“Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” 1 John Chapter 2 verses 7-11
Download the sermon slides: SERMON-2014-9-14
We are right now, if you’re joining us for the first time, at 1 John chapter 2, and in particular verses 7 to 11. So if you have your Bibles, please turn with me to 1 John chapter 2, verses 7 to 11. I do not know about you, but when I fly economy class, er… from one place to another, one of the most uncomfortable things is to have this insufficient leg room. Is that true for you? Well, I’m a short person so it already is quite uncomfortable. I imagine for those of you who are taller, this is unbearable and it’s because it’s so tight that you don’t really have space, you don’t really can er… you can’t really rest well. It’s worse when the person in front of you reclines his seat, isn’t it? When he lies back, you’re… oh no, I’m squeeze, I’m stuck. You can’t do any work, you are seemingly paralysed.
So what do you do when you’re stuck in such a tight space? What can you do? Well, one of the things is, to beg the person in front not to recline his or her seat. Otherwise, you may have some ways and methods to stop them from reclining. What do people do? Well, some people sleep like that (picture shown). They stop them from reclining. But, that’s not a very good option and I don’t think many of you would do this.
There is a very interesting device, invented by a man who regularly has a problem with insufficient leg room. He invented this thing called the ‘knee defender’. Has anyone of you used it or known…heard about this? Oh, one of you, 2, 3, alright…4, 5. So a few of you have heard about the ‘knee defender’. What’s the knee defender? Well, it…in fact looks very simple, it just looks like this (picture shown). And it’s not very big. It’s held in a hand, as such. And what it does, is that it is like a giant and super strong paperclip. You clip it at the…near the tray area where you have a movement of the trays. And if you clip it here, it blocks this seat from reclining. Brilliant huh? This clip is used to prevent the person in front from reclining. He or she would assume maybe my seat is faulty and give up on it altogether. Well, that’s very…not very nice. So what they do is sometimes, not sometimes, whenever you buy the knee defender, I think it cost 20 over dollars. Whenever you buy the knee defender, along with it, it comes with the knee defender’s courtesy card. Basically, when you use this, you’re supposed to pass this card to the person in front, and to tell him about this knee defender, what it is all about. And you say, unfortunately, my legs are so long that if you incline your seat at all, it would immediately bang into my knees and just to explain it to people. Of course, most of the time, people don’t use the knee defender’s card. They just ‘teh gong’ (Hokkien words meaning pretending to be stupid) we call it, ‘act blur’. Pretend nothing is going on and assume that the person in front would give up. 0:03:07.1
Well, it did not…it does not always work out so well because just about 3 weeks ago, on the 26th of August. This is breaking news in America, alright? (Picture shown) Imagine what they are excited about. Breaking news in America, that there was a New Jersey flight that was diverted over a leg room dispute. What happened is that there was this man, his name is James Beach. He was er… he was having this flight and he wanted to work on flight. And so he puts this knee defender on and he didn’t pass the courtesy card to the person or the lady in front. Now, the lady of course didn’t know, was wondering why the seat was not able to recline. And so she try and she finally bang, she hit…she reclines so hard that it went backwards and the computer was shaken and was almost spoilt. So James was very upset. He says what’s happening? He pushed the chair back up forcefully, jolting the lady and then put the clips on again. The lady of course, was not very pleased. She turns around, took a can of Sprite and pours it on his face and on his computer. So there was a fight, a scuffle that ensued and it was so bad that the plane had to be diverted to Chicago, and er… caused a lot of inconvenience to the passengers and to everyone involved. James, after the incident gave an interview. He says he really feels very bad about this. It’s very silly. Over this knee thing, um…and so he was…he was apologetic, but he said, actually I was not really wrong, because he asked this very good question. This leg room space, this reclining, this space, whose space is it anyway? So he asked, whose right is it? Is that my 4 inches or is that her 4 inches? Nobody could answer him. Nobody knows. Is it your right to recline or is it my right to refuse your reclining? Nobody really knows. But James reminds me, as I read this story. It reminds me: we all are fighting for our own rights. We all fight for our own rights. None of us is going to say, oh, I don’t need the knee defender, I will go and tell the lady: lady, please recline, take as much space as you want. None of us do that. We hope and pray they will not recline but maybe we don’t go to the extent of putting the clips on. But all of us fight for our rights. All of us want things to go our way. 0:05:34.6
That’s why it’s so rare and it is so unique that the people of God, that the church of Jesus Christ, that people who follow Jesus would say, I will give up my rights, to serve you. We are coming to 1 John. 1 John chapter 2 tells us, the marks of a Christian. The mark of a Christian is that, he is willing to give up his rights, to love others and to wash their feet. Everyone in this world is born to fight for my rights.
My son Matthias, he learned a word early in his life and that is “share”. “Share, share”, “share, share”, “share, share”. Because whenever brother is playing with something, he says “share, share”. When I’m having something, he wants it, he says, “share, share.” But his idea of “share, share” is “get, get”. (Laughter in the congregation) Because once he has it, you say to him “share, share”, he says, “No”. “No”. For him, “share, share” means to get; and for us, we are born into this world, to grab.
But when you are born again, when you know Jesus as your Saviour, something remarkable changes in you. Instead of fighting for my rights, you say, I’m willing to give up my rights to serve you, to love one another. It’s not my words, it’s God’s Word. It says in 1 John, chapter 2 verses 7 to 11. “Beloved, I’m writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” (1 John 2:7-11, ESV) It’s a very simple passage in the sense, that John is saying, if you are someone who has the light, If you are someone who is walking in the light, you’re someone who knows God, then you are someone who will be willing to love and you’ll be actually doing the loving of one another. This is an unmistakable mark of a believer of Jesus. 0:08:08.6
Last week, we look at the first mark of a believer, is that he will be obedient to God. It’s not what he says, what he claims, what he lives out, it’s not his talk, but his walk. Today, we’re going to see a second mark of a believer, is that he will love his neighbour, he will love one another. So, let’s look at this passage in a closer…detail. And he begins first with this commandment; John says this is a commandment. I’m writing to you no new commandment, but an old commandment, that you had from the beginning – the word that you have heard, the old commandment that you have heard. He’s saying, you heard this before, now that I am writing to you, to love one another and that this is an expression of real faith, this is not anything novel or new that you’ve never heard before. You heard it when you were saved, you heard in the beginning when I was with you. And actually, this commandment is a very old one. I did not invent it. It’s so old that it spans thousands of years. Say how old is this old? Well, it began in the times of Moses. Back in Leviticus 19, it is said, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself…” (Leviticus 19:18, ESV) 0:09:28.9
This is Moses, speaking a thousand, two thousand, three thousand years ahead of John. Moses is saying, you shall love your neighbour as yourself and John says, therefore I’m not telling you anything that you have never heard, it’s found in the Old Testament. Jesus himself repeats it again in Matthew 22, you shall love your neighbour as yourself. In fact, he explains that the whole of the 10 Commandments, the whole of the 613 laws of the Old Testament can be summarized into 2 lines – Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; and love your neighbour as yourself.
So, this is not a new thing. Hey guys! Little children, I’m writing to you. How do you know you are Christian? The fact that you call yourself a Christian? The fact that your parents are Christians? The fact that you wear a cross? The fact that you have a Christian name? The fact that you’ve been to the church for a long, long time? The fact that you’ve been baptised? No, this is how you know you are Christian. This is an old commandment, given by God, long time ago – you love one another. So, this is not new, as contrasted with the Gnostics who say, let me tell you new ways by which you can know God. No, John refers to a very historical, traditional, biblical reality – Old commandment. But at the same time, he says, it is a new commandment that I’m writing to you. Wah, this John very confusing! How come he talk like that one? He says it’s old and then now he says it’s new! Is it old or is it new? Well, John says, it is both old and new! What… what is he saying?! How could you say that it is old and new at the same time? Well, you got to understand. There was a night that is very important in John’s life. 0:11:28.1
Many years ago, it was one night, when John was having dinner, with his 11 friends. 11 apostles with their master, Jesus Christ. It was the last night that Jesus was going to be with them. And on that very night, just at dinner, they were squabbling and fighting amongst themselves who will be the first in the kingdom of God. They were arguing, reasoning with one another. I should be first. No, he should be first. No, I should be first. And then, in the midst of dinner, Jesus stood up. He took away his outer garments. He took a piece of towel, he wrapped it around his waist. Got a basin, fill it with water and then went to wash the feet of the disciples. Usually this is…not usually, it’s never done by the master. It’s always done by the lowest ranked person. In the culture of those days, Jesus did something that was taboo! How can our master come and wash our feet? Peter protested, of course. But Jesus washed their feet, nevertheless. Every single one, Matthew, Simon, Peter, John, even Judas.
