Sunday, September 28, 2008

September 28th - Predestination

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Bethany's mom's cousin's wedding
Geil homecoming
Allison from Riverfest Witnessing

Text – 1 Thessalonians 1:4

Last week I made a mistake, we were talking about the priesthood of believers and Hannah asked, “We’re priests?” and I said yes, but that is minorly wrong, Hannah, you’re a priestess, which is equal to a priest, just in the feminine.

In the same way, who do you think is a saint? Is it a really really good person? Is there such thing as any good persons? Again the Catholic Church has mixed up the Bible by saying that some believers are saints. The word for saint is in Greek Hagiazo, this word means something that was terrible, dirty, unworthy that has been cleansed, purified, and consecrated (made holy). Every person purchased into the family of God and cleansed by the blood of Christ is a saint.

But it’s not the same as priest and priestess…there aren’t saints and saintette’s, and if you call someone a saintette they probably won’t like it. The fact that there aren't degrees of Christianity, but that you are either saved or not saved, is a matter relating to today's topic.

1 Thessalonians 1:4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,

First things first, when Paul writes this to the brothers or brethren, this is an all encompassing word that is referring to all believers at Thessalonica.

Beloved and chosen are two similar things, describing people who are saved. This is a hot-button issue that has led to huge fights in the past, but the Bible says what it means and means what it says. A person can be a Christian on either side of this debate and I encourage you to ask your parents what they believe about this.

The first place we see someone being chosen is the people Israel, who we see through the Old Testament had no redeeming traits on their own but were chosen only to show God’s goodness, patience, and mercy. They are constantly referred to as stiff-necked people. What stiff-necked means is in the context of guiding a horse, a well-trained and good horse can be guided by just moving the reigns, but a stiff necked horse has to be pulled and beaten to get it to obey.

Israel is in the spotlight on their disobedience, but really no other people group is any better.

God chose Israel, Israel did not choose God. This is directly related to the issue of predestination, the doctrine that God chose those who he would save before time began. The reason that people get mad at this is because they think everyone should have an equal opportunity to be saved. It is a gross misunderstanding of the sinfulness of sin and the holiness of God. God, if he were fair, would send everyone straight to Hell for their transgressions, but because God is not fair, he is better than fair, he chose to save some despite our total depravity.

The issue stems from the human beings ability to do good.

Genesis 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Romans 3:11-18 None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Faith is good, repentance towards God is good; if these things are good, we are incapable of doing them. We’re always talking about salvation being a “free gift” that will cost you nothing, but it’s really a free gift that will actually cost you everything. Jim Elliot puts it this way, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Every religion in the world, except for Christianity, believes they are working their way to Heaven and that their good deeds will be weighed against their bad. We know that good deeds have no influence on our bad deeds, try it in front of a judge, “Judge, I know I got pulled over for going 85 mph through a school zone, but I washed your car this morning before court…” It’s not going to work, is it?

Christianity is counting on works to get to Heaven too, but the works are accomplished by God through Jesus Christ’s finished work on Calvary’s cross and the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration in our soul. We are required to repent and believe in order to be saved, both of these are works, but we can’t do them, they are gifts of God.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

2 Peter 1:1 To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ…

It comes down to why Christ came. It is really popular these days to say that God created the universe because he was lonely or because he wanted to see who would choose him. I will unabashedly call these paganism and heresy. For one, if God were trying to convince people to believe, he did a very bad job at creating the universe to have all this incredible evidence of him that requires the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit to see. Also, God doesn’t get lonely, because he has perfect fellowship in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The purpose of this world is show several things;
First is the creativity and power of God; he created an infinitely big universe where no star, no human being, no snowflake is exactly the same as another.
Second is to show us how bad sin is, that it has led to the death of everything, that it causes unbelievable suffering, and that it is contagious.
Third is to show us that good can only come from God, and apart from God, not even the angel Lucifer can put together a working planet, having been labeled the ruler of this world. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find out that Lucifer is not purposefully evil but is trying his hardest to make earth a godless utopia.
Fourth is to put these three together; it shows how amazingly good and genius God is, that he is capable of saving us from sin but only by willingly going to the cross and taking our punishment, then showing his power by defeating death and bestowing his goodness on us.

