Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In the Midst of VBS

Our family and church right now is in the midst of Vacation Bible School. It's been a great week so far! You can view the pictures from the first three nights here, here and here, and make sure to check back to the NWCC blog for pictures from the last three nights.

Monday, June 21, 2010

To Build Up Fathers

Preached at Northwest Christian Church

David P. Kautt

Sunday Morning, June 20, 2010

Ephesians 6:4 – “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”

I think I can speak for most of the fathers and sons here this morning in saying that, so far, our Father’s Day weekend has been a good one. What, with the kind greetings many of us have received this weekend, the enjoyable meals prepared, and maybe even the cards and phone calls some of us have received or will receive today – all in all, for most of us, this Father’s Day will go down as a good one in our minds and memories… Thank you to all of you for allowing God to use you to make it so.

Father’s Day – and, for me, a Father’s Day sermon, a message to, for and about fathers – you may be realize it in quite the way I do, seeing that you are sitting out there, and I’m standing up here; but to preach a sermon on this day, related to the uniqueness of this day, can be quite an assignment. Let me show you what I mean.

Father’s Day, for me at least, it seems, the tendency is to go to one of two extremes in what I could say at this time. For example, if I wanted to so, I could make this ‘Brag on Daddy Day’ – I could, we all could, find ourselves doing like the three little boys did, when they were comparing notes about their daddies. The first one, whose daddy worked in a factory, said to the other two, “My Daddy, when he gets paid, he comes home with a wallet full of money…” “Ah! That’s nothing,” exclaimed the second little boy, whose daddy worked in one of those high-rise buildings in downtown Dallas – had his own office and everything, an executive-type – “Ah, that’s nothing,” he shouted, “why MY daddy gets paid, he has to use his BRIEF CASE to carry it all!” Finally, the third little boy couldn’t restrain himself, he HAD to chime in, too! So he said, “Ah, that’s nothing, fellows,” he piped up! “When MY daddy gets paid, it take 4 grown men to carry all his money!”

By the way, the last little boy’s name is ‘Jaden’ and he happens to be the preacher’s son!

Brag on Daddy Day’ – going to the extremes that those three little boys, especially my little Jaden went to, to boast in this fathers – that’s one direction I’m tempted to go in with the message today.

But, then there’s the other end of the spectrum. Instead of engaging in DADDY BRAGGING, I – we could get cranked up in some old fashioned ‘DADDY RAGGING’. We could spend from now, maybe on into next week BASHING fathers – and, in particular our fathers, or the fathers of our children, and, maybe seemingly for good reason. But, let me ask you to wrestle with a question I had to wrestle with: “What would be the purpose of it? What good would it accomplish to RAG on Daddy?”

Well, beloved, for some of you, this message may be a huge disappointment – although, I’d suggest you keep your ears open, yet. And, for others of you, this message, or, at least this introduction to the message, may elicit in you a big sigh of relief. But, again, I urge you to stay with me.

My plan, my goal, my purpose for this message, the Lord-willing, with His strength enabling me, is not to BOAST in fathers so much, nor to BASH fathers. But, rather, to do something that I think is or will be more balanced, more fitting and proper, and, especially, more Biblical – and that is, I’d like for the next 20-20-25 minutes or so, to be a time to BUILD up fathers, and a time to challenge fathers, every last father in this room, to build up their families.

First a little spade work, a little filling in of the background, before we get into the heart of God’s message to and for and about fathers, today.

First of all, I think it is absolutely essential to remind all of us that the word ‘father – or, perhaps the more intimate and affectionate term ‘Daddy’ – these words don’t merely refer to a male who can produce a child! No! My, how we need to get a hold of this concept – not only in our culture, but in the church, too! Beloved, the term ‘father’ in the Biblical sense, doesn’t merely mean a child-begetter! Rather, the word ‘father’ implies what? ‘Mother,’ right? And, not only does it imply ‘mother’, but it also implies or assumes another someone or group of someones – ‘children’. In other words, in the Biblical sense, from our Creator’s point of view, “father” is not simply a ‘biological’ term, but a relational term – a word that, as far as God’s grand design for His universe is concerned, is linked inextricably with the term “family”. This truth, I think is crucial – it is foundational!

