Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, September 12, 2010.
1 John 4:12 - 21: “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us. If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”
We live in a world where many people’s lives are marked by worry and fear – doubt and insecurity and loneliness. How can this be? I mean, the inventions of man – pass codes to protect our valuable identity and information – padlocks to secure our belongings and even the omnipresent cell phone to make certain that we are never stranded – certainly these things are sufficient to calm our fears, aren’t they? Certainly these things are enough to alleviate our doubts and worries, aren’t they?
How is it that, in a world that is full of gadgets and tactics meant to cause us to fee safe and at peace, we don’t and we aren’t? What’s missing? What have we overlooked?
The psalmists – the sons of Korah – I believe, had their fingers on the pulse of this dilemma we face, when they wrote these words – listen closely to them as I read them for you.
Psalm 46:1-11: “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow an cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
In a world – our world – where many people – yes, even many Christians are living lives filled with worry and read, insecurity and loneliness – what’s the solution? What’s the cure?
Sometimes my cell phone says, ‘No Service Available Here’. Uh, oh! Sometimes our padlocks and pass codes fail and are defeated. Uh, oh! What then?
“Oh, David, you are making me more afraid! You are making me feel more insecure! Can you offer me any hope – any help?”
I want you to do something with me, if you would, please. I want you to scan back across the passage from First John chapter four that we read a moment ago, and every time you read the words, “God abides in me – in us” and, “I – we abide in Him” – I want you to whisper to yourself, “There’s my solution! There’s the hope and help I need!” Do it with me, will you, please?
Verse 12 – “If we love one another, God – abides – in – us.” ‘There’s my solution! There’s my hope and help!’ Say it with me, will you?
Verse 13 – “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us – because He has given us of His Spirit.” ‘There’s my solution! There’s my hope and help!’
Verse 15 – “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” ‘There’s my solution! There’s my hope and help!’
You’re getting the hang of it now!
One more – verse 16: “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love, abides in God and God in him.” One more time, ‘There’s my solution! There’s my hope and help!’
Christian, do you see it? My Brothers and Sisters, have you caught on to it yet?
The solution to our fear problem – and our doubt and worry and insecurity dilemma – is right here!
If you are a Christian – I mean, not just one in name only – but truly and really a Christian – then you have the ‘cure’ – the abiding presence of your refuge, your strength, your ever present help in trouble – in your life – the LORD of hosts with you – in you, and you – YOU – in Him!
Going all the way back to chapter 3, verse 24, the apostle John lays out before us a question of extreme importance, and of incredibly practical significance for each one of us. That question is this: ‘How can you and I know that God – the LORD of hosts – really does live – in us?’
1 John 3:24: “Now he who keeps God’s commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know [Look at that again with me, will you?] – And by this we KNOW that He abides in us – by the Spirit whom He has given to us.”
How CAN you and I know that God REALLY DOES live in us? I mean, no one has ever SEEN God, right? 1 John 4, verse12 – He is Spirit – spiritual, not physical. So, no one has ever SEEN Him or touched Him, like you are seeing me, or could reach out your hand and touch me. But does that mean that we have no way of knowing for sure that He is in us, and with us, and that we are in Him?
To me, one of the greatest needs that many, many Christians have in their day-to-day lives – no, not just their ‘Sunday-go-to-meeting’ lives – but their Monday through Saturday lives – is the need for assurance. The need to know – really KNOW – that what God says they have – in Christ – IS – in fact, what they have!
Can I let you in on a little secret? One of the primary purposes the Spirit of God had in mind, when He prompted the apostle John to write what he did in this letter – is that very purpose. 1 John 5:13 – The apostle John wrote to assure us – through these points of EXAMINATION – these ‘self-tests’ that we have looked at for the last several weeks – the Relational test – and the Doctrinal test – and the Behavioral test – through these points of EXAMINATION – the apostle John seeks to provide numerous points of CONFIRMATION – arrow after arrow pointing us in the direction of assurance for our day-to-day, Monday through Saturday lives! 1 John 5:13 – would you read it with me, please?
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”
How can you and I KNOW . . .? Are you looking for some certainty – some security in a world full of that which prompts you to feel uncertain and insecure? How can you and I KNOW – FOR SURE – that God really does live in us?
Allow me to suggest to you a new set of ‘glasses’ to wear beginning today. No one has seen God, right? That’s what the Bible says, isn’t it? But, did you know that if He lives in you – did you know that if you live in Him – He IS seen! He WILL BE seen – IN YOU! He will! You’ve just got to have the right ‘glasses’ on.
1 John 4, verses 14 and 15 – How can you know that God – the LORD of hosts – who says that He is with you – who claims to be your ‘ever present help in trouble’ – how can you know that He really does live – in you?
The apostle John supplies us with three ‘tests’ – three points of self- examination – in order to provide us with three means of confirmation – designed to give us that assurance we all need.