This is what is called a Supralapsarian view, that God is above the fall, he knew it was going to happen and has led history to happen precisely in order to better magnify himself, demonstrate the sinfulness of sin, and show his amazing grace.

A very brief exposition on the varying views of the fall (lapse) are:
Supralapsarianism - Everything that has happened exactly as God has intended for it to happen, including Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden, every historical event, and Christ's propitiatory atonement which was intended to save a certain number of prechosen people from Hell. He is concerned with definitive examples of the sinfulness of sin in order to magnify his saving grace.
Infralapsarianism - God gave Adam and Eve a choice in the Garden, he was prepared for them to stay obedient or fall, and after their fall has used it for his glory.
Sublapsarianism - God was surprised by the fall. Because he is powerful, he was able to save many despite the unexpected nature of sin. This view is heresy of the highest order, but is becoming more and more popular in the Methodist and Episcopalian churches. It is also known as "Open Theism" which limits God's power and knowledge while constraining him to time.

The Westminster Confession, one of the greatest nonbiblical documents ever written (except for article 28 which is almost completely wrong), which reads like the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 which Summit follows, says that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. It is not to choose God or pick God, or accept God, it is to be a trophy of grace rescued from despair by the God of Salvation.

John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide…

We will pick back up on this subject next week and delve into personal responsibility more.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

September 21st - Prayer

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron and Denise
Riverfest in Canton
Fireproof the movie and those that will get saved
Adam's Soccer Tournament
Matthew's team to win some games
More students in class

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer is the most important thing a Christian can do. I get carried away when talking about prayer because it is such an interesting and vital thing in the church. You have been granted the most incredible privilege ever conceived: an audience with Almighty God. And yet most Christians completely forsake this privilege, praying only on Sundays at church.

Leonard Ravenhill said something we should all remember, “If weak in prayer, we are weak everywhere.” Paul started the letter to Thessalonica with the most important weapon they have, prayer, and reminds them to pray and that they are prayed for.

Jesus prayed ALL THE TIME, if we’re seeking his example, then we should pray ALL THE TIME. Jesus Christ prayed all the way to his death on the cross, but not for himself, but for those doing the crucifying. He said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.

James 5:16 The prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

The Bible a lot of times speaks of individuals in the masculine, like in this verse, “the prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” This doesn’t mean that the prayers of Hannah don’t avail much, the prayers of Jessica don’t avail much, the prayers of Da’Kayla don’t avail much; what the Bible means a lot of the time (not all of the time) when it says he or man is that it is the duty of each individual to do something, in this case it is to pray. The ESV Bible tried to capture this without going too far, in this case it says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power…

People through history have believed that the priest or the shaman or the sooth-sayer have more efficacious prayers and so have neglected their own duty to pray in order that they pay someone to pray for them. This is called, in part, sacerdotalism, which is the belief that certain religious people have a higher standing in the eyes of God. In the dark ages, there were priests specifically paid to pray a certain number of times a day for their town, people, and livestock. I read one story of a priest who was supposed to wake up at 4am every day in order to pray for the day to come before everyone else was awake. One day he slept in, and trying to be a “good man”, he confessed his failure, and he got thumped for his failure to wake and pray for the town.

The Catholic Church is notorious for their superstitious prayers, believing they are bribing God by being faithful to say ritualistic prayers so many times a day. Hail Mary’s and Our Father prayers are pagan practices adopted by the Roman Catholics and specifically prohibited by Christ. There is another problem; you have to be perfect in order for God to hear your prayers.

1 Peter 3:12 “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

God hears the prayers of the perfect, but turns a deaf ear to the unrighteous.

Romans 3:10 “None is righteous, no, not one;

Uh-oh…does that mean that we’re praying in vain when we pray? If you’ve got to be perfect when you pray if you want God to hear you, what is standing in our way for God to hear us?

