Close

1 John, Part 9

08.11.19 Nathaniel Wall

  1. 1 John, Part 12
    09.01.19 34m 56s
  2. 1 John, Part 11
    08.25.19 30m 46s
  3. 1 John, Part 10
    08.18.19 42m 07s
  4. 1 John, Part 9
    08.11.19 38m 27s
  5. 1 John, Part 8
    08.04.19 39m 28s
  6. 1 John, Part 7
    07.21.19 42m 14s
  7. 1 John, Part 6
    07.14.19 40m 56s
  8. 1 John, Part 5
    07.07.19 43m 06s
  9. 1 John, Part 4
    06.30.19 43m 50s
  10. 1 John, Part 3
    06.23.19 40m 15s
  11. 1 John, Part 2
    06.16.19 40m 44s
  12. 1 John Introduction
    06.09.19 41m 46s

1 John, Part 9

08.11.19 Nathaniel Wall 1 John Series

1 John 4. If I’m just being selfish, not even thinking about you, and I do love you by the way, but 1 John 4 has been a refresher to my soul. In fact, I would just go ahead and say that I think it’s probably been that way for us as a church, only because when we got to chapter four and started talking about that section of scripture, “Brothers believe not every spirit but try the spirits, whether they are of God, many false prophets have gone into the world.” That has been the most downloaded sermon I think that we’ve had in the history of our church. I know I’m not alone in saying that the refreshment of this section of scripture has been wonderful. And when you think about where John’s starts in this book, he’s about to put a little caveat, a little ending to chapter two to chapter four, which is the meat of what 1 John is about.

And when you think about how 1 John 4 starts, it’s really a pursuit of truth. And truth is important because people, as we’ve talked about can sincerely believe in things, but they can be sincerely wrong. And it doesn’t mean we hate people, it’s just to acknowledge that the truth is significant. If what you believe isn’t true, it can’t hold you no matter how genuinely you are believing in it. And so I think it’s important that the foundation which we want to rest our souls be true. Like what we share this morning, we want to seek God, we want to know him. And that foundation for which we’re proclaiming needs to be true. And we even talked about the idea that truth, for Satan to come along and be destructive, Satan’s message doesn’t have to be, “kill steal and destroy.” I think that’s what he desires, but all he has to do is twist the truth. Because if he can get you to believe into a lie, he can destroy the soul. But if you trust in the truth, there is freedom.

So discovering truth, finding truth is important for us. And then what I really appreciate about 1 John 4 is then when you get to verse seven, John wastes no time, and after discussing truth, to immediately dive into the idea of love. I appreciate, right after truth, that he dives into love. And why I think he explains in verse 12 he says, no one has seen God. No one has ever seen God, but you in knowing him, get to demonstrate who God is in a tangible way in this world by how you love others. And so this idea of love becomes important. And let me just tie this together cause I talked a little bit about this last week, but the reason I think it’s important for John to immediately after discussing truth dive into love, is because truth isn’t an end in itself.

Rather God wants us to know truth. So then knowing truth, we can know and experience Him. If you remember in 1 John 3:23, we said this together. We talked about the commandments of God. What are the commandments of God? As if to say, okay, here comes the list. Get ready for all of these commandments. And what John said is, know God and love others. We wake up tomorrow. We live today. That’s what God wants us to do. Our pursuit is in knowing Him, and as come to know Him, God transforms our life. Because if he wins our heart, he will change our life. And when God changes our life, he changes the way that we see this world because we learn in having the heart of the Father, to look at this world the way that God does. And what God loves in this world is people, because he created them in his image and he’s pursued them with his life by coming to this world and giving his life on the cross. And so he takes this idea of truth and he brings it to love, and he solidifies it in the commandment that he tells us in 1 John 3:23, to know God and to love others. The declaration of truth isn’t an end in itself, but it’s rather for a purpose. And that is to know God and to love others.

The intentions of truth are to reflect the beauty of God. Meaning I don’t worship truth. I worship Jesus. I worship in truth. The Bible says in John 4:24 that he who worships, must worship in spirit and in truth. We certainly worship in truth, but we don’t worship truth itself. Rather, we worship Jesus. I use this similar thought last week in talking about love because we looked at that famous phrase, God is love and what does that mean? And as I talk about in our culture today, we oftentimes make a mistake when we read the phrase that God is love by really switching the reversal of roles there and saying love is God. Love is God. And sometimes we look at that phrase and we think of what’s the danger of that? Well, the danger is is that we elevate love above God, as if to say, it really doesn’t matter what God you believe in. Rather, whatever God that is, he’s love. And so love is more important than God. But really the truth is, love flows from God and the reason that we experience love is because of God. Because God is love and love is about giving itself away. Because God’s nature is loving, and we don’t mean just arbitrarily any God, but very specifically God who’s come in the flesh for you, Jesus.

