April 30, 2008
This is the third installment in a series entitled “How Do I Know If I’m a Christian?”
Matthew 16:13-18 (ESV) – 13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The key distinction between the multitudes and the disciples is that, by God’s grace, the disciples know who Jesus is. They understand that He is the Christ (the Messiah, God’s Anointed King and promised Savior), the Son of the Living God (implying deity.) Jesus states that upon this confession of faith, proclaimed through the apostles, He would build His Church (cf. Eph 2:19-22.)
We have been examining how we can know if we are a Christian. We have been examining this topic from the First Epistle of John, in which the Apostle John provides a series of tests for whether or not we are a Christian. We have seen four tests of whether or not we are a Christian:
1) Christians have fellowship with God (I Jn 1:1-4.)
2) Christians strive to avoid sin and seek righteousness (I Jn 3:4-10.)
3) Christians love one another (I Jn 3:14, 4:20-21.)
4) Christians do not love the world or the things in the world (I Jn 2:15-17.)
The fifth test of whether or not we are a Christian is, “Do we believe the biblical teaching regarding the person and work of Jesus?”
1 John 2:18-22 (ESV) – 18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 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. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.
John is warning Christians about the presence of many “antichrists” in the world. The term translated “antichrist” (ἀντίχριστος, pronounced antichristos) literally refers to someone or something which is “in the place of Christ” and which “opposes Christ” (Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary on First John, Baker, I Jn 2:18.) These “antichrists” oppose Christ by presenting false understandings of Christ in an attempt to deceive the unsuspecting.
Following is a list of the characteristics of “antichrists” in I John:
1) They have separated from “us” (from the church and an orthodox understanding of apostolic doctrine)
1 John 2:19 (ESV) – 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.
Unfortunately, we see this all the time today. Given our present, postmodern context, it is quite common for teachers to “reinvent” or “re-imagine” doctrine. Christians must take care to hold fast to the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3.)
2) They deny that Jesus is the Christ.
1 John 2:22 (ESV) – 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.
To deny that Jesus is the Christ is to deny that He is God’s Anointed King and promised Savior. This is probably a denial of the work which Jesus was commissioned by the Father to accomplish (i.e. I Jn 4:14.)
We see this among theological liberals and those in the emergent church. Many have rejected the biblical doctrine of the substitutionary atonement of Christ (I Jn 2:1-2) and have redefined the intended work of Jesus as being simply that of an example for us to follow. Although Jesus certainly is our example (for example: Phil 2:5-8), the overwhelming evidence of Scripture is that the purpose of God in sending Jesus into the world was to die for the sins of His people (see Old Testament sacrificial system, Isaiah 53, Mk 10:45, Lk 19:10, etc…) When someone redefines the work of Christ in another way, then they are an “antichrist.”
3) They deny that Jesus came in the flesh.
1 John 4:1-3 (ESV) – 1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
John was probably arguing against a proto-Gnostic heresy which stated that Jesus was not truly human, but only appeared to be human (i.e. Docetism.) However, the full humanity of Christ is absolutely essential for the completion of Jesus’ mission to provide a substitutionary atonement for His people.
Hebrews 2:14-18 (ESV) – 14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Apart from possessing full humanity, Jesus could not function as our representative (“high priest.”) Apart from possessing full humanity, Jesus could not make propitiation for the sins of His people.
This heretical view of the person of Christ is not particularly prevalent today. However, we might find some variations of this in certain new age spiritualities.
4) They are from the world… and the world listens to them.
1 John 4:5-6 (ESV) – 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 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.
Notice that antichrists are accepted by the world. The world listens to them, because they are from the world. At the same time, the world “does not listen to us” (cf. I Cor 1:18 – the gospel is foolishness to them.)
This should be a strong warning sign for us as Christians. If the world accepts a particular teaching, then we should examine it closely to ascertain whether or not it is biblical, because the world does not accept that which is of God.
5) They deny that Jesus is the Son of God.
1 John 5:4-5 (ESV) – 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
The world… and the world’s teachers (i.e. antichrists) are overcome by the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
Although the doctrine of the deity of Christ has been constantly disputed throughout church history, Scripture is abundantly clear that Jesus is “very God of very God.”
John 1:1-3 (ESV) – 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Colossians 1:15-20 (ESV) – 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Colossians 2:9 (ESV) - 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,
Hebrews 1:1-3 (ESV) – 1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Given all this, the biblical teaching regarding Jesus in First John can be summed up as follows:
1) Jesus is the eternal Son of God.
2) Jesus is fully human, like us in every way, but without sin.
3) Jesus is the Christ, God’s Anointed King and the Savior of His people through His substitutionary death upon the cross.
If a person does not adhere to this understanding of Jesus, then they are not a Christian.