And Jesus said to them, I will be betrayed tonight and tomorrow I’m going to the cross. I’m going to die. This is my last night with you. But I did this because I want to leave you an example. And this is what I leave you with; this is what I want you guys to do. I want you guys, the 12 of you, to fulfil this. This foot-washing was an illustration for His words in John 13. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35, ESV) What is Jesus saying? Jesus says, I give you a new commandment… no, Jesus is not new! Moses said it long ago in Leviticus 19. You yourself said in Matthew 22. Why do you say it’s new? I tell you why it’s new. It’s not new in a sense of its essence or the call of loving one another. It’s new in its manner of expression – as I have loved you. You’ve never seen love, expressed in this way and this is the new standard, the new level of love that you are to aspire to. That you will give up yourself, even if you are to die the next day. To wash the feet of your disciples, to serve the people that are around. Even the people who will betray you, like Judas. It’s new! They’ve never seen anything like this before – as I have loved you. It is also new in its motivation. Obey me, fulfil this commandment. Why? Because I gave my life for you. And now you are to give your life for others, because you have tasted first of my love. 0:14:45.6
I think it’s also new because there is a new significance. A new mark is that they shall know you are my disciples. So Jesus is not giving a brand-new commandment at all. It is an old commandment, but lifted up to a new manner, a new motivation and the new mark. Therefore, it is both old and new, and that’s what John is saying. I’m giving you an old commandment. This is… this is a time honoured mark. This is something that has been from the beginning. The child of God should obey this commandment because it has been from the beginning. It’s nothing new. He goes on then to say, this is true in Him and he knew, this is true for Jesus, Jesus lived a life of love and if you are His follower, it will be true also in you. You say why? Because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. The imagery here is, if Jesus is in the light, and if you’re following Jesus, you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then the light will also be shining on you and you should also be living a life of love. It’s a very simple logic. If you claim to follow Jesus, you will be walking in love. And love is not just that mushy feeling, it is practical action, in putting aside your rights and washing the feet of others. 0:16:11.3
We know that we have passed, out of death into life. John, this is a repeated theme. I want to tell you that John is not written like Romans. Paul, being the writer of Romans, is a very logical person. One point moves to point 2, moves to point 3. I’m not saying John is not logical, okay? But the line of reasoning for John is a circular one. He keeps repeating the theme, like a father would speak to a son. When you speak to your child, you don’t say, point 1, point 2, point 3, they can’t get it. You’ve got to go round and round, give different illustrations, give different angles and that’s what John is doing, in this episode. So you see, he repeats this very important theme again in chapter 3, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers…” (1 John 3:14, ESV) How do you know that you have eternal life? You have been baptized; you…you grew up in a Christian home; you come to church. No, he says, this is how you know – you love the brothers. Some of you have kids, now teenagers and you wonder, are they Christians? Instead of falsely assuring yourself that your kids are Christians because they’ve been with you to church for a long time, and because they’ve sat through all the Sunday school classes, I suggest to you, I ask you to consider making your judgments and assessments on Scripture. Are your kids obedient to God? Do they have a desire to even obey God? Do your kids think about others? Now, I know there’s… there is a process of growth and no kid is born out… Daddy, I want to serve people. No kids grow up like that. He’s weird lah! Unless he’s Jesus. But there must be a progression in his life. And I’m saying to you as parents, please, don’t just sit on that false assurance, on false premises, have a true assurance based on true premises, one of which is, you know that he has passed from death unto life, because he loves the brothers. You know yourself, you have passed from death unto life, if you love your brothers. 0:18:28.1
He goes on to say, everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of Him. So again, he repeats the theme in chapter 5. This is how you know you’re born of God: If you love others who are born of God as well. Love your brothers, and so he says, this is the mark of a Christian. Very clear, he loves the brother. Whoever says he is the light as He is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Doesn’t matter what he says, doesn’t matter what he claims, if his life does not manifest a consistent regard for others, consistent desire to serve others, he’s not walking in the light. If he’s always hating people, he’s always harbouring anger and hatred and bitterness, he is not a believer. It’s very strong! You say, wah, like that…if it is that strong? This is what he’s saying. I’m not saying you hate one time means you are not a Christian. The tense here is that he continuously hates. Then you know he is not walking in the light. 0:19:43.1
The first person in the Bible that commits hatred and murder is Cain. If you didn’t know that Cain murdered Abel, you would have thought that Cain would be a good person. Why? Because he worship God. He brought his sacrifice together with righteous Abel to God, and says God, I want to worship you. But God knew his heart. He didn’t want to worship God. He didn’t. Therefore, God rejected his sacrifice and the true nature in him surfaced. When he was jealous of his brother Abel, and proceeded to murder Abel. The first murder in the world. He looked like a Christian. He looked like someone who has life from God but he wasn’t. He hated his brother, the hatred of the brother shows him up, not to be the true believer, you see. 0:20:33.6
You say, pastor today I’m not like Cain lah. I will never kill anyone because I don’t want to go to jail. I don’t want to be hanged ah, I will never kill anyone. Let me tell you, if you are angry with someone, bitter against people, I tell you, you can be murdering him on a daily basis. You say how? You can murder him like that (picture shown). Okay, murder her like that. And it’s strange but most of the time, the people we hate the most, I say this alright? The people we hate the most are the people closest to us. It’s okay, if someone just cut your lane for a while, you may be angry for a short while, but that’s about it. But it’s very real that you can be hating your parents, your wife, your husband and you may not want to take a cleaver to chop him up and make curry out of it, but you kill him with your words. You kill her with your words. Your verbal abuse. I mean verbal abuse may hurt far…and I think it does hurt far more than physical abuse. These pictures are from this advertisement on…on people suffering in silence and…and it’s true (pictures shown), words can kill. I’m not like Cain, you say. No, we are like Cain. Just that you didn’t realize it. You murder not with a weapon in your hand but you murder with a tongue in your mouth. And that’s why we verbally abuse people because it’s hatred, anger, and some of us are more skilled. Stupid to shout at someone, scold someone right in front of the face, that’s not very skilful. The real skilful one is to do it behind their back. You want to murder, murder quietly lah. You want to attack, don’t attack in front, he can block you. Attack from the back – back-stabbing, slander and it can be very clever slander. It can…as we often say, it can be shrouded in prayer meeting. Can you…can you please pray for my stupid husband (laughter in the congregation), he always do this and it’s not very good. I know I respect him but his…and you…. (chopping sounds) wah… he’s bloody all over. That’s the same for husbands speaking about the wife. Parents about kids, kids – parents. Christians talking about fellow Christians. You know ah, she always like that one lah, never mind lah. Stab…stab…stab. 0:23:08.5
If you really ask your heart, there is bitterness inside. Never dealt with, never brought to the cross, never healed, never washed, and it’s eating you. You know what it shows you, it may just show you, you never walk in the light in the first place. You are like a Cain. You look good every Sunday, offering this sacrifice, but God knows your heart. And he wants you to know your heart today. When you see that you follow Cain even in his murderous intents. This is a word that we are familiar with, 复仇 (fu chou) in Chinese, which is revenge. That’s what we want. We feel that we have a right to be angry and bitter and hateful towards someone because he did that to me first! That’s what justifies our anger. The Bible says, no, I know he did that to you, I know she did that to you, but if you’re walking in the light, you love your brother. Wah… you say why? So unfair, God! It’s so unfair! How can you expect me to forgive him. You don’t know what he did to me! It was unfair for Jesus to go to the cross, but Jesus didn’t retaliate. He didn’t say it is my right now, to show my vengeful wrath on the people today. No, he came to die for us on the cross. 0:24:43.8
That’s why the Bible says, you should not take vengeance or bear a grudge. This is historical, Leviticus 19. This is long time ago. Don’t do it. Don’t bear… don’t… don’t go into this cold war for more than… this is so common in marriage. You bear a grudge because you are Christian, you don’t want to openly fight. You don’t want to. You don’t want to shout, you don’t want to fight. So what do you do when you are angry with your spouse? You go into cold war lah! Okay lah, I don’t talk to you already lah! See what you can do. See how long you can last? But that’s bearing a grudge. Not just in marriage but in the church. That’s what she said to me in S.F., I will never go to S.F. already. That’s what she did to me during the ministry rehearsal, I will never go to that ministry anymore. That’s how we react, that’s what our flesh delights to do. That’s what is natural to us. But God says you don’t do that. You shall love your neighbour. Loving your neighbour means giving up on your bitterness. Giving to God – your anger, your wrath, your hatred and doing what is good for them.