God is love that we understand that love didn’t exist before God, but love exists because of God. And the same is true for truth. That we should yearn for truth. We should yearn for love, and to be loving, and to demonstrate truth. But truth isn’t an end in itself. Truth exists because of Him. And so in desiring love and truth, we should see that the ultimate peak in all of that is God himself. Truth isn’t an end, and love isn’t an end, but God is the end of those things. And when we pursue truth and we seek to be loved, what we’re ultimately pursing is the one, who through which all of those things flow, which is God.

Truth and love exists because of the Lord. And so we should hunger for those things. The way to know God is through truth and love. And so when you come to 1 John 4, now where we are in this section of scripture, verse 13, what John is going to build on in this section is to now take those ideas of truth and love and he’s going to bring it to that peak to show us how those things flow from the identity of who God is. He really wants to confidently shape you in God. When we walk out of here, that’s our goal this morning. That your confidence would grow in the understanding of your desire to know God and want to know God.

A.W. Tozer in his book, “Knowledge of the Holy,” he gave this very, very powerful statement at the very first chapter of this book. Knowledge of the Holy is a great Christian classic that then talks about the character of God, but he says this, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

The reason for this is because what you believe will determine how you behave. And so what you think about God is important. I should probably say who you even identify as the real God of your life. I know sometimes we’ll talk about God but then treat him like a puppet, because we ourselves see ourselves as God, and God more as a servant that’s existing to meet my needs. But the idea of the one true God. What comes to your mind when you think about him is a singular most important thing about us. And so that question of who is God? Who is God, is paramount to understanding how this love and truth all fit together. And what John is expressing throughout this portion of scripture for us. How we view God will determine how we live.

And what John does in this section is he starts to explain to us this picture once again of who God is. Now, we need to answer that question, who is God? I want us to know this isn’t an exhaustive discussion. Like I really appreciate about scripture, that as scripture is written, the authors that record scripture inspired by God, write based on a “need to know basis.” What I mean is, in life sometimes we’re hungry to learn certain things at certain times than we are of other things. If it’s important to me, I want to know it. As the writers of texts of scripture start to demonstrate God throughout those texts, they do so in light of the need that they’re facing. And in 1 John 4, it’s in light of the idea of being confident before God and in knowing him. And when some of us think about God, some of us see God as a punisher. He’s there just to tell me when I mess up. Some of us, maybe even when we think about God, we do so from a distance because we see him as absent or maybe sometimes we just don’t think he’s good.

But one of the words I want to hone on in as we think about God that we haven’t discussed in the series together, is this idea of of God being a father. Because that thought, that statement casts an image for us in the identity of who God really is. In Romans 8:15, Paul gives a statement about God here that I think is a very summarized statement of this section we’re about to look at it in 1 John 4. But this is what Paul says, “For we did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons. By whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Meaning, “daddy.” This word is a word of intimacy, of connectedness. It’s a beautiful description of how God wants to meet you where you are and just take care of you in that moment.

This idea of being a father means God wants to be personal to you. In some cultures, this might blow the idea of God out of the water. Some people in other cultures, religions would see God as this distant figure they hope they just keep happy. But in Christianity, no it’s a God that pursues you in his love despite your sin. That wants to know you in a very personal way, to the point that this word of intimacy is used to express that, “daddy.” You know, as I think about the beauty of that word, I think Satan also knows this word. I think he wants to crush the idea of what a father is, so it messes our picture of God as father in our minds. When you think about that word, “father.” Many of us today might even have fatherly wounds. Some have even dubbed this generation of adults today as “the fatherless generation.” Dads maybe are absent, maybe uninvolved, maybe cowardly, not wanting to lead. Or maybe maybe having led so strongly that you didn’t really see love through that.