But, let’s go a few steps further, shall we? “Father”, “Daddy” - “Abba” is the way that Bible word is pronounced – did you know that, from the Bible’s perspective, Daddy is the one God has shaped and set apart for some very interesting, challenging and important roles and duties. Here’s a key list for you – Daddy, from God’s point of view, he is the family Director, Commander, Instructor and Corrector. He is not only to beget the children, with the loving assistance of his wife, he also is to lead them, teach them, rebuke them, love them, care for them, and bless them! And, to the degree that he does these things, and his children respond, as Ephesians 6:1-3 exhorts them to respond to those things, honoring, obeying and loving Daddy – He, Daddy, will either rejoice over his children, or he will grieve over them.

Secondly, a question for all of us to consider, but, one that we fathers must especially evaluate. And the question is this: Ephesians 6:4, our theme text, says, “fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath…” Literally, “do not be, stop being that cause of anger and bitterness in the lives of your children…” Now, here’s the question: “how does a father go about provoking his children to wrath? What is it that he does or fails to do that can arouse these thoughts and feelings in his children?”

I’m not sure any of us can totally and completely answer that question, but I’d like to suggest to you that a provoking-to-wrath kind of father - besides being disobedient to this explicit command of Scripture – most likely he is arousing anger in his children, because he also is a harsh father, a hyper-critical father, an angry and bitter father, a distant inattentive, absent father, an unprotecting father, a selfish father, and/or a hypocritical father, a father who refuses to admit his wrongs, repent of them, and seek restoration with his children. To all of those kinds of actions and attitudes that are UN-like our Heavenly Father, the word of God says, “STOP!” Men, we must, “stop provoking our children to wrath!”

Now, to the heart of the message, the second half of Ephesians 6:4, and the opportunity I have to BUILD UP fathers, and to urge them to BUILD UP their families.

Ephesians 6:4 – As we have already observed, the Word of God says, “Stop – fathers you must stop provoking your children to wrath…” But, notice that’s not the end of the verse! Rather, the apostle Paul likes with this crucial prohibition, “STOP,” an equally crucial admonition. “Start… start and keep on going – start bringing up and continue to bring up your children in the training and admonition of the Lord…”

In the course of examining this text, and in particular, looking more closely at the idea of “bringing up” children, as Paul puts it here, I discovered some very interesting, and I believe potent insights that will indeed help, instruct and inspire every father here today. Let me show you what I mean…

The word translated, “Bring-up” is a word that literally means to “feed, nourish, support, and care for…” It’s a word that I found located in several interesting places, including Luke 12:24.

In this passage, Jesus is instructing His disciples, and urging them not to worry, but to trust in the gracious, faithful and generous provision of their Heavenly Father.

Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?” Luke 12:22-24

As I said a minute ago, in this context, Jesus is urging His disciples to trust in their Heavenly Father to feed them, to nourish them, to “bring them up”, so to speak. Now, here’s the crossover point. Fathers – all my fellow Dads out there, for just a moment transfer all that Jesus says or implies about our Heavenly Father and His relationship to His children, to yourself and to your relationship with your children.

This passage, Luke 12:22-34 – what does it have to say to the Daddys among us?

Number one, fathers, when we feed our children, when we nourish them, when we care for them and bring them up with a nurturing that, by the way, as verse 30 points out, that flows out of our knowledge of our children and of their needs – when we do for them what our Heavenly Father does for us, what happens? What results? What takes place in the live of our children?

Verses 22, 29 and 32 – Our nurturing them, it calms them! When they know we’re going to do our best to meet their needs, they won’t fret or worry, they’ll be at peace!

Secondly, fathers – when we commit to “bringing up our children in the training and admonition of the Lord,” when we diligently take part in this Heavenly Father-like care for our children, we open up the way for them to go higher to look ABOVE and BEYONG us, to the one we’re looking to, to meet our needs! Verses 27 and 28 – Jesus says it this way, talking about the unsurpassed beauty of the lilies of the field, and yet also, their relaxation, as it were, in the fact that their Creator and Sustainer is making and will make them that way – Jesus says, “If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He cloth you, O you of little faith?”