1 John 2:23-25 (ESV) – 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.
Christians hold fast to the gospel (“what you heard from the beginning”, cf. I Jn 1:1-4.) Those who deny the biblical teaching regarding Jesus do not have a relationship with the Father. Those who know Jesus and are trusting in Him “abide in the Father” and they have eternal life. They are Christians!
Who do you say Jesus is?
Do you believe that He is the eternal Son of God?
Do you believe that He is fully human and fully divine?
Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins, that He was buried and that He rose again the third day?
Do you pass the test?
April 23, 2008
This is the second installment in a series entitled “How Do I Know If I’m a Christian?”
Read Colossians 4:7-14 and Philemon 1:23-24. Notice what the apostle Paul says about the man named Demas. He is included in the list of Paul’s faithful co-laborers in the gospel. To all onlookers, Demas appeared to be a mature Christian involved in ministry.
But read II Timothy 4:9-10a…
2 Timothy 4:9-10a (ESV) – 9 Do your best to come to me soon. 10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica…
Did Demas abandon the faith? The Greek term translated “deserted” (ἐγκαταλείπω, pronounced egkataleipo) is a strong term which implies that he utterly forsook Paul and presumably the gospel.
What was it that caused Demas’ false profession to become visible? His love of the world.
Can we know if we are a Christian? John’s first epistle seems to have been written to provide Christians with several tests which can be used to help us have assurance of whether or not we are indeed Christians. In a previous post we discussed three tests of whether or not we are a Christian:
1) Fellowship with God.
2) No habitual, unrepentant sin.
3) Love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
The fourth test we will look at from First John is found in chapter 2…
1 John 2:15-17 (ESV) - 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. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
“Do not love the world…” What does John mean by “the world” (κόσμος, pronounced kosmos)? He doesn’t mean planet earth… and he doesn’t mean people. When John speaks of the world, he means the sinful world system which is in active rebellion against God.
Notice how John describes the world:
1) It does not know God (I Jn 3:1).
2) It is full of false prophets who are actively proclaiming falsehood (I Jn 4:1).
3) It lies in the power of the evil one (I Jn 5:19.) (Compare this to Matt 4:8, Jn 12:31, Jn 14:30.)
But doesn’t God love the world? In John 3:16, Jesus says, “For God so loved the world…” Yet here we are told not to love the world. What is the difference? Finish out John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God’s love for the sinful world system is a redemptive love, which seeks to save some out of the midst of this system (i.e. “not perish, but have everlasting life.”)
Let’s face it… we can’t love the world in this way. We have no means within ourselves to redeem the wicked world system in which we find ourselves.
“Do not love the world and the things in the world.” John commands Christians to not love the world. But notice that Christians are also commanded not to love the things in the world. This has particular relevance within the church, for many Christians would state that they do not love the world system… but “things in the world” are another story!
Christians are not to love the world or things that spring up out of this sinful world. John states that if a person does love the world, then the love of the Father is not in them. In other words, in his very blunt style, John says that a person who loves the world (the present tense verb implies continuously) is not a Christian.
Why is this so?
It is helpful if we reflect on the words of Jesus recorded for us in Matthew 6:24…
Matthew 6:24 (ESV) – 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Jesus states that it is impossible to serve two masters, for it is impossible to love two different masters. Notice that Jesus explicitly says that it is not possible to serve both God and money (mammon -earthly material treasures.) The implications of this passage are that human beings serve whatever it is that we love. We pursue that which we love and treasure it. If we love the things that are in the world, then we will pursue and treasure the things of this world, rather than God. How can we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mk 12:30) if we are in love with the world and the things in the world? The love of God and the love of the world are mutually exclusive.
“If anyone loves the world, (then) the love of the Father is not in him.” What does John mean by “the love of the Father”? There are two ways to interpret this:
1) God’s love for us…
2) Our love for God…
I think both senses are probably intended here. Read I John 4:7-9…
1 John 4:7-10, 19 (ESV) – 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins…19 We love because he first loved us.
John says that whoever loves (specifically “one another”, but equally true where God is concerned) is (1) born of God (regeneration) and (2) knows God (specifically the love of God), because God has made His love known to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We naturally do not love God, but God has caused us to participate in His love through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we love God, because He first loved us.
Back in I John 2:15, if we love the world, then John says that we have not experienced the love of God in Christ Jesus, therefore we do not love God.
In I John 2:16-17, John provides us with reasons why we should not love the world… “For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions – is not from the Father, but is from the world.”
John describes “all that is in the world” through three separate phrases:
1) The desires of the flesh – (NIV – “the cravings of the sinful man.”) This refers to our innate, sinful desires for pleasure. In our present context it is epitomized by the cliché, “If it feels good… do it!”
2) The desires of the eyes – This likely refers to the temptation to delight in sin and that which is in the world. The Christian must remember that “all that glitters is not necessarily gold.”
