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ONLY IN CHRIST CAN PEOPLE TRULY LIVE TOGETHER IN LOVE

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
AND
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

By: Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

7 APRIL 1991

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Psalm 133:1-3
John 14:25-31
Acts 4:32-35
1 John 1:1-10
           2:1-11

Preparation Verse (John 14:27):

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, and in His resurrected life, we can have the new life He promised us.

Do you remember what Jesus told us before His death?

Let's listen again, as recorded in John 14:25-31.

25. "These things I have spoken to you, while abiding with you.

26. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

In order to have the Holy Spirit abiding within us, we must first have believed in and committed our lives to Jesus Christ; for the Father only sends the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus.

And without the Holy Spirit, the things of God seem strange and unachievable.

But with the Holy Spirit abiding with us, the word of God takes on a new and wonderfully inspiring meaning.

27. "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

When we have fear in our hearts, it is a sure sign that the love of God is absent, or at least covered up.

And without this Godly love, we can never learn to live together, or even with God.

Listen, as Jesus continues:

28. "You heard that I said to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.

29. "And now I have told you before it comes to pass, that when it comes to pass, you may believe.

30. "I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me;

31. but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go from here."

Jesus and His disciples physically went out, but there is a deeper spiritual meaning here.

If we just sit around and do nothing with the word of God, it will dry up; for the devil will do what he can to steal it from us.

We can't stop.

We have to arise, and go on from here, from this gathering today, as they did then.

Forget about the problems of the past, for we can do nothing to reverse them.

Learn from those things, but look to the future.

And even more, live in such a way that the promises of Jesus are evident in our lives, and we will not fall into as many of the traps as we did in the past.

Then we will begin to know what it means to live in peace and love.

Listen to how the psalmist of Psalm 133 expresses this thought:

1. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!

2. It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Coming down upon the beard,
Even Aaron's beard,
Coming down upon the edge of his robes.

3. It is like the dew of Hermon,
Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing – life forever.

If and when we truly learn to live together, and love each other, the joy we have will be like the anointing of the high priest, and like the morning dew upon the mountains that brings forth life, even life eternal.

We fuss and fume and fight over things that really don't matter.

We desire revenge for what the other person has done.

These things even happen in our churches.

And in doing this, we lose the Lord's blessing, and the peace and love that it gives us.

Let God deal with the other person.

Let us, for our part, live in peace and love with all people.

Listen to Acts 4:32-35, about how the early church lived:

32. And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them.

Note that we are told that this existed in the congregation of those who believed.

By inference, we can assume that it did not exist between all members of the congregation.

For this type of living to exist, no one can take advantage of another.

And for this kind of trust to exist, it required a true conversion.

33. And with great power the apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.

34. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales,

35. and lay them at the apostles’ feet; and they would be distributed to each, as any had need.

To put this in context, we must realize that the early church believed that Jesus' return was to occur at any moment – and it still might; but the Lord has tarried for a long time, and He still might hold His return for some time to come.

It was this delay that caused the weak believers to drift further away, and to allow more and more distrust to enter the church, to the point where almost all of this type of living ceased to exist.

Church giving has gone down, because church leaders were dishonest and took advantage of their positions.

We have given most of our responsibility for caring for the truly needy to the secular world.

If the church did what it was supposed to do, we could get over twice the mileage out of every assistance dollar spent; and we could do more, and have more, for our taxes could also be less.

And if we did this on a global level, our taxes would be even less, for we wouldn't spend so much on armament.

We have our priorities backwards, don't we?

Please turn with me to 1 John, and from the beginning, hear the basics of how we should live, and of the things about which we should show caution.

1. What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life –

2. and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us –

3. what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

It all ties together.

It hasn't changed since the beginning.

What God designed in the beginning still works today, and it won't work in any other way, because Satan corrupted what is here on earth, and we can't use corruption to make things perfect.

Our fellowship with one another will work only if we have fellowship with the Father and with the Son.

4. And these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

5. And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.

6. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;

7. but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

The ways of the devil are the darkness we are speaking of; and as we said, we cannot be conformed to him and still be in the presence of the Lord, for "God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all."

So we have to let go of our sinful ways, most of which cause our strife with one another, and be cleansed.

Then and only then can we have fellowship with both God and our fellow human beings – and perhaps even the animals.

8. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

9. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

10. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Look around us.

Listen to what people say.

Listen to what we ourselves say.

Isn’t it our personal attitude and our pride that keep us from this pure fellowship with God and, in turn, with each other?

If we're honest with ourselves, we really don't need anyone to point this fact out to us, do we?

In any event, let's listen to what else John has to tell us, as we begin at 2:1 –

1. My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;

2. and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

This is how Jesus Christ gives us a way of correcting our past mistakes.

As the Father forgives us, so ought we to forgive others; and in this way we can begin again.

And hopefully, if we truly love each other, we will not repeat our past mistakes.

3. And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.

4. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;

5. but whoever keeps his word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:

6. the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

In other words, if we don't treat each other as Jesus would, we are not in the fellowship of God.

John and the Prophets and Jesus Himself are pleading with us to stop our petty hatreds and our fighting, and come to realize that Jesus paid the price of all our sins that we fight over with each other.

If the Lord forgives us, shouldn't we also forgive each other?

7. Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.

8. On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.

9. The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.

10. The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.

11. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

As we talked about last week: let's start turning on some lights, so that we can see the true grace of God which is all around us.

Let's begin to realize that when we have strife with one another – no matter how little it may be – it is not of the Lord.

Let's begin to recognize the source of this strife, and turn away from it.

Let's begin to make the Lord a part of all of our relationships.

Let's begin to truly love one another, as the Lord loves us.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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