God is In Us

1 John 4:9-16

Turn with me to the fourth chapter of 1 John. We have been unwrapping THE GIFT: the Real Meaning of Christmas. The Gift, of course, is Jesus, and the life that He gives. This is why He came to give us life.

It means that God is for us. God did not come to shame us, but to save us, to be our God and our Savior by forgiving us and giving us a brand new life. God is for you. If you think God is angry with you, mad at you, then as a child of God, as a Christian I want you to recall and remember that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. God is for us! And then God is with us. Emmanuel. He is forever and always with us. And one day we will be with Him forever. And today “God is in Us.”

God is love, 1 John, chapter 4, verse 9:

9)And in this love of God… the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. 10) In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11) Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12) No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfect… or perfected in us. 13) By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14) And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. 15) Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, [God] abides in him, and he in God. 16) So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in them…

And in Him we receive this life.

What does it mean to receive life from Jesus? So many people just have existence. They’re living but they’re not truly alive. One day you will be alive in eternity. You are immortal. God breathed into every living soul life… the breath of life. And you will never cease to exist. You are immortal. You will be in eternity either with God… in the presence of God forever and ever, or apart from the presence of God forever and ever.

Just because you have life doesn’t mean that you’re going to heaven. Some people think the only thing that they have to do to go to heaven is die. Not true. You must receive life from the One and only One who gives life. Jesus said,[John 10:10] “I’ve come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” John said, [1 John 4:9] “In this is the love of God made manifest in us, that He sent His only Son into the world so that we could live in Him.”

What kind of life is this? Well, one is eternal life… eternal life. Eternal life begins the moment you respond in personal faith and receive Jesus into your life. John says in this same book of 1 John [5:12], “He who has the Son (Jesus) has life. And he who does not have the Son does not have life.” You have existence apart from Him but you do not have life! Life is in Jesus! And therefore, the moment you receive Christ into your life you have not only the love of God that is spoken of here so beautifully, but you have the life of God in you. So God became a man. Jesus was born so that you could be… we could be born again; made brand new in Christ. Becoming a Christian is not just a fresh start and then doing the best you can. Becoming a Christian is receiving a new life in Christ. It is… it is so radical, so life-altering that Jesus said it’s like being born all over again. This is eternal life.

[Matthew 1:21] “Ye shall call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins.” The wrath of God, a holy God burns against sin. All sin must be judged. And therefore, Jesus came on this mission of love; because God loves you so much that He laid down His life for you, was born. The way He was born, virgin-born, to become what He was, the infinite God-Man, to do what only He could do as the perfect and pure Lamb of God, to take your sins and mine upon the cross in order to change us from what we were to what we are now in Him, alive in Christ! So when we come to this table today, taking bread of life and receiving this cup of His blood, we are testifying that we have this eternal life… that this life is in Him, that we abide in Him and He in us. So we have eternal life.

Because God is in us we not only have eternal life but we have an enriched life: enriched in the sense that true riches are ours. The very first message that we brought in the Gift series was ah… from 2 Corinthians in which the Bible says “He who was rich (God Himself) left heaven’s throne and became poor (He was born in a barn. He was born and laid in a manger. He became poor.) that we who are poor might become rich in Him.” The riches of His grace, the riches of His glory. We have all this and so much more in Christ. We live an enriched life, an ennobled life. Why? We are now the sons and the daughters of God! You are a child of God! His blood is in you! The royal blood of Jesus is coursing through the veins of the believer! We are joint heirs with Christ! We have lived an enriched life! True riches are ours in Christ. God in us.

And the very fact that He is in us means that we never go anywhere apart from His love and His grace, His tender mercy and His care. That’s why the Scripture says that we have His Spirit… We have His Spirit (verse 13) “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us because He has given us of His Spirit.” And the Spirit didn’t come in empty handed but He brought Christmas gifts, love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and gentleness and faithfulness and self-control. One fruit, nine delicious flavors. I guarantee you it’s better than the fruitcake you eat at Christmas.

The fruit of the Spirit in us, giving us the ability, the aptitude and the appetite to live godly lives and holy lives for Him! He has elevated us. We were down here; He came to us and accepted our guilt, our sin, our poverty, our brokenness. He became what we were to make us now what we have become in Him! This is why Jesus came, to give us eternal life, to give us an enriched life, and to give us an empowered life. God in you!

