Faithlife Sermons

4-8-2018 - Purified Witnesses

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God changes us through sharing our testimony of Him

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Thesis: We have a message to share and God changes us through sharing that message.

We have a message to share and God changes us through sharing that message.

For kids: We have good news to share. Jesus died to show us how much he loves us and he rose from the grave to show nothing can stop his love for us.

We have good news to share. Jesus died to show us how much he loves us and he rose from the grave to show nothing can stop his love for us.
Have kids tell someone that God loves them.
Let them put a ping pong ball in the jug for witnessing

John's gospel as most recommended for beginning Christians

John's gospel as most confusing
Knowing the system of beliefs vs knowing the story
Internal Christian debate

John uses story to build a system of beliefs on top of an older system of beliefs

This is why it seems confusing to us sometimes
Especially when we try to take on more than a few passages at a time
But the gospels were not meant to be read in pieces
Earliest accounts of Christian worship say they read as much of the scripture as they had available, made a few comments on how to apply them, shared communion, and went home.
There is much to be gained by reading an entire book of the Bible in one sitting.

All the other gospel writers try to tell the story of Jesus (and the beginning of the church, in Luke's case) by getting the details in order from start to finish

Not John though
He has something else in mind
You will miss it if you pull the gospel out and dissect it
But if you read it whole, you will find several common themes going throughout

The most prevalent may be Incarnation

In the flesh
God in the flesh
Jesus is God from the beginning
He comes into the world to us
He passes His Spirit - and earthly role onto his disciples
He claims they will do greater thing so than He ever did
He, in a sense, passes on the incarnation to His disciples.

What do we do with God passing on His role as incarnation to us?

Let's look at John's first letter to the churches and find out.


(NIV): The Incarnation of the Word of Life
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.


The words he uses here are:

These are words of perception
Not perception from afar, but perceiving up close and personal
These are words of witness and personal testimony

But he also uses other words:

But he also uses other words:

Telling people about something they know
Telling people news they have not heard yet
The difference between a "witness" on trial giving evidence and a news anchor on television reporting something new.
One has to be asked questions to give information and the other offers it freely to anyone who will listen.

John says we do both about Jesus

We tell the good news to those who have not heard it, and we testify or witness to the way we have experienced Jesus ourselves.
In fact, he says that part of the purpose of this letter is to let the reader (who may not be a Christian yet) hear the good news and join into the fellowship with God and Jesus!
For John, things takes the Joy he gets from Jesus and makes it complete - when God works through John's words to bring others into fellowship with God and God's people.
Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

John doesn't use the term "salvation" here.

Why not?
He focuses on the word fellowship a lot
For John, there is no difference between being saved and being adopted into God's people... being part of the family of faith.
Put simply, there is no salvation without transformation.
John writes as if being saved from his past sins is not the greatest joy in his life
And that this fellowship (daily relationship) with God and his brothers and sisters is even better!

The message

The message he says he heard from Jesus and that he is passing on to us is that there is darkness and there is light
We are either in one or the other
There's no gray area when it comes to relationship with God
And we don't stand still
We walk and move and live either in the darkness or the light
If we walk in darkness, we live a lie
If we walk in the light, as Jesus walked in the light, we have:
Fellowship with one another
Which implies that John does not think we can have true relationships with one another unless we are walking with Jesus in the light.
John believes our marriages, our families, our friendships, and every other relationship are made "complete" when we bring Jesus into them.
That without Jesus, they are incomplete, and perhaps even not real compared to loving relationships that Jesus helps us have.
Purification from all sin
What is the difference between purification from sin and forgiveness of sin?
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

Authentic Witnesses

In order to be true witnesses we have to tell the whole truth, not just part of it.
We have to admit the sin in our lives
Any sin we hide cannot be forgiven
There are a lot of man-made religious laws that have been given a bad reputation, but were created with the best intentions
The Roman Catholic practice of confession may be one of the best examples
John says that we need to confess our sin
The Roman Catholic Church, at some point, decided the best way to keep people close to Jesus was to require them to confess on a regular basis.
It's like bathing and showering yourself
Most people do not need a daily reminder... they just do it.
But some people do need that reminder... so a rule was made regarding confession
Not only that, but the church recognized that confession of sin could be used against the person confessing
So they limited the people who could hear confessions to those who had special training and who had taken special vows.
I'm not here to defend the Roman Catholic Church
I'm here to say, we may have thrown the baby out with the bathwater
We quit confessing sins altogether
And, according to John, we stopped being purified from that sin
Again, John does not use the word forgiveness here, he says purification
2 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
You see, forgiveness of sin, or at least of most kinds of sin, is not that hard to achieve.
You just have to make it up to the person you sinned against.
And this bit about all sin is sin against God?
Well, if you don't believe in God, that doesn't really affect you today, does it?

What John is really writing about is purification from sin... which means freedom from both:

Guilt of sin
Power of sin
Sin has a snowball effect
The more you sin, the more sin gets a hold on you, causing you to sin even more, until it avalanches out of control.
People, don't just wake up one day and start affairs, begin a life of crime, or go on murder sprees
There is a lot of small sins that lead up to that
John says that confession of sin breaks that cycle, and cleanses us of all the hold that sin has on our lives.
It allows us to have a fresh start on life.
Confession is our means to freedom

What does confession have to do with witnessing?

They go hand in hand, and they make us into mini-incarnations of God... examples of his powerful love and grace in-the-flesh.
You can't witness to a transformed life that you don't have
You can't witness to a freedom from sin that you've not experienced
But as you confess your sins, to God, and to one another as well you will find yourself both:
Experiencing the freedom from that sin and
Being a witness to others to that very power we receive from Christ
We are not without sin, like Jesus was
but we are always living examples of what God can do to transform a poor sinner.

Changing powers

We are called to exchange the power of darkness for the power of light.
It is the fellowship we have with God and with one another that helps us continue to walk and grow in that light.
Connecting in and encouraging one another to trade darkness for light gives us testimony to share when those to whom we proclaim the good news of the love of God ask us - "How do you know?"
God loves you.
How do you know?
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