Christmas Love

Bible Book: 1 John  3 : 1-2
Subject: God's Love; Love of God; Christmas; Salvation

Introduction

Christmas is a time when people tend to show more love for their family members, neighbors and even complete strangers. Of course, we do have the occasional Black Friday brawl at one of the major stores and a bit of horn honking in the mall parking lots, but overall Christmas is a time that warms us and softens us. That is how it should be because God revealed His love to us with the Christ-child born and laid in a manger in Bethlehem.

Christmas can be a time of disappointment. The empty chair where a person we loved sat during previous Christmas meals or the family member or friend who lives to far away to get home for Christmas. Sometimes the disappointment is less serious but nonetheless critical, like the lack of batteries for the most important electronic device on Christmas morning.

I read about a little girl who climbed onto Santa's lap and heard Santa ask the usual question: "And what would you like for Christmas?" The child looked up at him totally horrified and asked, “What do you mean? Did you not get my email?” Times have changed since most of us adults were children. I’ll prove it to you. There is no way what I am about to tell you would have made any sense at all when the senior high students in this room were born. So, here it is. What do you get if you cross a Christmas Tree with an iPad? A Pine..Apple!

Christmas is time of love and laughter. Can you image the smiles and joy on the faces of Mary and Joseph as they held Jesus in their arms? Image the joy on the faces of those shepherds who heard the angels and came to the manger that night. Yes, Christmas began as a time for love and joy.

John writes in 1 John 3:1-2 these words: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

I want you to think about what John has written and apply it to Christmas Love.

I. See It

John writes, “Behold,” which means to “look.” He tells us to "look at how great a love that the Father has given." In other words, we are told to see it.

Some people say that Christians live in a fantasy world, or that we live a life of blind faith. John tells us that his faith is not blind but it is a faith with eyes wide open. John knew Jesus personally because he was one of the disciples and as such he had seen Him with his own eyes. He saw the amazing love of God in Christ. Then John uses his testimony to remind us that we can still see God's love through the witness of the events in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Most murders do not provide an eye witness, but nonetheless thousands of murderers are convicted in courtrooms across America. Detectives tell us that it is virtually impossible to murder someone without leaving evidence behind and that evidence brings condemnation to a killer. A fingerprint, a drop of blood, a shoe print, or one spot of DNA has convicted people of murder all around the world, even though no eye witness was at the scene of the crime.

Jesus came into this world as God with us and wherever God moves He leaves evidence behind, and His evidence is life not death. John was an eye witness, as were others. Yet, even though we have not seen Him with our eyes, we love Him. He left evidence behind for us. Someone said that it all began in Bethlehem when Christ was born, but that is not true. Actually, it began in the heart of God - in His loving heart. In his gospel John writes, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son..." The plan for providing salvation to believers was not one the Father in Heaven thought of at the last moment. He had a plan - a plan of love that included you and me. Open the eyes of your heart and you can SEE IT!

A. See His Cradle

We see His love at the manger in Bethlehem. The world into which Jesus came was brutal, hateful and filled with pagan religions. Into this awful world, God’s Son came to save sinners like you and me. No wonder the manger scene is so precious to Christians everywhere. It reminds us of God’s great love for mankind.

B. See His Cross

He entered this world for the express purpose of living a sinless life and then taking my sin and yours to the cross in His own body. The manger is a beautiful scene but we must never forget why Jesus came. If you are going to behold the amazing love God has for you, you must go to the cross of Calvary where He died. He bore our sins at the cross.

C. See His Crown

God loves you and you can't change that. You may reject His love, but His love goes on like light traveling through space. Those who open their eyes to the Light of the World are those who receive that love. Through the centuries His Light has been moving through history and that Light is here today to redeem those who will see. He is the King of Glory. He wears the crown of life and offers it to all who will repent and turn to Him. He rose from the dead and conquered the last enemy – death! He is Lord. He has a name above every name. See Him today crowned and reigning as the Alpha and Omega. You can see it, if you have faith in your heart.

Can you see it? Many of us have and you can, too.

