Sunday – November 16, 2014 1st John 4 verses 12 to 16 “The Assurance of Abiding”

Sunday – November 16, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

1st John 4 verses 12 to 16 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Problems viewing?


Word On Worship – Sunday – November 16, 2014 Download / Print

1 John 4:12-14
“No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”

Almost every Christian at some time has struggled with assurance of salvation. Perhaps you heard some godless university professor rail against the Christian faith, or you heard about a book or movie, and it caused you to doubt the truth of Christianity. Then the enemy hit you with the thought, “How could you be a genuine Christian and have these thoughts?” Or, it may have been during a time of severe trial, where God did not seem to be answering your prayers. The difficulties in your life multiplied without relief. You cried out to God, but He seemed to be on vacation. You just couldn’t make sense out of what was happening to you. Then, you began to doubt both the Christian faith and whether you were really a Christian at all.

The enemy has many such ways to shake our assurance of salvation. In the case of John’s first readers, false teachers were spreading heresy among the churches. They had left to form new churches, and many had followed them. When your friends join a new group with new teachings, it can cause you to question whether what you believe is really true. So the apostle John writes to his little children to give them assurance that they were truly abiding in Christ.

We’ve seen throughout 1 John, the issue is not perfection, but rather, direction. The important questions are, “What do you do when your faith wavers? Do you come before the Lord in confession, asking Him to strengthen your faith? What do you do when selfishness dominates your life, rather than God’s love? Do you grieve over your hardness of heart and ask God to fill you with His Spirit and to produce the fruit of His Spirit in you? Fruit is not an instant product. It takes time and cultivation. Faith and love take time to grow.

John wants you to know that if these qualities are growing in you, you can be assured that God abides in you and you in Him. If you do not see faith and love growing in your life, then do as Isaiah (55:6-7) directs: “Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”

 

Sunday – November 9, 2014 1st John 4 verses 7 to 11 “Why Love is Required”

Sunday – November 9, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

1st John 4 verses 7 to 11 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Problems viewing?


Word On Worship – Sunday – November 9, 2014 Download / Print

1 John 4:7-9
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

You may identify with the early believers. John has already emphasized the importance of love in 2:7-11 and hit it again in 3:11-18. We may be prone to say, “Okay, brother, we’ve got that one down now. Let’s move on to something else.” But John not only repeats the imperative to love one another but also he hits it longer and harder than at any other point in the book. He wants to make sure that we understand that love is not an optional virtue for the believer. It is to be the distinguishing mark of the church in the world. John goes so far as to say that if you do not love others, you do not know God! So we all need to examine our own lives by this supreme standard.

While love is the inevitable result of being born of God, it is not the automatic result. John tells us, “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” The implication is the life of God imparted to us in the new birth manifests itself in love for others. If we are children of the One whose very nature is love, then we will be like our Father. But at the same time, John writes, “Beloved, if God so loves us, we also ought to love one another.” Love is not automatic nor effortless! We always have room for growth in love.

Love is not opposed to truth. John has just spent six verses warning us (4:1), “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” He did not say: “Let’s just set aside those points of doctrine where we disagree and come together where we do agree, loving those who differ on these matters.” Because these men denied essential truth about Jesus Christ, John calls them false prophets, whose teaching is the spirit of antichrist. Love does not mean that we set aside the truth for the sake of unity.

We must exercise wise discernment here. Some doctrinal differences are not essential to the gospel, and we need to love brothers who differ with us on these matters. Some of these doctrines are important for how we live the Christian life, and so we may vigorously debate them among ourselves. But we must always remember that we are debating as brothers in Christ. If we divide from one another over every minor point of doctrine, we fall into the errors of “fighting fundamentalism.” At the heart of that sort of cantankerous behavior is a spirit of pride, where I assert that everyone must agree with me on every minor issue. At the same time, some issues fall into a gray zone, where salvation may not be at stake, but to embrace a particular view will have momentous consequences. We should not accuse those who differ with us of not being saved, unless they also deny the essentials of the gospel.

