Sermon Reflections from God's Love and Worldly Love | Alex Hardt | October 22, 2023
Pastor Alex began his message with examples of statements that are untrue but are commonly accepted as truth or possible truth. Now we have Google and can check things almost instantly when one is in doubt. The Apostle John was concerned about believers being led astray and deceived by conflicting messages. He wanted the believers then and now to be able to discern truth from falsehood in regard to God.
He tells us in verse 1 to test the messages and messengers, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. “ He wanted believers informed and not swayed by false messages and messengers. He had a fool proof method of detection.
Verses 2-3 “ This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”
Putting it in today’s language one needs to ask, Does the message or messenger acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior? Is their message all about Jesus and his work on the cross or something else? Do they say Jesus rose from the dead? Do they say Jesus redeemed us through his blood and restored our relationship with God or is something else involved we have to work for? If their answers do not center of Jesus and his work on the cross and resurrection from the dead, they are not from or of God. We have to know the source of our truth. We need to know about God and his plan of salvation through Jesus. Our faith needs to be placed in Jesus and his redemptive work on the cross and resurrection from the dead alone.
Knowing that God is our source of love and truth, will lead us. We can speak from God’s perspective when we focus on Him and trust unswervingly in His omniscience. God knows all and has it covered.
Verse 4 should help us solidify our godly perspective “ You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” We don’t need to worry about the world’s opinions. Our focus and listening ear should be towards God knowing for certain He hears, loves and cares for us! Listening to God, we will be able to hear His truth and know what is right. Someone may ask, how do you know? I love Romans 8:16 “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” As a believer, when I say that I believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit dwelling within me affirms that it is truth. If I tried to say that as an unbeliever, there would be no confirmation within my soul as it would be a lie.
Knowing we belong to Jesus, leads us to love others. Without Jesus, we would not have that desire. 1 John 4:7-8 “ Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Knowing God lead us to love others- to demonstrate His love to the world. What kind of love is this? John tells us of the sacrificial love of God in verses 9-10 “9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” In verse 11, God calls us to a higher level of love for each other, “ Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” Where is God calling you to love sacrificially? Who is He asking you to love even though you don’t really want to? I can’t imagine God wanted to send Jesus to his death for our sins, but He did it because he loved us so much.
John 3:16 states this perfectly, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God wants us to be with him eternally! God wants us filled with His love and loving others!
John adds in an additional caveat for loving God. In verse 16b-18 “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” If we have God’s love within us and act in love towards others, we can live in confidence and eternal hope. We do not need to fear the future or be anxious about our sins and punishment. In God’s love there is no fear as He has washed our sins away and covered us with His love. We will be held accountable for our actions and words but there is no death penalty as faith in Jesus had rendered us ‘not guilty’. Take these verses to heart.
Romans 10:9-10 “ If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
And Ephesians 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—“
Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”
Colossians 1:13-14“ For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
The Bible is filled with the truth of God’s love towards us and the forgiveness, restoration and redemption for all eternity. Read it and claim it for yourself.
Have a blessed week walking in His love.
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Do you ever wonder why?
Why is the sky blue, or why do dogs chase their tail, or perhaps why bad things happen, or why science and faith always seem at odds?
As a parent I realize that most days I am going to get asked 100 or so questions by my two kids, particularly my 8-year-old son. He is inquisitive and wants to understand why certain things happen the way they do. As a kid I was the same way and even more so as an adult. Tony Bennett, musician and composer, is quoted as saying, "The more I learn, the less I know." Thus, we are in a perpetual state of learning. I am fascinated by the stars, the way coffee is brewed, how our body gets in a state of ketosis, why certain phone batteries swell, and what constitutes as offsides in soccer (I'm refereeing my son's team).
I am also constantly wondering about God, Faith, and life along with many other people. The state of the church worldwide seems to be in a fragile state and many people are asking questions about their faith, about who God is, and whether God is still relevant to our society today. Personally, I think it is a great thing when we deeply reflect upon our faith. We see Jesus doing this all the time in the scriptures, he is questioning common false beliefs or teachings the religious leaders had. In Matthew 22:41-46, Jesus asks the pharisees, religious leaders, about the Messiah. Jesus first asks them about the Messiah, and they reply, the son of David. Then Jesus V45 "If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” In Mark 2, Jesus heals a man and then is questioned by the religious leaders. Jesus responds, "Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?"
Here is what I'm getting at is that questions and doubt aren't necessarily a bad thing. Actually, they are a good thing and if we lean into them as Jesus did then our faith grows stronger. This month we are focusing on questions and doubts. We are talking about the bible, Jesus being the only way, Does God Discriminate, Science, and Bad things. I hope you will lean in with us and discover what God has to say about these topics.
By Pastor Alex Hardt
OCTOBER SERMON SERIES
Week 1 - Should I Trust the Bible?
Main: 2 Timothy 3:15-17
Memory: 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Week 2 - Is Jesus the Only Way?
Main: John 14:1-7
Memory: John 14:6
Week 3 - Does God Discriminate?
Main: Luke 7: 37-50
Memory: Titus 2:11
Week 4- Is Science and Faith Opposed?
Main: Genesis 1-3
Memory: John 1:1-3, 14
Week 5- Do God Let Bad Things Happen
Main: John 16:32-33
Memory: Ephesians 6: 12-13
A collection of thoughts from our community