Love One Another

Steve Viars June 3, 2018 1 John 3:14-18
Outline

John 10:10 - The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Colossians 1:28 - We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:14-16, 21-22 - For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body…And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary…

1 Corinthians 3:11 - For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:10 - But each man must be careful how he builds on it.

3 principles to help us build one another in love

I. Loving One Another is a Proof of Our Salvation – 3:14-15

1 John 3:14-15 - We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

A. “Gaining assurance of our salvation” is one of the purposes of the book of 1 John

1. 1 John 1:3 - …what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

2. 1 John 1:4 - These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

3. 1 John 5:13 - These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

B. Described powerfully in this passage

1. Passed out of death into life – v. 14a

1 John 3:14 - We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren.

Galatians 2:20 - I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

1 John 4:7 - Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

2. No longer “abiding in death” – v. 14b

1 John 3:14b - He who does not love abides in death.

John 15:4-5 - Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

3. You’re choosing not to be a murderer

1 John 3:15 - Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

1 John 3:11-12 - For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.

II. Loving Others Involves Sacrifice – 3:16

A. Demonstrated perfectly at the cross

John 3:16 - 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.

1 John 3:16 - We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

B. Motivating what we ought to do

“It is easier to be enthusiastic about Humanity with a capital `H’ than it is to love individual men and women, especially those who are uninteresting, exasperating, depraved, or otherwise unattractive.  Loving everybody in general may be an excuse for loving nobody in particular.” - C.S. Lewis

1 John 3:17-18 - But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

III. Loving Others is a Choice to Act, Especially on Behalf of Those in Need

A. Be on the lookout for those who are weak and/or hurting

3 John 4 - I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.

B. With a focus on actions not just words

- One of the delightful aspects of becoming a follower of Jesus Christ is that you are immediately invited to become part of a life-changing building project…

- and you might ask – well, are you talking about me building others or…others building me?...what’s the answer to that?...both…

- in coming to Christ, you are immediately invited to become part of a family where you are simultaneously being built and building others…

- that process is an essential aspect of the gospel…

- where through the power and efficacy of His shed blood…Jesus restores what is broken…

- He redeems what is lost…He refashions what is marred…He’s the ultimate restorer and builder of life…He even told His disciples…

- John 10:10 - The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

- that’s why…Colossians 1:28 - We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.

- that’s what the end of the construction project looks like…

- the corollary to that is that God has designed you to fulfill a unique role in the building project…others in our church family and in our community can be built up, and need to be built up, specifically by what you bring to the table…

- and for anyone who might doubt that – Paul gave a powerful and even a bit humorous word picture to describe the church in 1 Corinthians 12 – do you remember this…1 Corinthians 12:14–16, 21-22 - For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.      And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body…And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary;

- so if Jesus is building His church…and He purposely draws a diverse group of people together to accomplish that plan…then the way we impact one another matters…it matters a lot…

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to the book of 1 John chapter 3…page 186 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- our theme this year as a church is Being Careful How We Build…Scripture teaches us that for Christians, our lives and eternal existence are based on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross…1 Corinthians 3:11 - For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

- there’s great hope and there’s great security in that powerful truth…

- but Paul also affirms…1 Corinthians 3:10 - …But each man must be careful how he builds on it.

- that’s what we’re talking about this year…

- which is why we started with Building on the Foundation of the Gospel…and we studied Tim Keller’s book – Center Church

- by the way, for those of you who have joined us along the way, or if you didn’t quite finish back in January and February—I can’t think of a more enjoyable read on the beach than Tim Keller’s Center Church…

- you’ll probably also want to pack several extra copies…because what will happen is – others around you will undoubtedly say – I couldn’t help but notice that textbook you’re reading…do you have another copy because that looks a whole lot better than this trashy romance novel I’m reading…

- then we turned to the teaching of Jesus – Building Stories from the Master Teacher…some of His most enduring sermons recorded in the Bible used this metaphor to help us understand what it meant to live for Him…

- next we worked through the book of Nehemiah – Becoming a Godly Leader…and it really is amazing how many important, practical principles are contained in that marvelous book…

- well, this am we’re launching a series that will take us through most of the summer entitled Building One Another

- this is a study of the “one-another’s” of Scripture…it’s amazing how often that phrase appears in the NT…

- so please think back to the eyes, and the ears, and the hand, and the feet that were called out in 1 Corinthians 12…the various parts of the body…

- that includes you, and that includes me, that includes all of us…God’s Word instructs us on the impact we’re empowered through the transformational work of Christ and His Spirit to have on each other…we’re to encourage one another, we’re to serve one another, we’re to pray for one another, and forgive one another…

- it’s a rather long and certainly delightful list…but it’s also very challenging because many of these characteristics don’t come naturally…and that’s probably more true in this self-centered, individualistic, “I don’t need you because I have an ap on my phone” culture than ever before…

- but it also becomes a marvelous way for a body of believers, the church of Jesus Christ, to stand out because of the unique way we try to impact one another…and in many ways that starts with the emphasis we have before us this morning…our calling to Love One Another

- let’s read about that in 1 John 3 and 4…read 1 John 3:14-18, 4:7-21

- so we’re talking this morning about our calling to Love One Another…and with the time we have remaining, let’s look for three principles to help us build one another in love.

