2019-04-28 – 1 John 1:1–2:11 – After Easter Sunday
2019-04-28 – 1 John 1:1–2:11 – After Easter Sunday
(National Day of Prayer, Business Meeting)
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
Last Sunday as we met here and we celebrated Easter Sunday together. What a joy it was to share breakfast with one another, and then to read and reflect upon the Historical event of the Resurrection of Jesus. The fellowship was fantastic, and weather was amazing too wasn’t it? I can’t remember a nicer Easter Sunday weather wise that’s for sure.
Last week we read through the apostle John-Mark’s eyewitness testimony about Jesus rising from the grave. He was resurrected, and because of that we can now rest upon the Bible’s testimony that we too will be resurrected one day, to a new heaven and a new earth, with peace and harmony and Jesus as Lord.
The apostle Paul speaks of this in 1 Corinthians 15:20, he said:
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.
So a question we can start with this morning is: Are you sure that you belong to Him?
Today we are going talk a little about what happens now After Easter Sunday.
What comes next for the apostles and for us regarding our faith walk?
What is going to sustain us as we continue to move forward in life?
Please turn in your Bibles to 1 John 1:1, pg 1082 in the Pew Bibles, The Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God, and let us start with Prayer.
Easter is over, and in a Christian sense, everyday life just pales by comparison to the resurrection of Jesus. Yet, that’s where we live though isn’t it, in the everyday routines of life? Except for a few high moments here and there, most days are now more common and routine. And that’s a problem because, if we’re not careful, faith can easily take a backseat and amount to little more than going through the motions, where the transforming power of the resurrection is whittled down to just being a historical event rather than the catalyst of a new way of life.
We’re not the first to experience the post-Easter doldrums of sort. Take the 21st chapter of John for example. While Peter and the apostles were waiting for Jesus to return, Peter announces to the others, “I’m going fishing.” To which the others quickly respond, “We’re coming with you.” It was just After Easter Sunday, and they were already wondering what comes next?
To answer that question for us, the Apostle John starts out in 1 John 1 by saying,
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 that life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— 3 what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
From the outset, John wants to make it clear that he and his followers are writing from first-hand experiences: “We declare to you.. that which we have seen and heard.” The apostles’ lives were transformed the day they received the Holy Spirit. They went from casual followers, to powerful church planting evangelists.
Not long after the resurrection, Jesus told them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. You will be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) And that is exactly now what they were doing. They were anointed with the Holy Spirit.
As Christians, we too have received that same Holy Spirit. As a result, we will not be satisfied deep in our soul unless we are living out Christ’s calling on our lives. Sharing what you know of God’s love is one of the best ways for leading others into a lasting relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s also a great way for keeping the spark of Easter glowing and growing in our own hearts. John goes on to say:
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light,
and there is absolutely no darkness in him. 6 If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. 7 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.
[Show the Light] It is a proven fact that light and darkness influences our emotions and our minds. If you want to improve your spirit, go toward the light.
According to neuroscientificallychallenged.com “light exposure is hypothesized to lead to changes in mood due to the effects it can have on circadian rhythms.. Light exposure may be able to directly alter cognition and mood”.
“Interestingly, these types of effects have also been observed in studies with [even] blind individuals, suggesting that direct effects of light exposure may be triggered by information sent via the non-image forming cells in the retina”.
We need light, and light is really good.
Light and darkness are a couple of John’s favorite themes. Light represents the righteousness of God, and darkness is its evil counterpart. To walk in the light is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and to feel His joy and enlightened presence in our lives. On the other hand, to walk in darkness is to choose your own course and pursue your own selfish desires. And that inevitably leads to alienating yourself from God and pitting yourself against others. That is the true nature of sin that leads to ruin. And the sad thing is, when we choose the darkness of a sinful life, we also negatively influence the world around us, others are hurt and left in our wake. That is not God’s will for you or anyone.
As Born Again Christians, we have a new nature about us. We have gone from the “I did it my way” mentality, to realizing that God’s way is the only way we can truly be happy and content. I am not at all suggesting that good Christians never sin, oh no. However, but when we sin, the Holy Spirit will convict us, and allow us the opportunity to turn or repent from that sin. Because when we choose to sin, we effectively tell God, “I don’t want your blessings”, and in that, the Bible says, the Holy Spirit inside us grieves. God grieves when we choose sin.
