(2/1) How many of you like to read bumper stickers? I do. I know that sometimes they are crude and sometimes they portray the driverís personal preferences, but sometimes they are funny, and sometimes they are thought provoking. Such was the case 20 years ago. I was driving on 140 by Westminster and I saw this bumper sticker that read, "If you ainít
lovíen, you ainít livíen. (1 John 3:14)" And though I am a Bible student, I could not recall that verse, so when I arrived home I looked it up. Sure enough, that is what it says.
John wrote this letter to the churches to point out the errors of Gnosticism, a cult that proclaimed to follow Christ. But both their doctrine and their conduct denies Christ. John also wrote this letter to point out the marks of a true Christ-follower. The key verse for the book is 1 John 2:6. Letís recite it together. "He who says he abides in Him
ought himself also to walk just as He walked." The word, ought, means an obligation. This is not a suggestion, it is a must. We who have received love, grace, compassion, forgiveness, and so on, from Jesus are obligated to conduct ourselves to do the same in this world.
I have referenced this before, but 15 years ago there was, in my opinion, a wonderful movie called, Pay It Forward. It was about how a young boy was challenged to think of a project that could change the world. This boy came up with the idea of helping someone in need, and then instead of being repaid, that person was to find someone else in need and
help that person and then obligate that person to find a person with a need and pay it forward. This is the plan of the Lord our God. He found us in our need and poured His love, compassion, grace, hope, peace, joy and forgiveness into us and then says, "Go, and Pay It Forward." This is not a suggestion. This is the Lordís command. This is our obligation. And Jesus our Lord,
Savior, and Benefactor said, it would be the mark of our authentication. Paying it Forward will be how people will know we are the real deal. It is not the size of our Bibles, our church attendance, our offerings, our baptism, or that we believe in God. It will be by how we Pay It Forward. Paying It Forward is to be our life style until Jesus returns or we go to be with Him
Last week we talked about the Marvel of Godís Love (vv. 1-2), and the Marks of Godís Children (vv. 3-10). There are 4 marks, John gives us in chapter 3; Godís children purify themselves, they sin-less, they practice righteousness, and they love their brothers. We know that there was never a time in church history when the church was without problems.
Most of the letters from Acts to Jude, were written in response to some problem. Ephesianís and 1 Peter are the exceptions. But even in those 2, though Paul and Peter do not accuse them, they are referring to issues that others were dealing with. I want to take a moment and read to you how two second century Christians described the church. The first is from a philosopher
named Aristides to the Roman emperor Hadrian. The second is written by a North African Church leader named Tertullian (see attached).
Three things I want you see to from our text today: Love is an Authentication, Love is an Action, and Love is our Assurance.
I. Love is an Authentication (v. 10-16).
John is telling us how we can literally discern between the real deal and counterfeits, between the born again children of God and those who are children of the devil. There is no in between. Everyone is either one or the other.
A. Love is our Mission (V.11). Our Lord told us that love is the irreducible command from God. Everything we do must flow either from our Love for God or our Love for People. Every Biblical command is rooted in one or the other, He told an inquirer (Matt. 22:34-40). These commands predate Jesus by 12-1500 years. Moses wrote in Leviticus 19:17-18, ĎYou
shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. 18 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. (Lev. 19:33-34) "And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. 34 The stranger who
dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God."
B. Love is our Mark Ė
1. Of Being a Follower of Jesus (V.11). One of the very first things we should teach young believers is to Pay it forward, for it is how we show Jesus to the world. Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have
love for one another." (John13:34-35). But we just know that this is what we are to do. Paul told the Thessalonians, "But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another," (1 Thess. 4:9).
2. Of Being Alive (vv. 10-15). Here we must pause for a moment and remember some basic doctrine of our theology. This is difficult for some people. People who are not born again are dead already.
In 1973, I watched the made for TV version of Frankenstein. The story is about a Dr. who collects body parts of dead people and then reconstructs a person and then brings it to life. In essence that is what God does in us. He takes dead people and brings them to life. The last few years has seen a growing interest in movies and TV shows about the
living dead called Zombies. They are dead, yet they move about as if they were alive. Again, that in essence is what people without the life of God are like. Remember that our God told our first parents that the day they sin they would die. Not the drop over, no heartbeat, or brain waves dead, but separated from God, dead. Then unless, life was restored, they would depart
this world separated from God (Gen. 2:17). Paul tell us that we bring dead children into this world, who will bring their own dead children into this world, Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned, (Rom. 5:12). He reminds the church at Ephesus (2:1-3) "And you He made alive, who were
dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the
others." You remember that in Luke 9:59-60, Jesus, said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." 60 Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God." But when as zombies, hear the truth of Jesus and call upon His name for forgiveness and life, God places His own life giving Spirit in us
and we are born again, so that Jesus could say, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life (John 5:24). And again, Jesus said to Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever
lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (Jo 11:25-26).
C. Hatred is a Mark of the Children of the Devil (v.12). Adam and Eveís first two children are an illustration of the difference in the Children of God and the Children of the Devil. Cain and Abel were both religious. Cain was not an atheist. They grew up in a home that was a reminder of the consequences of disobeying God. They were both instructed in
how to approach God. They knew that to cover their parentís nakedness, and to cover their sinfulness, God slew animals, so they could approach God and have atonement for sin. But Cain was determined to worship God in his own way and ignore the costs of His sinfulness. Abel, brought a blood sacrifice. Abelís sacrifice and worship was honored by God, Cainís was rejected. In
Genesis 4 God reminds Cain of the right way to approach Him and gave him a chance to do what was right. God also reminded him that Sin wanted to enslave Him, and God wanted to set him free. Instead of humbly repenting and responding to Godís grace. Cain, butchered his brother. That is the word John uses. The only means known to the first family of taking life was to cut the
throat. Cain did not hit his brother with a rock; instead, it was as if, in his hatred and anger, he said, "you want blood, I will give you blood." Then he butchered his brother.