Sunday – November 2, 2014 1st John 4 verses 1 to 6 “Discerning the Spirits”

Sunday – November 2, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

1st John 4 verses 1 to 6 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Problems viewing?


Word On Worship – Sunday – November 2, 2014Download / Print

1 John 4:1-3
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 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; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.”

P. T. Barnum made a fortune on the theory that “a sucker is born every minute,” and he has many disciples today. The Internet has only widened the door of opportunity for those that prey on the unsuspecting. I have read that the second most lucrative industry in Nigeria is scamming foolish Americans out of their money by promising to give them millions of dollars in exchange for their personal banking information.

Perhaps even more widespread than financial scams are spiritual scams. False cults and religions lure millions into their traps, promising them fulfillment, happiness, and more. Mormonism is growing rapidly worldwide. Jehovah’s Witnesses aggressively promote their heresies in just about every country of the world. Islam is growing all over Europe, and it is also rapidly expanding in America.

Even among those claiming to be evangelicals, who say that they believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, false teaching abounds. The “New Perspective on Paul,” which has captured many evangelical scholars and pastors, undermines justification by faith alone. The Emergent Church movement embraces much of the postmodern philosophy that there is no absolute truth. Many churches teach the Holy Spirit is at work in the world’s other major religions and that Christians should be open to learning from and being enriched by the Spirit’s work in world religions. In addition to these blatant errors, the “seeker church” movement has subtly redefined the gospel, so that the issue is no longer that we are sinners who need reconciliation to a holy God. Rather, we are religious consumers with needs that God is willing and ready to meet, if we will just give Him a try.

John tells his beloved flock, “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” Paul said a similar thing. After saying that we should “not despise prophetic utterances,” he added, “but examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:20-21). True faith is not a blind leap into the dark. It examines its object carefully before putting trust in it. John Stott observes both Paul and John assumed, as the Reformers insisted, that “even the humblest Christian possessed ‘the right of private judgment.” We need spiritual discernment because Satan and his forces are alive and well, promoting error at every opportunity.

Sunday – October 26, 2014 1st John 3:19-24 “Blessed Assurance”

Sunday – October 26, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

1st John 3 verses 19 to 24 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Problems viewing?


Word On Worship – Sunday – October 26, 2014 Download / Print

1 John 3:19-22
“We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.”

Every child has a basic need to feel assured of his parents’ love. It should be obvious that if parents verbally or physically abuse a child, that child will not feel loved by his parents. Eventually, he will distance himself from them through withdrawal or rebellion. So even when a child disobeys and must be disciplined; it is important for parents to affirm their love for him. Assurance of love is essential for close relationships.

The same is true spiritually. Even though the heavenly Father disciplines us for our good, that we might share His holiness, He does it out of love. He wants us, as His children, to be assured of His great love for us. John begins chapter 3 by exclaiming (3:1), “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.” God wants His children to feel His arms of love around them, even when they go through difficult trials.

The enemy of our souls knows that we will not feel close to God if we doubt our standing before Him as beloved children. So he accuses us in an attempt to drive a wedge between us and God. In addition, at times our conscience condemns us as we compare ourselves with the holy standards of God’s Word. We know that we should love others, but in our hearts, we struggle with anger or bitterness or hatred toward those who have wronged us. We know that we should pray for God to bless this difficult person with His salvation, but inwardly, we’d rather see him punished. When we have those thoughts, either our guilty conscience or the enemy comes in and says, “A true Christian can’t have thoughts like that! You’re not even saved!”

The first anchor for assurance is always faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. If your trust is in Christ, God has promised you eternal life and He has promised never to allow you to be snatched out of His hand. A man once told D. L. Moody that he was worried because he didn’t feel saved. Moody asked, “Was Noah safe in the ark?” “Certainly he was,” the man replied. “Well, what made him safe, his feeling or the ark?” The point is, if you’re in Christ, it’s not your feelings that save you from God’s judgment. It’s Christ who saves! Faith puts you on the ark! Make sure you’re on board!

