OPEN FOR MORNING WORSHIP ON SUNDAY AT 10:30AM
OPEN FOR MORNING WORSHIP
SUNDAY AT 10:30AM

Sharing Our Faith Together

Morning Worship for Sunday 9 May 2021

by Rev Greg Obong-Oshotse 9 May 2021

Call to Worship  Romans 8:35, 37-39
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . . 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

Hymn: Be still for the presence of the Lord

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Opening Prayer & The Lord’s Prayer  

Heavenly Father we give You thanks for the privilege of worship today. We proclaim with the Holy Scriptures that this is the day that You have made and that we will rejoice and be glad in it. We therefore begin our worship presenting our bodies to you a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is our reasonable service. We refuse to be conformed to the world today. Rather we seek to be transformed by the renewal of our minds that we may know Your perfect will and do it so that Your name will be glorified. Give us this blessing today as worship and every day of the rest of our lives in the name of Your precious Son, our only Lord and Saviour and Master and Helper, Jesus Christ, AMEN.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Hymn: How Sweet The Name Of Jesus Sounds

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Bible Reading:  1 John 5:1-5 Overcoming The World
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

Hymn: What Shall I do My God To Love

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The Victory of Faith 1 John 5:1-4
Introduction
Many people think of victory purely in material terms: a military accomplishment on the battle front, financial success in a business venture, passing an examination in flying colours, defeating an opponent in a sporting event, winning a dancing contest, becoming a celebrity or superstar, and getting listed in the Sunday Times Rich List, or in Forbes magazine’s club of billionaires. These are all great successes and they take a lot of hard work. Such successes are not to be sneered at. But that’s not the victory that John is talking about here in his letter. John is talking about the salvation of the human soul – the greatest possible victory that can be experienced by any human being. It is the victory of the individual over sin and its eternal consequence of facing the wrath of God in an eternal hell. It is victory over the world, the flesh and the devil. It is the victory of being delivered from the kingdom of the world and transferred into the Kingdom of God. It is the victory that guarantees an eternal place in heaven for the victorious person.

There are three things that I wish to bring to our attention as we look at these first five verses in the fifth chapter of John’s first letter. 

The Purchase of Salvation v1a
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. . .”

Right off the bat John says this victory is available to ”everyone.” Yet whilst it is open to ‘everyone’, it comes with a condition: you must be born of God. Someone will ask: Is not everyone born of God? Is not every human being a child of God? Physically, Yes. Because we can all trace our ancestry back to the first man, Adam. But spiritually, No. How then is a person born of God? By believing that Jesus is the Christ. So “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. . .” John uses that same phrase born of God in his Gospel. In John 1:11-13, he says “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” The good news is that ‘Everyone’ may be ‘born of God.’

People are born of God and become children of God when they receive Christ and believe in His name. ‘Not of blood’ ‘Nor of the will of the flesh’ ‘Nor of the will of man’ John is not talking about a mere intellectual assent or a mental confession that Jesus is the Messiah. What he means is that the person must know Jesus as his or her own Messiah. Which means the person is trusting in and relying on Jesus as the Messiah. This is how we become children of God. It is what makes us Christians. And this is the common ground of Christians – that we are born of God, we have a common birth in Jesus Christ, and come under the common Lordship of Jesus. That is what unites us in Christ - not race, not class, not culture, not sex, not language, not education, not economic power, nor any other thing. 


 2. The Proof of Salvation v1b-3
“. . . everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” 

Three things are noted there: (1) He that loves God loves His children. (2) He that loves God keeps His commandments. (3) He that loves God will not find His commandments burdensome.

John is saying that the proof of salvation is love. The Christian is a lover. However, we must make a clarification here. There is a form of love that we are all born with. And that love is natural to humanity because we are created in the image of God. As a result of this natural gift we can be affectionate towards friends, family, neighbours, colleagues, and even strangers. We can be kind, generous, charitable, gracious, and even sacrificial towards them. 

Almost every human being can love in this way. All categories of sinners can love in this way. Even atheists can show this kind of love towards others. But that is not the love that John is talking about in this letter. It includes all these expressions of warmth towards people. But it goes much further. 

