Joy in the Season of Christmas – A Pre-Advent Encouragement

1 John 1:1-4

Joy in the Season of Christmas – A Pre-Advent Encouragement

1 John was probably written as a response to the rise of an early form of Gnosticism. This was a system that pirated Christian themes to propagate an understanding of salvation based on obscure/enigmatic “knowledge” (gnosis).

According to this view, redemption is through affirming the divine light already in the human soul, not through repentance of sin and faith in Christ’s death to bring about spiritual rebirth.

Writings widely publicized in recent years like the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Judas and the Infancy Gospel of James, for example, were the product of Gnostic writers.

But the heyday of Gnostic thought was the 2nd through the 5th centuries, well after the New Testament books were written. It can neither proven nor ruled out that John had forerunners of this movement in mind as he wrote.

What is definite is that these followers of Jesus had witnessed an exodus of people from their ranks (2:19) and this has caused them to lose joy, lose confidence in their salvation and forgiveness of sin, lose sight of sound doctrine and be buffeted by the spirit of antichrist who is already in the world (1 John 4:1-4).

John’s aim is redemptive. John urges these Christians to refine their theological understanding, sharpen their ethical rigor and grow their devotional intensity. That is that  they need to grow in faith, obedience and love.

But it must be said that this letter is not a list of “do’s” and “don’ts”. This letter is rather a declaration of “done!”. It is finished (John 19:30).

1 John highlights what the Father has done in sending the Son in offering him as a sacrifice for sins and sending this word of life that is causing this world’s darkness to pass away and the true light of the age of God’s Kingdom to shine (2:8).

John ends his introduction in 1:1-4 with a purpose statement, “And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”

What things make the apostles and the people’s joy complete? 1 John 1:1-4

1. Jesus has come

2. Father has revealed the Son and now the Son is being proclaimed as the way of eternal life

3. This mission of the Son to come and the Father’s revealing of the Son as the way to eternal life makes fellowship with Father, Son, Spirit and man with complete joy

And at Christmas we celebrate Jesus, who has come, died, risen and ascended to rule his people well by saving them and bringing them into fellowship with Trinity and with each other and with joy.

Saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, full of joy and in fellowship.

Notice verse 4. Joy is had because Jesus has come. Joy is had because Jesus has made fellowship with Father and each other a reality. Joy his had because people who are not blood related are brought into spiritual union with each other. Joy is only had in fellowship with Father, Son and Spirit and with each other.

 

So, this Christmas season, as a pre-advent encouragement, fight for joy by fighting for fellowship with Father, Son and Spirit and fighting for fellowship with each other.

1. This Christmas, Fight for Joy in (by) Fellowship with Father, Son and Spirit

Joy (chara) – a state of joy and gladness—‘joy, gladness, great happiness.’ ἀπελθοῦσαι ταχὺ ἀπὸ τοῦ μνημείου μετὰ φόβου καὶ χαρᾶς μεγάλης ‘and quickly leaving the tomb, fearful and (at the same time) very joyful’ Mt 28:8. In a number of languages ‘joy’ is expressed idiomatically, for example, ‘my heart is dancing’ or ‘my heart shouts because I am happy.’

 

171 times the word “joy” is found in the ESV of the bible. 41 of those occurences are in the Psalms.

 

Psalm 16:11

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 32:11

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

 

Fellowship (koinonia) – an association involving close mutual relations and involvement—‘close association, fellowship.’ ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς κοινωνίαν ἔχητε μεθ’ ἡμῶν ‘in order that you may have fellowship with us’ 1 Jn 1:3; δἰ οὗ ἐκλήθητε εἰς κοινωνίαν τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ‘through whom you were called to have fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ’ 1 Cor 1:9

 

A. Fellowship with Father

1. John 16:25-28

A. We can speak directly to the Father

B. Fellowship with Son

1. Ephesians 2:1-10

A. Seated in the heavens with Christ and having authority over

the spiritual forces of darkness

B. Created in Christ Jesus for good works already prepared for us

to walk in

C. Fellowship with Holy Spirit

1. John 14:15-31

A. Built in counselor (v. 15)

B. Built in teacher (v. 26)

C. Built in reminder of what has been said by the Lord (v. 26)

2. Ephesians 4:30-31

A. Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit (meaning he does not leave when

we sin, rather, he is grieved when we sin)

 

2. This Christmas, Fight for Joy in Fellowship with Each Other

 

A. Ephesians 2:11-22

1. We have been brought near to God with all who are near to God

through salvation in Christ Jesus (v. 13)

2. The hostile wall of ethnic divide is broken down (v. 14)

3. All in Jesus Christ are one body and members of God’s household

(v. 15)

4. We, the church, are the temple of the Lord (v. 21, 22)

A. Make time for your connect group

B. Make sure you are connected to other TRCC people

C. Be honest about who you are and what you need

1. Confess sin issues and need for accountability

2. Confess physical and emotional needs

 

3. Come Together to Worship in Word and in Song

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Q & A: Homosexuality and the Christians’s Response

Q & A

Homosexuality and the Christian’s Response

Leviticus 18:22; 20:13

Romans 1:18-32

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (malakos and arsenokoites, referring to the passive and active roles of the male partners)

1 Timothy 1:10

 

First, I want to say that this issue takes on a different tone when you know someone who has / had wrestled with homosexual desires and sought to fight it off but was dragged into the abyss of this desire by it’s iron clutches rooted in idolatry and pride.

