Sunday, March 2, 2014

TheTest of Fellowship (Part 7)

SERMON            GM14-016

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 7)

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 three of the four tests by practical grounds:

·        The Practical Grounds of Moral Like-ness
·        The Practical Grounds of Habitual Confession of Sin
·        The Practical Grounds of Consistent Obedience

Last week we examined verses three through six which dealt with the fact that obedience in the mark of a genuine Christian. This passage demonstrated that a Christian’s…

·        Assurance is derived from the principle of obedience

True knowledge of God and genuine fellowship with God results in the habitual obedience of the one who claims to know God.  Assurance is the natural by-product of obeying God.

·        An assumption is discovered by the poverty of obedience

IOW, when there is no obedience on an on-going process the assumption can be made according to John that there is no salvation present. The lack of obedience is proof that the claim to knowing God and having fellowship with God is false. 

·        An application is determined by the practice of obedience

God’s goal of providing and showering us with his love is met in the one who continually or consistently obeys God. The reason is that obedience is the mark of a genuine believer.

Therefore, the one who claims to know God demonstrates this truth by imitating Christ and living as He lived. Christ lived in absolute dependence upon the HS which enabled Christ to do the Father’s will and to obey Him in every area.

B.   Introductory Device

We now turn our attention to today’s passage. W move to the fourth test on practical grounds of our claim of Christian fellowship;

This test is the commandment to love one another.

We are not to be like the woman who was bitten by a rabid dog, and it looked like she was going to die from rabies. The doctor told her to put her all of her final affairs in order. So the woman took pen and paper, and began writing furiously.

In fact she wrote and wrote and wrote. Finally the doctor said, "That sure is a long will you’re making." She snorted, "Will, nothing! I’m making a list of all the people I’m going to bite!"

It seems this gal did not have much love for other human beings!

C.   The evidence of genuine salvation is seen by the fact that genuine Christians love fellow believers

D.   Why is it so important that we who claim to be Christians love other Christians?

E.   Our passage describes two (2) insights demonstrating why our love for fellow believers is so important. 

F.    Our theme is:       Genuine Christians love Other Christians

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 or made known by our love for fellows believers.

[So, let’s dig into…]

                   3C     The Practical Grounds of Love (2:7-11)

[The first insight expressed by this passage is…]

1D     John Characterizes the Commandment (7-8)   

            John characterizes this commandment in two different ways. The first way that John characterizes this commandment …

          1E     …as old or ancient

“Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment…”

First of all – John does not tell us the content or the wording of the commandment that he is referring to.

Second –notice that John highlights our word by the use of the singular use of the noun.

In vss. 3-4 John used the plural form of the noun. There he was probably drawing the attention of his readers to all that Christ taught.

Here Johns use of the singular probably implies or suggests that John is referring to a specific commandment.
Let’s stop here for a second. In the Greek there are two words that are used for new.

The first means something that is “new” in kind or quality. Like when something is improved or updated.

TV commercials use this sense of the word every time they say something “new and improved.” They are not saying that the product that is being advertised is a new product, but that it has a new or different kind of quality to it.

The second Greek word for new gives the idea of new as in time or duration.

This is life Blockbuster or Netflix, which by the way drives me nuts! They list movie titles under the heading of new releases. New my foot, those movies have been out for a year or more. They are not new in kind or quality but they are new in time or duration. IOW, they are new to Netflix even though they have been around for a while.

John is saying this commandment that I am writing to you is not new in kind or quality, it is old, it has been around.

As a matter of fact John goes on to characterize it as…

“…which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.”

This commandment is old. It is old in the sense of being of long duration, old as compared to recent.
This command is nothing new to them, particularly the Jewish Christians among them.

It is a reference to two Old Testament passages. The first passage referred to is…

Leviticus 19:18 – “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18, NKJV)

The second passage that is referred to is…

Deut 6:5 – “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Deut. 6:5, NKJV)

[So, John characterizes this commandment as old or ancient.]

Secondly, John characterizes this commandment as…

                                      2E     …as new or additional

“…again, a new commandment I write to you…”

This may seem confusing but I don’t think John is guilty of double-talk.

