1 John 5:1-5
Stephen Caswell © 2001
Niagara Crowd’s Mental Assent
A huge crowd was watching the famous tightrope walker, Blondin, cross Niagara Falls one day in 1860. He crossed it numerous times — a 1,000 foot trip, 160 feet above the raging waters. He asked the crowd if they believed he could take another person across. All assented. Then he approached one man and asked him to get on his back and go with him. The man refused! Mental assent or even verbal assent is not real belief. God has provided eternal life through Jesus Christ, but for this to do us any good we must give more than just mental assent. We must believe in Jesus Christ with all our hearts. But how do we know for sure that Jesus Christ can save us from our sins?
In chapter 5 John talks about life, eternal life. He expounds the truth first stated in chapter 1 that Jesus Christ is eternal Life. If we would receive eternal life we must believe in Him. John tells us why we can have confidence in the Savior. In the first 5 verses he shares the testimony of the saved. In verses 6-8 he shares the testimony of the Spirit, and in verses 9-13 he shares the testimony of the Father. All these testimonies declare that Jesus Christ, God's Son saves sinful man. Today we will see three reasons why we can have confidence in Jesus Christ. Firstly, A New Life Through Faith In Christ, Secondly, A New Love Through Keeping His Commands, Thirdly, A New Liberty Overcoming The World.
Firstly, A New Life Through Faith In Christ
a. We Believe In Jesus Christ
1 John 5:1a: Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God,
Have you ever heard people say, it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are sincere? That statement is a lie. It does matter what we believe. In fact it's a matter of life and death! Adam and Eve believed the Serpent's lie and they died as a result. John tells us that those who believe the truth are born again from the dead. The truth we must believe in is Jesus Christ! What do we have to believe about Jesus? That He is the Christ, God's appointed Messiah. Put simply, we must believe that Jesus was sent by God to die for our sins. Peter gave such a testimony in Matthew 16:15-16: Jesus said to them, But who do you say that I am? Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
b. We Are Born Again
1 John 5:1a: Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God,
The first result of believing in Christ is new life, God's life! This statement of John's is one of the clearest regarding salvation. Through faith in Jesus Christ we are born into God's family. We become His own precious children. The moment a sinner believes in Christ he passes from death unto life. John 1:12: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: The theme running all the way through John's Gospel is faith in Jesus Christ. John 20:30-31: And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. This is a major theme of the New Testament.
Caterpillars & Butterflies
Have you ever noticed how ugly and awkward a caterpillar is? They crawl around on the ground and never accomplish anything. They are continually driven by an insatiable appetite. In fact all they do is eat. However this all changes after they spin a cocoon and become transformed. After their transformation they are beautiful and graceful. They soar in the skies on beautiful wings. This is what it is like for mankind. In God's sight our sinful state is both ugly and offensive. We can't accomplish anything worth while because we are driven by a sinful appetite. It requires a new birth to make us beautiful in God's sight. Only Jesus Christ can make us new from the inside out; but we must be born again!
Firstly, John says those who believe in Jesus receive new life. Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ? Do you believe God sent Him to die for your sins? Have you been born again?
Secondly, A New Love Through Keeping His Commands
a. We Love God
1 John 5:1b: and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.
The second result of believing in Christ is a new love, God's love! As soon as we believe we also begin to love our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Why shouldn't we? The Father loves us and gave His Son to save us. Christ freely gave to meet our great need. God gave us life, new life. He brought us into His family as one of His own precious children. All of this fills our hearts with love and appreciation for God. He alone has removed the enmity between us and Himself. Yes we have every reason to love Him.
We Too Love Him
An aged countryman visited London for the first time. In a great art gallery, he looked at different paintings. He was especially impressed with a picture of Christ dying on the cross. As he gazed fixedly upon it, a deeper love for the Savior flooded his heart. With great feeling, he cried, Bless Him! I love Him! I love Him! Those standing nearby heard him. They saw tears glistening on his elderly face as he stood completely oblivious of the presence of others. Four of them came close to him and said, We, too, love Him, brother. Though strangers to each other, they were drawn together in love and adoration for the Savior.
b. We Love God's Children
1 John 5:2: By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.
This verse is presented back the front. How can we know that we love God and keep His commands? When we love His children. It's impossible to love God's children unless we first love God. It's only devotion to Him that motivates us to love our brother. Again John sums up all of the commandments with the commandment to love God and our brother.