In fact, the demand is so high that the Bible actually says, let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour and slander. And by the way, if you are someone who is told slander, you should ask the person who’s slandering to stop. Because you are just allowing him to murder some more, and to indulge in sin. But this is spoken to those who are angry. Say, stop all that. Put away all that. Instead of doing all this, do this: be kind, be tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you. Pastor, you do not know, I…how can anyone forgive a man like that! You didn’t hear what he did to me! Yes, I may not know all that they do to you, but the rationale for forgiveness is not found in the worthiness of the person, the rationale for forgiveness is found in the fact that God in Christ forgive you. God forgive me not because I was good, God didn’t say, oh Jason actually not too bad lah, can be a pastor, I forgive him. Absolutely nothing like that! He is absolutely unworthy! He is a wretched sinner, but I will forgive him because of Jesus Christ, my Son. 0:27:15.9
You forgive your husband. You forgive your wife. You forgive your brother and sister in Christ, not because he or she or they are worthy, but because Jesus is worth it. And He did that for you. And that’s what he calls you to. Some of you struggle, really today I know some families, couples, you struggle with this issue. And you are always thinking: only if my husband is better; only if my wife is better; only if my church is better; only if my brother and sister in Christ is better. They will not get better. We are all sinners, saved by grace. Maybe in a long time, they will. But till then, recognize forgiveness is based on Christ, not them.
In fact, it is so independent of the person that Jesus says, love your enemies. This is the worst already. I mean, love your wife, okay. Love your son, okay. Love my daddy, okay. But love my enemies? Enemies who persecute me, want to kill me? Yah, love them, so that you may be like your Father which is in heaven. It’s not based on the people, it’s based on God. Love your enemies, do good to them. Pray for them, wash their feet. Would you do that? Pastor, I can’t because I really don’t like him. Okay, this is another common thing right? I really don’t like him. Every time I see his face, I want to puke. I’m so upset with him, I don’t like him. Now, realise today, God is not commanding us to like them. But let me say this, there is a difference between liking and loving. I think so. You can put that as 2 separate things. Hopefully when you love enough, there will be ‘like’ that arises. But often time, you cannot love, if you’re waiting for ‘like’. If you are waiting for ‘like’, it will never come. Let me try to…in a very simple way, distinguish ‘like’ and love. ‘Like’ is primarily based on emotions. I’ll…I’ll do this for you because I like you. I feel good doing this for you. Love is not primarily about feelings, although it can include feelings, but primarily it’s a choice. It’s a will, it’s about actions. 0:29:47.2
You look at 1 Corinthians 13, it’s not about feelings at all. Love is patient, love is kind. Love bears all things, love rejoices in truth, it’s action words. For God so loved the world. Not that He felt so much that he did nothing about it. But love is that He gave His Son. It’s action. ‘Like’, I suggest to you, is about me. I would do good to you because I feel good about you. I feel good with you. So I’ll do something for you. But love is not about me. Love is about you. It’s nothing to do with me. Love your enemies. Your enemies won’t do anything for you, but still love them. You may not like them but you still do things for them. ‘Like’ is what I can get, love is what I can give. ‘Like’ is what is natural. This is what we are all born to do. Love is supernatural.
Matthias’ “share, share”, “share, share”, “share, share”, “share, share”. Share toy, share toy. No, he doesn’t want to share. He wants to get. It’s only someone who is born of God, who have that supernatural obedience to give to others, for their own good. I share with you about this lady (picture shown), anybody knows who she is? Corrie ten Boom. That… excellent! Corrie ten Boom is a Dutch Christian, She has passed away, I think, in the 1980s. She was used of the Lord to save many Jews, from the Nazis in Germany. But as a result of her efforts, she was imprisoned, and was tortured in prison, together with the rest of her family. But there’s a part in her story that speaks powerfully about loving your enemies, forgiving them and not bearing hatred. I…I…I’d like to read this to you because I don’t think I will put it in a better way than she did. She says, when I was in prison camp, I saw the same guard, day in and day out. He was the one who mocked and sneered at us when we were stripped naked and taken into the showers. He spat on us in contempt and I hated him. I hated him with every fibre of my being. And yet Jesus says, when you hate someone, you are guilty of murder. Now, when we were freed, I left Germany, vowing never to return. But one day, I was invited back to speak. And I didn’t want to go initially, but I felt that the Lord was nudging me. Very reluctantly, I went. And my first talk was on forgiveness. Suddenly, as I was speaking, I saw to my horror, that same prison guard sitting in the audience. There was no way that he could have recognized me, but I could never forget his face, never! You know like Chinese say, 你化成灰, 我都记得 (ni hua cheng hui wo dou ji de). Even if you turn into dust, I can still recognize you. It was clear to me from the radiant look on his face, while I spoke that he had been converted. He had been saved, since I saw him last. And after I finished speaking, he came up and said with a beaming smile, “Ah…dear sister Corrie, isn’t it wonderful how God forgives?” And he extended his hand for me to shake. All I felt as I looked at him, was hate. I said to the Lord silently, there is nothing in me that could ever love that man. I hate him for what he did to me and to my family. But you tell us that we are to love our enemies. That’s impossible for me but nothing is impossible for you. So if you expect me to love this man, it’s going to have to come from you, because all I feel right now is hate. She went on to say that at that moment, she felt nudged to do only one thing. Put out your hand, Corrie, the Lord seemed to say. Then she take…she said it took all the years that I have quietly obeyed God in obscurity to do the hardest thing, that I’ve ever done in my life. I put out my hand. Then she said something remarkable happened. It was only after my simple act of obedience that I felt something like a warm oil being poured over me and with it came the unmistakable message. Well done, Corrie. That’s how my children behave. And the hate in my heart was absorbed and gone and so one murderer embraced another murderer, but in the love of Christ. One murderer because she hated, could embrace another murderer, only because of Christ. She did not act on feeling alone. She acted out of obedience, of choice. She did what was not natural but supernatural because she believed God was with her.
But you say, pastor this Corrie ten Boom so long ago, die already. It has nothing to do with us. I say to you in this church. I’ve seen Corrie ten Boom-like gestures and approaches amongst you. I say this, I…I…I’ve just recently saw, because I knew that two were not together, they were fighting. Two brothers were fighting, at least argued. There was unhappiness but I knew the very next week, one of them, when he saw the other brother come, went right up to him. By the way, as far as I know, it was not his fault. Well, you can never say it’s hundred and zero lah. Maybe 70, 30 lah, percentage of fault. But the brother went up proactively and said…and sought to reconcile. Do you know that’s a very humbling thing to do?
Do you know why husband and wife fight, and they will never reconcile? Because it’s so humbling. Even if you are right or even if you are wrong, it doesn’t matter. It’s very humbling to seek reconciliation. But when I saw the brother do it. I saw that, I said to myself, that is the mark of a Christian. He didn’t run away. He didn’t choose to bear hatred, but he sought to reconcile. That is grace. That is God. That is supernatural. He is walking in the light. And over and over again, it happens in true followers of Jesus Christ.
Is there someone you would rather not meet in this church? You just want to avoid? Maybe something that he said to you 5 weeks ago, 5 months ago, 5 years ago, but you could never let that off. Maybe some of you left your former church because there’s someone you cannot forgive right there. And you came here, but do you know when you left the church and came here, he never left you? He’s still on your head. He’s going to be with you for the rest of your life, until you bring that to the cross. The mark of a true believer, is that he loves, he doesn’t bear grudge, he doesn’t seek to take revenge. Because this is what John says, this is true in him and in you, because why? The darkness is passing away, the true light is already shining. There’s the dawn of a new day, you have a new birth. You wouldn’t act the way that you used to act. 0:37:53.7
And then as we conclude, we look at this. He says, if you are someone who abides in the light, you’re someone who loves your brother, then there is no cause for stumbling. In other words, you’ll not trip, you’ll not fall. You have this ability to walk uprightly. You have this ability to know that you are safe, you walk with assurance and joy. There’s no occasion, there’s no chance of falling. But if you are someone who is persistently hating your brother, it shows that you are in darkness, you walk in the darkness, you actually do not know where you are going, you are blinded. You are blinded by hatred, you are blinded by anger and bitterness and one day, you’ll be like a Cain. You’re shown up that you never really worship God in the first place.
