Sunday – September 14, 2014 1John 2:28-29 “Are You Ready for His Coming?”

Sunday – September 14, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

1st John 3 verses 28-29 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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1 John 2:28-29
“Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.”

Dealing with conflict paralyzes most of us. We know that if we confront people about their misbehavior it may cause a relationship and even whole communities to fracture. But we are equally aware of the warnings John has already given us about those who practice unrighteousness in the Body of Christ. So we often choose doing nothing in order to maintain unity rather than gentle correction and restoration. John is writing to a church going through this very struggle. But rather than seeing a church paralyzed by the conflict, John offers counsel on how to address it by developing a biblical eschatological climate.

Throughout the history of the church, Christians have tried to interpret their history with the return of Jesus Christ in view. When signs of persecution and trouble appear, instead of finding hope and being warned, we often hear messages of fear urging an apocalyptic message that the end is near. The Apostle John would have the church develop a climate that heightens our awareness of the last days (Eschatology) so that when troubles overwhelm us. Instead of proudly predicting the arrival of the end, we should say we are in a time that demonstrates features of the end and thus we must watch and pray to be ready. Alertness to the time is the best preparation for dealing with possible conflict in the Church.

Our Lord told us in passages such as Mark 13 that the end will be characterized by suffering such as this. While it may not be today, one day such suffering will be greeted by the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. But as we wait, we need to be equipped so that we are not discouraged when severe troubles and persecutions erupt. Having the proper eschatological readiness helps dispel the despair that accompanies turmoil. It teaches us to watch for changes in history, to be aware of “antichrists” and to be alert when history betrays elements of the return of our Savior.

The New Testament does not warn us about eschatological zeal as much as it does about losing our vision of the last days. Be ready, Jesus urges, for the end will come like a thief in the night. John reminds us of the confidence we are to have at the second coming of Jesus Christ, but he reminds us that righteousness is the defining characteristic of those who are born of Him. Our challenge is to promote a biblical eschatological worldview without inspiring doomsday apocalypticism.

Sunday – September 7, 2014 1John 2:24-27 “Avoiding Deception Part 2”

Sunday – September 7, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

1st John 2 verses 24 to 27 “Avoiding Spiritual Deception Part 2″ from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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1 John 2:24-25
As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.

From the earliest days, while the apostles were still living, the enemy has sown confusion in the churches about the gospel. In his last letter before his death, Paul warned Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:13, “But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” He goes on to exhort Timothy to continue (the same Greek word that is translated abide in John) in the Word, which is able to bring us to salvation. If Satan can cause confusion about the gospel, everything else is affected. It is the domino that causes all the others to fall. By the way, as John Calvin notes, it is the duty of a godly pastor to drive away the wolves and to warn the flock about those who pervert the gospel. I would not be a faithful pastor if I only spoke to you about positive, heartwarming matters, but did not also warn you of these insidious errors.

Take the error that believing in Christ for salvation does not include repenting of sin or submitting to Jesus as Lord. As a result of this teaching, there are thousands in evangelical churches who claim to be born again, but they habitually live in sin. They’ve been assured that because they received Christ, they are going to heaven. But as Paul describes such people in Titus 1:16, “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.” They will be shocked when they stand before the Lord and hear Him say, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matt 7:23)

Or, take the error of the seeker churches. They take surveys to determine what people want from a church. Those who have been turned off by legalism or by guilt-producing, fire and brimstone sermons, have said, “We would like a church that is upbeat and positive. We want modern music. We want to feel good about ourselves when we leave. We want help with how to succeed in our families and our careers. But keep it light and on the short side.”

So, the church marketers have gone back to the drawing boards. They’ve devised a church service that only lasts an hour. The music is contemporary and not too heavy on doctrine. There are skits or other entertaining acts. The messages avoid controversial or difficult subjects like sin, judgment, or righteousness. The “gospel” is packaged as, “If you’ve got problems, try Jesus. He will help you become all that you’ve ever wanted to be.” But, where is the message of Scripture, that our sins have alienated us from a holy God, and that we must repent? Where is any careful, verse-by-verse exposition of Scripture? It’s not there.