Sunday – October 19, 2014 1st John 3:11-18 “Love or Hate – One or the Other”

Sunday – October 19, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

1st John 3 verses 11 to 18 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Problems viewing?


Word On Worship – Sunday – October 19, 2014 Download / Print

1 John 3:11-12
“For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.”

If loving others were only as easy as giving a hug to someone you don’t like, we all could excel in love. Just hug them and move on. But, love is a bit more difficult than that. It requires continual effort, because at the heart of loving others is putting the other person ahead of yourself, and that is always a huge battle. For this reason, the New Testament as a whole and the apostle John in this letter never tire of exhorting us to love one another.

John had seen the love of Christ demonstrated that night in the Upper Room, when Jesus took the basin of water and washed the disciples’ feet. He then heard Jesus say in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Then John saw the supreme demonstration of Christ’s love when He willingly went to the cross and died for our sins. And so the “son of thunder” became known as the “apostle of love.” John has already reminded his little children of this old-new commandment of Jesus.  He will yet devote the major part of Chapter 4 (verses 7-21) to this same theme. In fact, six times in 1 John and 2 John, he refers directly to the command by Jesus  that we love one another.

If we get weary of hearing over and over about the need to love one another, we should remember that John wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who knows our hearts. We need to examine ourselves constantly because our default mode is to revert to selfishness, not to love. In our text, John again gets out his black and white paint and does not mix them into shades of gray. He wants to expose the errors of the heretics in the plainest of terms.

John says, “This is the message which you have heard from the beginning.” He means, from the beginning of your Christian life you were taught to love one another. It’s a basic truth that you should start to learn and practice from the first day of your Christian experience. God’s love flowing through us to one another should so mark the church that it draws a sharp contrast between us and the world.

Sunday – October 12, 2014 1st John 3:4-10 “What is Sin to a Christian?”

Sunday – October 12, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

1st John 3 verses 4 to 10 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


Word On Worship – Sunday – October 12, 2014 Download / Print

1 John 3:7-9
“Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.”

John divides all people into two camps: those who practice righteousness (3:7) and those who practice sin (3:8). There is no third camp for those who do not believe in Jesus, but are decent, good people who never hurt anyone. You may protest, “Surely, my grandmother who was sweet towards everyone and who believed in the basic goodness of human nature, was not of the devil!” The Bible offers no comfort to those who base their righteousness on good deeds, clean living or gentleness of spirit. _

The key to understanding John’s meaning lies in his next phrase, “for the devil sins [lit.] from the beginning.” This points us back to the original fall of Satan. God created Satan and all the angels as good, but Satan sinned against God and led a rebellion of other angels, who became demons. Isaiah 14:12-14, on one level describes a taunt against the king of Babylon, is also a description of Satan’s fall: “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of the assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

Notice that five times the devil said, “I will,” in opposition to God. He was not content with where God had created him. He wanted his own way. As we saw in verse 4, which is parallel to verse 8, the essence of sin is rebellion against God. The sinner says, “I will! I want my way! I will not submit to the Most High God.” This attitude originated in Satan and is the defining attribute of all who stand in opposition to the grace and mercy of God who provides His righteousness to all who trust in the work of His Son on the cross of Calvary.

So whenever a person acts in line with his own will, without submitting to God’s will, he is committing the original sin of the devil. Whether it manifests itself as the humanly respectable, “I will be nice to others, so that people will think highly of me,” or as the reprehensible, “I will kill others to get what I want,” it all comes from the same source: the devil. Any action that originates in the human will that is not in submission to God is devilish, even if outwardly it is a nice, humanitarian, seemingly “good” action.

