I am going to start my sermon this morning by telling you the destination, where we are going. Then I am going to back up and tell you why we are going there and how we will get there. If this was a big bus and I announced that we are going to go the Thudpucker, Arkansas, I am sure I would have to make a good case for why in the world would we go there, or I might have a mutiny on my hands. So, this morning our destination is to call First CRC to become a prayer advocate church for the nation of Nigeria and specifically for the Muslim Hausa frontier people group in northern Nigeria. Now already a few of you are thinking, I would rather go to Thudpucker, Arkansas. So, let’s back up and talk about the bigger picture and then zero in on why that destination.
Tonight, we come to the conclusion of our sermon series on John’s first letter. For those who like statistics this is sermon number 20 on these five chapters. If you think that’s a lot, consider the great preacher, D.M. Lloyd-Jones, who preached 67 sermons on this letter. I have those sermons in five volumes. In one of those sermons he digs deeply into one of the things John emphasizes the most in his letter, that God is love. I decided to do the same as a way of wrapping up and summarizing our time in this great little love letter from the apostle John. What can be more important than knowing the love of God? John certainly doesn’t think there is anything more important. In the short section of John, I just read he uses love 18 times. John wants us to know something and he wants us to know it so that our joy may be complete (I John 1:4). He wants us to know the love of God. He wants our knowledge to be objective and subjective, grounded in truth and doctrine, and at the same time experiential, felt, personal, practical, living. Mind and heart will and emotion.
We have already mentioned that verse 13 seemed like a natural ending to this letter. Even verse 20 could have worked. He could have ended, little children, love Jesus, walk in the light, love your brother. Or he could have ended this letter the way he ends his next two letters, II John and III John, saying he has much more to say but hopes to come in person, face to face. So why this strange, unexpected concluding command added onto the end of I John? This is the only letter in the NT to end with an abrupt command. If we look at the context we get some clues for this ending.
You have heard of the song that does not end. Well this sermon series on preaching the Gospel to ourselves may seem like the Lenten sermon series that does not end. This series has been like going into a mine and finding a vein of gold and start digging. That vein leads to another one a little deeper, and then another one, and another one. And here we are several months later still digging, still uncovering nuggets, truths. But today we come to the end, where I sum up what we have been talking about when we say we should preach the Gospel to ourselves every day. One of the main points I have tried to make over these many weeks is that the Gospel is not a one-time thing for when we get saved. We never outgrow our need for the Gospel, it has everyday relevance for all of our lives. We never mature past the point of needing to know how the Gospel applies to every situation and circumstance in our lives.
The theme of Serve this week was Go Do Good, and I am pleased to report You Did Good. You went and did it again, First Church. You were amazing this week and in all the weeks of preparation before. You went above and beyond all week long with our Serve project. I want you to know how proud I am of First Church. God had a vision and a purpose that He gave to Dan H about four years ago, to stretch ourselves to become a Serve site. Little did we know then it was a three-year commitment. And now look what you did, you did good, above and beyond good for three years. So, thank you to Dan for listening and following through especially when it seem impossible. This year 40 youth and leaders from four CRC churches from MI, MN, and WA served our community through four work sites, and we as a church served them to make it all possible. Over a hundred members of our congregation served led by an incredible team of volunteer leaders and our own youth group and all of us under the faithful leadership of Dan H. You volunteered and helped in the kitchen, made cookies, donated chips and pop, helped in the worship, sound, projector, on the work sites, came to the prayer meetings, were a host family on last Sunday morning, bought or donated tools or vehicles or trailers, did laundry, helped with set up or clean up, stayed up late to be a night watchmen. Some of you took a week of vacation, time off from work, or came before work and after work.
We are in the postscript or PS of John’s letter where he gives some final affirmations or exhortations, each marked with “we know” and these are followed by a final warning. Since the warning stands by itself and seems like a very strange way to end a letter, we will take it up separately. So, this evening let’s consider these three “we knows.” It’s one of John’s favorite words, he repeats it a lot, over thirty times in I John and over 100 times in his Gospel. The Christian faith is not a mystery religion, not a religion over which hangs a heavy cloud of unknowing, of cosmic uncertainty, of endless speculation. There are great truths in our faith that stand as absolutes, as things about which you need not doubt. John lays down three great truths here.
The Serve theme this year is Go Do Good and the Serve Theme text is Titus 2:11-14 where we hear this call to be eager to do good. What is this eager to do good business, who is zealous for good works? Who does that, who wants to work? And who pays to come to some strange place to work for strangers? Where does this eagerness to do good work come from? I remember driving in a Kansas snow storm to go see a girl. I was motivated by love to see her. In the midst of the storm I slid off the road into a snow filled ditch, I was buried up to the windows. A guy in a pick up truck stopped (God bless guys in pick up trucks). He pulled me out and I offered to pay him for his trouble. He told me to just help someone else in their time of need. And about 20 miles later that opportunity presented itself and I was able to help someone who needed help. I was glad to do it, motivated by the love and grace and generosity I had received. That experience changed my entire outlook. Helping others was no longer an inconvenience or a delay to my plans. That experience is a very small microcosm of what we have all experienced and what our text reveals. There are multiple reasons given here to motivate us, even compel us to be eager to do good. Let’s look at them in our text.