B.C.P. Trinity 2 : 1 John 3:13-24
3:13: Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14: We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.15: Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.16: Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17: But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18: My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.19: And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20: For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21: Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. 22: And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 23: And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24: And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
This passage revolves around verse 23, we should
believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another,
John refers to the need for Christians to love one another in obedience to Jesus command John 13:34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. The words "a new command" occur four times in the Bible. In John 3:34 and three times in John's letters, 1 Jn. 2:7,2:8, 2 Jn. 1:5. This shows how important love was to John, and Jesus. This love for fellow Christians has to be practical. 18: My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
Believing, or trusting in Jesus, verse 23, is
not just about saying the right words but has to be shown in sacrificial
love of others. God showed us how to love by dying for us on the cross.
16: Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life
for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
Our love for others could include laying down
our lives for them.
During the Second World War Dr. Ernest Gordon, later Chaplain of Princeton University, was a prisoner of war in Thailand. In his book, "Through the Valley of the Kwai" he reflects on the difference between two Christmas seasons he spent in prison. He says that in Christmas 1942 there were thousands of American soldiers in that prison who robbed the sick among them, mistreated one another, and did not care whether the other prisoners lived or died.
During the following year, a healthy American
soldier began giving his food to a sick buddy to help him get well.
In time the sick prisoner recovered, but the buddy who had given him
food died of malnutrition. The story of the man who sacrificed his life
to save a buddy made the rounds of the camp. Some of the prisoners remarked
that he was a lot like Christ. Some of the soldiers began to recall
passages from the Bible they had learned years earlier under far different
circumstances. One of the passages stated, "This is my commandment
that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man
than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Some
who were Christians took heart and began to witness to other men. The
prisoners began to ask about Christ and to meet for Bible study. When
they began to know Christ as Lord the entire atmosphere in the camp
changed from despair and desperation to hope and compassion.
When Christmas of 1943 arrived, Dr. Gordon said, 2000 prisoners assembled for worship. They sang carols and someone read the story of the birth of Jesus from a Gospel account. Much more was different. In spite of their hunger, prisoners who were well shared food with the sick to help them gain strength faster. They cared for one another. They agreed that the difference came about because of faith in Christ and people who lived his love in the midst of unloving circumstances. The choices they made were for righteousness and not evil.
Christ may not call us to lay down our life to help another, but John refers to another way we can help others. 17: But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
We are called to help our fellow believers locally. I have been impressed by the care of believers for one another in Knebworth. One example of this is the Knebworth Family of Churches "Good Neighbour" scheme that offers practical help, like lifts and getting shopping for those who need it.
I know that people earnestly pray for those
who are sick, injured, or bereaved. Our Notice Sheet reflects this with
a list of people to pray for.
I know that Christians in Knebworth visit those
who are unwell. I have seen the regular flow of visitors to Pat Hadley's
home opposite mine since she has had her knee operation!
People in Knebworth are rich compared to those
those who live in the developing world. We can and do help financially
by supporting organisations such as Christian Aid, and the recent collection
is evidence of that.
We also have influence in the West to help those
who are less fortunate than ourselves. The power of the people has recently
been seen in France and Holland where the European Constitution has
We can play our part in registering a "no"
vote against the way that the West exploits the developing world through
unfair trade, placing unpayable debt on them, and being miserly in the
amount and type of aid we give.
We can practically show our love for our brothers
and sisters in Christ by bringing pressure to bear on the G8 leaders
who meet in Scotland on July 8th. Anyone can pray. Some people have
lobbied and will lobby politicians by petitions, e-mails and/or letters.
If you can do this go to the MakePovertyHistory web
site. Others will go to Edinburgh to make their voices heard.
Someone once said, "You can give without
loving, but you cannot love without giving." Trying to be
"good" or "loving" does not make us a Christian,
trusting in Jesus does. However, if we say that we trust Jesus but do
not practically love our fellow believers locally and internationally
then our faith is not genuine and we will be cut off from God, verse
14b, He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
Faith, love and obedience are evidence that God lives in someone by his Holy Spirit. Our relationship with God should affect our relationship with other believers. The love we have received from God should inspire us to love fellow Christians. The Holy Spirit is within every Christian, verse 24, and, as God is love we all have a source of divine love within us, enabling the love of God in the lives of believers. The righteousness which is ours by faith should lead us to live up to our status and enable us to follow the command of Jesus and love others as he loved us.
How do you really know if someone is a true Christian ? In today's reading John talks about love faith, and righteousness.
First John contrasts the ways of the world and the way of God. Earlier he had talked about Cain who murdered his brother Abel. John writes that hatred characterises the world and Cain is a prototype . Hatred originates from the devil, is shown in murder, and is evidence of spiritual death. Love characterises the church. Christ is the prototype. Love originates from God, leads to self-sacrifice and is evidence of spiritual life.
Love is the evidence of a true faith. It is shown by self-sacrifice. Jesus showed us this by dying for us. We are to be prepared to die for one another, and also to give our possessions to fellow Christians in need.
Hate is negative, define, Greek indifference, less strong than our word. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus compared someone being angry with another believer to murder. It is negative, wishes harm to another, even acting against another. Love is positive, wishes the best for others, will involve actions, self-sacrifice. Greater love has no man than he lays down his life for his friends.
Church Notice Sheet ; " Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community. " It is a clumsy but funny choice of words yet there are some people who call themselves Christians who find it difficult to even tolerate other Christians. They have little interest or commitment to coming together to worship and have fellowship. Their lack of love questions the genuineness of their faith. James wrote that faith without works is dead. John could write that faith without love is dead.
Such a challenge could lead some Christians to doubt their faith,. But God knows everything about us and we can trust in this verse ,20: For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
John goes on to say that the blessings of an untroubled heart leads to communion with God and answered prayers, assuming they are in accordance with God's will. This is all linked to believing in Jesus, loving one another, and keeping the commandments of God, 23: And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24: And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
Faith, love and obedience are evidence that God lives in someone by his Holy Spirit. Our relationship with God should reflect upon our relationship with other believers. The love we have received from God should inspire us to love fellow Christians. The Holy Spirit is within every Christian, verse 24, and, as God is love we all have a source of divine love within us, waiting to show the love of God in the lives of believers. The righteousness which is our by faith should lead us to live up to our status and enable us to follow the ways of God.