Maybe when you think about this word father, rather than run towards it, it’s a word that pushes you further away because it stirs up negative emotions. Maybe you’re without a dad. Or maybe as a father, you feel like you’ve failed. You know, I think about this word father, and maybe an encouragement for us. As you think about the life of Jesus. Jesus is described in scripture as fully God, fully man. When he became flesh, 100% God and he becomes flesh and he’s 100% man. To be able to cover your sins, he had to become flesh as you are flesh. And in his display as being flesh, what you know about Jesus is that he spent time maybe in his childhood, but during his life, without a father. He an earthly father, Joseph it tells him the beginning of Scriptures. But what you find quickly throughout the story of Jesus is that Joseph is no longer mentioned. And yet what you see in the life of Jesus is that Jesus continues to live in a healthy way. And why? Well, because he’s led by his heavenly father.

Meaning, regardless of what you’ve experienced from an earthly father, good or bad, we all have the example of what true love is. Or the picture of how a father should live through the heavenly father. So father’s, if you want to learn to be a better father, the statement of this word of God being a father is to say to us, go to God and learn. Or son, if you want to be loved by a father that will not fail, go to God.

Or maybe you’ve even been a rotten son and you want to learn to better love your father. I would say by learning to love through our heavenly father, we better learn to love our earthly father. God is a good father that never fails. And when it comes to being a parent, whether you’re a mother or father, look, we will fail. When it comes to, in this section of scripture as it calls us to love people, we’re going to fail at some point. But here’s the beauty of the thought that we will demonstrate and attempt to show the love of God through the way that we live our lives for his glory in this world. But at some point we will always fall short, but we have the beautiful position of then directing people’s attentions to the love of the Father that will never fail. Because God is good.

And so when we dive into this section 1 John 4:13 I want to read this to us, but I want us to read it from that perspective of God in his position as father really reaching out to you. And look what it says, “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us. Because he’s given us his spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the son of God, God abides in him and he and God. So we have come to know and to believe that the love that God has for us, God is love. And whoever abides in love abides in him and God abides in.”

Remember, John started this section, you’re going to see in verse 17 he’s going to bring this up. He’s going to talk about your confidence before God again. Be confident before God. This father that’s pursued you. He started this. If I were to point us back to this idea of being confident all the way back in 1 John 2:28, look what he says, “Little children abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.” And then he gives the statements, so you want to think about how do we have this confidence? He starts verse 28, “confidence.” Verse 17, this idea of confidence. Well in between all of this, he communicates to us this way of confidence before God, and he says it like this. “See what kind of of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God.” What kind of love the father has given to us?

This idea of confidence comes through wrapping ourselves in the love that he has demonstrated towards us. This idea of father attached to that demonstration. So when we come back to 1 John 4:13, he’s starting to explain to us again, this identity of God, this idea of bringing his spirit and this idea of father sending son to rescue you. Not abandoning you, but God being good and always being with you.

So if I just break down the section of scripture for us, if we look at verse 13 he says, “The Spirit abiding with us.” Some people have questioned what exactly the Spirit is. Whether it’s just this idea of attitude of spirit, the spirit of among us, or is it talking about the Holy Spirit? Because the word spirit can sometimes be ambiguous. The context really leans into what it’s talking about. And so some people look at this verse and said, okay, we as God’s people, we know that he abides in him because this attitude of his spirit is among us, which could be true. So we connect to God through that. God has put his spirit within us so that we can be made in his image, connect into knowing him. That could be true, but I think rather what this passage is really meaning is the Holy Spirit. Because what he’s saying right after this is there’s also Father and Son, so he’s talking about the Triune God working here in your favor for your benefit that you walk confidently for before God by seeing this God that has pursued you. So his Spirit made known in your life, and then he says this, “We testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the savior of the world. I love this phrase.

We have seen and testified that the Father sent the son. If you think about the way 1 John, John andin chapter one he said to us, “From the beginning, which he has seen, which he has heard, he is declaring to you.” He uses this apostolic story as Grandpa John in his nineties starts to write this letter to us. He starts on the basis of having been an eyewitness to what Jesus has done in this world. He walked with Jesus. He heard from Jesus. He touched Jesus. That’s how he starts 1 John 1.

