February 9, 2019
1 John 2:6
Brothers and Sisters
The sermon I am preaching this morning was a sermon I was going to preach early in December last year as an evening service, but as you know, I ended up in hospital and the sermon was put on hold. I seem to make a habit of that, going to hospital just before I need to preach.
Because I was going to preach this sermon in an evening three weeks before Christmas, that has helped shape this sermon. It is not by any means a Christmas sermon, but because December is such a crazy busy month, I deliberately chose to prepare a restful sermon, and by that, I mean, not a sermon with a lot of deep content to busy your mind with, but rather, a sermon for us to restfully feed our souls on, to give us something to meditate on for the week ahead. And it is also a sermon which introduces us to the theme I will be preaching on in 2019.
As you know, a few weeks ago I led the camp for Gosnells church. And as I led that church camp, the Lord opened up for me a whole new series for me to preach in the new year. Funny enough, it has nothing directly to do with the topic of that camp.
At that camp, we looked at the one another texts of the New Testament. You know, the texts that talk about loving one another, serving one another, forgiving one another, living in unity with one another, and so on. There are about 58 direct one another texts in the NT, and at the Gosnells camp we looked at how to apply these in our lives,and the conclusion we came to, was that to live like this, you need to be filled with the Spirit. You cannot live like this, unless you are filled with the Spirit. And we spent quite a bit of the camp talking about, being filled with the Spirit.
But that is not the series I will be looking at in the new year. The topic I came to for the new year came from a few chance comments that people made at the camp, during the discussion groups and so on, and then also, from something the Holy Spirit dropped into my lap while I was preaching at the camp, something I will share with you in more detail over the next few weeks.
I can however share with you the overall theme, it will have something to do with Learning to Feed on God’s Word.When Jesus was being tempted in the wilderness, he said to the devil, “man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” God’s Word is real food and real drink for our soul, and this year, I want to get us thinking about how to feed on God’s Word, not only taking it in, but tasting it, savouring it, enjoying it, chewing it over, and drinking the milk of God’s Word deep into our soul.
I realised that this is what many Christians struggle with, having a really deep enjoyment of God’s Word; often it’s a struggle, not an enjoyment;so the overall theme for the year will have something to do with learning to feed on God’s Word.
And this morning is just an introductory sermon to that series. In fact,I have at the moment, four introductory sermons before I get into the guts of it. So today I can maybe call it, the Introduction to the Introductions?
And today’s sermon started as a very simple question I asked myself - the question you see on the PowerPoint presentation - The normal Christian life. What does the normal Christian life look like? Different Christians will answer this in different ways, so I thought, forget about what everyone says or thinks is the normal Christian life, what according to the Bible, is the true normal? If I am a genuine follower of Jesus Christ, what will my life look like, in practice? Lord, show me, the normal Christian!
And that led me to the answer of 1 John chapter 2.6, which in the NIV reads, “whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” Or as the ESV says, in a bit more convoluted way “Whoever says he abides in Him, ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.” I like the NIV translation. It is not as close word for word to the Greek, it is a dynamic equivalence translation, but, I think, it captures the meaning in a clearer way. Whoever claims to live in Him, must walk as Jesus did.
That is the Bible’s definition of the normal Christian life. If you claim to be a Christian, it is expected that in some measure, your life will reflect Jesus life.
And the reason for that is simple. Not only is Jesus our Saviour. He is also our example. He is sometimes called the Second Adam. So, our first father Adam, he didn’t do a good job of modelling the Christian life for us. He was just like us, a mere man. But Jesus came to do what Adam did not do. He came to live the perfect human life, the life of perfect obedience. Jesus is, if you like, the perfect human being. He is the pre-eminent Person. He is the perfect model of how human beings are to live. He is the most well-rounded human being there is. He is the perfect example, the really perfect example, the God given example, of what it means to be human. If you want to know the life that you were created for, look at Jesus.
And so, if we claim to be Christians, in some way, our lives will look like His life. We are branches of the Vine. And if we are plugged into the Vine, the life of the Vine, that perfect human life, will begin to be replicated in us.
So, that is the normal Christian life. Whoever claims to live in Him, must walk as Jesus did. And our question is very simple. How did Jesus walk?
Now, this is one of those verses you can feed your soul on for a very long time. Just like when you have a really tasty dinner at a fancy restaurant,you don’t gobble it down and run away, no, you sit and savour the food and enjoy it.