- first of all, understand that…

I. Loving One Another is a Proof of Our Salvation – 3:14-15

- please think carefully about the flow of thought here…

- 1 John 3:14–15 - We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

- that’s an unbelievably powerful statement – because it gets at the very issue of how you and I can have assurance of our salvation…

- as a pastor, I’m asked about that a lot…how can I know for sure I’m saved…and I remember a conversation I had with missionary Marc Blackwell (a man our former pastor Bill Goode considered to be one of the most thoughtful missionaries he’d ever met)…and Marc said – after a person comes to Christ…I don’t immediately start studying with the person about how they can be sure they’re saved…instead I begin studying how Jesus Christ stands ready to help them make practical life changes…and I let that spiritual fruit [that changed life] become the foundation of their assurance…

- now, backing up for a minute….

A. “Gaining assurance of our salvation” is one of the purposes of the book of 1 John

- If you’re a relatively new Christian, or if you’re still considering the claims of Christ on your life…reading the gospel of John…and then the epistle of 1 John…is a marvelous way to get started…

- in part because John, like any good writer, tells us exactly why he wrote the book…let’s see if we can find the three reasons together…

1. 1 John 1:3 - what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

- so that’s one purpose of this book – that we would have greater fellowship with God and others…

2. 1 John 1:4 - These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

- there’s a second purpose – that our joy would be complete…

3. 1 John 5:13 - These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

- that we would have greater assurance of our salvation…can you imagine a book that would accomplish three better and more important goals than that?...

- well, of those three, which one does the passage we have before us especially address…the issue of our assurance…

- if you want to know whether…you know that you know that you know…Christ as Savior and Lord…look no further than the question of whether you are building our church family and building our community by loving one another…

- see, is there evidence that you are “being careful how you build” in that particular area of life?...

- now did you notice how this is…

B. Described powerfully in this passage

- it’s not hard to see that the Lord considers this to be of supreme importance…

1. Passed out of death into life – v. 14a

- what does that mean?...

- well, death in the Bible is always separation of some kind…and it is discussed in at least three ways Scripturally…let’s think through which one is in focus here…

- physical death – the separation of the soul from the body…

- spiritual death – the separation of a person from God…

- the second death – the separation of a person from God forever…

- well, let’s plug that back into what we’re studying here…

- 1 John 3:14 - We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren.

- is that talking about passing out of physical death, or spiritual death, or the second death?...

- is a person who doesn’t love physically dead?...no, or the funeral homes would be much fuller…are we talking about the second death – no, because once that is a person’s eternal condition, there is no way to pass out of that (just ask the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16)…

- this is talking about the kind of love for others that is evidence of passing out of spiritual death into spiritual life…

- the way this person treats someone else is an evidence of the Spirit of God working in and through them…

- for example, many members of our church are celebrating wedding anniversaries this summer…

- that’s not to suggest that a person who doesn’t know the Lord can’t/won’t do that…but for those in our church family…it ought to be celebrated and honored…but every Christian who reaches one of those milestones would be quick to say – it’s not because marriage is always easy or because I just did what I felt like doing every day, or what came natural everyday…but it’s because of the power of Jesus Christ working in and through me…

- Galatians 2:20 - I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

- 1 John 4:7 - Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

- the corollary to that in our passage is…

2. No longer “abiding in death” – v. 14b

- 1 John 3:14b - …He who does not love abides in death.

- that too is an incredibly powerful metaphor…abiding in death…

- Is there anybody here who likes to abide in that?...I like going to funeral homes…I enjoy caskets…graveyards are delightful places…

- we do those things because we should…but nobody would want to abide there…

- you want to abide where?...in Christ…

- John 15:4–5 - Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

- what is the relationship between that and what we mentioned a moment ago – the celebration of wedding anniversaries?...