Notice with me what they are: first of all, verses 14 and 15, the apostle John, in effect, says that the unseen God – you can test yourself to determine whether or not He is with you – by looking through the lens of your testimony.
A long time ago, Jesus asked His disciples a question that will forever reverberate with all who know God and are indwelt by the Spirit of God. The question was simply this: “Who do you say that I am?” (see Matthew 16:15). Who is Jesus? In your own words – as you express what you believe and understand about Him – who is He?
Some would say that He is – or was – a good man – a superior moral example. Some would say that He was a great teacher, or a great magician/miracle worker, or some would even say that He was fraud!
Who do you say that Jesus is? My Friends, did you know that your assurance, or perhaps, your lack of assurance, has everything to do with your answer to this question?
1 John 4:14 and 15 – Does God really live in you? Take a look! If your confession – the testimony of your lips and your life – is – “Jesus is the Son of God” – “Jesus is the Savior of the world” – then, guess what? Then, God dwells in you, and you in God. 1 John 4:14 – 15 “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God..”
There’s a second ‘lens’ through which you can see the unseen God – a second ‘test’ John urges us to use that we might examine ourselves, that through that examination, we might experience confirmation and assurance. It is what he refers to in 1 John 4, verse 17. Please read it again with me, will you?
“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).
“As He is, so are we – in this world!” My Loved Ones, have you ever wondered what the name - the title ‘Christian’ really means? 1 John 4, verse 17 – jot it down in the margin of your Bible, will you? Make a note to yourself on the back of your worship bulletin, will you? 1 John 4, verse 17 – the definition of a Christian: “As He is, so are we – in this world!”
No one has ever seen God, right? 1 John 4, verse 12 says so! He is Spirit – spiritual, not physical! We cannot see – Him! Oh, but think about it with me, will you? By means of this ‘lifestyle test’ – “As He is, so are we in this world!” – by means of Spirit of God-filled PEOPLE – like you and me – God IS seen – in this world!
1 John 4, verse 17 – God’s love for us is perfected in us – it has reached its goal – accomplished the purpose God had in mind for it. It has made us – He has made us – like Him! “As He is, so are we – in this world.”
How can you and I know that God – the LORD of hosts – the One who claims to be our ever present help in trouble – how can we know that He REALLY DOES live – in us?
Examination point number one – Confirmation point number one – take a look – through that new set of glasses – and see Him. He IS there – if you believe that Jesus is the Son of God – if you confess that He is the Savior of the world.
Examination point number two – confirmation point number two – take a look – through that new set of glasses. Do you see Him? You OUGHT to see Him, if you are a Christian! “As He is, so are we – in this world!”
If your lifestyle is more and more aligned to that of Jesus Christ – if God is daily conforming you to the image of His Son (see Romans 8:29), then guess what? He is there! He really does live – in you!
Finally, one more ‘lens’ to look through, in hopes that the unseen God might – in fact – be VISIBLE – in you, through you. What ‘lens’ are we talking about here? 1 John 4, verse12 – 1 John 4, verse 20 – we’re talking about the ‘lens’ of love! The ‘lens’ of love.
1 John 4:12 - “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” 1 John 4:20 - “If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”
Just like with ‘test’ number one, and ‘test’ number two – this third point of examination – the ‘lens’ of love – is actually meant to be a point of confirmation. In other words, these verses – 1 John 4:12 and 1 John 4:20 – and many others found elsewhere in this letter – what are they? Why are they included in the Word of God?
They are here – in God’s Word – to prompt us to seek, to look, to ask: ‘Am I loving my brother – my fellow Christian?’ I mean, I say that I love God – I claim to love the unseen One – the One who gave me new life in Jesus Christ. But, do I love those whom I have seen – the rest of those to whom He has given new life in Christ?
The ‘love test’ – My Friends, do you realize that if you and I ‘pass’ this ‘test’, we will have our answer! The solution to our insecurity and fear, our worry and doubt – knowing that God really does live in us, and that we really do live in Him. If we ‘pass’ these ‘tests’ – the love test, the lifestyle test and the test that pertains to our testimony – our confession of Christ – guess what? If we pass these tests – these ‘examinations’ – we will experience the confirmation God promises! We will!
If – if we do so, in faith - 1 John 4:16. And, we will, if we do so out of genuine love for Christ - 1 John 4:19.
Take a look, as we close, at these two verses – 1 John 4:16 and 1 John 4:19 – and notice that right at the heart and center of these points of examination, and these means of confirmation – are two ‘givens’ – two assumptions – two ‘musts’ – faith in God – faith in Christ and, love for God and Christ. Let’s read these verses, and then we will close in prayer.
1 John 4:16 - “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” We will, if we do so out of genuine love for Christ - 1 John 4:19 - “We love Him because He first loved us.”