Do you see it, my brothers? When we are faithful in carrying our the responsibility of nurturing our children like God nurtures us, in the long run THEY will learn to trust God, like we trust Him!

Furthermore, when we set the example to our children, yes, by allowing God to use us to feed them, to fill their stomachs and clothe their bodies – but, more importantly, by showing them by our stewardship, by our sense of priorities that our lives are MORE than food, more than clothes and cars and houses and jobs and education and status and so – when they see US, like Jesus did before His disciples, partaking of a ‘food’ they know nothing about, when they figure out by our habits and our open-book lives that we DON’T live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of God’s mouth -- then what?

Then, God will use us to call them to go… farther, higher, deeper, as Jesus says here, to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” to “lay up treasures in heaven,” to “take up their cross and follow Him.”

But how will this come to pass? What is required and required of us, if we’re going to nourish and care for our children the way God, our Heavenly Father, is bringing up us?

One more passage of scripture – Hebrews 5:12-14.

As I mentioned at the outset of this sermon, one of the primary duties of fathers, in their caring for their children is the duty to teach them. Hebrews 5:12-14 – Look at this text to see to whom it is addressed. Verse 12 – it is addressed to teachers, or, at least, to those who ought to be teachers.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

What is required and required of us, fathers, if we are going to feed, to bring up our children in the training and admonition of the Lord?

My brothers, think about it this way: there are a lot of fathers in our world, who, like Esau are, “bread-only” men. Guys, who, un-like Jesus, think that man CAN live by bread along. Here’s a question for all of us “bread-only” men (and women, too), “How will we ever be able to feed and nourish our children with spiritual food, if we aren’t eating it ourselves?” “Bring them up, feed them, nourish them, in the training and admonition of the LORD,” the scripture says!

To feed them, to spiritually nourish our children, we must be eating from the Word of God, too! We must! But, that’s not all! Notice how this passage in Hebrews goes one step further! Verse 12 – “By this time, you ought to be teachers,” doing what fathers are supposed to do, “but instead, you need someone to teach you!” How so? Oh, they are eating, alright. Good and faithful fathers that we are, we are taking in spiritual nourishment alright… But is that enough? Is that sufficient to make us strong enough, healthy enough, wise enough to teach and feed our children? Verses 13 and 14 – Not if all you and I are eating is “milk”, “baby food,” so-to-speak! So, what’s the point?

Right here, fathers – yes, my beloved brothers, no matter what your age is, if you plan on nourishing and continuing to feed your children, yes, even up to when THEY have children and grandchildren, then you – I – we must continue to grow spiritually. We must move from milk, to Gerbers, to steak and mashed potatoes – so that God can use us to feed and nurture them!

One more time, Ephesians 6:4 – a passage intended not to bash fathers, or brag on fathers, but to build up fathers.

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

Let’s go for it, brothers!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Apostasy: the Fatal Choice

Preached at Northwest Christian Church

David P. Kautt

Sunday Morning, June 6, 2010.

1 John 2:18-27: “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 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 they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us – eternal life. These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.”

Our subject today is not one that anybody would consider a favorite topic. It is not one that will send goose bumps up and down your spine, or even bring a smile to your face. Nevertheless, it is a necessary subject, a topic we need to explore because of how timely it is, and how prevalent it is, and is becoming.

It is a subject, frankly, that has more to do with subtracting than adding to the Body of Christ. It is a topic that deals more with losses, than with gains. And, none of that, of course, is the kind of thing we like to talk about. None of that gives us a ‘CHARGE,’ so to speak.

Nevertheless, here we are with a passage of Scripture that does talk about it, and perhaps, if we look around and think about it, here we are with a situation that illustrates it, and even begs for it to be examined. I am talking about the subject of APOSTASY.

Apostasy… Now, that word may not be one that is in your day-to-day vocabulary, one that you use frequently, or maybe have even heard of before. So, let me take just a moment to define it and to briefly explain it, before we move on in our study of it. Apostasy, what is it? Simply put, it is the ABANDONMENT of one’s religion – or, we might say it this way, it is the departure, the walking away from one’s faith in Christ.