- one answer is – as married people learn to abide in Christ…and find our ultimate satisfaction and joy in Him, we’re not trying to gain from an imperfect person commodities that are impossible for a human to provide…

- spiritual life is so eternally free and completely satisfying that you’re freed up to love and serve others…

- as if it couldn’t get any stronger, John says by loving the brethren…

3. You’re choosing not to be a murderer

- 1 John 3:15 - Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

- if you know this book, you know that John has already discussed that by raising the issue of what two brothers?...Cain and Able…

- 1 John 3:11–12 - For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.

- and you might say – boy, I’m glad that’s not happening anymore…

- the frequency with which that happens among the so-called Christians in communities like ours all around this country is shocking and sad…

- where people hate one another with their words…

- and instead of building what God is seeking to do in a community through the church’s collective witness…they tear down and destroy…

- that’s what gossip does…it seeks to rob others of their reputation and murders the person with their words…when you choose not to be that kind of person…loving one another becomes a proof of your salvation…

II. Loving Others Involves Sacrifice – 3:16

A. Demonstrated perfectly at the cross

- of course these chapter and verse divisions were added to our Bibles later, but isn’t it interesting that in the providence of God – both the gospel of John, chapter 3 verse 16 and the epistle of 1 John 3:16 – speak so clearly and simply of the gospel…

- John 3:16 - 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.

- 1 John 3:16 - We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

- biblically this helps us define love from God’s perspective…it is not fundamentally a feeling…instead it is a choice to give and sacrifice and meet needs…

- that’s not to say that feelings are no involved in some way – where your treasure is, there your heart will also be…but fundamentally what we’re being commanded to do here is making a choice to sacrifice with no expectation of return…

- the model and standard is the cross-work of Christ…

- this is also the wedding season at our church and our culture…and what a happy time…

- but wise young couples are spending concentrated time considering whether they really intend to fulfill their promise to biblically love one another, to sacrifice to meet the needs of one another, till death do them part…

- sometimes the focus becomes so tilted to everything that goes with the ceremony – that there’s very little bandwidth left to consider and plan for the quality of the marriage…

- love that only lasts as long as you think you’re getting what you want/need is not biblical love…

- sometimes when a person says…I love you…what they really mean is, I love me and I want you…

- or I love me, and I want you around as long as I think you can make me happy, or meet my needs, or make my life better…

- God calls us, and empowers us to something far, far, better…

- now, let’s push the pause button because we always want to present God’s Word in a balanced way…we interpret Scripture in light of Scripture…and also because of certain events that have transpired in our culture…

- if you follow national news, you may know that the president of the largest seminary in the largest protestant denomination was recently relieved of his duties…

- now, we are an independent church…we’re not part of the Southern Baptist Convention…but we have many friends and acquaintances there…and I and other staff members often speak in such settings…

- but Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas is the largest of their seminaries…and their president until recently was Dr. Paige Patterson…

- the Lord used him in some marvelous ways throughout his career – he’s a 75 year old gentleman…

- but he also made some comments in sermons years ago and private counseling sessions that suggested that Christian wives should continue to live in a home where there is physical abuse…

 

- now, I’m summarizing for sake of time because our concern isn’t to discuss what’s happening at Southwestern or even in the Southern Baptist Convention although it is a firestorm and somewhat ironically – the host site for the annual conference of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors this October is…anyone want to guess…the campus of Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth…and you want to know what our already advertised topic was?...Light in the Darkness – Biblical Counseling and Abuse

- all of this has hit places like the Washington Post and it’s not going away soon so we’ve changed the location of our conference – same city, different venue...with the same topics and speakers…

- the reason I raise it this morning is to ensure that we have said what we have taught here for the last 40 years…although the Scripture is clear that husbands are to love their wives…and wives are to love their husbands…

- that should never be construed to suggest that a Christian spouse has to endure any form of physical abuse…

- our consistent message has been…call the police…and in some cases, take your children and leave and then call the police…

- and then when it is practical and assuming your spouse is a church member – contact your pastors…

- our former pastor, Pastor Goode used to say – God has not given any human ultimate authority…

- so it is not unsubmissive for a Christian wife to contact the police if necessary…(or, vice-versa by the way)…

- this church will not tolerate members who are physically abusive…there is never a reason or excuse for that…

- we have even disciplined church leaders on a few occasions throughout our history for this very reason…and what is important to know is…in a few cases, that was even after a person repeatedly said he was repentant…

- but that’s the pattern with abusive people…extreme so-called remorse after the episode followed by a superficial change in behavior…until the next episode…churches must not tolerate that…there’s nothing loving in that…

- also, I recognize that the topic of abuse is broad and wide, especially in our present culture…

- that is why it is important to get your pastors and deacons involved to help determine the proper course of action when other non-physical forms of abuse are involved…

