Saints PROOF in the Fellowship of God
Introduction: As we have moved though our study of the epistle of I John we have come across some key words that are used over and over again. There have been such words as LOVE, TRUTH, ABIDE, WORLD, SIN, HOLY SPIRIT, and ANTICHRIST. Before I point out another key word used throughout this epistle, let’s read from the text for today found in I John 3:19-4:6.
“And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. (20) For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. (21) Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. (22) And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. (23) And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. (24) And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. (4:1) Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (2) Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: (3) And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (4) Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (5) They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. (6) We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”
In this passage, there are CERTAINTIES set forth by the use of the key word, "KNOW," used some 40 times in this epistle. In this passage there is an emphasis upon things we need to know.
The "KNOW" in 3:19 speaks about our relationship to God the Father.
The "KNOW" in 3:24 speaks about our fellowship with God the Father.
The "KNOW" in 4:2 speaks of our ownership by the Holy Spirit of God.
The "KNOW" in 4:6 speaks of our ability to distinguish between the Spirit of truth and the Spirit of error.
In this message we are going to examine and reflect on three of these things we need to "KNOW."
First: In verse 19 we read, “And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.” Verse 19 is a concluding statement to what we studied in our last message. The preceding verses tell us what we should be doing. And if we are doing what the proceeding verses tell us, then we "KNOW" that we are of the truth. In this verse our relationship deals with whether or not we are concerned and have enough compassion towards the NEEDS of our brothers and sisters in Christ. "And by this we know that we are of the truth…"
From verses 16-18 we discovered some tangible expressions of the reality of our faith. “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (17) But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?(18) My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” People ought to be able to detect some reality to our faith by the things we do.
In I John 4:11 we read, "Beloved, If God so loved us, we OUGHT also to love one another." The word “ought” implies "a moral obligation" that we have. In view of what God has done for us through Christ at Calvary, We have a moral obligation to our brothers and sisters in Christ to sacrificially spend our lives for them.
I believe the human cry of God's people is I NEED YOUR HELP. I NEED YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN MY LIFE. Notice again verse 17. "How dwelleth in me the LOVE OF GOD?" How can we say we love God, if needs are presented to us or to our church, and we turn our back on meeting those necessities in the lives of others?
In verse 18 the writer goes on to say, “…let us not love in word, neither in tongue…” Remember, "words are cheap, talk is easy." Just because we have talked about a need or we have prayed about a need does not mean we have met that need. Remember, love involves more than words. It calls for sacrificial deeds:
Perhaps a sacrifice OF OUR INVESTMENT OF TIME,
Perhaps a sacrifice OF OUR ENERGY,
Perhaps a sacrifice OF OUR PERSONAL SERVICES, or
Perhaps a sacrifice OF OUR PERSONAL RESOURCES would help.
Now, I believe verse 19 is saying doctrine is not just a list of theological statements. Doctrine is words put into action. We "KNOW" we have the truth of God's Word and God's life abiding in us when there is an OUTWARD reality of the living Christ in our hearts.
In relating to this, someone may be saying “Pastor, it is very frustrating at times. There seems to be so many needs all around us, where should we place our emphasis, or how do we decide which needs to satisfy?”
There are needs within our church families.
There are needy people within our community; they have physical and spiritual needs.
There are missionaries and mission organizations that also have needs.
“Pastor, what do we do?” Someone remarked as they studied the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, they have been consoled over the fact that:
Jesus did not heal everyone who was sick.
Jesus did not mend every broken heart.
Jesus did not raise all from the dead who had died.
Now, He could have done all these things for everyone. He is God, is He not? But Jesus did not heal all the sick, or raise all the dead, or console every broken heart.
This person went on to say that we should be a little like Mary of Bethany who anointed the feet of Jesus. Holding your place here, would you turn to Mark 14:8 and notice the statement the Lord made of her, "She hath done what she could."
As I read that statement about Mary, "She hath done what she could," I have to conclude that God wants us to do WHAT WE CAN! In thinking about that statement, I ask myself, "Have I done all I can?" Now ask yourself:
Are WE as a church body doing ALL WE CAN to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters in this assembly?
Are WE doing ALL WE CAN to meet the missionary obligations we have?
Are WE doing ALL WE CAN to reach and saturate this area with the Gospel of Jesus Christ by reaching every man and woman, boy and girl that we can reach?
