Tag: 1 John

Reactions to the Truth

3 John 1

Three men and the truth – all professed faith in God but didn’t all live same way. Had knowledge of truth, didn’t put into practice alike. One, in fact, living exactly opposite of instructions in 1 John: 1-to-1 connection between love for God, love for brethren. Sad to say, this one, Diotrephes, in charge of church in midst of serious trouble.

Lord Jesus told disciples “I will build my church (Matt. 16:18), sent them out, commissioned them to do that at his Ascension. Through his apostles, left his church clear instructions on how to do church. Some of instruction came about because of needs, other instruction because of problems in particular local churches. John’s first two letters prompted because of needs – reinforce truth, encourage believers in truth. This letter, well, there was Gaius – a good guy; Demetrius – another good guy. Both working hard at pleasing God, advancing Christ’s kingdom.

And then there was Diotrephes. His reaction to truth not same as Gaius and Demetrius. Gaius was committed to the truth in all areas of his life. Demetrius was example of the truth in action, the one who likely carried letter to Gaius. Diotrephes rejected truth that came to him with apostolic authority.

A. committed to the truth v.1-8 Gaius

beloved friend (1)

4x – beloved – αγαπητε – 1, 2, 5, 11

deep affection – equivalent of what Paul called “son in the faith” – one who was converted under John’s ministry, who matured under his teaching

tenderness accentuated because of:

(1) John’s pastoral heart

(2) danger to Gaius and others because of church situation

common ground / basis of relationship

Gospel truth – just as in previous epistle, truth is vital prominent component: 6x – αληθεια – 1, 3, 4, 8, 12

shared heritage in the truth, understanding of the truth, commitment to the truth – encourage bonds

would you really want someone to pray this way for you: may physical health match spiritual health (2)

lots of people neglect aspects of physical health, not to devote attention to health of soul

for many would require complete shift in way of thinking, setting priorities about both self and others

extremely high commendation of Gaius by John – “your soul prospers”, his soul was in good health

so how did John know about health of Gaius’ soul, how could he be so confident? see v.3

source of pastoral joy (3-4)

noticed / spoken of by others (3a)

parent’s response to praise of children: “homeschoolers?” “how’d you know?” “good manners”

same true for pastor: spiritual children show evidence of training

possession of truth obvious in practice of truth (3b)

reinforcing principle given in 1 John, James, 2 Cor.

1 John 3:18let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth”

James 2:14, 18 “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” …”Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works”

2 Cor. 5:17 ” if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”

greatest joy – not limited to this life, extends to heaven (4)

John can imagine no greater joy – greatest concern for spiritual well-being, soul-health of his “children”

far better to have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews who are holy than simply happy

knows that what has eternal significance brings greatest joy

their commitment to truth, living life consistent with truth is evidence of inward spiritual change

practicing hospitality

demonstrating to strangers faithfulness to the truth and love (5-6a)

Gaius identified people as brothers, did what the Bible said and showed hospitality

went outside his comfort zone, maybe, to be hospitable to strangers

made such an impression they “told on him”

helping the missionaries – food, lodging, encouragement, etc. (6b-7)

put substance behind the “God-speed” – sending on their way in worthy manner

especially helpful since missionaries depended on God’s people to support God’s work

fellow-laboring in the truth (8)

God uses means to achieve his ends, has appointed the means as well as the ends

to be part of support system made Gaius a co-worker – same is true of our missionaries

B. rejecter of the truth v.9-10 Diotrephes

loves to be first

self-promoting, putting himself rather than others in place of importance

Jesus had something to say about that: Mark 9:35And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”

rejects someone else’s truth – who present a threat

prevented John’s previous letter from being read in church; sensed threat to his position

maliciously accusing

attempting to discredit John and his authority; launching accusations that couldn’t be substantiated

perhaps even trying to baffle those under his control with excessive talk: “run on in talk, without connection or sense”

refuses hospitality – avoided outsiders

didn’t recognize missionaries as brothers; probably holding up his own church as only true church, only true Christians

prevents other hospitality – controlling

opposite of what he should have been doing as church leader

“It is bad to do no good ourselves; but it is worse to hinder those who would.” Henry

and beginning to overstep bounds of authority

exercises discipline

2nd degree separation – don’t have problem with you, it’s with ones you hang out with – clear abuse of authority

acting alone to exercise discipline – not following Matt. 18 principles, concurring with rest of church, etc.

acting in wrong spirit – envy, self-preservation; personal ends in view, not the good of others

C. example of the truth v.11-12 Demetrius

not new information, just a gentle reminder – keep doing what you’re doing, what’s right

imitate the right thing (11)

don’t have to teach how to imitate – happens naturally, easily

think small children – things they learn/copy so easily: what you do / don’t want them to

think big “children” – not much changes – the “wave” at ball game, clapping @ concert

imitate Demetrius, not Diotrephes

imitation is a choice, not simply a given – comes easily but can be directed

John urges Gaius: make right choice, who / what you imitate

you claim to be child of God, be sure choices and lifestyle confirm that testimony

well spoken of by (12)


if you know him, you know what he stands for

deeds match words: one who lives life consistent with verbal witness commended even by enemies

most importantly, Demetrius lives the way you’d expect one changed by Gospel to act

Diotrephes promoted himself, Demetrius was promoted by his whole local church

the truth itself – shown by his life

was in private what he was in public

claimed to believe truth, love truth, follow truth – lifestyle confirmed claims

no one around Demetrius had any excuse for not knowing Jesus

the elder himself

John adds own personal commendation of Demetrius

puts own reputation on line to further ministry of fellow-servant

Two basic reactions to truth described by John – one worthy of imitation, one definitely not. Gaius, Demetrius, John himself: absolute commitment to the truth embodied in Lord Jesus, enscripturated in Bible. Loved it, determined to live it, laboring to bring others to it. It’s truth of God’s Word, the Bible, that sets free from bondage. Not what’s found in Qu’ran; Book of Mormon

For the Truth’s Sake

2 John 1

100 years ago, enemy of the church was modernism. Evangelical church’s response to modernism was series of 90 essays, published by Biola Univ. called The Fundamentals. “Modernism was a world-view based on the notion that only science could explain reality. The modernist in effect began with the presupposition that nothing supernatural is real.” MacArthur

Humanist John Dewey (1859-1952), co-author and signer of the Humanist Manifesto 1 (1933), declared, “There is no God and there is no soul. Hence, there are no needs for the props of traditional religion. With dogma and creed excluded, then immutable truth is also dead and buried. There is no room for fixed, natural law or moral absolutes.”

About time Dewey died, so did modernism. Was replaced by postmodernism. Some thought a step forward, but really a bigger step backward into skepticism. Postmodernist denies existence of absolute truth, denies that truth could even be known if it did exist. Postmodernist refuses to accept that there is “objective, authoritative truth that governs or applies to all humanity universally”. MacArthur Truth is reduced to personal opinion or feeling and must never be imposed on another person.

Evangelical church’s response to postmodernism largely absent. If there is any, often takes one of two forms: accommodation, minimizing claims to absolute truth that have been foundational to historic Christianity. Or,… responding to hot-button issues by emphasizing what Christians should stand against – homosexuality, abortion, same-sex marriage, morning-after pill, Muslims, list goes on. “Don’t drink, don’t dance, don’t chew, don’t hang out with those who do”.