- these kinds of decisions have to be made on a case by case basis – and this is one of the many times where there is wisdom in  a multitude of counselors…

- now, let’s come back to the main point…1 John 3:16 - We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

B. Motivating what we ought to do.

- there are several important theological ideas coming together here…

- one is the relationship between God working in us, and you and me working out our own salvation in fear and trembling…(quoting directly from Phil 2:12-13)

- so God is the source of our love for the brethren and yet we ought to, and we have to choose to act in a loving way…

- also this is clearly an obligation for followers of Jesus Christ…and that is not in any way an offense to grace…there’s plenty of grace in the OT and there is plenty of law in the new…

- so when that young parent is exhausted and their little baby is crying in the middle of the night…there’s all sorts of principles and truths that should lead to that parent getting up and providing whatever care is needed…but the one at the bottom of the barrel if needed is still powerful…this is what I ought to do…

- that’s part of what it means to take up ones cross and follow Christ daily…in specific and practical ways…

- C.S. Lewis said, “It is easier to be enthusiastic about Humanity with a capital `H’ than it is to love individual men and women, especially those who are uninteresting, exasperating, depraved, or otherwise unattractive.  Loving everybody in general may be an excuse for loving nobody in particular.”

- now what do verses 17-18 add to our understanding of all of this?...

- 1 John 3:17–18 - But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

- perhaps we could say it like this…

III. Loving Others is a Choice to Act, Especially on Behalf of Those in Need

- this is part and parcel of what it means to participate in building the body of Christ by choosing to love the brothers…

A. Be on the lookout for those who are weak and/or hurting.

- I would encourage you to allow this passage to help you evaluate yourself in this matter…and determine whether some corrections need to be made…

- for example, I appreciate the way so many men and women lovingly sacrifice to serve the children and teens of our church and community…

- everyone would say that we want to be a place that loves children and love people…

- John will say in his third epistle…3 John 4 - I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.

- well, how does that happen?...by parents and other godly adults sacrificing and loving so that children can see and hear the truth of God’s Word…

- our nursery workers do that, our children’s SS workers do that, our teen ministry workers do that, those who serve in our Christian school…those who are leading mission trips this summer…everyone working in these neighborhood VBS’, and our main VBS, those serving at our community picnic…

- often those responsibilities are challenging and inconvenient…and yet we have some people in this church who have been doing that for decades…

- why?...because they are being careful how they build…

- because they have been eternally impacted by the love that Christ showed to them on the cross, they want to love one another…

B. With a focus on actions not just words.

- I would also want to say on behalf of all of our pastors – we are very appreciative of all the ways our church family loves us and our families…

- this is very easy place to serve the Lord…and one of the reasons is because of the number of people here who take this very, very seriously…

- Kris and Bethany and I came here in December of 1987…I had just finished up the residency phase of my doctoral work in Philadelphia…and we were tired, and since I had been in school non-stop since kindergarten, we didn’t have a lot of material possessions…we had just tried to stay one step ahead of the tuition man…

- and we arrived Christmas week with our loaded truck…and we were going to live over at Ashley Oaks apartments…they were brand new at the time…no Lowes, not even the first Wal Mart much less the second and on and on…

- but even during Christmas week…there was a small army of people to help us unload and get everything set up and cleaned up…

- then someone had prepared a meal for all the workers in what we used to call the fireplace room…and I remember standing in line when I felt someone slip something in my pocket…

- In Gary where I grew up, that’s because someone was taking something out…in this case I turned around and realized Pastor Goode was behind me, putting something in…

- and it was a check…and I said what’s this – and he said – that’s your first paycheck….

- and I said – well, aren’t you supposed to work first?...and he said – we know moving is expensive and we just want to lighten the load…

- that illustrates the way my family and I have been treated the entire time we’ve been here…

- and I could tell about how we eventually bought out first home…

- and then how it was made possible for us to purchase a building lot…

- and eventually construct the home where we live now…and all the amazingly generous people who made that possible, with no expectation on our part at all…

- and there were two things very few people knew…

- when we were out on the east coast going through school…housing was so expensive we assumed that if we were going to be in the ministry, we’d never have a house – and that was perfectly OK with us…

- coupled with the fact that my father was concerned about me becoming a pastor [and that’s putting it mildly]…because in his words, I’d always have “bald tires and shiny suits”…in other words, there was no financial stability in it…

- well, there’s a strong commitment around here…to loving one another…and it’s a beautiful thing to experience…a beautiful thing to behold…

- it demonstrates what Jesus is able to do in and through His people…

- and isn’t that exactly what we’re trying to do on these platforms of ministry that God has given us?...find somebody to love…

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video