Sunday, July 23, 2017

The confidence of fellowship, 1 John 5:13-17



We are coming to the close of the epistle of 1 John.  We will more than likely finish it next Sunday, Lord willing.  I came into this epistle with naive expectations that we would spend a short study in it, and then we would begin the gospel of Mark as we started out the summer season.  Turns out God had other plans. This is the seventeenth message in 1 John, with one more to go. This little epistle has taught me much concerning the life of a Christian, particularly in regards to what is Christian fellowship. There have been a number of interpretational challenges, as there is yet again today, but I believe God helped us navigate through them, and I for one, am the better for it.

 If you have been with us during this summer, you will know that I consider fellowship to be the theme of 1 John.  And fellowship with God can only be possible if you have been born again into eternal life. Eternal life is inseparable from fellowship with God.  Now, as I indicated last week, eternal life does not just refer to the longevity of life, but the quality of life.  That which is spiritual is eternal by definition, thus we have to be born again by the Spirit of God, in order to become spiritual, because in our natural state, we are dead spiritually. That is due to the curse of sin from the Garden of Eden, when man ate of the tree, and as God said, they surely died.  Adam and Eve died spiritually.  And as descendants of Adam, all have sinned according to our nature and are spiritually dead.  But once having received eternal life, we have fellowship with the Spirit who abides in us, and as such we now have eternal life in Christ.

Their is another aspect of the phrase eternal life, and that’s the word used for life; zoe in the original Greek.  In Greek there are three words used for life.  There is bios, from which we get the word biology.  It refers to the physical body.  Then there is psuche, from which we get the word psychology.  It refers to the soul, or the mind, emotions and will of man.  Sometimes it is also called the heart.  Heart and soul are interchangeable.  And then there is zoe, which refers to the zest of life, a life of special vitality or animation.  And that word zoe is what the apostles use to speak of spiritual life.  This is the life animated by God, the divine life that is eternal, abundant, and is the source of our fellowship with God.  Without zoe life, we cannot have fellowship with God.  

And by the way, eternal life does not begin when we get to heaven one day.  Eternal life begins at salvation.  Your life in Christ will never end.  Jesus said in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”  When He said I am the life, He used the word zoe.  We receive the life of Christ, divine life, which is eternal life, the moment we believe in Christ. That zoe life is the full life, abundant life of fellowship with God when we abide in Him and He in us.  As Jesus affirmed in John 10:10, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  He’s not talking about physical prosperity, but about the full divine, spiritual life in Christ that results in fellowship with God.

Now John speaks to this indispensable principle of fellowship in vs.13.  We talked about this verse some last time, but we need to look at it again this week to keep  the following verses in context.  Note vs.13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Since the very first chapter, John has been concerned that we know that we have real fellowship with God.  He is concerned that we know we have eternal life.  The word "know" appears 39 times in this epistle and seven times in these last verses. This whole epistle is about knowing you have fellowship with God for certain. 

And last time we showed that the way you know you have the eternal zoe life of God, that you have fellowship with God, is through the word of God.  The promises of God are our guarantee, the confidence of our salvation, and our confidence of  fellowship with Him.  We don’t trust in feelings, we don’t trust in experiences, though those things may be significant.  But we trust in the word of God.  And that is why John says that these things have been written down for us, that we might know for certain that we have fellowship with God.  The apostle’s doctrines which are written are scripture, which is inspired by the Spirit of God, that we may know the things of God.

Now John tells us in vs 14 that there is another proof, or evidence, that we have this fellowship, this zoe life of God abiding in us.  And that evidence is answered prayer.  Answered prayer is one of the most satisfying evidences of your fellowship with God.  Sometimes they are major things we have been praying for, and God answers them.  And sometimes there are small things we pray for, and God answers them.  But whether they are big or small, answered prayer is one of the best confirmations of our fellowship with God, and one of the most tangible evidences that we share the zoe life of Christ. 

But if the truth be known, answered prayer is an evidence which is sometimes lacking in our lives, is it not?  We pray for things, we try to muster up faith that God will answer it, and then oftentimes He doesn’t seem to answer.  And rather than encouraging our faith, it sometimes works to discourage us.  

However John seems to give us this blank check that if we ask, we will receive what we ask for.  But in actuality, it’s important to give full consideration to these verses if we hope to see this evidence of our life with Christ. Let’s look at the verses 14 and 15; “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”

Now let’s break this verse down.  First of all, I want you to notice that we are to pray confidently.  Now confidence is not presumption.  Confidence is not arrogance.  Confidence is not commanding God to do whatever we ask.  If that were so, then we should worship ourselves, rather than worship God.  If He exists to do our bidding, then He isn’t a God, He is a genie, and if we rub Aladdin’s lamp just so, and say the words just the right way, then abracadabra, God is at our service, and we get our wish!

No, that is not the God of the Bible.  But we are told to be confident. We have that confidence because of our relationship to God through Christ who is our Great High Priest.  Consider what 
Hebrews 4:14-16 says, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

This kind of confidence arises from the knowledge of two fundamental principles of prayer, which John gives us here: the certainty of hearing, and the certainty of having. Notice both of these elements: "If we ask anything according to his will, we know that he hears us." Now also notice that there is a caveat; according to His will.  Perhaps the major reason for most of the unanswered prayers of the world is they are not according to God's will, and therefore they are not heard. John makes it explicitly clear that a prayer that is according to God's will is always heard. Thus he dismisses all those concepts of prayer which imply that prayer is a means of getting God to do our will. Prayer is never that.