Why does John repeat this command over and over again? Because it's so important. Love is the key to the Christian life. When we love one another, God gets the glory, because He is the one who enabled us to do it. Love shows the beauty of Christianity like nothing else.
How To Amaze People
David Doubilet is a photojournalist whose pictures of a silent underwater world can turn even an ugly bug-eyed sea creature into a lovely luminescent work of art. Although he has received many honors for his work, he has also been criticized by environmentalists for not doing more hard edge journalism. They want him to take pictures of dead fish, dirty beaches and polluted oceans. But Doubilet believes there's a better way to get people to care about the environment. Instead of showing the destruction that humans are causing, he shows the beauty that God has created.
Too many Christians think it is their responsibility to point out all the faults and sins of their brothers. They concentrate on the negative so much so that they don't have the time or inclination to do any good. God wants us to demonstrate the beauty of His life through love. It wasn't God's justice that drew us to Himself but His love. It wasn't the Law that drew us to God but the cross!
c. We Love To Obey Our Father
1 John 5:3: For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
What is the secret of joyful obedience? It is to recognize that obedience is a family matter. We are serving a loving Father and helping our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have been born of God, we love God, and we love God’s children. And we demonstrate this love by keeping God’s commandments. D.L. Moody often said, Every Bible should be bound in shoe leather. We show our love to God, not by empty words but by willing works. We are not slaves obeying a master; we are children obeying a Father. Therefore we willingly obey God.
Love Makes Obedience — Hazel Hartwell Simon
Love makes obedience a thing of joy!
To do the will of one we like to please
Is never hardship, though it tax our strength;
Each privilege of service love will seize!
Love makes us loyal, glad to do or go,
And eager to defend a name or cause;
Love takes the drudgery from common work,
And asks no rich reward or great applause.
Love gives us satisfaction in our task,
And wealth in learning lessons of the heart;
Love sheds a light of glory on our toil
And makes us humbly glad to have a part.
Love makes us choose to do the will of God,
To run His errands and proclaim His truth;
It gives our hearts an eager, lilting song;
Our feet are shod with tireless wings of youth!
Secondly, John says that believers receive a new love, God's love. Do you love your heavenly Father for saving your soul? Do you love His Son, Jesus who died to make it possible? Do you love your brother because God has filled your heart with love? Do you love to keep His commandments or are they burdensome to you? If God has saved you, you will want to obey!
Thirdly, New Liberty Overcoming The World
The third result of believing in Christ is victory over evil! The word overcome nikaw means to conquer, to prevail, to be victorious. Nike' shoes get their name from this Greek Word. Basically, their advertisement is that those who wear their shoes will win. How can we experience victory over evil? Is it automatic? No it's not! John says that we need two things to experience victory over evil.
a. By Birth
1 John 5:4: For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.
Everyone faces three areas of temptation in this life. The world, the flesh and the Devil. The Lord Jesus Christ was victorious over all three. John 16:33b: In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. Jesus also overcame the Devil when He was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days, and throughout His earthly ministry. Yes, Jesus Christ was victorious over all of the kingdom of darkness. In fact His greatest victory was won at the cross where He disarmed principalities and powers and made an open show of them in His triumph.
Not A French Word
Napoleon proposed to cross the bridge at Lodi in the face of the Austrian batteries that swept it. It is impossible, said one of his officers, that any man could force his way across that narrow bridge in the face of such an annihilating storm of balls as must be encountered. How impossible? exclaimed Napoleon. That word is not French. He himself, bearing a standard, was the second man across.
The first reason believers can overcome the world is the new birth. We participate in the victory that Christ won over the Devil. Through the new birth we receive the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us against evil. God enables us to be victorious. Yes everyone who has been born again has been born to win the battle against evil. John speaks about this often in his letters. 1 John 2:14: I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one. Believers can overcome the Devil through prayer, the Holy Spirit's power and God's Word.