The key characteristic of this love is that it is divine. It is not natural to humanity. It is God’s kind of love and it is given by the Holy Spirit only to those who ‘believe that Jesus is the Christ’ at the point of their new birth. Galatians 5:22 says “The fruit of the Spirit is love . . .” It is borne in the believer by the Holy Spirit.  

Its chief proof is its obedience to the Lord. For instance, an atheist may be the best person in the neighbourhood yet loudly maintain his denial of the existence of God. He will show affection and kindness and charity towards people and yet blaspheme God and reject His commandments. Such a person cannot be said to love God. So the chief test and proof of this love is whether a person keeps the commandments of God. To love other children of God is just one of them. 

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

John 15:14 “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

John 14:31 “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.”

1 John 2:5 “Whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him.” 

In order to emphasise that teaching and the truth of it, John records for us in his Gospel two statements by Christ that state it in both positive and negative terms: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me” John 14:23-24.

The Positive: If anyone loves me, he will keep my word

The Negative: Whoever does not love me does not keep my words

And then He adds that His words have come directly from God the Father: “the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me” (v24b). Which emphasises the point that they are the commandments of God. Therefore, one cannot say that he or she loves God and yet not obey His commandments.

1John3:24a “Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him.”

John 14:21 “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.”

2 John 6 “And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments. . .”

This is not new to the New Testament. Even in the Old Testament, this is the standard. At the giving of the ten commandments in Exodus 20:6 God describes Himself as One who keeps “steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Deuteronomy 7:9 also says “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” And in his great prayer for Jewish deliverance from exile in Babylon, Daniel describes God as “the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments” Daniel 9:4.

This was also the standard that Christ applied to His own blood family. Matthew 12:46-50 “While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” 

Many today have boiled down all of religion to this one rule: love your neighbour as yourself. Or do to others what you want them to do to you. That is their religion, and with this they hope to gain their salvation and a place in heaven. Almost every sinner can accept that. Murderers can accept that. All categories of sexually immoral people can accept that. Anyone can accept that. Even atheists who don’t believe in God can accept that too.

We have already noted the natural man is indeed capable of being very religious and can do a lot of good things: show compassion, kindness, do works of mercy and charity. But he cannot obtain salvation with those works. His sins cannot be forgiven or washed away by those works because only blood can wash away sin Hebrews 9:22.

The difficulty arises because people assume that they can love people instead of God. When Christ was asked what was the greatest commandment, He said “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself” Matthew 22:37-39. This is merely a summary of the Ten Commandments. Loving the Lord is a summary of the first four commandments. Loving your neighbour as yourself is a summary of the last six commandments. In Matthew 22:40, Christ adds: “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” That is to say that the entire canon of the Old Testament is founded on the Ten Commandments.

What this means is that the natural man cannot love in this way. God must come to dwell in him first. Because he must also love God first – proven by his obedience to God’s Word. Which the natural man is not equipped to do, and cannot do.

So the belief and attitude of society today that their charity is enough to buy them peace with God on the day of judgement and make it into heaven is false and their confidence is also false. 

Notice that John also says in verse 3 that he that loves God will not find His commandments grievous or burdensome. That is, firstly, ‘because when we are born again, we are given new hearts – hearts which by instinct wish to please God.’ Secondly, they are not burdensome because they are in fact very good for us, and they are a perfect gift from God to us. The Psalmist says in Psalm 19 that the commandments of God are “perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, true, better than gold, and sweeter than honey.” Not surprisingly, the Psalmist also goes on to say:
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103

“I find my delight in your commandments,
    which I love. 48 I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.” Psalm 119:47-48

“I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold.
128 Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right; I hate every false way.” Psalm 119:127-128

“I long for your salvation, O Lord,
    and your law is my delight.” Psalm 119:174 

In Matthew 11:28-30 Christ says those who walk with Him will find the journey a light one – that is by comparison with any other way one might wish to take apart from Christ. “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

 

3. The Purpose of Salvation v4-5

 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

One key purpose of salvation is to overcome the world.