 

Sunday – August 31, 2014 1st John 2:18-23 “Avoiding Spiritual Deception”

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1st John 2 verses 18 to 23 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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1 John 2:18-20
“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.”

When I read the denials of historic biblical Christianity (the atoning death of Jesus for our sins, the omniscience and sovereignty of God, the second coming of the Lord in glory) – what strikes me is the ease with which many people are deceived. Two things account for this: a lack of grounding in the Word of God and a lack of life in the Holy Spirit. Or to put it another way, when people have no theological depth and no vital experience of the Holy Spirit, they are easy marks for any deceiver and ultimately the antichrist.

1 John is written for an age like ours, and the two things John strives for are a deeper rooting in the Word of God and a deeper experience of the Spirit of God. These are two of the greatest needs of the Church today. The Word of God and the Spirit of God are our only hope for stability in a world filled with antichrists. Yet spiritual maturity and depth are rarely seen in the pulpits, much less the pews of the local church body.

John’s view of the end-times seems to be that there is a singular antichrist coming but that the spirit of antichrist is already in the world and that it produces many preliminary lesser forms of the antichrist. The essence of the antichrist spirit is to deny that Jesus was the Christ or to deny that the Christ was fully incarnate in Jesus. The spirit of antichrist does whatever it can to diminish Christ and substitute other views or other persons for the true incarnate Son of God. Consider the following texts where John refers to the antichrist. (These are the only places in the whole New Testament where the term antichrist occurs.)

John is very concerned that the church be alert to what he calls “the liar” or “deceivers.” Many such deceivers have gone out into the world. We live in a period of time where God in His sovereignty allows deception to spread. In 5:19 John says, “The whole world is in the power of the evil one.” We live in the last hours of this deception. This will be my prayer for all of us here at Sunrise Community Church – that the Word abides in us and that we abide in the Spirit. I pray that Sunrise loves the Word, and continues to gather Sunday after Sunday to worship in the Spirit and in the truth. For the Lord seeks those who will worship him in Spirit and in truth.

Sunday – August 24, 2014 1st John 2:15-17 “Do Not Love the World”

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1st John 2 verses 15 to 17 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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1 John 2:15-17
“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”

We have been well taught that we are saved by FAITH! “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved!” (Acts 16:31). But we have not been as well taught what saving faith is. For example, how often do we discuss the relationship between trusting Christ and loving Christ? Can you trust Him as Savior and not love Him? Evidently John doesn’t think so, because the issue in this text is whether you love God or love the world, and the result is whether you die with the world or have eternal life with God. But John knows that eternal life comes through faith.

John tells us later in 1 John 5:13, “I write this to you who BELIEVE in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” Eternal life depends on believing in the Christ. So we go out to the world talking about the need to believe in Jesus Christ. But what is believing? If we let John speak for himself, his letter fills out what he means. When he says that not loving the world but loving God so much that we do his will is what leads to eternal life, we learn that saving faith and love for God are inseparable. Both are the path to eternal life because saving faith and love for God are the same path.

In John 5:42–44 Jesus confronts the Jewish leaders who do not believe on Him with these words, “I know that you have not the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name and you do not receive me … How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” In other words the reason they do not receive or believe on Jesus is that they do not love God. They love the world – the glory of men – not the glory of God. So Jesus taught his apostles that where there is no love for God, there can be no saving faith.

What should we say then concerning love for God and faith in Christ? The path of victory that overcomes the world and leads to eternal life is the one path of faith toward Christ and love for God. Saving faith is part of love for God and love for God is part of saving faith. There are not two ways to heaven. There is one narrow way – the way of faith which loves God and the way of love which trusts God.

