Continuing our series from First Peter, this post is a summary of the most recent sermon preached at Morningside Baptist Church (MBC) by Pastor Dave Sowers. The audio of the sermon can be found at the "Sermon Audio Podcast" link of the website http://www.morningsidebaptist.us/. Pastor Sowers pictured to the left. As much as is possible it is hoped that these notes honor both the intent and the content of Pastor Sowers' original message. Please compare to the sermon audio podcast.
ASSUMPTIONS: Perhaps you, yourself, or you have witnessed individuals making certain assumptions only to find out later they were incorrect. For example, this week we read of the devastating financial consequences of many who placed their trust in Bernard Madoff and whereas they thought to make a good financial income, discovered they instead lost all their lives savings, or a great amount of money on someone unworthy of their trust. They assumed the relationship they were in with Madoff was good one, but it proved otherwise.
With Today's text we have an opportunity to examine where we are in our relationship with Jesus Christ or if we are trusting in faulty assumptions.
FIRST PETER 1:8-9
1Pe 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
Peter shows us here, that people he has never met, a people abiding in what is now northern Turkey, yet not meeting, not having seen he knows some things to be true about them.
1) He knows of their Love in Christ
2) He knows of the Trust in Christ
3) He knows of their Rejoicing in Christ.
Peter knows these things to be true, because these are things true about every true believer in Jesus Christ.
We learned last week that even in the midst of great hardship and trial there is still much to rejoice in. Things to rejoice in no matter how hard or bad the circumstances.
How can we not rejoice, and see how much grounds of rejoicing belongs to us: 1Pet 1:1-5
Loved by God.
Were dead but God caused new Life.
Having an imperishable inheritance.
God keeping me to the last day
BUT REJOICING in 1Pe 1:8 though is of a more specific nature. Rejoicing in knowing Christ.
Robert Asty: [Rejoicing in the Lord Jesus in all Cases and Conditions]
"There is enough in Christ Jesus alone for the soul's full rejoicing and triumphing in all cases and conditions....Let things go how they will in the world, as to my outward concerns, yet the ground of my joy is never taken from me. . . . It is not in the creature, it is not upon earth, but it is in heaven; it is not in man, it is in the Lord; it is not in the confluence of these things that are coming and going, and in an uncertain enjoyment, but it is in the Lord who never fails."
There is joy and rejoicing both now and a fulness even reserved for later:
Psa 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
But don't we have a taste of the fulness of joy and rejoicing even now. Sometimes as we are driving in the car, in a quiet place by ourselves, thinking upon Christ and we are overcome with such joy, struck by the great grace that abounds towards us, a view of our beautiful saviour, and thinking upon such things overwhelmed and filled with great rejoicing. DO YOU NOT TASTE such rejoicings even now - in HIS PRESENCE IS FULNESS OF JOY.
BELIEVING YET NOT SEEING:
Joh 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
BELIEVING IS MUCH MORE THAN AN ACCUMULATION OF INTELLECTUAL FACTS:
Demons have a very orthodox theology.
Luk 4:33-34 And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God.
Mar 1:23-24 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.
In my own experience every Sunday we would recite the apostles creed, except on the day we had communion and then we would recite the Nicene Creed. I, myself, had acquired an accumulation of facts and could profess an orthodox theology. Yet, I did not know Christ.
"Faith is looking on him and to Him"...."committing our all unto Him"..."and expecting our all from Him."
A TRUE CHRISTIAN LOVES CHRIST:
Is this true? The statement has been made but first is it really true?
There are some today, who in the name of Christ deny this very statement.
By way of example, we will consider two:
One prominent teacher in discussing Rom 8:28 tells us here that when the verse says that all things work together for good to them that love God, we should learn that there are indeed different classes of Christians. This verse is only for that certain class of believers who "Love God - who Love Christ." When I read this conclusion, I wrote in the margin of the book, "WHAT!!!" Christians who don't love God!
There is also another populuar illustration involving a train in which the various parts are described and applied thus:
The engine is Fact.
The coal car is Faith.
The cabbose is feeling or emotions.
The conclusion being, the train can run without the caboose, so don't worry if you have no feelings, no particular love for Christ, no passion for Christ.
Thus in some circles loving Christ is not considered essential in order to finally arrive in heaven or to consider oneself a true Christian.
WHAT DOES THE TEXT SAY?
1 Peter 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Notice it does not say: "Ye should love Christ."
It does not say: "Ye ought to love Christ."
No, Peter can assure and state as a fact, if you are bought with his blood, and really experienced from him true salvation, you cannot help but love Christ.
