Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Test of Fellowship (Part 8)

SERMON            GM14-017

SERIES:              Christian Living in a World of Chaos & Contradiction

SCRIPTURE:     1 John 1:8-2:28

SUBJ:                  Genuine Fellowship with God

SUBTITLE:        The Test of Fellowship (Part 8)

SUMMARY:       The Christian life is viewed as a life of fellowship

SCHEME:           To cause believers to test their claim of fellowship


          1B     Fellowship is tested on practical grounds (1:5-2:11)

                   1C     Practical grounds of moral like-ness (1:5-7)

                   2C     Practical grounds of confession of sin (1:8-2:2)

                   3C     Practical grounds of obedience (2:3-6)

                   4C     Practical grounds of love (2:7-11)

          2B     Fellowship is tested on relational grounds (2:12-17)

                   1C     The Positive Relationship (2:12-14)
                   2C     The Negative Relationship (2:15-17)

          3B     Fellowship is tested on Christological grounds (2:18-28)

                   1C     The Contrast (2:18-21)
                   2C     The Christological (2:22-23)
                   3C     The Centrality (2:24-28) 


A.   Review

This first section of John’s letter which begins in verse five of chapter one and runs to verse twenty-eight of chapter two deals with the truth that the Christian life viewed as a life of fellowship. John takes great pains to make the case that the Christian life is a life of fellowship with all other believers and with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

John also makes it clear that any claim to this life of fellowship can be tested, and should be tested. We are looking at the first means by which a claim to fellowship with God can be tested. This first means is the test by practical grounds

We have examined four tests of for the claim of fellowship with God by practical grounds:

·        The Practical Grounds of Moral Like-ness
·        The Practical Grounds of Habitual Confession of Sin
·        The Practical Grounds of Consistent Obedience
·        The Practical Grounds of Love for other believers

Last week we examined verses seven through eleven which dealt with the fact that God-like sacrificial love is a mark of a genuine Christian.

[This passage demonstrated that a Christian’s…]

·        John’s explanation of this commandment as both ancient, or old and as additional or new

IOW, especially for the Jewish Christians this was not a new thing for them. Since the days of Moses the Jews had been charged with loving both God and their neighbor.

However, this command is new in the sense that it is fulfilled in Christ and because of Christ dwelling in us through the HS, we as believers are able to comply with this command.

[Secondly, as we examined this passage, we saw…]

·        John’s Employment of this passage

John applied this test of loving fellow believers to any and all who claim to know God and claim to have fellowship with God.

Some “believers” claimed to know God but hated certain fellow believers. This proved two things: 1) they were not true believers; and 2) they didn’t even know they were on the road to hell.

Some people in the churches loved their fellow believers and did so by demonstrating their love by actions thus proving themselves to be true believers.

Genuine believers love other believers.

B.   Introductory Device

Now we turn our attention to the next passage. This section is still dealing with the eternal truth that the Christian life is to be viewed as a life of fellowship. True Christianity is a life of fellowship with God and with other believers.

We now move from the test by practical grounds to the fact that our claim of fellowship is tested by relational grounds.

There are only two sub points to this point. We will examine this test by relational grounds from the positive relationship and from a negative relationship.

So, our claim of fellowship with God is tested on relational grounds.

Being related to our various family members can have tremendous perks, benefits, and moments of great joy.

Sometimes being related to various family members remind us of…
Winston Churchill's immortal words when he talked about the impending war:

"We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, and we shall fight in the hills."

 It sounds exactly like our family vacation. (Robert Orben.)

Sometimes it sad to say we can’t choose our relatives

C.   The evidence of genuine salvation is proven by the fact of our visible relationship with God the Father.

D.   How is this relationship made known?

E.   Our passage anticipates two (2) approaches towards demonstrating the relationship we have with God.

F.    Our theme is:       Genuine believers are related to God

G.  This is a good reminder for us all that as we claim to have fellowship with God that our claim can be tested by and made known a demonstrative relationship to God.

[So, let’s dig into the fact that our …]
2B     Fellowship is tested on relational grounds (2:12-17)

John has shared four tests with his readers that provides assurance to his readers that they have and continue to have real and true fellowship with God.

Verses 12-14 seem to be an interruption to his discussion of what constitutes true knowledge and fellowship with God. John talks to his readers in two triads, or two groups of three statements or truths.

In these triads John expresses his confidence that his readers are true believers with real fellowship with God. This is in contrast to the claim of the false teachers who were teaching that they and they only had the real inside scoop and the real fellowship with God.
I don’t think this is an interruption. I think we still see John giving “tests” that validate or invalidates the claim of knowing God and having fellowship with him.