At this point it seems that John is making a reference to the beginning of Jesus’s ministry. Jesus gave this commandment a new twist when He gave it to His disciples:

“A new commandment I give you that you love one another; as I have loved you that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35, NKJV)

[Then in John 15:12, Jesus said…]

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12, NKJV)

I think John is using this verbiage in contrast to the claim of the gnostic false teachers who were claiming that they had “new” information and commandments.

John is not saying this commandment is new in its innovation nor is it recent in time, but it is new in the sense that it is now exercised in Jesus Christ.

[John says…]

“…which thing is true in Him and in you…”

This verifies the newness aspect. This old commandment that has been in existence is manifested in a new way through the incarnate Jesus Christ and in his teaching. Ultimately this love is seen in his sacrificial death.

So, this same newness – the energy or power of Christ is also true in the lives of John’s readers and ultimately made true in you also.
So, John’s use of “in you” commends his readers for a conduct that is characterized by this new command to love one another.

[John makes an explanatory comment when he says…]

“…because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shinning.”

This statement gives proof that the new commandment is already and has been operating in the lives of John’s readers.

The phrase “darkness is passing away” refers to the believers John is writing to.

This is an amazing statement – it is only in men and women who are genuine believers can it be said that darkness is being eradicated.

John first mentioned darkness and light in chapter one and verse 5.

The terms are not “figurative” for John. The stand for two kingdoms - the kingdom of darkness or evil and the kingdom of light or of God.

The darkness John talks about is the moral realm of spiritual darkness that is under the control of Satan. The light is the real of God and all that relates to God.

The purpose for writing it and for us even mentioning it, is this: it is in this moral evil kingdom of darkness that this love is both revealed and operates in.

In this dark, sinful, wicked fallen world we are to love God and fellow believers. This love for fellow believers is a test of our claim of knowing God and having fellowship with God.

John says the darkness is past, making it clear that the impact of the light upon the darkness is already felt or made known.

As a matter of fact the “passing away” is in progress as John writes and as we speak today. Of course the darkness is not completely gone – this is still a wicked sinful world, still groaning under the curse and still affected by the fall.

God’s purpose is to one day completely and totally eradicate darkness but only when Christ returns to establish His kingdom, then he will totally and completely banish the darkness.

The proof that the darkness is passing is found in John’s phrase:

“…and the true light is already shinning.”

So, John gives us another test of a genuine claim of knowing God and having fellowship with God. That test is a practical test- do we love fellow believers. Do we love our brothers in Christ? Are we obedient to the command?

John characterizes this command as both old and new.

Our theme is:       Genuine Christians love Other Christians

This is a good reminder for us all that as we claim to have fellowship with God that our claim can be tested by or made known by our love for fellows believers.

[The second insight expressed by this passage is that…]

                             2D     John Applies the Commandment (9-11)

In verses nine through eleven, John applies the test of love for fellow believers to anyone who claims to know God and claims to have fellowship with God.

Let’s look first at some who claims to have a…

1E     Profession of faith, but w/o love (9)

This individual shows a real conflict between his profession and his practice.

“He who says he is in the light and hates his brother…”

This guy claims to be walking in the light, of having fellowship with God – present tense of the verb shows that he continually makes or maintains this claim.

But he actually hates someone. Maybe he hates just one particular Christian or maybe he hates a few – the fact is he constantly maintains that he is a believer, but he contradicts his claim by hating another believer.

This person should be having a close loving relationship with someone but instead he hates them.

The present tense of the verb tells us that this person doesn’t just have a minute or two where he is angry or dislikes him temporarily.
“…and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.”

 It tells us that he continually hates this person and displays an attitude of hatred each time he sees this person.

There is no place in the body of Christ or in Christendom at large for this type of attitude. No genuine Christian can maintain an attitude of hatred for a believer in the body of Christ.

There are times that she meant to say those words. He meant to plot against you. They meant to bring you down. And you will never be the same. You will suffer with this for the rest of your life.

Do you know anyone like that? Or is that your story? Are you the victim of a wound inflicted by someone you love?

When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him."

When put to the test despite the claim of being a Christian, the claim is denied and found to be untrue and this person is still in the darkness, still unsaved.

In verses nine through eleven, John applies the test of love for fellow believers to anyone who claims to know God and claims to have fellowship with God.