I believe that anyone who has stared this issue down and worked with anyone who was staring down takes a different tone than a person who addresses it from the ivory tower of pride and self-righteousness as though their sin is not somehow as repugnant to the Lord as the person who has homosexual desires.

Proverbs 6:16-19

“There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him:

haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”

 

1. The Metanarrative and Marriage

Genesis 2:4-25

 

Everything was created to be enjoyed to the worship of Father not to be enjoyed in itself. In the created order all things were to be enjoyed and that joy is to power up into worship and enjoyment of Father, Son and Spirit!!

 

At the moment of the fall, the peace of God in creation is crushed and the rhythm of creation is thrown off (the shalom – peace, flow and rhythm).

 

Father told them that if they rebel he will kill and they will be crushed.

 

But Father, when it’s all said, does not kill them. They become aware and ashamed of their nakedness and they hide from Father.

 

Father then kills animals and covers them and expels them from the Garden.

 

Men now will have a hard time working the land.

 

Women will now have harder work in giving birth.

 

Now there will be a tension between man and woman. (passive males, overly aggressive males, headship geared women and overly passive women)

 

Mankind then goes and continues to rebel but Father continues to be gracious and merciful and every now and then he gives justice (by the way Father shows mercy more than justice).

 

Matthew 19:4-6 – Jesus argues from the metanarrative of created order for the marriage relationship to be male and female

 

Ephesians 5:24-32 – Paul argues from the metanarrative of created order for the marriage relationship as revealing Christ’s relationship to the church.

 

2. The Evangelical Deception

A. The magic prayer as a way to not disciple

a. If you pray this prayer and believe with all your heart Jesus will take the sin away and you will be healed.

b. The truth is that Jesus will save you and give you a new heart but you

have a fallen flesh that you will have to fight from now on until you crawl

into the grave.

1. When I became a Christian there were things that changed

instantly and there were things that are still present that jump

up and bite me on the bottom and fighting that sin is still a

war.

2. Dude, I got saved in the middle of moralistic deism that

that taught good behavior equalled salvation. Meaning

I’m saved if I don’t do certain things and I’m more saved if

I don’t do more nasty stuff. (by the way, this is one of the

reasons I’m a Calvinist. I got saved in spite of this)

 

B. Selling out in order to grow

a. Much of evangelical Christianity has sold out holiness in order to grow.

If you let unbiblical divorce, tithing/giving, adultery etc, slide but begin to

bash homosexuality people think you are conservative and biblical and will

come to your show if your show is then slick enough.

 

3. The Law and Joy

Galatians 3:24 and Galatian in general shows us that the law was given to show us that we can’t keep the law and that we need a savior to keep the law for us.

 

The law was given to lead us not into knowing what is bad and what is good but to lead us back into the flow and rhythm of the Lord’s shalom, peace and restoration.

 

The law reveals not the innate sinfulness of stuff but the sinfulness of fallen man and man’s intent to pervert God’s stuff and abuse God’s stuff and live out of peace and rhythm with God.

 

That savior is Jesus and Jesus, the second person of the Trinity comes and lives the perfect life and dies in the place of sinners and invites us to come to him to get his perfection and offers to take all our guilt and then give us his Spirit to restore the capacity to seek joy in Father through enjoyment of his creation and doing his mission in the gradual process of cleaning us up called sanctification.

 

The prohibitions of Scripture are there not because things Father created are innately bad but because we rebelled and ruined everything and regardless of what we eat or what we do we are by nature and choice rebels and under the condemnation of Father and in need of rescue.

 

The commands of God are not about Father trying to kill fun and crush joy and keep me from innately sinful things. Rather the commands of God are there to point me to what really produces joy and establishes right rhythm and order to creation. The commands are not to rob joy but lead me into joy!

 

As rebels we take and misuse the things of God and make them idols.

 

In the Garden, Father made us for him. Our parents bought the lie and believed that we were for us and we could be like God and we could do our own thing and we know better.

 

Father made pork. Pork is not bad. Evil people take pork and eat a pound of it. Combine that with fallen arteries and fallen bodies and one could be in for some consequences of the fall.

