Summary: an end our journey through 1 John. Now one thing remains – to do it. For each of us to take this repeated command, to love God and one another, and put it into practice.
Time To Do It : 1 John 4:13-5:21
The People of God: Studies in 1 John November 27, 2005
I have a big task this morning – recap 1 John, complete our study (which is about a chapter and a half), and launch us into the Advent season… so let’s pray!
Context and Review:
We started a study of 1 John in September, looking especially to find answers to the question: “what does it mean to be the people of God?” We’ve had 8 messages, and have seen that being the people of God means that:
• we are a forgiven fellowship (1:1-2:2)
• we are a people who have assurance that our actions of love are evidence of a transformed heart. (2:3-14)
• we have a love that is permanent, and we have a foundation of truth revealed by the Spirit. (2:15-27)
• we are deeply loved children (3:1 – “How great is the love the Father has lavished”)
• we love with actions and in truth (3:16-22)
• Sue – we are one (3:18-24)
• we are not naïve, but rather test the spirits (4:1-6)
• the love of God is made perfect through us. (4:7-12)
There has been a very consistent theme throughout – love. We are going to see that same theme in our last study in 1 John 4:13-5:21. Obviously I’m not going to go verse by verse, so let me pull out some big themes.
In 4:13-21, John’s focus is on the idea of “abiding”. He has talked about it earlier, but here we find a significant deepening of his thought: it is reciprocal. It is mutual. Earlier he has talked about us “abiding in him” (eg 2:28). Now John makes it very clear, three times, that it goes both directions: “13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world. 15God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.”
The idea of “abide” is to stick with it, to remain, even through difficulty. It makes us think of choosing to stay because we need to, we have determined to, and because we know in the end it will be best. Here is good news: as we abide in God, God abides in us. God is committed to us, He has chosen to stick with us even when it is hard, He has determined to remain in us. You are never alone. Never without power. Never abandoned. It will never be too hard, too unmanageable, or too overwhelming. Because it will never be you or I on our own. God abides with us as we abide with Him.
There are three ways this becomes a reality, and although we haven’t pointed it out they have been three themes that John has mentioned repeatedly. First, we see that God abides in us “because he has given us of his Spirit.” God abides in us through the reality of the Holy Spirit at work in each of us Second is through the truth about Jesus: “in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God”. Both are at work, and both must be in balance.
I remember one Saturday many years ago that a bunch of friends and I decided we should learn how to kayak. One of us had taken a couple lessons in a pool and so we figured she could teach the rest of us, and so we rented some boats and headed out to a lake and hopped in. When it was my turn, I pushed out from the dock and then leaned right to take a powerful stroke with my oar. And immediately I flipped upside down, and got stuck underneath the kayak. Thankfully, we had had a lesson on how to get out of the kayak upside down, and my presence here today is evidence that that lesson stuck and it actually worked. You see, I had no balance – and I got swamped. The same is true in our spiritual lives. We must always keep spirit and truth in balance, and in fact both lead to one another – the Spirit leads us into truth; and truth leads us to experience the Spirit. Spirit without truth is raw emotional experience; truth without the Spirit is dead religiosity of the type Jesus condemned in the religious leaders of His day. As soon as we get out of balance we flip the boat and are quickly drowning.