Sermon on May 15 , 2022 KaB FKB (Volker Aßmann)

God’s great love
John 3:1-2 and 4:1-6

This sermon is translated from German into English. You can find the original video here


“See what love our heavenly Father has given us to be called His children—and we are!
But the people who belong to this world do not know God; therefore they do not understand that we are His children.
My dear friends, we are already the children of God, and what we will be like when Christ returns we cannot even imagine.
But we know that when He returns we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is.”
(1 John 3:1-2)
“… because love comes from God … because God is love (4:7+8)
God’s love for us is shown in that He sent His only Son into the world so that through Him we might have eternal life.
And that is true love: We did not love God, but HE loved us first and sent His Son to save us from our sins.
(1 John 4:9-10)


This is the situation of the church of Jesus at the end of the first century, in which John writes his three letters: Gnostic false teachers, that is, Christians, or people posing as Christians, are upsetting the church (in Ephesus and elsewhere). and lead to divisions. They bring an allegedly new and better knowledge about God, the people and God’s word and are looking for followers (“followers”).
TRUTH is one of the central words in the letters of John. But who is telling the truth? What could people depend on in Ephesus and elsewhere nearly 2,000 years ago? And what applies today and what can we rely on? Caution: The fact that someone refers to the Bible and quotes it is by no means a criterion for authenticity and truth!
The central statement of the first letter of John is in 1.Joh.5,13 : “I am writing this to you so that you know that you have eternal life because you believe in the name of the Son of God . Eternal life through faith in Jesus! And not as a vague hope, but as a certainty!
This is the heart of the biblical message: Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? How can human beings have a relationship with eternal God and eternal life now and beyond death?
It is the great questioning, which is by no means new and by no means progressive, but is thousands of years old:
Was Jesus actually real God and man at the same time?
Wasn’t HE just a special person , a prophet and a great teacher?
What does God’s love mean to us?
Why did Jesus Christ die on the cross and why did HE rise from the dead after 3 days?
Or: Was Jesus really resurrected at all or only in the imagination of some people?
Johannes is concerned with the great debate about truth and error, real or fake.


1. God’s love: HE calls us His children and that’s not all (“We will be like Christ” / 3,1-2)

“Behold the love our heavenly Father has given us, that we are called His children – and so we are!” (1 John 3:1)
The strong statement of John that we think about and talk about in this sermon is about God’s great love!
John writes: God is the source of love – He first loved us – and His love is the foundation of our life and faith.
Our love can only be the answer and consequence of God’s love. And at the same time, the love we practice is proof that we know God and are His children.
His love is visible in the fact that HE sent Jesus to earth. And this is exactly where opinions differ, with false teachers claiming that Jesus is not God’s son. And Jesus didn’t die to forgive our sins.
“Everyone who confesses that Jesus Christ (as the Son of God) really came to earth as a man has the Spirit of God (is God’s child). Anyone who does not confess Jesus in this way does not belong to God. In such a person is the spirit of the antichrist.” (4:2+3)
John presents and introduces God to us, God as “LOVE” – as the one who gives, dies, forgives, blesses and gives hope. ( 3,1-4,21 ) God loves us humans and makes us children of God through faith in the crucified and risen Christ, here and now and forever.
Christians are not put off to someday in the afterlife, but are already God’s children today or never will be . Not only are we called “God’s children,” we actually are—even today.
It is not about names or Christians by name, but about children of God who live in a personal relationship with God. It is not a confession that is decisive, but the relationship. Faith does not mean accepting any particular doctrine, but trusting God and His Word.
To be God’s child today is absolutely undeserved and a gift from the God who is love personified. And it is only the foretaste of what is to come:
We will see HIM, the eternal God and His Messiah Jesus our Saviour , and be like HIM (“be like HIM”). Not identical to Jesus and yet like HE! No, but perfect, children of God, absolutely accepted and loved by God.
And yet Jesus will still be greater, the “firstborn of many brothers and sisters” ( Romans 8:29 ). “For God chose her before the beginning of time and predestined her to be made like His Son, that His Son might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Rom.8:29)
What John writes about the hardly imaginable future of Christians, to be like Jesus, is the great hope of Christians and even of all creation: Jesus Christ will come again and make everything new and then there will be a big difference between God’s children and all people who have no relation to Him.
“All creation eagerly awaits that day when God will reveal who really is among His children.” (Romans 8:19)
Modern teachings from theologians to evangelicals are increasingly watering down this concrete hope of Christians for an actual life in God’s new world.