It’s interesting that, John focuses on brother. Brother here refers to brothers and sisters in Christ. Isn’t it true that most of us think that, church is the last place you have quarrels? Aiyah, church is like paradise what, everybody so saintly. Everybody got a halo around the head, everybody so nice, I should never have any arguments in church. I tell you, that is why, it is so difficult to deal with differences in the church. Because expectations are so high. Wah, that guy Christian ah? That guy pastor leh; that guy deacon leh; he can do something like that ah? And it shocks you and that’s why you’re upset.
I find it paradoxical in my life. Okay, I’m not sure about you. In my life, I don’t think I have as many conflicts outside the church, as in inside the church. Been in church for 20 years, pastor for 8 years. I think, I’ve more conflicts in this church than anywhere else. Har? I think…is I suggest it may be true for you. If you’re really committed to the body life of the church. Because we are all sinners, still saved by grace. That’s all. And if you cannot accept that, if you think that this church is going to be the perfect haven for your soul. John wouldn’t have to write this. To John, it’s real! In the church, you will have occasions where, hatred can start and breed and grow. But he says, don’t do that. Don’t do that.
So this is John’s advice. He says, love one another. It’s a very practical thing. And…and John is called the apostle of love, because he speaks extensively about loving one another. There’s a legend, not sure whether it’s true at all, but a legend that goes like this: John the apostle, he was the last apostle to remain alive, on the face of the earth. He will be carried on stretcher to church assemblies. He will be carried to the house for Christian gatherings because he’s so old, he’s so weak. He can’t sit up at all, so he’s on a stretcher. And when he comes, people will ask him, what do you have to say to us? I mean the last of the apostles, of course you asked him. And John would say, love one another and then he will go off because he’s so weak. The next time you get John back as your guest preacher, John, what do you have to say to us? Love one another and he will go off again. And it goes on time after time, until someone says, er…excuse me, is there something else you’d like to say to us? It’s a bit boring that you say love one another every time. And John says, no, there’s nothing else I want to say to you. Love one another is the commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ, and if you do it, it is enough. I think etched in the mind of John, is this scene on the last night Jesus was betrayed. He could never forget that. He could never forget this example of love. That the King of all kings would lay down His glory, pick up that basin and that towel, to wash the feet of disciples. That Jesus would wash the feet of someone who would betray him. He would wash the feet of people who would flee from him and forsake him. He would wash the feet of someone even though he was going to the cross tomorrow. John could never forget that. And he says, this is what we are called to do, that people may know we are the disciples of Jesus Christ. 0:42:37.9
My friends, this message is a very simple, practical one. I don’t think it’s anything complicated. The question is, for you today. Love is not a feeling, it’s an action word. Are you doing anything about it? Is God bringing to your mind, even as you hear the sermon today, people, faces that you have had harboured hatred and bitterness against? Is there someone you need to bring to the cross, and ask God to give you grace to forgive? And I say to you, would we be a church that would be characterised by serving others? Would we love others? In a way, we’re building a building at Punggol. By the way we want the building to look nice lah. We want modesty, but we also think the building should look pretty decent. It shouldn’t look ugly and tattered and torn and so on. That’s certainly not the intention, but much as we want to make it presentable, that’s not the church. Not at all! Not at all! Where is the church? Right here. We say we need to have a beautiful church, so that people could come and hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are not talking about the beauty of the building, we are talking about the beauty of the people, of you and I.
How can we be beautiful for Jesus Christ? When we are all willing to lay down our outer garments, pick up the towel and wash the feet of people. I’ve seen many foot washers in this church and I praise God for every single one. I…I’ve seen grace in your life. I’ve seen God in your life. I see that when newcomers come, you don’t just sit on your own chair, and you sit further and further away. But you…you reach out your hand and you welcome. I’ve seen many of you do that. That’s washing feet! That’s giving up your right for your own privacy, so that you can reach out to someone who may be new and is struggling to find out what this is all about. I’ve seen many of you give up your own conveniences, your time to serve people. I’ve seen that and I pray I will see more of that, in many more of us. How can we prepare for Punggol? Well, yup, there’re…there are people who need to build the building, but Punggol preparation is about soul. It’s about life. It’s about us. It’s about serving one another as Jesus did. This is what Jesus left his apostles with. Will you be someone who follows the words of This Jesus Christ today? 0:45:11.1
Let’s bow for a word of prayer together. A pastor was once counselling a lady. She said I could never forgive. I hate him too much. I would never be able to forgive. And the pastor said to her, if you don’t forgive, it may just mean that you were never saved, you were not walking in the light. That shook her because she paused for a moment and said, pastor, I think you’re right. I have been deceiving myself that I can’t forgive, and I won’t forgive. I know I’m a Christian and I will forgive. And that’s what she did.
Are you saying to yourself today, folks, I can never forgive him? I know you preach the Bible, I know you’re looking at 1 John chapter 2, but I can never forgive him or her, I can’t do it! My friends, it is God’s command. And the true child of God obeys God. A true child of has the grace of God in his or her life. The Spirit of God to pour out His love, to enable you to do so. It lies with the choice of your will. Would you do that? Maybe today it’s your wife, it’s your husband, it’s your S.F. member, It’s your church mate, it’s your father, your mother, your in-laws, I do not know. Maybe your colleagues in the office. It has messed you up because hatred messes you up. Hatred is like burning a whole house down to kill a rat. And you want to kill him, but it has also killed the soul. You’re walking today in darkness, you are blinded and God doesn’t want you to stay there. Would you today lay all at the foot of the cross? Tender-hearted, being kind, one to another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you. I ask you today, how’s your service life? Christianity is not about how much you know about the Bible alone, yes it’s important, but what do you do with what you know? Are you living out God’s Word? Are you serving? Are you willing to pick up the towel today? Friends, we are not going to Punggol, we are not going to a new realm of ministry because we have a building. We’re going there because God wants us to serve and…and that means you and I, we got to be ready to serve. We got to put aside our outer garments, to fulfil the stewardship God has given to us. Would you do that? 0:48:03.0
Maybe you’re here today for the first time and you say, wow, this message is really tough because I can never forgive him. I could never do that, I can’t! I say to you, if you have not known Jesus, that’s not God…what God wants you to do right here, right now. Because obeying these commandments, doing these things, are not the means to get to God. God knows better. We are absolutely incapable of doing it anyway. But herein is the grace, that while we were yet enemies of God, while we were yet sinners, worthless, hopeless, helpless, He did it all by sending His Son and dying for all our sins. What does God want me to do today, you say? He wants you to recognize your utter unworthiness as a sinner. He wants you to see that you’re absolutely unable to save yourself and he wants you now to entirely trust that His Son has done it all for you. He wants you to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. He wants you to taste of His love. He doesn’t want you to manufacture love, you can’t! It’s supernatural! But if you’re willing today, to humble yourself and come to the foot of the cross, then like that amazing Niagara Falls, the love of God is poured out into your tiny little heart. And as it overflows, you would experience the grace and the ability to love others as Jesus loved. This is the Christian message: God to us and through us. Would you turn from sin and believe in Jesus today? He loves you so, while you were yet sinners.
And so Father this morning, we thank you for this time, we could look into your word. And I pray that we will all take a very, very good look at our own lives. Allow us today, to be freed from the root of bitterness. Freed from bitterness, anger, hatred that kills our soul. Help us to choose to obey, to love, to serve, to wash the feet of those around us. I pray that this will be the true mark of Gospel Light Christian church. There will be that light of love, through every single individual. And God is there are people today, who have been awakened to the reality that they may never really have trusted Jesus as yet, I ask you dear God, to humble them, to help them come to you afresh, anew, for salvation and life. May none in this room, passed from death, from life to death, assuming we are saved, when we really are not. But everyone would make our calling and election sure, trusting in Christ alone. So bless your people, this morning, we asked and pray all this, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 John Chapter 2 verses 3 to 6
Download the sermon slides: SERMON-2014-9-07
Now if you are here, as a church we study the Bible for our preaching ministry. So we are in the book of 1 John. If you have your Bibles, if you are here for the first time it would be great if you could open your Bibles to 1 John and we looking at chapter 2 this morning 1st John chapter 2 and will get into the text soon.
But before I do that I want to show you a little picture a kind of food that I love and many of you here love and that is the picture of durians. Now for all of you are caucasians you’re overseas, you say what is this stinky socks fruit. Well this is the favorite for many people here is durians, it’s the king of all fruits and do you know the king of durians? Mao Shan Wang absolutely the Mountain Cat king, that is a breed of durians, Mao Shan Wang that is very, very popular. The Mao Shan Wang durian is very popular because it is rich and creamy, it is bittersweet, it has a nice aroma to it and the flesh is said to just drape round the seed. It falls off very, very nicely, very, very easily. You know, the normal durian, you eat the flesh get stucked on to the seed one aah, but for the real Mao Shan Wang it’s supposed to just fall off and what is beautiful about Mao Shan Wang also is that it is Chew Chee, we call it in Hokkien, meaning the seed is very very small, so every seed of that durian is goodness to the max.
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It’s red, it’s creamy, it’s thick, it’s a bittersweet, it’s just the perfect durians. But with every good thing, it comes with a price and so Mao Shan Wang is also the, one of the most expensive durians you can get and with anything that is expensive, you can also expect imitations ah. A lot of fakes that are being sold as Mao Shan Wang when actually they are anything but Mao Shan Wang. So that’s why people write on blogs, “Thanks for the tip”, so this is not someone who shared how to recognize the real McCoy and so,thanks for the tip, recently got conned into paying Mu Sun Wang OK wrong spelling into paying Mao Shan Wang price for some Thai durians, trusted the durians seller to my regret. So, you can get cheated right, because, people sell you, Mao Shan Wang, Mao Shan Wang $15, $20 per kilo but it is actually just Thai durians and then there are people, because they’ve been cheated or because they have heard about being cheated, they decided they would never buy durians from durians sellers.
“He says, thanks, I love durians but I always shy away from the durians seller, afraid of being cheated, so I settle with styrofoam durians, and not that the durians is Styrofoam but, durians are sold in Styrofoam boxes all right. Yellow, yellow that’s the best I can do to make my money worth but, deep inside I wish I can know from someone kind enough to share the trade of picking the right durians. Now it is very terrible, if you pay lots of money and then, you go home realized ee, I got cheated, it’s not the real stuff, is the fake Mao Shan Wang, nobody likes that.
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Now as a pastor who cares for you, let me share with you the 5 traits about choosing Mao Shan Wang, not that I’m a durians seller but I learned from the blog Johorkaki, alright which I, Google and searched. How do you look for the real Mao Shan Wang how do you prevent yourself never to be cheated again. I’ll give it a 5 tips next time you buy Mao Shan Wang remember me. (Laughter in the congregation)
Well according to this blog post, they say, number 1, Mao Shan Wang durians is usually oval or egg shaped, rarely round, usually on the elongated kind of a version or shape, this is the 1st characteristic. A 2nd characteristic is found in the thorns. Look at a picture here and tell me what you observe about the thorns. (Someone say Sharp) (Laughter in the congregation). Not sharp, won’t call thorns lah. What’s so unique about the thorns ? Well, I wouldn’t have noticed it apart from what you told me, they say that the thorns on the Mao Shan Wang durians is pyramidal, in other words it is flat and angular can you see that? It’s flat and angular versus round and conical, so this is one of the characteristics of Mao Shan Wang durians.
A 3rd characteristic is that the thorns converge at the base of the stem to found a circle. Can you see that? It forms a circle number.
Number 4 this is a very cardinal characteristics and that is the 5 arms starfish appearance at the bottom and you will see it really looks like a starfish with 5 arms and the arms draw up all the way to the middle of the durian and
Lastly for this starfish, not only the 5 arms but the body is it’s the same pictures and the other one and the body of the starfish is that it is flat, it’s brown, it’s bald and the thorns faced away.
Okay so these are the 5 tips if you want to know more you can listen to the video when it is posted up online.
But why, do I I share with you all? Well people get very appreciative, oh! Thank you so much for sharing, now I know how to choose the real thing, everybody hates to be cheated we want to get the real thing, we want to know all the real thing and as a pastor, I am concerned that you choose the right durians alright.
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But more than caring for you that you would choose the right durians, I pray that you would know the right stuff for your spiritual life. I pray that you will really not just being assured of buying Mao Shan Wang, you be assured that there is a real spiritual life in your own self. You see, it is terrible when you thought this is Mao Shan Wang and you open on the inside, it is not Mao Shan Wang. It is terrible when we say look at me I’m a Christian on the outside but when you really open up, I don’t have the real life, I don’t really know God, I don’t really have eternal life, I am not the real McCoy, I just thought I was, but when it really opened up, I’m not the real Christian.
There’s nothing more important to a durians lover that you get the right durians and there’s nothing more important to someone who attends church, to come for services, who want to explore Christianity or maybe even call yourself a Christian, than to know that you are the real deal, that there is the real life of God in you.
I pray today we would all have this blessed assurance, I am a child of God and Jesus is mine. I think, assurance of salvation is a very very important thing. Why, why is it important for me to know today I am God’s child, I’m truly saved and there is a Zoe, the eternal life in me. Why is it so important ? Because if you don’t really hear from God, if you are really ascertain for yourself from God’s Word, you may be in for a horrendous surprise, and a surprise will be on a day where you meet with the Lord Jesus Christ.
You see, the Bible says Jesus says, there will be a day when many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name and do many works, mighty works in your name and then I would declare to them, I never knew you, depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.
These words are not imagined, these words are in the Bible, these words are exactly what Jesus had said and there will be a day of unbelievable shock and surprise to many people in this world. Lord, I thought I did so many things, Jesus says, I never knew you. Hey, I thought I bought Mao Shan Wang, the durians seller told me it’s Mao Shan Wang, it is not Mao Shan Wang. No matter what you believe, if it is not the real thing, it is not the real thing.
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Some of us say you know pastor, I go preaching, I go to overseas, I go Philippines E-campaign, I preached a lot. You know there may be a possibility, you will stand before Jesus and he said “I never knew you”. There are people today who will say, I can cast out demons, maybe none in our church has done that yet, but Wah I can go and cast out demons and Jesus could say to someone like that, “I never knew you.” Hey, Jesus, I did many mighty works, I performed miracles. Jesus can say to someone like that, I never knew you.
This message I hope is not to shock you in the degree to make you discouraged and to shake your confidence in Jesus Christ if you are truly saved. I don’t have the intention and that is certainly not the desire and intention of the Bible. That is not the work of the Holy Spirit to shake the confidence of the true believer. But I believe these passages are given so that we may be shaken out of our own presumption if we are not really saved.
So please if I share these things a little bit on the stronger side it is not so that I want to condemn or shame you, but I hope today will be a glorious day for you that when you look at the reality of Scripture and you look at your own life, if you are not yet truly saved, this will be a glorious day, that all the pretenses will be peeled away and that you can really come to the eternal life that is found in Jesus Christ. But for those of you who are Christians already, I think this subject of assurance is absolutely vital, because it is necessary for you to go through life knowing that God is your Father. It is very hard to live in a family where dad always tells you I don’t love you, where your dad always tells you, I am not you make sure you are my own child. Wah, that kind, you can’t function well right, I mean you won’t study, you won’t work hard, because you don’t have that assurance, you are in the right family.
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As a Christian, if you don’t have the basic assurance that I am God’s child, my Father loves me and I have a real relationship with Him, you can’t go through life, you can go through sufferings, you can’t go through ministry to God, you can’t give of yourself entirely for Jesus Christ, you can’t without assurance. That’s why, Keller he says, “Unless you have that assurance, you’re not tapped into the resources the Bible says are there for Christians, you can’t live the life the way the Bible says a Christian can live a life, you can only really live out the full Christian life when you have a blessed assurance.”
This subject of assurance, is not an easy one, let me say this right from the word go. Why? Because people take this subject of assurance to extremes. One extreme is this thinking, I’m standing on this side, one extreme is this thinking, that we should never allow people to have assurance. Why? Because once people have assurance, they take their salvation for granted and they continue to live in sin. So we give them assurance and they may twist that assurance, that security, to do whatever they want, a.k.a. sin. Now this kind of thinking, this kind of aversion is manifested when people preach very much about the fact that, look at your life, you’re not so much what God wants you to be, you must not be a Christian and they teach such high standards that people get demoralized and they have a kind of a morbid self introspection.
The whole fear, is that with assurance, people lead lives astray. I don’t think that is quite balanced because if you are truly born again, you won’t take God’s grace for granted to lead life astray. But this is what has happened, maybe in some of the teachings in olden times, the reformers, the Puritans. It’s a severe message and you will hardly read on anyone having this blessed assurance.
In today’s day and age, maybe the puritanical teachings are less and so on, but there are, there is a group of people who suffer from a lack of assurance. Who are they, they are the people who believe that a Christian can lose his salvation. I say categorically, as a church and in accordance to the teachings of the Bible, you don’t lose your salvation if you are truly born again. Once truly saved, always saved.
It’s interesting that Joshua are mentioned that in the Scripture reading in John 10 that no one is able to pluck us out from our Father’s hand. The security of a true believer is very clear in the Bible. But when you believe that a man can lose his salvation when he sins, you don’t have that security. So, let me say this, you don’t lose your salvation, that’s not in the Scripture although if you live a life of continual sin, it shows up that you were not a Christian to begin with in the first place. So this is the extreme, assurance is near impossible to experience or to have. Let me go to the other extreme. The other extreme is assurance is very casual and simplistic. How do you have assurance? Very simple, as long as you say you believe in Jesus Christ and you pray a sinner’s prayer, you are saved and you can be assured.
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But I’m not so sure, I did say the prayer, I did say I believe in Jesus Christ but I’m still not sure. Then what they will throw you is 1John 5:13 and they read to you “I write these things unto you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. So they use 1John 5:13 and bulldoze any doubts away. Are, look at this verse, you must be saved, you must be assured and they ignore the reality of Scripture, that there are other things that contribute to a man’s assurance. You see, John says “I write these things to you, meaning, he has written the letter of 1John, to give you the marks, to give you the evidence, to give you the 5 marks of the Mao Shan Wang, the Mountain Cat king to know that this is the real durians and God has given you marks and characteristics, so that you may know that you are the child of the King. Don’t, missed it, it is not just saying, oh, 1John 5:13, you believe in Jesus, you can be assured and don’t deal with any doubts. No, they are marks for you to check. Now, certainly there is a certain assurance, when a man first places his trust in Jesus, there is a certain assurance as in Romans 8 telling us the witness of the Spirit, but that is not all the assurance and there’s a richer, fuller, grander, stronger assurance when you can see these things in 1John.
So let me share with you the 1st of these things. It’s found in 1John 2 and it says here and by this we know that we’ve come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. Whoever says I know Him but does not keep His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him but whoever keeps his word in him, truly the love of God is perfected, by this we may know that we are in him. Whoever says he abides in him to walk in the same way in which he walk.
This verse is very clear, very simple, by this we know that we have come to know Him. It is God’s absolute desire for us to have that assurance. That is why he says, By this we may know. He wants His children to know, He belongs to them and they belong to Him, He wants that. So assurance is not a nigh impossible achievement. It is a promise, it is a reality we can have. On the other hand, looking at this verse, we know that assurance of salvation is not simplistic or overly casual, by saying, oh, as long as you believe in Jesus, you must have assurance. No there is, there are things you need to know. So one of the 1st things, one of the 1st marks of knowing the real thing, the real life, is really encapsulated in this one word, obedience.
How do you know you are a child of God today? Many people will say, because I was baptized, because I’ve a Christian name, because I wear a cross, because my father and mother are Christians, because I’ve been in church since I was 2 months old, because I love to read the Bible before I go to sleep, because I pray 3 times a day. You know, there are many reasons why people think they are Christians, but here in 1John, John says “If you are a child of God, you must have a life of obedience.” If you don’t have this obedience, you can be baptized thousand times, you can read the Bible 10,000 times, you can have 10,000 Christian names for yourself, you’re not a Christian. As simple as that! Hey, this is Mao Shan Wang ah, very big, very nice, blah, blah, blah, but don’t have the starfish, not Mao Shan Wang maybe Gou Shan Wang whatever but is definitely not Mao Shan Wang. You must have the starfish! A Christian must have obedience. You see this is not what I said, nor only what John said, but Jesus Himself said, ” Why do you call me Lord, Lord and you do not do what I tell you.” It doesn’t make sense, if I am a believer of the Lord Jesus Christ but my life is a live in conformity to His Word, I don’t obey Him. Do you really have a relationship with Jesus? No, you don’t. The unsaved, the people who have yet to come to Jesus Christ, the Bible describes them as the sons of disobedience, that’s the mark of someone who does not know Jesus, he lives in disobedience, that’s what he is called. But when you turn to Jesus Christ, you are now called as obedient. You see the difference?
It is not so much unsaved, saved, actually, that term, not so relevant, okay, is in the Scriptures, but what is very clear is disobedient, now obedient. This assurance comes when you realize you are obedient and that’s where John says in verse 3, By this, by what?, By this we know we, have come to know Him if we keep His commandments. Today you can know if you know Him by checking if you keep His commandments, do you obey God.
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We live in a day where people say, as long as you believe in Jesus, you don’t have obey His laws anymore, no, not quite. Yes, you don’t have obey the law of God, in order to get saved, because nobody nobody can anyway. You don’t obey God’s law in order to keep yourself being saved, it’s all by grace anyway, but if you are really a child of God, your heart is so changed that you will say, I want to keep God’s law, I want to obey Him. That tells if you really know Jesus Christ. So you will not be someone who is living happily and habitually in sin, you will not be someone who is always stucked with pornography with no breakthrough. You will not be someone who is always bitter and angry, you will not be someone who is always loving the world. you won’t, because if you really come to know God, you keep His commandments.
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The word keep, is a beautiful word, it is a word that refers to someone who guard something, as something very precious, maybe not a very good example but one which is vivid for you, is Gollum.
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“This is my precious….. He treasures that ring…. It’s precious….. He gets all frangle and messed up when someone takes his ring away.”
Time stamp in audio 0:21:49.5.
Now, I said, it is also good because, I hope you don’t say, you don’t have such an eerie attitude when you come to the Bible. Nonetheless you must have a very great regard and value for the Word of God. The word keep here is to keep something as very precious. In other words, you look at the Bible not just as oh, my, this is such a impossible set of commands for me to obey, ahh, I just have to do it. Your attitude switches, this is such a delightful Bible, the Word of God is sweeter than honey, better than fine gold, the Word, the law of God is not burdensome, but I delight to do the Word of God. That is the heart and that is the evidence of a child of God.
Don’t hide behind baptisms, Christian family, Christian cross, asked yourself this question, do you have the starfish, do you have this mark of obedience and a heart that delight in obedience. John is very strong with his words, he says, “Whoever says, I know him, I know him, I know Jesus, he is my Savior, but does not keep His commandments, no excuse, no ifs, no buts, he is a liar” and I’ve known and met many people in my life sadly, I wish I could, I could really believe them and I know, they are people dear to me, relatives, I am a Christian, I believe in Jesus, but their lives is anything but obedience. And I hope I am not being critical and I did not want to look at it as a critical judgmental kind of a perspective but to really see are there marks of new life in that person, because you may say you know Him, you may say you are, you pass all the doctrine tests in church, but if you do not keep His commandments, you are a liar. This is not knowing God’s Word, there are a lot of smart people can memorize and study the Bible. The key here is whether you keep it, you do it, you observe it. So John is absolutely, brutally, but I think kindly honest, so that will not be led astray, so that we would not sit on a false presumption and be shocked on the day, I never knew you. He goes on to say whoever keeps His word in him, truly the love of God is perfected, the word perfected, means fulfilled. How do you know you love God? That you can pass all your catechism class tests, that you call yourself Moses David John, that you come to church every Sunday, how do you know you love God? When you keep His Word.
Time stamp in audio 0:25:13.8.
Jesus said, if you love Me keep My commandments. You know it’s, it’s so clear when you think about this in a husband and wife relationship. The wife says to the husband, dear I love you, but she’s sleeping around with other men. Huh, but, dear, believe me, I love you. But you are sleeping with other men, but you must believe what I say, I really you love. No, you don’t love me, by this I know you don’t love me, you are not loyal to me, you don’t keep my commandments. Mummy I love you, I love you, but I never obey mummy, that’s not love (pastor mentions a Mandarin phrase) , and that’s what it is , but is not real love. There are many churchgoers today who can have very Christian lingo, (pastor mentions say Mandarin phrase again) to God, how I love you God, and in worship, in singing they, Wah. I mean, no, I am not against emotion. Actually I think our church we are little bit emotionless. (Laughter in the congregation) That’s true, the only times, you guys really could be yourself maybe is during sermon, somehow in singing, you just feel that cannot. No, no I think it’s okay to be feeling, responding to God with not just our heads, but also with your hearts, but, what I am against, are people who have all that feeling and talk big but in their life, there is no obedience. You are the most godly looking people when they sing, but after the church, they are another people. Now that is not what a child of God will do, if he loves God. It’s a life of obedience that proves that.