Well this is a verse that takes less than one minute to learn off by heart, but it can give you hours, days, weeks, even if you want, months of food for your soul to feed on. Get your head around that. You can feed you soul for months on these 11 words (13 words in the Greek, 11 in the English). And you say, how can you feed for months on just 11 words? That is what I want to look at over the next year.
When we look at this verse, we see that there are two parts to the verse. First, if we claim to LIVE IN HIM. And second, we must walk as Jesus did.
The first part of the sentence is very important – what it means, to live in Him. I have spent weeks meditating on this, what it means to live in Christ. Theologically, it is a very deep and rich truth. I spoke to you a little bit about this in the Christmas day service, and I am going to unpack this a whole lot more maybe in March or April this year, the Lord willing. I don’t want to go into it any further here.
All I will say, is that there are only two places you can be, either you are in Christ or you are out of Christ. And if you are out of Christ, you need to get in. And if you are in Christ, you are in the best place you could possibly be. All that Christ did, He did for you. And most of us here as Christians, would claim, in the words of our text, to live in Him. As I said,this is a very deep and rich theological truth which runs all the way through the New Testament. And I will talk more about it in a few months’ time. But of course, you don’t need to wait for then. You can do what I did, and spend weeks feeding your soul on these words.I won’t go further into it here.
And then there is the second part of the verse. Whoever claims to live in Him, must walk as Jesus did. I will come to that in a moment.
It’s a simple text, isn’t it, but once you start meditating on it, once you start, chewing it over, thinking about it, it opens up a whole world of thought. And if you have nothing better to do, you could spend the whole of next week until next Sunday thinking about this verse. And if you do have other things you need to do – I guess that is most of us - it is still a verse you can carry with you all week, maybe write it on an index card, carry it in your pocket, and through the week turn it over and over in your mind and heart.Whoever claims to live in Him, must walk as Jesus did. Imagine that. A whole week chewing on one passage of Scripture?
But of course, you might ask yourself, why should I spend a whole week thinking about Scripture?
Well, as a first answer, I would say, because that is one of the things that Jesus did.
Many Christians there are in the world who think very few spiritual thoughts from one Sunday to the next. They are too busy with work and life and fun and distractions. But I ask you, is that normal? That’s not how Jesus lived.
Let me give you a quick overview of how Jesus lived. You can of course add to this picture. But let me just give a few pointers.
Many things can be said, but above all, He was a MAN Who lived inconstant fellowship with His Father in heaven and He could do this, because His heart was always in Scripture. He didn’t walk around all day with a Bible. But He had the Bible stored in His heart, and He fed on it. We see Jesus as a boy,in the temple. This is where His heart was, that is where He needed to be. We see Him in His temptations, answering the devil with Scripture. We see Him in His interactions with the leaders of the day, answering with Scripture. He truly was the perfect model of Psalm 1—a Man Who meditated on the Word day and night, and for whom the Word was his meat and drink. Our Lord knew Scripture,inside out, and He lived in the Kingdom dimensions that the Bible opened to Him. He lived not in this world by the thoughts of this world, but He lived in the Kingdom of God, with God at His right hand. He walked with His feet on earth and His heart with God. His thoughts were always on the Father’s agenda.
For many Christians in the twenty first century, this is not normal. Our thought life often revolves just around this world. But the point is, it should be normal. For whoever claims to live in Him, must walk as Jesus did.
I don’t really want to say a lot more this morning. I think that should give us enough food for thought.
As we go away into a new week, into a new year, we should go away thinking, asking ourselves the question, what does Christlike living look like for us in the twenty first century? How do we walk like Jesus did, how do we ourselves in our own lives maintain this Coram Deo walk, this before the face of God walk, this constant communion with our Father in heaven?
What is the normal Christian life? The normal Christian life, the true normal, is the one of Psalm 1—the one who meditates upon God’s Word day and night. The one for whom God’s Word is meat and drink. The one who feeds continually on the life which is from God.
And as we become like that, feeders on the bread of Christ, and drinkers of His Word and Grace, then the Holy Spirit will bring forth fruit in season.
Do you see that picture of Psalm 1? If our lives are being deeply nourished at the roots with the Word of God, if the Word of God is flowing powerfully into our lives, we will bear much fruit.
For us to be a fruitful church, we need to learn to be nourished by God’s Word.
And that is why this year, I hope to spend a whole year, trying to encourage one thing – learning what it is to feed our souls with the Word ofGod.
Brothers and sisters, pray with me, that this year, may be a wonderful year, experiencing the richness of God’s Word flowing deep into our souls.