’t know about that?  But I guess they’re Christians, that’s just strange.’  Well the Lord just really ministered to my heart and said ‘Hey man, they’re my kids.  Why would you have any kind of wall.  Yeah, you don’t have to endorse what’s going on, but they’re my kids.  They’re all going to be around the banquet table together.  So, love ‘em man!  You’re going to spend eternity together!’  Well, that’s what he’s saying here.  You know, I’ve had the experience to, this love that you have for one another in the Church, I’ve had this experience, I can even now think of some individuals, before they were saved I did not like them.  And I wanted to love them in Christ, meaning having a burden for them, wanting them to be saved, but I just didn’t really care about being with them, we just were different people.  But then they came to Christ, and they changed, I just thought they were cool.  And I love them, and can hang out with them.  When I go to California I hang out with them, you know.  I’ve had that occur multiple times, I’ve had that experience multiple times.  That’s what he says here.  ‘If you love God, you’re going to love those who are begotten of him, you’re going to love his kids, man.’   Those, actually in the Church it’s a natural thing. 

 

John’s circle---key to the whole Epistle

 

          Now verse 2, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments.”  If you’re looking at that closely you may notice.  That’s like reversed from what he’s been saying before.  Many times he’s stated “We know that we love God when we love others.  We know that we love God when we keep his commandments.  Now look, he’s reversed it.  “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments.”  That’s reversed.  How does that work?  That’s kind of confusing.  Is he being confusing?  Is this a mistake?  What is he saying?  Well what I believe what he is saying, there’s four things that he’s been telling us that are absolutely essential to being a Christian.  [1] If you’re a Christian there will be a love for God.  [2] If you’re a Christian there will be a love for the brethren [and even your enemies].  [3] If you’re a Christian you will desire and have a heart that’s seeking to keep God’s commands.  And [4] if you’re a Christian you’re going to hold onto the faith of Jesus Christ.  [“faith”, a set of beliefs that are true, especially faith that Jesus is the Messiah, God in the flesh, the pre-existent Word, Logos.]  He’s been reiterating these four points in different ways.  Those are all essential, they all go with the package deal, and for  that reason you can go from one direction to the other, because they’re all part of  being a believer.  In fact, one preacher put it this way, described it like a circle with four points, those four points, love the brethren, love God, keeping his commandments, holding the faith [and an essential part of that is the faith, belief that Jesus is the Son of God, God-man, Yahweh in the flesh].  And John just starts at different places on the circle.  But wherever you start you can just keep going, they all just keep going, you know, you can go from one to the other.  Sometimes he starts with loving God, and the proof of that is loving your brother, and sometimes he says loving your brother and works he way back to loving God, it’s all part of that.  It all is together, it’s all complete.  It’s proof, just as if you were to go up to a person, and you’re a medical person, and they’ve been in a bad car accident, and you want to find out ‘Are they alive?’, you look for certain things.  And there’s certain data you get back, that says ‘Yes, all these things are existing, so they are alive.’  They’re all vital, meaning there’s a pulse, also there’s certain things going on in the brain.  Right?  The brainwaves and things.  They’re alive.  However, if you go, and some of those things are missing, there’s a concern, this person may not be alive.  And it’s the same with being a Christian.  All these things go with the package.  All these things must exist.  If one of those doesn’t exist, you don’t have the circle, if one of those doesn’t exist, you don’t have a believer.  It’s all part of the package.  That’s why he can reverse the order, and here he can say “By this we know the we love the children of God”, it kind of works like this.  I’ve got a heart for other people in the Church.  Is it the love of God for them?  Do I love them with God’s love?  The way that I know that this is true is if I say “Yes, I love God too.”  But if I feel that I love for other people in the Church, but yet there isn’t a love for God, then clearly I don’t really love them.  It’s maybe a physical natural affection I have, but it’s not the love of God, because when I love God, he fills me with his love, and it’s with that love that I then love the brethren.  [And it’s with that same love from God that enables our love for God himself.]  Do you follow what I’m saying?  So that’s why he’s saying “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments.”  Yes, I  must love you, because I love him too.  I have a heart for you, yeah.  It works out.  Got the whole deal here.  That’s what he’s saying, they go together.  And it’s so vital for us.  So, John is saying, I know truly I love others if I also love God. 