Notice a couple of observations form this portion that really donít need an explanation.
D. Hatred is a sign of deadness (v. 14) to eternal life and God as much as the absence of a heartbeat or brain waves are a sign of deadness to this life.
E. The Devilís children will always hate the Children of God (v. 12; Cp; John 15:18-25). Because Satan hates Jesus and because our love and righteousness exposes their sinfulness and because darkness hates light.
F. Hatred is the same as Murder. The idea here is not that someone who has murdered canít receive grace, but that someone whose life is characterized by hatred canít have the love and life of God in them. Moses murdered, Manasseh did as well; as did David and Paul. These all repented and founded grace, forgiveness, and life with God.
But to hate is to murder in your heart as much as to fantasize about having sex with someone other than your spouse is adultery in your heart. All sin begins in the heart. You can have a thought and dismiss it or confess it to God and forsake it, but to dwell on it and fantasize about it is the same sin as doing it in Godís eyes. Sin of the mind is as
damning as sin of the body. The one whose life is characterized by hatred is a murderer and not a follower of Jesus Christ. He does not have the life of God in him or her. His or her destiny is hell.
II. Love is an Action (vv. 16-18). Love is not simply expressing the words of our feelings. Now, sometimes we need to say the words because some people need to hear them. But words alone donít communicate love; Actions do.
A. Love is demonstrated (v. 16a). I love the song, Jesus Loves Me, but the truth is, we donít know that Jesus loves us by words alone; not even words from the Bible. Though God says through Jeremiah, "I have loved you with an everlasting love," We know Godís love us because of what He has done. He rescued the Israelites from Egypt. He gave them His
Word. He dwelt among them. He provided a way to know Him. The words of John 3:16 are not words that describe a measure of Godís love, but that God loved us in a way we could see. He gave His Son as a sacrifice for us. He lifted Him up on a cross to pay for our sins. This is what 1 John 3:16 and 4:9 say. "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also
ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." And, "In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him."
I have told you this before, and I do so again with permission. Early on in our marriage, I told Debbie a lot that I loved her. But what I really meant was I lusted for her. I loved all the ways I benefited from her in my life, but I demonstrated little. One day she told me in no uncertain terms that if I really loved her I would show it. I would help
with diapers, dishes, and dust. Can you say, "Ouch?" That hit a nerve. I learned what John is saying here, Love is more than words. Love is an action verb.
B. Love is obligated (v. 16b-17). Here we have this same word that we had in 2:6. We are obligated to Pay it Forward Ė even if it costs our lives. We have received love to give it away. A sign that one has not been born again and does not have Godís life and love in them is that they donít sacrifice to help others. James says they donít have living
faith (James 2:14-17), "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by
itself, if it does not have works, is dead."
Notice Johnís rhetorical question. How does the love of God abide in him? The answer is a given, it doesnít.
Remember what Aristides and Tertullian said, "Behold, how they love one another." This is what made the early church grow so fast (Acts 2 and 4). Christians did whatever it took sacrificing greatly to show the love of Christ. They sold possessions, went hungry, and gave their lives to meet needs in the lives of others.
Now, you may ask as the lawyer in Luke 10, "Who is my neighbor, or brother?" And the answer is, yes. It may mean your Christian family, your American family, or it may simply mean anyone you know that has a real need. Paul said this in Galatians 6:10, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the
household of faith.
Lack of compassion, lack of sacrifice, and empty words that are reinforced with selfishness, demonstrates dead faith and a dead life
V. 18 is simply an encouragement to these believers, to show from their lives that they really do have a new and different life. That they really are willing to trust God no matter what. That if Christ would lay down his life for us, we are willing to pay it forward.
III. Love is an Assurance (vv. 19-20). Some commentators say these are the toughest verses in Johnís gospel to understand. I donít think so. I think they simply mean that if you know that you canít see a need without bending and giving, even sacrificing to meet that need, you know that God has really done a work of regeneration in your life. But if on
the contrary, you see a need and think, "Why should I give?í or, "Why should I have to give up anything for them?" they have had had the same opportunities I have. Or if you only give superficially, not sacrificially, your heart will tell you that you never truly received the grace and compassion of God. And God knows that better than you. If you have to try to convince
yourself that looking away is okay, then Houston, you have a problem.
IV. Loveís Application
A. Selfishness, hatred, and lack of compassion needs to be repented of.
B. Who do you know of right now that could use some help, no, needs some help. It may well be your wife, your husband, your parents, a neighbor. Maybe they just need compassion and someone to talk to. Or maybe they need physical or financial help. A driveway or sidewalk cleared, leaves raked, some painting done. Will you tell God right now, that this
week, maybe today, I am going to help, whatever the costs?
C. Ask God right now, to show you someone today or this week that you can Pay it Forward to. Someone at school, at work, in the neighborhood. God show me someone to touch with the Love of Jesus today.
D. Are you a zombie or a member of Godís forever family? Do you appear to be alive but you know that you are dead on the inside? You feel no love for God and show no love to others. Today is your day. If you will invite Jesus into your life and receive His gift of forgiveness, this promise is for you. "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word
and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." (John 5:24). Then go and Pay it Forward.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman