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Sunday, January 27, 2013

[Matt's Messages] "Love Your Brother"

“Love Your Brother”
Essential Christianity: 1 John
January 27, 2013
1 John 3:11-18

The sermon title today is on the back of your bulletin. It is “Love Your Brother” which is the whole point of today’s message.

So Dads and Moms, today at the Sunday Dinner Table, you should ask your kids what was the point of today’s message?  And kids, you should be able to answer, “Love Your Brother.”

And, hopefully, you will be able to give 3 good reasons to love your brother based upon 1 John 3:11-18.

Three good reasons to love your brother.

Now, when I say brother, I mean, your fellow Christian. It isn’t talking only about our siblings. It isn’t only addressing the men or the boys.  It is talking about our Christian brothers and sisters.

Love Your Brother and Sister in Christ.

That doesn’t mean that we aren’t supposed to love our siblings, too, but this is specifically talking about spiritual siblings.

Love Your Spiritual Siblings.

That sounds really good, but it can be really hard, can’t it?

Because not all Christian brothers and sisters are very lovable.

I know that I am not always lovable.

I know that you are not always lovable.

Our spiritual siblings are not always easy to love.

But John says that we must do it.  Love Your Brother.

We’re picking right where we left off last week. John has this habit of introducing new ideas at the tail end of old ideas.

The last two weeks, we were talking about being the Children of God. Amazingly, that is what we are!  The Children of God.

Never stop marveling that that is what we are–the Children of God.

And in verse 10 John how we know that we are the children of God. V.10

“This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.”

Last week, we talked about doing what is right. The Children of God purify themselves.

This week, we picked up on that last phrase. “Anyone is not a child of God...who does not love his brother.”

The Children of God Love Their Spiritual Siblings.

Love Your Brother.

Easy or hard, love your brother.

One of the hardest parts of writing a sermon on a passage like today’s is that the point is so clear just in reading the passage.

All I have to do is read the passage, and you get the point.

Kids, what was the point of today’s sermon?  “Love Your Brother.”

The Children of God Love Their Spiritual Siblings.

So, what else do I say about it?

Well, John says a lot here.  And I think he gives us at least three good reasons to love our brothers and sister in Christ.

They aren’t the only reasons out there, but they are good ones.  Ones we need to hear.

And, if we take them to heart, it will help us to love those we need to love whether that’s easy or not.

So, let’s go through them. Here’s number one.

Love Your Brother:

#1. BECAUSE LOVE IS ESSENTIAL TO CHRISTIANITY.

V.11 again.

“This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”

Anything ring a familiar bell from that verse?

John loves to use that phrase, “from the beginning.”

“From the beginning.”

It was in his very first sentence in this letter.  “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”

And what we said was that whenever John uses that phrase, he’s saying this is the fundamental stuff of Christianity.

Our whole series is called “Essential Christianity.”

The essence of what we need to be and to believe to be a real Christian.

And John says that this was part of the gospel message you heard right from the gitgo.

We should love one another.

Love is essential to Christianity.

In fact, we know who are the children of God and who are the children of the devil based upon whether or not they love their brothers and sisters in Christ.

That’s how essential love is to Christianity.

This is basic stuff.

It’s not a new message. It’s not a strange new teaching that gets added on to the gospel.

It is part of the gospel.  Christians (who have been loved by God through Christ) love each other.  We should love one another.

Love Your Brother.  It’s essential.

And I think that Christians need reminded of this.  We all agree with it (who would  disagree with “love one another?”), but do we practice it?

And do we excuse ourselves from it?

“I don’t have to love that guy.”

Yeah, I’m a Christian, and he’s a Christian, but it’s not that big a deal if I...fill in the blank...am rude to him, or unkind, or impatient, or keep a record of his wrongs, or whatever.

No, this is essential. This is bedrock foundational.

“This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”

Love Your Brother!

Why?

#2. BECAUSE YOUR LOVE OR YOUR HATE WILL REVEAL YOUR HEART.  V.12

“Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous.”

Remember that story from the book of Genesis?

First two brothers.

First sibling rivalry.

First murderer.

Murder is the ultimate in hate, isn’t it?

The Lord Jesus taught us that murder starts in the heart.

And that’s what John is saying.

“Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous.”

Cain’s heart was bad. It was full of sin and full of unbelief.

And Abel’s heart was good. It was full of faith and trust and his offering was righteous.

And that steamed Cain. He was jealous Abel and his favor with the Lord.

And he allowed that to eat him up so that he killed his brother.

Nobody becomes a murderer out of neutrality.

They have hate in their heart and it comes out in murder.  V.13

“Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.”

Now, that verse seems to come out of nowhere, but I think he’s tying it back to Cain and Abel. Abel was probably surprised that his brother lured him out into the field and struck him down.