John 21:15-17 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
Jesus asks Peter, "Lovest though me...?" Contrast this with a scene from Fiddler on the Roof when the husband asks the wife, "Do you love me?" She responds with a "how can you ask that..." and then begins to relate all that she has done for him, in cooking and washing, and keeping home. But once more after that the husband asks again, "Yes, but do you love me?" And again she gives a further list of the various duties and activities she has fulfilled as his wife.
We to, could answer the question with, "Of course I love Jesus. I go to church, I give, I read the bible, I do this thing and that thing, I fulfill all the duties presented before me. How can you ask, 'Do I love you?'"
BUT ALL THESE THINGS we can do without loving Christ.
Can we say like Peter, "you know all things --- you know that I love you."
THE QUESTION ON THE TABLE THEN IS: DO WE LOVE CHRIST?
Luke 14:25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
Speaking here of a Love that makes the other love look like hate because so SUPREME is our Love for Christ.
They must be willing to quit that which was very dear, and therefore must come to him thoroughly weaned from all their creature-comforts, and dead to them, so as cheerfully to part with them rather than quit their interest in Christ, Luk 14:26. A man cannot be Christ's disciple but he must hate father, and mother, and his own life. He is not sincere, he will be constant and persevering, unless he love Christ better than any thing in this world, and be willing to part with that which he may and must leave, either as a sacrifice, when Christ may be glorified by our parting with it (so the martyrs, who loved not their lives to death), or as a temptation, when by our parting with it we are put into a better capacity of serving Christ. Thus Abraham parted with his own country, and Moses with Pharaoh's court. Mention is not made here of houses and lands; philosophy will teach a man to look upon these with contempt; but Christianity carries it higher. [1.] Every good man loves his relations; and yet, if he be a disciple of Christ, he must comparatively hate them, must love them less than Christ, as Leah is said to be hated when Rachel was better loved. Not that their persons must be in any degree hated, but our comfort and satisfaction in them must be lost and swallowed up in our love to Christ, as Levi's was, when he said to his father, I have not seen him, Deu 33:9. When our duty to our parents comes in competition with our evident duty to Christ, we must give Christ the preference. If we must either deny Christ or be banished from our families and relations (as many of the primitive Christians were), we must rather lose their society than his favour. [2.] Every man loves his own life, no man ever yet hated it; and we cannot be Christ's disciples if we do not love him better than our own lives, so as rather to have our lives embittered by cruel bondage, nay, and taken away by cruel deaths, than to dishonour Christ, or depart from any of his truths and ways. The experience of the pleasures of the spiritual life, and the believing hopes and prospects of eternal life, will make this hard saying easy. When tribulation and persecution arise because of the word, then chiefly the trial is, whether we love better, Christ or our relations and lives; yet even in the days of peace this matter is sometimes brought to the trial. Those that decline the service of Christ, and opportunities of converse with him, and are ashamed to confess him, for fear of disobliging a relation or friend, or losing a customer, give cause to suspect that they love him better than Christ." [I am not sure of the exact quote Pastor read from Matthew Henry at this place in the sermon, this is taken from Luk 14:25 as found in Matthew Henry's Commentaries.]
THE HORRIBLE CONDITION OF NOT LOVING CHRIST:
1 Corinthians 16:22 If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.
Anathema - CURSED. If you do not love the Lord Jesus Christ, your are accursed!
Loving Christ is not an optional extra in the Christian life.
Loving Christ is not the uneeded caboose attached to the end of the train.
If not Loving Christ we are accursed.
This is not another class of Christian -- to not be loving Christ is then have NO HEAVEN.
LOVING CHRIST does not earn heaven..... BUT:
John 8:42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
If this is true: That God is your Father, then this is true "ye would love me."
The evidence of being in God's family then is if YOU LOVE CHRIST.
Eph 6:24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
John Fawcett, Christ Precious:
"Love to the divine Redeemer is the distinguishing characteristic of a real Christian...the parent and promoter of everything excellent and amiable in the Christian character...The eloquence of men, or even of angels, the gift of prophecy, the knowledge of all mysteries, the power to work miracles, the most extensive liberality to the poor, and even the suffering of martyrdom, are all insignificant and unprofitable without love." [editors note: quote taken from book by John Fawcett (1739-1817), Christ Precious, a treatise on 1Pet 2:7. I did not find the exact copy from which Pastor Sowers quoted. This taken from a description of quote taken from the book. Boldface matches exactly what I wrote in the notes taken during the service.]
In other words: REAL CHRISTIANS LOVE CHRIST.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I TRULY LOVE CHRIST?
We sang the same in a number of our hymns this morning. "thee will I cherish" and "Oh, how I love Jesus." But it is certainly possible to honour Christ with our lips but our hearts are actually far from him.