I discovered a little while ago the straightest… the most important truth I ever learned as a Christian: That the Christian life is not hard; it is impossible in my own strength! When we’re told here that we’re to love one another, John is picking up on the words of Jesus who in the upper room said to His disciples,[John 13:34] “Love one another as I have loved you.” How can we love like that? Because Christ has loved us and His love is in us we love with the love of God. The love of God, Romans tells us, [Romans 5:5], “is shed abroad, poured out in our hearts by His Spirit.”

And therefore we are enabled to love our families, our friends, God’s church, God’s people… the brothers and sisters of Christ. We’re able to love even our enemies and those who mistreat us because we have this supernatural presence of God’s Spirit, His love in us, His life in us! He abides in us. That’s the gift that keeps giving. It’s truly the eternal gift of God.

And with that we have the power to overcome life’s struggles and difficulties and tests. The Holy Spirit who is our Comforter, the Holy Spirit who is our Encourager, the Holy Spirit… Christ in you who gives you the ability to defeat the works of the devil himself.

When Jesus came to earth this power was in a little baby’s arm, a seemingly helpless baby is born but in Him is the power of God! So powerful that when Paul went on to describe it, this power… this mighty power that is in us, what is this power? It is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead! The same supernatural power that gave Him life on earth, now gives Him life in the resurrection. And we have this life, the power of the resurrection in us.

No wonder John the Apostle here would say in 1 John 4:4… look at it. 1 John 4:4: “Greater is He that is in you than He who is in the world!” Satan and the domains of darkness, Herod and all of the forces of evil could not kill the little baby Jesus! And Satan himself could not destroy the works of God in Christ! And therefore, this same power… “Greater is He! Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world.” We are empowered. We are enabled to live the life that He’s been given… that we have been given.

I love the Christmas carol that was sung earlier, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” And it’s often said and sung in the wrong way. The first line, we miss it. We… we think it says, “God rest ye merry gentlemen.” But that’s not what it says.

“Oh, I thought that’s what it said. ‘God rest ye merry gentlemen.”

No, what it says is “God rest ye merry, (comma) Gentlemen… God rest ye merry, gentlemen.” You say, “What on earth does that mean? God rest ye merry, gentlemen?” Well, you have to understand the old English in which this great Christmas carol was written. The word rest there actually means “to make”, so just translate that… hear that in your head. “God make you merry, gentlemen and gentlewomen! Let nothing you dismay. Remember Christ our Savior is born on Christmas day.”

And the word merry? It doesn’t necessarily mean jubilant or joyful. The word merry there… Remember Robin Hood and his merry men? They were valiant men, strong men. The word merry here speaks of strength and courage! And so what this great old carol of Christmas is saying to us is what God is saying to us in His word, “God, make me valiant!” God make you valiant, gentlemen. Ladies and gentlemen, God make us valiant! Why? Let nothing you dismay. Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day.” There is nothing that you face… no fear that you encounter but that the power of God in you is greater, greater!

Eternal life, an enriched life, an empowered life and one more thing… This life in us is an expectant life. Expectant because now we have a reason for living. We have hope! Hope is the oxygen of the soul! Hope enables us to breathe the life of God. We have this hope, this anticipation that we live every day in the prospect that the same Jesus who came the first time is coming a second time. We speak of the first advent of Christ: that is when Jesus was born, and the Bible tells us of a second advent of Christ when He comes not as a Babe, but as the heavenly Bridegroom to sweep away His bride… that’s you and me, and to carry us over the threshold of heaven and into His presence forever and ever.

Revelation 21… we’re gonna… we’re gonna take on the book of Revelation in 2012… 2012? 2015!  That really would be a prophecy! But we’re going to take on the book of Revelation and as I’ve been studying and restudying this great book, the final book of the Bible and getting ready for this Revelation series, I’ve really come to believe that… that the real essence of the book of Revelation are the words written in Revelation 21, verses 3 and 4 [3-5], when He tells us that He’s going to make all things new. There it is: “I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God himself will be with them as their God. And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain [anymore], for the former things have passed away.” And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

All things new. So to those of you who are brokenhearted, to those of whose life is broken, whose home is broken, whose marriage is broken… He’s going to put the pieces back together. Maybe your body is broken. He’s going to wipe away every tear and Emmanuel will be our God… with us, for us forever and ever!