In John’s letter, here at verse 8, he points out our human sinful nature:
8 If we say, “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, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Who here is without sin? Nobody. Only Jesus Christ can make that claim. We are all sinners, and that is why we need a Savior Messiah. We consistently need Jesus’s grace and forgiveness. In recognizing our sin, we then should confess that sin to God and to one another. When we realize that we said something or done something that hurt someone, we should first ask God to forgive us, and then if possible go to them and apologize and ask for their forgiveness. It is hard to have peace in your soul when you hold on to sin. That is not God’s will for you.
Easter time is all about a new beginnings. And The Good News is Christ is on our side. As John says here in chapter 2, verse 1:
2 My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the righteous one. 2 He himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.
This is the gospel message in a nutshell: Christ died for us that we might live together going forward in the unity of His Spirit, sharing the Good News of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness, both by what we say and by what we do.
Jesus said for us to, “Love one another, just like I have loved you.” (John 13:34) It’s more than a commandment, it’s an opportunity. When we love each other as Jesus loves us, it is a win-win situation – everyone comes out ahead.
But it isn’t always easy to love on some folks though is it?
Let’s be honest: Some people are harder to love than others.
Like you, I have had many a friends who could be described as having a deminer akin to a rough grade of sandpaper. You know what I mean. It’s not so easy to love those who are a royal pain in the neck. But that is exactly what Jesus did, and that is what He is asking us to do as well.
John put it this way: “We love because he first loved us,” (1 John 4:19)
Because God took the initiative and proved His love for us through Jesus’s life, death and the resurrection, we should then strive to demonstrate His love to others, warts and all – not out of obligation to them, but out of gratitude to God.
So, how do you love somebody who is frankly unlovable? Well in our own power it may be a bit of a stretch; but with God, all things are possible. We should start on our knees in prayer. Verse 3 continues:
3 This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands.4 The one who says, “I have come to know him,” and yet doesn’t keep his commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps his word, truly in him the love of God is made complete. This is how we know we are in him: 6 The one who says he remains in him should walk just as he walked.
Do you know that you know Jesus? Are you becoming more like Him?
Are you walking as Jesus walked, living like Jesus lived?
We are all being refined our Bible says as Christ followers. This is not something that happens overnight. Generally it takes a whole lifetime of striving to become a little more Christlike in character. Although we never will fully achieve that goal, the pursuit of becoming more like Jesus in character is our mission and goal. The Great Commandment is what it is really all about; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, should and might, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus Christ died on that cross, was raised from the grave, and He walked with them, talked with them, ate with them, drank with them, loved and taught them, and forty days later ascended into heaven. Last Sunday we read that He appeared to more than 500 people in that forty-day period, so there should be no dispute about His authenticity and His purpose. After Easter Sunday is the title of this message, and God wants you to continue to strive to remain in Him. Stay away from the darkness of sin and stay in His light, and be blessed in doing so.
Our last verses today, John writes at verse 7,
7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old command that you have had from the beginning. The old command is the word you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.
9 The one who says he is in the light but hates his brother or sister is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother or sister remains in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But the one who hates his brother or sister is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and doesn’t know where he’s going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
While I was serving in the Army, I had the opportunity to be in some pretty dark places. I remember being in the desert, lying in my foxhole late at night when there the sky was completely overcast. I couldn’t see anything it was so dark.
I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face. I had to rely on my other senses to get around. But in that darkness, if anyone, even a mile away would light a flashlight or even a match, I could see it clear as day.
As a church, God want’s us to be the light on a hill. And as Christians, God wants us reflect His light to the world. When we stop shining His light, we lose our direction. When that happens, wisdom would dictate for us to get back into the light of His word, get back into church, get back into the fellowship of the saints. That is God’s will for you today.
So here are three takeaways for you today:
- God is light. And if we walk in His light, Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
- You should know that you know Jesus? And strive to become more like Him?
- When we love our brothers and sisters, we remain in His light, and when we remain in the His light, we will not stumble. We will be blessed.
God loves you so much that He came to the world to redeem you. The love He offers can bring us out of our sinful darkness and into His light and love.
The best way to keep the spirit of Easter alive and burning brightly in our hearts, is to fulfill Christ’s Great Commandment and continue to love on one another.
Finally I will leave you with this: In the book of Job 19:25 (the oldest book of the Bible), he said, “But I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the end he will stand on the dust. Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet I will see God in my flesh. I will see him myself; my eyes will look at him and not as a stranger. My heart longs within me”.
Does your heart long for the Redeemer Jesus? If so, I say, Praise the Lord.
Nicole C. Mullen - Redeemer (Live) Let Us Pray: Heavenly Father..