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Sunday, December 02, 2012

[Matt's Messages] "I Write to You Because..."


“I Write To You Because...”
Essential Christianity: 1 John
December 2, 2012
1 John 2:12-14

I hope that all of you who went out hunting last week had a good experience and those who are heading out again tomorrow for a buck or a doe also have a safe and fun experience.

As you know, I am new to hunting, didn’t grow up with it.  Never fired a gun until I’d been a pastor here for more than 5 years. So, I’m still learning the ropes.

And hunting is difficult for me because it involves at least 2 things that I’m not good at: sitting still and being quiet.

I did have a good day on Monday sitting out in the woods waiting for a buck to come along. I sat still and was quiet and I read 2 books, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

I don’t know if that’s allowed, or if that’s not really hunting.

My guess is that a number of bucks passed by silently while I read my books, my gun in my lap!  I hope not.

Have you found 1 John chapter 2?

Our series is called Essential Christianity because 1 John is all about the essence of what it means to be a Christian, the essentials of what you have to be and to believe to truly be a Christ-Follower.

And so far, we’ve seen that there are things you have to believe.

You have to believe that Jesus is the Word of Life.
You have to believe that God is light and there is no darkness in Him.
You have to believe that Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

And we’ve seen that there are things you must be.

You’ve got to walk like Jesus did.
And you’ve got to love your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Now in chapter 2, verse 12, John does something that surprises us:

He tells us why he is writing his letter.

It’s surprising because he already did that in the first paragraph.

Now, he’s going to do it again.

And he’s going to directly address the readers.  He never really did that so far.

If you remember, he just jumped into the letter.  No, “Hi there! How’s it going?”  Just Wham! There he goes. Off and running.

Well, now, he does it again, he tell us why he is writing.

And you’ll notice, in most of our Bibles, these 3 verses are arranged a little differently because he’s very poetic (for lack of a better term) here. Very repetitive, and kind of creative and almost musical here. So, it’s basically poetry.

And John keeps saying this phrase, “I write to you (kind of person) because.”

“I write to you because...”
“I write to you because...”
“I write to you because...”

Six times he says that!

There is a little variation in the Greek between the first three and the second three of those, but they amount to pretty much the same thing.

“I write to you because...”
“I write to you because...”
“I write to you because...”
“I write to you because...”
“I write to you because...”
“I write to you because...”

Do you think that John is trying to get something across?

He’s waited until chapter 2 to do it.

“I write to you because...”

I told my wife this week that my goal for this sermon is that this message is the most encouraging sermon you have heard all year long.

That’s my goal.

That this message will be the most encouraging message you have heard from me all year long.

Why?

Because I think that these three verses are all about encouragement.  They are three verses of pure, undiluted, high octane encouragement for Christians.

That’s what John was trying to do!

He was writing these words because he wanted to encourage the socks off of his Christian readers.

They probably needed it.

This church that he was writing to had probably gone through a nasty split recently where false teachers that were teaching a proto-Gnosticism (secret spiritual knowledge was all that mattered) had recently left the church and left them hurting.

And John was writing some words that they needed to hear but were  hard to hear.

John has said some pretty strong stuff.

My guess is that some of you with tender consciences have been a little worried by some of the things that John has said so far.

“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”

“We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.”

“Anyone who claims to be inteh light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.”

Any of those start to make you a little uncomfortable?  For those of you with more tender consciences, they have probably made you a lot uncomfortable.

They are true.
We need to hear those sentences.

Hopefully, I’ve explained them over the last few weeks so that they are encouragements to you and you don’t get buried under them.

But I think that’s why John says what he says in verses 12, 13, and 14.

He doesn’t write this stuff to bury them but to bless them.

“I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”

Do you hear the encouragement in those verses?

I long for us all to hear the encouragement in those verses.

Now, it’s obvious that John has a structure going here, a style.

He addresses three groups of people. And he does it 2 times.

Dear children, fathers, young men.
Dear children, fathers, young men.

And lot of ink has been spilt trying to figure out exactly who that refers to.

Some think that it’s talk about 3 stages that all Christians go through.

Baby Christians, Young Christians, Old Christians.

And that’s highly possible.

Some think that it’s literally talking to three different age group people, children, fathers, and young men.

And that’s highly possible, too.

Here’s my take, and it’s just one of the possibilities.

I think that the dear children is all of us. John has already called all of his readers and will call all of his readers dear children again and again in this book.

So, I think that refers to all of us.

And I think the Fathers are those Christians who are spiritually mature, who have been Christians for a while and done some growing. And I think that the young men are those brothers in Christ (and applies to sisters, too) who haven’t been Christians that long yet but are definitely growing Christians.

That’s my take on it.

But any way you take those three, they are all supposed to be highly, highly encouraging.

John is writing to these believers because he believes in them.

He believes they are the real deal.

He believes that they are walking in the light.
They are children of the light.
They are not stumbling in the darkness.

They are real Christians.

And being real Christians, they should be encouraged.

Because the greatest things in all of the world have happened to them, and they are participating in the greatest things in all the world!

John is saying, “This is who you are!”

You are this!

And “I write to you because” of that!

You are these things.

Three things.

Three incredibly encouraging things this morning.

#1. YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN.

I write to you because your sins are forgiven. V.12

“I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.”

And if that doesn’t thrill us to the bone then we don’t understand it.

Your sins are forgiven.

You have been forgiven of your sins.

And you didn’t do it.

You didn’t pay for your sins.
You didn’t do penance for your sins.
You didn’t right the scales of justice for your trespasses against God.

V.12 says that your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.