If we are doing ALL WE CAN, I say Praise the Lord! But if we are not, then I say we need to examine our hearts before the Lord and get busy to do ALL WE CAN. The question we need to ask and answer is, "Are we church GOERS or church DOERS?"
Again please notice I John 3:20-21, “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. (21) Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” Now, the word “heart” in these verses does not refer to our pumping system, rather it means the seat of our emotions. Perhaps another word we could substitute would be CONSCIENCE.
No doubt, you have often heard this statement, "Let your conscience be your guide." Now folks, that might be a well-quoted statement, but it is not a useful statement. Why? Because when Adam fell in the Garden of Eden, everything about him was radically affected, his will, his mind, his spirit, and even his conscience was affected by sin. When man lets his conscience be his guide, he can be sure of one thing:
"It will detour him off the road that leads to eternal life, because his conscience has been affected by sin."
Let me pause to interject something here. Unfortunately, there is a false theology that has engulfed the church which says, "Doctrine is not determined by the Word of God but by personal experience."
Well, Pastor, "some years ago I had this spiritual experience where God helped me through a physical illness and on the basis of that I believe I will be going to heaven.”
Well Pastor, "I really don't care what the Bible says, my experience tells me different."
My friends, that might be your experience, but the Bible tells us only by faith in the finished work of the Christ of Calvary can we be saved and secured for Heaven. Now if our conscience condemns us, which it may well do, what are we going to do about it?
We must realize even though our conscience may be a gift from God, IT IS NOT THE VOICE OF GOD. We cannot rely on our conscience, rather we must rely on the Word of God. God's Word is the judge, and we are to be guided by it. The Bible says:
"God is greater than our hearts, and God is greater than our conscience."
God knows all things. God and His Word are superior. In our effort, as frustrated as we feel, God is aware of our condemnatory conscience. And when we are CONSCIOUSLY and SACRIFICIALLY doing the will of God in reaching out to our brothers and sisters who are in need, whether it be spiritual or physical, God causes something special to happen, if we are reading His Word.
What does God do? Notice again verse 19, especially the last phrase, "And He shall assure our hearts before Him." The word "assure" expresses the feeling of being “put at ease.” John is saying, “if we are reaching out to those in need then God will put our hearts at ease.”
Again I call your attention to verse 21 and to the word “confidence.” “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” If we are operating under the influence of the Word of God then we have the “confidence” to know we are doing what God wants us to be doing and it is right.
Second: In verse 24 we read, “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. In this verse, your attention is brought to the second “KNOW.” As you move through the Word of God you will find there are many terms used in connection with the Holy Spirit, for example:
In Galatians, the Holy Spirit is called the SPIRIT of PROMISE.
In Romans the Holy Spirit is called the SPIRIT of HOLINESS.
In John the Holy Spirit is called the SPIRIT OF TRUTH, and
Here in this verse He is known as the SPIRIT OF PRAYER.
From verse 22 we find that a genuine child of God has a desire to communicate with His Heavenly Father in prayer. “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” Now listen carefully,
"Love for the brethren produces confidence toward God, and confidence toward God gives you boldness in asking what you need of God in prayer." It would appear that “loving one another in Christ is a prerequisite to answered prayer.”
We have the right to pray because we are related to Jesus Christ by faith. But let’s take it one more step, A BELIEVERS RELATIONSHIP TO THE BRETHREN CANNOT BE DIVORCED FROM HIS PRAYER LIFE.
As a believer, if you are out of FELLOWSHIP with another believer, THEN YOU ARE ALSO OUT OF FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD. And when the relationship between brothers and sisters in Christ is NOT right, then the relationship between you and God is strained.
At times, have you ever wondered why you have a hard time praying?
At times, have you ever wondered why God doesn't seem to answer your prayers?
Just maybe there is something about Psalm 66:18 which says, "If I regard iniquity or sin in my heart the Lord will not hear me." Listen, if you are harboring sin in your heart, if you are harboring some bitterness toward another in your heart, your prayers will not be answered. Before you get on your knees to pray, you had better ask God for forgiveness and then go to that individual before continuing on in prayer. We are instructed in Matthew 5:22-24,
“But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”
Here we are told to leave the altar of prayer and go be reconciled with whomever.
