What an exciting day this is for you, your parents and family and in fact for the whole church. Today is the culmination of a lot of things that have happened. You have learned about Jesus as a child. You were taught by your parents and their example has had an influence on you. As your testimonies will reveal, you have made a decision to follow Jesus and now you are declaring that decision to the whole world. When a person becomes a follower of Jesus, the angels in heaven rejoice and today as you are declaring that decision, we also rejoice.
For you, this may be a spiritual high, a time when the intensity of your commitment to God is significant. At times like that we may think that “from now on life will be easy; there won’t be trouble because I have declared that God is on my side and everything is going to be great.” However, there is a reality which you need to be aware of. John 16:33 says, “In this world you will have trouble.” On the other hand, I also want to encourage you with the victory that is possible in Jesus. John 16:33 also says, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” The message I would like to declare to you today is to be encouraged because In Jesus You Are on the Winning Side!
Even though we live following the resurrection of Jesus, we still live in hope of our own resurrection. We are living in the in between time, therefore we have not arrived. The Bible Knowledge Commentary says, “Believers have a dual existence: they are in Christ and in this world.” As such, we will have trouble in this world, but what kind of trouble?
In one of the churches in which I was pastor, there was a man who was a very spiritual man. He loved the Lord and loved to pray. He was a gentle man and soft spoken. As I visited him over the years I found out that he had a dark secret, which discouraged him greatly. He smoked and he seemed to be unable to beat it. He hid it from most people, but I found out when he confessed it to me. We prayed about it, but he continued to struggle with the temptation and he hated it. Even on his deathbed we talked about his struggle. He knew he was forgiven, but the temptation continued very strong for him for many years.
In this world you will have trouble from the enemy who will continue to try to provoke you to sin with temptation. It is a constant danger and you will have to be aware of it at all times.
When I was 18 years old, I was in Bible school and my dad invited me to take a few days off to go deer hunting with him. It was a great time. I did not shoot a deer, but I experienced something that was new. Having just become an adult I was beginning to have an adult relationship with my father and it was great. We wrestled, we talked and we enjoyed being together. That was in November. In February he and my mom took a winter vacation, which they had never done before. When they came home it soon became clear that something was wrong. He had a cold for a long time that he couldn’t shake. By May things were pretty serious and in June, he had exploratory surgery to discover that he had cancer and they couldn’t do anything to help him. He died at the end of September. That was my first experience with the kind of trouble we have in the world because we live in a broken world.
Romans 8:20, 21 speaks about, "…the creation … subjected to frustration” and about “its bondage to decay…” We live in a broken world and some of the trouble you will have in this world is because it is broken.
A news item from ABUJA, NIGERIA by Worthy News that I read this week reports: “Christian missionaries in Africa remained concerned about their future after reports that colleagues and over 500 other Christians have been killed in Nigeria alone… Rae Burnett, Africa Director at U.S.-based Christian Aid Mission (CAM),which supports native missionaries said that during the last 10 days of rioting over the outcome of the presidential election, more than 60 churches were burned down in Maiduguri and Sokoto by anti-Christian mobs in northern Nigeria along with thousands of homes and businesses owned by Christians. Among those killed are native missionaries, pastors and leaders. Last year, more than 2000 Christians were killed in targeted Nigerian violence...”
Another trouble we will have in the world is with persecution, but it does not only happen in Africa. I talked to Bernard Schellenberg and he has mentioned that he is occasionally ridiculed at his place of work for his stand as a Christian.
In my first church I became concerned with some of the teaching that was prevalent in the community and among some people in the church. I presented what I considered to be a careful Biblical presentation of the issue at hand. As I met with people following the service, one couple was very direct in their disagreement with me regarding what I had spoken about. They never came back to our church.
Another trouble we will have in the world is with other people, even other people in the church. This trouble is described in Acts when we read that Paul and Barnabas were planning to go on a missionary journey, but could not agree about taking Mark along and so they split up and each went their separate way.
That is a lot of trouble, but who is causing all this trouble? If mom walks into the kitchen and sees cookie crumbs and spilled milk, her question is “Who is responsible?” In the same way, when we encounter all this trouble in the world we want to know, “Who is responsible?” The Bible tells us that there are three sources for all this trouble. They are Satan, sin and death.
One of the original video games which is still played today is Pac-man. I am sure you are familiar with this game in which your little pac-man moves around a maze eating pac-dots. While moving around four enemies named Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde roam the maze trying to catch Pac-Man. If you are able to get pac-man to the corner of the maze and eat a power pellet, the game suddenly changes and pac-man has all the power. Then pac-man is able to overcome the enemies. The only problem is that after a while the power pellet wears out and pac-man is chased once again.
When this text promises “I have overcome the world” is it like pac-man gaining only a temporary or partial victory? As we look at the Bible we find that Jesus has completely overcome all who are responsible for the trouble we are in.
Jesus assures us that He has overcome Satan. In Luke 10:18 Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." That assures us of the decisive and complete defeat of the enemy who tempts and torments us with his lies and deception. Although Satan can still tempt and trouble us, he does not have power to overcome us because Jesus has overcome him by his death on the cross and his resurrection.
The trouble in the world is very personal for us because of sin but Jesus has overcome sin. We read in Romans 8:1-4, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit."
Although we still experience temptation, by the Word of God and the Spirit of God we have the resources which arise out of Jesus’ victory to allow us to live in victory over sin.
The greatest enemy Jesus has overcome is death. We read in 1 Corinthians 15:55-57, "“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Satan is the one who provokes sin. Sin is what separates us from God and results in death, but Jesus has overcome Satan, sin and death. Leon Morris writes, “The cross would seem to the outsider to be Christ’s total defeat. He(Jesus) sees it as His complete victory over all that the world is and can do to Him.” The promise is assured, in Jesus you are on the winning side!
So, although we will have trouble in the world, Jesus has overcome the world. As you live your Christian life, you can take heart. In fact, in this verse you are commanded to take heart. If Jesus has overcome the great enemies of Satan, sin and death, you can live in His victory. In Him you can overcome sin, by living in the Spirit. In Him you can overcome lack because you can bring all things to Him in prayer. (John 16:24) You can overcome persecution because eternal blessing is promised to all who suffer at the hands of enemies. (Matthew 5:10) You can overcome broken relationships because Jesus is able to bring together those who were enemies and make them one again. You can also overcome death because Jesus has promised resurrection for His followers. Whatever the world can throw at you, Jesus has overcome it. That does not take away from the fact of trouble. It will still come, but, it is not the final reality. The final reality is Jesus’ victory. As you take this stand of baptism, I want to encourage you to live with the knowledge that In Jesus You Are on the Winning Side!