There are two sets of tests in verses 12-17. These tests prove or disprove anyone’s claim of knowing God and having fellowship with him.

Quite frankly, these are easy tests with simple and easy names: the first test proving a relationship with God is positive and the second test proving or disproving a relationship with God is negative.

The first approach John uses gives us the grounds of his assurance that his readers are true believers. The second approach gives us the grounds for John’s exhortation to be separate from the world.

[So, let’s Read verses 12-14]

[Let’s dive into the first approach of the test of relationship, and that is…]

                   1C     The Positive Relationship (2:12-14)

John states his confidence in his readers in what is called two sets of triads. Each triad contains three elements:

§  His statement “I write…”
§  A descriptive noun of direct address
§  An affirmation about them with the use of “because”

1D                   The First Triad of Assurance  (12-13b)

              1E The Declaration of Confidence

John uses the present tense verb, “I write to you” four times. He is referring to the letter that he is writing to them.

But the terms or designations that John chose to use has created a hotbed of discussion.

The terms John uses are not thought of or meant to be used to signify physical age.

Some people see two distinct groups while others see three distinct groups of people being addressed.

Some people maintain that these terms are meant to describe different levels of spiritual maturity. As a result they hold the position that there are three groups being spoken to.

A second position held is that John addresses “all of his readers,” and then he breaks them down into “fathers” and “young men.”

The problem with this group is you have to make teknia and paidia mean the same thing, when they don’t.

A third view states that all the readers are included each time and the things said of each group is true of the whole group.

I think John is referring to three different levels of maturity in order to make sure no believer thinks he/she has been left out of the things John has said doesn’t apply to them. I will leave the choice of the three views to you.

Regardless of the view you choose, John uses a descriptive noun of address. Let’s look at the first use of a descriptive noun:

§  Little children (vs. 12, 13)

“I write to you little children…”

John uses the Greek Word teknion. this word comes from a root which means “to beget,” or “to bear.” It refers to a child from the standpoint of origin – like the embryo.

In the NT is was used figuratively as a term of endearment or affection. It is used in the plural form in the NT.

It is used as a term of love or affection by a teacher for his disciples especially when a tender appeal is used or needed.

The reason this is important and the reason John used it is because it demonstrates the reality of a birth relationship.

Those who are born into the family of God John assures them that their sins are forgiven.

“…because your sins are forgiven you…”

John tells them clearly why he is writing to them. He tells them because of the new birth, because they are related to God their sins are forgiven.

Of course the opposite would be true, any not belonging to God by birth do not have the assurance (or the reality) that their sins are forgiven.

John believes Christ – he considers them little children because he is convinced that their sins are forgiven.

The great thing about this verse, John didn’t use the aorist tense or the present tense of the verb

He used the perfect tense. This refers to their past experience of sins forgiven resulting in their present state of sins forgiven which will continue forever.

This is the basis of their assurance of salvation and it is your basis of the assurance of your salvation.

The basis for assurance of salvation is the confidence that your sins are forgiven…

“…for His name’s sake.”

God forgives sin not because of any merit in a sinner, but because of the infinite merit of the savior.

What does “his name” mean or imply?

R. E. O. White sums it up beautifully when he wrote, “His name is but shorthand for the whole character and work of Christ, the incarnate Son.” [1]
John makes it clear that the forgiveness of sin is directly related to Jesus character and work that God confirmed in Christ.

John probably reminded his believes that they must continue to believe all that “his name” includes and not be deceived and led astray by the claims of the false teachers. 

                                      2E     The dual address

John also speaks of his assurance of his reader’s relationship as “fathers” and “young” men.

·        The first group – “I write to you – Fathers…”

Who are the Fathers?

More than likely they his readers who are older or more mature in their Christian faith.

These are probably believers who have probably learned something about the seriousness of the responsibilities of the Christian life.

Why is John so comfortable in his feeling of assurance?
                   “…because you have known him from the beginning.”

They are mature because they know Christ. They are not mature nor would John be comfortable with acknowledging their relationship if it was based on mere intellectual knowledge.

The verb shows that they came into a personal knowledge of God in the past and still possess knowledge of God.

·        The Second Group – “I write to you young men…”

These are more likely believers who are younger in the faith than the “fathers.” It doesn’t mean they were spiritually babies or newly saved.

