SERVICE FOR THE LORD’S DAY
May 15, 2022
WELCOME AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Let me remind you quickly of our protocols for everyone’s safety.
· Attendance was taken by Ushers as you entered.
· masks are required by those not vaccinated as well as social distancing
· Offerings may be placed in the plate by the doors.
· Please write your prayer request on the Yellow cards. An usher will pick them up during the 1st hymn.
· Please join us after service for fellowship in Calvin Hall
Gary Iverson, Bob Bock, Joan Boyd, Wanda Hirl, Marilyn Neymeyer, Joan Pinkston, Maxine Wagner, Annette Conzett, Jo Lefleur, Dr Dyke, Harlan Marx ,Lois Seger, Jon Ryner, Abagail Niles, Helanah Niles, Werner& Kelly Families, Avis Severson (Kolleen’s Mom) Ukraine, Arlene Pawlik, Angela and Tristan ,and Karla Singer (Rich Lewis Niece)
*WORDS OF WORSHIP from Psalm 67
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us.
May our ways be known on earth, our salvation among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.
May our worship be acceptable in your sight, O God.
Dear Lord, as we continue in this season of Easter, we remember your gift of grace to the world through Christ. We remember your gift of grace to us. As we sing our praise and learn from your word, we ask that you would inspire our faith. Help us to continue to walk in the footsteps of Jesus until that day we join with all the saints before your throne. Amen
*HYMN Blessed Assurance” # 341
Call to Confession
Together, let us confess our sins to the Lord.
O God of all that is good, we come to you knowing our need for your forgiveness. We acknowledge our self-centeredness at times, our pride, our lack of trust, our unwillingness to hear another’s thoughts or see their pain. Even as you forgive us, help us to empathize more and judge less, and to offer grace as you have done for us. We pray in the name of Jesus, Amen .
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
The Apostle John assures us: If we confess our sins to the Lord, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Thanks be to God, amen.
PASSING THE PEACE (facing those across the aisle from you)
Left: May the peace of Christ be with you.
Right: And also with you. May the peace of Christ be with you.
Left: And also with you.
Our Lord, we know that all that we have is from your hand. We now offer a portion of your blessing as an act of worship. We pray that you will guide us to use it to further your good news and ministry of love to others from this place. Lev.19:13
Prayer of Illumination
Loving God, as we hear your word, we ask you open our eyes that we may see
Jesus in them, and that our faith may be strengthened by their truth. Amen.
21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth, “for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.
33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another.As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
1 John 5:1-13
5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 6 This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the[a] Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
SERMON The Marks of Genuine Faith
One of our exercises in Philosophy 101 in college was to prove that the school desk in front of us was real. Our senses told us it was, but could we trust our senses? Could another trust our senses? Does the desk know that it exists? Or my sofa? Or a fish? What is real? Am I real? How do we know? How do we prove it? Well, Rene DesCartes came up with his “proof.” Cogito ergo sum. “I think. Therefore I am.” But does my sofa think? Does your goldfish? And are they therefore not real?
Silly as these questions seem they do help us wrestle with the not so obvious, the question of the reality of things we can’t see or touch. For example, does God really exist, or is it simply a concept to help us get by in life? Does worship matter to God? Or, is worship only a ritual we humans perform to help us cope with what we think is real in life?
As he writes, the Apostle John is by now and old man exiled to the rocky, barren Isle of Patmos off the coast of modern-day Turkey. (I’ve been to the cave where he lived. It is a bleak place.) John writes to the churches of Asia Minor (Turkey) over which he had been bishop. And in this, his first letter, he has set out to tell his flock not to listen to the heretics in their midst who were trying to lead them astray from pure faith in Christ. John writes, “These have the spirit of the antichrist. Beware of their false teachings.” But, these self-proclaimed teachers were clever and there was not yet a New Testament as a standard of truth.
1 John 5:13 says, “These things [in this letter] I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God in order that you may know that you have eternal life.” Do we know we have eternal life? It’s not bragging to say so, because we know it is the gift of God’s grace, not our achievement. But, I still run into folks who “hope” they are good enough to go to heaven after death.
Verse 13 again: “…so that you may know that you have eternal life” is the theme of this epistle. Throughout this letter John lays out several “proofs” of what is true of true Christians. In the text we just read in chapter 5, he repeats them. John wants his readers to know what to look for in themselves to be sure, and also in those who are claiming to be their leaders. So, for example, as we see those who write books on faith, or preach on TV, or start their own churches, or lead rallies for this or that cause, or run for office—we have a duty to look for the things John lists in this letter to let us know if the faith that is proclaimed is genuinely of Christ. We are not making a judgment of their final destiny—we leave that in the Lord’s hands—but, we are being wise as to whom we wish to follow in this faith journey.
