By This We Know Love
Grace Community Church
April 15, 2018
That You May Know You Have Eternal Life
1 John 5:6-10
Bertrand Russell was a well known philosopher and atheist. One of his best known works was an essay titled Why I Am Not A Christian. Someone once asked him what he would say to God if he found himself standing before him, he answered, “I probably would ask, ‘Sir, why did you not give me better evidence?’”
I suspect that what Russell, and many skeptics, are asking for is proof positive that God is real and that Jesus really is who he says he is. Prove it so irrefutably that it would be impossible not to believe. What Russell doesn’t understand is that God has not provided irrefutable proof of His existence on purpose. God wants us to come to Him by faith, so there must be an element of unseen and unproven to make room for faith.
But that’s not to say that God hasn’t provided good and compelling evidence. In these verses John uses the Greek word martus which means “testify” occur 10 times. It’s as though he is bringing us into the courtroom and presents the evidence God has given one witness at a time. The first witness John calls to the stand is…
The witness of Jesus’ baptism
6 This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood.
John makes a big deal out of water and blood. The word “water” appears four times in verses 6-8 and the word blood three times. Jesus’ ministry began when he was baptized by John the Baptist and as Jesus was being baptized the Holy Spirit descended on him and the Father’s voice spoke audibly, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” The Lord’s baptism involved the double witness of the Holy Spirit descending visibly on Jesus and the Father speaking audible words over him that have never been spoken over any other person in history before or since. The second witness called to the stand is..
The witness of the crucifixion
not by the water only but by the water and the blood.
As water refers to Jesus’ baptism, blood almost certainly refers to Jesus shedding his blood on the cross. Once again there is a unique witness that Jesus wasn’t just another guy dying. As he hung on the cross for our sins, darkness fell across the land for three hours, the curtain of the sanctuary was torn from top to bottom, there was an earthquake, and oddly Old Testament saints were raised from the dead and appeared to many as a first fruits of resurrection life. As a Roman centurion saw and experienced all these phenomenon’s and then heard Jesus’ last words he exclaimed, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
The witness of the Holy Spirit
And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify:8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. (6-8)
When Jesus walked the earth, he did mighty miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit. These miracles testified that Jesus was no mere man and Jesus said that when he left he would send the Spirit of truth to testify about him. The Holy Spirit’s great delight is to point to Jesus and glorify him and through the centuries that Spirit has continued to bear powerful witness to Jesus.
The testimony of the Father
If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. (vs. 9)
God has woven a strong and unique historical witness of His Son into the very fabric of human history. He wrote a book through dozens of authors coming from differing backgrounds, education, vocations, and locations, all woven together into a beautiful story of redemption. That book is the Bible; into that story God inserted supernatural prophecies about the future that were so detailed and specific that the odds of them coming to pass are staggeringly improbable to the point of being impossible. For instance there are over 300 OT prophecies about Jesus and the odds of all of them coming to pass in one man is virtually impossible. The Pasadena City College in California sponsored a study in Christian evidences in which they took 12 different classes of college students, representing more than 600 students, and had them examine the odds of just 8 OT prophecies about Jesus being fulfilled:
His being born in Bethlehem
A prominent forerunner hitting the scene to prepare his way (John the Baptist)
His riding a donkey as a king into Jerusalem
His being betrayed by a friend
His being betrayed for 30 pieces of silver
The 30 pieces of silver cast down in the house of the Lord and used to pay for a potter’s field.
Jesus’ silence at his trial, like a lamb at the slaughter
His hands and feet being pierced in crucifixion
The odds they calculated after discussing at length the variables and various conditions that might affect the probability of any man fulfilling these conditions and came up with the probability of these 8 things happening with one man at 1 in 10 to the 17th power. Your odds of hitting the Powerball are just about 1 in 10 to the 8th power. Your odds of hitting the Powerball Lottery and the Mega Millions lottery are 1 in 10 to the 15th power or one in a quadrillion which is still a lot better than the one in one hundred quadrillion odds of Jesus fulfilling just these eight prophecies.
After inspiring incredibly specific prophecies about Jesus, God then testified that Jesus is His Son in so many ways, from the audible voice at Jesus’ baptism to His voice speaking again on the mount of transfiguration to the crucifixion to the resurrection. Then the disciples, empowered by the Holy Spirit, turned the world upside down with the message of the resurrected Christ. No other figure in history compares to Jesus and no other figure in history has the unique testimony of God so powerfully backing him up.
The testimony within our hearts
Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. Vs 10
The Christian has an inner witness where we know that Jesus is the Lord and Savior and that we belong to God. The Spirit testifies to our hearts that we have been adopted by God and we cry out “abba, Father!” Daddy, God.