II. Experience It

John goes on in this text to tell us that we are God's children. He is speaking here to the Christians. What is a Christian? A Christian is a person who has been convinced of his or her sin and has turned in faith to Jesus Christ for salvation and eternal life. A Christian is not a perfect person, but has trusted a perfect Savior. A Christian is someone who has experienced the New Birth by trusting the one who was born in Bethlehem all those years ago.

A great philosopher said, "I think, therefor I am." A Christian says, "God loves, therefore I am." I am a child of God because He loved me and called me to His Son, Jesus. I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior and I became a child of God. I was literally born into God's family.

Every year we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Christmas is special to God's people because it reminds us of just how much God loves us, but let me share another birth that is very important - it is the new birth!

A. Our Title

We are called the Children of God. When a person is saved, Jesus is born in that person. He literally comes in the person of the Holy Spirit to take up residence in that person’s life. At that moment, the saved man or woman becomes a child of God. Just think about it, all of us who are saved in this room today belong to the family of God! I’ve been born into His family, adopted into His family and my name is written in the family book – The Lamb’s Book of Life. I have experienced it.

B. Our Testimony

Every child of God has a testimony. That is exactly what John did when he penned the words in 1 John 3:1-2. He is sharing a testimony of truth and grace. When we have truly experienced God’s saving grace, we cannot help but speak of it. We must share it. We live, tell you and spread it.

C. Our Triumph

John tells that the world does not know us, meaning that they do not understand our salvation, because they do not know Jesus. You see, we have overcome the world. John even goes so far as to say that we cannot yet know what our lives will be like in heaven. We have won a victory of which the full effect has not yet been made known to us. We can’t possible know and experience everything God has in store for us, but the victory is already ours. We will one day experience all that God has planned for us in Christ.

III. Know It

John wrote a confident phrase in the verse we are considering today. He penned the words, "...and we are..." He didn't write, "And we hope we are children of God." Nor did he say, "We hope we will be the children of God." John wrote, "We are" children of God. You see, God wants us to know that we belong to Him and that His Son is indeed the Savior of all who trust Him. This fact bothers non-Christians. They are irked by our assurance of salvation. They just don’t get it! A Christian is saved to “know” and be assured of salvation.

A. We Can Know He is Coming Again

In 1 John 3:2 John reminds us that Jesus will be “revealed,” which means that He is coming to this earth again. The first time He came, He was laid in a manger. The next time He comes, He will come in majesty. The first time He came, He came to wear a crown of thorns, but the next time He comes, He will be wearing a Crown of victory. The first time He came, He was judged by sinful men, but the next time He comes, He will judge the sin of the world.

B. We Can Know We will be Like Him

John tells us that we will be like Him. Wow! That is awesome. What exactly does it mean? We don’t have time to deal with the depth of that subject, but suffice it to say that we will have body like His – eternal and incorruptible. We will have a separation from sin forever. Today I am saved from sin, but when He comes, I will be separated from sin.

C We Can Know what He is really Like

We read about Jesus and talk about Jesus, but there are aspects of Him that we can’t possible know now. His glory is too much for our earthly eyes to see, our simple brains to comprehend or our faith to fully appreciate. On the day He comes for us, we will see Him as He is. I can’t imagine what that will be like, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

IV. Miss It

John tells us that the "world" did not know Him. You see, you are either of this world or you are a child of God. The only way to miss it - to miss the lovethat God has for you - is to love this world more than you are willing to accept the love of God in Christ. He came on that first Christmas to save sinners like us. He loves us that much. Now, let me ask you a question: Do you know Him? Have you trust Him by turning from you sin and accepting Him as you Lord and Savior? You can! Don’t MISS IT! Don’t miss it for the world – the world isn’t worth it.

Conclusion

O come let us adore Him. For those of us who have experienced the new birth, this is a time to renew our love for Him. Behold what manner of love has been bestowed upon us. Let us return that love in our fresh commitment to Jesus Christ.

For those who do not know Him, this is the greatest gift ever offered to you. He extends the gift of eternal life to you right now. Behold His love. Accept His gift. Turn from you old life and receive the new, eternal, abundant life available in Christ today!