Sin, sin is always getting in the way, it ruins everything and I really want to instill a hatred of sin in you so that you will see your perfect sinless Saviour as someone exceedingly wonderful and special.

What is sin? 1 John 3:4 “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

Give me some examples.

Can we develop our own righteousness?

Isaiah 64:6 “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Paul Washer puts it this way, “The greatest, most commendable deeds of men are nothing but a few filthy rags before God.” A leper is a person whose nerves and skin is dying, they have open wounds, and the worst of them have an odor you wouldn’t believe. “One might clothe a leper in the finest, white silk to cover his sores, but immediately, the corruption of his flesh would bleed through the garment, leaving it as vile as the man it seeks to hide. So are the “good works” of men before God. They bear the corruption of the man who does them.

How do we get righteousness?

Romans 3:20-22 “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

Jesus Christ lived a righteous life and faced a sinners’ judgment so that we can live a sinner’s life and face a righteous judgment. On the cross Jesus Christ cried out, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The reason is clear, he was made sin for us and God turns his face from the unrighteous. Our sin tore the Father from the Son, and through this incredible showing of love we can receive Christ’s righteousness through faith, and this faith, if from God, will immediately produce repentance; a hatred for sin and a love of God.

So now you have God’s righteousness, how do we pray?

Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Remember from 1 Peter 2:9 that we are a royal priesthood. We have been given the privilege of prayer bought at an incredible price on the cross by Jesus Christ so that we can become the righteousness of God in him, and are allowed to approach the holiest of places, the throne of God. An unrighteous person who approached God would be incinerated, because God cannot tolerate sin in the same way the sun cannot tolerate an ice-cube. God’s holiness consumes all unrighteousness.

Prayer is for YOU, God already knows what you’re going to ask and if it aligns with his will, it is going to happen whether you ask or not.

Leonard Ravenhill said it beautifully, “We've said that prayer changes things. No! Prayer doesn't change things. Prayer changes people and people change things. We all want Gabriel to do the job. God says do it yourself - with My sufficiency and My strength.

Types of prayer,

Petitioning – Asking for something for yourself
Intercession – Praying for God to do something for someone
Supplication – Asking God to do something through someone
Thanksgiving/Praise – Thanking God for doing
Imprecation – Asking God to squish someone

So now, what are Paul, Silas, and Timothy praying for?

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving for all of them, for their works that show their faith, their labors of love, and their steadfastness in the face of persecution. While intercession and supplication are not named, they are here, asking God to continue their steadfastness, and to continue using those at Thessalonica for his glory.

1 Corinthians 13:13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The word for constantly really means constantly, all the time; remember Paul, and especially Timothy, haven’t been out of Thessalonica for very long and they are praying, interceding and supplicating, for the continued ministry of this infant church. Whether they were praying daily or hourly or more often is unclear, but it is clear that their prayer was often.

1 Timothy 4:4-5 Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

We give thanks for our food, but this is also a great time to pray for other things. I don’t get asked to bless a lot of meals, because I tend to go into full fledged prayer during the blessing. When you’re praying for your food is a great time to remember other people who you are praying for or said you’d pray for.

Also, sometimes it is beneficial just to mention someone’s name in prayer, maybe not even something specific, just say, “Lord, I bring the name of Sydney, Matthew, Hannah, and Jessica before your throne today that your will would be evident in their lives and that you use them for your purposes."

The key here is communication with God, he already knows what you’re going to ask for, and he knows better than you what you need. Besides us wording our prayers, they are intercepted by the Holy Spirit and sent on to the Father.

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Finally is the way that we end our prayers,

1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

We end prayers, “In Jesus Name”, but what we should be meaning and maybe saying is, “We ask these things hopefully in the will of God.” Jesus didn’t end a single prayer, “In the name of me, amen.” Or anything like it, so you shouldn’t feel confined to that sort of ending. However you end your prayer though should have a note of finality if you’re praying out-loud so people will know the prayer is over. Amen means truth, or sincerity, and is sort of like signing a letter, “Sincerely,”

In conclusion, praying with your non-Christian friends is a great way to preach at them; when you’re praying for an unbeliever, always bring their name before the Throne of Grace with the authority granted to you by Jesus Christ.