Now, listen. While you’re thinking about what I’ve just said, allow me to add this in – this word, ‘APOSTASY’ is rarely, if ever used, in our English Bibles. However, don’t let that confuse you, because though this word is rarely found in our Bibles, the concept behind it is prevalent throughout the Bible. For example, in John chapter 6, following His teaching on the Bread of Life, verses 66 and 67 indicate that some who had previously followed Jesus, went back, turned around and walked away from following Jesus any longer. In Matthew 24, Jesus, looking to the future, both immediate and long range, instructs the twelve to the effect that, in the future there will be many who will fall away from the faith. There will be many who, because of the afflictions and persecutions that go with following Christ, because of the deception of false prophets leading them astray, and, because of allurements of ever-increasing temptations, Jesus says, “The love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:9-13)

Apostasy, what is it? Well, in today’s study text it is, or entails, a denial of the deity of Jesus (1 John 2:22). And, in 2 Peter, it involves living such a life of open, unrepentant sin, that by one’s lifestyle, by one’s sinful behavior, he or she denies the faith (2 Peter 2:20). All of which, according to several New Testament passages (including this one here), is characteristic of the last days. (see 2 Thess. 2:3, 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:1,5; 2 Tim. 4:3ff)

Apostasy… As I said, this is not going to end up being one of your most favorite sermons. However, it may end up being one of the most necessary, and I pray, helpful sermons I have ever preached.

1 John 21:18ff – The first thing we note, the first thing we come to find out from this passage, as it deals with the subject of apostasy, is simply this: Apostasy is a fact.

1 John 2:18-19: “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 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 they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”

As much as we’d like to think and believe otherwise, apostasy is not a far-off, future prophecy, yet-to-be-fulfilled, but a present reality. The apostle John says it like this in verse 18, “As you have heard that the Antichrist [capital ‘A’] is coming, even now are there many antichrists [lower case ‘a’]. This is how we know it is the last hour…”

The fact of Apostasy - it is a hard cold, first-thing-in-the-morning, first look-in-the-mirror kind of thing – yes. Nevertheless, we must not overlook it or refuse to acknowledge it. To fail to acknowledge this fact, is to do so to our peril, and to the peril of many others, including those sitting next to you in this room.

The fact of Apostasy, John says it this way, in chapter 4:1ff.

1 John 4:1-6: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, where they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Apostasy, what is it? It is a departure from faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And, yes, though we may wish otherwise, it is a fact.

But then, secondly, please note why acknowledging that fact, the fact of apostasy, is so crucial for you and me. Let me put it this way, it is critical, essential for us to realize and recognize that apostasy is occurring – why? Because Apostates, those who turn their backs on Christ, are dangerous! Apostates are dangerous!

Now, you might be asking yourself, “Dangerous?! How can folks like that be dangerous?” To begin to answer that question, allow me, first of all, to point you to verse 26 of our text.

1 John 2:26 – “These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you.”

According to this verse, what is it that makes Apostates so dangerous, as far as the faithful followers of Christ are concerned? One thing, you see, don’t you? They are all about deceiving people, they are all about leading the faithful down the path of destruction that they are walking! But, how is it that they come to be deceivers to begin with? Good question. Take a look at the 4 steps that these false brothers and former sisters take, that leads them, and can end up, leading others into apostasy. Step number one, they depart from the truth. They depart from the truth – verses 21 and 22.

1 John 2:21-22: “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.”

Secondly, they decide to DENY God the Father, by denying Jesus the Son. Read it again in verses 22 and 23.

1 John 2:22-23: “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”

In taking just these two steps, Apostates show themselves to be dangerous. But, look closer at the text and you’ll notice something very startling.

In moving in the direction of apostasy, these false brothers and former sisters not only depart from the truth and deny God the Father and Jesus the Son, they also DEFECT to the world, and end up DESPISING the faithful. Take a look, apostasy, what is it? 1 John 2:19 – It is going out like Judas Iscariot, when he left the upper room to carry out his sinister plot against Jesus. Apostasy is a going out.