Sunday – September 28, 2014 1John 3:2-3 “The Purifying Hope”

Sunday – September 28, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

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


Word On Worship – Sunday – September 28, 2014 Download / Print

1 John 3:2-3
“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

For better or worse, the families into which we are born have a huge impact on how we grow up and live. Some grow up in unloving, abusive homes where anger flares up every day. The world spews its lifestyle into our homes and the family wallows in it, laughing at the shameful antics. The Bible is never read and moral training, if it exists at all, consists of, “Make sure that you have safe sex.” A child growing up in that kind of home is bound to be damaged by it, unless the grace of God through the gospel lays hold of him.

Other children grow up in godly homes, where love and kindness are the daily fare. The husband treats his wife with gentleness and respect, and the wife submits to and speaks well of her husband. The children are instructed in the ways of the Lord and they see it modeled in front of them every day. The Bible is read in the home and they worship with God’s people on Sundays. Growing up in that kind of home will have a far different impact on the children. Their position as children in that kind of home greatly affects how they think and live.

Perhaps you lament that you did not enjoy a godly upbringing. But, if you have been born again by the Holy Spirit, you now are in such a godly family – the family of God. You can rightly call the holy God, “Father.” You are His beloved child, more precious to Him than any child is to his earthly father. As a child of God, you are an heir to a vast fortune. Paul puts it this way in Romans 8:16-17, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” That new position of being a child of God in the family of God should shape how you think, how you live, and how you relate to the many temptations in this evil world.

If we begin to see the truth of who we are and allow it to shape our identity, it will change how we face the temptations of this life. You are tempted to engage in some sin but you think, “I can’t do that because I’m a child of God and it would disgrace the name of my heavenly Father.” Or, you’re reading the Bible and it convicts you that some of your behavior is not godly. When Scripture confronts you, you think, “I’m now a child of God. I can’t do that as a member of His family.” Your new identity motivates you to grow in holiness.

Sunday – September 21, 2014 1John 3:1 “The Father’s Great Love”

Sunday – September 21, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

1st John 3 verse 1 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


Word On Worship – Sunday – September 21, 2014 Download / Print

1 John 3:1
“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”

The heart of every pastor desires to strengthen the spiritual stamina of his flock. This is particularly the case when, as in John’s church, opponents are seen standing outside the door. But the question that roams my heart and mind is what strategy is best for our church to reinforce Christian discipleship? John can often raise more questions than answers, which allows for us to wrestle with the Holy Spirit to find application in our lives. John tells us we are the children of God. And all of this is the result of God’s love that He initiated on our behalf. If that does not cause you to stand up and praise God, look to John and his example of rejoicing in this truth.

When John tells us our status is as “God’s children” it is proclaimed as an absolute, unyielding decision initiated by God. That is why John exclaims, “How great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God.” It is a part of a divine choice, an unmerited adoption, where we are brought into the family of God. It is only in this framework that we see our security with God is completely out of our hands and firmly in His. Only then does assurance of salvation move from an intellectual construct to a concrete reality. Our confidence comes from finding out God is the One who holds us secure.

I am continually amazed at the number of church-going people who intellectually understand they are God’s children and cannot be un-adopted, and yet their hearts are filled with insecurity. Caught up in their feelings of the moment, they wonder how they can be children of God if they don’t “feel” like they are children of God. Or others who look upon their personal struggle with sin and question if they ever were in the family of God. This may be a common experience of many today. But if my confidence is based on what I feel in my Christian walk, then confidence is frail indeed.

Experience is an important part of our Christian walk. Christ told us we must be born again, walk in obedience to His commands and live holy and righteous lives. While these experiences are important, the measure of our assurance is not the magnitude of the experience of the past, which often fade as we become older. Rather, through the atoning death of our Lord Jesus Christ and with it the payment of our sin by our faith, God makes known to us His immeasurable love and makes our assurance steadfast.

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.


Word On Worship – Sunday – September 14, 2014 Download / Print

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.


Word On Worship – Sunday – September 7, 2014 Download / Print

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.