Time stamp in audio 0:27:11.8.
And John goes on in verse 6 to say by this we know that we are in Him. How do you have a relationship with Him? How do you know you really abide in Him? How do you know you have this deep abiding relationship like the branch and the vine? You know this when you walk in the same way He walk? How did Jesus walk? He walk in absolute obedience to the Father and if you know God, if you have Jesus in your life, if you have that Zoe in you, this is the evidence, you will walk in absolute obedience to your Father. There are no 2 ways about it folks, this is a very absolute to him, John is a very clear-cut guy, he is called the apostle of love, but he is also the son of thunder, he is. His love is on the wishy-washy wimpy kind of feeling, it’s a very clear-cut objective understanding, if I love God okay Him. That is the challenge that is the teaching, and that is the fact, that is the starfish of this Mao Shan Wang.
How do you know you bought the right Mao Shan Wang home, when you see the starfish? How do you know that you are a child of God? Because there is a life of obedience. Not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven” many people today call Lord, Lord, many, not just in this church, but in all the churches in Singapore and its throughout the world, you add that together, you know you have statistics of the number of Christians? People always say, how many Christians in this country, how many churchgoers, I never quite believe those statistics, I never quite believe those. It may give you a feel because there may be a proportionate kind of representation. But no, the number of Christians today are not so easily discerned as I was baptized, I put my name down as a Christian. It is also easily known as putting Christianity on your pink IC because God says there is a test, it’s not what you say, Lord, Lord, but one who does, who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Time stamp in audio 0:29:29.8.
And again you can do very spectacular things, they are preachers, they are leaders of churches, who, who proclaim that they can do many spectacular things, but the words of Jesus still are a shocker, “I never knew you, depart from me, you workers of lawlessness”. So if you really know Christ, it is not seen in the spectacular things you do, not always, not often. You say how do I know if I really know Christ, let me tell you what, it’s seen in the daily things you do. It’s seen in your everyday life. Do you obey God in the small things of life, do you obey God in everything in your life, when nobody is watching, the evidence of salvation is seen in the dailyness of your obedience to Jesus, not once in a while, come out, say, do big things and then, if you go down and live like a devil. You do the will of the Father consistently, because knowing Christ will result in obeying Christ. Having faith will result in works, justification will lead to sanctification, grace will lead to holiness, having the new birth, will result in having the new life, it is an inescapable reality. You say, why is this so, very simple dynamic. A man who comes to know God will be changed why ? Because the Bible tells us in the new covenant, ah, this is a term that you may be thrown off, but let me just say this old covenant is thinking that I can reach God, I can get saved by obeying the commandments. That’s the old covenant and God says by the old covenant nobody can get saved, because nobody can obey perfectly.
Let me tell you the new covenant, the new covenant is when I sovereignly worked in a man’s heart that I will change him, I will give him a new heart, I’ll give him a new spirit, I will work within him. So it’s not that he works his way up, but I work into his life. When someone believes in Jesus Christ, the operation of the Holy Spirit takes place and he is given a new heart, this is a new covenant. So how do you know if you really know God? Well you know when you have a new heart. Why because when someone knows God, the Spirit of God comes to the man’s heart and performs a heart transplant, a brain transplant, changes him so that his heart that was used to be disobedient, is now careful to obey my rules, he wants to do it not because he is forced from the outside, but he has a new heart, totally changed from the inside and he says, I want obey God.
Time stamp in audio 0:32:32.1.
Think of it, if you have a brain transplant, you won’t be the same you, right? If you have Einstein’s brain, you will think like Einstein and you have receive God’s heart, you would delight in God Word, you will obey God’s Word, not just talk about it, but you are truly convicted and convinced and therefore you live a life of obedience.
I think of it like a pig and a in a pig please don’t be offended if I call you pigs, because, all of us are pigs in a sense, in this illustration. Imagine a pig, when a pig goes to the mud, what does he do? He revels in mud, he enjoys, he rolls in mud, yeh, yeh , yeh he loves mud, I mean, that is his nature. But imagine one day, a magician comes and changes the pig into a man. Now, his outside may still be pig but this magician changes the way he thinks, changes the way he looks at things, this magician changes the pigs brain and a pigs’ heart into a human brain and a human heart. Now, this pig, suddenly realizes, hey why am I in the mud, dirty yah, he picks up his two legs and he says, I want to get out of the mud, I want to get out of the mud and, he gets out of the mud. But, when he walks like a human being, when he has two legs sometimes he is not careful, he trips, he falls and he gets back into the mud. What does he do, when he gets back into the mud? Does he do this,shiok,shiok, shiok shiok,shiok. Does he do that, he doesn’t, he says, eee, it is so dirty, I want to get up and he gets out of the mud.
Time stamp in audio 0:34:09.1.
You see, you may fall into dirt, but he doesn’t delight in the dirt, he delights in purity, he delights in cleanliness, because he is no more a pig, he is a man. How do I know he is a new heart ? When the pig doesn’t want to get in the mud, how do you know you have a heart transplant by the Holy Spirit. how do you know if you are a child of God? When you don’t live in the mud. It is very simple, this is not, this is not E equal to MC squared. This is basic, by this fairly obvious mark you know you are a child of God. Do love the mud today? Like I said, all Christians will stumble in the mud, because we still have the flesh, we are still not properly totally freed from the, from the influences of sin. But will you stay there, or will you get out of that mud. Blessed assurance, blessed assurance is for those who keep his commandments and this keeping as I want to share with you is a consistent one. Now, I’m not saying that you will be perfect, as we have mentioned before, walking in the light is not sinless perfection but sincere progression and it’s again seen here, how do you know you’re a Christian? When you are keeping His commandments. The tense in the Greek is a continuous one, meaning, this is not something that happened to you ten years ago. You know, pastor, I’m a Christian because 10 years ago, I live for Jesus, now I, I believe something else. No, no, no, a true Christian will keep on keeping.There is no such thing as I used to believe and now I don’t, I’m still a Christian, no you will keeping his commandments. That’s the new heart, that’s why for the reformers, the Puritans who may have thought that it’s not so safe, not so healthy to give people assurance based on Scripture, I don’t is a very good rationale, because they might not understand that grace changes a man’s heart, that he will not abuse that grace anyway, but you will keep believing and if someone leaves, if someone disobeys consistently and forsakes the Christian faith, it is just showing up that they were not saved from the beginning. It is the story of the parables, parable of the sower, 4 kinds of soil, only one kind is fruitful, there are 2 kinds of that seem to have some fruit, but when there are trials, when there are temptations, they die off. They never were of the right soil in the 1st place.
Time stamp in audio 0:37:20.8.
So with time, a consistent life of obedience is the, one of the best signs for you to have this blessed assurance. Knowing is not enough, Bruce Lee ah, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.
I shared with you this very very simple feature. I want to bring it to a close. I want to ask you, what are some of the applications. So Pastor, you have told me, alright, a Christian’s assurance must not be based on mere profession, must be based on his outward conformity to some ceremony or naming or attire or dressing, it must be based on a life of consistent obedience to God, because he is like a pig, a child of disobedience, transformed in his heart, to be like a man, with a heart that desires God’s Word and obey Him. But what has this got to do with my life today, how should this impact me. I want to suggest four simple things for you today based on how you have received God’s Word.
Time stamp in audio 0:38:37.2.
Some of you have heard this, ah you hear this message and you say wow, I, I can clearly see that I see the starfish in my life, some of you can say that. You can say it, from what I was 10 years ago, to what I am today, there has been a change in my life, I’m less angry, I’m less lustful, I’m still not perfect, I’ve many problems, but I genuinely see that I’m a different man, I’m a changed man, I want to obey God and I do obey God. If you are someone like that, don’t be proud and say look, huh all of you laoyah (colloquil for lousy) I’m the best Christian. Now, don’t have this attitude, but be humble before the Lord, stand at the foot of the cross and I say to you, if you have this blessed assurance as this picture goes, praise God for His divine work in your life, you are who you are toda,y not because of yourself, but by the grace of God and therefore, when you have such an assurance, it is a blessing, it is a wonderful gift from God and our appropriate response is to praise Him. Therefore, Fanny Crosby, wrote this song Blessed Assurance and she says
“Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
and her consistent refrain or chorus is this”,
“This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;”
If you’re here today, you know Jesus and you know, you know Jesus, you got that? You know, you know, Jesus because you see the starfish of obedience, consistent obedience in your life, I say to you, the appropriate response, is to bow before the Lord and praise His work of grace, this is given to you and you are privileged, you are blessed, you should be thankful.