These marks of genuine faith also help us to look at ourselves. Is our faith genuine, or are we deluding ourselves? So let’s look briefly at 5 marks of genuine faith given to us in 1 John:
Belief in Christ: John writes, v. 1, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah, Savior) has been born of God.” Faith in God through Christ is a spiritual birth whereby we confess our need for forgiveness and receive the forgiving grace of God. We can’t earn it by our own goodness. This is our belief, our faith. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.”
Affection for God and other believers: Also v. 1, “Everyone who loves the parent loves the child.” One characteristic of genuine faith is that we love not only God, but also fellow Christians. V. 2, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” Haven’t we all met Christians, or seen them in the news, touting their obedience to God’s commandments, but seem devoid of love for their brothers and sisters in Christ who may not see things exactly as they do? Such so-called Christianity is know more for its judgment than for its love.
Confession of sin: This is implied throughout chapter 5 but stated clearly in other chapters. Face it, our love for God and others falls short, and we need a continual outpouring of the grace of God. In chapter 1 we read, “If we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Which leads to the next mark of genuine faith in chapter 5…
Deeds of righteousness: V. 3, “For the love of God is this, that we obey God’s commandments. And God’s commandments are not burdensome…” Other religions tell us to do thus and so and we will gain God’s favor. Our faith tells us that God loves us and has shown his favor, divine grace. And so we obey God, not to earn God’s love, but in response to God’s love for us. When people live in obvious sin, they are not very convincing that they are true believers. When they chafe at the commandments about worship, or giving, or serving others, or being honest, or morally pure, or loving one’s enemies—and instead delight to be self-centered or dishonest or lustful or hateful—it doesn’t matter how much they say they believe. Bottom line is, those who love God love God’s commandments and it shows. Jesus said, “You shall know them by their fruits.”
Eternal perspective: V. 4, “For whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.” I take this statement to mean that I can either become so captivated by the world that I become obedient to it, or I become so overwhelmed that I become fearful. For example, when the world tells us that riches matter most, or that beauty is defined this way, or that whatever feels good, is good, and so forth, let’s not be sucked in. In 1 John 2:15-17 we read, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world. For all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from God but from the world. And the world and its desire is passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.
Likewise, an eternal perspective is needed when the weight of all the sadness becomes overwhelming. Let’s remember to whom we belong. Our faith gives us wings to soar like eagles, we are told. Jesus said we are IN the world but not OF it. We are here to do what good we can, to share the love of God. Our ultimate hope is eternal.
And how do we know all this is real? V. 6, “the Spirit is that one that testifies, for the Spirit is truth.” Vv. 10-12, “those who believe in the Son of God have the witness within themselves. And this is the testimony of the Spirit. God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has the life….” We cannot prove these things through our five senses, nor through Cartesian reason, “I think, therefore I am,” and “what I think is true must be true!” No, God’s Spirit speaks to our spirits to reveal divine truth.
So here are these five marks of genuine faith again, in alphabetical order!
Affection for God and for fellow believers. (5:1, 3:14)
Belief in Jesus Christ as Savior. (5:1, 10-13)
Confession of sin (implied in ch. 5, highlighted in ch. 1)
Deeds of righteousness, obedience to the Lord’s commands. (5:3)
Eternal perspective, a conquering over rather than a captivation by the world and the things of the world. (5:4, 2:15-17)
My Philosophy 101 class was not much help for my assurance of spiritual truth. But, I’m pretty sure this pulpit exists. It just doesn’t know it!
Prayer: Eternal God of love and grace, help us be discerning so as not to be swept away by false hope or ingenuine teaching. Strengthen our faith so that our affection for you and others grows, and our belief strengthens, and we remain humble and ready to confess our sin and need of your forgiveness. May our deeds be loving and helpful as we follow your Spirit’s leading. And may our eternal perspective help us to recognize that we do have a purpose during our sojourn on this earth. We pray through Christ our Lord. We trust in your Spirit’s work within and through us. And we do all for your glory, O God. Amen.
AFFIRMATION OF FAITH 1 Corinthians 15:19-22
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
*HYMN God of Grace and God of Glory” verses 1 & 5 #420
PASTORAL PRAYER AND LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
forever." -- Amen.
*Hymn: Be Thou My Vision #339
*CHARGE & BLESSING
The Lord is risen. He is risen indeed!
May you be strong in faith as you walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
May the peace of God, the inner strength of the Holy Spirit, and Christ’s love be with you all. Go in hope, serve in grace.
* Sections of the service preceded with * are times to stand if you are able to do so.
Bold text is to be read together aloud as a congregation