Whatever you pray for, remember the price that was paid so you can communicate with God, and be thankful for his willingness to listen, intercede, and act on your prayers, provided they align with his will.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

September 14th - Introduction to 1st and 2nd Thessalonians

Prayer Requests
Dave, Brooke, and Jimmy in Mexico
Pastor Aaron and Denise
Kari's Dad's Job-situation
Our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world

Paul’s Epistle to Thessalonica

To listen to Darlene Deibler Rose's story, visit Way of the Master Radio - September 3, 2007 and start listening at 14 minutes 55 seconds.

Thessalonica is in a strategic position in Macedonia, which is now part of Greece, it was a major harbor as well as being located on the Egnatian Way, a major road across this part of the world. The cross-roads of Thessalonica made it especially useful for spreading the Gospel. This was a theme for spreading the Gospel, first in Jerusalem, then in Thessalonica, then Corinth, then Ephesus, and finally Rome.

Us, in Acworth, are sort of off the beaten path, we have a major thru-way called I75, but nobody stops in Acworth to talk to the locals and find out about news of the world. But we do have something very close, we have Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, the busiest airport in the world. I’ve talked to people from Armenia, Italy, California, and Wisconsin there, probably someone from every country in the world passes through that airport every day. The next time you go on a flight or to pick someone up, make sure you take some tracts and spread the Gospel in our major crossroad.

Thessalonica has a name which no-one knows for sure what it means. Thessaly is the name of the province that the town is in. Thessaly may come from two words, Therma and Salos which mean warmth and waves, and since Thessaly is on the Thermaic Gulf, the name may mean “Warm Waves” it is hard to say for sure though because these words have to be stretched to match the name.

We know for sure that the name of Thessalonica means, “Place where Thessaly was conquered.” Who in this class knows what nike means? Nike is Greek for victory.
Thessaly – Nike.

If you went to Greece today and tried to buy a train or ferry ticket to Thessalonica, they’ll probably look at you like you are crazy, because the name has been changed to Salonica, but the town is still in the same place it was in when Paul visited and when he wrote this letter.

Paul founded this church with Silas.

Acts 17:1-10 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ." And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, "These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus." And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things. And when they had taken money as security from Jason and the rest, they let them go. The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue.

Paul, as a devout Jew, always wanted to declare the Messiah to his kinsmen first, but Christ had specifically sent Paul to the Gentiles, to the non-Jews, who ranged from refined Greeks to outright barbarians. He was following the Egnatian Way through Greece, stopping to preach in the Synagogues, and so far he had been stoned to the point that those stoning him thought he was dead, as well as chased out of town, and beaten. Yet he continued going to the Jews, finally in Corinth he abandoned the Jews to preach solely to the Gentiles.

Many believe, and I am among them, that the letter to the Hebrews was written by Paul, but left unsigned in order that he could still reach out to the Jews without them rejecting the letter because he wrote it. Though he finally heeded Christ’s command to go to the Gentiles, he never lost his desire to see Israel saved.

He arrived in Thessalonica at the end of AD 50, and spent about five months there before the Jews ran him out of town for converting so many people. They went to Berea, where the Jews compared what Paul was saying to the Old Testament, and they believed that Jesus was the Messiah, but Paul’s preaching had made the Thessalonian Jews so mad that they found them in Berea and chased them out of the region all together.

Paul was worried that the new churches in Thessalonica and Berea would succumb to persecution and so first sent Timothy to be their interim pastor, then wrote them this letter in order to strengthen their resolve and provide them with information they needed to know in order to maintain the church and see the souls saved that were passing through the important cross-roads of Thessalonica.

The letter points to the church being made up of almost entirely Gentiles, both by references to their old gods, and through a total lack of old-testament quotations. The letter begins by telling the Thessalonian church who they are now that they’ve been saved, then goes on to tell them how to live as Christians and what to expect from this life. Many think that First and Second Thessalonians are only eschatological epistles, in other words, that they only deal with end-times theology and the return of Christ. Dr. John MacArthur rightly points out that these epistles are pastoral first, and eschatological second.