 

Father made sexual relationship for husband and wife to enjoy each other and in that enjoyment to enjoy and worship the Father in that act.

 

Sex is not bad. However, when sex becomes the idol and our joy aborts in sex rather than finding its climax in the worship of Father, Son and Spirit it is sin and rebellion and the end result is idolatry.

 

Idolatry perverts everything!

 

 

3. What is Wrong with Humanity?

Romans 1:18-32

 

Father created man for the woman. When the fall is factored in and man then begins to pursue the creation and the creature rather than the Father who made creation and creature man then take an idol into his heart and the order of marriage can be thrown out of the window and man can, with fallen affection, take man as a chief act of idolatry in rebellion while working against the created order.

 

As heterosexual marriage is a picture of God’s pursuit of man in the Gospel, homosexual activity is a picture of man’s rebellion against God’s order and purpose.

 

4. Homosexual Desire and Homosexual Activity are not the same thing

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

 

1. Are people born with homosexuality?

The fall crushes everything!

a. Are people born sinners or sinless?

b. If we are born sinners then it is quite possible that someone can be

born with tendencies that, if given in to, can lead to this lifestyle

c. As a person can be born with crushed orientation issues then a person

whose orientations issues are still pointed in the right direction could have

promiscuity issues because the fall crushes everything…

 

2. Homosexual desire is not equal to homosexual activity

a. “Practice homosexuality” is the translation of two words that refer to

the passive and active participants in homosexual activity.

b. Paul is not speaking to the person who is fighting the sinful desire

to not give in to it.

 

3. It is no more sinful to be tempted with homosexual desires than it is to be

tempted with adulterous desires. It is sinful to give in to the wrong desires.

a. The issue is whether or not a person is repenting and fighting against

the desire or given in to it

 

5. Arguments Made for Homosexuality Being a Legitimate Lifestyle:

1. If no one is hurting others, what is the problem? Shouldn’t we love our neighbor

as ourselves? Didn’t Jesus say to love me not judge my lifestyle choice?

a. Matthew 23:34-40

1. Love God first then love neighbor as oneself

2. Love of God leads to right love of neighbor

3. If I love my neighbor right I will want to love the image

of the God I love first in them and I will want the image

of God restored.

 

2. Since we are sinners too who are we to call out others?

a. The issue is repentance not the sin

 

3. Jesus didn’t ever say anything about homosexuality

a. We don’t argue from silence

b. Trinitarian theology mandates that we understand Jesus as the author

of all Scripture and inerrancy mandates that we affirm nothing is affirmed

that is contrary to fact

c. Jesus never mentioned anything about bestiality but I’m not quite sure

we can pin that one on Jesus in silence.

1. Matthew 15:18-20 – “porneia” meaning sexual deviance of any

kind

 

4. If an activity is done elsewhere in nature it must be ok and normal behavior

a. Some species do have male on male and female on female behavior

b. But this is also a fringe anomaly because if it were normative the

species could not survive because it could not reproduce (this is where

natural selection, as a worldview, contradicts many who hold the

belief and adhere to homosexual behavior as normative)

1. Many in the homosexual community endorse natural selection

not realizing they are claiming that their orientation must not be

normative because they can’t reproduce therefore showing them to

be a weaker species.

c. Some animals kill their mate after breeding. But we don’t advocate for

this, right?

 

5. Homosexuality in the bible is not the same as today

a. Paul is talking about some harsh and exploitive rape

b. Paul is not against homosexuality for those born with this but he is

against homosexuality for a heterosexual to practice

c. Archaeology

 

6. Modern Scholarship

a. Paul didn’t mean what he said

b. Revisionist history

c. Isogesis – bringing one’s issue to the text and bending the text to make

the text say what one wants it to say

 

6. How Christians Should Respond

1. Love

Romans 5:6-8

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

 

2. Patience

a. Wrestling this sin may take a lifetime to win against and may not be won

until death or the return of Christ, but it can and will be defeated one way

or the other.

 

Philippians 1:6

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

 

3. Welcoming

a. Not acceptance of the sin as normative for the image of God, but truly

desiring all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:1-7

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

b. As long as one is willing to fight sin they are always welcome

c. If one is not willing to fight sin then we will follow Jesus’ instruction in

Matthew 18:15-20

 

 

4. Humility

a. We recognize we too are fighting sin

b. Repentance is the issue not our deepest internal sin issue

5. Gospel

a. Not behavior modification

b. Not law keeping

c. Transformation that leads to change from the inside out

 

6. For the Christian who wrestles with this sin, Fight this sin

a. Vivification – Stir up Jesus-centered affections

b. Mortification – Make war on sin

 

7. Fellowship

a. Connection not simply attendance

b. Accountability

1. Sin hid in darkness can thrive

2. Sin brought into the light of community will shrivel