The believer is victorious because he or she overcomes the world. The world is a kingdom that is opposed to God and, therefore, opposed to the children of God also. But because they are children of God, they overcome it. They are victorious because of their faith in Christ Jesus. To overcome, to be victorious, to be successful are cast in spiritual terms here by John. The overcomer is the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. That is the foundation of the Christian faith. And that faith is the instrument of victory. We have noted before that the world does not view success and victory in this way, but in purely materialistic terms. So to view ultimate victory in material terms is to be dominated by the world. Only the believer in Christ is able to understand that ultimate victory lies in the salvation of the soul. That person overcomes the world. 

Yet we overcome because of who we are in Christ, not because of what we are able to do in our own strength. 

“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

John 33:16
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

This victory of the believer over the world also includes his or her victory over Satan the god of this world. 

John says, 
“I am writing to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
    because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children,
    because you know the Father.
14 I write to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
    because you are strong,
    and the word of God abides in you,
    and you have overcome the evil one.” 1 John 2:13-14

Overcomers have a special place in the world to come. In Revelation 3:21 Jesus promises: “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”

Here again a sharp contrast between the two kingdoms: the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. Our victory is to escape from the kingdom of the world into the safety of the Kingdom of God. That happens only through faith. And that faith is only by believing that Jesus is the Christ.

Application and Conclusion
John has told us today that victory is available to ”Everyone.” Yet whilst it is open to ‘everyone’, it comes with a condition: you must be born of God. And to be born of God, he tells us, is to believe in Christ as your Lord. Everyone who believes in Christ has been born of God. Then he goes on to tell us that: (1) He that is born of God loves God. (2) He that loves God loves His children. (3) He that loves God keeps His commandments. (4) He that loves God will not find His commandments grievous or burdensome

Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ? Is He Lord in your life? Do you put your trust in Him wholly for your salvation? Then you are born of God.

Do you love your fellow believers? Do you keep the commandments of God? Then that is proof that you love God. That also means you have the faith that overcomes the world. You have the faith that gives the victory. 

Do you see yourself as an overcomer? Do you see yourself as a victor? Do you see yourself as a conqueror? Do you know the joy, and the peace, of conquest? Do you know the relief, the ecstasy, the inner satisfaction of victory? This is the logical conclusion of what John is saying. 

If you don’t see yourself in this way you have to ask why. Perhaps you lack assurance of your salvation? Perhaps you are doubtful of your salvation? Or fearful? Allowing the enemy of your soul to deny you of the privileges that are rightly yours? Then you must fight back. You must lean on the Holy Spirit to give you the assurance you need to stand in your victory and to rejoice in the tremendous blessings of that victory which Christ has already won for you. 

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35, 37-39 

Let us Pray
God of Victory
Help us to cherish the victory you have won for us in Christ and to work with you to bring others to the same victory

God of Healing
Reach out and touch us in the places where we hurt, where we are broken, where we are wounded, where we are ill, and where we are unfruitful and make us whole

God of Truth
Help us to cherish the truth which you have preserved for us in your Word and reveal to us through your Holy Spirit

God of Grace
Help us to enjoy your grace and fill us with more and more grace every day

God of Power
Help us to go out in your power to do the work of winning souls for your Kingdom

God of All Souls
Help us to have your heart for souls, to have compassion for sinners and a passion for winning souls

Hymn: Lord of All Hopefulness, Lord of All Joy

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Prayers of Intercession and Petition
Offer to God, either silently or speaking out loud, prayers for our nation and our leaders, for other nations and their leaders, for the Church across the denominations, for the world still fighting to free itself from a pandemic, for those who are ill, bereaved or suffering in whatever way, and others that come to your mind. Present also your own private petitions before the Lord.

Hymn: I The Lord Of Sea And Sky

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Benediction and Dismissal
May the Lord keep you and bless you. May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, May the Lord turn His face towards you and give you peace.

Go in peace and in the power of His Holy Spirit to love and to serve the Lord in the Name of The Father and of The Son and of The Holy Spirit, 

AMEN.