 

God’s commandments not burdensome

 

          Verse 3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not burdensome.”     And that’s the last verse we’ll look at.  This is the love of God, this is the last time in this Epistle, he’s said a lot about love, but this is the last time he mentions the love of God in this Epistle, or the word love.  He explicitly again says here “the love God”, not just any love, it’s that love that comes from God.  In the Greek there’s the genitive, the Greek, indicating that “it belongs to God”, and it’s something we have from God, the “love of God.”  For the last time, “this is the love of God”.  What does he mean “that this is the love of God”?  “That we keep his commandments”.  Right?  We’ve seen that already.  Jesus said the same thing.  Jesus said in John 14, verse 15, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”  This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.  Love and obedience, we talked a lot about that, you can get other tapes.  [Or just click on the transcripts in this series on 1st John.]  But if you really love God, then you’ll want to obey him, it’ll be in your heart, it should go hand in hand.  This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.  And then wonderfully, wonderfully he says “and his commandments are not burdensome.”  Man, that’s a great Scripture.  That should be a reality for all of us.  What is he saying here, that his commandments are not burdensome?  You’re thinking, “Man, not easy, what is he saying?” “All these things, I can’t do that, I gotta do this, boy this isn’t easy.  Balancing all this.”  Well, when there’s love in your heart for God, man, when there’s love motivating, it is easy to do it.  It is easy to serve, it is easy to deny self, it is the hearts desire, when there’s love, you want to obey, no matter what he calls you to do, you want to do it, because you love him.  So his commands are not burdensome [King James “grievous”], you know, love lightens the burdens.  You think of Jacob, you remember Jacob in the book of Genesis, Jacob loved this gal Rachel, and for seven years he worked for her, and we’re told in Genesis that it seemed to him only just a few days, because he loved her.  That’s what it means.  His commands aren’t burdensome.  Rest of my life, thirty years, whatever, doing his will, just love ‘em man, I love ‘em, it’s easy.  I love pleasing him, I love being with him, I love glorifying him.  Love makes it a different deal.  This is not legalism, this is not religion, this isn’t a list of do’s and don’ts.  You know, sometimes we do that as young believers, we’re like, ‘Well, where’s that line?  Where am I OK and not OK?  Can I go this far?  Can I push it, is that still OK Lord?  Is it wrong to be here?”  And sometimes as a young believer, that’s what we’re in, and then as we grow, we realize, “I love him.  I don’t really care what the line is.”  Know what I mean?  I just want to please him.  If it’s real close, I’m not going to try to push the limits, you know.  I love him, want to glorify him.  Whatever he says.  I’m not going to try, you know, push it to the limit, having a debate in any way.  I love him.  Love makes it easy.  That’s what he says, this is not true religion.  Religion is awful, religion is such a burden.  Mathew chapter 23, verse 4, Jesus says, “For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear and lay them on men’s shoulders.  But they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”  Man, heavy burdens, that’s religion.  I hope walking with God isn’t that for you, because it shouldn’t be, it’s a joy.  It’s the love of the Lord.  Walking with Jesus, Jesus just said, Matthew chapter 11, verse 28, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.’   So, his commandments are not burdensome, and that means because there’s the love of God in my heart, and I just love him.  I love to do it, that’s why I do it.

 

summary

 

  But we’ve gone through this text on love, starting in chapter 4 he re-emphasizes a ton of things, John has told us about love.  He’s given us so many reasons to love one another and to love God.  And as he’s been doing this, dealing with other issues, really the theme of this Epistle, 1st John, is that he’s saying that when you’re born-again, you’ve been given life from God.  And if you’ve been given life from God, it will show itself in you.  So here is how you can test to say “Am I born-again?”  And he talks all about love, talks all about truth, talks all about obedience, these types of things.  And as we saw today, he gave us a lot to think about on the subject of love.  He said loving others will result in boldness for me on the day of judgment.  When I understand the love of God, and I walk in that love, I will not fear.  To love God is a natural response [of his first loving us].  It is easier to love others than to love God.  He also said to love my brother is not an optional possibility, it’s a command.  We love one another, he said, because we’re part of the same family with the same destination.  I know I truly love others, if I also love God.  And then, finally, love makes it all easy.  Let’s close in prayer.”  [transcript of a sermon given somewhere in New England]

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