This Sunday is Easter Sunday, the day on which Christians have celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ for hundreds and hundreds of years. In just a few days we will join with countless believers around the world in declaring that Jesus is risen from the dead! What a spectacular claim! And what an amazing reason to celebrate!—could there be any greater cause of celebration? Death has been defeated, light has overcome darkness, victory has been secured, sin's mastery has been severed, and eternal life was won for all who would believe on the name of Jesus, the Resurrected One. Grace Church, Christ is risen!
In this short section of his letter, John revealed most of his hand. In just a few verses he boldly declared that Jesus was God, that Jesus, God the Son, came to live among men as a man, that John himself personally witnessed Jesus time on earth, and that Jesus came to earth to bring life, fellowship, and joy to his people. What a beautifully concise description of the beginning of the gospel. Most of what we need to know is contained in these few verses. Let's pray that God would open our eyes to truly see him who was from the beginning, to have fellowship with him and the Father and Spirit, and experience the full joy that accompanies that fellowship.
1 John is an amazing letter, both in its meaning for its original audience and for believers today. It teaches the basics of the Christian faith and of the full joy that is ours in Christ through eternal fellowship with God. It is meant to be both a test for authenticity of faith as well as a source of assurance of faith. As we work our way through this book in the coming weeks and months (and years?) we should find ourselves growing in clarity in our understanding of Christianity as well as in our joy in Christ. And we should find ourselves growing in our knowledge of our need to truly trust in Jesus or in our assurance of salvation. Let's pray that God would do great and wonderful things in our church through our study of 1 John.
So far I've preached on what it means to be God-centered (recognizing and responding to the reality that God is infinitely glorious), bible-saturated (viewing and responding to all of life through the lens of the Word of God), disciple-producing (helping others glorify God by following Jesus in the power of the Spirit), family-strengthening (clearly teaching and training families how to orient themselves toward God and one another according to the Word of God), and mission-mobilizing (inspiring, training, releasing, and resourcing people for both evangelism and missions). This is the last week we're going to be looking at our core values. We'll wrap up the series by examining what it means to be prayer-empowered. We'll turn to the Lord's Prayer to help us answer a number of questions: What is prayer? How should we not pray? How should we pray? Why should we pray? In what sense does prayer empower us? And, how are we working toward becoming a prayer-empowered church? May God reveal to us, his people, our need for him and the certainty that his will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And may that knowledge make us people of deep and earnest prayer.