************ Sermon on 1 John 2:28 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 31, 2019
1 John 2:28-3:3
1 John 2:28
"Do We Continue in Him?"
Old Year's Service 2019
The year 2020 is almost upon us. Let's go back 20 years. Remember all the hype at the year 2000? We heard ad nauseam about Y2K. We heard the end was coming. We heard the banking system was going to fail, utilities would stop sending natural gas and electricity, telephone service would go kaput, the stock market was going to crash, and nuclear missiles would launch themselves.
Remember what people did back then? Mormons stocked up on food and supplies to gain new converts when everything went belly up. Some people, including a few in our church, put their money into gold, buried it in their backyard, and told their pastor where it was buried. Other members bought generators and went home early on New Year's Eve.
What should be our response whether it is the year 2000 or the year 2020 that is almost upon us?
(1 Jn 2:28) And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
John's advice for us: continue in Him. Can you say that's what you did in 2019? Can you say that's what you hope to do in 2020?
I When He Appears
A Someday Jesus is going to reappear. Someday Jesus is going to return.
(1 Jn 2:28) And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.Will you be confident and unashamed? Will you be ready when He appears?
Ready for what? Ready for judgment. Not salvation or hell judgment. That judgment has already happened; it has happened in eternity in the election or reprobation decree of God. That judgment is made clear the very moment you die and are before the throne of God.
Instead, will you be ready for the final judgment? At that time our lives are going to be sifted and measured and weighed and evaluated and tested by fire. What John has in mind is a judgment of works. Your sins will still be paid for, your sins will still be covered -- all by Christ. Let's be clear about this: you are not going to be paying for your sins because Jesus has already done that. But after this is all said and done, John is wondering what kind of reward will you get? When your life is sifted and measured and weighed and evaluated and tested by fire, what will be left? Will it all be consumed in the fraction of a second? Will there be anything in your life that is of eternal value?
Let me put it this way: your eternal reward -- NOT YOUR SALVATION -- your eternal reward will be based upon what you do in this life as a Christian believer. Your eternal reward is based upon the degree of your faithfulness and service.
B Let me point out a number of texts. I want to start with two texts from the end of Revelation:
(Rev 20:12) And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.Do you hear that? The dead are judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. God's books. God's ledger. God's record books where He keeps track of everything we have ever said, done, and thought. Where He keeps track of everything we have not said, done, and thought. That's the first text. Here is the second text:
(Rev 22:12) "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.Jesus rewards everyone according to what he or she has done. The reward is NOT salvation, it can't be salvation, because salvation is by grace and not by works (Eph 2:8).
We find the same kind of teaching about reward in Paul's letter to Corinth:
(1 Cor 4:5) Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.Jesus exposes. We are sifted and measured and weighed and evaluated and tested by fire. And on the basis of what Jesus finds we are rewarded and praised.
Do you remember the glorious charge Paul gives to Timothy and to all pastors?
(2 Tim 4:2) Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.Preach the Word. One verse earlier Timothy is told the reason, the motive, he is to be faithful and careful in doing this:
(2 Tim 4:1) In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:Timothy, preach the Word. Adrian, preach the Word. Joel, preach the Word. Why? Because someday we are going to stand before the Judge. Will God reward me for what I have done? Or will all my work disappear?
Now, with this in mind listen to what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:
(1 Cor 3:12-15) If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, (13) his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. (14) If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. (15) If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.Jesus is the foundation and we all build something on the foundation of Christ. Someday, when Jesus comes again, what we have built on Jesus is tested by fire. If you used gold, silver, and costly stones your work will survive and you will be rewarded. If you used wood, hay, and straw your work will disappear in an instance. You are still saved but you have nothing to show, nothing to display before the Lord, no treasure in heaven, nothing for which you will be rewarded.
So let me ask: What have you built on the foundation of Christ Jesus? This is the question John wants us to answer in our text for this evening.
II Continue in Him
A What's the key to building well on the foundation of Christ? What's the key to getting our eternal reward? What's the key to hearing from the Master, "Well done my good and faithful servant"? When Jesus appears how will we be able to face Him with confidence? Listen to the words of our text:
(1 Jn 2:28) And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.What do we need to do? "Continue in him."