But, going out – where? 1 John 4:1,5 – It is going out into the world – not to preach the good news of Jesus Christ – no! But, a going out, like Judas did when he open his heart to the devil. Apostasy is a going out from a relationship with Jesus Christ, and with God’s people, in order to DEFECT to the world!

Secondly, note also that apostasy – this defection to the world – also entails a leaving behind of the promises that God makes to those who belong to Him through faith in Christ. And, what are those promises? In a nutshell, two words sum up all of those precious promises that are ‘yes,’ and ‘amen’ to the glory of God, in Jesus Christ. What are those two words?

1 John 2:25 – eternal life. Think of it this way: 1 John 2:15-17 – In defecting to the world, loving it’s things, and choosing that love over love for the Father and the Son – what is the apostate choosing? And, what is he leaving behind? 1 John 2:17 – He is choosing something that is passing way, the world and its lusts, and he is losing – LOSING – what abides forever! Why is apostasy so dangerous? Apostasy, DEPARTING from the truth, DENYING the Father and the Son, DEFECTING to the world in not only dangerous to the faithful – they may try to deceive us – but sadly, it also is very dangerous to the apostate. His going out, and his leaving behind where will it all ultimately lead him or her? 1 John 2:28 – I love this verse, don’t you? As someone why, by God’s grace, is seeking to walk with Jesus, not away from Him – look what’s in store for me, for you – and sadly, not for them:

1 John 2:28 – “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at his coming.”

As those who are abiding in Him, not choosing to become apostate, we look ahead to the day when Christ will appear - to standing before Him confidently and unashamedly. But to what can they look forward? What is in their future?

Apostasy is dangerous, have I made that clear yet? It is dangerous, and so, my brothers and sisters, one more thing along these lines, in defecting to the world and to the prince of this world – 1 John 3:1 – it shouldn’t surprise us that they don’t acknowledge us. 1 John 4:5-6 – it shouldn’t surprise us that they don’t listen to us. And, one more, 1 John 3:13, in defecting to the world, and to Satan, the prince of this world, it shouldn’t surprise us that they hate us! Jesus said they would! No surprise there, really! So, what then?

The fact of apostasy, and the dangerous nature of the apostates, leads us in one direction. It leads us in the direction of having to make a choice ourselves. What is that choice, at least, the one that the Spirit of God, and His spokesman, the apostle John, would have us make? It is the choice to abide, to abide in Christ, to abide in His truth, to continue in fellowship with His people, rather than to become apostate! Before we move on too quickly examine this choice, allow me to clarify something for all us, right here, right now - abiding in Christ, in His truth, and so on AND choosing to become apostate, there are NO OTHER CHOICES! Those are the only two options we have! So, what then? 1 John 2:24, 27-28 – we can either OBEY the command of God to abide and reap the benefits – “If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.” We can choose to obey these commands, and be blessed, or - we can choose apostasy, no promised blessings, no future benefits, nothing but painful, dreadful, eternal consequences!

Okay, so I decide to abide – help me! Can you show me how? This Book [the Bible], this letter, it’s full of ‘how-tos’. 1 John 1:7 – “Walk in the light, as He is in the light.” 1 John 2:15-17 – “Love not the world…” Pray, consistently – Ephesians 6, Philippians 4, and many other places. Train effectively – Hebrews 12, Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 9, etc. These things are keys to abiding, yes! But, don’t forget! Don’t every forget one most important thing: 1 John 2:20, “You have an anointing from the Holy One…” You have an anointing from the Holy One... Now, what does that mean? How does that impact you and me? Number one, you don’t need the deceptive lies of the false brothers. Test them, and you’ll see. If you find out that they are denying Christ and have defected to the world, you don’t need their teaching. In fact, 1 John 2:18-27 – in Christ, you have an anointing, the Holy Spirit’s anointing, and through Him, God teaches you the truth. And, one more thing – 1 John 4:4 – Pray consistently, train effectively, yes! But, most of all, remember, remember, remember,

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you in greater than he who is in the world.”

