Carnal Believers – April 17, 2020

be516f3cd6d6b8b0b3b82862bf6c3aa1This past Wednesday night I felt like Eeyore all alone in his meadow with his broken balloon.  It’s been weird trying to adjust to preaching to the congregation through a camera lens, but then to find out mid-high point that the congregation couldn’t see or hear me… it was a tad deflating.  🙂

Anyway, I was in the middle of answering an Ask-the-Pastor question that reads like this:   

1 John 2:15-17 says that whoever loves the world does not have the love of God in him.  Does this mean he is not born again? How do we handle those who say they are believers and yet love the world and exude worldliness? 

There is a whole sermon in this question, but I’ll try to handle just three main points that jump out at me.

  1. What does it mean to be born again?  In the opening paragraph(s) of Ephesians, Paul lists a number of things that happened before we were born (some before the world was created), and in verse 13 it says that when we heard the gospel and believed, we were sealed by the Holy Spirit into all of those truths.  In fact, in a survey of Paul’s, Peter’s, and the author of Hebrews’ writings, Dr. Lewis Sperry Chaffer famously distilled 33 benefits that accrued to our account the moment of salvation. I like to picture one of those old attic doors up in the ceiling with a pull string.  Imagine that you’re covered in honey and there are 33 feathers up there; faith is what pulls that string. In a moment, an instant, you are covered with all 33 feathers, benefits of salvation, and they are yours forever. (Chaffer’s list is below.)
  2. “They say they are believers.” Here lies an issue.  #1 is a list of God’s promises and they occur at the moment of faith, but that moment occurs between the believer and God, not between the believer’s parent, pastor, or teacher and God.  Sometimes we need to take these opportunities to challenge a young person to make his faith personal. Secondly, we need to remember that when a child becomes a believer he is still a child and still has to grow up.  “Christian kids still get spankings” because foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. Also, discipleship/Christian growth is NOT automatic, else there wouldn’t be so many issues the epistles had to cover. Sometimes the Holy Spirit convicts without the input of the Word or the Body, but many times it takes time and the input of both to sharpen the believer.
  3. Finally we come to the verses in 1 John.  I believe John was a) writing about fellowship (1 John 1) and b) writing about false teachers (1 John 2:26).  So I don’t read the warning in 2:15, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him,” as being a warning to the recipients of the letter so much as it is a reminder that these false teachers who clearly love the world shouldn’t be listened to.  It reminds me of James teaching in James 3 about bitter and pure water coming from the same well. God’s love isn’t going to share space with love of the world.  Now, just because the force of the writing is toward false teachers doesn’t mean it’s not true of everybody.  If we are loving the world, we are not displaying the love of the Father. If we are truly saved, then we are walking in a manner that is unworthy (Eph 4:1) and the call is to repent!  

Your Brother in Christ,

Pastor Scott

Chaffer’s List (sans Scripture references because they were all hyperlinks)

1)  Forgiven

2)  Child of God

3)  Having access to God

4)  Reconciled

5)  Justified

6)  Placed “in Christ” 

7)  Acceptable to God

8)  Heavenly citizenship

9)  Of the family and household of God

10)  A heavenly association

11)  Within the “much more” care of God

12)  Glorified

13)  In the fellowship of the saints

14)  On the rock, Christ Jesus

15)  A part in the eternal plan of God

16)  Redeemed 

17)  A living relationship with God

18)  Free from the law

19)  Adoption

20) Brought near

21)  Delivered from the power of darkness

22)  Entrance into a new kingdom

23)  A gift from God the Father to Christ

24)  Circumcised in Christ

25)  Members of a royal and holy priesthood

26)  A chosen generation, a holy nation, a peculiar people

27)  His inheritance

28)  The inheritance of the saints

29)  Light in the Lord

30)  United to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

31)  Blessed with the firstfruits of the Spirit

32)  Complete in Him

33)  Possessing every spiritual blessing

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