Sunday – August 17, 2014 1st John 2:12-14 “Even the Strong Need Strength”

Sunday – August 17, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

1st John 2 verses 12 to 14 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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1 John 2:12-13
“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.”

From the time of John’s letters to today there has been a clash between factions in the church about our view of the world. One camp would say there is the world outside of the church is an environment that is intrinsically opposed to God though thoroughly loved by Him. Those who follow Christ need to be aware of the temptations and threats of this world and equip ourselves so we do not fall prey to them. In the other camps are those who want to see the world in the church – whether for the purpose of being inclusive or to make the world comfortable so it may hear and contemplate the message of the gospel.

The further you go into John’s letters the more he emphasizes the boundary that separates the church from the world. John is very aware subtle theological distortions give way to true perversions of doctrine. A world that seems to be only indifferent to God reveals itself to be a world completely opposed to Him. People who appear to be fence sitters in John’s words, worldly Christians we might say, reveal their true colors as provocateurs and teachers of error and thus become lieutenants of the enemy. John argues for a separatist doctrine of the church and paints a portrait of the church as a community under siege. But are such boundaries good? Should the church welcome in the world in an attempt to get its message out? Don’t those who rebel against God need hear the message of God’s love?

The heart of the issue comes down to our worldview. Many evangelicals see the world as benign. So any discussion of boundaries seems inappropriate because they do not see how the world, its policies and social life are opposed to the teaching of Jesus. When Norma McCorvey – the Jane Roe of the famous 1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortions legal – came to faith in Jesus Christ and publicly spoke of the sin that abortion is, she was called emotionally troubled and a pawn of the “Christian right” by the world. The world is seriously hostile to the advance of the kingdom of God.

What is needed in the church is a new worldview. Unless we develop a God-centered worldview based on what the Scriptures teach, the world’s offensiveness, aggressiveness and rejection of the truth will seem irrelevant. Developing a God-centered worldview will cause us to ask difficult questions about how we live. This discussion may begin with these verses in John’s letter but must continue through the entirety of the book. Clearly John’s focus is on managing these boundaries to maintain a strong community of believers in a world of spiritual dangers and pitfalls for those who are unaware of the deceit that abounds in the world.

Sunday – August 10, 2014 1John 2:7-11″The One Who Lives in the Light”

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1st John 2 verses 7 to 11 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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1 John 3:9-10
“No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.”

John raises many questions to those who would follow after Jesus. Churches across America are filled on Sunday morning with those whose faith is fit only for bumper stickers – “I know Him, live in Him and am in the light!” But they have never stopped and examined themselves to ask how often they reflect the character of Jesus Christ. Are they known as obedient and loving or simply as religious? John challenges all of us in where we stand today.

Many of us recoil at the word obedience. We have heard the messages on obedience and righteousness and we push them aside because they seem suffocating. We say, God loves me and I want to simply enjoy Him and live my life. I often wonder if the doctrines of grace have sabotaged the call to personal holiness. The Scriptures are not a battle between law and grace nor are its teachings a debate between Moses and Jesus. Jesus endorsed no compromise to the believer’s pursuit of righteousness. Thankfully we are saved by faith alone, but never forget the Christian life must display good works which God has prepared in advance for us to accomplish. This paradox is the tension in our life and in the Scripture.

John is absolute in his proclamation of obedience. If we disobey we are liars and walk in darkness. Can the absence of obedience truly disqualify us from being a Christian? I find the conclusion of Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount to be very sobering. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matt 7:21) This is then followed by our Lord’s teaching about building our homes upon the rock. Hearing the words of Jesus and doing His words compares with a person whose house has an unmovable foundation.

Jesus said our righteousness must exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees if we want to see the kingdom of heaven. And yet for all the critical statements Jesus made about the behavior of the Pharisees, He also said believers are to take note of what they said. “Therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.” (Matt 23:3) This is the defining paradox for those who follow after Christ: Personal righteousness and obedience are an essential component to our faith and yet do not form the basis of our salvation. Hear the call to be vigilant, but do not sacrifice the loving character of God in our lives.