Time stamp in audio 0:40:42.4.
For some of us we may be thinking well, I think I’m a Christian, but I, I wish I had more assurance. What do you do? And I hear this a lot of young people, who grew up in Christian homes. I speak with some teenagers here and one of the big dangers for, not a big danger but one of the big struggles, of a teenager is you know, Pastor, I, I grew up in a Christian family, I’ve always been to church. To be honest, I do not know when I trusted in Jesus, I’ve, I’ve raised my hands in SUnday schools so many times I’m lost. Whether it is for sweets or for salvation, I can’t remember.
Time stamp in audio 0:41:23.4.
I’m confused but I, can I ever be saved or should I make a decision again today. How can I have the assurance? Well, there is good advice in the Scriptures here and I say this is a little bit paradoxical, if you think about. I thought to be saved, to have the assurance, I need to do something, to get that ah, but you know the Bible, says if you want to have assurance, if you, if you sort of think you’re saved but you’re not so sure and you want to grow in that assurance, the Bible’s teaching is that you should pursue Christ in Christian growth and as you pursue Christ in Christian growth, as you nurture the spiritual life in you, as you cultivate the spiritual life in you, as you see this growth in the Christian life it gives you assurance.
You say, how do I get that, where do I get that? That’s found in 2nd Peter.
Time stamp in audio 0:42:19.6.
Peter says, for this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, so you are saying, now, now that they are washed, now that you are cleansed, you’re a child of God, but you’re not very sure. You are to grow in this assurance. What you do is you add to your faith, virtue, virtue, knowledge, knowledge, self-control, self-control, steadfastness and then godliness, brotherly affection and then charity or love or agape. And he says, as you pursue these values, as you pursue these virtues in your life, depending on the Spirit to bring that about, if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, for whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
(2 Peter 1:5-9 ESV)
So it says that if a Christian is slack, if a Christian is not pursuing growth, if a Christian is not growing in Christ, he loses his salvation, he becomes nearsighted, he forgot that he was cleansed from sin. Don’t you see that in your friends around you sometimes, they are not walking with the Lord and they are they are shaken in their confidence. But if you pursue Christ, and you see all these qualities develop over time, in the midst of trials, in the midst of temptations, what happens is that as you are diligent to confirm your calling and election, when you practice this qualities you will never fall. It becomes clear, you don’t have a lack of evidence. If you are a young person today, if you’re relatively sure, but you want to grow in the assurance, I say pursue Christ. Be diligent to confirm your calling and election.
Time stamp in audio 0:44:23.5.
But this is not just a personal venture because God has given to us the church and when I mean church, it does not refer to the preacher. Church refers to one another and therefore if you want to grow in your assurance, it is and you want to help others in their walk with God, we need to understand what it means to encourage one another. You see this is the teaching again of the writer of Hebrews (Heb 3:12-14),
Take care brothers this is serious all right. Sometimes I fear that when we read the Bible, we read it almost as if they are good advices for us and we don’t take it so seriously and we don’t do this. I say if spiritual eternal destiny is important to you, if the life of God in you is important to you, then take God’s Word seriously. He says “Take care brothers lest there been in any of you, an evil unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. Exhort one another every day as long as it is called today, means it’s not something you delay, something you do today, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. The moment you stop pursuing Christ, you allow sin to fester and grow in you, it can harden your heart and eventually you may fall away from Christ.
Time stamp in audio 0:45:36.8.
Now that again I say is not that you lose your salvation. But this evil heart is now brought to surface, you now see that you never believed in the 1st place. And the community that God has given to you in the church, is so that they may point you to Christ, lest you be continuing in the indulgence of sin, being unchecked, unaccounted for and ultimately destroy your spiritual walk with God. For we have come to share in Christ if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ìtoday,î that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. (Hebrews 3:12-14 ESV)
Time stamp in audio 0:46:13.1.
The child of God will be seen as someone who perseveres to the end and to do that, is never easy alone, to do it alone, it’s got to be done, is got to be journeyed together with other brothers and sisters, we need one another to keep believing in Jesus and if you do, it will be shown that you do have that assurance, you do have that salvation.
But finally I want to say to those of you who today, as you hear this sermon, wah, you say, pastor really severe huh, my purpose again is not to shame you, nor to expose in an unkind manner, but I think one of the horrors of my life, will be, that when we all die and meet with the Lord Jesus Christ, that there will be those who have been with us, week after week, month after month, year after year, where we would hear those words from Jesus, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” As the pastor, that will be a nightmare. I hope is not because we have failed to teach Scriptures, the way it should be taught, so that you can check your heart the way it should be checked. Again the purpose is not to shame you, but I pray this day will be the most glorious day for you, the day when you would say, I honestly stand before God today and say I have been hiding behind all kinds of excuses, I don’t love God, I don’t delight in His Word, I have not had a change in my life that is consistent all that honors Him.
I have been hoping that I’m a Christian simply because I come to church. I say to you today, it may be the most glorious day for you because you can be freed from all that and really I beg you, I pray for you, really come to Jesus Christ for salvation and life. How to get saved , how do you know Jesus? Is it by working your way up? No, you don’t try to be holy in order to be saved. The teaching of the Bible is that God saves you in order for you to be holy and he saves you when you’re willing to turn from your sin and believe in Jesus Christ and what He has done for you. Salvation is not a difficult process whereby I have to obey every commandment in order to be worthy to be saved. No, salvation is recognizing I am absolutely unworthy to be saved, but God is so amazing He gave His Son for me. Obedience is not the path to salvation, obedience is the proof of salvation the cross, the Gospel, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, is the way, to salvation.
Young people again I say this particularly to you, don’t hide behind your parent saying he’s a Christian, we are Christian, I must be a Christian. Are you really saved? Don’t you fear hearing those words from Jesus, “I never knew you.” All that could change today, if you humble yourself, turn from sin and believe in Jesus Christ and when He changes your heart, that day when you meet with Him, His words will be, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Time stamp in audio 0:50:04.7.
Time, would tell, all of us will be with Jesus one day at the judgment and I pray all of us would hear those words together “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” May God have mercy on us.
Let’s bow for a word of prayer. Amazing grace isn’t it? Every religion says you must be worthy in order to be saved, but this is the grace of God, when we are absolutely unworthy and when we can never change our unworthiness, Jesus died for you and He says to you whosoever believes in Me, shall not perish but have everlasting life, this is my gift, you don’t have to deserve it, I want to give it, would you humble yourself today, to turn from sin and believe in Jesus Christ. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine, oh, what a foretaste, of glory divine, heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. Does this describe you, it can, if you are willing to humble yourself and come to Jesus Christ. It is for you, ah my friends if you have been backsliding, you have been living in sin and like that pig that has been changed in the heart, you are living in the mud, I say to you, why do you stay there, come on, get up, get others to help you get up. We are, a church, we are a people together, we are part of this community, not just in the service, not just in in this preaching session but come into fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ, because not only do you need help, others need your help. That’s what God has called you to, but to pursue Him. The amazing thing is that as you cultivate that in the life, the fruit manifest and He gives you, tremendous assurance. Jesus is life. Today, if you know Jesus and you sure, you’re certain, because you have believed in Him, because there is a witness of the Spirit, because you see the starfish of consistent obedience, do not be proud, do not be self-righteous, but be humbled, it is all grace, it all Him, to God be the glory, what a great day, what a great assurance, what strength in suffering, what abandonment in service and sacrifice. Oh yes, Father we thank You, Your Word is given not to shake about confidence but Your Word is given so that we may be sure, we may know and for those who are not sure, not certain, that day today can make it known as well, by turning from sin and believing in Christ, if we strip away all pretenses, humble us and through a divine operation within our souls, to give us a new heart, a new mind, that delights in Your Word and obeys You and may this church, be a people where there is genuine understanding of the Gospel changed life, that we would journey one with another, that will pursue Christ and the heights of glory together and dear God make Yourself, glorious again to us. Thank you for this time, bring each one of us closer to You today, we asked pray all this in Jesus Name.← Older posts Newer posts →