But then in chapter four he sort of evens the playing field for us. Rather than pretending to be something super elite in Christ, because he walked with living Jesus, he now takes this word we, and he doesn’t just include himself here. He’s talking to the body of believers. He’s saying, look, this isn’t special to me. This is really all of us. That we have all seen and testify about the Father sending his Son to be the Savior of the world. What John is saying is that we’ve all experienced this in him. We’ve seen what God has done by Jesus on the cross in a very personal way. This isn’t something John is saying distant from us, but with us. Saying that whatever John possesses in his relationship with God, it rests with all those that follow after Jesus. And so he’s saying because of this, this is what we testify to. This is what we proclaimed, because this is what shapes our identity with God, when we talk about being confident before him. And so he goes on in verse 15, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the son of God, God abides in him and he and God so that we have come to know him, to believe the love that God has for us. God is love and whoever abides in love abides in God and God abides in him.”

John is saying, look, we’ve come to know him. Verse 16, right? We have come to know. Not just intellectual knowledge, but in a very personal way. And the way this has happened is the confession of the purification of your soul, the confession before God. Out of anything and everything I could belong to in this world as a being that looks for my identity in worship, as a being that tries to find its worth and value in this world, I place my identity in Jesus. Because the Father has extended his love by sending Christ to rescue our soul.

So he testified to this confession, which brings us into this intimacy of knowing, and there we abide. So he says, we are abiding in this. And the beauty of abiding has to do with the shaping of your heart in these words. I love abiding. It really just means this is where you’re going to set for a while, right? I’m going to camp here. This summer, in abiding with the children at camp, I started to realize, that abiding that eventually you just become one with nature. Like camping with kids is one of the dirtiest experiences. It’s just filth all day long and you just become a part of the elements around. To the point that I think of somebody just passed by, they may not even see that you’re a human being. You just looked like a part of the dirt, of the soil there at camp and you just become one with the camp, right?

But at the same is true with God. Abide in him and what happens? The shaping of your heart. The transformation of your life. The demonstration of God’s love as you know him, that you may be confident in him because of his love for you. We don’t love God so that he loves us. We love God because he loves us. He’s going to tell us that in verse 19 ,in just a moment. But then he goes on in verse 17 and says this, “By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.” This word love means it’s complete. So you’re completed in his love. As you abide, as you sit with him, as you know him, as you see the love that’s been demonstrated before you, this love is perfected, and in your life this confidence in your identity with God is made known.

I love this word, confidence, just to camp on it for a minute. Because I think in our culture, as we read words like that, there should be a little bit of a paradigm shift in our thinking. Because in our society today, when we talk about confidence, what we really use oftentimes is this word masked behind the word self-esteem, right? “You need to be more confident. You need to have some self-esteem. You need to think great things about yourself. You’re awesome because you’re awesome.” That’s usually how that goes, right?

But can I tell you where, biblically, confidence comes from? You’re not awesome because you’re awesome. You’re awesome because God’s awesome. And he’s the one that made you brilliantly. He’s the one that created you for his purpose. So understanding him and the truth of who he is, then provides you the foundation for understanding who you are. Being cool just because you say you’re cool doesn’t make you cool. The danger in finding your identity just in your own self is that what happens when you’re not great? What happens when you fail? Where is your worth? Our confidence in this verse is not based on you. Our confidence is based in God. We have confidence not because we come to this verse when we say, “God, I’m great, therefore you can love me now.” I don’t need a great man. I need a great God. And that’s what John is saying here.

When we talk about God’s love, this isn’t arbitrary. This isn’t distant. This is personal. And the reason that you can be confident in his love is not because of you. It’s not because you’re great. It’s because God’s great. And in the greatness of who he is, I think he wants to do a great thing in us. But that type of love from the Father is what builds our confidence. I think, why would God want to love me? Why should I come to him? Why can I cry Abba, Daddy? I’m nothing. Well, it’s not because of you. It’s because of him.

Because as he is so also are we in this world. There is look at this, no in love but perfect love cast out fear. For fear has to do with punishment. And whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved. There is no fear in this love because his love is not against you. No fear. Can I tell you about the beauty of just coming before God today? No fear. There is no fear in his love because his love is not against you. Some people have a picture of God full of fear. Fear is a bad motivator. In the short term it’ll get someone to do what you want, right? You cast enough fear in their heart, they’ll follow. But you know what you lose in the process? Them.

