Power in the Pulpit | 1 John 5:1–12

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Intro: When I was growing up I went to a camp every summer called Tabernacle Day Camp. Tabernacle Baptist Church in Macon use to have a place on a small lake in Monroe County and they would have a day camp there every year. It was the highlight of our summer every year when I was a kid. Eventually, you could become a camp counselor. That is when you knew you had made it to the big time. One of the features of the day camp was that certain age groups got certain shirt colors. The kindergartners were blue, the first graders were red and so on. But on the front of the shirt they had one of the most clever sayings you will see on a shirt. “Step into the sonshine at Tabernacle Day Camp.” But sonshine was spelled s-o-n-s-h-i-n-e. Get it. It’s corny but it stresses something really important. The Christian belief that Jesus is the Son of God. Today we are going to see four ways this is important in the text. We see true belief in the Son is, what victory in the Son is, what the testimony about the son is, and that there is eternal life in the Son.
True Belief in The Son:5:1-3
Exposition: Starting in verse 1, John says, “Everyone who believes Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.” So we see that the first sign that somebody has been born of God is to believe that Jesus is the Christ.
Explanation: One thing we probably need to understand is that the word Christ is not Jesus’ last name. The Christ is from the Greek word Christos. It was the term that in New Testament times was used to refer to the one promised by God. He was the one that would bring deliverance to God’s people. Jesus’ birth life, death and resurrection revealed that he was this one that had been promised by God. He was the one sent from God to save us from our sins. I think this is something that when we think about it from a theoretical perspective makes sense. We cannot be born of God unless we believe in the one that told us of this new birth.
Illustration: I think if we were to go and ask people at your schools tomorrow if they believed Jesus was the Christ, the one sent by God, most people in your schools would probably say yes. I think they would probably say that of course they believe that, they grew up going to church. But even though most would say that, I don’t know that most people in your schools have truly been born of God. The reason I say this, is because there is a big difference in head knowledge and believing something with your heart.
Explanation: Here are some examples of how people say they believe Jesus is the Christ but don’t actually believe. If we ascribe to an idea that Jesus is a way to heaven, that is a sign of not truly believing. You see, if it were true that there were multiple ways to heaven, then Jesus could not really be the Christ. Because if there are other ways to heaven, then God didn’t really have to send Jesus in the first place. He was not really needed for us to be forgiven of our sins anyway. If he was not really needed for us to be saved from our sins. If that were the case, he couldn’t be the Christ because there wouldn’t really be anything that special about him.
Application: If you view Jesus as your own special way to heaven but believe that there are multiple ways, it is important that maybe you examine if you truly believe Jesus is the Christ. Maybe you have just believed something you have heard about and haven’t really come to know Christ.
Explanation: Another way that we know some people who might say they believe Jesus is the Christ but don’t actually believe is that they believe that there are certain things we can do to achieve heaven on our own. We can sometimes think that there are certain things we can do to get us to heaven. But the problem is that if this were the case, then Jesus wouldn’t have needed to come. The whole reason God sent Jesus into the world was because we were not capable of making ourselves right with God. If it was possible for us to get to heaven on our own merits, then Jesus would not be the Christ.
Application: This can be such an easy trap to fall into. There are two mindsets that people tend to have when trying to do good things to get to heaven. The first is when we view all the good things we have done and see them as being enough. We say, I pray, I read my Bible, I go to church. I don’t really do the things I’m not suppose to. That probably means I am going to heaven. But what we forget is that this doesn’t take away the things we have done wrong. We are still in need of a savior for that. That is where belief in Christ comes in. He came and paid the price for our sin so that we could be born again. Not by anything we have done, but all because of Him. The second way that we tend to do this is by thinking that we have done too many bad things to be saved. We tend to think that we could never have a relationship with Jesus because we are too far gone. We think that our sins have gone past the point of forgiveness. But when we look at verse one, it says that, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.” You see, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done, you are no more a sinner in God’s eyes than anyone else. Because Jesus is the Christ, everyone can be saved. If we think that we are too bad we are saying He is not the Christ because we are saying that what He did on the cross was not enough. It was. It was enough. If that is you, accept the gift of grace that God is offering. He is bigger than our sin.
Exposition: The second part of verse one says, “Everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.” Remember, John ended chapter 4 by speaking of how we love others because God has first loved us. For this reason, we should also love our brother. If we love the Father for all He has done, then we will also love all those who are a part of the family of God. In verse 2 John gives us a visible way of knowing whether or not we love the children of God. When we love God and obey His commandments.
