Summary: 3rd in the series "Love Notes: A Letter from John." If you love the Lord you’ll love Holiness, the Church and the Truth.
You might be a church member if…
-You think God’s presence is strongest on the back three pews.
- You think "Amazing Grace" is the national anthem.
- You judge the quality of the sermon by the amount of sweat worked up by the preacher.
- Your definition of fellowship has something to do with food.
- You think Jesus actually used Welch’s grape juice and saltine crackers.
- You judge the quality of a service by its length.
- You believe that you are supposed to take a covered dish to heaven.
-You joke that the preacher only works one day a week and secretly wish he wouldn’t work so long that day.
What are the true marks of a Christian? In John’s letter we’ve been seeing that Love is one of the true marks of a Christian. This morning I’d like to look at three things a Christian will love (this is, of course in addition to loving Jesus and loving your brothers and sisters in the Lord)
1. If You Love the Lord You’ll Love Holiness
Holiness means separation from the world.
15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.
Loving the Father is set up in direct contrast with loving the World. The “world” here means the world system which is set up in opposition to God—in the sense of “Satan is the prince of this world.” The apostle Paul writes, don’t let the world squeeze you into it’s own mold. In other words don’t become so comfortable with the world you live in that you go along without thinking.
Charles Swindoll, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity: The world system is committed to at least four major objectives, which I can summarize in four words: fortune, fame, power, pleasure. First and foremost: Fortune, money. The world system is driven by money; it feeds on materialism. Second: Fame. That is another word for popularity. Fame is the longing to be known, to be somebody in someone else’s eyes. Third: Power. This is having influence, maintaining control over individuals or groups or companies or whatever. It is the desire to manipulate and maneuver others to do something for one’s own benefit. Fourth: Pleasure. At its basic level, pleasure has to do with fulfilling one’s sensual desires. It’s the same mindset that’s behind the slogan: "If it feels good, do it." (p.219.)
Illustration: Frog in a kettle.
This world will boil you if you become comfortable in it. God has a better plan for you. He is not interested in your comfort but in your character. He wants you to live a real life, not a life of deception, not an inward focused “it’s all about me” life but a life filled with real meaning.
17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
You are crafted for eternity don’t squander your life chasing things that are passing away. Seek instead to be separated from the temporary, seek a life of holiness separated to the things of God.
2. If You Love the Lord You’ll Love the Church
19They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
Chuck Colson writes in his book “The Body” that “membership in a confessing body is fundamental to the faithful Christian life. Failure to do so defies the explicit warning not to forsake "our assembling together." His understanding of this prompted Martin Luther to say, "Apart from the church, salvation is impossible." Not that the church provides salvation; God does. But because the "saved" one can’t fulfill what it means to be a Christian apart from the church, membership becomes the indispensable mark of salvation.
"So highly does the Lord esteem the communion of His church," Calvin wrote," that He considers everyone a traitor and apostate from religion who perversely withdraws himself from any Christian society which preserves the true ministry of the word and sacraments." (Charles W. Colson, The Body, 1992, Word Publishing, p. 70. )
Those who love the Lord love the church. It isn’t possible to be in fellowship with God and out of fellowship with His church. You can’t say Jesus I love you, but I hate your wife.
Now understand that the context in the NT times was different, you couldn’t just buzz around from church to church, there weren’t different denominations. But that doesn’t mean that just because we have the ability to float doesn’t mean we have the freedom in Christ to do so.