3) The pride of possessions – Literally translated this is “the pride of living” (ἡ ἀλαζονεία τοῦ βίου). This is not the typical Greek word for “life” (ζωή, pronounced zoe). The term here is βίος (pronounced bios) and it refers to “the manner in which one’s life finds expression” (BDAG, βίος.) It “denotes life with respect to actions and possessions” (William Hendriksen, Commentary on James the Epistles of John, Baker, I Jn 2:16.) It is taking pride in what I am, what I do, and what I possess.
None of this is of God. It is of the world, that is, it is from the devil (I Jn 5:19), and ultimately it is all “passing away.” This world and all that is in it is temporary… it is winding down. To love that which is passing away would be utterly foolish. Commenting on this phrase, Dr. John Piper states, “Nobody buys stock in a company that is sure to go bankrupt. Nobody sets up house in a sinking ship. No reasonable person would lay up treasure where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal, would they? The world is passing away! To set your heart on it is only asking for heartache and misery in the end.” (Piper, sermon on I John 2:15-17, entitled “Do Not Love the World.”)
It doesn’t matter how much of the world we may obtain, it is fading away. What does it profit us if we gain the whole world and lose our soul (Matt 16:26)?
How does one keep from losing their soul? “…whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
What is “the will of God” which John is speaking of in this paragraph? That we love God and not the world. Those who love God and not the world will “abide forever”… they will enjoy eternal life in fellowship with God.
Why is it so important to God that we love Him and not the world? Because to love anything more than God is idolatry. John closes out his first epistle with this warning…
1 John 5:21 (ESV) – 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
A Christian is not a habitual idolater. A Christian strives to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength (Mk 12:30.)
“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.”
Do you love the world? We all sin and we all have moments when we stumble into the sin of idolatry. But does a love of the world and the things in the world define the general tenor of your life? If so, then according to John, you might not be a Christian.
What can we do if this is an area where we struggle in the Christian life? The answer is not found in trying harder to not love the world. The solution is to be found in loving God more completely.
How can we grow in our love for God? John states that we know love only because God has loved us. We experience God’s love most powerfully in the gospel. If you want to grow in your love for God…
1) Meditate on who God is as described in Scripture (Isaiah 40-48 would be a good place to start.)
2) Ponder what it is to be a sinner (Read and meditate on Romans 1-3.)
3) Bask in the glory of Jesus Christ (Read the gospels. Meditate on Isaiah 53.)
4) Repent of your sin daily and constantly return to Jesus Christ, confessing your sin and trusting that He is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I Jn 1:9)… even the love of the world.
We can only serve one master. Will it be God… who has loved us and sent His Son to be the Savior of the world? Or will it be the sinful world which lies in power of the evil one and is in the process of passing away.
Take the example of Demas to heart… and love God, not the world and the things in the world.
For further study of this passage:
1) Read or listen to the sermon entitled “Do Not Love the World” by Dr. John Piper. You can find it here http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/1985/481_Do_Not_Love_the_World/
2) Read and complete the three-part Bible study by John MacArthur entitled “The Love God Hates.” You can find all three studies here http://www.biblebb.com/brefindex/1jo.htm under I John 2:3-17.
April 16, 2008
One of the most frightening passages in the New Testament is found on the lips of Jesus in Matthew 7…
Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV) – 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Although the people in this passage have prophesied, cast out demons and done mighty works, Jesus says he never knew them. What makes this passage so disturbing is the surprise of those who are cast away. They believe they have earned the right to enter into heaven and they are shocked when they find out they are excluded from God’s eternal blessings?
Have you ever questioned whether or not you are a Christian? Can you know for sure whether or not you are a Christian?
The purpose of John’s first epistle seems to be dedicated to giving Christians assurance of their salvation.
1 John 5:13 (ESV) – 13 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.
John provides this assurance for the Christian through giving us a series of tests by which we can examine ourselves to determine whether or not we are in the faith.
We have been looking at these tests of salvation on Wednesday nights at Maranatha Baptist Church. Following is a brief summary of the first three tests which we have discussed:
1) Christians have fellowship with God (I John 1:1-4.)
John begins by affirming that he is an eyewitness of Jesus Christ. He can affirm the facts of the gospel and the purpose behind sharing this message is so that others “may have fellowship with us (meaning John speaking as an apostolic “we”) and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (I Jn 1:3.)
All those who have received Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior enjoy fellowship with the Triune God (the Holy Spirit is included in our fellowship by John in I Jn 4:13.)
This is a very subjective test, but a real test nonetheless.
Do you enjoy fellowship with God? Do you know Him? Do you delight in your relationship with Him?
Sometimes this sense of fellowship is stronger than others. Most Christians experience those “dark nights of the soul” when it seems as if God is far away. That is why it is good that John provides us with other tests which are more objective.