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Love Not the World

Preached at Northwest Christian Church

David P. Kautt

Sunday Morning, May 30, 2010

1 John 2:15-17: “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 lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

It all began as a friendly, Sunday afternoon conversation over the back fence. My neighbor and I were discussing what each one of us had been up to lately. He told me about his work. And I, of course, told him about my work as a minister with this church. We tossed our words and thoughts back and forth for a few more minutes, and then my neighbor – I will call him ‘Chris’ - made this interesting statement: he said, “Well, you know, I’m not really religious at all. I don’t pray, or go to church, or anything like that…”

I have a question for you, as we begin our look at this powerful and actually, rather painful passage from the letter of John. In light of what the Holy Spirit led the apostle John to write here, what would you say to my neighbor in response to his claim about religion? How would you reply to my friend, Chris?

Sixty years or more before John wrote these words, the beloved apostle – as he is called – heard Someone else say something very similar to what he wrote here. Listen in, if you would, to these ‘red letter words’ that John heard: “No one can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God AND mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)

By the way, fourteen hundred or so years before Jesus said what He said there in Matthew chapter six; the Lord God directed Moses to write something very similar in what we call the Ten Commandments and the Old Testament law. Check out Exodus 20:3: “You shall have no other gods before Me,” and Deuteronomy 6:5: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” Isn’t it interesting and amazing, the unity of theme and thought found in this Book? Writers separated by hundreds of years declare the same truths. Why? Because ultimately their Source for those truths is one and the same Source [the Lord]!

1 John 2:15-17. As I said a moment ago, this is a powerful, if not painful passage; a passage that really does speak to my friend Christ, and that speaks to us, too. But, what is its message? How are we to understand and apply it’s truth? Well, notice, first of all, how the text begins: it begins with a command, a negative command, or what we might call a prohibition. “Do not love the world or the things in the world…”

Literally, in the language of the apostle John, the apostle’s message to Christian, first of all, is “STOP loving the world. No more of this whole-hearted investment of yourself in the things of this world…”

Now, John… why would you make such a statement? What’s gotten into you that you would make a demand on us like that?”

Well, before we hear what the Spirit of God says to us through John’s words, allow me to remind you of what we have already observed. Number one, Jesus makes the same demand: you’ve got to choose! Serve God, or serve mammon – this world and it’s things, but you can’t serve both! Secondly, through Moses God said the same thing! “You shall have,” that’s command language, by the way. “You shall have no other gods before me… in addition to Me, alongside Me!” In fact, the implication from that command is what? “You shall have ME! I am your God, your Master, your Possessor, your King!”

So, the first thing we need to realize about the apostle John’s words here – his authoritarian-sounding demand here – is that originally this is not his requirement, his command or demand - but the command and requirement of God and of Christ. We claim to belong to them, to be their people. Here is what they expect of us! Right here in the Bible!

But, listen. Notice then how John builds on that words Jesus, words of the Lord God through Moses foundation, with the following reasons or rationales for this command: “Do not love the world, or the things that are in the world…” Why?

Reason number one: because those in whom love of this world is present, the love of the Father is absent! “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

I was meditating on the significance of that statement as I was putting the finishing touches on this sermon, when it hit me: those in whom the love of the world is present, the love of the Father is absent! Notice the apostle John does not say, “The love of God is not in them,” or even, “The love of the Creator is not in them…” Those two statements make the One who knows us best, and loves us most seem more distant, more detached, more out of touch! But, listen, that’s not what the Holy Spirit declares to us through the Apostle’s pen, is it? I mean, if my Maker is detached and disconnected from me, why shouldn’t I be the same from Him? You understand the thinking there, don’t you? But, listen! That’s not what this Book says! Rather, it says, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If any one loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” You know whom I thought of when that truth hit home? The prodigal son, Luke 15:25-32. Oh, but listen, not the son, the one we normally refer to as the prodigal, who left home and his father to waste his inheritance on wild living, no! This verse in 1 John 2 made me remember the second prodigal son; the older brother, the son who DIDN’T leave home, at least not physically, but whose heart hadn’t been one with his father for years!

Love not the world, nor the things in the world…” Why not, John? Here’s why: if anyone loves the world, if that’s where their treasure is, where their HEART is, then guess what? They are the ones who are disconnected, detached and distant! “The love of the Father is not in them.”

