Who Is Born of God?
Sunday, July 16, 2017
1 John 5:1-5
1 John 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (NIV)
Simple question. Simple answer. Who is born of God? Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ.
So as your pastor, as your spiritual leader, I must ask you: Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ? Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Are you relying on the love of God or your own goodness to save you?
Are you relying on the love of God? It is so easy to fall to the temptation to live trusting in my goodness instead of God’s goodness. There is this human, fleshly desire to judge ourselves and other people on the basis of what they do and how they live.
There is one judge. He and He alone has the right to judge.
Our relationship with Him must be based on His love for us, not on our love for Him. We are saved by grace, not by works.
Who is born of God? The one who believes that Jesus is the Christ, that He is the Only Begotten Son who came to bring life to the whole world. Who has the life of God living within them? Those who have accepted that our salvation is a gift and not something we earn. Are we relying on the love of God? Or are we relying on our own goodness?
Accepting God’s love for us brings us into a relationship with God. His Spirit comes to live in us and we can now choose to love Him and because we love Him, obey Him. Until we are born of God, born of the Spirit… until we experience the second birth that occurs when we place our trust in God’s love as demonstrated by the gift of His Son, we do not have a relationship with God. Until we move from trying to save ourselves to relying on God to save us, we are not free to love Him as He wants us to love Him, with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Only when we have experienced this new birth can we begin to live a life of love for God and begin obeying Him as He leads us by the Spirit that brought life to us when we accepted this truth.
Is obedience important? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes but our obedience does not save us, God does. God wants us to obey because we love Him, not because we will go to hell if we do not. If we obey Him to keep from going to hell, we are loving ourselves, not God. (Slide 10)
Our salvation brings us into a relationship with God that allows us to obey Him for the right reason. The great commandment is the great commandment because it is what God wants most from us.
Are we trusting God for our salvation, or do we still fall back to believing we are saved by our obedience, our own goodness?
Why did God send Jonah to preach to Nineveh? Because He (God) loved the people of Nineveh.
Why did God send JONAH to preach to Nineveh?
Perhaps God was bringing Jonah’s love to maturity. Maybe God was helping Jonah to grow in his faith. Is it possible God wanted to help Jonah to love as He loved?
Why did Jonah go to Nineveh? God really did not give him much of a choice. He sent a storm that caused the people in the ship Jonah was fleeing on to throw him overboard. He sent a great fish to swallow Jonah and put him back on the road to Nineveh.
When was Jonah forgiven of his sin of hating the people that God loved?
I would say that Jonah was forgiven even before he knew that his racist attitude was a problem. Jonah was in a relationship with God at the time and God was working on him and using him in a very successful preaching campaign.
Jonah never discloses to us whether or not he repented of this sin. Certainly the Jews continued to hold these racist views even up the time that our Lord walked among them, perhaps even up to today for some of them.
I know the church of Jesus Christ is still struggling in our relationship with God and with one another. Just before I started working on this message today I was reading some posts that focused on a very current issue in the church: homosexuality.
I have some people on both sides of the conversation that I love dearly. I struggle with my own ways of dealing with such issues and with how to love the people on both sides. I know they are good people and I know that God loves them all. And I believe they love the Lord, at least the ones I know personally. I do not agree with them at times, but I know they continue to wrestle with God about truth.
I suspect that each of them would say that God is not finished with them yet. None would claim that God does not love the other and they would all admit that they struggle with what loving one another means as they wrestle with these realities and as they wrestle with God about them.
If we are born again, trusting the grace and mercy of God to save us, where would we see ourselves in the timeline of Jonah’s experience with God?
Perhaps we are at a place that we do not yet recognize that God is trying to lead us to a new level of what love for God and for one another means. Perhaps we have begun to hear God speak but we are running from the truth.
Jonah knew he could never get away from God, but surely God would understand his reason for running and for rejecting the call to go to Nineveh.
God never wrote Jonah off. He never condemned him. He continued to work with him and to help Jonah understand that He loves all people.
Perhaps you are struggling with some attitude or problem that you face. Where are you in your relationship with God? Perhaps you are having a successful ministry and yet there is something that you know is not quite right.
Hold on to the truth. God loves you. AND He is Lord. He will not give up on you even when you have given up on yourself. Jonah asked God to let him die at one point. God will continue to prod you to move up a little closer. He will not stop reminding you who is Lord. He will not stop reminding you that He is Love.
How might God lead us so that we become mature in our love for God and other people?
John said, “mature love casts out fear”. He says fear has to do with punishment. Is it possible God is wanting us to move from fear of punishment to love for Him as our reason to obey Him?
What might God be doing in our church to move us from a childish obedience that obeys out of fear of punishment, to a mature love that obeys because it is what is best for everyone concerned.
Jonah’s trip to Nineveh was good for the Ninevites, they came to believe in God and developed a relationship with Him. It was good for God. He was glorified. It was good for Jonah, he came to have a fuller understanding of God and perhaps matured in his love for God and other people.
It is good for the church to struggle with the truth. It is good for us to understand that God sees more than we can ever comprehend on almost every subject we could name.
My faith in God has grown. My love for God has become a more mature love. But God is not finished with me yet. I know that I have a relationship with Him only because He is full of grace and mercy, only because He loves me and refuses to give up on me.
This is the kind of love I want to develop in my relationship with God. Does God need my forgiveness? No. But sometimes I need to forgive God.
This is the kind of love that I want to develop in my relationships with you and with others God brings across my path.
I am a Jonah and even though I have been called to teach God’s Word, He is not finished bringing my love closer to the mature, complete, perfect love that God wants me to have for Him and for other people.
Many are asking in our time if they need to go to church to be a Christian. Perhaps they do not, but are they asking the right question? You may not need the church, but the church needs you. As I understand it, the church is God’s people meeting together to grow in our maturity in Christ and spreading His love to a lost and dying world.
Asking if you need the church is evidence of a love that needs to mature. As we grow in our relationship to God we will be asking what God wants us to do. We will be asking what others need instead of what we need.
Who is born again? Those who are trusting God to save them, trusting that Jesus is the
Christ. Who is mature in their faith? Those who are learning to love as God loves, learning to obey God, not because we have to, but because we want to.