The Abiding, Sufficient, and True Anointing

The Abiding, Sufficient, and True Anointing

What I Learned Last Sunday

“I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.” – 1 John 2:26-27

Check out last week’s sermon here.

You can’t handle the truth!” 

Jack Nicholson’s famous line from A Few Good Men completely falls short of what our world is begging for today—the truth. You might rather say, “Who cares if I can’t handle the truth; I just want to know what is true!”

A 2016 Pew Research and Elon University study of media and technology experts found that respondents were nearly split down the middle (51% to 49%), completely divided in predicting whether or not the future would see an improvement in the spread of true information. Frank Kaufman, one of the more optimistic experts said, “The quality of news will improve, because things always improve.” 

Don’t tell that to my Facebook feed, Frank.

How do you remain in what is true amid the lies? As Pastor Mike shared Sunday, 1 John 2:18-27 was written so that you would avoid deceivers and remain steadfast in what is true.

“I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.” – 1 John 2:26

Question: How do you avoid deceivers today?

Answer: You avoid deceivers when we rest in the anointing you have received. 

Question: What is this anointing?

Answer: The anointing is the work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of a sinner (Romans 8:19).

Pastor Mike shared that the anointing is better than today’s lies because:

1. The anointing abides (lives) in you.

Jesus said that His coming was what prophets longed to taste for ages (Matthew 13:17). The heart of stone would one day be turned to flesh by the Spirit’s work (Ezekiel 36:26). Jesus affirmed the Spirit’s coming work through His work (John 14:16-17). The Apostles attested to the result of Jesus’ work, the Spirit’s indwelling in believers (1 Corinthians 6:19).

2. The anointing is sufficient.

Jesus said he would offer rest to all those who come to Him (Matthew 11:28). One aspect of the rest found in Christ is the steady rock of assurance and unwavering hope that in Him there is no further improvement needed. He offers a peaceful rest, true assurance that he alone is the solution to your longing heart. Christians do not need to constantly progress into new, evolving truth. Jesus offers foundational 2,000 year old truth that we cling to, preserve, and learn. Do you want rest? Stay close to Jesus. You will not find anything more sufficient.

3. The anointing is true.

You may not believe that statement, but you cannot deny the claims that Jesus made. You must believe Him to be true, or reject Him.

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” – John 14:6a

4. The anointing is proven.

No who gives their life to Jesus will ever find him empty. He will always be faithful to you. You will find him more desirable than anything this life can offer.

“You [God] have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” – Psalm 4:7

“in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm 16:11

“My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” – Philippians 1:23

Question: What happens to those who have been anointed?

Answer: They abide in Christ!

“Jesus made it clear, abiding in Him means you trust Him for everything. You trust Him for life. You trust Him for fruit bearing. You trust Him for help. You trust Jesus Christ alone.” -Pastor Mike

If you have the anointing that is proven, sufficient, true, and abiding in you, run to and live in Christ. 

The world is full of deceivers and alternative truths, and Jesus is calling to you, “Abide in me!” That is a truth you need every moment. Jesus will not fail you.

The Old News is Still the Good News

The Old News is Still the Good News

What I Learned Last Sunday

“They [those who deny Jesus] 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. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 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.” – 1 John 2:19-21

Check out last week’s sermon here.

The idea of progress in many ways is deceiving. Solomon’s timeless statement, “...there is nothing new under the the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) rings true throughout history and very true today when thinking of “fresh” or progressive heresies.

New, Old Heresies
Heresy A: “I don’t buy the thought that God would send people to Hell for not believing in Jesus. God’s love wins in the end.”

That question is posed as if doctrines are pulled from thin air.

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” – John 3:18

“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,” – Hebrews 9:27

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” – Romans 1:18

Heresy B: “I don’t buy that God really desired Jesus to be killed on the cross for my sins. God willingly putting His wrath on Jesus is abuse!”

Of course, when one anthropomorphizes the eternal God, he/she would come to conclusions like this.

