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.
Two weeks ago we heard about the benefits of the ascension and preaching those benefits to ourselves. We don’t just have a risen Savior, we have an ascended Savior who now reigns on the throne of heaven with all power and authority. He is our Lord and King. He is our great high priest, the once-for-all perfect and complete sacrifice. By His blood our sins are forgiven. And now He is praying to the Father on our behalf. Continue to preach and proclaim to yourself Jesus who is in heaven, what He is like and what He has done and is doing for you, who’s side is He on. One of the fruits or benefits of the ascension is Pentecost. Jesus said He must ascend so the Spirit could descend. John 16:7 I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. So this morning let’s consider together the great benefits of preaching Pentecost to ourselves. Pentecost is the spiritual turning point in history. Something absolutely transforming and cataclysmic happened on that day. We just observed the anniversary of D-Day, which was a decisive turning point in the history of WWII. Pentecost is that decisive moment in our spiritual battle with sin and with walking in the will of God and in a relationship with Him. Pentecost is essential for your life as a Christian. In fact, you can’t be one without the Spirit. You can’t know or understand the Gospel without the Spirit, you can’t preach the Gospel to yourself without the Spirit, you can’t believe it or apply it without the Spirit.
We are coming to the end of John’s letter. Some think it ended with verse 13, but then he thought of some more things to say. Sort of like the preacher who has two finallys and three in conclusions. As he comes to the end of his letter he wants to repeat and clarify some things to make sure the people get it, that their confidence and assurance are well grounded. He wants them to know in their knower that they have the assurance of eternal life. John is writing to those who are already Christians so that they can grow in their faith, believe more firmly, and have greater certainty and confidence in eternal life. All of us can relate with that man in the Gospels who said, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” All of us experience weak faith, doubts, fears, times when we wonder if we can trust God. As long as we are in this flesh we will have remnants of unbelief, so we must constantly be fighting the fight of faith and growing and making progress in the Gospel. John writes for our spiritual benefit, to help us, to encourage and build our faith, to lead us to greater assurance and confidence and hope in eternal life. How can he be so sure? Because his knowing, his knowledge isn’t based on himself or the world or the shifting ideas of culture or philosophers. He knows because of the revealed will of God in Scripture.