2) Christians seek to avoid sin and obey God’s commands (I Jn 1:5-2:6, 3:4-10, 5:3, 5:18.)
John proclaims that God is light (I Jn 1:5), implying that He is holy… and not just a little bit holy for in Him there “is no darkness at all.” God is holy, holy, holy (Is 6:3.) He is absolutely separated from sin. If we say we are a Christian, but we habitually walk in darkness (i.e. live lives of habitual sin), then we cannot have fellowship with God (I Jn 1:6.) For this reason, a Christian will strive to avoid sin so that fellowship with God will not be interrupted.
John makes an even stronger statement regarding the Christian’s response to sin in the third chapter:
1 John 3:4-10 (ESV) – 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 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. 9 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. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
John repeatedly says that those who live lives of habitual sin are not Christians (i.e. they don’t abide in Christ, they have not seen Christ or known Him, they are of the devil.)
This causes us no small amount of difficulty in interpretation, because we know that no one is without sin. John himself asserts that “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (I Jn 1:8.) There is none righteous, no not one (Rom 3:10.)
John is not talking about sinless perfection here, but about the general tenor of a person’s life. A Christian will not live a life of continual, habitual sin.
But John’s statement is probably even more nuanced than this. He is speaking about a specific type of sin, which he calls “lawlessness” (I Jn 3:4.) The term translated “lawlessness” is ἀνομία (pronounced anomia) which literally translated means “no law” or “without law” (α + νόμος). According to the MacArthur Study Bible this “term “lawlessness” conveys more than transgressing God’s law. It conveys the ultimate sense of rebellion, i.e., living as if there was no law or ignoring what laws exist” (MacArthur Study Bible, note on I Jn 3:4.) John is referring to a person who habitually, willfully defies God’s Law. He knows that what he is doing is displeasing to God, but he engages in the behavior anyway.
A Christian will not habitually and willfully defy God, because he has been “born of God” (I Jn 3:9), meaning that he has experienced God’s sovereign work of regeneration and is now a new creation in Christ Jesus (II Cor 5:17, Ezekiel 36:25-27.) The Christian is also protected by “the One born of God” (i.e. Jesus – I Jn 5:18), therefore he will not engage in persistent and intentional defiance of God.
John says “by this it is evident who are the children of God and who are the children of the devil” (I Jn 3:10.) Through this test, it is obvious who is and who is not a Christian. (Note: It may not always be obvious to others, after all, we can all be quite hypocritical. But it is obvious within ourselves.)
Rather than live a life of habitual sin, the Christian will obey God’s commands. “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments” (I Jn 2:3.)
Again, John is not referring to sinless perfection. No one keeps God’s commandments perfectly. But a Christian’s life will be characterized by obedience to God’s commandments.
But what about when we miss the mark?
Then a Christian will respond by returning to the cross in repentance and faith. The Christian will come to our Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, who is the propitiation for our sin (I Jn 2:1-2.) The Christian will confess their sins, knowing that God is faithful and just to forgive their sins and cleanse them from all unrighteousness (I Jn 1:9.)
How do you respond to sin? Do you hate your sin? Do you seek to avoid sin?
Do you willfully defy God?
Do you strive to obey God’s commandments?
What is your response to your sin? Do you live a life of continual repentance and faith in Jesus Christ?
3) Christians love their fellow Christians (I Jn 2:7-11, 3:11-20, 4:7-11, 4:20-21.)
John repeatedly affirms that a Christian will love their fellow Christians, but perhaps his strongest statement is found in I Jn 3:14…
1 John 3:14 (ESV) – 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
John states that we “know” that we are Christians (i.e. “passed out of death into life”) because we love the brothers.
This is the result of our experience of the love of God in Christ Jesus in the gospel…
1 John 3:16 (ESV) – 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
1 John 4:9-11 (ESV) – 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Naturally, we are “children of wrath” (Eph 2:3), prone to harboring anger, bitterness and hatred toward others (Rom 3:10-18), particularly those who are in Christ (I Jn 3:12-13, Jn 15:18-20.)
But the Christian has been born again and has experienced the love of God experientially and this produces a change which results in us showing love to others.
The love which John says we are to have for other Christians is more than just a “warm fuzzy feeling.” We are to love with an active, caring love.
1 John 3:17-19 (ESV) – 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;
Christians are to give of themselves in order to care for their brethren. “By this we shall know that we are of the truth…” This is a powerful test for whether or not we are a Christian.
1 John 4:20-21 (ESV) – 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Do you love your brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you give of yourself to provide for the needs of others?
Do you harbor anger and bitterness against others?
How do you respond when you become aware of anger and bitterness in your heart toward others? Do you continue to foster it in your heart? Or do you repent of this sin, confess it before God, and seek to be obedient to God’s commands?
We will be looking at additional tests of whether or not we are a Christian in the days ahead…