“He [God] who did not spare his own Son but gave him up FOR US [sinners] all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” – Romans 8:32 (Emphasis Added)

In our enlightened age, we see so much good and potential in the world. Humanity simply needs to bond together in love to accomplish great things. The God who is wrathful against sin is for another age of darkness. We are of the enlightened.

Just a few years back (approximately 1,900 years or so), Marcion of Sinope was so offended by the thought of a wrathful God against His own Son, that he threw out the Old Testament and much of the New Testament creating a brand new, nicer God who is: “…incapable of anger, entirely apathetic, free from all affections.”*

Marcion could not live with a God of wrath, and thus the “modern 21st century” view found among many progessive Christians was born…before 144 A.D. Thank God, Marcion’s teachings were condemned as heretical, and the God we see in the whole Old and New Testament was preserved in all His wonder, mystery, and glory.

Old News Is Still The Good News

“Tell me the old, old story…
With earnest tones and grave;
Remember I’m the sinner
Whom Jesus came to save;” -Katherine Hankey

As Pastor Mike shared on Sunday, John in his letter was compelled to draw his “children” back to fundamental reminders about Christ. The fundamentals are learned and believed through the anointing, saving work of God in Christ (1 John 2:20).

Heresy C: “I don’t buy that there is only one way to God. Any good life and genuine religion is good enough.”

“No one who denies the Son has the Father.” – 1 John 2:23

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

We must cling to Christ, the real Christ as revealed in Scripture. Clinging to who Christ is will guard against error and is fundamental to being a Christian. Those who do not cling to Christ are, “…not of us.” (1 John 2:19). The old story of what Christ has done is where true Christianity lives. We must live there as well.

The Wrath-Love Gospel
I uphold the cross, its shame,
My sin was laid on Jesus’ back,
As the Father turned His,
Divine wrath poured on His Son;
I fall with tears, heart torn apart,
That God in kindness,
Planned salvation from the debt I owe;
I cheer the love, of Christ to save,
My life from death upon that tree;
I shout forever, “Christ is King!”
He rose victorious, my hope sealed;
I wait for Him, this final hour,
Divine Son returning,
He’ll make wrongs, right.

*Quote taken from “The Prophets, Volume II” by Abraham Heschel (p. 80)

A World-Lover’s Prayer

A World-Lover’s Prayer

What I Learned Last Sunday

“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. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” – 1 John 2:15-17

Check out last week’s sermon here.

A World-Lover’s Prayer

Holy Father and God of All,

Adoration
It is only in your initiating love that I can enter your presence at this moment (1 John 4:19). Your only begotten, Divine Son gave His blood to ransom my life (Matthew 20:28). In His name I come in a mixture of boldness and humility (Hebrews 4:16). For, it is only in your presence where mercy and grace are extended to sinners, like me, sick with world-love.

Confession
And there, I have laid my condition on the table. I have read John’s words, “if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 4:15). World-love? Yes, I fear that has crept inside my heart. Living for the temporary, I have embraced my world-love in the guise of words like “common sense” and “security.” I find my peace when funds are full, in food, in pleasure, in love from others. The problem revealed when a lack of those things, exposed my fear and dread. Worst of all, Father, your Word exposed my love for all the temporary things in life, viewing Your Son’s return with dread. I twist your Word with, “Come Lord! Come…but tomorrow please. I’m having too much fun here instead.” (Revelation 22:20).

Your Word, Your abiding Word has laid open and broken. For my world-loves are fleeting, vanishing in a breath. My world-love is building an empire that will be destroyed by moth and rust (Matthew 6:19-20). My world-love is at the heart loving the gift over the Giver. It usurps Your authority on my life, replacing all-satisfying You with my temporary reign (Romans 1:21). My world-love is damning. I feel Your Word now expose my hypocrisy. The love of the Father is not in the world-lover.

