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

Sunday – August 24, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

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

Sunday – July 20, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

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”

Sunday – July 13, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

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”

Sunday – July 6, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

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.

June 29, 2014 1st John 1:1-4 “True Christianity”

Sunday – June 29, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

1 John 1 verses 1 to 4 “True Christianity” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

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1 John 1:1-3
“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 — 2 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 — 3 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.”

What is fellowship? Fellowship means “to have all things in common.” When you have something in common with another you can have fellowship with him. If you have nothing in common, you have no fellowship. We all have things in common. We share human life in common. Most of us share American citizenship in common. But John is talking about that unique fellowship which is only the possession of those who share life in Jesus Christ together, who have this different kind of life, this new relationship. This makes them one and that is the basis for the appeal of Scripture to live together in tenderness and love toward one another. Not because we are inherently wonderful people or that we are naturally gracious, kind, loving, and tender all the time – for at times we are grouchy, scratchy, and irritating to others. But we are still to love one another.

There is not only the horizontal relationship but that, in turn, depends upon a vertical one. John tells us, “and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” Our horizontal relationships are directly related to the vertical one. If the vertical is not right, the horizontal one will be wrong, and, if it is wrong, it is because something is wrong between us and the Father. If we want to straighten out the horizontal relationship, that of getting along with our fellow Christians and fellow-men, we must be sure that the vertical one is straight. Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

The most remarkable thing about Christian life is fellowship with Christ. It really takes two English words to bring out what this really means. There is, first of all, a partnership – the sharing of mutual interests, resources, and labor together. God and I, working together, a partnership. All that I have is put at His disposal. Well, what do I have? I have me. I have my mind, my body. True, these are gifts of God, but they are put at my disposal to do with as I please. That is what I have, and now I put them at his disposal. When I do, I discover everything that He is, is put at my disposal. Is that not marvelous? The greatness of God, the wisdom, the power, the glory of His might –- all is made available to me, when I make myself available to Him. This is the great secret of fellowship.

Sunday – June 22, 2014 Introduction to 1st John

Sunday – June 22, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Introduction to 1 John from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

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 1 John 5:13-15
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”

Watchman Nee, in his very helpful book, What Shall This Man Do?, suggests that these three ministries of John, Peter, and Paul can be distinguished by, and are characterized by, the tasks that each of these men were performing when they were called of God.

Peter, for instance, was called as a fisherman, and we are told in the Gospels that the moment of his call occurred when the Lord found him casting a net into the sea. That work of fishing for men is characteristic of the Apostle Peter. He is always beginning things, initiating new programs. To him was committed the keys of the kingdom by which he could open the door to the new things God was introducing. On the day of Pentecost he used one of those keys and as a result caught 3,000 fish in his gospel net. You find that characteristic of this man all through his written ministry.

To the Apostle Paul, however, was committed a different task. When Paul was called he was a tent maker. He made things. He built things. This, then, was the ministry committed to the Apostle Paul. He is a builder. He not only lays the foundation, but he builds upon it. He calls himself “a wise master builder” and to this man, this mighty apostle, was committed the task of building the great doctrinal foundation upon which the Christian faith rests.

But John is different than both of these. When John was called he was found mending his nets. John is a mender. His written ministry comes in after the church has been in existence for several decades, and at a time when apostasy had begun to creep in. There was need of a voice to call people back to the original foundations and that is the ministry of the Apostle John. He calls men back to truth. When we begin to drift, when some false concept creeps into our thinking or into our actions, it is John who is ordained of the Lord to call us back, to mend the nets and to set things straight. The apostle John wrote the epistle First John against the backdrop of influential false teachers to help believers know that their faith was genuine and that they possessed eternal life in Jesus Christ. His great emphasis is on the differences between the genuine Christian and the spurious, and how to discern between the two. John wants us to know our salvation with certainty!