Verse 1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

This is a standard greeting, identifying who it is from, who it is to, and a greeting.

Paul and Silas started the church, Silas was a Jew, but here Paul wrote his name as Silvanus, which is the Greek rendering of his name. Timothy is included since he lived amongst them and reported their progress back to Paul.

The church of the Thessalonians is referring to the body of believers, and not the church building. We’ve lost an important element in language by saying, “I’m going to church…” because you are the church, Christ is the head, we are the body, and the church at Summit will go to Heaven, where-as the building will not. Some churches have gone so far as to call their buildings “assemblies” or “meeting places” in order to try to alleviate the issue of mistaking the church building for the church body. I don’t think it’s particularly important to make this distinction as long as you remember, like we said last week, that going to church doesn’t make you a Christian in the same way that going to the garage doesn’t make you a car. Only the redeeming work of the Spirit in your soul based on the payment of Christ on the cross can make you a Christian.

After Peter preached in Jerusalem on Pentecost, “when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…’” (Acts 2:37-38) Paul writes to the church of the Thessalonians in God and Jesus. When Peter said, “Repent and be baptized…” he didn’t mean, “repent and get wet…” he meant, “repent and be immersed in the name of Jesus Christ…” Baptism is first and foremost an immersion, it is not just a dunking in water, and we have to realize that we aren’t Christians because we’ve been baptized in water, we’re Christians because we’ve been immersed into God and our Lord Jesus Christ. This epistle to Thessalonica states that well by Paul calling them “in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace to you and peace was a common greeting in the early church. It is kind of blocky for us to say, which is why I think it has lost its use in English, but it was common to say, "Grace to you, and peace", which in Greek is charis humin kai eirene. What it means is reminding the Christian of the unmerited favor in which they have been saved by Jesus Christ and the peace that we've attained with God through the cross of Christ.

Remember that:
Justice is when you get what you deserve, which in this case is Hell for transgressing God's laws.
Mercy is when you don't get what you deserve, which would be if God gave you a reprieve from Hell but wouldn't let you into Heaven.
Grace is when you get what you don't deserve, not only did Christ pay your fine on the cross, he gave you his righteousness so that you can go to Heaven.

Questions Afterward

- Why do some people in the Bible have their names changed?

Short answer, because out of time: names are changed in order to show an outward sign of the inward work of Grace in our lives. I'll try to research a good write-up on this in order to share here and in class.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

September 12th - Blasphemy

We've been talking a lot, both in class on Sunday, at Trek on Wednesday, and elsewhere, about the elevation of God's name and how much emphasis he puts on us using it rightly and with reverence.

For reference sake, here is an article I wrote a little while ago as a Gospel tract for unbelievers, please take a moment to read through it in order to hone your personal language and discernment of the holiness of the name of God.

God Will Not Hold Him Guiltless That Takes His Name in Vain, by Canyon Shearer

Many of the names that are blasphemy because they are used wrongly are not inherintely blasphemous. Such as refering to Jesus Christ as Goodness and Gracious is not blasphemous at all, if used reverently. An example of this that I like is Jars of Clay in their song, Oh my God

And Daniel 9:19, "O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name."

Sunday, September 7, 2008

September 7th - Assurance of Salvation

Prayer Requests:
Pastor Aaron
Orissa State in India
Taste of Kennesaw
Dave and Brooke in Mexico

Assurance of Salvation
Text: Jet Tour Through John's First Epistle

Last weekend we went to Celebrate Freedom and did a lot of evangelizing. One thing I noticed what the immodest dress of everyone there, and the joyless looks on many of the peoples’ faces. Nick and I saw a big group of high-schoolers and we could tell there was something different about them, for one thing, the girls all had on clothing that covered their bodies. Next I asked how they were getting to Heaven, and none of them said, “By being a good person.” One of them said, “On the merits of Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection.” There isn’t a better answer than that.