Supplication
Take now Your scalpel, God, and conduct surgery on my heart. Quick God, please, before I take your Word lightly or explain it away, making excuses for my world-love. Whatever the cost, cut my world-love out at the root. The world is passing away. I do not want these temporary loves to get in the way of You. Take your all-seeing vision, expose any wicked in me, and crush it (Psalm 139:24). Let my goods and kindred go if that’s what it takes. I will lose everything if it means that I know you (Philippians 3:8). And if your surgery requires these losses, don’t let me go weeping like that rich young ruler in love with my temporary possessions (Mark 10:17-27).

Don’t stop there, please God! Lead me in the everlasting way (Psalm 139:24). Lead me back to the place where my hope is built. For, in His name I came to you, and only in His name I rest in you (Matthew 11:28-30). His blood has cleansed the foulest things. My wicked world-love He washes white as snow (Psalm 51:7).

Thanksgiving
And, Father, as I stand on your Sons righteousness, sin gone far as east from west, the moment when he claimed me as His own, I am so thankful. Thank you God. May I say this in every moment of my day in everything you give to me, good or hard, thank you! I step out today, your ambassador, proclaiming your goodness in every breath.

In Jesus’ name I pray and stand, Amen!

Hope to Stand Upon

Hope to Stand Upon

What I Learned Last Sunday

“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” – 1 John 2:12-14

Check out last week’s sermon here.

The warnings in the Word of God are not designed to destroy Christians under the crushing weight of doubt and unbelief. That sentence is only true because of the immeasurable work of Christ on the cross. Praise God! 

We can be assured of our unchanging standing before God, in Christ, because:

1. Our sins are forgiven.

Out of kindness, Christ has forgiven our sin debt through His blood (Ephesians 1:7). Thanks be to God we know the name of the one who has done the work on our behalf.

2. We know God.

What a thought to know be known by God. The good news of the gospel does not draw us inward to self-empowerment or praise. The gospel shifts our focus upward to God. Knowing God does not occur without first being known by God. Being known by God is foundational to salvation (Matthew 7:21-23). To love God is to be known by God (1 Corinthians 8:3). 

3. We have overcome the evil one.

Through the abiding Word of God in Christians, the Devil is powerless to snatch away the word from us (Mark 4:14-15). Also, God’s Word in us provides true strength leading to victory over any daily temptations that he may attack us with.

All Saints, Stand!
Christians, young to old,
Make haste now to the cross of Christ,
Do not tarry,
For you were purchased at great price,
Let him your sin burdens carry.
For you know Him and He knows you,
In His strength you stand, none can sever,
The Devil, God’s abiding Word slew,
O Praise His name forever.

The New Old Commandment

The New Old Commandment

What I Learned Last Sunday

“Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.” – 1 John 2:7-8

Check out last week’s sermon here.

It should not be a scandalous thought to have John tell us that the work of Jesus in a life produces actual change. In other words, people who are changed by the work of Jesus should not live lives that are opposed to Christ. Having a new Lord (almighty God) means rejecting the old lord (self). 

“Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” – 1 John 2:9

It should also not be an oddity to see that the commands given us are not new but rooted in the very identity of our timeless God. The greatest needs for man have not evolved. Since Adam our great need has always been a fixed relationship with God (Romans 5:12).

God is Love

Many, from a misplaced understanding of God, view Him full of wrath in the Old Testament while tender and kind in the New Testament. Both assumptions are false. God has always been exceedingly loving and wrathful against sin. Only a humanistic view of God would box Him up and measure God’s actions as we do other flawed humans. If you read of God and respond, “That’s just not loving TO ME.” you likely have placed your wisdom above the God of the universe and become His judge—a deadly place to live.

“The LORD passed before [Moses] and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty,” – Exodus 34:6–7

“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.” – Micah 7:18

God’s Old Command to Love

Because God is, He is by definition the most desirable and truly worthy object of our affection. The call then to be like God, loving Him and the things that He loves, makes perfect sense. It would be foolish to think that God, whose nature is love, would not command love of those who are His. God in the Old Testament Law and Prophets proclaims time and again that we should love Him and love others.

