Read 1 John 5:13-21
Imagine for a moment that you are a pastor to pastors spread across the country. Over the course of 30 or 40 years, you’ve helped plant churches (in today’s vernacular) all over the place, and you’re trying to communicate across great distances — with no internet! From what we read in John’s first letter, there is some theological debate that is threatening the church. Don’t think building or incorporated entity; we’re talking about the big-C Church here.
John reaches out through a short letter to address the issues he’s aware of to set the record straight. Like many things in this life, these complex issues are rather simple.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13
John’s choice of words here is quite interesting. Perhaps there were two types of people reading his letter, those who believe and those who do not believe in the name of Jesus. For those who are living inside the faith, here is your assurance: you have eternal life. It’s pretty evident that those who don’t believe don’t have eternal life, but John doesn’t need to belabor the point.
For those on the inside, there’s more, much more!
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15
Those who believe in the Son of God get a royal invitation to the throne room. Not only can we approach God, but we can also ask for anything. He not only hears our requests, but He will also give us what we ask for with one provision: “according to his will.” Perhaps this is the sticky point.
Yesterday I listened to a Tim Keller sermon, Your Plans; God’s Plans. One of the many wonderful points in the sermon comes from Proverbs:
The plans of the righteous are just Proverbs 12:5
Keller eloquently explains the transformational nature of growing in Christ by immersing ourselves in His presence through prayer, scripture, etc. As we make decisions, we learn about God’s will in our lives, not before. Read that again. It’s important to understand that we have free will even if we exercise that privilege in the presence of God’s perfect will.
As we grow closer to God, the things we ask for are more in line with His will. The more in line we are with His will, we will see sinful actions of ourselves and those around us. This isn’t a license to patrol the streets and pass out tickets declaring, “sinner” from the street corners; instead, it’s a humbling experience when we discover our own sinful nature and have one of those “aha” moments.
We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. 1 John 5:18
I see a lot of memes these days in my Facebook feed from friends who are part of recovery programs (typically drugs or alcohol). The consistent theme is that the “old you” doesn’t have to be the “new you.” If you’re still alive, the story is not done. I’m really grateful for this assurance from my friends. I’m even more appreciative to know this is God’s promise to us.
Read these two verses and over-emphasize the words, “we know.”
We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:19-20
We know we are His children.
We know He gives us understanding.
We know what is true.
We know He is the Son of God.
We know we have eternal life.
Enough said. You get the point!
Now go and throw away your idols.