If you read carefully you will see that John doesn’t say anything about their immaturity, as a matter of fact he says:

“…you have overcome the wicked one…you are strong and the word of God abides in you…”

Don’t make a mistake however, the battle is over, they engaged the enemy and came out a winner or victorious,

The wicked one is a reference to the devil. This is a picture of his nature as vicious and destructive. It depicts Satan as totally and completely bad.

We have looked at the first triad of the reasons why John has written to these believers. He has confidence in them as children of God because they have evidence of having their sins forgiven, they have known God and because they have been victorious in a spiritual battle with Satan.

Our theme is Genuine believers are related to God

This is a good reminder for us all that as we claim to have fellowship with God that our claim can be tested by and made known a demonstrative relationship to God.

[Now let’s look at…]

                              2D     The Second Triad of Assurance (13c-14)

This second set of three addresses is similar to the first set. But there is two differences that are worth pointing out.    

John changes from the present tense “I write” to the aorist or past tense, “I have written.”

There doesn’t seem to be a reason for this change. The experts can’t agree.

One of the guys I really like, Don Burdick says: 

“The reason for repeating the triplet was to place particular emphasis on the author’s confidence in the genuineness of his reader’s salvation experience. And in order to avoid the monotony of the mere repetition, John used the epistolary aorist in the second triplet instead of the present tense.” [2]

By the way, the epistolary aorist which is common to the Greek writing, simply puts the writer in thought at the time the readers receive his letter. IOW, by the time these churches got this letter and they read it, John would have already written it, so he thinks ahead to that time and simply says I have written to you.

So that is the first difference. No big deal!

The second change is in the address to the children. Remember in the first address John in verse 12, John uses teknion. Now in verse 13 John uses paidia.

Both words are terms of deep love and affection. But it does mean little ones. It is usually used of a small child or an infant or even a new born.

There is no evidence that John is saying these believers are spiritual infants. He may just change words simply because like we would call our children honey, or sweetie. We might not call them sweetie twice in the same sentence.

The main difference just might be where the first term comes from the word to bear, John sees them as little children born into the family of God and then he calls them little children in relationship to his being in authority over them like parents over their children.

The first term implies relationship and the second term implies subordination under a teacher or instructor.

The main thing to get is that John is confident of the spiritual relationship to God and that their claim of fellowship is valid.

Then in verse 14 John addresses “fathers” and “young men” Look at his description of the young men.

·        “…because you are strong…”

The word John used stresses strength and vigor
But the next two phrases John uses makes it clear that the power or vigor, the strength these you men have refers to their spiritual power

“…and the word of God remains or abides in you…” Word gives the strength.

“…and you have overcome the wicked one.”

The word of God that lives in them or remains in them is the true source of their continued victory over Satan. Satan cannot resist the power of God’s word.

They were actually experiencing the reality of the Word of God

James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

Guy King wrote this way, “All big Christians have been Bible Christians; all who have been greatly blessed to others have been themselves steeped in it.” [3]

And so, the second triad of statements support the first set. John is writing to these believers assuring them that they can comply with his instructions to keep the commandments of God because they are in fact genuine believers.
The evidence that they are genuine believers is known by the fact that their sins are forgiven, they know God in an intimate and relational manner, God’s word lives in them and they have done battle with Satan and was victorious.

Well, our theme has been Genuine believers are related to God

This is a good reminder for us all that as we claim to have fellowship with God that our claim can be tested by and made known a demonstrative relationship to God, and it is demonstrated by victory over sin, the assurance of forgiven sin and victory over Satan.

If those things are missing – if you have no assurance of forgiven sins, no intimate relationship with God, no victory over sin and Satan then you have failed the relational test and are not a child of God.
 [Let’s wrap this up!]


"You sum up the whole of New Testament teaching in a single phrase, if you speak of it as a revelation of the Fatherhood of the holy Creator. In the same way, you sum up the whole of New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one's Holy Father.

"If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God's child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all." (J.I. Packard)

Exhortation:  Pray for the enabling of the HS in order to consistently love fellow believers.

[1] R. E. O. White, Open Letter to Evangelicals, A Devotional and Homiletic Commentary of the First Epistle of John, (Grand Rapids: 1964), p. 60

[2] Donald Burdick, The Letters of John the Apostle, (Chicago:  Moody Press, 1985), p.175

[3] Guy H. King, The Fellowship, An Expositional Study of 1 John, (1954 reprint ed, Ft. Washington, PA : Christian Literature Crusade, 1971), p. 44

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post Gregg, The Positive in anything is best I've experienced both of late. A really good read which took some time but all the same enjoyable.