But that’s what we can expect from the world.

We can expect hate.

If we get anything else, it’s the grace of God.

Let me just say this. I believe that we are heading into a season in American society when Christianity will be increasingly hated.

I don’t think that church is ready for that. The evangelical church has had a extremely long run of having a favored position in our society, and we’ve grown used to people liking us.  Even unbelievers have liked us.

But that has not always been the case and will not always be the case.

In fact, it’s an anomaly.  Jesus said to expect people to hate us.

He said, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

And His disciple John says, “Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.”

Church, we need to get ready for that.

And what we need to get ready to do about is not to whine and complain and demand our rights.

It is to love our enemies and to love our spiritual siblings.

If it advances the gospel, we can certainly use our rights. The Apostle did as we saw last year in the Book of Acts.

But Christians need to prepare ourselves to be hated.  And not hate back.

And all the while love our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Why?

Because, like Cain, our love or our hate will reveal our hearts. V.14

“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.”

Do you want to know if you have passed from death to life?

One way is to ask if you believe in Jesus Christ.

Jesus said “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

Believe in Jesus and you have crossed over from death to life.

Do you want to know if you have passed from death to life?

Here’s another way to tell.

Do you love your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Because if you don’t, you haven’t.

Don’t tell me that you believe in Jesus but you don’t love Jesus’ people.

Don’t tell me that you belong to Jesus but you can’t stand other Christians.

Don’t tell me that you have faith when you don’t have love.

“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.”

Now, again, don’t take the wrong lesson home from this.

It doesn’t mean that if you have murdered someone, you can’t be forgiven and can’t go to heaven.

The apostle Paul thought of himself as former murderer, but he was forgiven and set free and is with the Lord today.

And it’s not saying that if you hated someone recently then it’s the exact same thing as if you killed him.

It’s close! Because murder starts in the heart. The same murderous seed is in you if you hate your brother.

But it is actually worse if you actually kill him!

The point is that Real Christians Really Love Other Christians.

They don’t hate them!

And how we treat other Christians REVEALS what’s truly in our hearts.

If Jesus has truly saved us, then we will have love in our hearts for our brothers and sisters.

If we are fakes, then we will not.

Which are you?
Do you love other Christians or do you hate them?

Yes, I know that it’s not always as black and white as that in the nitty gritty of everyday life, but those are the basic two choices: love and hate.

Life and death.

And what we choose to do reveals our hearts.

Love Your Brother!

Because (Number Three).

#3. BECAUSE YOUR SAVIOR LAID DOWN HIS LIFE FOR YOU.

How opposite is this?

Cain murdered his brother.

But Jesus allowed himself to be murdered for his enemies.  V.16

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”

Let there be no mistake.

We know what true love is.

Jesus Christ laid down his life for us when He went to the Cross.

That’s love!

The greatest love.

Love for your enemy, because that’s what we were.

And if Jesus can do that for us, then we OUGHT to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Now, I don’t think that most of time that means that we literally need to be crucified like Jesus was for our spiritual siblings.

But it does mean to be sacrificial, doesn’t it?

A love that doesn’t cost us anything is much of a love.

Jesus’ love cost Him everything.

Love your brother sacrificially.  V.17

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”

The ESV says, “if he closes his heart” to him how can have the love of god in him?

If you have a brother or a sister in Christ that has a genuine need and it doesn’t do anything inside of you when you see it, then that forces the question do you have the love of God in you?

Now, again, just by feeling something for someone in need doesn’t make you a Christian.

Faith in Christ makes you a Christian.

But that faith in Christ will change your heart so that you care.

So that you REALLY care.

And we know if we really care when we DO something about it.

Your Savior Laid Down His Life For You.

So, you should love your brother.  In actions and in the truth.  V.18

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

Here’s where the rubber meets the road.

Not, do you talk the talk, but do you walk the walk?

Our love cannot be just theoretical. It must be actual.

It must be in actions and in truth. Meaning, real.

The real thing.

Now, the application of this message is going to look differently for different people.

We all have different spiritual siblings crossing our paths.

But the principle is the same no matter who we are.

Love Your Brother
Love Your Brother
Love Your Brother

Because Love Is Essential to Christianity.

It’s the message we heard from the beginning. Basic Christianity.

Love Your Spiritual Siblings.

Because Your Love or Your Hate Will Reveal Your Heart.

Are you like Cain or like Christ?

That’s the question!

Are you like Cain or like Christ?

If you choose hate, you’ll REVEAL yourself to be like the world, like Cain and full of death.

If you choose love, you’ll REVEAL yourself to be like Christ.

Love Your Brother

Because Your Savior Laid Down His Life For You

You Ought to Lay Down Your Life for Your Brother.

Love Your Brother in actions (not just words) and in truth.

Love Your Brother.

***

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