1 John 2:15-17 Part Two November 13, 2016
Sermon Series on I John Sermon # 7 B “Saving Faith and Loving God”
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
15 “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”
Last Sunday we saw in this passage one command and three supporting reasons for that command. God commands us “Do not love the world.” The three supporting reasons are:
First, it is impossible to love both the world and to love God. You must hate one/ love the other.
Second, it is impossible to be driven both by worldly lusts and a delight in the Father’s will. You are deluding yourself if you think you can be a “pagan Christian:” if you try to be a lustful and prideful follower of Jesus Christ!
Third, you’d be fool to stake your destiny on the fleetingness of this world, when you can live forever in the center of God’s will. As the martyr Jim Elliot wrote, He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to keep what he cannot lose.”
So where are you this morning? What did you do with that slip of paper that had 1 John 2:15-17 on it? How is God the Holy Spirit working on your heart?
This morning I want you to again look at this passage in 1 John 2:15-17, and this time I want you to think hard about the relationship between your trust in God as Savior and your love for God as your delight. I want you to wrestle with what it means to have faith in the Lord Jesus as your Savior and at the same time to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength. I am indebted to John Piper and His sermon on this passage, for his stimulating thoughts, and I will quote liberally from him.
Here’s the main question I want you to ponder:
Does Your Faith in Jesus Christ Correspond to Your Love for God the Father?
You should all know that we are saved by faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone, right? “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved!” But do you really know what saving faith is? If you looked at a sample of your faith in Christ under a microscope, what would you see? Would you see a lot of head knowledge about God, a lot of mental assent to facts about Jesus?
Would you see a decision you made to believe in Christ as your Savior, years ago?
But would you also see a deepening love for God the Father, as John has been writing about?
Would you see a joyful obedience to God’s will, flowing into a life of delightful disciplines?
Here’s the crucial issue: What is the relationship between trusting Christ and loving God? In other words, is it possible to trust Christ for your salvation, and yet not love him? The Apostle John tells us that this is impossible.
You see, the issue in 1 John 2 is whether you love God or you love the world, and the result is whether you die with the world or whether you have eternal life with God. Eternity is at stake!
Let’s back up and consider both this idea of saving faith and of loving God.
John clearly teaches that eternal life comes through a saving faith in Christ. He writes in 1 John 5:13, “I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” So eternal life depends on believing in Christ. But what is the nature of this believing? What does it look like? How does it manifest itself?
I believe that an honest reading of I John, as well as the rest of the Bible, tells us that any professed faith in Christ, which is truly saving faith, will show itself in an obedient and joyful love for God. You cannot have one without the other, because they are two sides of the same coin.
Look at 1 John 2:15 and 17. In v. 15 John writes about not loving the world, but loving God. Then in v. 17 he writes that doing the will of God is what leads to eternal life. The apostle is telling us that loving God (v. 15) and having eternal life (v. 17) are one and the same. He’s telling us that saving faith in Christ and loving God the Father are inseparable. Both are the paths to eternal life because they are the same path.
Let’s look at a passage in John’s Gospel, 5:42-44. Here’s what Jesus said to the Jewish leaders who didn’t believe on him: “I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name and you do not accept me. . . . How can you believe, if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?”
In other words, the reason these leaders did not believe on Jesus is that they did not love God. They loved the world and the praise of men, and not the praise of God. Therefore Jesus equates a love for God with believing on Himself. He connects the dots between a saving faith and a love for God. Do you see that?
What the Apostle John does in both his gospel and in his letters is that he takes a “love for God” and a “trust in Christ” and treats them as one and the same way of salvation. Here’s another example: look at 1 John 5:3–4. V. 3 tells us “This is love for God, to obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” In other words, it is our love for God that overcomes the obstacles of disobedience and which makes the commandments of God a joy, not a burden. But now look at verse 4. Here he says the same thing, but speaks of faith instead of love. “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” Note here that it is faith that overcomes the world — it is faith that conquers disobedience and renders the commandments of God a joy, rather than a burden. So again John connects the dots between a true saving faith in Christ and an obedient love for God.
The path of victory that overcomes the world and leads to eternal life is the one path of faith toward Christ and of love for God. Saving faith is part of love for God and love for God is part of saving faith. There are not two ways to heaven. There is one narrow way — the way of faith which loves God, and the way of love which trusts God.
But it’s not only John who writes this way. Think about what the Apostle Paul would write about who should inherit God’s promises of eternal life. You expect him to say. “Those who have faith in Christ,” right? And while that is true, consider what else he writes:
Rom. 8:28 “We know that in all things God works for good for those who love Him.”
1 Cor. 2:9 “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.”
1 Cor. 16:22 “If anyone does not love the Lord, a curse be upon him.”
2 Tim. 4:8“The crown of righteousness, which the Lord…will award…to all who have loved His appearance.”
James teaches us the same thing:
James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial…he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”
James 2:5 “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”
So you can see what John is trying to tell us in 1 John 2:17. He is showing us that loving the Father and freeing ourselves from the love of the world is not optional. It is not icing on the cake of our saving faith. Rather, loving God, in joyful obedience, is a matter of eternal life. It is vital that if you say you have saving faith in Christ, that you also are experiencing love for God in your heart. Isn’t this the first and greatest commandment? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Matt. 22:36-40)
So I ask you: Does your faith in Jesus Christ correspond to your love for God the Father?
But What If You Don’t Feel Much Love for God?
If you are thinking/ feeling that way, there are two possible reasons for that.
- You Are Not Born Again.
You may have been baptized; you may be a church member; and you may read your Bible and pray every day – but none of those things guarantees that you are saved by Christ. Think about the parable of the sower and the four different soils. Think about all the warnings that Jesus gave in His parables about the hypocrites and false believers. So it could be that your religion is all outward, and that you have never really experienced the transforming love of God.
If that describes you, then you need to seek the Lord in his Word. You need to cry out to Christ that he would open your eyes to know the Father. You should plead with God to take out your heart of stone and to give you a heart of flesh, that you might love God with all your heart and all your soul. Forsake your sins. Devote yourself to seeking Him, until Christ fills you heart with His love; until Christ becomes irresistibly attractive to you, and you fall in worship and love before him.
- Your Love Has Grown Cold.
The other possibility is that you have been born again, but your love for God has grown cold. You’ve tasted what it means to have a heart for God. You can recall how once you felt that knowing him was better than anything the world could offer. But this morning it feels sadly cold in your heart. The prescription for this disease is really the same as the prescription for seeking new birth in the first place. The same Spirit that creates new life also nourishes new life. The same Word that ignites the fire of love also rekindles love. The same Christ who once brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light can again flood your soul with His glory! So yield yourself to the Holy Spirit. Immerse yourself in the Word of God. Cry out to Christ for a new vision of the glory of his grace. Don’t be content with being lukewarm. Pursue a new passion for Christ. And take a deep look at how a love for the world is robbing you of a robust love for God.
Remember: anything in this world that is not God can rob your heart of the love of God. Anything that is not God can draw your heart away from God. And so whatever state you are in – even if you are full of God’s love this morning — let this warning about the love for the world stir you up to count everything as rubbish compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ (Phil. 3:8)
Finally, as we saw last Sunday, let us hold fast to the Psalmist’s declaration in Ps. 73:25: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides you.”
Let us desire nothing but God, possess nothing but God, and pursue nothing but God, so that our saving faith in Jesus Christ is matched by a joyous and obedient love for God. To Him be the glory forever!