Church Matters (Part 3)

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Series: A Journey Through 1 John

Sunday am 12 June 2016- Riaan Sinden

1 John 2:1-14; (Heb. 10:24); Eph. 4:11-15; Heb. 5:12-14; Matt. 6:10; (Matt. 8:20); (Luke 9:58); (Gal. 2:20); (John 5:19); (Ex. 34:14); (Deut. 4:24); (Phil. 2:13); (Eph. 2:6); John 3:16; John 13:34-35; Matt. 22:34-40; Heb. 8:10-12

This morning’s reading will be from 1 John 2:1-14 as we consider once again that Church matters to God, to believers, and to the world. Why God did choose us? From the very beginning it was in His plan to reveal Himself in a corporate Son. What is our responsibility in all of this? Church has been God’s plan from the beginning. It is within the Church set-up that we stir one another up in love and for good works (Heb. 10:24). This truth is this, we are to ‘attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ’ (Eph. 4:13).

The Church is trying to do all these good deeds for God without listening to what He is saying. They are really working hard for Jesus, trying to save the world but they do not want to abide in Him, they do not want to spend any time in His Word. They just are stumbling in the dark, walking and hoping they accidently get into heaven. The Church, to a large extent, has lost its effectiveness due to sticking to patterns without His presence. Not knowing God’s commandments is almost like walking without any government, without any rule.

The Word says that the one who follows His commandments, in Him the love of God has truly been perfected (1 John 2:5). His love is coming into a complete and full stature in our lives and then we start manifesting what is happening on the inside. In actual fact all that we are or hope to be must be in Him and in His love. The more we walk as He walked, the more we become accustomed to the Word of righteousness.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary 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 not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil (Heb. 5:12-14). Here’s what we need to do: practice and train. If we say that Church matters then it is essential that the Church as the Body of Christ must become a mature corporate Son. Church was God’s plan from the beginning and God is bringing together a people that will accurately represent Him on earth. That is why Jesus taught the disciples to pray like this: your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10). There needs to be a mirror image of what is happening there and here and it will be reflected through the Church. Church is the Body of Christ and He will have His way, He will manifest Himself in the Body. That is why Church matters.

God has a plan. And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.”(Eph.4: 11-15). Only those that know we are to grow we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ (Eph. 4:11-15). Only those that know God and are found in God have the capacity to keep His commandments. There is a time when you say, “Yes Lord, I accept You” and the process of ‘dying to self’ starts. That is why Paul could say, “It is not I but Him who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). Jesus submitted Himself perfectly to God, every moment, every day doing only what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19). He lives in perfect relationship to the Father. That means that although the Son could do whatever He wanted to as an independent being, He chose to confine His activities strictly to the purposes of God as revealed to Him moment by moment. That is exactly the same standard for the Church. We need to live our lives hearing God’s word every day. Every minute of the day we need to live in complete harmony with the heartbeat of God. Those who God knows keep His commandments and walk as Jesus walked. There is no place for selfish opinions in this relationship.

Jesus’ life was completely surrendered to God. This is the reason John wrote this letter to the Church. He said He was going to lay down His life for the people. This is the same standard that applies to us. There is no double standard in God; there is no mixture, no grey areas in God. We should all know that God is a jealous God (Ex. 34:14 & Deut. 4:24). It is all or nothing; life or death; hot or cold, but there is no place for our opinions. He sacrificed everything to have a relationship with us. If God is self-sacrificing then we are not supposed to be self-preserving. He wants His character to be manifested through the Church. That is why it is God who works in you to will and to work according to his purposes (Phil. 2:13). So in this relationship we are supposed to lay down our lives, take up our cross and follow Him. When we lay down our lives, we get His life, which is abundant life! What a bargain! He gave us His life and now we are seated in heavenly places with Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:6). For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). We always come from this vantage point, “in Him”. If we love, we love in Him. We walk in Him.

The Church needs to be equipped and ready for their work of ministry. The Church is the light of the world. We are the reflectors, reflecting the light of God to the world. Because we are in Him it is easy. We are in Christ and in Him we love one another. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.  (Matt. 22:34-40). The only way we can love like Jesus is when He is living in us. It is a standard that we think is difficult to attain but it is not. We should lay down our lives and ask Jesus to reign and live in us. This commandment must be manifested though the Church. The results of living a life completely surrendered to God are the found in 1 John 2:12-14. This is a picture of a conquering Church. After all has been said and done, we have come to this place where we are completely surrendered to Him, to His love. John is explaining this to the community living out the Word of God. It is time that the fathers lead their sons, that they take their rightful place; where the children know their identity. This is a Church that matters. The world runs to them because they see even the children are sure about their identity. I prophesy that this is that generation that will know Him; who will be strong in Him, who will abide in Him.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, And I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, And they shall be My people. And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, And everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ For all will know Me, From the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their iniquities, And I will remember their sins no more (Heb. 8:10-12).