Do any of these conclusively prove that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior? No. They aren’t meant to. Taken together, the historical witness of Jesus Christ is unlike any other figure in history but God wants us to come to Him by faith so He has chosen to give us evidence and not proof.
God wants His children to be confident and secure
John goes on to say that this testimony declares something that no other person can claim: eternal life is only found in Jesus Christ. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Whoever has the Son has eternal life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have eternal life. Jesus is the determining factor between those who are lost forever and those who live forever. For those trusting in Christ, we can be confident of our salvation. In the closing verses of this letter, John focuses on what we know is true by faith in Jesus Christ. God our Father doesn’t want us living in uncertainty or dread, He wants us to be confident and secure about our salvation.
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.
God doesn’t want us to fear, or wonder, or doubt we have eternal life, He wants us to know. No loving father wants their child to live in a place of uncertainty and insecurity about their relationship with their father or about his love for them. Jesus told his disciples, “don’t fear, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” If there are the evidences of the new birth in our lives that John has laid out we can know that we have eternal life. We can know. This conveys eternal security. We can only know that we have eternal life, if we have It and it can’t be taken away from us. If it can be taken away from us, or we can lose it, then we really can’t know, can we?
I am embarrassed to admit it, but I got an email from the Publisher’s House Sweepstakes urging me to enter for a $7000 a week for life prize. I thought, hmmm, why not fill it out? If I win, we can give generously to the work of God (see the noble motivation there?). So I filled it out. And of course they have you scroll through tons of junk they want you to buy, but I didn’t order anything and hit “enter”.
Then the urgent emails began: you need to take one more step or you forfeit your eligibility for the prize. I would take that step only to get another email saying, one more step needed. I finally took a screenshot of the umpteenth “only one step remains” email. I took that one step, and guess what? Two days later I got another email saying “just one step remains…” I took a screenshot of it. Yesterday I got an email saying my prize number is pending. Pending? It should be engraved in stone by now. This morning I got an alert. Always just one more step. Or lose it all.
The Bible teaches us that salvation is through faith in Christ. And there aren’t fifty “one more steps” we need to take or risk forfeiting salvation. God wants us to know. He wants us to be confident and secure that we belong to Him and He ain’t letting go! And that confidence then spreads out in other areas of our lives:
Confidence in prayer
14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
We can know that God hears us and answers prayer. It’s according to His will, so some prayers will be answered “no” but the answer will always be what’s best for us. God loves to answer our prayers. George Mueller said, “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance. It is laying hold of His willingness”
There is one very hard to understand exception that John introduces in vv. 16-17:
16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God[a] will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.
The original readers must have understood what he meant, but scholars have tried to figure it out for centuries. What is a sin not leading to death, and what is a sin leading to death? And how do we know?
Some think that it means there are sins so serious that God will take the believer’s life. Annanias and Sapphira or the Corinthians who were dying prematurely because they were taking communion unworthily are examples they point to. Difficulty is: how do we know?
Others think it refers to believer to apostasize. Who, like the teachers that John is dealing with, have gone so far from Christ there’s no return.
I like John Piper’s take on this: the sin that leads to death is any sin that cannot be confessed and repented of. John writes in 1 John 1:9 that if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. He doesn’t place limits on this – if we confess our sins. As Piper says, it’s a “very sweeping and glorious and wonderful and precious promise.”
But there are cases in the Bible, such as Esau, and reprobates, and those who commit the unforgivable sin who cannot repent, cannot confess, cannot find forgiveness. Not because they committed one sin so dark it can’t be forgiven, but they have chosen a direction of sin so deep and persistent that they cross a line from which they cannot and will not ever return. Piper writes: It’s not a particular sin, like some particular ugly act, but a particular depth or degree or aggravation or persistence in sin to the point where authentic confession and repentance have become impossible.1
I’m not sure we can ever know for sure when someone has gone to that length unless they are so far into apostasy and rejection of Christ that it’s clear there’s no coming back. John doesn’t forbid us to pray for such a one, he just says it’s pointless. More could be said, but time doesn’t permit.
Confidence that we are protected by Christ
18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. 19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
We don’t need to worry about the devil destroying our lives. Jesus protects us. He may kill us, but Jesus says that ain’t no big deal. Because we will live forever. So we live confident that it is well with my soul.
Confident that we know the truth
20 And we know 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, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
Jesus didn’t claim just to teach truth, he claimed to be the Truth and the Way and the Life and as we walk with him, we become more and more confident that he is true, that he is the true God, and he is eternal life.
21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
This is John’s last encouragement to these believers that he cares so much about to keep God first and not let anything else take the place of God. That’s what an idol it. An idol can even be a good thing that we try to make into a god thing. We keep ourselves from idols by keeping God first. Be confident in God’s love, be confident you have eternal life, and live keeping God first. Simple, but very good counsel for our souls. Let’s close this time in this great letter by asking God to help us live that way.