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” – Deuteronomy 6:5–7

“You shall not hate your brother in your heart…You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD…You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself,” – Leviticus 19:17–18, 34

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8

God’s New, Old Command to Love

Jesus’ command was foundational from the beginning (as John would say). He is speaking His command of old from its expression in the Law.

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:30–31

The Newness of Christ

Jesus was not saying a new commandment. The commandment to love God and man was foundational to God’s people. However, Jesus embodied something totally new and foretold from of old. Jesus was ushering in something the prophets looked for.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”  – Jeremiah 31:31–34

God proclaimed through Jeremiah a coming day where the requirement to love God would be written on the hearts of His people. There would be a future peace between God and man based on a new covenant promise God would enact. God would initiate a restoration by causing His law (summed up in the command to love God and people) to be written on hearts. Moreso, God would forgive His people’s sins out of kindness.

Jesus is the cornerstone of God’s covenant promise to Jeremiah.

“[Jesus said]…for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” – Matthew 26:28

“[Jesus] is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” – Hebrews 9:11–15

The New, Old Commandment

“At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.” – 1 John 2:8

The commandment to us through John is very old and founded in who God is. Yet, in Jesus the command is terrifically new and filled with hope. In Jesus, the commandment is in Christians. In Jesus the darkness of sin is being obliterated. Through Jesus the light of God is shining in the hearts of His people—a people who have been forgiven of all their sins.

Two Truths Christians Hold

Two Truths Christians Hold

What I Learned Last Sunday

“My little children, 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. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.” – 1 John 2:1-3

Check out last week’s sermon here.

These two statements can be true at the same time.

  1. A life of sinless performance is not what Christians should put their hope in.
  2. Sin is deadly and damaging, eroding our confidence in God.

The message John brings may be the most harsh and hope-filled truths combined in a paragraph. He begins the command to treat sin as a deadly enemy that should be fought with sweat and toil and blood till death. 

“…I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” – 1 John 2:1a

These words are a gut-punch to the one who has fallen in sin. However, in the same breath, John extends the hand of Christ raising up the Saint with the hope-filled reminder that Jesus is our Advocate before a holy God. 

“But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” – 1 John 2:1b

These two truths are held up without apology to kill middle-ground Christianity (Nominal Christianity).

  1. Hope in Christ, Not Your Sinlessness

Our hope is not in not sinning. -Pastor Mike

Sinners are only made righteous when God sees the work of Christ standing over their lives. God does not look to our works as a basis for extending grace and mercy to us. Praise God! We have two advocates standing for us. The Spirit inside us (John 15:26-27), and the Savior before God. Christ steps in on our behalf and proclaims, “This one is Mine, paid for with My blood.”

My hope is built on nothing less

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. -Edward Mote

A Sad Hymn

My hope is built on shifting sands, based on my fight toward sinlessness. -Not Christianity

 

Which song are you singing?

  1. Flee Fear-Building Sin

Sin chips away at assurance. -Pastor Mike

Remember these two statements can both be true at the same time. Yes, Christ is the only foundation to stand on before God (Acts 4:12). And, yes, sin is deadly and damaging, chipping away your assurance that you know Christ.

Anyone who claims Christ, yet holds a cavalier attitude toward sin, will only end up fear-filled rule followers forgetting the blood of Christ or sin-blind and immersed in a middle-ground, nominal, shell of so-called Christianity.

Are you living in this sin today? Come to Jesus!

Only Christ II

Christ more than anything, 

Over trust in sinless living.

Christ! Only Christ. 

Our Advocate, He stands for us, 

Faith-eroding sin, we flee in trust.

Hope for the Self-Righteous and the Dispairing

Hope for the Self-Righteous and the Dispairing

What I Learned Last Sunday

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. – 1 John 1:5-10

Check out last week’s sermon here.

As you read John’s words, the Word of God, fear may rise in your heart. Sins and regrets of the past, of last night, fill your mind. Maybe you recently failed. Maybe it’s that past sin-filled life you fear is not forgiven. Anxiety builds as your head spins fighting and rationalizing where you stand before a holy God.