In fact, James makes it clear that prayer offered on the wrong terms, according to our will rather than God’s, will not be answered.  Look at James 4:2,3; “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”  The idea there is that you pray for things based on worldly lusts.  

Jesus said in John 14:14  "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”  That is the basis for the traditional ending to most of our prayers.  “We ask these things in Jesus’ name, Amen.”  That however, is not what Jesus intended.  To ask in His name is not simply to tack on Jesus’ name at the end of our prayer, but to ask according to Him, according to His nature, His character.  And we know that Jesus was the visible image of the invisible God.  He did everything which the Father was doing.  Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.”  So to ask in His name is to ask according to His will.  It means the same thing.  So when we ask according to His will, John says He hears us.  Or perhaps better, He listens to us. 

Now that is all that John explicitly says about prayer.  That is the only condition he seems to put upon it; that we ask in accordance with God’s will.  But that still leaves a lot of questions unanswered.  The Bible has much to say about prayer.  And if you go through the Old and New Testaments, you will find a lot of principles that apply to effective prayer.  But what John seems to be presuming to be understood, is that this effective prayer he is talking about happens as a result of true fellowship with God.  When you are in fellowship with God, abiding in Him, He abiding in you, His word abiding in you, and you abiding in obedience to His commandments, when all that encompasses true fellowship is in effect, then you will ask according to His will and He will do it.  

Now if you are living outside of His will, then that would mean you are living in sin, wouldn’t it?  If you sin, John says in chapter 1, then you don’t have fellowship with God.  Sin breaks fellowship with God.  As a Christian, sin will not make you lose your salvation, but it will disrupt your fellowship with God.  1John 1:6 “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”  So the answer to unconfessed sin is to confess it, and be cleansed of it, so that we can have restored fellowship with God.  But in an unconfessed state of sin, then we can expect not to have our prayers answered.  David said in Psalm 66:18, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” 

In fact, let me expand on that principle in a positive light.  After years of reading James 5 regarding what James calls “effective prayer”, I finally saw the connection.  James 5:16b, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”  It finally dawned on me one day that the secret to effective prayer is a “righteous man.”  A man that does not regard iniquity in his heart.  So James says in the same verse, “confess your sins one to another and pray for one another that you may be healed.”  He isn’t talking about being healed from physical illness, but from a spiritual illness.  Sin being an illness that besets the zoe life and disrupts the fellowship we have with God. So confessing our sins makes us whole again, restoring our full fellowship with God.  That whole fellowship is the secret to answered prayer.

Now John is going to give us an illustration that will help to explain this principle of how God answers the prayer of those in fellowship with Him.  And I will admit, that I wish John had come up with a different illustration.  John has a way of making something simple sound confusing.  But nevertheless, it is for our own good to be challenged by this type of illustration.  It forces us to consider scripture in light of scripture.  But I will say that the following verses have been the source of many a debate, and not a few false doctrines.  Now I don’t claim to be smarter than everyone else. But after much pray and consideration I think I know what John is saying here. I guess that God is showing that not many wise, not many noble are called, but God has chosen the foolish things to shame the wise.  So in that vein, let me try to explain John’s illustration.  First let’s read the word; vs.16-17 “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.”

Now as I alluded to while ago, there have been a lot of interpretations of these verses for centuries among theologians.  And there have also been some false teachings that have arisen out of these verses.  Some have tried to say this teaches that you can lose your salvation, or that you can somehow commit a sin which is not forgivable.  Well, in consideration of time, I cannot address every false teaching here today.  I will say, however, that you cannot lose what you have not acquired.  Christ purchased your salvation, and God granted it to you on the basis of faith in Christ.  It is eternal life that you received by grace.  Not eternal, then whoops, you lost it!  Eternal or better yet, everlasting life is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. 

Remember the verse I quoted Jesus saying a few minutes ago? “He who believes on Me will never die.”  There is an overwhelming  preponderance of scripture which we don’t have time to review this morning which support the eternal nature of our new birth, and it would be foolish to suggest a doctrine on the basis of this one passage which might seem on the surface contrary to other scriptures which so clearly teach the perseverance and eternal security of the saints.  

Throughout all of John’s epistle, he has been contrasting the true life of fellowship with that which is not in fellowship.  He has contrasted the walk in the Light, with the walk in darkness.  He has contrasted being born again, with being dead in your sins.  Now in this passage, he is affirming the eternal life that comes in response to our faith.  And he has shown multiple evidences of our faith; such as love, fellowship, keeping the commandments, and answered prayers.  So in that context, the same contrast of spiritual life vs spiritual death is being shown here.  

The life which is in fellowship with God, loves His brother in Christ.  John has emphasized that again and again.  So John says when we that are in fellowship with God see a brother who has sinned a sin not leading unto death, he shall ask and god will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death.  First of all then, we know that this is a fellow believer.  He is saved.  He has been born again.  But he has sinned.  However the sin is not unto death.  Now what does that mean? 

