We are continuing to learn how to preach the truth of the Gospel to ourselves in the on-going battle with our flesh and the voices in our heads and the lies of Satan and the world around us. We have before us two opportunities to fine tune our preaching in two specific areas of the Gospel that have much to say to us, the Ascension of Jesus and the Pentecost of the Holy Spirit which is in two weeks. This morning we will focus on the ascension of our Lord. Imagine a Memorial Day in the Christian Church. Imagine that Jesus died and wasn’t raised from the dead, or imagine that Jesus died, was raised from the dead, but then years later died like all the other people raised from the dead. Imagine a great memorial place in Israel somewhere that you can visit and linger and pray and pay your respects to a great fallen hero and warrior. Imagine a dead Jesus. That’s why the ascension is so important. Jesus wanted to make it very clear to the disciples and to all who follow Him that He is no longer here, His body cannot be found on earth. He has ascended back to heaven were He came from and now He sits on the throne at the right hand of the Father and from there He rules and reigns in power and authority. We worship a risen Savior and Lord and ascended king.
Every text in I John seems to have its special word, a word that he repeats over and over. What is that word in our text? Testimony and testify, at least eight times. Our text reads like a courtroom drama. John does three things: First, he calls in three witnesses to give expert testimony to testify to the proof and validity that Jesus really is the Christ, Son of God who gives eternal life to all who believe, vss. 6-8. Then, he contrasts the testimony of men with the testimony of God and give three reasons why the testimony of God must be accepted, vss. 9-12. Finally, he sums up the testimony and makes his closing argument in verse 13
My sermon title this morning should be God’s sufficient grace for moms and everyone else, but that was too long. The sermon is for everyone, with some application at the end for moms. All of us are privileged to see into the first heavens where birds and airplanes fly. And all of us are privileged to see into the second heavens inhabited by our moon and sun and stars and galaxies. But very few are there who have ever seen into the third heavens, the habitation of God in all His glory, and lived to tell about it. The context of this passage is that 14 years before writing this letter to the church in Corinth Paul had been given by God an extraordinary vision of heaven. He heard and saw things that were too magnificent even to utter. It was an exceedingly extraordinary manifestation of God’s favor to him, a gift like no other. Because we humans have a tendency to become puffed up or full of ourselves when we are in possession of personal advantages far above others, Paul was given a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble.
John wrote this letter with essentially two purposes in mind. He wanted to expose the false teachers and those who merely profess faith but don’t actually possess eternal life. And at the same time to encourage believers and reassure them what it means to be born again. John is writing to the church, the family of God, and he is helping identify who is in the family and who isn’t. The spiritual deceivers and fakes and frauds are confusing the saints. We know in our human families how we are like our parents and our kids are like us. There are certain identifying characteristics, birthmarks. We can see the resemblance in the eyes, nose, mouth, how someone walks or talks. Like father, like son. She is just like her mother. People often comment about how much our boys look like one of us. People are identifying Woodyard features in our granddaughters. John is saying there are three identifying birthmarks or characteristics of God’s kids, of those who have been born again. John has repeatedly used three tests for both sides. The doctrinal test, do we love Jesus; the moral test, do we love God’s commands; and the social test, do we love His people. These are the fruit on the tree of born again, the tree of spiritual life. They are not the cause of our being born again, but the consequence. They are not the root, they are the fruit. I remind you that we had no more to do with our being born again than we did with our being born. We are born again of God, by the power of the Spirit, by grace through faith, which is a gift from God so none of us can boast. The word born means begotten by God.
We have been using this overflowing glass as a symbol of God’s overflowing grace to us in the Gospel. But what about when life doesn’t feel like that at all? What about when life doesn’t even feel half full or half empty, but completely empty? What about when we feel like we got nothing? Does it mean you aren’t a Christian? Does it mean you aren’t a good Christian? Does it mean that you have been left out or left behind? Remember David is a mature believer. What do we do when life empties our glass? What do we do when we feel like the Psalmist and find more why questions than answers? Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go about mourning? Why have you rejected me? Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why are you in turmoil within me? It’s OK to ask why questions. Jesus asked why on the cross, “Why have you forsaken me?”