1 John 4:4: You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. Here John refers to the Christian's victory over false prophets through the Holy Spirit's guidance. Revelation 12:11: And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Here John tells us how the tribulation saints will overcome the Antichrist. The new birth enables Christians to overcome their sins. But our faith mustn't stop at conversion!
b. By Believing
5:5: Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
This is a victory of faith, but faith in what? Faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God! The person who overcomes the world is the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. It is not faith in ourselves, but faith in Christ, that gives us the victory. John 16:33: In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. Identification with Christ in His victory reminds us of the several times we have read as He is in John’s letter. As He is, so are we in this world. We should walk in the light as He is in the light 1 John 1:7. If we claim to abide in Him, then we should conduct ourselves as He conducted Himself 1 John 2:6. His children are to be, on earth, what He is in heaven. It is only necessary for us to claim this wonderful position by faith — and to act on it.
Seat Of Authority
Where a man sits determines how much authority he may exercise. The man who sits in the general manager’s chair has a restricted sphere of authority; the man who sits in the vice president’s chair exercises more control. But the man behind the desk marked president exercises the most authority. No matter where he may be in the factory or office, he is respected and obeyed because of where he sits. His power is determined by his position, not by his personal appearance or the way he feels.
So with a child of God: his authority is determined by his position in Christ. When he trusted Christ, he was identified with Him by the Holy Spirit and made a member of His body. His old life has been buried and he has been raised to a new life of glory. In Christ, he is sitting on the very throne of the universe! The key, of course, is faith, but this has always been God’s key to victory. The great men and women named in Hebrews 11 all won their victories by faith. They simply took God at His word and acted on it, and He honored their faith and gave them victory. Faith is not simply saying that what God says is true; true faith is acting on what God says because it is true. Someone has said that faith is not so much believing in spite of evidence, but obeying in spite of consequence.
The King's Authority
As you read the book of Esther you soon realize that the Jews in the Persian Empire were in big trouble. They had been set aside for annihilation. But God stepped in and these plans were overthrown. What made the difference? When God caused King Xerxes to remove Haman and set up Mordecai in his place. The King gave his ring of authority to Mordecai. Mordecai then wrote to the Jews giving them authority to defend themselves when they were attacked. The Jews overcame their enemies. They were able to fight with the king's authority.
In the same way Christians can fight against evil with the King's authority. Jesus Christ overcame the world and the Devil. Therefore we can stand against evil with His authority. Because we are God's children we can claim Christ's victory as our own. In fact we must. It's the only way that we can win.
Alexander And Alexander
We are told that a soldier in the army of Alexander the Great was not acting bravely in battle. When he should have been pressing ahead, he was lingering behind. The great general approached him and asked, What is your name, soldier? The man replied, My name, sir, is Alexander. The general looked him straight in the eye and said firmly: Soldier, get in there and fight; or change your name! What is our name? Children of God — the born-again ones of God. Alexander the Great wanted his name to be a symbol of courage; our name carries with it assurance of victory. To be born of God means to share God’s victory.
Thirdly, John says that believers enjoy a new liberty overcoming evil. This victory begins when we believe in Jesus Christ and conquer our sins through Him. But it doesn't stop there. The Christian life is a battle. We are engaged in a battle against the spiritual forces of darkness. How can we conquer evil? The same way we got saved in the first place. Through faith in Jesus Christ. Are you claiming Christ's victory in your life by faith? Or are you constantly defeated by the world, the flesh and the Devil? Are you using the resources that God has given you to be an overcomer? We have the Word of God, the Holy Spirit and the power of prayer. If you aren't experiencing the victory that Christ has obtained for you will you begin to do so today?
Today we saw three reasons why we can have confidence in Jesus Christ. Firstly, we obtain A New Life Through Faith In Christ, Secondly, we receive A New Love Through Keeping His Commands, Thirdly, we experience A New Liberty Overcoming The World.
1 Timothy 1:17: Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.