Well, Romans 6:23 has the answer.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  So then, God has placed on Jesus the penalty of our sin, and He crucified Christ, putting Him to death for our sin, and transferred the life-giving righteousness of Christ to us, even eternal life. The believer cannot sin unto death, since he has been made spiritually, eternally alive.  So there is a sin for the believer which is not unto spiritual death.  That is the plain and simple meaning.  Christ has already died for their sin.  To punish that sin by death again would be double jeopardy.  And God is not an unjust judge.  

But nevertheless, we know that God’s will is that we do not sin.  And sin breaks our fellowship with God, and it carries with it the consequences of sin which can affect our mortal bodies.  So as a loving brother in Christ, we pray for our sinning brother, that he might be forgiven, and that he might be restored to life, that is restored to the full fellowship with God that we are designed to have.  

Now the interesting thing John is saying is that we can pray for this brother, for their restoration and God will do it.  John is giving this as an illustration of praying according to the will of God.  And if you remember that verse from James I quoted a few minutes ago, you will see that James said virtually the same thing.  He says, “Confess your sins one to another, and pray for one another that you may be healed, (spiritual healing).  The word translated healed also can mean making whole.  He goes on to say in James 5:15,  “and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”  And then James adds, that the effective prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much.  

Now that’s a tremendous principle incorporating loving one another and answered prayer.  And it’s a tremendous example of praying in accordance to the will of God.  God’s desire is that we have fellowship with Him, and that we abide in Him, and He is us, and that we keep His commandments and that we love one another.  And we are able to help one another and express our love for one another as we pray for each other that God will restore our erring brother. 

Understanding that side of the equation then should make it easier to understand the other side of the equation.  And John expresses that as follows; “There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.”  What is this sin leading to death?  Should we live in fear that somehow we could fall into this sin which plunges us to eternal death, which is unforgivable?  No, not at all.  If the brother who sins a sin not leading to death is saved because he has received the gift of salvation on the basis of faith in Christ’s atonement, then what is the contrast to that?  It’s the one who is not a believer.  The one who has not believed unto salvation is one whose sin leads to death.  He is still dead in his trespasses and sin.  

So if you see this unsaved person leading a sinful life, John is not suggesting that we pray an intercessory prayer for such a person that they might be restored to fellowship.  God will not restore someone to fellowship who has not first been born again spiritually having received eternal life.  We are not told not to pray for their restoration, but obviously we should pray for such a person’s salvation.  We should pray that God will bring them under the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  But we cannot pray for their fellowship, because fellowship must be predicated on a relationship with Jesus Christ as our Savior.

Now John is writing to believers.  He has just said he wants to affirm their faith, so that they may have confidence of eternal life, and confidence of answered prayers as a further evidence that they have fellowship with God.  And so he doesn’t want to end on emphasizing the life of an unbeliever, but the life of a believer.  So John says in vs.17, “All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.”  Sin is unfortunately a reality in the life of a believer.  It should become less and less frequent, as we are conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, and as we grow in maturity and faith in the process the Bible calls sanctification.  We learn to mortify the flesh.  We become more like Christ as we draw closer to Him and walk with Him. 

But as John said in chapter 1 vs. 10, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”  So sin is going to happen occasionally in the life of a believer.  But it is not a sin unto death.  There is no death Jesus said for a believer.  He has died in our place that we might have life.  But when we sin as Christians, we hurt our fellowship with God, we get a guilty conscience, we hurt our testimony, and we hurt the cause of Christ.  So in 1John 1:9 he gives us the antidote; “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Well, I hope that you know as John has written, that you have the eternal life which is given on the basis of faith in Christ. If you don’t know you have eternal life, then the invitation to be born again spiritually is extended to you today.  Christ has paid the penalty for your sins.  If you reject Him as your Lord and Savior, then you today are dead in your sins.  You will one day be subjected to eternal death for your decision to reject the truth of God.  But if you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness and give you eternal life.  Simply call on Jesus to save you today.


For those of you that are saved in the audience.  I trust that you have the confidence of your salvation.  I hope that you have the confidence to pray according to the will of God.  And I hope that you will pray for one another, especially those that are struggling in sin, that they might be restored to the life of fellowship we were designed to live.  That their joy and ours might be full.  Let us pray.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The testimony of fellowship, 1 John 5:6-13



If you have been following along with us in our study of 1 John, then you know that the theme of John’s epistle is that of fellowship.  Fellowship means communion and union with God and with His people. John uses a number of different words or phrases which all speak of fellowship.  For instance, he talks about abiding.  That is fellowship.  He talks about walking with God.  That is fellowship. He talks about loving God.  Love is the epitome of fellowship.  So as I have said repeatedly, John is teaching that fellowship is the goal of our salvation.  It is the means by which we have life and have it more abundantly.  

Now John has been showing through various tests and proofs how we can know that we have fellowship with God.  He started off in the book saying, “if we say we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  And John builds on those type of arguments throughout the book, all of which we have expounded upon in previous messages.  You can review them on our website, if you like.  

But now we come to the last chapter, and John is wrapping up this letter. And he is still talking about fellowship.  He may not have used that word specifically in a while, but the principle is still the prevalent theme.  And as John wraps up this epistle, he states that he wants us to know, beyond any doubt,  that we have fellowship with God.

Notice, if you will, vs 13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Now when John says eternal life, he is not just talking about life in terms of longevity, but he talking about life in terms of classification.  He is talking about our new life in Christ, our life with Christ, and the fellowship which we have.  Through Christ we have spiritual life.  We have the Spirit living in us, who has given new birth to our spirit, making it possible for us to have fellowship with God and with His body.