Sunday – August 3, 2014 1John 2:3-6 “Obedience is the Key”

Sunday – August 3, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

1st John 2 verses 3 to 6 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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1 John 2:4-5
“The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected.”

Judas knew Christ. Lots of unbelieving scholars today know more about Christ than many Christians. There must be a different kind of knowledge than merely factual or technical knowledge. The Lord said in Hosea 4:1–2, “There is no faithfulness or kindness, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, killing, stealing, and committing adultery.” So Hosea has the same view of knowing God that John has: there can’t be knowledge of God where there is persistence in sin.

When a soldier comes back from combat, he may say to those who stayed at home, “You don’t know what war is like.” He means, “There is a knowledge that only comes from experience. There is a knowing that only comes from taking a reality into yourself and tasting it fully.” So here John not only says that this disobedient person does not know God; He goes on to say, “The truth is not in him.” This is why his knowledge is not knowledge. He carries it on the surface, but it has never sunk in. He has never tasted the truth he mouths so easily. So the knowledge John has in view is an experience of Christ and God the Father in which they are taken into the depths of our life and change the way we live.

John’s whole case hangs on the certainty that knowing God produces obedience. If a person could know God and still live in disobedience, then John could not say to this disobedient man in Verse 4 that he is a liar when he claims to know God. So how does this knowledge guarantee obedience? 1 John 4:16 says, “So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love.” To know the love God has for you means to trust it. For John it is unthinkable that a person could know the love of God and not trust the love of God. Not to trust it must mean that you don’t think it is really love. All John can say to someone who will not entrust themselves to the omnipotent love of God is: You can’t know it or you would trust it.

So when God commands you to do something and you ignore it or go against it, John can only conclude one thing: You don’t believe that God is love. For if you believed that God is love, then you would believe that all his commandments were the very best thing for you and you would follow them. When you turn away from the commandments of God, you say in effect, a loving God wouldn’t command me to do that. And so our disobedience displays our lack of trust in the love God has for us. And sadly, it confirms we do not know God.

Sunday – July 20, 2014 1st John 2:1-2 “The Key to Holiness”

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1 John 2 verses 1 and 2 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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1 John 2:1-2
“My 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; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”

The Apostle John has spent the first chapter of his letter exhorting us to live in the light as God is in the light. As a person who wants to please God, I find these to be some of the hardest words in Scripture. I want to please Him and yet I know how far short of this simple command I live every day of my life. Then John graciously adds, “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father.” In other words, don’t despair when you sin; there is hope in Jesus Christ.

You may ask why John would say this if his aim was that we not sin. It’s as if he has just succeeded in creating such an impression of the seriousness of sin that we begin to flee from it the way we should, and then he blows it, by giving us an out when we do sin. Instead of calling his wisdom into question, we should humble ourselves and learn from him. The strugglers among us might wish that John had never said in 1:7, “If we walk in the light . . . the blood of Jesus cleanses from sin.” And the strong among us might wish that John had never said in 2:1, “But if you do sin, we have an advocate with the Father.” The struggler may feel John makes the ongoing experience of forgiveness dependent on walking in the light, so the gospel is conditional and leaves them in despair. The strong person may feel that when he stresses the advocacy of Christ to Christians who sin, he cheapens the gospel and turns it into license to sin.

So let the struggler and the strong learn from John. For the way of God is not either-or. It is both-and. We must walk in the light if we are to go on experiencing the cleansing of Jesus. And if we sin, we do indeed have an advocate with the Father. There is sin that is unto death and there is sin that is not unto death. And the reason there can be sin that is not unto death is because we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. But not only that, we need to include the first half of Verse 2 in order to understand why we should not despair. “He is the propitiation for our sins.” More literally: He is the payment for our sins.