“Am I a liar claiming to be on God’s side while walking in darkness?”

“Am I accusing God of being a liar and deceiving myself about the nature of my sin?”

“Is the truth not in me?”

God is light and no darkness is in Him. Therefore to walk in darkness is evidence of a life that has no fellowship with God. God states that all are sinners in comparison to His glory. Therefore, claiming to be sinless contradicts God’s Word. God is the standard of truth. Therefore, only those who have truth are those who are in the light.

Do these words cut to your heart? 

Take courage, friend, for there is only one hope for us, and His power is not dependent on our righteousness.

Flee Self-made Salvation and Flee Despair

In the moment of fear, the Tempter will subtly lead you away from the true Savior to a false one—yourself. 

“I just have to be better.” 

“I can fix this and really have something good to bring to God.” 

“God will love me once my act is back together, but first I need to fix this sin.” 

Despite your ‘good’ intentions, any actions that leave you responsible for fixing the problem of your sin is the creation of a self-made savior. You have become your own savior and now are assuming control of fixing the problem of your failings.

Or, you may respond in despair

“I am too far gone; my sin is everywhere in me.”

The words of John are to you the final nails in your coffin. You feel beyond saving, as you reflect on the darkness you are living in. Your response is to turn deeper away from hope and light, as you see hope and light as unattainable for you anymore.

STOP! 

Would you believe that both responses (self-made savior and despair) are rooted in the same problem? Both have a skewed view of Christ. 

The self-made savior turns to himself to work harder and fix the problem alone. He does not believe Christ is the solution to his sin. He has minimized who Christ is. 

In the same way, the despairing person who fears she is lost has decided in her mind that Christ is not sufficient to save her in the depths of her sin. 

In both situations, Christ has been set limits, and those limits are straight from Hell to keep sinners from seeing Jesus as the true Savior.

Self-made bootstrap pulling will only encourage a cycle certain to end in sorrow. No peace will be found if your first response is, “What must I do…” (Mark 10:17). True peace finds its fulfillment in Christ, so any response without Christ at the center will end in failure.

In the same way, the despairing one who has given up will only find hope and peace in the arms of the Christ who says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).

Surrender yourself to Christ you despairing! Surrender to Jesus you self-made savior!

To Christ!

“If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” – 1 John 1:10

The self-made savior sees that he is already a sinner from John’s words. As he takes steps to fix the problem with his own strength, he effectively makes God a liar. All have sinned including the self-righteous. 

The despairing sinner sees that she is by nature born into sin. The problem of her sin is not new to the world. Thinking that sin is only committed by the low life’s such as her makes God a liar, for all are in a state of fallen sin and desperate for saving.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:7

Walking in the light is not defined as self-empowered perfection. We know this to be true because for those who walk in the light, “…the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.” Jesus cleanses those who walk in the light. Those in the light are not perfect due to personal righteousness. Those who are in the light see something in Jesus that is all-satisfying, and they are compelled to pursue Him.

The self-made and the despairing must see from this truth that Jesus is the one who does the cleansing, so we should turn to Him. The self-made cannot walk in the light apart from Christ. The despairing will have no hope apart from Christ.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins…” – 1 John 1:9

If 1 John 1:10 is true, then 1 John 1:9 is exceedingly hopeful for the self-made savior. Sin is already a problem and to believe otherwise makes God a liar. Praise God that those who turn to Jesus, away from their self-made work, will find Him faithful and just as He forgives them.

And, the despairing heart finds the sweet nectar of God’s Words to the lost. The forgiveness in the arms of Jesus is not founded in our righteousness. God is the one who is faithful, and we must look to Jesus. God is the one who is just, and we must look to Jesus.

If we turn to God as our hope, fleeing despair and self-made righteousness, He will always be faithful and just to forgive.  

Only Christ

Christ more than anything,
In your fear, doubt and failings
Christ! Only Christ.
God is faithful. God is just.
That is why we call it trust.