So the goal in these last verses is that we might absolutely be sure that we have that life, and it is only possible, John says, if you have believed in the name of the Son of God.  As he said in vs 1 of this chapter, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.”  Being born again is how we are made spiritual, how we are made righteous, and how we can have this eternal, spiritual life and fellowship with God.  There is no other way.  Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3, “You must be born again.”  You have to be reborn spiritually by the Holy Spirit if you are to have fellowship with God and receive eternal life.  That is how you overcome your carnal nature  which is the predicament of all who live in this fallen world.  

In vs 5, John says that we overcome the world by belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And yet John and the other apostles do not ask us to have just some sort of blind faith.  But they are giving us personal, eyewitness testimony to the things they saw and heard.  There was a law of Moses which required that every fact had to be confirmed by two or three witnesses.  We still use that principle today in our court proceedings.  And so John wants to confirm our faith by offering three witnesses to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, and the Son of God. 

In vs.6, speaking of Jesus, John says, “This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify:  the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.” 

Now this particular passage has been debated among theologians since the days of Augustine. It is a difficult passage to understand. And there is little agreement among even conservative, evangelical commentators. Now I’m not smart enough  to debate those guys, and try to set the record straight on all the nuances and the variations in the original Greek text vs the Latin text and so forth.  But what I can tell you is what the plain meaning seems to indicate.  John is clearly setting forth three witnesses to the Messiahship and the divinity of Jesus Christ.  That much we know for sure.  And he is saying, that whatever these three witnesses are, or symbolize, they are in agreement.  That means the facts of Jesus life are established, they are testified by these three witnesses.

Now since we know that to be John’s intention, let’s examine each of these three witnesses and see if we can understand what they have to say about the Lord Jesus.  The first witness John puts up to affirm that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God is the water.  Now as I said, there is a lot of speculation about what this may be referring to.  But remember, we are expecting a testimony that Jesus is the Messiah the Son of God.  And when we consider all the various suggestions theologians have made concerning what water symbolizes, I would have to say that the only one which makes sense in this context is the water of baptism.  We are expecting this water to confirm Jesus’s ministry as the Messiah, and that He is the Son of God.  

Now that was confirmed at Jesus’s baptism, was it not?  Baptism was the inauguration of Jesus’s ministry here on earth.  And if you turn over to Matt. 3:16-17 we read, “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

There can be no clearer witness than at His baptism that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, and the Son of God.  God Himself spoke from heaven and said "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”  Additionally, the Holy Spirit descended from heaven in the form of a  dove and lighted upon Him.  So you have the testimony of God the Father and the Holy Spirit in the baptism of Jesus Christ.  Also, you have the testimony of John the Baptist who said “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”  So three witnesses, three testimonies, in this first witness of John which is the water of baptism.

The second witness John presents is that of blood.  Again, what is the expected testimony of this witness?  That Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.  And when we see blood mentioned in scripture, it is almost always a picture of the death of Jesus.  If the water was the inauguration of Jesus’s ministry, then the blood is the consummation of His ministry.  On the cross, Jesus lifted up His voice and cried out, “It is finished!”  He completed His ministry by dying on the cross for the sins of the world.  The prophecy of Isaiah concerning  the Messiah was that He would save His people from their sins. For instance, in Isaiah 53 there is the famous prophecy which talks about not only the Messiah saving His people, but the suffering and sacrifice that had to take place through Him for the forgiveness of our sins. And  the New Testament speaks often of the blood which is necessary for salvation.  Heb. 9:22 says  “And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”

Now let’s consider how that bloody sacrifice elicited testimony that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.  Well, though it was meant as sarcasm, there was the testimony of Pilate and the soldiers who called Him the King of the Jews, the Christ.  They even made a sign to that effect and nailed it on the cross above Him.  They made a crown of thorns and put on Him a purple robe.  But that was sarcasm, and little did they realize they were crucifying the Son of God.

But a better testimony was the earthquake.  That shook things up and got their attention.  Then darkness settled over the land for three hours.  Imagine that; an eclipse in the middle of the day, just when Jesus is being crucified.  Certainly the heavens declared that the Creator was hanging on that cross.  Then the veil in the temple was rent in two, from top to bottom.  Another supernatural event that testified that a new way had been made into the Holy of Holies.  

But there was a third testimony in this second witness of His bloody death, and that was the witness of the thief on the cross. He looked over at the other thief who was hanging there and hurling insults at the Lord, and this repentant thief said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!”  In that statement, he recognized and confessed that Jesus was sinless, and that He was the promised Messiah who would come again to take His kingdom.  And that sinner was born again in that moment, so that he would receive the life of Christ, as Jesus promised him, “today you will be with Me in Paradise.” 

Now there are more testimonies we could present from the witness of blood, but time will not allow it.  However, notice that John emphasizes the preeminence of blood in vs 6, saying “not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood.”  The point being that baptism is not the means of salvation, but a testimony of our sanctification.  It symbolizes being set apart, it represents dying to the world.  But the blood indicates our justification.  His blood speaks on our behalf at the judgment seat of God.  Our punishment for our sins has been paid for by Christ’s death. We are made righteous by His blood.  Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.  Water washes the outside, but blood cleanses the inside.  So our testimony of fellowship is not based on a superficial cleansing, but an inward purification through which we are made righteous before God, and having our sins transferred to Christ, His righteousness is transferred to us, so that we may be made righteous in Him.  2Cor. 5:21  [God] made [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  So not only the water, but the blood is necessary.

