Posts Tagged ‘ Love your neighbor ’

Sermon: Growing into Friends of God – John 15:7-17

I preached again!

Once again, I was back in Paulden covering for Brother Paul. We both have been retreading ground. In my last sermon, I preached verses 1-11, and last week Paul did the same (covering things from a slightly different angle.)

This week, I started in verse 7, so only a little retreading.

As usual, these are rough notes, and I added quite a bit.

Unfortunately, the recording had a major error, so there is no video or audio. At least you can read my notes, I guess.

Growing into Friends of God – John 15:7-17

Intro – The Day I “Became a Man”

Our society today rebels against true manhood and womanhood, against all the things God calls good: family, traditional roles, childhood and parenthood.

Frankly, it is all stupid, especially as they wonder why our society is going to hell in a hand basket, even as studies keep coming out showing the importance of fathers and two-parent homes, the rise in depression especially among younger generations and even those who “find their true selves” through gender-swapping and transgenderism, and the yearning for justice that no one can find.

Yet, growing up I wanted to be like my dad.

I remember the day I knew he saw me as a man. It was a summer day in 2002. We were taking our almost annual road trip from Illinois to Upstate New York to see family and friends. I was 18-going-on-19, and I was ready for the regular 12-14 hour day of riding in the back seat, reading, playing some games with my siblings, maybe pretending to nap. (I don’t nap well while traveling.) My dad usually drove, though sometimes he would have my mom drive for a couple of hours to let himself rest a little.

We made our stop near the border of Indiana and Ohio, did the usual rest stop stuff and got some lunch, and then headed back to the car.

Dad stops me a few feet from the car, dangles the keys in front of me, and says, “Ready for your turn?”

It was huge. I knew I was a man that day.

But he also went through a quick list of “remember this and that” for safe driving and such, as well as a reminder that he would be next to me if I got worried or needed to pull over.

In other words, “You’re not a kid anymore. Remember the rules, and remember I am here to help.”

______________

Before we resume John 15, let’s remember what we’ve talked about.

The past two weeks, Pastor Paul and I covered abiding in Christ.

We discussed much about obeying God, showing we love Jesus by obeying His commands.

What are God’s commands?

  1. Love God with everything you are;
  2. Love other people;
  3. Love each other, the Church.

There are different ways of doing this, yes, but there are some specific ways of doing this.

As Pastor Paul reminded us last week, the people of Israel were supposed to be the light to world drawing other people to God. They were God’s vine that consistently did not grow good fruit, so He had to cut them off.

Not just prune the vine. He had to cut them off. First through exile, and then, after Christ’s ministry and resurrection, the destruction of the nation of Israel (until 1948).

He gave a new Vine, Himself, to make a new people, the Church.

In other words, if we want to do truly good works and find eternal life, we must be found in the Vine of Christ. Only in Christ do we find life and fulfillment. Only in Christ, the faithful Son, can we be faithful to obey.

We must be a people who desire Christ more than anything, only finding our fulfillment in Him.

This leads us back to John 15, starting in verse 7.

​Reading

John 15:7–17, ESV

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Growing Up

Just like my Old Man showed his love by letting me drive, we see here that Christ is showing God’s love for us.

We are being elevated from mere servants of God to friends.

I don’t know if I ever would have asked to drive on a road trip. That was Pop’s job. He did the hard work of driving, even if I really, really wanted to drive.

I don’t think we realize what we fail to ask God for in this life.

Many teachers, preachers, and theologians today like to teach “See! We can ask for whatever we want!” To the point that some famous preachers say they had to ask God for a new luxury car, a bigger house, and a faster private jet. Verses 7 and 16 say so!

Is this what Jesus is saying we should be doing?

“If you abide in me … whatever you ask the Father in my name …”

We should be asking according to Jesus’ will.

Am I saying we should never ask for things or to drive our dad’s car? No. God loves when we talk to Him, even over seemingly trivial things.

However, this passage and others show that we ask according to His will.

