Life together in 1 John
Our life together matters. Pastor Oliver delves into what it means to live together as a church.
I love old hymns. Many of these past expressions of worship by the people of God carries beautiful lyrics that reflect the truths of Scriptures. The hymn, "I serve a risen Saviour", speaks of the truth of the resurrected Jesus Christ and the reality of our personal relationship with Him in the midst of our daily life. It emphasises the intimate experiential side of our fellowship with God. However, our fellowship with God also has a corporate component – it is not just personal. Our personal life with God translates to our life together with other believers in the church. Our friendship with one another in the church is an essential expression of our fellowship with Jesus Christ. As a church, we have been preaching through the letter of 1 John. Even in our first few sermons, we see the apostle John teaching his beloved church that our life together matters.
The foundation for our life together:
The apostle John in his introduction to his letter (1 John 1:1-4) tells us that the proclamation of Jesus Christ results in our fellowship with God and His son Jesus Christ and with one another. The gospel message binds and unites together those that receive it. This unity we have does not just result in common gospel goals as a result of our transformation, but it also points to our spiritual union in Jesus Christ. This joining to Christ also produces in us a unity together as a body of Christ.
John tells us in 1 John 1:7 that our walking in the light, i.e. our reflecting of Christ-likeness will result in deep human fellowship. He even challenges us in 1 John 2:9-10 that if we say we walk in the light, then we should love our fellow believer in the church. This is because God is love and He first loved us. God demonstrated His love for us by giving His son Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for our sins. So, we ought to love one another (1 John 4:7-12, 19-21). Those who love our Father God love His children (1 John 5:1). In fact, John takes to task those who do not love his brother or sister in Christ. He warns them that they are behaving like children of the devil (1 John 3:10).
The application of this in our church means that we ought to love one another. Our love for each other in the church should be ever deepening as we grow in our understanding of the gospel. There is no reason for us to "best love others at a distance" – refusing to be involved in the sometimes messiness of relationships. We should not harbour unforgiveness and resentment towards one another, but we should seek reconciliation and understanding. We need to get involved in deepening relationships with one another. Our love for other believers is doing the will of God. For John in 1 John 2:17 and 3:23 tells us that doing the will of God involves loving God, trusting in Jesus Christ and loving other believers in the church.
The expression of our life together:
How then should we love other believers in the church? How should our life together be practically expressed?
John points us in 1 John 3:11-18 that our love for other believers should reflect the sacrificial love of Christ. He laid down His life for us, so we ought to lay down our lives for other believers in the church (1 John 3:16). Our love for others should be sacrificial. Our love for other believers can and should cost us, as we give up our time, energy and resources for the sake of others. He goes on to apply this practically. Believers love by sacrificially meeting the practical material needs of others (1 John 3:17-18). If we can provide material goods or financial support to meet the real needs of our brothers and sisters in the church, we should not hesitate to do so. Our love for others should be practical.
Beyond meeting the practical needs, John addresses how we should love a believer who is sinning - we should pray for them to overcome their sins. We should love a believer enough to care about his or her growth in Christ-likeness. Our love for others should involve praying for them. Finally, our love should involve the guarding of the fellowship of the church from false teaching (1 John 2:18-27). We should teach, instruct and disciple one another in the truths of the Bible. We should guard each other against false doctrines. We should watch and warn others so that they will not be deceived. Our love should involve defending our faithfulness to biblical truths.
How is our love for one another? Do we love sacrificially and practically? Do we care for others' growth in Christ-likeness and their commitment to Scripture? By doing all these, we will together live out the grace of the gospel in our life together as a church. May we as a church continue to grow deep in the gospel and increasingly live the applications out in our life together, so that, as a church, we would be a portrait of the beautiful gospel of Jesus Christ.
Special Monthly Prayer Meeting:
At this month's monthly prayer meeting (Friday 28 Sep, 8.00 pm @ the Sanctuary), the elders will be presenting plans for our church in 2019. We invite all members of GBC, especially ministry leaders and CG leaders, to this prayer meeting. So, see you all there and let's pray together!
Church Camp 2019:
Our camp theme for next year is "Grace together" (Heb 10:24-25). We encourage all members to plan to attend this camp. It will be held at Lotus Desaru from 12-15 June 2019. So please block out these dates in your calendars.
Preaching this Sunday:
The Sunday's message will be from 1 John 2:18-27. We will be looking at "The Threat to Fellowship". Please prepare your hearts by reading this passage 2-3 times before this Sunday. Pray for the preacher as he prepares the message. And pray for us as a church to receive God's Word with hearts ready to hear.