Let’s look now at the third witness that John presents; the Holy Spirit.  “It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.” If the water represented the inauguration of Jesus’s ministry, and the blood represented the consummation, then the Spirit is the validation of His ministry.  So how does the Spirit validate or give testimony that this was the Christ, the Son of God?  Well, one we have already mentioned.  At His baptism the Spirit of God descended and lighted upon Jesus in the form of a dove. So that’s one, and the next closely follows it.  

After His baptism, John says He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when the forty days of temptation were finished, when Jesus had overcome all the temptations, Luke 4:14 says that Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Holy Spirit, and He began to preach the gospel.  And Jesus stood up to preach in His home town saying, “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”  

Listen, I want you to understand something.  Jesus’s miracles were a testimony of the Holy Spirit, but of no greater import than  His preaching.  The Spirit of God anointed Him to preach the gospel. Jesus said in John 6:63, “the words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and are life.” Miracles were just illustrations of the gospel.  But the life giving gospel is proclaimed by preaching, and preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit. And the same is true today.  In 1 Cor. 1:18 Paul declares that it is by the foolishness of preaching that men are saved by the power of God.  

And let me emphasize in vs 6, John says that it is because the Spirit is the truth.  Jesus said that the truth would set you free.  So it was evident when those held captive by sin were released, as Jesus preached, that it was by the Spirit of God.  

A third testimony of the Spirit of God that we might mention, is that of Pentecost.  Pentecost was evidence or testimony that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.  That though the Jews had crucified Him, He had risen from the dead, He was seated at the right hand of the Father, and as He had promised, He sent the Comforter to help them proclaim the gospel.  The many different nationalities that were assembled there for the feast in Jerusalem all heard the gospel presented in their own language.  And again, the testimony of the Holy Spirit was the message that was preached, proclaiming that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. In Acts 2:32-33, 36 Peter says "This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.  "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. ...  "Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now this testimony of the Holy Spirit is the testimony of God Himself.  And John says that this testimony is the greatest testimony of all.  He says in vs.9 “If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son.”  In other words, John is saying that if we so readily accept the testimony of men, whether they be professors, or scientists or religious leaders or philosophers, how much more should we consider the testimony of God as true?  John already told us in vs.6 that the Spirit of God is truth.  

And there are two ways in which he says we can know that truth through the Spirit of God.  One is the testimony in ourselves, if we are truly born of God and have the Spirit of God dwelling in us.  He says in vs.10, “The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son.”  So there are two sides to this issue.  The first is the one who has believed, he has the testimony of the Spirit in himself.  

Paul speaks to that principle in Romans 8:16 “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.”  How does that work, you might ask?  How can we recognize the Spirit testifying with our spirit that we are the children of God?  Well, it’s as I alluded to earlier. You now are a new creation, having new life. Before you did not have an appetite for spiritual things.  Now that you have believed, you have a change of heart, a change of desires.  You have a hunger for the word of God.  You have a desire for being with the people of God.  And you have a desire to do the will of God.  That is the evidence that John has been speaking of all along.  If you love God, if you say you have fellowship with God, then you will keep His commandments.  You will love one another.  There will be a transformation on the inside that will work its way outside in your behavior.  There is an internal witness of the Spirit in you.

On the other hand, the one who denies the conviction of the Holy Spirit upon his life, and denies that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, that same person John says in effect is calling God a liar.  Because he doesn’t believe the testimony that God has given concerning His Son.  Some of you here today may fall into that category.  You have rejected Christ as your Messiah, as your Savior, as your Lord.  And perhaps you think that is a harmless decision, a purely intellectual matter.  But John says it is tantamount to calling God a liar to His face.  The evidence and witness that God has provided is more than enough to hold you accountable, and make you culpable of the most grievous of sins.  As Romans 1:19-21 declares;  “because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” Just looking at the expanse of the ocean before you today, teeming with life, is evidence of God.  Just observing the heavens and the sun’s movement through the skies, and the clouds and birds and so forth, is evidence of the eternal attributes of God, which cannot be denied.

Now there is one more important way in which the Spirit of God bears testimony that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.  And again we go back to vs6 for an indication of what this is.  John says, “the Spirit is the truth.”  Well, what should we consider truth?  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  So Jesus is the truth, and in John 15:26 we read that Jesus said I will send the Spirit of Truth.  So the Holy Spirit speaks the words that Christ spoke.  He teaches us the truth of the gospel.  And in Jesus’s high priestly prayer in John 17:17, Jesus said in prayer to God; ““Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”  

Ah, so the word of God is the truth of God, written down for us, that it might be the ultimate testimony of God to the truth of Jesus Christ.  And so we read in vs 11-13 “ And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

So the testimony of God, John says, is what he has written to us, that we may know we have eternal life and that this life is in HIs Son.  That is the gospel in a nutshell.  That is the message of the Word of God condensed into one paragraph. The word of God  is the best evidence we have that we have fellowship with God, that we have the life of God abiding in us and we in Him.  The word of God confirms His promises.  The word of God probes deep into our hearts to quicken us, to plant the seed of truth in us, to cause new life to spring up in us.  The word of God is the means by which God communicates with us.  How we can know what God desires, how we can know how to please God.  It is His covenant with us that cannot be broken.  It is HIs manifesto of love for the lost world, and the blueprint for how we can be reconciled to God.  