My friends, as important as it is for you to worship, and as important as it is for you to pray, IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO BE RECONCILED WITH THOSE IN THE FAMILY OF GOD. What could be clearer? There can be no real fellowship with God apart from fellowship with one another in the family of God.
Let me interject another thought found in John 15:7 where Jesus says, "If ye abide in me and my words (the Word of God) abide in you, you shall ask what you will and it shall be done unto you." If we keep asking and keep obeying the Word of God, then God "will delight to give us the desires of our heart."
I don’t know how many of you believe that.
I don’t know how many of you have put that to the test.
But that is what the Bible says. A grandmother was taking care of her grandson, and after the usual bed time story the little fellow said, "Grandma, tell one of the stories when you prayed and something happened." Let me ask you, "Could you tell us a story like that, where you prayed and something happened?"
Third: In verse I John 4:1-2 we find the third “KNOW,” “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:” Here John gives us a specific test by which we can determine whether someone is a man of God or a false teacher (antichrist).
It is extremely important we are able to tell TRUTH from ERROR. From day one, the world has never been without a flood of religious cults and “isms.” You name it, we have had it. People make all sorts of wild religious claims today – they can do this, they can do that. But, in light of such claims, the challenge facing the thinking Christian is a simple one, “Are they from the Lord?”
The meaning of the verb “try,” in verse 1 conveys the action to “prove or test.” There is a tremendous need today for us to prove those who stand in the pulpit.
No matter how articulate a pastor, minister, or religious speaker may be,
No matter how sincere they are,
No matter how convincing they sound, and
No matter what their academic abilities are, the acid test is: “Whom do they say Christ is?”
The plumb line of God’s revealed truth in the Bible must be rigorously applied.
God’s word is TRUTH, it is eternal TRUTH, it is timeless TRUTH, it is TRUTH unchanged and unchanging.
God’s revelation in the Biblical canon is complete. Nothing more needs to be added to it, nothing can be removed from it.
There is no second edition of the Bible, the original requires no amendments. From beginning to end, it is the living Word of the living God.
In our final analysis, we have to determine if this is the ABSOLUTE and FINAL revelation and authority of our FAITH and PRACTICE. For Christians to distinguish TRUTH from ERROR, we need to know the Bible from cover to cover. We may not understand it all, we may not be able to unravel all its mysteries, but we must be able to test the spirits by the Word of God. THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR KNOWING THE TRUTH OF SCRIPTURE.
The litmus test of the faith that sets Christians apart from all others is this: "JESUS CHRIST IS GOD IN THE FLESH." Here is where false teachers are left squirming in discomfort. My friends,
Satan will never permit a man to accept that truth.
Satan may concede that God created the universe.
Satan may concede the Bible is the Word of God, but
Satan will never concede that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Every antichrist’s philosophy and every cult on the face of the earth today will deny that Christ is GOD THE SON. They may accept Him as A son of God, but they will never accept Jesus as THE Son of God.
That is the question we need to ask anyone who may be promoting their religion. "Whom do you say Jesus Christ is?" Unless they give an answer that rings true that JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD. THAT HE IS GOD THE SON, CO-EQUAL TO GOD THE FATHER and GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT in all attributes pertaining to deity, then that person is an antichrist.
There are many well-meaning individuals who will ring our doorbells and talk openly and freely about Jesus and a host of other things. There are many groups operating around the world who pay lip service to the teaching of Jesus and to the brilliant example he set. BUT DON’T BE FOOLED! You see,
To believe in the wrong Christ, who is less than the God-man of the Bible, is to sell your soul to an antichrist.
To believe in the wrong Christ is to ultimately perish in an eternal Hell – forever and ever!
At the end of the day, we cannot sit on the fence, for the person of Christ becomes the touchstone of TRUTH or ERROR.
To confess that "Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh" involves much more than simply identifying Jesus as the Christ. True confession involves personal faith in Christ for in I John 5:10-13 we read,
“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. (11) And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (12) He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (13) These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
Once you have received Christ into your heart, by faith you will know that you are a child of God.
It seems to me, the person and work of Jesus Christ is not only the central answer to our eternal destiny, it is by virtue of that fact, the central “Test” of Christian orthodoxy.
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon, “The PROOF of Saints in the Fellowship of God,”
then right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, would you let me know? Please send an e-mail to, pdmikBBM@aol.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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