Jesus’ name.

Jesus died for your sins, and they have been forgiven.

We’ve heard that so many times.

But it’s amazing!

Your sins are have been forgiven.

Just think about your sins for a minute.  Think about all of the things you have done that you shouldn’t have done and all of the things that you should have done that you have not done.

I talked to the FCA Bible Club right before Thanksgiving on the topic, “What Is Sin?”

And I said that the Bible teaches, in summary, that sin is thinking, wanting, or doing what displeases God.

What have you thought, wanted or done that displeases God?

Feel that weight of that for just a second.

Because, as Alex taught us two weeks ago, the wages of sin is death.

But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Your Sins are Forgiven.

Isn’t that encouraging?!

We’ll come back to that again as we approach the table.

Because believe it or not, it gets better.

Number 2. I write to you because...

#2. YOU KNOW GOD.

John says something like that to the fathers in verse 13, the children in verse 13, and the fathers again in verse 14–word for word for what he said in verse 13.

Let’s read it.

“I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. [That’s John language for God, isn’t it?  “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”  God the Father and God the Son.”

I write to you, fathers, because you have known who is from the beginning.”  And he names Him at the end of verse 13.] 

I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father.

[And again in verse 14. Word for word.]

I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.”

You know God.

Now, we could go into the whys the wherefores of why John says it this way.

Why he says “who is from the beginning” in verse 13 and in verse 14.
Why he says “the Father” in verse 14.

Why he says one to Fathers and one to dear children.

There are a lot of theories about that, some better than others, I’m sure.

But we can’t miss, in the trees of details, this forest: You know God.

John says, “I’m writing this letter to you” not because you need to know God (which you do) but because you do know God!

Think about it!

You know God!

He is from the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen!

And that God is your FATHER!

And you know Him.

You have a relationship with Him.

You know God.

You are connected to Him. 
You belong to Him.

We talk around her about a love relationship with Jesus Christ.

And we don’t mean anything romantic by that.

We mean that God loves us and we love Him back.

We know God!

And I just want to say that to you today.

You know God.

That’s why I preach to you.

Some of you may not know God, it’s true.

I assume that in a room this big and full of people some of you don’t have your sins forgiven yet and you don’t know God yet.

And you might be fooling yourself.

So, week in and week out I try to tell you about Jesus and invite you to turn and put your trust in Him.

But so many of you have done that, and you just need encouraged.

You know God.

You do.

You know Him.

He has forgiven your sins (and more than that!) has invited you into fellowship with Him.

That’s you.  You know God.

You know, sometimes, people treat me like I know God in a way that other people don’t.

It’s funny. They say things like, “This is funny weather you’ve brought us, Pastor Matt.”  As if I have a more direct line to God than any other Christian.

“Pastor, you ought to pray for this.”

As if God listen to pastors more than he listens to Christian businessmen or Christian homemakers or Christian children?

That’s ridiculous.

I am not a mediator between you and God.
I’m just a people shepherd.

You know God.

Talk to Him yourself. He’s listening to you.

You know whim who is from the beginning, and He wants you to call Him, “Father.”

It’s amazing, but it’s true.  You know God.

And more than that. You have overcome the evil one.

Number three. I write to you because...

#3. YOU HAVE OVERCOME THE EVIL ONE.

Lanse Free Church, you have overcome the evil one.

Notice that it’s the “young men” John is writing to who have done it.

Not the Fathers, but the young men.  I’m not sure all of what that means, but it definitely means that it’s not just something that the most mature people have done.

V.13. In the middle.

“I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.”

You’ve beat him.

You’ve beat Satan.

“I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.”

The Greek word for overcome is (ready for this?) “Nikao.”

Same root as the word Nike, as in the shoes.

You have conquered the evil one.

Now, of course, that doesn’t mean that we dance on Satan’s grave every day.

And that Satan runs in fear of us because we are spiritual Rocky Balboa’s.

It doesn’t mean that Satan isn’t still alive and a threat to us.  He hates us and is prowling around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.

That’s still true.

But it’s also true that we’ve beaten him!

Because we have come to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

And Jesus beat the devil on the Cross.

And John going to say a lot more about that as his letter goes on.

He’s going to say, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work.”  That’s going to be the advent reading in two weeks.

And he’s going to say, “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

That’s how we have overcome the evil one.

We have been joined to Jesus who is greater than he who is the world.

John amplifies it when he repeats himself in verse 14.

“I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”

That’s how overcome the evil one.

That’s how you are strong against the devil.

“The word of God lives in you.”
“The word of God lives in you.”
“The word of God lives in you.”

Lanse Free Church, “The word of God lives in you.”

You are strong.

You have overcome the evil one.

If you haven’t, it’s not worth writing you this letter, John says.

But you have.  You have overcome the evil one.

That’s you!

Sometimes I worry that my sermons can beat people up.

I try to preach what I see in the Bible without putting my own spin on it.

And often the Bible calls us to change how we are living.

So, I have to say that. We are not always living as we should be.

But at the bottom of every message I deliver is this for every believer:

This is who you are.

You are forgiven.
You know God.
You have overcome the evil one.

That’s you!

And if that’s you, then you can change.

You can become who God wants you to be.

Even if it doesn’t seem like it and the struggle is hard and long.

You can. Because that’s you.

You are forgiven.
You know God.
You have overcome the evil one.

That’s not positive-thinking mumbo jumbo.  That’s the word of God!

“You are strong, and the word of God lives in you.”

That’s who you are:
You are forgiven.
You know God.
You have overcome the evil one.

Praise God!

***

Messages about Essential Christianity

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