John’s message to us today is clearly, don’t sin! It is tremendously and terribly serious, causing great pain and hurt in your life and the life of the Church. But if you do sin, don’t despair because your attorney is the Son of the Judge. He is righteous and he makes his case for you not on the basis of your perfection but on his propitiation. Be of good courage, don’t hog Jesus for yourself alone, go and make disciples and tell them the good news – Jesus Christ lives!

Sunday – July 13, 2014 1st John 1:5-10 “Fellowship with God”

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1 John verses 5 to 10 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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1 John 1:5-7
“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 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.”

These are extraordinarily strong words. Sadly, our culture has become so emotionally fragile; everybody is sensitive to having their feelings hurt. If this were not an apostle talking, I can imagine someone today saying, “Do you have to use such harsh words when you warn people about their lifestyle?” If someone said your conduct made God out to be a liar, how would you respond? John evidently felt that so much was at stake the language, “You make God a liar,” should not be softened into something like, “You disappoint your heavenly Father.” I’m not sure the Scriptures should be adjusted to our emotionally fragile age. I think we need to get toughened up a bit.

Walking in the light is the opposite of walking in darkness. It means seeing reality for what it is and being controlled by desires that are aligned with God’s light. If God is light, and in him is no darkness at all, then he is the bright pathway to the fulfillment of all our deepest longings and desires. He is the deliverer from all dark dangers and obstacles to joy. He is the infinitely desirable One. If in His own light He shines forth as a Being of infinite worth, then He is the star of glory that we were made to admire and cherish. If God opens the eyes of our hearts to see all that, then our desires are captured by the surpassing glory of God over everything that the world has to offer, and we walk in the light as He is in the light.

There is a walk, there is a lifestyle, that necessarily results from the miracle of new birth when we are given eyes to see the surpassing worth of the light of God. 1 John is written to describe what that lifestyle looks like and how it results from the God’s light and our new birth. Walking in the light means seeing things the way God sees them and responding the way He does. We walk in the light when we hate the sin we fall into and name it for the ugly thing it is and agree with God about it and turn from it. So confessing sin is a crucial part of walking in the light. And verse 9 makes forgiveness of sin dependent on walking in the light. Therefore we are warranted in taking the cleansing of verse 7 to refer to forgiveness and not just to sanctification.

Sunday – July 6, 2014 1st John 1:3-4 “True Fellowship”

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1 John verses 3 and 4 “True Fellowship” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


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 1 John 1:1-4
“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life — and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us — what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.”

We often hear people talking about fellowship. We hear it said that what we need is more fellowship. But our modern ideas of fellowship have become so watered down that the word no longer carries the same meaning it did in New Testament times. The Book of Acts tells us early Christians also devoted themselves to fellowship. They just didn’t have fellowship; they devoted themselves to it. This means that fellowship was a priority and one of the objectives for gathering together. They made fellowship a priority.

Today, however, we often view fellowship as what we do in “fellowship hall.” It’s the place where we have casual conversations and savor coffee and donuts. This is not bad and can contribute to fellowship, but it falls far short of fellowship according to biblical standards and according to the meaning and use of the Greek words for fellowship. In the New Testament, what is shared in common is shared first of all because of a common relationship that we all have together in Christ. Koinonia was an important word to John, but it is never used in merely a secular sense. It always had a spiritual significance and base.

The idea of an earthly fellowship founded upon just common interests, human nature, physical ties like in a family, or from church affiliation was really rather foreign to the apostles. In the New Testament, believers can have fellowship and share together because they first of all have a relationship with Christ and share Him in common. Fellowship is first the sharing together in a common life with other believers through relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Fellowship is first and foremost a relationship, rather than an activity. The principle is that any activity that follows, should come out of the relationship.

Fellowship in the body of Christ is certainly no side issue. It was one of the four things the early church devoted itself to, and from this brief study, we can see why. It is a means of support and encouragement to others and of ministry in the Savior’s enterprise on earth.