2. God’s love: We only become children of God through Jesus’ atoning death for us (out of love for God and for us)!!

“… because love comes from God … because God is love (4:7+8)
God’s love for us is shown in that He sent His only Son into the world so that through Him we might have eternal life.
And this is true love: We did not love God, but He first loved us and sent His Son to save us from our sins.”
(1 John 4:9-10)
God’s love is not shown when we learn from Jesus that God loves and forgives us, but when Jesus dies as a “propitiation sacrifice” for our sins.
It is not enough to say and believe that God sent Jesus into our world and planet out of love, what matters is what God sent Jesus to do.
It’s not enough to think that Jesus is a great person, a great teacher, a loving person – He is all of those things. But that’s not enough!
God sent Jesus to show us God, to reveal God and to die as an innocent person (as a human being and at the same time as God) for our sins and thus to be able to give us forgiveness and reconciliation with God.
Everything else is heresy (the spirit of the Antichrist) that destroys faith (e.g. “Gnosis”, today “progressive Christianity / post-evangelicalism”)!
It is about the confrontation between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error, of lies (4:6c).
Specifically, the question arises what do the false teachers represent, who are ultimately against Christ and thus Antichrists – who are these people?
There are:
  • Including all those who claim that Jesus was not true God and true man at the same time
  • People who claim that Jesus did not die for our guilt, but (accidentally) for the wickedness of men
  • who claim that the Son of God does not need to die in substitution for our salvation
  • who claim that Jesus was not actually and physically resurrected, but only in the minds of men
Anyone who claims that destroys the foundation of the faith of every Christian and every child of God if they engage in it. Alisa Childers writes in her book “Ankers” about “progressive Christianity” or otherwise called “post-evangelicalism” , which suggests that this is about the modern and correct view and better understanding of the Bible: >Jesus is not there more saviors, but only an example of how we can do good works in the world and forgive (and love) others.’ (p.121)
Modern Gnostics claim today (as he did then) that Jesus did not die to atone for our sins and to pay for them with His life in order to be able to forgive us. They claim that Jesus died because of man’s fault, more or less accidentally, because man was so wicked. So it could have happened to anyone else. And it wasn’t God’s plan for Jesus to die for our sins.
This is sheer false teaching that leaves no room for our forgiveness and salvation, which according to the Bible is only possible because Jesus died for our guilt. Here, then as now, the “spirit of error” and ultimately of the “Antichrist” is revealed.
And John and the whole Bible opposes this resolutely and rejects it as a lie, as false teaching that destroys people’s faith. And this is what happens with the Gnostics then and the false teachers today with the argument that they are particularly clever, in contrast to the ‘uneducated and naive Christians who believe what the Bible actually says’.
The claim of the Gnostics and the so-called. “Progressive Christians” who are truly “Bible faithful” are being exalted – a brazen lie and deception!
“But there were false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will skillfully present to you their heresies about God, which lead to disaster. In doing so they turn against their own LORD, who has redeemed them. Their end will not be long in coming, and it will be terrible.” (2 Peter 2:1)
Instead, this is the truth of God and His Word, the Bible:
“He (Christ) is the sacrifice for our sins. He not only redeems our guilt, but that of the whole world.” (1.Joh.2.2)
“God shows His great love by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
For while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” (Romans 5:8+10)
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son , that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
To experience personally that God loved me so much that HE let Jesus die for me to save me, that is the greatest realization of my life. This only became clear to me personally later, after I had been converted much earlier. Mostly converted from the thought of fear that I might miss out when Jesus comes again.
But then realizing that it was God’s great and undeserved love that saved me eclipsed everything else.
This is how this song became one of my favorite songs:


I look full of bowing and amazement
into the sea of His grace
and listen to the message of peace,
which HE proclaimed to me:
He bore my guilt on the cross.
His blood makes me white and pure ;
my will belongs to my God;
I trust in Jesus alone.


3. God’s love always has consequences:

Children of God follow the will of God and hope for a future with Jesus (2:28-29 and 3:3)
And now, dear children, stay connected to Christ, so that when He comes again you may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him.
Knowing that God is righteous, you also know that all who do the will of God are His children.”
(1 John 2:28-29)
“And everyone who has this hope take care that he remains clean, even as Christ is clean.” (1 John 3:3)
The context in which John writes about God’s great and incomprehensible love is that we ourselves, as children loved by God, love God and people and live righteousness. Just as it is characteristic of Christians not to love sin and to be comfortable in it, it is characteristic of God’s children to live in righteousness.
To be God’s child is to have the sure and sure hope of being with God forever after we die, and to live as His child today.
In all the crises of our world and our lives, as well as now in the time of the terrible Ukraine war with all possible consequences, we can live and trust this for ourselves:
We do not need and should not panic and become pessimistic! We are not waiting for the chaos or the end of this world, but for our returning LORD and SAVIOR, even if according to the statements in the Bible our world will end.
God’s new and perfect world in which we will see Him as He is, without ambiguity and doubt, without qualification, that is God’s purpose for His children whom He loved and loves so much. But Christians are not only people loved by God, but people with a great and unshakable hope, which should and may already show and have an effect here and now.
This is our motivation for a holy life, for a life according to God’s standards: “Everyone who has this hope takes care that he remains clean, just as Christ remains clean.” (1 John 3:3)
Because we have this hope, we ask: What does God want from me today? How can and should I live so that God is honored and our life succeeds and is fulfilled despite all setbacks and guilt?
This is not about fear, although a hallmark of this life is “fear of God*”, but about our love for God: what can I do to make God happy in my life?
What can I do so that other people are blessed and given gifts through my life, because my life is shaped by love for people?
I wish that you experience and accept this love of God and live in the hope of Jesus coming again.


*Fear of God: reverence, respect, humility before God, appreciation of his greatness, omnipotence and glory