1 John 5 (New Living Translation)
Faith in the Son of God
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God.
John has often mentioned being born of God (as in 1 John 2:29, 3:9, and 4:7). Here he tells us how one is born of God: whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ. This means believing that Jesus is my Messiah, not just the Messiah in the generic sense.
John’s great emphasis has been on love, but he never wants anyone to believe he earns salvation by loving others. We are born of God when we put our trust on Jesus and on His saving work in our lives.
We also understand that John was not talking about a mere intellectual assent to Jesus being Messiah (as even the demons might have, as described in James 2:19). Instead, he means a trust in and reliance on Jesus as Messiah.
Additionally, John makes it plain we must believe Jesus is the Christ. There are many, of a new-age sort of thinking, who believe Jesus had the “Christ-spirit” — as they claim also Confucius, Muhammad, Buddha and certain moderns did. But we would never say Jesus is one of several Christ figures — Jesus is the Christ.
And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. 2 We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. 3 Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.
When I was small I used to think that, if I wanted very much to do a thing, that thing was probably wrong. And if I didn’t want to do it, it was probably right.
That is not quite fair to God, for “his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3), not heavy and burdensome.
4 For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. 5 And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
6 And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross—not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with his testimony. 7 So we have these three witnesses—8 the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and all three agree. 9 Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son. 10 All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son.
11 And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.
Genesis 2:7 tells us that when God had formed the first man from the dust of the earth, he breathed into him the breath of life, and the man lived.
The psalmist says, “For with you is the fountain of life” (Psalm 36:9).
John says of Jesus, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4).
Peter, in speaking to the Jews of Jerusalem in the temple says, “You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead” (Acts 3:15).
Jesus himself said, “I am the resurrection and the life . . . and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).
To his enemies, Jesus said, “You refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:40).
God is the source of life. The alternative to communion with him is death.
–Dennis F. Kinlaw
13 I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.
John’s confidence is impressive. He wants us to know that we have eternal life. We can only know this if our salvation rests in Jesus and not in our own performance. If it depends on me, then on a good day I’m saved and on a bad day, I don’t really know. But if it depends on what Jesus has done for me, then I can know.
14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. 15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.
16 If you see a Christian brother or sister sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life.
When we see a brother or sister in sin, John tells us the first thing to do is to pray for that person. All too often, prayer is the last thing we do, or the smallest thing we do in regard to that person having a difficult time. Surely, we love each other best when we pray for each other.
from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers
HEEDFULNESS V. HYPOCRISY IN OURSELVES
If we are not heedful of the way the Spirit of God works in us, we will become spiritual hypocrites. We see where other folks are failing, and we turn our discernment into the gibe of criticism instead of into intercession on their behalf. The revelation is made to us not through the acuteness of our minds, but by the direct penetration of the Spirit of God, and if we are not heedful of the source of the revelation, we will become criticizing centres and forget that God says — ‘. . . he shall ask, and He shall give him life for them that sin not unto death.” Take care lest you play the hypocrite by spending all your time trying to get others right before you worship God yourself.
One of the subtlest burdens God ever puts on us as saints is this burden of discernment concerning other souls. He reveals things in order that we may take the burden of these souls before Him and form the mind of Christ about them, and as we intercede on His line, God says He will give us “life for them that sin not unto death.” It is not that we bring God into touch with our minds, but that we rouse ourselves until God is able to convey His mind to us about the one for whom we intercede.
Is Jesus Christ seeing the travail of his soul in us? He cannot unless we are so identified with Himself that we are roused up to get His view about the people for whom we pray. May we learn to intercede so whole-heartedly that Jesus Christ will be abundantly satisfied with us as intercessors.
But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it. 17 All wicked actions are sin, but not every sin leads to death.
18 We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. 19 We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.
20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.
This is eternal life, to know thee, the only true God,
and him whom thou hast sent, Jesus Christ.
21 Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.
We can only have a real relationship with the God who is really there! Idolatry, whether obvious (praying to a statue) or subtle (living for your career or someone other than God) will always choke out a real relationship with God, and damage our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Jesus. No wonder John ends with keep yourselves from idols; this is how we protect our relationship with God.
The End of 1 John
John Wesley’s brother, Charles, was a prolific hymn writer. One of my favorites from the Wesley collection is sung HERE by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir — “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.”
I hope you have enjoyed this week and the Scriptures that point over and over again to the LOVE of God that is so graciously given to us and that we can cheerfully share with others. If you have been particularly touched by anything from 1 John, please share it with us. Just hit Reply/Comment below! And next week we are back in the thick of the Old Testament, picking up with Hannah praying for a child in 1 Samuel.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
little girl pouting. http://gailbhyatt.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/pouting-little-girl-istock_000006840535xsmall5.jpg
First man Adam and Perfect man Christ. http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/files/2012/09/creating_adam.jpeg
Jesus and eternal life; artwork by Richard Judson Zolan. http://art-canyon.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/eternal-life.jpg