Mat 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
When I was young I purchased a "Honk if you love Jesus" bumper sticker and attached it to my Mother's car. As we were driving every now and then someone would honk. We didn't know if they loved Jesus or if something was amiss. But that doesn't prove anything, it is totally possible to honk without loving Jesus truly. Honking isn't a good test.
IS JESUS PRECIOUS TO YOU:
1 Peter 2:7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
IS HE Your treasure your pearl of Great price?
Mat 13:44-46 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
What are your Affections for Christ:
Heartfelt love for Jesus.
Abiding enjoyement in his fellowship.
Strong gratitude for loving us before we loved him.
These attitudes out to be in us.
Think of your spouse doing for you every good thing a wife should do, a husband should do. So careful in all the duties of marriage. And then saying: "though I do all these things I truly feel nothing for you." What would all the doings of marriage amount to without love?
Think of your husband, your wife, relating to you all the nice things they like about you. A good list and it makes you feel good. So you reply, "this is nice, let's go on a date together, have some time alone." to which your husband or your wife responds, "though I said all these nice things I like about you, yet I really don't want to spend any time with you."
Is there any desire to spend time with Christ? Are you like the brother I talked to recently who has been spending more time with Jesus and yet can say: "I wish I could spend more time yet with him."
IF YOU LOVE CHRIST THERE SHOULD BE A DESIRE TO PLEASE AND OBEY PRESENT IN YOU:
John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
John 14:23-24 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
Love in the heart will express itself in obedience to his word.
As a fruit and evidence. Obedience, itself, is not love but the fruit of it.
LOVING CHRIST INCLUDES CARING ABOUT WHAT CHRIST CARES ABOUT:
Philippians 2:21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.
What does Christ care about? As I prepared this sermon, Three things came immediately to mind:
1) Glory of His Father. Such truth comes blazing forth as we read the scriptures.
2) Spreading of his kingdom everywhwere to all nations.
3) His church and the right relations between brothers within His Church, loving one another.
TO KNOW CHRIST IS TO LOVE CHRIST:
Admire him above all.
Enjoy his ways and words above all others.
Desire his approval far above all others.
Desire to be with Him.
Trust his words more fully than the words of any other man.
Being more glad in HIS exaltation than the exaltation of any other man including myself.
Thus we conclude:
A REAL CHRISTIAN IS ONE WHO LOVES AND TRUSTS CHRIST
It is possible to be deceived in this. We need to really get at what this means. Where does these words find you:
1) Maybe you havent met Christ. Maybe you don't know him. And therefore because of this don't Love him.
Acknowledge you have not loved and trusted Christ which is an infinitely serious matter.
Acknowledge nothing you can do to repair the matter. No self-effort, no doing more, or trying harder.
Trust in Christ alone for change. Trust Christ who died. Trust in Christ who rose from the dead. Trust in Christ who alone can take care of the penalty and judgement against you on account of your sins. Trust in Christ alone who can give a new heart. Look for the righteousness of Christ alone as a gift and do not trust in your own righteousness.
2) But others of us having begun well may find the following to be our case:
Revelation 2:2-7 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Don't take this lightly. The word in verse four which some of you may have in your translation, "somewhat" is actually in italics and is in no way intended to lessen the severity of the charge.
You have done many good things. Works and labors of love, patience, intolerance for them that are evil, testing false apostles, not fainting... YET ...... YOU HAVE LEFT THY FIRST LOVE.
All the good does not make up for this. Many good things does not make up for failing to continue in the LOVE FOR CHRIST.
Christianity is not just works-to-do and things-to-know.
Without love for Christ in the heart all these good things are worthless.
HAVING LEFT THY FIRST LOVE -- WHAT TO DO????
The answer is contained in three R's:
Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
REMEMBER what it was like then, when you couldn't get enough, what it was to enjoy prayer, when you couldn't wait for fellowship with brothers, when you couldn't wait to hear the word preached and to learn more of your precious saviour.
Rev 2:5... and repent, and do the first works
Repent (twice repeated in this verse). It is not simply remembering but also to repent. If you are not loving Christ, repent, be sorry that the intensity of your first love has declined, diminished, and disappeared. Do not be content with lukewarmness, or cold affection.
Do the deeds you did at first. Not just remember and repent but get back to that which you did at the first. Go back to having the fellowship that was then encouraging that then stoked the flame of your passion for Christ. Remembering the deeds you did at first which fueled your love for Christ, return to doing them again.
HAVING EARS - THEN HEAR:
Revelation 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
This letter is not just for the church at Ephesus, but for the churches. For the churches down through these 2000 years. Hear what the Spirit says to the churches, to Morningside Baptist Church, what the Spirit is saying to YOU.
Glory to God, By His Grace and For His Glory