Difficult if not impossible to justify either response from Bible. Jesus himself made absolute claims about truth: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 God’s “word is truth”, the word that makes us holy. John 17:17 Holy Spirit through apostle Paul identified “God’s household, …the church of the living God, [as] the pillar and foundation of the truth” 1 Tim. 3:15 Not a pillar against heresies or against error, a pillar of the truth. Earlier in epistle, declared that “God our Savior …desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Tim. 2:3-4 Jesus, once again, “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32

What we read in text is completely consistent with what God in person of his Son communicated, in person of Holy Spirit communicated through biblical authors. Having read and believed rest of Bible, no surprise whatever to see repeated references to truth in John’s greeting to “the elect lady and her children”. Given what he wrote in first epistle, would expect him to encourage readers to walk in the truth (practice it), to warn them not to depart from the truth (protect it).

A. greeting grounded in the truth v.1-3

truth and love intimately connected

exhorted to love the brethren – need some kind of common ground to have relationship, to practice love

take any two (or more) believers, from any place / time / culture / circumstances – share same truth

truth embodied in Jesus, enscripturated in Bible

known by believer (1)

abides in believer, will be with believer forever (2)

establishes context along with love for receiving blessings of grace, mercy, peace (3)

to love God requires love for truth

if you love Jesus, if Jesus is the truth, you must love the truth

think about “poster child” for opposite of truth – the one who “does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.”, who “is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44

either child of God or child of the devil

to be child of God means having been set free from bondage – it’s truth that sets free, truth that makes holy

if we love our freedom in Christ, must love truth

love that sacrifices truth not truly love

our brothers

Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by your truth”; sacrificing truth puts holiness of fellow believers at risk

“I love you but not enough to help you become like Christ” – may not say so outright, but… compromising truth has that effect

our neighbor

our #1 goal for neighbor should be see them come to Christ

that equals: knowing the truth about themselves, their problem, God’s solution

John’s demonstration of truth and love

loved the sister and her children enough to speak truth in love

provide loving encouragement for what they were doing well

warn against ways of thinking or acting that would put them at risk spiritually

and by which they would put brothers and neighbors at risk

B. calling to walk in the truth v.4-6

(practicing the truth)

again, not something new: “if it’s new, it’s probly not true”

love God, keep his commands, (Deut. 11:1) love neighbor (Lev. 19:18) – first biblical author wrote those

Jesus wasn’t giving new commands – God hadn’t changed, truth hadn’t changed, moral law hadn’t changed either

by instruction and example (John 13) made plain how his people were to please God

see John’s pastoral heart (4)

wasn’t growth in numbers of local church; wasn’t growth in knowledge of Bible facts, doctrinal truth

wasn’t even departure of potential troublemakers; was good thing, not what caused John to rejoice

was that “some of your children [were] walking in truth” (4)

work of pastor to “shepherd the flock of God, …serving as overseers, …being examples” (1 Peter 5:2-3)

called to “watch out for your souls, as those who must give account” (Heb. 13:17)

all of that under oversight of the Chief Shepherd who will reward his labors (1 Peter 5:4)

seeing health of souls under his care – demonstrated by “walking in truth”, “loving one another”, “walking according to his commandments” – that’s what gives joy to pastor

encouraged by their grasp of the truth

showing their spiritual maturity – goes beyond having answers to questions, knowing facts, even being able to debate and defend biblical principles

demonstrated ability to take biblical truth and apply to daily life

showing Christ-likeness in love for one another

living in obedience to Christ’s commands – relationships, setting priorities, choosing activities, applying biblical principles/truth to decision-making

“To love each other truly is to cherish one another as God’s image bearers, to seek what is best for each other according to the will of God, and to act toward one another as God commands. That involves listening, helping, praying, giving, and serving each other with kindness and thoughtfulness, forgiving and bearing with one another.” Beeke

John rejoiced, could see in day-to-day behavior of flock that his shepherding had been effective

they were fulfilling their purpose: bringing glory to God by living out the truth, being lights in dark world

C. warning not to depart from the truth v.7-11

(protecting the truth)

why it’s important to protect the truth

deceivers have left the church (7)

not type to live and let live – determined to acquire a following

don’t care where following comes from – from the church, from the world

must have clear witness and example

for next generation – pass along pure, not watered-down truth

so we receive “well done, good and faithful servant”

who they are

those who deny biblical truth about Lord Jesus (7)

deny incarnation, deity of Christ, that he is Son of god

those who have “moved beyond” the basics (9)

acquired new truth, more advanced than simple incomplete faith of previous generation

what to do

don’t put self at risk

by encouraging “fellowship” – time spent together under their influence (10)

risk is – you’ll be deceived (8)

you’ll encourage spread of false teaching (11)

don’t put others at risk

by giving appearance of approval

fellow believers or others – drive by, see car in the yard, assume wrong thing

Truth under assault today just as in John’s day, same kinds of tactics/methods being used. Only thing that will push back darkness of deception is light of God’s truth. May each of us use all resources God has entrusted to us to practice the truth and protect the truth, to take our stand on the solid rock that will never move. May God give us grace to continue relying on Christ as our hope and stay, proclaim him as the only one who can give true and lasting hope to lost sinners.

Growing in Assurance

1 John 5:13-21

“…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes” Benjamin Franklin Pretty sure he didn’t read our text. Might sound presumptuous – think we can be certain of something as big as eternal destiny. Even plenty w/i the church, many churches would agree – do best you can, keep fingers crossed, won’t know for sure ’til you arrive. Sadly, it’s state of many who are genuine Christians; not the picture John paints of how it should be.

Says plainly: wrote his epistle for this purpose – that those who have saving faith may know their destiny. Gospel written that you might have eternal life, epistle that you might know that you have it. Putting Gospel and epistle together provides 4 pieces to complete picture: hear the truth, believe the truth, live out the truth, be assured of the truth. Tests John gave in epistle weren’t intended to discourage, rather to build up confidence – not in self, in God and what he is doing for you, in you, through you. God’s design in all of Scripture – bring you to acquaintance with Christ, then acceptance of Christ, then assurance in Christ.

“No men believe so much but they may believe more; and the more you grow in faith the more you please God and honour him.” Manton

Are the things John said should be true of a Christian true in some measure for you? Do you see the face of your father in the face of God? Do you look at the cross and see your own sins nailed there? Will you give up anything but your hope in Christ as your Savior, friend, brother? Do you feel and express love for brothers and sisters in Christ? Then, Peter exhorts: 2 Pet. 1:10make every effort to be sure of your calling and election”. Assurance of eternal life not a given, doesn’t just automatically come with being saved – it’s something we must cultivate. God provides assurance to his children on his terms, and includes effort on our part.

So how to get it, grow it, persevere in it?

A. getting it

prayer (14-15)

evidence that you have assurance, evidence that should give assurance:

dependence on God

confident to be dependent – true confidence results in full dependence

acknowledge by expressing need, even publicly!

continual prayer reminds, encourages, enhances dependence and reflects assurance

boldness in prayer

boldness to come into presence of God himself

boldness to ask for things

boldness to ask according to revealed will: “Lord you’ve said…, you’ve promised…; I ask…”

expectation God will hear our prayer

not like Luther (1510):

He was climbing Pilate’s stairs on hands and knees repeating a Pater Noster for each one (28 marble steps) and kissing each step for good measure in the hope of delivering a soul from purgatory. Luther regretted that his own father and mother were not yet dead and in purgatory …and resolved to release Grandpa Heine. The stairs were climbed, the Pater Nosters were repeated, the steps were kissed. At the top Luther raised himself and exclaimed, “Who knows whether it is so?” Bainton, Here I Stand

child of God expects heavenly Father to hear

know what sorts of things God approves, right kind of things to pray for; expect him to hear those requests

absence of immediate answer – causes renewed effort in prayer, not despair or defeat

we don’t give up when we don’t see results; instead keep praying, persistently, ask other believers to join with us in prayer

confidence of positive answer

know our desire is for God’s will to be done – prayed that earlier

know it is God’s desire to give his children good things – Matt. 7:11

then,… we pray confidently expecting heavenly Father to grant requests

intercession (16-17)

here is outworking in prayer of one test John gave earlier: love for brothers

we pray for those whom we love

are grieved, concerned, motivated to pray when observe brother committing sin

pray God wouldn’t hold their sin against them, rather forgive and give life

can’t / shouldn’t always pray God not to hold sin against people

particular case in point, ones who had been making trouble in church, necessary for John to write epistle

like ones described Heb. 6:4-6, know truth – made good profession – outward appearance of belonging to Christ – then,… rejected God’s way of salvation

Hebrews says “it is impossible …if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance”

shouldn’t ask God to overlook their sin, not hold it against them; should ask God to be glorified in relationship with them

pretty short list of people like that; the rest, true brothers and sisters, pray fervently God will deliver from their sin

B. growing it

victory over sin and Satan (18)

time for another self-check: review history of Christian life

did you have one doorway in house where you and siblings, perhaps others even from another generation got measured? A line, a name, a date, maybe how many inches. As time went by, marks moved further away from beginning mark.

true spiritually – time passes, marks of progress move further away from character of life before conversion

trips into sin less frequent, shorter duration; sin doesn’t have hold on us that it used to

resistance to Satan and his tricks grows stronger and more effective

each victory grows our assurance, confidence that we really can persevere

“devil made me do it” doesn’t work for Christian – after conversion, doesn’t have power to make us sin

he can entice, cannot make; can only entice when we fail to look to Christ for strength & guidance

belonging to God (19)

know who we are and who we belong to

ever get into situation, look around, know you really don’t belong there – wrong clothes, wrong atmosphere, wrong

longer we belong to God, more conformed to image of Christ, more obvious difference between child of God and child of world

things that used to attract do so no longer

in fact, things displeasing to God are painful for believer to see / hear – stories, jokes, language, sights, behaviors

knowing God (20)

know that Promised One, very Son of God, has come into the world – unshakably convinced of that truth

have understanding of the Word that goes beyond the words – get the spiritual truths

see ourselves, our need, solution to need all described

know that we know God – not just facts, don’t just know about him, know him in relational way

result of vine / branches connection – us abiding in him, Christ abiding in us

know that we are alive, God is our Father, Jesus is truly God and our brother and only source of life

longer relationship is present, active – more sure and thorough knowledge becomes

C. persevering in it

if v.18, 19, 20 summarize content of epistle, as we covered you could probably go check, check, check; now v.21 – where’d that come from?

keep yourself from idols (21)

you know the truth, what is true; don’t fall for the counterfeit

perhaps more important, don’t drift into worshiping a counterfeit Jesus

most important, don’t slide into worshiping a replacement god

blatant counterfeits easy for true Christian to spot

da Vinci Code Jesus; New Age Christ; own personal Jesus; Jesus of the cults or culture

hold them up beside real Jesus – difference is obvious

other things that gradually over time take place that belongs to God

influences that surround, entice us to trust in someone/something other than God

then there’s good stuff, maybe even stuff God expects us to do – church/ministry, family, work

“Dave Kraft: Ministry idolatry is becoming increasingly widespread, reaching epidemic proportions. It is showcased at network and denominational gatherings, where the focus and conversation is often not about Jesus, but about us and what we are accomplishing and achieving.” the Briefing

the means to an end, the gifts God has given take loyalty in place of the Giver, God himself

must be watchful of, guard against tendency to drift, temptation to settle for less than God

Puritan wrote a prayer, since been modernized and set to music – expresses well closing sentiments of John’s first epistle: O Great God, Bob Kauflin

God’s Testimony of His Son

1 John 5:6-12

Parents only get away with “because I said so” for a while. Eventually have to appeal to further, perhaps greater authority; may even require additional witnesses. Not unlike justice system: no one goes to prison without evidence, testimony from witnesses – preferably eyewitnesses, hearsay usually not allowed. In minds of many, matters of faith not like that – to them, faith isn’t faith if it has basis, something beyond personal feeling or opinion. Science based on fact, religion a leap of faith. What does Bible say?

Heb. 11:1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

The true faith believers have is not blind, unfounded; does not require leap in the dark, into the unknown. Saving faith is historical faith – not confidence in history but confidence rooted in and affirmed by historical events. Even first man and woman to exercise faith – Adam & Eve – had the foundation of prior history underpinning that faith. God had said and done things to provide basis for confidence. Our faith, like Adam & Eve and everyone else between them and us – based on firm testimony / witness of history, of eyewitnesses, also of God.

Just as John used word(s) repeatedly in earlier part of letter, uses word “μαρτυρια” and related nearly dozen times in our text – does so to make point. May be rendered: record, witness, testimony; all same Greek word. Yes, was dealing with heretics trying to do damage to church. But,… primary purpose of 1 John is to build up and encourage saints, not tear down the opposition. (Maybe modern politicians should take note!!) John declares there have been numerous witnesses, tells us what testimony was about, and makes plain the consequences for belief and unbelief.

If only 2 things you leave here today with: 1) Biblical Christian faith not leap in the dark, it’s founded on witnesses and evidence; 2) Biblical Christian faith requires belief in what Bible says about Jesus. Getting it right about Jesus is matter of life and death, eternal life or death.

A. who testifies

numerous witnesses to foundation of faith – remember Paul’s statement: 1 Cor. 3:11For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

don’t have only Jesus’ testimony about himself; in fact, he said that by itself wouldn’t be adequate (John 5:31)

something God established Deut. 19:15 – “by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.”

both men and God (9)

necessary to accept witness of men for civil society to function – act on basis that what other people say is true

checkout clerk, numbers on gas pump, word of carpenter or mechanic, grade a teacher gives

given nature of witnesses, should accept testimony of God even more readily

human witnesses make mistakes, God never does; people don’t see all, or without distortion/bias – God does

John reminds – we have both human and divine witness to truth about Jesus

the Spirit (6)

descending on Jesus at his baptism – Matt. 3:16, Luke 3:22

descended on church as promised by Jesus – Acts 1:4-8; 2:1-4

confirming what Jesus said of Spirit’s ministry – testify of me (John 15:26)

to and through the apostles: “we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:32)

the Three (7-8)

add water and blood to witness of Spirit – repeated witnesses from v.6

in addition to Spirit’s testimony, two remarkable other ways it’s evident Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God

water: his baptism – inauguration / ordination to ministry, shown by descending dove and voice from heaven

identified by Father as “Promised One”, “beloved Son”, empowered by Holy Spirit

blood: his death – his mission / ministry completed: “it is finished”; sent to be Savior, had achieved it

recognized as more than mere mortal human by Roman centurion (Matt. 27:54)

includes resurrection: Rom. 1:4declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”

the Father (9)

what he just said, that’s the Father’s testimony

whether Father’s voice speaking or through other means, still His testimony

it’s testimony of His Son – real personal father-son relationship in view here

all speak with one voice (8, 9)

because God is one: “we worship One God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity” Athanasian Creed

all the evidence, all the testimony, all the voices say one thing: Jesus is Messiah, Son of God, Savior of the world

remember ιχθυς – ιησους χριστος θεου υιος σωτηρ

B. what is testified

about the Son

he’s a real person: came by water and blood (not only by water) (6)

not simply an avatar, manifestation of a God-principle

he’s really Son of God, Messiah (6, 9)

at his baptism – “this is my beloved Son” spoken audibly by Father

in his miracles

Nicodemus had it right – “we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”John 3:2

Jesus himself – “the very works that I do – bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.” John 5:36; 10:25

by his resurrection: Rom. 1:4declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”

about the testimony

it’s the truth (6)

αληθεια – reality as opposed to appearance

what the Spirit declares is facts as they really are, not just as they appear; must be so, it’s the Spirit, after all

it’s internal to the believer (10a)

plenty of external witnesses – man’s testimony, God’s testimony through men – but not limited to them

divine testimony from within his heart – supplementing, confirming truth/reality of external evidence

deepest conviction of the truth: Jesus is Son of God

it’s the personal experience of divine power (11b)

note: not “has given us the means to eternal life” but “has given eternal life”

present possession of life accompanied by peace, absence of fear – of God, of death

about eternal life

it’s in the Son (11c)

bought by him, treasured up in him, obtained through him – all at cost of his own life

is not found in ourselves or any other place, only in God’s Son

anything claiming to be Gospel not “good news” apart from ιχθυς

C. the consequences

for unbelief

rejection of God, not “just” the Son – makes God a liar (10b)

no Son, no life (11c, 12b)

not just implied that this is true – explicitly stated; no room for “all roads lead to heaven”

where does that leave Muslims, JW’s, Mormons, etc? (12b)

all who are quick to accept a way that promises salvation for works done, reject salvation by grace through faith

in need of: hearing the truth, the power of God to change them (just as we all once were)

“The power of God is needed to induce us to throw down the tools with which we work for salvation and take, with joyful hands, the full, free and finished salvation which Jesus bestows on all who trust Him.” CHS

for belief

life, eternal life (10a, 11a,b, 12a)

do you have the Son? then you have life, kind Jesus spoke of to Martha

John 11:25-26Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” [Greek, “Shall by no means die forever.”]

there’s dying and then there’s dying – separation of soul from body, separation of soul from God

believer may experience first, will never experience second

means believer doesn’t need to fear death – it’s a change of residence, temporary separation from brothers and sisters, beginning of eternal enjoyment of God’s immediate presence

remember why we said John was writing? encouragement?

no need to be embarassed by faith, by believing in what many ridicule

can be assured, should be assured of present possession of life

If we have that assurance, “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God”, and believe that John is right – “he who does not have the Son of God does not have life”, we have responsibility. Must do our part to be among the witnesses – speaking freely and boldly the words of life that others who need to will hear truth.

Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun,
Let us talk of all his wondrous love and care.
Then when all of life is over and our work on earth is done,
And the roll is called up yonder
many others will be there, because of our words and lives of faithful testimony to the Son of God.

Overcoming the World

1 John 5:4-5

Gotta love language and how we use words. If you think dealing with words and definitions is pretty much simple 1:1 relationships, check out instructions in English translated by machine! “If the products is wets or there is moistness after usage it should be air the wind or sundry before keep.” We do lots of decoding automatically – assign particular meaning to word based on context. Not a new problem, probably been around as long as language.

Take “world”, for example. she’s in her own little world; announced it to world; world’s coming to an end; they’re worlds apart. Then there’s 8 year-old Julie, prayed: “God, I bet it’s very hard for you to love everybody in the whole world. There are only 4 people in our family, and I can never do it.” Just a few of 16 ways Webster’s dictionary says we use the word.

John used Greek word for world κόσμος – 21 times in 1 John (over 100x in all his writings). Yeah, we stole that one from the Greeks! Like English word, κόσμος used in different ways depending on context and purpose. Has range of meaning but primary emphasis often on sphere of human life, order or system under which it operates. In this context – it’s everything that is in opposition to Christ, everything that makes “the world” in need of a Savior: Satan, prince of this world, plus his principalities and powers; lusts and sins of world with their governing power; men of world who rage against God and his people.

Second word John uses here familiar to most: Nike, famous brand. Means to have victory over, overwhelming success, overcome, conquer. Obscured in many versions, how John hammers point home that he’s talking about ultimate victory, unquestioned unmistakable overcoming every enemy without exception and without casualties. No soldiers have been or will be lost in this conflict.

“everyone who has been fathered by [born of] God conquers the world. This is the conqueringpower that has conquered the world: our faith. Now who is the person who has conquered the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” NET

Once again, John gives mark of one who has true faith: have overcome the world through their faith, in contrast with those who claim a relationship with God but really belong to the world. So,… out there in the trenches, where the rubber meets the road, what does it mean to overcome or conquer the world? How is one with true faith supposed to accomplish it? And how can you make it last?

A. what it means

different thinking

viewing world and circumstances from biblical perspective

Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission says, “The future of America doesn’t depend on what lost people do, but what saved people do.”

A worldview is a set of answers to the ultimate questions. Noebel defined worldview as “a set of ideas, beliefs, convictions, or values that provides a framework or map to help us understand God, the world, and our relationship to God and the world.”

foundation of worldview must be God’s truth found in Bible; same truths must permeate all branches of worldview, all elements of “framework”

overcoming requires unswerving loyalty and fidelity to biblical principles, soundly rejecting anything contrary

different allegiance

serving Christ above self

John firmly links victory / conquering power and faith

not just any faith, not just faith with any object; faith that has as its sole object Lord Jesus – faith that looks to Jesus as sole source of power and direction

pick any kind of team you like – sports, management, military – only way team can be sure of victory: right leader, all following

believers without doubt have right leader – Lord Jesus; can be assured of victory when follow his leading

remember: our soul anchored steadfast and sure behind the veil where our forerunner, Jesus, has already gone (Heb. 6:19-20)

requires unswerving loyalty and fidelity to Jesus and his commands, soundly rejecting any who claim a better deal

different values

pursuing what has eternal value

Abraham “looked forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God” NET (Heb. 11:10)

in fact, saints as far back as Abel “desired a better, that is, a heavenly country” (Heb. 11:16)

Paul declared foundation laid – Jesus; he had built some on top, expected others to continue building God’s dwelling (1 Cor. 3:10-14; Eph. 2:20-22)

charged Corinthian saints to be careful what they used for materials – gold, silver, precious stones

expecting what believers accomplish of substance in this life to survive the judgment, survive into eternity

requires unswerving loyalty and fidelity to God’s value system laid out in Bible

B. how to do it

how to acquire right thinking, right allegiance, right values?

saturate thinking with the truth

fill minds with “good” stuff

David made it plain what he thought about: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.” (Psa. 119:11)

Paul doesn’t mince words: “think the same way that Christ Jesus thought” CEV (Phil. 2:5)

must know him, know about him to know how he thought

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” (Phil. 4:8)

avoid junk food whenever possible

“He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking on evil, he will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks.” (Isa. 33:15-16)

keep Jesus in constant view

he has overcome the world – John 16:33

Luther aptly remarks: “He does not say: Be comforted, you have overcome the world, but this is your consolation, that I, I have overcome the world; my victory is your salvation.” And upon this victor rests the imperishability of the church.

surround yourself with reminders

you’re being watched

by the world (1 Pet. 2:15), by the saints (Matt. 5:16), by those who have gone on before (Heb. 12:1)

you need constant help

David learned: “I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” (Psa. 16:8)

spend time with him and his people

“not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:25)

do the right thing

actively resist disobedience / actively pursue obedience

Paul’s exhortation to Timothy applies to all believers: flee, follow, fight (1 Tim. 6:9-12)

flee temptation and foolish desires

follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness

fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life

keep up the fight

don’t relax – Satan and allies are always vigilant, on duty; Christian must be as well

don’t compromise – not just in politics that you’ll find slippery slopes; things lead to things, first one area then another, drifting away from God’s standard

C. make it last

check your vital signs

“If you find yourself loving any pleasure better than praying, any book better than the Bible, any house better than the house of God, any table better than the Lord’s table, any person better than Christ, any indulgence better than the hope of heaven – take alarm!” Thomas Guthrie

examine your wardrobe

put off the old man (world’s clothes), put on the new man (robe of righteousness)

what’s in your closet? – things that belong to old man? clean house, make sure only what belongs is there

take your vitamins

be inspired by heroes of faith – Bible heroes, those of the past, present-day saints putting it on the line for Christ

put on whole armor of God (Eph. 6:14-18) – belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, helmet, sword, glued together with prayer and alertness

Don’t lose sight of the cross. That’s where battle over sin & Satan was won. Lose sight of the cross, lose sight of the goal, lose sight of real winner – Jesus. It’s faith in him that brings you victory, confidence what he accomplished on cross was for you that enables you to conquer the world. Don’t be like Peter – took eyes off Jesus, started to sink. Keep focus on Christ and his Cross and crown he has waiting for those who persevere.

Basic Truths About Faith

1 John 5:1-3

Live in a world of faith; if you question people much, listen to them much, soon discover they have faith in all sorts of things. Even a “White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships”. Virtually no one with absolutely no faith, even when comes to “ultimate” issues: who am I, where did I come from, why am I here, where am I going. So,… question for self and others isn’t “do you have faith”, everyone’s gonna answer yes. Need to get below surface, deeper questions, like “what kind of faith do you have”, “how has your faith changed your life”, will your faith make a difference after you die”?

John provides answers to “insiders” for important questions; remember he’s writing to local churches, places where expect majority to be Christians according to Bible definition. People with particular knowledge base, set of experiences, common practices. Answers he gives serve two purposes: help believer when questioning own personal standing before God; and, when believer is called on to help someone else, who either is or should be questioning.

Is this the kind of faith you have? Is this what you believe? Where did your faith come from? Has your faith produced this in your life?

A. nature of faith

its kind

more than bare belief in existence of God

billions believe in a God, at least; millions in many gods

many, including Jews of OT, have god-shelf; quite happy to add God of Bible to shelf

more than a billion – god as defined/described in Qur’an, one god but not a father

lots of others – yeah, probably a god somewhere, don’t know much about him, not really relevant or important

more than knowledge of / belief in Bible as true word of God

comprehensive knowledge of Bible good to have, even ability to recall facts / portions / references

even better to have confidence in its divine origin – not just about God, actually from God

take it up another rung: believe what it says is true

more than simple assent to historical fact

belief in God won’t save you, belief in the Bible won’t save

don’t believe me? – who will be star resident of hell? – right,… Satan

Satan believe in God? the one true God? the Bible is God’s Word? Bible is true (at least mostly)?

he know it well enough to quote it?

true saving faith must be more than that

its object – placement in epistle means this summarizes previous statements:

1 John 4:2, 14, 15

“Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.” (2)

“We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.” (14)

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him.” (15)

now, summary

“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) is born of God.” (1)

man sinned – hopelessly lost, estranged from God

God promised – redeemer, reconciler

Jesus came – God’s Son, lived / died / rose again / returned to heaven

only hope – if he did that for you; believe he did, submit to his authority, hope is yours

see the difference?

not just “there’s a God”; it’s “he’s my God”

not just “the Bible is true”; “what it says is true about me, my need, the only solution”

not just “Jesus came to save the world”; “Jesus is my Savior and Lord”

not just “I guess it could help you if you follow it”; “Jesus not only changed my life, he is my life”

If that sort of faith is yours, thank God for his indescribable gift (2 Cor. 9:15). If not, pray he would grant you the gift of faith.

B. source of faith

the new birth

catch the verb tenses: “everyone who is believing (present participle) has been born (perfect) of God”

what occurs in present based on completed action in the past

Acts 16:14The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” ESV

no opening of the heart, no paying attention; no “having been born”, no “believing”

faith with which we believe not self-generated

Eph. 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” ESV

God gives it, it becomes ours, we exercise it, are responsible to feed it

“faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17)

“it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:21)

generated by Holy Spirit

work of Holy Spirit to regenerate, bring to spiritual life, bring about spiritual understanding

Jesus told Nicodemus “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” John 3:5

each person of Trinity has part in salvation: Father chose and predestined to adoption, Son redeemed, Holy Spirit regenerates and sanctifies (Eph. 1:3-14)

know someone who needs saving faith?

pray they will hear proclamation of the Word of God

pray God will bring them to life, give them faith

still not sure your faith is true saving faith? does it have these qualities; do you have:

C. fruits of faith

love for God


experience all the thoughts, emotions, bonds person naturally has for loved one

affection, desire to spend time/do stuff together, want to know him more/better


God’s interests come before ours

putting desires into action: spending time with God in prayer, Word and meditation, worship

choosing to make our spiritual development a priority over other things

actively working to promote his agenda – in own life and in the world

love for God’s people – our brothers and sisters

relational – same as for God; see above


using resources entrusted to us for benefit of others – time, talent, treasure

not hoarded but spent – goal isn’t a bank account, it’s treasure in heaven

actively working to promote God’s agenda for other people

encouraging brothers and sisters to love God and one another more

building Christian character in them, rejoicing when we observe them demonstrate it

love for God’s law

proper attitude

given for our good

not just because he felt like, it made things more convenient for God

given because he loves us

right understanding

new nature means we have ability to obey – no longer trapped in sin and disobedience

recognize wisdom in God’s expectations, how they keep us safe

understand obedience makes us pleasing to God, draws us closer to him; that’s what we desire

“I remember one of the last Sundays that Alan Vail was in church. He sat in his wheelchair, stooped over, head bowed, his body racked with Parkinson’s. Speech was difficult; he’d lost most of his ability to control the movement of his arms and legs. I sat across from him, and as we sang a song part of which said something about the greatness of God, I saw him place his hands on the arms of his chair. He lifted his feet out of the foot rests and slowly pushed himself up out of the chair until he was standing. He couldn’t sing any longer, he couldn’t speak easily, but I watched him use every ounce of physical strength he had to stand to worship his Lord. That is what it means to love God with all your strength.” Steven Simala Grant

Jesus said greatest command: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31) May God help us to trust him and obey his commands.

Knowing We’re Genuine Christians

1 John 4:13-21

There’s close connection between Gospel and epistle – can tell by author’s declaration of purpose. Reason for Gospel: John 20:31 “these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.” Reason for epistle: 1 John 5:13These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life…”

Possible to not only believe but also to know. Means two things: will be challenges that cause doubt (am I really a Christian?); and,… God expects us to be confident of our salvation, so he gives us resources we need to possess that assurance. They are things that don’t depend on feelings or circumstances, ones that can be observed by others as well as ourselves. In our text, 5 evidences we are true believers: the indwelling Holy Spirit, confidence in God’s Word, a good confession of faith, experience of God’s love, and expression of God’s love.

A. the indwelling Spirit v.13

spirit of adoption Rom. 8:15-17

promotes in us close, tender, childlike relationship with Heavenly Father

how do you know your earthly father is your father? – bond, attachment, mutual love, resemblance, recognize his voice

Spirit adds his voice to ours, declaring to Father we are his child; confirms in our spirits that is true

spiritual understanding John 14:26; 15:26; 16:8-11, 13-15

Gospel records Jesus’ statements re: ministry of Holy Spirit

teach and remind and apply Jesus’ teaching and guide to understanding of truth

first and primary ministry to apostles, continues for all believers

Paul further amplifies on that theme 1 Cor. 2:9-16

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.

“…we have received …the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God.”

whatever you comprehend of spiritual truth from God’s Word and its application: result of work of God through his Spirit

if you can look into mirror of God’s Word, see image of yourself and image of who you should be. If you are encouraged by likenesses, convicted by shortcomings, determined to grow in likeness to Christ, Holy Spirit is alive and active in you

fruit of the Spirit Gal. 5:22-23

just as evidence of life devoted to serving self are evident: “sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar” (Gal. 5:19-21)

so evidence of life directed by Holy Spirit are evident: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control”

John says God has given us his Spirit who by his presence will necessarily produce these characteristics in us

B. confidence in the Bible v.14, 16a

believe the eyewitnesses 2 Pet. 1:16 (read it)


Transfiguration (Peter, James, John), Damascus road (Saul/Paul) obvious times but not only

miracles he performed – his power over nature, demons, death – displayed his majesty

resurrection and ascension, don’t forget what God revealed to John in visions (Revelation)

our response when we read about these things

not to say or think: no way that can be true, must be exaggerated, nobody could do that

is to say or think: wow, it must be true, they were there to see it; besides, it’s in the Bible

certain it is:

God’s word

not that it contains God’s Word, or is word about God, is from beginning to end God’s word

is just as authoritative as if he were presently speaking to those who read

must be treated with same care and respect and dignity as God himself

true and reliable

says what it means, means what it says, speaks truly about all subjects it addresses

says God created in 6 days, rested the 7th, that’s the way it occurred

says God will re-create and restore when Christ returns, that’s the way it will be

source of life

Qur’an rightly identifies Christians as “People of the Book”

after many followers abandoned Jesus, asked the twelve if they would leave also; “Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68

sing them over again to me,…

C. a good confession v.15

right declaration Rom. 10:9-13

“confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead”

confess that Jesus is the Son of God, sent into the world to save sinners (v.14 also)

meaning full subscription – fully subscribe to, acquiesce to, declare to be your belief the total content of Gospel as declared in Bible (remember why John wrote Gospel and epistle)

accompanied by right belief

a wholehearted commitment to, and trust in, the person of God along with obedience to his commands

and expressed in action

trusting and living under his Lordship, his authority

saying it don’t make it so; declaring belief in Christ as Savior without submitting to his lordship is empty belief/worthless confession, will not lead to eternal life

true confession/belief means God abides in you; God doesn’t dwell there undercover

One Sunday on their way home from church, a little girl turned to her mother and said, “Mommy, the preacher’s sermon this morning confused me.”

The mother said, “Oh? Why is that?” The little girl replied, “Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?”

The mother replied, “Yes, that’s true, honey.” “And he also said that God lives in us? Is that true, Mommy?”

Again the mother replied, “Yes.”

“Well,” said the little girl, “if God is bigger than us and he lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?” (James S. Hewett, ed., ILLUSTRATIONS UNLIMITED, p. 303)

D. experience of God’s love v.16-19

know love of God

Paul prayed for Ephesian saints: “according to the riches of his glory…to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” Eph. 3:18-19

kind of knowledge that comes from intimate personal experience

Spurgeon began one evening service with this series of questions for his congregation to contemplate:

Do I know the love of Christ? Have I felt it? Do I understand it? Do I feel it now? Is it now shed abroad in my heart? Do I know that Jesus now loves me? Is my heart quickened, and animated, and warmed, and attracted towards Him through the great Truth of God that it recognizes and rejoices in—that Christ really loves me, and has chosen me, and set His heart upon me?

future confidence

we love God, know he loves us, are confident of likeness to Christ in some measure; know God will recognize us as his children

confidence of God’s love means have nothing to fear – God doesn’t love those he will ultimately condemn, won’t condemn those who are in Christ

E. expression of God’s love v.19-21

living in unity and fellowship with other believers on basis of love 1 Cor. 13:4-7

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.” MSG

Oscar Hammerstein: “A bell’s not a bell until you ring it. A song’s not a song until you sing it. Love in your heart is not put there to stay. Love isn’t love till you give it away.”

didn’t get it quite right – love isn’t love till you give yourself away – to brothers / sisters; husbands / wives; church family

Are these evidences present in your life? At least in some measure? We’re all in different places in regard to spiritual development, so don’t compare yourself to someone else. Look at God’s standard, seek his help when you struggle. Keep doing the things you know will draw you closer to God, avoid things that come between you. Thank God for the circumstances he puts you in so your love for him and others will grow. Rest in assurance of your salvation when you see these evidences present in your life, confident that God who started a work in you will bring it to completion.

Has he given you a song? Even if you can’t carry a tune, do you have that melody of love in your heart? Sing it through your words and deeds, that others may know you love the Christ of Calvary.

We Must Love One Another

1 John 4:7-12

Supposedly we’re living in the information age. Everyone has information about other people and things, at same time trying to keep others from getting too much information about them. Information is commodity – bought and sold and traded between people and businesses. One with most information / knowledge wins, big if you’re playing Jeopardy. There’s a danger that comes with great knowledge: “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up”. 1 Cor. 8:1 Perhaps John had that in mind as he wrote this part of epistle.

John just covered the bit about knowledge – knowing the truth, those who are of the truth, discerning truth from error. Now before you get all puffed up, remember the main thing isn’t knowledge, it’s love. Jesus said they’d know we were his disciples, not because of our knowledge, but by our love.

love – 13x; one another – 3x; get the idea love is important. God’s love and mindset that goes along with it unlike human love in an important respect. Especially in close human relationships, when we love someone, we expect they will love us in return; tend to get testy, resentful if we love someone and they take that love and give it away… to someone else. God’s love in-fills us, flows out in our love for one another. Yes, we return it to him, but not all of it. And that’s what God expects us to do.

A. The source of love v. 7-8

yes, love comes from God; but,… how? Is it – something he makes and then gives like a present? something he does and expects us to copy?

WSC Question 4

What is God?

God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

the being of God – not “God is loving” but “God is love”; love flows out of his goodness, an essential characteristic of his being

goodness, steadfast love, faithful love, loyal love, lovingkindness – over 200 times in the OT

Exodus 34:6 And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness [checed] and truth”

See also Psalm 136 – 26 verses with the antiphonal response “His steadfast love endures forever.”

God not only is love, he has loved eternally

the Father has always loved his Son with a father’s love

the Son has always loved his Father with a son’s love

God’s inter-trinitarian love is infinite, without limit – love expressed by mankind is less than molecule in ocean of God’s love as source / origin

if Jesus’ prayer was answered,…

love Father has for Son (eternal, infinite, unchanging) somehow beyond ability to explain

is formed in us: John 17:26 I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them.

is brought to completion in us (12) more on that later

to know God is to be the object of his love

not know about, but know intimately

level of knowledge husband and wife / parent and child have of each other

only way you get to that level is in context of loving relationship

where you can finish one another’s sentences

B. The nature of love v. 9-10

intentional, not merely emotional

God loved, then acted with an ultimate goal in view

love includes great emotion, much feeling – but includes so much more

true love involves both mind and heart – working together purposefully

repeated idea in Bible: God showed his love – in this way – for this reason

God’s love always has the good of recipient in view

his love results in their redemption, forgiveness, reconciliation, receiving life

God’s love in action toward us always makes us better, more holy, more pleasing to him


God sent his son, intending his son to be the sacrifice

he justly could have required each person to pay their own debt

instead he decreed from eternity past how he would deal with sin

didn’t relax the standard, didn’t write debt off / take a loss

kept standard of perfection, paid the debt in full himself

His example – sacrificing himself on behalf of those who had no claim to his love or favor

God doesn’t owe salvation to anyone, much less the other favors he gives to all mankind

loved those who will never have ability to return his love in equal measure

our store of personal resources will always be finite / limited

as God’s creatures we will always be dependent on him, yes, even in heaven


no preconditions but with expectations, that the recipient will be incited to love others

The world says, “If you love me, you will do this for me.” God loved us intending that we would demonstrate our love for him by our actions toward others.

C. The effect of love v. 11

God’s love for us puts us in debt – we have a moral obligation to follow his example, loving as he loved

love for God 1 John 5:3

“This is love for God, that we keep his commandments.”

love for spouse Ephesians 5:25-28

“Husbands, love your wives, …to make her holy

love for children Titus 2:41 Tim 5:8

“encourage the young women to love their husbands and children”

“if anyone does not provide for his own, especially those of his household, he has denied the faith”

love for brother and sister 1 John 3:16-17

“[W]e also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart (shuts off his compassion, HSCB) from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

D. The growth of love v.12

we can’t see God, but… (12a)

“classic” argument against existence of God

we can see evidence of his presence (12b)

in the world – our love to one another

in us – the source of love to one another

and of his work (12c)

God doesn’t give us a kit, expect us to finish

he works to complete what he has begun in us – see Phil. 1:6

E. Purpose of love

draw us close to the source

closer we are to him, more like him we become, more we will reflect his love to others

point others to the source

God loves us knowing the more we love him, more effectively we will point others to him

we point others to Christ by demonstrating Christ’s love in our actions

“26-year-old Rachel, who was working the window last Wednesday on Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day when Adam Smith videotaped himself going through the drive-thru, ordering only free water and expressing his disgust. “Chick-fil-A is a hateful company,” he told Rachel on the video, which he originally posted on YouTube before removing it. “I don’t know how you sleep at night. This is a horrible corporation with horrible values.” Rachel remained polite throughout the exchange and wished Smith a nice day. “I’m Christian and God tells us to love thy neighbor,” she said, referring to how she kept her composure. Smith, who received backlash from the public after posting the video and was even fired from his position as a CEO, posted a second video in which he apologized: “Rachel, I am so very sorry for the way I spoke to you on Wednesday. You handled my frustrating rant with such dignity and composure. Every time I watch the video I am blown away by really the beauty in what you did, and your kindness, and your patience with me.”

We have all experienced the love of God – demonstrated in his mercy, his patience, his redeeming love graciously bestowed on us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8). What are we going to do with it? Keep it for ourselves? Or will we imitate God’s example? The better we understand how much God loves us and demonstrated it to us, the more determined we should be to pass his love along to others.

Discerning Truth and Error

1 John 4:1-6

Things we teach children from very early on: don’t talk to strangers; look both ways…; just because it’s on the internet doesn’t make it true; don’t believe everything you hear. Been true for long time, perhaps somebody should’ve warned Adam & Eve! More than one source of error – lack of information, misunderstanding or misapplication, intentional deception. In part why Sgt. Joe Friday’s line has gotten so much use: “Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.”

Encourages tendency we already have to focus on physical – we’re physical beings, live in culture that separates spiritual from physical, emphasizes the physical, markets by appeals to physical. Not hard to lose sight of spiritual dimension, the reality that greatest area of conflict for Christian is in spiritual dimension. Battle between truth and error: God and his standard of absolute truth on one hand, Satan with carefully crafted distortions of truth on the other.

We know who has ultimate victory in the battle. But,… if we are to prevail in daily conflict, must, must, must use discernment. Must be mindful of the real enemy: our battle is “against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” And the right weapons: must “take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day” (see Eph. 6:10ff). First piece of equipment God supplies: belt of truth – essential to discerning truth from error. Along with rest of armor of God enables believer to stay aligned with truth, avoid error.

John gives three distinguishing characteristics, what will help us do as he exhorts – to “test the spirits” – for those who are authorities or influences in your life, what spirit motivates them; who is their hero; what sort of fruit do they produce. Before you receive what they want to give you, make sure they pass the credibility test; btw, one strike and they’re out!

A. what spirit motivates v.1, 4, 6c

– in particular view for John, those who had “gone out into the world”. Had a history in the church but then left, perhaps to start their own church. Claimed to be teaching Bible, professed true knowledge, were actually spreading doctrine that was harmful, even deadly to their hearers.

– John’s assumption: behind all spiritual teaching is a spiritual force. Empowering force behind spiritual truth is Spirit of truth; behind spiritual deception and false teaching, spirit of error. Not sole responsibility of “church” leaders to sort it out; all believers have responsibility to be discerning.

spirit of truth

whom he has given us (3:23) – “by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us”

Spirit that empowers, enables, equips believer to grow to maturity and serve God effectively

promise from Jesus to disciples: “Spirit of truth …will guide you into all truth” John 16:13

of God (1) – identified this way, must be spirits not of God. Believers job: to scrutinize those who claim to speak for God, verify that they actually do.

the one who is in you (4) – true believer has the real deal within; indwelt by the Spirit of God. Should be able to recognize same Spirit in them.

believer must take advantage of Spirit’s equipping, to guide into all truth, as revealed in Word of God

if we are led by Spirit of God and they are led by Spirit of God, should see same things in Bible; if not, there’s spirit of error somewhere

necessary for spiritual discernment

true spiritual understanding absolutely requires aid of Holy Spirit

1 Cor. 2:12, 14Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. …The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” NET

spirit of error

false prophets (1) – see 1 Tim 4:1Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons”

had the faith in some measure, at least outward; left the faith, gone into world as mouth-pieces

of the antichrist (3) – every individual / group that takes stand against Jesus is motivated by same spirit, that of Jesus’ greatest enemy

the one who is in the world (4) – remember those spiritual forces of wickedness, they have a leader

the one served by majority in the world, one who rules as much of world as God permits

again, Jesus, “he is a liar and the father of lies” John 8:44

the spirit of error, promoting error as favorite weapon because so successful and deadly

B. who is their hero v.2-3

– John’s primary concern, because was primary issue (at forefront of discussion): teaching about nature of Christ. Still a good place to start, sifts and sorts out many who are false teachers.

Jesus as he is presented in the Bible

God in the flesh – John 1:14 – this Jesus is one who must be exalted, must be in 1st place, must be object of faith and loyalty. Not the Jesus of myth, of history books, of other supposed sources of revelation. Not the Jesus who is a way-shower, good teacher, one described in Qur’an or da Vinci Code or quoted in Gospel of Thomas.

error particular to 1st century, still around – know from Sunday School series, cults and world religions alike challenge or attack or deny Biblical teaching about Jesus

given as example, not sole test of truth – it’s a package deal: written Word and Living Word stand or fall together. Anything that diminishes or discredits one attacks the other.

good to remember that someone can make honest confession: Jesus Christ was truly human, even Jesus Christ was truly God-Man. But,… be dead wrong in other essential areas.

Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Ellen White, Robert Schuller, Muhammad

someone who has something extra-ordinary

new truth or new way of understanding an old spiritual truth; improved way of living, satisfying God’s demands

better way of interpreting Scripture, specially understood by “insiders”

elevating authority of person or writings above God/Bible

two different ways it occurs – amount of air-time, resolving conflict

whoever gets quoted most, cited as backup for particular positions becomes de facto authority

God, Jesus, the Bible should be top answers in more than Christian School classroom

whoever wins the argument is the authority – if contradiction/conflict between someone’s position and the Bible, Bible must win or else…..

in our day, treating science as ultimate authority

how do we fit Genesis into scientific model, not other way round

addressing mental health issues from psychiatric perspective rather than biblical position

who gets the glory

Christian sits at feet of Christ for instruction (prophet)

Christian falls at foot of the Cross for full redemption (priest)

Christian bows before Christ on his throne, submitting to his loving rule (king)

anything less is to deny Christ what is rightfully his

C. what kind of fruit v.4-6b

mark of believer

overcoming the world – successfully withstood false prophets and their followers

John isn’t talking about Lone Rangers, self-appointed “heresy hunters”; speaking to those who as part of local church stood fast for the truth

hearing the Word

have been faithfully and regularly nourished by preaching of the Word

recognized proclamation of the Word as from God, acknowledged its truth as God’s Word, submitted to authority of the Word

mark of false prophet

approved by the world – followed by unbelievers

come from the world’s perspective, framework of looking at reality, wittingly or unwittingly serving the “god of this world”

world views as exemplary, worth listening to, often because they hear what is pleasing

heard by the world

readily understood and accepted by unbelievers

should be red flag to believers: if the world thinks it’s right, it’s probably wrong

A. W. Tozer (adapted from, Moody Monthly [12/79], pp. 51-55). He posed seven tests to apply to any teaching:

(1) How does the teaching affect my relationship with God? Is He magnified and glorified, or diminished?

(2) How does the teaching affect my attitude toward the Lord Jesus Christ? Does it magnify Him and give Him first place?

(3) How does the teaching affect my attitude toward Scripture? Did the teaching come from and agree with the Word? Does it increase my love for the Word?

(4) How does the teaching affect my self-life? Does it feed self or crucify it?

(5) How does the teaching affect my relationships to other Christians? Does it lead me to genuine love for all that truly know Christ?

(6) How does the teaching affect my relationship to the world system? Does it lead me to pursue the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life? Or, does it crucify the world to me?

(7) How does the teaching affect my attitude toward sin? Does it cause me to tolerate sin in my life or to turn from it and grow in holiness?

May God grant us grace to exercise proper discernment, to give Lord Jesus the glory he deserves.

Responding to Doubt

1 John 3:19-24

Times when very thankful not made like those weather prediction gadgets: stick points up for fair weather, down for rain; changes color from red to blue. Think what life wouild be like for the Christian if all had some kind of indicator or color coding that told everyone what sort of spiritual weather condition were in. Be honest, not every day in Christian life is blue skies and sunshine with gentle breezes and warm temperatures. Sometimes gets downright stormy, even questionable.

You know the times: just read one of those groups of verses that says believers don’t continue in sin – last few hours / days / weeks have been one failure after another, time and again doing what displeases God. Not big stuff, still sin, though. Or a few days when prayers hit ceiling and fall back down, if they even go that high. Or you keep running into those people you’re supposed to love, but… turn down aisle in store and hope didn’t see you, check caller id and pretend not to be home. Someone you’ve trusted as spiritual teacher for very long time gets really weird, begin to wonder if you got sucked into wrong way of belief.

Doubts begin, start to wonder “am I really a Christian? If I really were, then….” Talking serious doubt here, not momentary blip / fleeting thought that quickly passes. Sort of situation more you think about it, more doubts grow. More they grow, more it bothers you, to think maybe you’re not true believer. That’s good – unbeliever doesn’t think that way, isn’t genuinely concerned about those things. Doubt can also serve as corrective for overactive self-confidence. So how can / should child of God respond to doubt in way that is helpful and biblical?

A. Answer your conscience v.19-20

don’t ignore or dismiss conscience

conscience – moral sense of right and wrong – we possess because image-bearers

not infallible – can be twisted / distorted, but is present and functional in all mankind

should never be ignored: if conscience indicates there might be a problem, check it out

check the evidence

look for love: know what the standard is, God’s definition of true love

is that kind of love present in you and evident in your life?

notice question is about kind, not amount or depth

do you: love Jesus, love his church, love his people

look for righteousness: know what the standard is, God’s definition of right and wrong

is that kind of behavior present in your life?

is it becoming more the norm? sinful behavior decreasing daily?

look for family resemblance: know whose picture is on family portrait – Lord Jesus

is there a genuine likeness present? do others recognize you as belonging to Christ?

is likeness increasing daily – through study, prayer, fellowship with believers?

These characteristics genuinely present at even very low level but regularly growing indicate presence of spiritual life – fruit hanging off the plant identifies kind of plant

John 21:15-17 – appeal to God’s knowledge

Jesus warned – you will all fall away because of me (Matt. 26:31); Peter responded, even if they all do, I won’t (Matt. 26:33)

now Jesus asks, ok Peter, is that really true, do you really love me more than they do?

3rd time Jesus asked, caused great hurt – Peter smarting, conscience accusing him along with Jesus’ questions

best answer Peter can come up with – Lord, you know all things; you know my heart, my love is genuine, my grief is real, my words are inadequate, actions accusatory – look at my heart, help me with my words and deeds

when external evidence is not enough to convince us, to overrule accusing conscience: appeal to one who knows all things, who has told us in Word – one who believes will be saved, one who confesses will be forgiven, one who is reconciled is at peace with God

B. Rest in God v.21-22

we have a Savior – see Rom. 8:1

do you trust in Christ’s righteousness, not your own, to satisfy God? have you repented, sought his forgiveness?

if Christ is your savior, if you are joined to him by faith, can rest confidently in God’s promise:

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

chapter goes on to say: nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (v.39)

means you can come confidently into Father’s presence – knowing God does not condemn removes hesitation to approach, to converse, to fellowship

we have a track record of trust and answered prayer

granted requests are confirmation of obedience, success in pleasing God

not rewards for good behavior, not things we have earned – all God’s gifts to his children are gracious, given because he loves

are indicators – synchronized thinking, prioritizing

thinking way God thinks, setting priorities he would approve – evident in behavior

means desires are for things God approves – of course he will grant when asked

C. Exercise faith and love v.23

“commandment” singular – one command, two parts; distinguishable but inseparable

true belief will be accompanied by love for other Christians

true love for other Christians will be fruit of true belief in Christ

God’s command is to do both, simultaneously, ongoing

have believed, do believe, will go on believing

active faith that describes a way of life, not single event

what the believer must possess, not have exercised once, in order to please God – Heb. 11:6

it’s the faith that Paul speaks of: “By grace are you saved through faith”

it’s the belief that God exists and rewards those who seek him

it’s the trust that has no room for uncertainty and results in answered prayer (James 1:6)

do love brethren

another reminder of how much John was influenced by Jesus’ farewell teaching night he was betrayed

was certainly integral part of John’s thinking – love that sent Jesus to cross, love that draws each person into relationship with Christ, to be both motivation and example

greatest and second commandment, distinguishable but inseparable

pass the test?? then…. you’re the real deal

D. Prove your sonship v.24

obedience, especially willing and delighted, guaranteed indicator

union with Christ frees from condemnation of law, not expected obedience to God’s commands

unbeliever chafes under, fights, rebels against God’s law; believer is thankful for it, loves to obey it

remember: believers have a yoke, a burden – it’s easy yoke, light burden (Matt. 11:28-30), in company of absolute best master-yoke-fellow, Lord Jesus

indicator for us to use on ourselves primarily

desire to obey God’s command from loving desire to please him – sure sign of true believer

crying out to God as “Father” a second indicator – see Rom. 8:15-16Matt. 27:50

is Holy Spirit present in your life? remember thing about fruit?

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control Gal. 5:22-23

same Spirit identified as “Spirit of adoption”

because he is present and active – we cry out to God as Father expecting to be heard

we experience inner confidence of relationship

work of Holy Spirit in life is obvious across the spectrum

enabling / equipping to meet God’s expectations beyond simple human ability

belief in Christ

love for God and brethren

obedience to God’s commands

Especially important in day when there are lots of conflicting authorities, lots of pretenders: need confidence about standing with God, hope for future. Confidence must be based on real foundation, one that will withstand all sorts of assaults. Including those from our own doubts. If you haven’t experienced them yet, you will – if you’re a true child of God. If you are right now, or when you do, take heart from John’s wise counsel. Do as J M Boice, Philadelphia pastor for many years, exhorts: “The Christian must simply take himself in hand and confront himself with what he knows to be true concerning God and God’s work in his life.”

Don’t let doubt come between you and heavenly Father – go to him, tell about it, ask his help with it. Regardless of what’s happening, remember Lord Jesus is friend that sticks closer than a brother, his father and our father always ready to hear prayers of his children when they sincerely seek his help.