"Continue in him." Another translation uses the word "abide." "Abide in him." "Remain in him." "Stay in him." John is calling us to be faithful. To Him. That is, to Christ.
B Continue, abide, remain, stay. The Greek word is one of John's favorite words. He uses it a lot -- 67 times in his letters and his gospel. John 15 is a good place to begin:
(Jn 15:4,6-7) Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (6) If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (7) If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.Remain, remain, remain, remain. Seven times in these three verses Jesus used the word "remain."
We turn from John's gospel to John's first letter. Let me summarize what John says:
-If we say we abide/remain/continue in Christ, we should walk as He walked (1 Jn 2:6).
-If we love our brother, we abide/remain/continue in the light (1 Jn 2:10).
-If the Word abides/remains/continue in us, we will be spiritually strong (1 Jn 2:14).
-If we do the will of God, we shall abide/remain/continue forever (1 Jn 2:17).
Remember what John said about false teachers and false believers?
(1 Jn 2:19) They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.In other words, they do not abide/remain/continue.
Continue, abide, remain, stay. See what John is talking about? Staying power. Remaining in the truth. Being faithful. That's what Jesus looks for when He appears, when He comes again. It isn't how many people you have won to Christ, how much money you give, how much Scripture you have memorized, how often you have been in church. What Jesus looks for is abiding, remaining, staying, continuing.
There are churches and theologies that talk about abiding as being some kind of super spiritual experience, some higher-level of spiritual awareness. They are like the Gnostics who, remember, claimed that theirs was a higher level of divine wisdom and knowledge. That's not what John means. He means sticking with Christ, sticking with the Gospel, sticking with the true church, sticking with the truth, sticking with sound doctrine as we find it in our Creeds and Confessions.
(1 Jn 2:24) See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.
When it comes right down to it, what Jesus wants, what Jesus looks for when He appears, is so simple: people and churches who remain in the truth, are faithful to God, cling to the Gospel, and continue in the fellowship.
Continue, abide, remain, stay. When the Lord Jesus appears, when He looks at your 2019, is this what He sees in your life? Does He see someone who sticks with the truth of the Gospel? When your 2019 is sifted and measured and weighed and evaluated and tested by fire, will you be confident and unashamed before Him?
III Shame and Fear
A When Jesus appears, we want to face Him with confidence. We don't want to shrink away in shame and fear. Yet, you know as well as I do, there are people and churches who do not continue, who do not abide, who do not remain, who do not stay. At one time they claimed to be Christian, to love the gospel, to identify with the church, to hold to the truth, but no longer.
(1 Jn 2:19) They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
B Continue, abide, remain, stay. I admit this is not easy to do in our culture. It is not easy in today's world. In fact, I can safely say it has never been easy. It wasn't easy for Paul and Timothy and John. It wasn't easy for Augustine. It wasn't easy for Luther and Calvin. Pressure is put on us today to go along in order to get along. We are told tolerance is the greatest good and intolerance is the greatest evil. We are continually being tempted to bury our heads in the sand and pretend things are better than they are.
Continue, abide, remain, stay. It is our natural inclination to continue, abide, remain, and stay with this life and the things of this life, with the experiences and people of this life, with the blessings and joys of this life, with our hopes and dreams for this life. The world sucks us along and we drift away from Jesus and the Gospel. Just like that we do not continue, we do not abide, we do not remain, we do not stay, we do not have staying power. Therefore, when Jesus appears we have no reason to be confident and unashamed; instead, we have every reason to be uncertain and ashamed. Does this describe your 2019?
C As I was thinking about this, I remembered a question that was asked by Jesus. It is not a nice question. It is, in fact, a scary question: "when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (Lk 18:8). Will He find someone, anyone, who remains faithful? Will He find someone, anyone, who stays with the Gospel?
"When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" You've asked the question about your children, maybe your spouse, maybe a parent or a friend, maybe some other relative. There was a time when they made a profession of faith in Christ as Savior and Lord. But it doesn't look like they remain.
Enough about family members. What about you? Forget those around you. What about you? When Jesus returns will He find faith in your life? When Jesus appears will you be confident and unashamed before Him? How does your 2019 measure up?
(1 Jn 2:28) And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.On this last night of 2019, this is my hope and my prayer for every person here.
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