And the word of God is authored by the Holy Spirit.  Peter said in 2Pet. 1:21 “for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”  And Paul is another witness to the inspiration of scripture in 2Tim. 3:16-17 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;  so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

A third testimony of scripture is Heb. 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  It is the word of God, working in our spirit, and is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword.  

Listen, you want assurance of your salvation? It is found in the word of God.  You want fellowship with God?  its found in HIs Word.  You want to know how to please God? God has declared it in HIs word.  You want freedom from sin, and the captivity that comes with sin?  It’s found in His word.  Psalm 119:11 “Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

This is the means by which we assure our hearts before God.  This is the way we can know that we have fellowship with God which can never be severed. John says, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

I hope and pray that you do not leave here today without that sure knowledge that if you died today, you would go to be with the Lord.  I pray no one here today rejects the testimony of God concerning His Son.  He came that we might have life, even eternal life.  Spiritual life.  A righteous life in and through Jesus Christ.  That we might have the abiding presence of the Spirit of Truth to lead us and guide us into all truth, and that the truth would make us free.  If you don’t know that kind of assurance today, then I hope you will come up after the last song and let me explain to you how you can know the joy of salvation; of having your sins forgiven, of having fellowship with God, and having eternal life through Jesus Christ.  



Sunday, July 9, 2017

The faith of fellowship, 1 John 5:1-5



My kids are some of my greatest critics.  If you have kids, then you know what I mean.  Especially now that they are older, they have heard all my old stories again and again.  And so now days, they never fail to let me know when I am repeating myself.  We are usually driving in the car or something like that,  having some sort of a discussion, and I start to launch into this story which I think illustrates the point, and they say something like, “Dad, you’ve told us this story before.”  And I say, “I have?” with this real disappointed tone to my voice.  And they say, “Yes, several times already.”  And of course I’m crestfallen.  But not always.  Sometimes, if I feel really indignant about the subject, I’ll tell them I’m going to tell it again anyway, because you need to hear it again.  After all, repetition, it is said, is the mother of all learning.  Or, as the famous pirate quote goes, “The beatings will continue until  the morale improves.”  I like that one.  So today some things may seem a bit repetitious, but its for your own good.

Now John is probably an old man when he is writing this epistle.  And if you have been following along in our studies, then you will realize that also John has a tendency to repeat himself.  But actually, John is deliberately repeating certain things over and over again. It’s part of his strategy.  His teaching style is to cycle back over certain truths again and again, but if you will notice, each time he seems to add a new nuance, or a new perspective to each cycle, so that you learn more and more as you go through this book about these essential doctrines.

The primary principle that I believe John is presenting in this book is that of Christian fellowship.  Fellowship is the goal of the Christian experience.  Fellowship with God, and fellowship with Christ’s body, which is the church.  Fellowship is the source of life, it’s the source of strength, it’s the source of love, and it’s the design of God for this new life in Christ.  

Today in our study, we are going to hear John bring up many of the same themes regarding fellowship that he has talked about before many times.  He talks about loving God, loving one another and keeping the commandments.  All of which are essential to  fellowship.  But in today’s message as he cycles back through these now familiar topics, he adds another dimension that has not been fleshed out to the degree we see here in this text.  And that new aspect of fellowship that he presents is faith.  So I’ve titled today’s message The Faith of Fellowship.  And as we examine this text, we are going to look at three aspects of faith, which are essential to our fellowship.  First we see the family of faith, then the fidelity of faith, and finally the triumph of faith.

Let’s look first then at the family of faith. John says in vs 1, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.”  The ultimate fellowship that man can have is to have fellowship with God.  But Jesus said that God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.  The problem, according to the scriptures, is men and women are not alive spiritually.  We are dead spiritually.  We have a sin nature inherited from our forefathers, traceable back to Adam and Eve in the garden.  When they sinned against the word of God the punishment for that sin was that they would die, and their spirit died immediately.  Their body took a few years longer.  Sin brought about death, first spiritual, then physical.  And Adam passed on that sin nature to every human being born on this planet.  As a result, Romans 3:23 says, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

But God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross to pay the penalty of our sins, that we might be restored and reconciled to God.  Thus John says that those who believe that Jesus is the Christ, that is the promised Messiah, our Savior, then that person is born of God.  That means that we who have faith in Christ have been born again, spiritually.  We now are now spiritual  like God, born into the family of God, and have the capacity to love God and worship God in spirit and in truth.

So if you would have fellowship with God, then it begins with faith in Christ.  You must be born again. You cannot belong to Him, you cannot have fellowship with Him, you cannot have spiritual life through Him unless you have been born of the Spirit of God into the family of God.

The question is, how are you born of God?  Well, John says in vs1, that it is by faith. By believing.  Paul teaches the same principle in Romans 1:17 saying, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” Faith, or believing in Christ, is the basis for receiving righteousness. Paul explains this further in Galatians 3:6-7 “Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.  Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.”  So there we see that faith and believing are the same thing, and that faith is the means of being granted the righteousness of Christ in exchange for our sins.

But let’s be clear.  What constitutes faith/believing in God?  Not just believing or hoping that He exists. The Bible says the devils believe and tremble, but they are not born again.  Faith is trusting in Him as your Savior and Lord. Faith is believing in the ministry and the message of Christ.  Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through Me.” He was teaching not just three different aspects of His deity, but also He was teaching that these three aspects are synonymous; the way= the truth=the life.  And I will warn you, that if you start to tamper with the truth, then you do so at your own peril.  If you keep deleting ingredients from an antibiotic, soon you will be left with a placebo, and a placebo has no power to save.  Jesus’ gospel is the truth, about life, about God, about righteousness, and that truth is the way to reconciliation with God, it’s the way to life, abundant life, spiritual life, and eternal life.  Faith encompasses all of that truth as God has revealed in His word.

There is a word there which may need clarification,  Christ is the Greek translation which means Messiah.  You can see in vs 5 that John uses  Messiah interchangeably with  the Son of God. So the gospel is that Jesus is God, who became flesh, who suffered the penalty for sin upon the cross, who is risen and seated on the throne in heaven, and faith in Him and His work is the means of our righteousness, the means of spiritual life, the source of all truth.  All of that encompasses believing in Jesus as your Messiah, which is the means of being born again.

And one other word which we should clarify is the word faith. Hebrews 11:1 gives us the Biblical definition of faith; “Now Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is trusting in the truth; what God has promised concerning Himself and the life which He gives.  Faith is not mustering up some emotion, or a belief in something which isn’t true in order to make it true.  Faith is believing in what God has declared is truth. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  Natural man is spiritually dead.  Jesus is the truth that sets us free from the bondage of death, He is the truth that gives life.

If we skip ahead to vs11-13 we read about this life; “And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

So we are born again spiritually by faith in Christ to new life.  And now, having been born into the family of God, John says in vs 1 that we love God and love His children. This love for God and for one another should be a natural outcome of our new birth. Children automatically love their parents. They should automatically love their siblings as well.   So our love for God should be the result of our new life.  We love our heavenly Father, and we love those who are born of God, those who have the same Spirit as us. 

The question arises though, who are the family of God? John answers that in vs.2, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.”  Simply stated then, the family of God are those that love God and observe His commandments.  This is how we recognize them.  They exhibit the character and nature of God.  If they say they love God, but they don’t exhibit the love of God towards others, and they don’t keep His commandments, then John tells us in 1 John chapter 1 that such men are liars.  They are not born of God.  But on a positive note, we know the family of God because they exhibit the nature and character of God dwelling in them.

Now there is also a love we are to have for those that are unsaved.  There is a love we are to have for our neighbors.  There is a love we are even to have for our enemies.  All of that love is predicated on the realization that they need to know the truth to be saved, and we can show God’s love for them so that they might know the love which God has for them.  The object or goal of our love is that they might be saved.  But there is a special familial love that we are to have for the brethren.  Those that are our brothers and sisters in the Lord are to have a special relationship with us.  These family members make up the body of Christ.  And how can we not show a special love for the body of Christ?  There should be a closeness and a fellowship which is deeper than even the family ties of the natural man.

So we can know the family of God, as those who love God and keep His commandments.  Jesus said in John 13:35  "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  

Now let’s move on to the second characteristic of faith, which is the fidelity of faith.  Fidelity means faithfulness, trustworthiness, integrity, loyalty.  We not only claim to believe, we not only claim saving faith, but we act in accordance to what we believe.  Fidelity is often used in relation to a husband and wife.  They keep their vows to one another.  They love one another with an exclusive devotion.  They love one another with a selfless, sacrificial love.  The Bible teaches that marriage between a husband and a wife is a picture of Christ and the church.  We submit to our husband, who is Christ.  We honor and obey Him. This fidelity of our faith is realized in the faithfulness of our love, to honor and obey Him.

Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”  And so John urges us in this text to be faithful in our love by keeping His commandments. Vs.3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”  

This idea of submission and obeying has fallen out of favor in marriages today.  But in divine love, it remains true that if you love Him, you will obey Him, you will submit your will to do His will.  The divine love that God has intended for us is sacrificial love.  It’s the love of the will.  And we are to love one another as Christ loved us.  So we love with a sacrificial love, giving up our prerogatives so that we might do His will. 

Now though that may sound oppressive or burdensome to the modern ear, yet it should not be. If you love someone, you should want to honor them, to please them, to serve them.  It’s not a chore, it’s a labor of love.  It reminds me of the story of a young man many years ago,  long before the days when it was possible to get in your car and drive to school,  and he was often seen  carrying a little boy on his shoulder. And as one particular passerby noticed, the little boy that was being carried on his shoulder was lame. So he walked up to the young man who was carrying the lame boy and he said, "Do you carry him to school everyday?" And he said, "Yes sir, I carry him everyday." "Well that's a very heavy burden for you to carry," said the stranger. And the young man replied, "He's no a burden, he's my brother." His attitude illustrates what a difference love makes in carrying out the commandments of the Lord God.

And let me add, that HIs commandments are not a burden, because His commandments are for our benefit.  God has made it possible for us to have new life, spiritual life, eternal life, abundant life, through faith in His Son.  But He has also made a plan that we might know how we are  to live.  His commandments lead us in paths of righteousness.  HIs commandments prevent us from going off into dangerous territory.  His commandments are not meant to bind us up, but to free us to live a life that will be blessed.  As someone once said, God’s commandments are not a wall to restrict us, but a guardrail to protect us. They are for our benefit.  So then we  should not find His commandments burdensome.  If we love Him, we will want to please Him and we should realize His commandments are for our benefit.

Furthermore, Jesus has promised the Holy Spirit to be our  Helper, so that we might be able to keep His commandments.  When we have the Spirit of God working in us, He lightens the load and helps us.  Jesus said in  Matt. 11:28-30 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

On the contrary, when we go against His will, and disobey His commandments, we cause ourselves to be weighted down with sins, which come with consequences that can weigh heavily upon us.  So the fidelity of faith is our willingness to submit to God’s will, to keep His commandments as a testament of our love for God.

Finally, let’s look at the last characteristic of faith in this text, and that I call the triumph of faith.  Let’s read the text in vs 4, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

I want you to notice something in this verse.  John says whatever is born of God.  Not whoever, but whatever.  Now what does He mean by whatever?  Well, he gives the answer at the end of the verse; our faith is the whatever.  So then we must understand that our faith is born of God. Now I don’t want to get mired down in some deep doctrinal issue here, but I do think it’s important to realize that God gives us faith to believe. Eph. 2:8 says “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”  Now you may argue that can speak of either salvation or faith being a gift, but I think that the Bible teaches both are true.  

For instance consider Heb. 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  He is the author of our faith, and the completion of our faith. So faith originates with God.

So what I think John is getting at,  is that the object of our faith is the important thing here.  Some people get focused on the size of faith, as if we somehow can muster up enough faith to accomplish some great miracle or something.  But the emphasis I think John is giving us is that it is the object of our faith, Jesus, is the victory that has overcome the world.  It is not the size of our faith.  Jesus said if we had as little of faith as the size of a tiny mustard seed then we could move mountains.  The point is not the size of our faith, but the object of our faith.  We can have faith in what God has promised and who Christ is.

And Jesus has promised in the gospel of John 16:33  "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”  Listen, we have faith in God’s promises which are fulfilled in Christ.  Not in wishful thinking, not in hoping for some miracle of my own design, but our faith is in the written word of God.  We have faith in what Jesus has accomplished and  has promised to accomplish.  And He has overcome the world.

Please understand what is meant by the world.  The world is the world system. It is under the dominion of the prince of this world; Satan.  Though God created the world and all things in it, Satan has subjugated the world system to his plan, to sweep mankind along in the course of this world to their eventual destruction.  To trap mankind in the mire and muck of this world so that they miss the life giving truth of God.  

Paul speaks of this world system in Eph. 2:1-3 “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,  in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” The course of this world then is the world system conspired by Satan to sweep mankind to destruction in their ignorance of the truth.

But thanks be to God, Christ has overcome the world.  He overcame sin.  He overcame the devil.  He overcame death.  He has overcome the world.  And our faith in Him overcomes the world as well. By faith in Him we can overcome the world system.  We can escape the trap of sin that leads to death.  Christ has come so that we might know the truth, and the truth would set us free.  So that we might have life and have it more abundantly. 

That leads us to vs5, which says because of Christ, we who are born of God can overcome the world as well.  “Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”  Listen, as children of God, as children of the King, we have been given all the weapons necessary to overcome the world.  We have been given the light of truth, we have been given the sword of the Lord, which is the word of God.  We have been made righteous, we have been given the helmet of salvation, and the shield of faith.  And through the Spirit of Christ working in us, we can be overcomers.  We can overcome the world.  I believe that means we can overcome the world system that is trying to trap our children.  We can overcome the world system that has trapped sinners in it’s web.  We can overcome through the blood of the Lamb.  

Listen, we were made to be overcomers.  The church is designed to overcome the world. The problem with the world system is that it is designed to look so enticing, that we feel we are missing out on all this fun stuff or exciting stuff that it offers.  But the benefit to overcome the world is so much the better.  The course of this world leads to death, but overcoming the world leads to life.

John wrote another book of the Bible, the book of Revelation.  And in the first 3 chapters of Revelation Jesus gives John messages for 7 churches, which encompass not only 7 actual, historical churches, but also all the churches of the ages until He comes back.  And in every one of those messages, Jesus says something about being an overcomer.  To the church at Ephesus Jesus said, “To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.” To the church of Smyrna Jesus says, “He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.”  To the church of Pergamum Jesus says, “To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.”  To the church of Thyatira, Jesus says, “He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS; AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star.”  To the church of Sardis Jesus says, “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”  To the church of Philadelphia Jesus says, “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.”  And to the church of Laodecia Jesus says, “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”

Those are some wonderful promises, aren’t they?  The greatest treasures of this earth at best are only temporary and cannot compare to the reward God has planned for those who love Him and who overcome this world.  I pray that you by faith in Christ will be an overcomer.  I pray that if you have never been born again that you would receive the faith that overcomes this world.  That you would be given the righteousness of Christ and receive eternal life in Him.  And I pray for you that have been born of God, that you would overcome the world through the testimony of your faith, by sharing the truth of God with others.  I pray that you would find freedom from sin through your faith which overcomes the world.  

And I will close by saying this; we overcome the world through our faith, and our faith produces love.  Love is the way we will win the world to Christ.  Love God, obey His commandments, and love one another even as Christ has loved you.  Share the love of God towards sinners, that Christ has come to reconcile us to God, that we might be born of God, and have the everlasting life of God.