Explanation: Now it starts to seem a like John is making a circular argument. He says at the end of chapter 4 we cannot love God who we cannot see unless we love our brother, but we can’t love our brother unless we love and obey God. But he’s not and I’ll tell you why. God has always cared a great deal about how we treat other people. The last five of the 10 commandments all deal with how we are to act ethically towards those we are in community with. Throughout God’s law we read of how he has called us to treat others with love and respect. The Israelites had a system of ethics that far surpassed of all the nations that surrounded it. God told the people of Israel to be different than those that were around them.
Illustration: Here is how we can understand how important this concept is. I don’t know how many of you ever have family drama. but think of a scenario where there are two siblings that have a conflict. I’m not talking like the older sibling keeps picking on the other one. I’m talking like, grown up siblings that have a conflict. Say the conflict gets so bad they no longer will even be in the same room with one another. They are constantly talking bad to their parents about the other one. Even if neither child has a problem with the parent, the parent is going to feel the impact of the conflict. Do you think a parent’s first reaction is going to be, “wow my children love me,” when they never even get to be in the same room each one at the same time. Do you think the parent is going to feel loved when their children are constantly talking about the conflict they have with one another? No. The parent is going to feel that their relationship with these children is also defined by the conflict. It works the other way too. If a child has a total disrespect for his or her parents, don’t you think his or her siblings are going to feel the tension build up. That’s what is going to be on their mind when things go on.
Explanation: The same thing is true in our relationship both with God and his people. God has saved us into a community, the family of God. When we do not love other Christians we are creating conflict within that family. When we are disobedient to God, we are creating conflict within the family. Largely because our sin rarely only affects us. It usually affects others too.
Exposition: Verse three gives us an even more visible of what this love of God looks like. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” WE can do a lot of church things and still live disobediently.
Explanation: In ancient Israel sacrifice was a part of worship of God. They had a king that completely disobeyed what God told him to do. But he was prepared to make a sacrifice to God. In 1 Samuel 15:22 he is told, “To obey is better than sacrifice. A modern translation would be, obeying is better than preaching about obeying God, it’s better than singing about God, it’s better than going to Bible study, it’s better than tithing. We can do all the church things, but if we are not living obediently to God, then we have not shown we love God.
Exposition: John also says his commands are not burdensome. If we roll our eyes and do things because we feel like we have to, then it is not out of love of God that we have been obedient. If we don’t see the commands of God as good then we don’t understand them which maybe means we don’t understand God. But when we look and see that God loves us. That he truly wants us to be fulfilled in Him and that he has given us commands so we can live in the way he designed the world to be, we gladly do what God has called us to do. This is what it looks like to love God.
Transition: So we see at the start that there is an expectation of what true belief in the Son looks like. What John addresses next is something to grab hold of. True belief in the Son leads to Victory in the Son
Exposition:Verses four and five say, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world.-our faith. Who is is that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” In John 16:33 Jesus says, “..in this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” I think we can all look and see that this world is not the way it is suppose to be. In fact, we are reminded every day how broken the world is. But a part of being a child of God is knowing that this world is not our final location. We know there is coming a day when God will restore all things to the way they are suppose to be. We know that God is good. The way we know we have victory over the world is by our faith in Jesus. Our faith that better days are coming. Verse 5 asks a rhetorical question. The answer is that nobody overcomes the world without believing Jesus is the Son of God. That is because without Christ there is no faith to be had. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” What is it going to be that pushes you forward when things get really hard? What about when find out that a loved one has cancer? Or what about when you find out you have cancer? What’s going to carry you forward when you get the call that you have lost a loved one unexpectedly? What’s going to help you keep going when somebody close to you wrongs you in a way that is deeply hurtful? What’s going to keep you going when you are hit in times of depression that you can’t really explain? What will keep you going when it seems that everything around you is shaking and you don’t know what you are going to do? What are you going to do when you see that your own sin has damaged relationships in your life? It is the faith that Jesus will bring you through because he has already won the battle. It’s the understanding that God is in complete control even when all we see is the chaos. It’s the belief that while the world is broken and sinful, Jesus came and died on a cross for our sin. Then he rose from the grave so that anybody that believes in Him could take part in the victory he won over sin and the grave. That we could know that we will one day stand with Him in victory for eternity. And without faith in an eternal God, will never experience that victory. I don’t say all this to scare you or discourage you. But to let you know that when life inevitably gets hard, we have one we can turn to who has already won the battle.