But you know what God’s most interested in? Not in your obedience but your heart. Now that sounds tricky for a minute, so let me elaborate. God’s more interested in your heart and your obedience because when God gets your heart, he will change your behavior. But if God dominates you out of fear, what he distances you from is your heart. Think in the role of a parent, since we’re talking in terms of a father. Dad, if you come to your kids and you just forced them behave because, they’ll behave because they fear you. What happens when they get older? They run away. They don’t want that relationship. They just can’t wait to get old enough to get out of the house. Fear works in the immediate, but you lose how much in the long run. And what you should want as a parent, more than anything, is your child not to behave because they’re afraid of you, but your child to behave because they love you. That’s God.

We love because he first loved. His heart’s not about striking fear into your life, but about demonstrating his love towards you so that in response you love him in return. Fear will motivate. It will, but it’s a horrible motivator. I think there’s a time and place to act in a panic. When you know someone’s life is on the line. But when your child, even in discipline, knows in the midst of that discipline that you’re still for them and the reason that you’re doing what you’re doing, you, even in discipline can win their heart. Because your motivation isn’t fear, it’s love. And that’s what it’s saying about God. When you think about being confident before him: why should I, out of all people, be confident before God? It’s not because you’re great. It’s because he is great and he is passionately loved you and extending his love towards you. To where in your life, no matter what you’ve done, even when you mess up your heart, your soul can cry out, “Abba! Father!”

Now when you think about fear, I know the contrasting word of this popular phrase in scripture, Proverbs 1:7. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fools despised the wisdom and instruction. Now how it it the fear of the Lord’s beginning of wisdom, and now I’m telling you in this verse that perfect love casts out fear. So you shouldn’t be afraid. Well, how does that work? Let me just say it like this, in Proverbs 1:7 he’s saying, the fear of the Lord is the being of wisdom. This idea of fear, there’s a reverence to the authority of God and I think that is paramount to your faith. We shared this a little bit last week in contrasting love and propitiation or God’s wrath and love. Just saying, “God’s loving,” doesn’t really always mean a whole lot. Until you contrast it with the idea that God is also just, and when you see the justice of God, it magnifies the love of God in our lives.

We see his love, the idea of him being a savior, his grace making so much more sense in our lives and being so much more beautiful. We understand the wrath and justice of God on the back end of that. The fear of God works in a similar way. To understand, look, there’s a fear of God in which you revere him. That power of God. You don’t need a great you, you need a great God, right? That fear, recognize, and reverend that great God. But you’re not to be afraid of him as a follower of Jesus. The best illustration I’ve ever understood my life in the fear of God was when I was a teenager. I lived a little bit in Mobile, Alabama. I went to high school there in Mobile Bay, Fairhope, Alabama. One thing that everyone knows in that area is that that is referred to as “Hurricane Alley.”

And I remember as a kid, my dad likes to do a lot of things that are, adrenaline based, let’s say. And so we tend to do a few crazy things. Like he had a Camaro, and we liked driving in the Camaro, especially during the hurricane alley storms. So like tropical depressions, tropical storms, hurricanes. I remember being in his car driving to those things. Today I look back and think my dad was crazy, right? But at the time I owned no house, no car, so no risk for me. I’ll think about the way I raised my kids today. They would never be able to do that. But I remember as a kid, my parents would tell me like, here’s my safety check as a kid: if someone grabs you, kicked him where the sun don’t shine and run. That was the extent of my safety talk as a kid. And now it seems like we’re way more careful today.

But I remember this one particular hurricane, it got bad enough where my dad and I we like to cruise the beach and watch the waves crash in. We went back home just for a little more safety. And I remember being in this house and the storm just relentless. And all of a sudden, in just a second, in the matter of just a second, it just stopped. The whole storm just stopped. That’s strange. I remember walking outside and I looked up, I saw all the and damage laying around and I looked up in the sky just completely clear. Miles and miles, not a rain cloud in sight. I couldn’t understand what was going on. I mean, as far as the, I could see there was no hurricane around me. I mean, there was a trees and forests around so I couldn’t see more than maybe five or six miles. I’m going, what in the world? So I get back and sat in and turn on the radio and I find out that our particular town was in the middle of the eye of the hurricane. All this force around it. And here we are in these moments safe on the inside.

We revere God because he is a force to be reckoned with. He holds all things in his hands. And at the center of who he is, is the place he holds you in his love. That power does not fight against you. That power fights for you. And as you stand in the middle of that eye, you have reverence for the authority that it carries. But in those moments you rest in his safety. We think about the fear of the Lord. This is how John wants us to understand it. Why? So that you have confidence in the God that you come before. Do you have his perfect love? Whoever fears him, whoever’s afraid of him, has not been perfected in his love. And God calls us to step into him and sometimes we hesitate and we’re afraid to do so for one of two things.

