Joy In Trials (1 Peter 1:6-7)

Elect Exiles

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Sermon Summary

Christians can remain joyful in the midst of trials when we remember

  • the Promise of Eternal Treasures and,
  • the Purpose of Temporary Trials.

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Love Illuminated (1 John 1:1-7)

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We all have something in common. From NASCAR drivers to Wall Street bankers, to homosexual activists, to drug addicts and conservative Christians, we all want to enjoy life.

Everyone wants to find contentment. And, in the U.S. at least, our freedoms exist so that people can pursue their own happiness in their own way.

Look around and you’ll see thousands of ways that people are pursuing happiness. Some pursue happiness by accumulating wealth and possessions. Others pursue it through gaining popularity or increasing their power and influence. Still others may look to religion or education to find meaning and purpose in life.

But in 1 John we discover the only way to find complete joy is through a relationship.

John, one of the twelve apostles is uniquely qualified to speak to this issue. Along with Peter, and his brother James, John had the closest friendship with Jesus that anyone could’ve had.

Among other New Testament authors, John was the third most prolific author after Luke and Paul. But unlike Luke who was an educated physician and Paul who was a well-respected Pharisee, John was simply a fisherman who had walked with Jesus daily for years.

John’s relationship with Jesus was so powerful that even his opponents “observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)

When John wrote 1 John, he began by sharing his motivation, the foundation, a declaration, and then gives us an evaluation.

MOTIVATION: TO ENJOY LOVING FELLOWSHIP WITH JESUS AND HIS FAMILY (Verses 3-4)

In Acts 2:42 we discover that the idea of Christian fellowship was characteristic of the Church from Day One! For John, and for us, fellowship with Jesus and His family is just as important as it has ever been.

John even goes so far as to say that he desires for us to experience fellowship with one another so that his joy will be made complete.

Of course, this was Jesus’ desire was for us to find joy in a loving relationship with Him and with one another.

In John 15:10-14, Jesus said, “If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love. “I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.”

We experience maximum joy when we are in a loving and obedient relationship with Jesus and with one another. There will be no true contentment in life apart from this fellowship.

FOUNDATION: TRUE FELLOWSHIP IS BASED ON INTIMACY WITH THE INCARNATE WORD OF LIFE (Verses 1-2)

The foundation for our fellowship must come through knowing Jesus correctly.

John goes to great lengths to remind his audience that he truly knew Jesus. John had seen Him, heard Him, touched Him, walked with Him. From the beginning, there had been a close, human relationship between John and Jesus. Clearly, Jesus is fully human.

But John also says in verse two that Jesus is the eternal “Word of Life” who was with the Father. We have been promised eternal life but our eternal life extends from now into the future. John tells us that Jesus’ eternal life also extends into the past. Jesus’ eternality proves that He is fully God. In fact, the way John opens this letter is reminiscent of how he opened his Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

There can be no fellowship with Jesus or with God the Father if His humanity and deity are denied.

But just knowing truths ABOUT the person and work of Jesus is not the same as having a relationship WITH Jesus. It’s an authentic relationship with Him that is the essential foundation for our fellowship.

I know a little bit about the person and work of Mayor Bill deBlasio. He was born May 8, 1961 and is the mayor of New York City. His wife is Chirlane. He has championed universal pre-K as a major piece of his platform.

With a little bit of study I could probably learn a lot more about the person and work of our mayor, but as of today I have never had the privilege of meeting him. I don’t have a shred of a relationship with him.

Sadly, this is the quality of the “relationship” that many people have with Jesus. They know about Jesus but they’ve never met Him.

John opens his letter by saying his motivation is that we have fellowship with Jesus and Jesus’ family and that the quality of that relationship is personal and intimate and based not only on knowing about Jesus but actually knowing Him. That is the ultimate foundation for our fellowship and for our joy.

DECLARATION: GOD IS LOVE ILLUMINATED (Verse 5)

Of course, everyone loves God’s love. Many people would say, “I love Jesus!” But few want to be exposed to the light of God.

Turning to John’s Gospel, he writes,

“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:9-13)

Jesus’ own people did not receive him because, as he writes in John 3:19-21, they enjoyed their dark deeds rather than God’s light:

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

Many people will be fascinated by the idea of fellowship, joy, friendship with God, but when that actually translates into obedience and walking in the light, many people turn away.

Again, our fellowship with Jesus is dependent on a close relationship with Jesus and He said in John 15, “If you love Me you will obey My commands.”

God is love and God is light. We must worship Him as He is and not just for what we can get out of Him. That doesn’t work in any relationship. But our joy will be complete when we worship completely.

EVALUATION: ARE YOU WALKING IN DARKNESS, OR IN GOD’S ILLUMINATED LOVE? (Verses 6-7)

Now that we know we need fellowship with Jesus and His family to make our joy complete and that a true knowledge about and a right relationship with Jesus is the foundation for our unity and also that we must be obedient to Jesus if we truly love Him it’s time to evaluate our relationship with Jesus at this moment.

Now, this evaluation of our “walk” with Jesus is not a self examination. Unfortunately, there are some who say, “we have fellowship with Him” but who are walking in darkness rather than in the light. These people are lying and are not actually in fellowship. If we were to administer a self examination we might say that we are doing great but we might be deceiving ourselves.

The good news is, this test is an open book exam. That means we can open our Bibles and look to Scripture to see how we are doing. For example, if we look back at John 15, we see that Jesus’ command is that we love one another. How are you doing with that? We might also see exhortations to flee from sexual immorality, to not forsake assembling together with other believers, and to love our wives, and etc. In short, are we “walking in the light?”

You can’t evaluate your own life and say, “yes, I love Jesus so we are good.” Instead, we must look at God’s Word and allow Him to evaluate us and be open to repentance and change.

As it says in verse 7, if we walk in the light (since, after all, God is light) then we “have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” There is no fellowship without forgiveness and there is no forgiveness of sins.

Paul writes in Ephesians 5:8-11, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light—for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth— discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them.”

As children of light, we must avoid dark deeds and be willing to shine light in the world. If we aren’t doing that then we are not in fellowship with the light, and as a result our joy is not complete.

Let us turn to Jesus and grow in our relationship with Him so that we might have fellowship with Him and with His family, the church.