Sermon for Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 17, 2015
St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas
Sermon Text: 1 John 5:9-15
Sermon Theme: “Get a Life!”
(Sources: Brokhof, Series B Preaching Workbook; Anderson Cycle B Preaching Workbook; Emphasis Online Commentaries; Emphasis Online Sermon Illustrations; Online Famous Peanuts Quotes; original ideas; Online What Children Say Quotes; Wikipedia.)
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today’s sermon text is about life, eternity, and faith. John says, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” The person who has Christ has eternal life. Christ is life, and to have him by faith living in you is to have eternal life. The emphasis is not upon “eternal” but upon “life.” “Eternal” separates life in Christ from earthly life. Physical life ends in death. Spiritual life, found in Christ, never dies. This life, “spiritual” life, begins here and now, right now. It does not begin upon physical death.
No, “spiritual” life begins upon acceptance of Christ by faith as Lord and Savior. So, heaven for a Christian actually begins now, not after physical death.
The meaning of life is something everybody puzzles about. Sally Brown says in a Peanuts comic strip, “I think I’ve discovered the secret of life – you just hang around until you get used to it.” Charlie Brown remarks, “In the book of life, the answers aren’t in the back.” As always, Snoopy has a different view on life, “My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I’m happy. I can’t figure it out. What am I doing right?”
Many people have an existence, but no life. For many, physical life is a bore and a drudge. They agree with Charlie Brown when he said, “I’ve developed a new philosophy – I only dread one day at a time.” It’s not surprising that in a nation where many have no “spiritual” life, suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States. Over 38,000 Americans commit suicide each year, — that’s more than die from automobile accidents!
Yet God promises abundant life both now and in heaven for those who have faith. The abundance we have now is just a blip to the abundance we will have in heaven.
When Jenny was four, she asked, “Does heaven have a floor?” Surprised, her father said, “Well, Jenny, what do you think heaven is like?” She looked up at the sky and clouds and replied, “Well, I can’t see any floor, so I guess people are just up there on coat hangers!”
Her mom told nine-year-old Heather that someday we would have glorified bodies. Heather asked, “Do you think we’ll look like Barbie?”
Not everybody realizes that heaven is “eternal.” Morgan, who was three years old went over to her grandmother’s house one day, looked around the room, and asked, “Where’s Grandpa?”
“He’s in heaven,” Grandma said.
Surprised, Morgan looked at her grandmother and said, “Still?”
Today’s world really needs to hear with their hearts the words from John’s letter. I read the Houston Chronicle every day, and it’s almost a record of the movement away from the truths John writes about. Recent years have seen huge declines of membership in mainline Protestant churches. Worse than that, more and more Americans are writing “none” on applications when asked about religious affiliation. More and more people believe that whether you are Hindu, Jew, Christian, Muslim, or Buddhist, you all worship the same God. Many from the corporate world believe only in themselves.
It’s almost as though people are inoculated against the truth of God. And then they wonder why suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the U.S. John proclaims in our text: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” It’s as simple as that!
No doubt one of the problems is that we live in a “politically correct” world. Tolerance is a key word in today’s society. When it comes to religion, the politically correct world teaches that everyone is right and correct in what they believe. And it might add, “as long as you don’t keep anyone else from believing whatever they want to believe.” Don’t put up a nativity scene in front of public buildings and don’t pray in the name of Jesus in public schools.
Being politically correct doesn’t understand where true life comes from. As a Christian, I am consistently tempted to tell the politically correct: “Get a life!”
I don’t know the origin of that expression, but it seems like an “in” expression in today’s world. It’s been said to me when I’ve spoken of the value of regular church attendance and sacrificing for others. So I think it only fair to use it literally against those who speak it sarcastically. It is a literally true expression when we use it in the Biblical sense of being privileged and blessed of God for He has not only give us one life, but two. Abundant life now and abundant life in eternity! So, “Get a Life! And “Praise the Giver!”
The politically correct world needs to hear God’s word loud and clear: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” To believe anything other than that statement would make God a liar. Is God a liar? Can it be that God would lie to us about Jesus or anything else for that matter? If God is truth, how can He be false? So essentially John is saying in our text, if we do not accept that statement, we make God a liar.
John began our text with, “If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.” Here is the testimony of God, short and simple: Matthew 17:5, “This is my beloved Son. Luke 2:11, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior;” and John 3:16, “Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” In other words, Jesus is God’s Son, Jesus is the Savior, and Jesus is life.”
That testimony comes through the Bible but is confirmed to us by the witness within our hearts, the Holy Spirit. That’s what John means when he says in our text, “Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.”
Furthermore, John boldly declares that if we ask anything that accords with God’s will, He has already heard us and granted our petition. We may not have received yet that which was asked for but we can have the confidence that it’s in the bag. God is merely processing our request, waiting to send it at the proper time. Therefore, we should thank God for answering our prayers even before we take delivery of the item requested. There’s only one condition – our prayers must be in sync with God’s will.
Think for a moment how much God has blessed you all through your life, and how He continues to bless you today, — even amid the trials and afflictions of life, we can still see His abundance. And we know He will stand with us in the most difficult times we have yet to face. “Get a life?” We have a life! In Him! Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.