I haven’t called any of you Christians yet in this class, I don’t know any of you well enough to do that. We’ve spent about four hours together, and while I’ve very much enjoyed it and have been impressed by you all, I haven’t had the opportunity to see how you react if someone steps on your toe, or how you talk with your friends at school, or how you treat your mom and dad.

It is very dangerous for me to say that you’re a Christian if you’re not, I would hate for you to fool me into saying you’re a Christian if you’re not, because I don’t want any of you to go to Hell thinking you’re saved because I haphazardly told you you were. The worst thing you can do for your soul is pretend to be godly without being regenerated. These tests are for you, I don’t need to know the answers unless you want to go deeper into them, because you can fool me, you can fool your parents, you can even fool yourself, but you can’t fool God.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. – 1 John 5:13

First John was written so you can KNOW you’re a Christian, it uses the word gnosko, which means “know”, 32 times. God wants you to know you’re regenerated. First John has several tests to see if you’re a Christian, here are 11 of them…

1 John 1:7 “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another” You enjoy being in church around other Christians.

1 John 1:8 “we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Remember we were talking about how almost every person will proclaim their own goodness. God’s definition of good is perfect, so if you claim to be a good person, you’re claiming to be blameless, or sinless, and not only do you deceive yourself, but the truth is not in you.

Check out Revelation 19:11, my favorite verse in the whole Bible. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.” Jesus’ very name is True, in John 14:6 he said, “I am…the truth…” If you claim to be a good person according to God’s standards, there is no way you are a Christian; tough statement, but the Bible said it, not me.

1 John 2:3-4 “by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him…” Strive to keep the commandments, don’t purposefully break them. Look at verse 1, it is written in a somewhat strange, but exceedingly beautiful, way, “I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” May not sin means our goal is perfection; but we still have a sin nature, we will sin.

Paul said, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more...”(Romans 5:20) should we then sin all the more so that grace may further abound? Heaven forbid! If we are dead to sin, we will do our best to keep the commandments and stop sinning.

There is a colloquialism that says “Heathens dive into sin while Christians fall in.

If we slip into sin, we know that we have an advocate, a mediator, a great high priest pleading our cause and washing away our sins, Jesus Christ the Righteous One, who died to redeem us and defeated death three days later.

Compare 1 John 2:29 “If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

1 John 2:15 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” This is a tough one, especially when there are so many interesting things in the world to love, especially above God. You watch Hannah Montana instead of reading your Bible, you work on Sunday instead of going to church, you do things the way your non-Christian friends do them instead of trying to make them Christians…there are a lot of different examples,

but ultimately James said, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” A good test is whether you would rather do ministry or go to the mall.

1 John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” AW Tozer said, “You knew one thing about a man carrying a cross outside of the city, you knew he wasn’t coming back.” If you’ve been crucified with Christ and resurrected in his life (Romans 5:10), then it is permanent, because it isn’t you who lives anymore, but Christ who lives in you. (Gal 2:20) If you are a Christian, you will continue being a Christian.

1 John 2:23 “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.” Jesus Christ is One Person of a Triune God, he is eternal, co-existent, and co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, but a distinct Person from the Father and the Spirit, fully man, and fully God. If you don’t believe this, then you don’t have God the Father either. There are lots of people who believe Jesus was created, some believe he was just a good man, others believe he was an angel, they are believing in idols named Jesus Christ, and this idol cannot save them. The infinite payment that was due for our salvation could only be paid by God himself.

Compare Isaiah 43:11 “I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior.” with John 4:42 “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” and 2 Peter 1:1 “To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ…

1 John 3:2-3 “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” We’re growing in holiness to be conformed to the Living Christ, in hopes of being pure as he is pure, which will be completed when he returns.

1 John 3:8-9 “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” These are planned sins, purposeful sin, with no effort to stop sinning. If you’re looking forward to sin, then you’re in trouble because you haven’t been born of God.