Exposition: Verses six through eight say, “This is he who came by water and blood- Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.” This at first glance is a really weird passage right. Like, what does it mean by the water blood and spirit. When I first read it, I was as confused as you are. But it’s actually really interesting.
Explanation: When John refers to the water testifying that Jesus is the Son of God, he is referring to Jesus’ Baptism. Jesus Baptism is one of the few stories other than the crucifixion that appears in all four gospel accounts of Jesus’ life. That shows you how important of an event it was.This was the start of Jesus’ ministry. Though Jesus didn’t need to be baptized since he was sinless and had no need for public repentance, he identified with the sinners he came to save through Baptism. At His Baptism, we see the Holy Spirit Descend on Him and a voice from Heaven said, This is my Son with whom I am well pleased.” So at Jesus’ Baptism we see it proclaimed that He was God’s Son. The blood that testifies is Jesus’ death. Remember while Jesus was on the cross, Jerusalem went dark. When he died there was an earthquake and one of the Roman guards watching said, “Surely this man was the Son of God.” The Spirit that testifies is the Holy Spirit. That is God the Spirit, the third and equal member of the Trinity. If you read the book of Acts, you can see how in the 30 years after Jesus resurrected and ascended back to heaven the way in which the Holy Spirit worked to spread the message of the gospel throughout the Roman Empire. It is the Spirit that has sustained this message from then until now. It is The Holy Spirit that pulls you into the message and tells you that it is true. It is Him that speaks through the mouths of God’s people to spread the gospel.
Exposition: As we see verse 8 says, all three of these agree, Jesus is the Son of God. Remember, this is coming from somebody that was an eyewitness to Jesus’ ministry. He was the only disciple to stay by the cross while Jesus was on it. He also saw the Spirit’s work as a first hand observer to a lot of what we read about in Acts. He had experienced what Jesus said in John 15:26 when he says, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.”
Exposition: The thing about all three of these testimonies is that all three of them come from God. And if God himself testifies to us about who Jesus is, we should believe it. How often do we believe people? How many of you have ever had a person tell you something that isn’t true? But you still believe humans, right? Sometimes we even believe the person we know told us something that isn’t true. But if God, who the book of Hebrews tells us can’t lie, testifies to us about who Jesus is, we aren’t quick to believe it. John is pleading with his readers that if they will accept the testimony of man, to accept the testimony of God.
Transition: So what does this testimony lead to? Belief in this testimony leads us to eternal life that is only available in the Son.
Exposition: Verse 10 says, Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.” When we believe Jesus is the Son of God, it’s not just believing some random fact. It is accepting a life changing truth. It is truly believing with our hearts the message of the gospel which leads to salvation. But John then says something really interesting. He writes, “Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.” John is saying that to not believe that Jesus is God’s Son, to not believe He is the Christ as we referred to earlier, is to call God a liar. That seems like pretty strong language doesn’t it.
Explanation: But what is being testified about Christ is that He is the divine Son of God. He is God who left the glory of heaven to come to earth and die on a cross for our sins so that if we believed in Him we could be saved from our sins. God has said that we are in need of Jesus to be Lord of our lives in order to be saved. But if we don’t believe this, we are saying God is wrong. We don’t actually need Jesus. If we don’t need Jesus, then we can’t believe this testimony God has given us which means, we think God is a liar. And this can have serious consequence. But when we do believe our lives become a testimony that Jesus is the Son of God because of what Christ has done to make us new. The story we can tell to others about how we came to know Christ is a testimony to who God is.
Exposition: The testimony of eternal life also testifies to who Christ is. When we have true assurance of what is to come in the next life, it testifies to who Christ is. This is because this life only comes from Jesus. John makes it very clear in verse 12, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of Go does not have life.” There is no other way to heaven and to eternal life than through Jesus Christ. With this doesn’t just come a future promise, but a present joy.
Eternal Life in the Son: 5:10-12
Verse 10
Conversion as a witness
Outer testimony comes from the belief in the testimony within us
Verses 11-12
The hope of eternal life bears witness to who Christ is
There is joy in following Christ
Conclusion: Where are you tonight? Do you believe that Jesus was the Christ? Maybe you’re at a point where you realize that for the first time in your life, you truly do believe or understand who Jesus is. Maybe for the first time in your life you understand that there is victory in the Son of Man. And maybe you understand that the victory only comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ that gives us an assurance of eternity with Him. Maybe for the first time you are ready to make a commitment to follow Jesus. If that’s you, when we are done tonight, I want you to come find me and say that you want to talk more about following Jesus. But if you feel God placing it on your heart that you need take the next step, don’t let tonight pass.
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