No wonder John tells us in verse… Chapter 3 of 1 John, verse 2: He says: “Beloved we are God’s children now. And what we will be is not yet appeared. We know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we will see Him as He is.”  John also tells us previously in this book,[1 John 2:28] “Now little children, abide in Him. (That is stay in Him) that when He will appear you may have confidence and not be ashamed at His appearing.”

Dear friends, the Christ of Christmas is coming again, in great glory, in great power, in great victory. He came in the flesh… incarnate the first time, and He’s coming in the flesh the second time! And we will see Him face to face! We will see of what that which the angels have been singing face to face. Not the Baby Jesus, but the triumphant Lord and God, the One who was born and lived and died and rose again, ascended;  the One who took up the cross, who has now taken up the scepter of the throne, and who comes again.

We’ve been talking about the gift, what God has given us and we celebrate it. But I think we come to the end of this and we have to ask ourselves the question: Lord, what can I bring to You? Wise men came bringing gold, and frankincense and myrrh. Regardless of the symbols of these gifts… and we’ve heard messages regarding what each… gold, frankincense and myrrh means… one of the things about the gold? Say, I know, it was gold; a king!” Well, okay, but the gold was a very practical gift. The gold that was given to Mary and Joseph sustained them. They were… He was a poor carpenter, now ultimately living in Egypt. Isn’t that amazing? How God provides. God provides for His own. God gave them gold through the hands of these men?

What can we bring? If I was a shepherd I’d bring you a lamb; if I was a wise man I would bring you a gift. But what can I bring? I can bring my heart to Him, my worship to Him. I can adore Him. I… I want us to have a passionate, emotional love, adoration for the Lord Jesus Christ. I can bring Him my worship. I can bring Him my will. Lay aside my self-will and to surrender and bow before the King. I can surrender my way to His way, my will to His will! That’s what He wants. Just bring Him your life. I promise you He’ll make so much more of your life than you can make of it yourselves.

And then bring your works; the good deeds that we can do. When you were reading that passage earlier it spoke of us loving one another, that if the love of God is in us, love cannot be silent. God cannot be silent in His love. So He sent His Son on a mission of mercy, love and grace. So this love is now in us. The Savior is now in us and we are to work the works of the one who sent Jesus who is now in us. And so that means I could list hundreds of things that that could mean. Walking across the street and sharing the love of Jesus with a neighbor who’s having a rough time. Walking across the hall at your office and being available to someone who just got laid off and they need encouragement. It means being sensitive to a family who is grieving. It means taking food to a widow or just showing up at a nursing home and singing a song of Christmas or going down to the soup kitchen… I could go on and on.

But really when you get right down to it, Micah the prophet who is the one who told us that the Babe would be born in Bethlehem… the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem of Judea… this same Micah tells us what God expect. This is what God wants this Christmas. Do you see it? This is what God wants from you this Christmas. [Micah 6:8] “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice.” The word justice is very much akin to the nature of God Himself who is just and righteous. To go over and above and beyond to help people receive fairness and goodness and justice. There are many social justice issues in the world and in our nation.

I was on the friend… I was on the phone with a good friend of mine who’s an African American pastor, and we were just talking about the rising tensions and what we can do about it. There’s this… the racial tension that has appeared once again in our nation. It’s been underneath somewhat, but now it’s appeared again. And how can you… how can you bring justice to people who feel they have no justice? How can you do that? A great social justice issue is the unborn. The unborn should have the justice of God to live! Of all the social justice issues that’s one of the greatest! To do justice.

I told my African American pastor friend, “I don’t know what to do, but I know this. I’m going to do what the Scripture… by God’s grace, what the Scripture tells me to do and that’s to do justice and to show mercy and kindness “and to walk humbly with your God.” When you’re humbled in the presence of a great and glorious God, it’s not that you feel like a worm… you’re God’s child, but in the presence of a… of a great God you realize really how small you are. That’s humility. You’re not all that! Right? So walk humbly with your God. Not with a prejudice of race or the prejudice of face or place where we live or where we don’t live.

Love one another, because if you don’t love, the love of God is not in you. How can you say you love of God and the love of Jesus is in you and you don’t love people that God loves?

So that’s what I want to bring this Christmas. He’s shown me what He wants, and by God’s help that’s what I want to give.