Let’s look first at some who love his brother…

                                      2E     Profession of love (10)

“He who loves his bother abides in the light, and there is no cause of stumbling in him.”

This person loves fellow believers. 

This guy is the opposite of the person in verse nine.

Notice that there is no neutral ground, there is love or there is hate.

Notice, this person is not making any claim that he loves his fellow Christians. He isn’t running around drawing any attention to himself by saying, “Hey I love other Christians.”


His practice, his everyday lifestyle speaks for him. The present tense of the verb shows that this is not an occasional thing – his love for other believers is a continual and habitual practice.

This person, the person is verse 10 doesn’t need to tell anyone or everyone, he doesn’t need to advertise. His actions show that he is always looking out for the highest good in his fellow believers, even at his own expense or cost.

This love is not natural. It is God-given. It proves that this person does live in the light or is a genuine believer.

“…and there is no cause of stumbling in him.”

This is a difficult phrase and it is hotly debated. Experts are divided on it. 

It seems to mean that the person who is truly in the light or a genuine believer has nothing in him that would prove him to be a non-believer.

So, first John sheds light on someone who says they are a believer but they hate their fellow Christians. Then he sheds light on some who is a genuine believer who shows he is genuine by loving others. Now John sheds some light on…

                                      3E     The Person who hates (vs 11)

“But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”

This guy has something in common with the guy in verse nine and is opposite of the guy in verse 10;

Why did John say this? Is this simply a repeat of verse nine?

Not really. John is showing us the binding impact of hate. John shows us the consequences of someone who practices hating fellow Christians.

First – there is no reference to any claim of being a believer.

Second – John uses three verbs to show the impact of this person’s life of hatred.

John’s first two statements – is in darkness and walks in darkness show the present state of spiritual existence and the daily characteristic of his activities.

This person is separated from God. This person continues to remain separate from God. Whatever this person does, whatever this person says, where ever this person goes this person is lost – he is in darkness.

The phrase that he doesn’t know where he is going shows that this person has no idea of the road that he is traveling on with its inevitable ending or destiny.

This person does not know he is lost, and headed toward an eternity separated from God.

He is actually unaware of the ultimate outcome of his hating believers because the darkness he lives in has “blinded his eyes.

Hate destroys windows of light.

There is a fish who live in absolute and permanent darkness deep in the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. These fish have eye sockets but no eyes. The darkness has totally blinded what would have been eyes.

So a persistent hating of believers leads to absolute moral and spiritual blindness.

Our theme has been Genuine Christians love Other Christians

This is a good reminder for us all that as we claim to have fellowship with God that our claim can be tested by or made known by our love for fellows believers. 

This first section of John’s letter characterizes the Christian life as a life of fellowship with other believers and with God. In this section John develops a series of tests that distinguishes true or real believers from false professors of faith.

We have spent several weeks looking at the first test in this series of tests. This first test is based on practical grounds. IOW, a true profession of faith can be confirmed practically.

This test by practical grounds contained four elements. To have a real profession of faith…

·        There must be a moral likeness to the character of Jesus Christ
·        There must be a life of continual or habitual confession of sin
·        There must be a life of continuing or habitual life of obedience
·        There must be a life of a love for God and fellow believers

Next week, we will begin looking at the second test in this series of three tests that confirm the Christian life as a life of fellowship with God and with other believers. But for now…

 [Let’s wrap this up!]


We are commanded to love one another…and that love has to be demonstrated in our thoughts, words and actions.

A story is told about a little girl who was asked, “Who is your mom’s favorite child?”

The little girl didn’t hesitate as she said, “Well mom loves Johnny the best because he is the oldest and does a lot for her around the house.

She loves Susie the best because she is really smart and knows how to cook and clean and help her in the house. 

But she loves me the best because I am the youngest and I remind her of her mom.”

What a great picture of God’s love for us…He loves us ALL the best, for His own reasons, for His own purposes! And this is a picture of how we should love each other.

We should love ALL our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ the same… the best… regardless of who they are, how much they do for us or how active they are in ministry. We are called to love ALL the faithful! Are you loving your fellow believers like this today?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Gregg, good reading as usual.

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