Hearing, Seeing and Rejoicing in Christ

Hearing, Seeing and Rejoicing in Christ

What I Learned Last Sunday

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us…” – 1 John 1:1-2

Jesus, the word of life, was made manifest and is manifest today. From the beginning, Jesus was and Jesus is today reigning. John heard and saw and touched the word of life. He provides a powerful testimony of Jesus for us.

As Pastor Mike shared Sunday, we too are witnesses, like John, to the wonder of the Word made flesh. Christians are Christians because they have heard, seen, and found joy in Jesus.

1. Jesus, Whom We have Heard

Open the Word of God and you will read the words and deeds of Jesus. His claims are over the top demanding a decision. We are witnesses to the written words of Jesus and the claims about Him. All witnesses must believe or reject Jesus.

[Jesus said,] “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” – John 8:58

[Jesus said,] “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

[Jesus said,] “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

[Jesus said,] “…follow me.” – Luke 9:23

[Jesus said,] “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,” – John 11:25

[Jesus said,] “…whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” – John 6:35

[Jesus said,] “What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.” – Matthew 10:27

[Jesus said,] “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”
Matthew 28:19

Beyond the Gospels, we have the bold statements of people who have been personally changed by Jesus.

[Paul & Silas said,] “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” – Acts 16:31

[Paul said,] “…but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:23–24

[Peter said,] “[God] has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,” – 1 Peter 1:3–4

These examples are on display for our benefit. The Word of God stands as a revelation to us of Jesus. We hear Jesus in the Word. Yet, God provides more than the written Word as a revelation of the work of Jesus.

2. Jesus, Whom We have Seen

Open your eyes and see the work of God through His Church. The world will see Jesus’ disciples as they love one another (John 13:35). The aroma of Christ is in the Saints (2 Corinthians 2:15). Do not take the words lightly, “Jesus has changed my life.” That statement cannot be true without the work of God in a life who has seen Jesus through Jesus’ work in their heart. What makes a person love and forgive an enemy? How can someone find joy through cancer, sorrowful yet always rejoicing? It is Christ in us who shines in the trials of life.

We are witnesses to Jesus—dead, blind sinners made alive. Of course no naivety would fool us to believe that the Church is flawless. We are a multitude engaged in war against sin in pursuit of Christ. God’s Church is still His means of making known God’s wisdom to the universe (Ephesians 3:10). From the personal experience of each Christian to the first-hand encounters of friends and family who have surrendered to Christ, Jesus is seen in the world today through His bride the Church.

3. Jesus, Who Gives Complete Joy

No earthly possession, relationship, or experience will leave someone completely satisfied. It will never happen we can say with confidence. Cheesecake offers temporary joy that can be abused in excess. Hunting may give someone joy but has elements to it that are certainly not joyful. Even the greatest joys find their end. Marriages are temporary with joy coming to an end at death. By experience we know this to be true.

However, no one who is saved by God to a life in pursuit of Christ will ever regret that decision or find it to be joyless. The gospel is an offering of complete joy. You are a sinner. Christ is a Savior. Does the awareness of your sin bring you to your knees? Does the aroma of the Gospel fill your heart with hope and joy? Does the desire to live for Christ, fill your heart? The joy that Christians find in Christ will only grow as they seek and continue to find Him satisfying (Matthew 7:7), and death will be the no end but a beginning to greater joy than one can imagine.

Rejoice today if you have heard and seen and found joy in Jesus.

The Christian’s Response to God’s Glory

The Christian’s Response to God’s Glory

What I Learned Last Sunday

“And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” – Luke 2:9-10

Pastor Mike shared Sunday that the glory of God is the compelling and beautiful display of God in all his attributes. What is a proper response to seeing God’s glory? How has the coming of Christ impacted our seeing of God’s glory?

Fear or Joy at the Sight of God’s Glory
First, there is a seeing of God’s glory that leads to fear and terror. Isaiah, when caught up into God’s throne room, proclaims he is lost being found a sinner in the presence of God.