Sin is fun, I know it’s been popular in the church to say that sin is no fun and that you won’t find happiness through sinning. I don’t know where they found that in the Bible, but the truth is that sin is fun, if it wasn’t fun, people wouldn’t do it. I guarantee you that you will fall into some sin sometime in your life that will temporarily consume your affections. The enjoyment of this sin can last a lifetime, but the consequences at the end are not worth it.

God hates it, it grieves the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ died for it. If it doesn’t hurt your conscience to sin, the very thing that crucified your Saviour, then you haven’t been born of God.

If it does hurt your conscience, then you will work to stop doing that sin, no matter how enjoyable it is. Because God is so good, he has given us many things that are good, but these can be abused. For example, water keeps us alive, but used wrongly you’ll drown, fire keeps us warm, but too much will burn you, sex is a wonderful gift between husband and wife, but abused it will lead to your damnation.

1 John 3:14 “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers.” Remember that word love, usually when it’s referring to God and Christians, it is not the ushy gushy love, but a love in action. Not only do we deeply care about our brothers and sisters, but we’re willing to help them in their time of need.

Compare 1 John 3:18 “Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

1 John 4:6 “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” Our beliefs and theology are in line with other Christian’s beliefs and theology. There should be no parts of the Bible where you say, “I’m not sure I believe in this…” You will have doubts in your life, but they should not be lingering doubts, find the answer, be content with it, and move on. If you have any doubts, like I said in a previous class, there is an answer to every supposed contradiction, and the Bible is 100% trustworthy, please don’t hesitate to ask me, Dave Snyder, Jenny, Channing, your parents, whoever you want, and we’ll be able to find you an answer.

As you read your Bible, you’ll be able to pick out true and false preachers, you’ll know they’re true because their sermons will be about Jesus from the Bible, and not about them with some Bible verses sprinkled in. Compare Hebrews 5:14 “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

1 John 4:15 “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” Confess, out loud, telling people what Christ has done for you, what he’s done for them, what he requires, what the consequences are for rejecting him, and who he is. Don’t confess it to me, confess it to a friend a school, a stranger in the park, an unsaved aunt. Preaching Christ and him crucified (1 Cor 2:2) to everyone who will listen should be your highest priority as a child of God.

Charles Spurgeon said, “If you do not have a passion to see lost souls saved, you are not saved yourself, be sure of that.

Those are the tests, I want to let you know why they are important…

First, if you are a Christian, having taken these tests allows you to stop worrying whether or not you’re saved or can lose your salvation.

Second, if you’re not a Christian, you have some repenting and trusting to do. Think about the sinless Jesus Christ hanging on a cross stained red by his blood which was poured out because of your sin. The Son was cut-off from the Father because your sin made him repulsive to the Holy God of the Universe. The wrath of God was demonstrated against his perfect Son, because he hates sin and will not allow it into his presence. This was accomplished so that you can be reconciled with him and made blameless in his Son. Compare 1 John 2:12, "your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake." CJ Mahaney said, "Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, leading us to faith and worship, we have to see it as something done by us, leading us to repentance. Only the man, the woman, who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross may claim his share in its grace."

Third, once you know you are saved, you can stop worrying about your salvation and start worrying about the salvation of others. If you’re still not sure if you’re saved, start evangelizing; history is replete with preachers saved under their own preaching, and the Holy Spirit will testify with your spirit if you are saved during your witnessing when he emboldens you and helps you to remember Bible verses and push forward with the conversation.

Fourth, you will know better how to act as a Christian so that you are not representing God’s name wrongly.

Questions Afterward
Is the world going to end on December 21st, 2012?

Jesus said, "But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Mark 13:32) We have no way to know when Christ is returning, the only thing that keeps him from coming back right now is so that more people can be saved. (2 Peter 3:9)

Every generation has believed they were the last generation, so we might be, we might not be, we'll be discussing this more as we study First and Second Thessalonians over the rest of the year.

In the 1850's, William Miller predicted a date and it ended up being a bust, but out of his false prophecies, we've seen the birth of the cults of Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and Branch Davidians. Watch as 2012 draws near and we'll probably see some pretty wild cults rise up.

Follow Up Video:
True and False Conversion Video

Next Week
For next week, please read the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians.