October 14, 2018

Blessed Assurance

Preacher: Adam Johnson Series: Stand-Alone Messages Topic: General Epistles Passage: 1 John 5:1–5

“Blessed Assurance”

Regardless of race, culture, ethnicity, or any other classification, all of us have two things in common: We were all made in the image of God, after His likeness, and because of the disobedience of our first parents in Eden, we were all by nature children of wrath.

A couple of weeks ago as we studied the well-known encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus, we were reminded of the Lord’s words when He said, “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Just as it was true and relevant for Nicodemus, so it is for you and me, that before we can see, or enter, the kingdom of God, a new birth must first be experienced.

But how do we know if we’ve been born again? We who were born of the flesh, what is the evidence that we have been born of the Spirit? How can we be certain that we are God’s children?

Perhaps these are questions which we’ve asked ourselves at one point, or even several times in our lives. But thankfully, by God’s grace, we don’t have to speculate, for He has granted us the ability to know, through His word. This morning, we’ll spend our time in the book of 1 John; which is the very book that the Apostle John wrote so that his recipients may know that they have eternal life.

From our text, I believe that John identifies three evidences, three tests of assurance which link together to confirm if one has indeed experienced the new birth. Let’s look at this passage together. I invite you to turn with me in your Bibles, or your iPads, to the 5th chapter of 1 John, and we’ll be looking at verses 1-5. If you are using a Bible provided under your seat, it can be found on page 1023.

[1] Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. [2] By this we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. [3] For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. [4] For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. [5] Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

So here are the three tests of assurance which I believe John is proclaiming, which will also serve as our three points of the message:

Point #1: God’s Children Believe in God’s Messiah

Point #2: God’s Children Persist in Love

Point #3: God’s Children Overcomes the World

1. God’s Children Believe in God’s Messiah (v. 1a)
We see that John opens this passage on the subject of faith. He begins by saying, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.”

We may recall that in the Gospels, there’s one specific scene where we find Jesus asking a particular question to His disciples. It’s the same question, which even today, draws the line of demarcation between the various religions of the world and true Christianity. The question He asked was this, “Who do you say that I am?”

If that question were presented to the world today, I would imagine that there would be a myriad of responses. The Muslims would say that Jesus is a holy prophet and a righteous man. The Jehovah’s Witness would say that Jesus is “a” god (small g). The Jews would label Jesus as nothing more than a wise teacher.

But for the one who has been born from above, the response to that question differs from the world. For the Christian, Jesus is more than just a righteous man. For the Christian, Jesus is more than just a wise teacher. And Jesus certainly isn’t just “a” god. Those who are genuine Christians echoes the same response as Peter, when he said that, “You [Jesus] are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Genuine belief that Jesus is the Christ is more than just an intellectual awareness. It’s more than just intellectual assent. Even demons understand who Jesus is and confess that He is the Holy One of God! To believe in Jesus is to place genuine, personal faith and trust in who He proclaimed to be. It’s trusting that He is the promised Messiah who came into the world to save us from the wrath of God. It’s having faith that He is the personal manifestation of God Himself, and this is the same type of belief which John is referring to here in verse 1.

But going back to Peter’s confession of Christ, do we remember what Jesus’ response was? Upon hearing his confession, Jesus says, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! (Why is he blessed?) For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”

What does flesh and blood symbolize? The natural person, and as we see in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him.” If a person truly believes that Jesus is the Anointed Savior, if they truly believe that He is the only way we could be rescued, there can be only one explanation as to why they believe. John says because that person, “Has been born of God.”

We need to understand that our belief does not cause us to be born of God; our belief is the result of us first having been born of God. It was impossible for us to believe in Jesus on our own. God made us believe in God. The Lord had to first intervene on our behalf by gifting us with the very faith to believe and, by grace, He gave us the right to become children of God.

Saints, how often do we ponder this? How often do we marvel at this? The same God who Solomon said the highest heaven can’t even contain, the same God who has reigned on high with no equal from everlasting to everlasting, through faith in Christ, this same God we can now cry out to as “Abba, Father.”

Regeneration leads to true faith in the Messiah. However, true faith inevitably leads to something as well. For the one born of God, because they believe, their life will be characterized and manifested through the action of love.

2. God’s Children Persist in Love (v. 1b-3)

I think it’s important for us to remember that, just as our faith in Jesus required God to act first, the same can be said about our ability to love. In chapter 4:19 of this same book, John says that “We love, because He first loved us.” There is a “natural” love which all people possess under God’s common grace, but it should never be confused or misinterpreted with “divine love” which not only comes from God, but also embodies who God is.

This divine love, also known as agapÄ“ love, which is sacrificial and selfless, is what John refers to as he continues on in verse 1 saying that “Everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of Him.”

Generally speaking, children love their parents. There are certain cases which seem to be the exception, but as part of the natural law of human life, even in the darkest society, kids generally love their mother and father. Here, John transfers this same thought process into the Christian experience. Those who are children of God, in like manner, love their Parent, which is the Father. No longer are they enemies of God as Romans 5 states, but lovers of God with transformed hearts.

But not only do God’s children love the Father – they also love their siblings, as John says that they love everyone who has been born of Him. If we believe that Jesus is the Christ, then we also love others who believe that Jesus is the Christ. The Lord said in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

For us, as Temple Hills Baptist Church, if we genuinely trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, then praise God, we are brothers and sisters through faith, members of the same family with one Heavenly Father. And as members of the same family, just as siblings do in every household, there will be times when we irritate each other and disagree, but we are called to sacrificially and selflessly love one another. We bear each other’s burdens, even when it’s an inconvenience. We hold each other accountable, even when it’s uncomfortable. We show forgiveness towards each other, even when it hurts.

Love for God and love for others is a fundamental principle of those who have been born again, and John understands this; so much so, that he presses in even deeper by explaining how we can know if we are truly demonstrating love. He says in verse 2, “By this, we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His commandments.”

At first glance, it may appear that John’s conclusion seems a bit backwards. Why couldn’t he have just said, “We know that we love God, when we love God’s children?” Wouldn’t that have been the obvious conclusion? However, I believe John purposely phrased it this way because he’s drawing a parallel to a point which he made in the previous chapter. In chapter 4:20, John writes that, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar.”

In other words, love for your brother is evidence that you love God. Here in verse 2, love for God is evidence that you love your brother. It’s the same truth in reverse. Whoever loves God must also love his brother...whoever loves his brother must also love God. But we can’t ignore the second half of this verse, which also leads into verse 3.

The proof that we love God’s children is “when we love God...and obey His commandments. For [because] this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” For those who have been born again, their faith enables love, and from that love stems obedience. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” While love for others may be the evidence that we love God, it’s keeping His commandments which is the expression of that love.

Keep in mind that John is still speaking of agapÄ“ love, which is more than just an “emotional feeling.” It is an action. Jesus said in Luke 6:46: “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” As the old saying goes, “Don’t just tell me that you love me, show me!” Just as a child demonstrates that they love and respect their parents by obeying their commands, the same applies for a child of God with the Father.

To keep God’s commandments does not mean perfection, for John already said in chapter 1:8, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Rather, to keep God’s commandments is to observe them as a continual practice. It’s not a one-time thing, but a lifestyle.

But have we wondered what commandments John is referring to? Is he speaking of the Ten Commandments? Is it the 600+ laws which made up the Jewish Torah? If we observe the context of what John has written throughout this book, I think we can determine exactly what he means:

  • 1 John 2:10: Whoever loves his brother abides in the light.

  • 1 John 3:10: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

  • 1 John 3:11: For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that you shouldlove one another.

  • 1 John 4:7: Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loveshas been born of God and knows God.

The common factor, is love, and not just love in itself, but love...for others. So, what are the commandments which born again Christians are to obey and keep? I believe it is the commandment which summarizes the entire law: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. And the beauty of it is this, as John says in verse 3, that His commandments are not burdensome.

Notice that John did not say that God’s commandments are not difficult; he said they are not burdensome. The reality is that loving other believers can be a headache at times – if you don’t believe me, just stay plugged into a local church long enough to understand. But those who are born of God have a desire and yearning to please the Father and do what He says.

David said in Psalm 40:8, “I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” Such is the attitude of the regenerate when it comes to God’s commandments. No longer are they an oppressive burden on our backs, but as Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

But for the person who is born of God, there is a reason why His commandments are not burdensome. There is a reason why loving others isn’t considered bondage. John says in verse 4 because, “Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.”

3. God’s Children Overcomes the World (v. 4-5)

Notice John’s language when he says that everyone who is born of God, “overcomes” the world. It’s present tense; signifying that this is an ongoing process with those who belong to God. But when John speaks of “the world,” what does he mean? He isn’t talking about the actual planet Earth. He isn’t talking about the inhabitants of the earth. What John is referring to is the spiritual system of evil; everything that opposes God, which is dominated by the ruler of this world, Satan.

In chapter 2:15-16, John says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.”

If we are children of God, we do not walk in the same pattern in which the world walks and make a practice of sinning. We do not follow every fleshly impulse from our carnal nature. We do not covet and lust over people or things which may entice our eyes. We are not haughty and we do not glory in ourselves and our possessions. Rather, we daily conquer these worldly cravings and temptations. By not loving the world, it causes us to effectively love one another, and do it, not as a burden or a chore, but as a joy.

But what causes God’s children to continually overcome the world? What is our victory in the daily battles against the world? We aren’t victorious because of our abilities. It’s not because of our willpower. John says in verses 4 and 5, “This is the victory which has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

The same subject which John began this passage with in verse 1, he now circles back to again. For those who have been born of God, their faith allows them to continue overcoming the world, because their faith is in the One who has already overcome the world. Jesus said in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

And how did He do this? How did Jesus overcome the world? It was through His death and resurrection, that beautiful truth we call the Gospel. Paul says in Colossians 2:15, it was at the cross where Christ “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them.” It was at the cross, where the One who knew no sin, became sin for us, and broke the curse which we were enslaved in. It was at the cross, where that promised offspring of the woman from Genesis 3 crushed Satan forever.

But by Christ’s resurrection from the grave, not only was He “declared to be the Son of God in power” as Romans 1:4 states, but it was also proof that victory belonged to Jesus. For those who have been born again, they can confidently proclaim the words of the old gospel song, “Victory is mine, victory today is mine...not because we told Satan anything, but because Jesus said, “It is finished!”

It’s in Jesus, that God’s children trust, not only as just the Messiah, but also as the eternal Son of God, who is glorified, who is exalted, who is sovereign, who was resurrected, and because He was victorious, those who have been born again are victorious as well.

Perhaps you’re here this morning, and this new birth seems foreign to you. Perhaps your thoughts are similar to those of Nicodemus when he said, “How can these things be?”Understand that newness of life is only found through Jesus. Apart from Him, there is no new birth. At the root of salvation, is belief, and that belief must be in Jesus Christ. Would you turn your eyes towards the Son of God, the true Savior of the world, and trust in Him, and Him alone, for salvation today?

1 Timothy 2:4 talks about how God not only desires for all people to turn to Him, but also that all will “come to knowledge of the truth.” In life, there are many things which we are uncertain of. We do not know what tomorrow may bring. We do not know where we’ll be years from now. But glory be to God that He does allow for us to know and have certainty of our salvation. How do we know if we have been born again? What is our blessed assurance? Faith that Jesus is the Christ...love for God and for each other...daily overcoming the world by walking in the light. If these things are true in our lives, then all praise be to God for the work which He started and will complete in us as His church.

Let’s pray.