“[Isaiah said] I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”” – Isaiah 6:1-5

When Isaiah sees God, he is terrified, because when he sees God’s holiness set in contrast to Isaiah’s unholiness, Isaiah knows that he is not worthy to be in the same room with this holy God. Fear is a proper response for Isaiah to have. God is a like a consuming fire and is right to burn up Isaiah’s sinful presence. Isaiah is dependent on the kindness of God to stand before God and not die (see Isaiah 6:6-7).

Knowing the holiness of our God from Isaiah’s experience, how do the angels in Luke 2 have the right to say to the shepherds, who are in the presence of God’s glory, “Do not fear.” (Luke 2:10)? What has changed between Isaiah seeing God’s glory and the shepherds in the presence of God’s glory?

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:11

It is right to be afraid, as Isaiah and the shepherds were, when confronted with the glory of the Lord. God’s glory always exposes our unworthiness. But, the God of the universe is not a terror to the one who has a Savior, sent by that very God and God in the flesh, who is saving the unworthy and lost. What good news of great joy! The saved sinner today can hear the same words of the angels and rejoice instead of fear, for they also have clung to that Savior who is Christ the Lord.

A Greater Display of Glory
In those words of the Angels to the shepherds, the glory of God was revealed to be even more magnificent than seen before. Remember, if God’s glory is the compelling and beautiful display of God in all his attributes, then the Angels were revealing the most hopeful bit of news about God the world needed to hear.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:11

Unto me (sinful, unworthy before my Creator) is born a Savior (worthy intermediary who will make me right before the God I fear).
The Savior is the greater display of the glory of God. He is three-times holy. He is righteous. He is perfect in all His ways. AND, He has sent His Son to save sinners who are not worthy of saving.
God glory, seen by humanity, explodes in the coming of the Savior.
Let us worship Him this Christmas.

A Dark Darkness & the Brighter Light of Christ

A Dark Darkness & the Brighter Light of Christ

What I Learned Last Sunday

“And you, child [John the Baptist], will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” – Luke 1:76-79

Burt Newman pointed out last Sunday the powerful salvation that Christ brought into the world as prophesied by Zechariah in Luke 1:67-79. What makes the salvation great? How dark is the darkness? How bright is the the light?

A Darkness That is Darker

From the Old Testament to Jesus’ day, there was a shadow greater than the physical hardship Israel endured. Yes, Israel had been oppressed by foreign powers for nearly 800 years, but the oppression they were under was merely the fruit of a deeper issue in the hearts of God’s people (see 2 Kings 17:6-23).

“In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria…And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced.” – 2 Kings 17:6-8

The deeper issue than the darkness of foreign oppression was darkness in the heart man that lived in opposition to God. Israel, as God’s own people, was the greatest test-case of man’s inability to obey and follow God despite God’s relentless pursuit of His people.

“Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.” But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God.” – 2 Kings 17:13-14

How dark is the darkness inside man? Dark enough to result in 800 years of punishment. So dark that the only payment adequate to remove the darkness is the cost of ones own life (see Romans 6:23). The price then becomes unbearable, for you will lose everything if you truly pay to God what you owe for your rebellion against Him. Yes, we are all like Israel, serving our little gods of money and pleasure and self, opposed to our Creator. We are immersed in the darkness, for all are sinners (see Romans 3:23).

A Light That Shines Brighter

“The salvation that would come is not what we expect. It’s much better than we expect. And it’s much more invasive and much more powerful than we expect.” – Burt Newman

The very darkness of sin that caused nearly a millennium of pain and hardship is obliterated in the power salvation light of Christ.

“[Jesus will] …give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”” – Luke 1:79

“In [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:4-5

The salvation of God is because of His tender mercy on us (Luke 1:78). The salvation that Christ brings makes final peace between God and the sinner who looks to Christ as Savior—the Christ who steps in on behalf of the sinner and takes on their payment of death (Luke 1:79).

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” – Romans 5:6

There is great darkness, but the light of the good news of Christ shines brighter. Run to the light!