It’s either we have a wrong perception of who he is or we just don’t know. But when we know him, the Bible says in verse 19, we love him because he first loved us. We run to God in love because we see the way he runs to us with grace. God loves us. Now I’ll tell you this, my relationship with my father today is, I have a great relationship with my dad, but it hasn’t always been like that. I’ve been one that struggled with identity of father. Like my father wasn’t around for a lot of my childhood. I love my dad dearly, I have a good friendship today. But growing up in a single mother home, one of the things I had as a child, I was just very timid, shy child. Kind of miraculous that even stand in front of a church and ever teach.

But I was a kid in high school that when you gave me a book report, I would read a book, but I wanted to take the F in the grade because I did not want to stand up in front of people, give anything oral at all. Me, crowds, forget it. But I remember when I first became a believer in Christ and I started reading the Bible and I started seeing the things that Jesus called his people to do. And I’m thinking, I don’t want to do any of this. This requires conversations with people. Where’s the verse that says live in a cave and be happy there? That’s what I want to look for. And then I started reading this statement that God gave throughout scripture. I started notice this statement God gave continuously throughout scripture.

But the first time I encountered it was with Joshua. And you think about this book of Joshua. Joshua was the guy that follows Moses. Who wants to do that. I don’t want to be the one that follows Moses. It’s like leading the people downward, because I don’t know that you can get any higher than Moses, right? But Joshua leads Moses, he can imagine coming out of this land as slaves. They’ve wandered for all these years and now he’s gotta be the one that leads them into the land and give this group of slaves an identity and a whole system to operate under. That just seems crazy to me.

And then I read this statement that when Joshua was put in the position, the first statement that God gave him, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.” I’m going to just stop there and say why? Because I’m great? And then he says this, don’t be frightened. Don’t be dismayed. And here’s why for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. It’s interesting if you read through scripture what you find a lot of people that God called to him, which God calls all of us. As they begin to expose where they are in that calling, they didn’t want to follow it. They were afraid.

But God continued to show up in their lives and give them this statement, “I am with you always.” Never abandoned. And the valleys of pain and the mountains of triumph, every step of the way, he’s not distant from you. He’s with you. He’s with you. Not because of me, but because of him.

You know ,when I get to the end of this section of scripture, it says in verse 20 and 21 it then calls you to love each other. And I think about the way God calls us to love. The only way we’re going to do that, the only way we’re going to be capable of doing that, is by resting ourselves on the love of this God who gives us the strength to move forward. So at the end of sermons, it’s really good, sometimes to have a call to action. Steps as it relates to a text, but I don’t know that this section of scripture needs an action step. I think rather what it needs is just for us to rest. How can I be confident to do what God calls me to do unless I rest in God?

How I be confident to do anything for God unless I am aware of his love for me. His presence in my life. To allow my soul to hunger for truth and love, but not as an end in itself, but to recognize that the end of those things is God himself. I doubt many of us will ever get to the end of our lives and think you know, I spent too much time with the Lord. But rather what God wants us to do is to seek his face. To rest the goodness of what the statement is. So when you think in chapter two, verse 28 all the way into chapter four, that confidence. A confidence has everything to do with the identity of God and our understanding of it and resting in the security of it. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Daddy.

One of my favorite parenting moments as a dad. I think I’ve shared this before, so pretend like you might’ve heard this for the first time. This moment was so important to me that I just think about it fairly often. When, one of my kids, four years old, they injured themselves pretty significantly. And I remember picking them up and holding them and just comforting them, rocking them. They crying. And in the midst of the tears, my child stops and he raises his head back, and he looks at me face to face and he just says, “Dad, can grownups hold grownups?” And I was bewildered by the question. I mean, that’s a question, but how do you answer that question? So I just have weird image pictures in my head now. Like I’m cradling, like this. Can grownups hold grownups? What does that mean, son? Why are you asking, can grownups hold grownups? In the midst of his pain he just says, “Because dad, I don’t want you to ever stop holding me.”

And when I look at the phrase of Romans 8, 1 John 4:13 and on, this is God saying to you: in the tears of struggle and the mountains of rejoicing, he is never going to stop holding you. Because he’s never going to stop loving you. He is a good Father.