As many of you know, owning a home can be a lot of work. There is constant upkeep and maintenance; everything from outside property and yardwork to inside cleaning and repair projects. Last week I helped a friend and church member replace ceiling drywall. Fun stuff!
The contrast is renting a home. When you rent there are very few upkeep and maintenance projects. You simply call the landlord and they send someone else in to fix it. It is very little work for you.
Many Christians are renting their faith. They enjoy the benefits of shelter but without the responsibility of taking ownership and maintaining their faith. They outsource spiritual growth to their pastor, parents, spouse or whomever.
The problem with renting, in contrast to owning, faith can be summarized into one word: investment. Renting does not contain the same investment focus as owning. Owning implies investment for a long-term plan, whereas renting is a short-term strategy before the long-term plan.
Jesus said in Matthew 13:44-46
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
The idea is that knowing God and seeking His kingdom is of supreme worth and value.
This teaching series, “GOSPEL Values” is for the purpose of reminding believers at SPBC of what matters. These are essentials to our faith and practice as believers and church members. Our starting place, as all things, is knowing God.
EXAMINE 1 John 1 – 2
John was an eyewitness and Apostle of Jesus. Because of his close relationship with Jesus you should pay careful attention to how he describes God. As you read and understand you can learn 4 truths of God.
God is eternal (1:1-3)
John speaks of Jesus was One from the beginning. It is a clear reference for the reader to recall John’s earlier gospel of Jesus, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (1:1). Even more, it is an affirmation of Jesus’ equal divinity with the eternal God who created the world. When John writes this letter, he does so to counter Christological heresy and uphold Jesus as the divine Son of the Father.
2:22-23 “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.”
4:3-4 “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.”
5:11-13 “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”
God is revealed (1:1b-4).
John continues his eyewitness account of Jesus in saying the eternal God was made manifest (ἐφανερώθη made known, visible or clear). God, whom exists in eternity past, became incarnate and confined Himself in time and space through His Son, Jesus. Further, John is personalizing God in that He has become tangible. God is not an abstract deity; He is a Person to be known. The verbs “seen”, “heard” are repeated in verses 1 and 3 for emphasis of this revelation. The purpose of God’s revelation is for man to have fellowship (κοινωνίαν) with God and others. By believing the gospel you have a relationship or fellowship with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
21st Century has brought so much technology and social networks. People have enjoyed staying connected through MySpace, Facebook, Blogs, etc. The purpose is to know and be known. It is the ultimate reflection of God as His image bearers.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
God is light (1:5-7).
John declares God as light without any darkness. John’s metaphor use of light implies pure and perfect life. In his Gospel, John says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (1:4). Further in John’s theology is Jesus as divine in being the source of light and life (8:12, 9:5, 11:9-10, 12:35-36, 46 and in 1 John 2:8, 9, 11). To know God is to walk in the light and not in darkness. Darkness is compared to sin and light to confession of sin. God’s light exposes the darkness; therefore confession of sin must occur for fellowship with God.
Some people have NDE stories. NDE stands for Near Death Experiences. Oddly, NDE is not all that uncommon. It is also reported that people who experience NDE either see a burning hell or some type of a tunnel/white light experience. In fact, in the book “One Heartbeat Away: Your Journey Into Eternity” there are various reports of NDE. One patient flat-lined 4 different times, while each time awakening to shout “the flames, the flames” or “the heat, the heat.” Needless to say, the doctors were stunned.
Person’s experiencing NDE come away with a radically different view of life. They see with new eyes, live with greater passion and purpose because they have experienced the edge of eternity. The reality is that you do not have to physically flatline to have a NDE nor a change of life. God’s light and life are available to you. God invites you to walk in light. This leads to a last truth of God’s character.
God is redeeming (1:8-2:2).
John writes to declare God’s saving power in the gospel. The most powerfully profound promise in all Scripture is in 1:9 that, “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive (ἀφῇ – send away, release; cf. Ps 103:12) us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Further, John says that Jesus is our Advocate (παρακλητον/paraklete – comforter, legal defense aid) and the propitiation for our sins.
These words are like a refreshing waterfall in a desert. John gets very theological here and is perhaps what should awake our attention. The idea is not simply that God chooses to forgive humanity. God cannot go against His own character; He cannot exalt one attribute at the expense of another. He is light, which means He is holy and pure and cannot compromise or condone sin. He must judge it. That’s why John says that God is “faithful and just”. John also uses the word “propitiation” as the context for God’s forgiveness. Propitiation means satisfaction or completion of justice. God’s redemption and forgiveness is only offered because our sins have been propitiated. One backdrop for this idea is the OT sacrifice on the Day of Atonement. The priest would take 2 goats (Lev 16:20-22), confess sin for the people with a hand over one goat to symbolically transfer the sins to the sacrifice. The priest would take the other goat (scapegoat) and instead of it being sacrificed it would be sent away, never to be seen again. The first goat is propitiation and the second goat is expiation. John implies Jesus’ sacrifice provides both.
Illus: A person commits a heinous murder and is caught. The victim’s family and likely that community will call out for justice to be done – the murderer to be punished (death or life sentence). If the murderer were released people would say justice was not served.
Likewise, God cannot provide redemption or forgiveness without justice or propitiation. Many of us expect God to simply choose to forgive and look beyond our sin, yet that is impossible. Forgiveness only occurs through the Cross and confession (agreement as God’s perspective) of sin. So, redemption has been accomplished but it is waiting to be applied in each person’s life. Application comes by faith.
1 John 5:12 “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son fo God does not have life.”
Knowing God is more than just facts. It comes through personal encounter and application with God.
– What stands in the way of you encountering and applying these truths of God in your life?
– How is God revealing Himself to you today? God speaks through Scripture.
- Encourage bring Bible each Sunday.
- Encourage reading Bible each day/week.
- Encourage to come this Wed. teaching on “how to read & understand Bible”.
– Where has God exposed light into darkness in your life? What needs confessed & claimed grace?
– Are you, like John, an eyewitness proclaimer of God’s redemption?
- High 5 relationships: invest – invite – incarnate – intercede
- Join SPBC to partner in the proclamation of the gospel to our families & community.