The Mega Millions was just at $1.3 Billion (a winning ticket was sold in Chicago). It got me thinking about all of those people who win and suddenly find out about family and friends they weren’t aware of. People who come asking for money and/or gifts.

That’s annoying, having people only come to you when they want something, a free handout.

Or if I had started asking random people if I could drive their car. Also annoying and silly.

But Jesus tells us that He is not inviting anyone to come ask Him and His Father for stuff.

Like my dad, He demands faithfulness to His commands, regular obedience.

He wants us to grow up.

My dad didn’t hand me keys to the car when I was five or even 16 years old (though there was practice driving from the age of 15). He waited until I had faithfully shown him that I could be trusted with a vehicle.

Likewise, Jesus says we are His friends if we obey Him. He has shown us we are friends by revealing what His will is.

He says, v. 16, that He chose us to bear fruit, so we know we can bear the fruit He wants.

He says, v. 8, that His will is to glorify the Father.

He says, v. 17, that His will is to glorify God by loving others.

He says, v. 13, that we are to love sacrificially. Even to the point of giving up our lives.

We get over our selfish desires and seek to glorify God by serving others. We are to grow up and start caring for others.

Back in the Garden of Eden, our super-great grandparents chose personal rewards over obedience, and nothing has changed since.

But now we have the Holy Spirit of God who changes our way of thinking and acting to be conformed to the likeness of Christ, to seek the will of God, to love the same way He has loved us.

Some examples

Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.​
Exodus 33:11, ESV

But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”
Isaiah 41:8-9, ESV

Moses and Abraham were murderers and liars, yet they were called friends of God because of their obedience and sacrificial love, both giving up children for God.

And through these men, God called people to Himself, not to be selfish but to seek the will of God.

In chapter 4 of his letter, James, the brother of Jesus, told us as much:​

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
James 4:1-10, ESV

So, the message?

Grow up. Be a friend of God, one who seeks His will and glory above your own, who loves God by loving others.

Be humble and realize your dependence on Him, drawing near to abide in His everlasting love.

We live in a world that says we should be seeking our own comfort and glory, but God demands obedience to His will. And He helps us be faithful if we draw near.

My dad didn’t give me the keys to the car because I was the greatest driver in the world.

He gave me the keys of the car because he loved me enough to train me to drive and rewarded my faithfulness to growing. (Even though I still had a ways to go!)

Likewise, Jesus gives us His Holy Spirit to go into the world and bring glory to God.

He promised (in the last chapter, 14:18) that He would not leave us as orphaned children, rather that He would help train us up and empower us by His Holy Spirit to preach the gospel to whole world, loving them as He has loved us.

[Hebrews 6:1] “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity,” [2 Peter 3:17-18] “beloved, knowing this beforehand, taking care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

Sermon: Signs You’re a Christian – 1 John 3:10-24

I preached again! I liked it. Like, wept some, got goosebumps some, enjoyed preaching it … a lot.

Please enjoy listening (click here if it does not work just below), and see my rough notes for all scripture references and basic thoughts. I am reading from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible.

Signs You’re a Christian (1 John 3:10-24)

Read 3:10-11

        1:1, 2:7: Nothing new, known from the beginning

Read 3:12

        Genesis 4:3-5: Why did Cain murder Abel? His sacrifice was not accepted.
Why?
2 theories: 1) He could have asked Abel for an animal sacrifice. Could have, yes, but …
          2) He offered “an offering of the fruit” versus Abel’s “firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions.” Abel offered the first and best, but Cain went for the bare minimum.
Genesis 4:6-7: Bare minimum can lead, at best, to complacency, and at worst to proof of not being saved.
Genesis 4:8-9: Our selfishness leads us to hatred, as John reminds us …

Read 3:13-15

        Testimony: Know I am saved, because I have loved the Church.
-Jim Harper – Pastor on the Titanic
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Pastor in Nazi Germany

Read 3:16-20

        Two things to remember:

  • Our sinful hearts:
    • Jeremiah 17:9-10
    • How righteous are we really?
      • Illustration with three volunteers (preferably one of the Paul’s, Jadon, and Scott as our prime example):
        • 1 at the left, representing Hitler and anti-christs
        • Student at the right, representing Christ
        • Scott (or someone) being moved for how much righteousness he has, starting out close to student, moving him until he is right next to “Hitler” to demonstrate how much better we are apart from Christ. Then, back over to hug “Christ” who has covered our sins with his own blood.
    • Romans 8:23 – awaiting the redemption of our bodies
  • Christ commanded that we help others, especially the Church (Galatians 6:10, John 13 especially v. 8)

Read 3:21-24

  1. If we believe, we are washed by Christ. Since we are washed by Christ, we should have clean consciences
    1. Sometimes, we struggle to let go of the past, making our consciences feel burdened …
    1. This is one reason Hebrews 10:19-25 (vv. 23-25) tells us to keep meeting together and encouraging each other, but also …
  2. Whatever we ask: See Ephesians 3:14-21 (v. 20)
    1. He meets all of our needs, knowing what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8, 7:7-11)

What does this all mean for us?

  1. First, realize we can do nothing good apart from God
    1. Romans 3 – None are good nor seek God, all have sinned
    1. Luke 18:18-19 – Only God is good
    1. Philippians 4:13 – Through Christ alone can we do good things
  2. Second, we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. (Ephesians 2)
    1. Realize our full need for Christ, repent of sins, and believe in His atoning work on the cross.
    1. As Ephesians 2 continues and reminds us …
  3. Third, we are made one with Christ and each other through Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit.
    1. We love Christ and His Church.
      1. Read your Bible
      1. Pray
      1. Meet regularly with other Christians
        1. Not just go to church on Sundays!
      1. Live out love for God
        1. Do good works as a response to the great love God has given
        1. Especially toward our brothers and sisters in Christ
        1. These reveal the Spirit’s work in us, that we love Christ by obeying His commands (John 15:12-14), all to the glory of the Father (meaning people see our love and good works and come to believe the Gospel!)

So, then, what are the commands we are to obey?

  1. Love God with all that you are (Matthew 22:37-38)
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39-40)
  3. Love one another as Christ has loved us (Sacrificially and with a servant’s heart) (John 13:34)
  4. Go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20)

VerseD: Matthew 22:37-39

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Matthew 22:37‭-‬39, ESV

What are God’s expectations for all people?

Love God with every bit of yourself, an love other people as if they are yourself.

Matthew 7:1-2

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”
Matthew 7:1‭-‬2, ESV

Jesus never said “never judge.” He warned to use good judgment, but realize you invite judgment from others.

Judge yourself first according to Scripture, then help others do the same.

VerseD: John 15:13

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13, ESV

Just as Christ – God become Man – sacrificed Himself for our sins, we should be willing to sacrifice anything and everything for the sake of others in the love and name of Christ.

VerseD: Ephesians 4:26

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
Ephesians 4:26, ESV

It is okay to be angry over unrighteousness, injustice, and cruelty. We must give that anger to God. Vengeance belongs to Him. Love your neighbor.

VerseD: 1 John 2:15-16

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.
1 John 2:15‭-‬16, NASB

Love your neighbor, but do not desire his things. Love your neighbor, but do not desire her. Love your neighbor, but do not seek authority.

VerseD: Jeremiah 17:10

“I, the Lord , search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.”
Jeremiah 17:10, NASB

God will judge every person: first, on how we each respond to His Son, then by how we respond to others because of His Son.

VerseD: John 15:4

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
John 15:4, NASB

We are commanded to love God and love people, but it is at best difficult and at worst impossible without continually being consumed by the love of God through Jesus.

VerseD: Galatians 5:14

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:14 ESV

This is both the easiest thing to understand and hardest to do.

Loving others looks different with every person and situation, but it is commanded of us.