There’s a second reason that the apostle John gives for his command, his demand, “Do not love the world or the things in the world.” It’s the one that we find in verse 16 of our text. Take a look at what it says:

1 John 2:16 – “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”

A few years ago, back when I was in high school, someone gave me a T-shirt with a Christian message on the front of it. It was a spin-off to a brand of shampoo sold back in those days called “Earthborn”. The message on the shirt went like this: “I’m earth-born, but heaven-bound. John 3:16.” You know something? That brief statement is an excellent motto for every Christian to live by! “I’m earth-born, but heaven-bound.” The problem is, when we begin to sink our roots into what moths and rust corrupts, when we begin to set our hearts on what thieves can break through and steal – guess what? We’re re-writing the motto! Instead of “Earth-born, but heaven-bound,” when we begin to love what is worldly, not heavenly – and long for what is sensual and not spiritual – our life’s motto is no longer, “Earth-born, but heaven-bound,” but “Earth-born and earth-bound.” Yes, earth bound! “Christian?” “Christian?” Is that what we call ourselves? Then listen, according to Philippians 3:17-21, our citizenship is up there, in heaven; and this old body, diseased, dying, decaying, it will be remade to spend eternity up there with our Savior Who is coming to take us there! If, we are earth-born, but heaven-bound. If we are!

There’s an old saying that I saw realized once again, when I went to the hospital Friday night to meet with and grieve with Lewis D.’s family. The old saying goes like this: “Death is the great equalizer.”

In explaining the third reason John gives as to why Christians are to STOP loving the world and the things in the world, I can’t help but think about the facts of life, and the fact, the unavoidable fact of death! Why shouldn’t I sink my roots down deep into THIS world? Why shouldn’t I pursue the American Idol thing or the Texas Lottery thing or the keep up with the Jones thing? Why shouldn’t I? “The world is passing away and the lust of it…” Everything that has anything to do with THIS world is temporary and fading. And, if somehow like the rich man in that parable Jesus told in Luke 16:19-31, we think that in this world we’re going to get ahead, listen, my friends, DEATH is the great equalizer! It took the poor man Lazarus AND the rich man, and all his wealth – out! It took both of them out!

In the world of the Wall Street crowd, if you’re investing in things you can taste, touch or see, one of these days it will all be gone! Because of the great equalizer! Oh, but listen, as we prepare to close out this study, note that John offers us one more rationale, a forth reason why loving the world and its things is the wrong way to go. It, too, is attached to the idea of death equalizing everything out. Read verse 17 with me one more time:

1 John 2:17 – “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

As I looked upon Lewis’s lifeless body, as I said, I was reminded of the truth of that old maxim, “Death is the great equalizer.” You know something? Old maxims tell us a lot, but they don’t tell us the whole story! However this Book, God’s Word, does!

Because Lewis D. – like his family reminded me the other night – was a Psalm one man, a man in whose delight was in the law of the Lord, and who meditated on this Book day and night, for Lewis death is not the whole story! Rather, because Lewis loved God, laid up treasure in heaven, guess what? 1 John 2:17 – Here’s the end, or perhaps I should say the rest of the Lewis’ story:

The world is passing away, and the lust of it. But, because Lewis D. sought to do the will of God, Lewis D. lives forever – forever!”

I don’t pray, I don’t go to church. I’m not really religious - at all.” That’s what my friend Chris said – what would you say to him?

Well, Chris - everybody loves something, everybody serves and worships something! You have chosen to love and serve and worship things – what you can see and taste and touch, and what death, the great equalizer, can take all away! But by God’s sovereign grace, I have chosen to love Some-one. Someone whose existence I can’t prove scientifically, but whose fingerprints are all over my life, and, if you’ll admit it, are all over your life, too! You have chosen to pursue what the rich man pursued. I have chosen to seek what the poor man Lazarus sought. One of these days, death will come knocking on both of our doors. My Father, promises a place for me with Him forever. But, for you, Chris, there is no such promise…

1 John 2:15-17: “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 lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”