Fellowship With God; Confidence in Christ, Lesson 15

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. 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.

16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God 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.

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.

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. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:13-21)

 


We now come to our final lesson with John’s closing thoughts for his beloved children in the faith. Closing thoughts in a letter are often used to highlight the most important message the author wants his readers to take away from the reading, and perhaps a reminder of the point of why the letter was written in the first place. John closed this epistle with exactly these: his purpose for writing, and the important messages which he wanted his children to hold in their hearts and minds. John knew the people to whom he wrote, and that they were very dear to him is evident throughout. Our Father knows each of his beloved children even better than John knew his, and his love for us is also evident throughout John’s epistle. So read these final words of John as the Holy Spirit intended: written to you, dear one, to remind you of important truths which you are to hold in your heart and mind. Continue reading “Fellowship With God; Confidence in Christ, Lesson 15”

Fellowship With God; Confidence in Christ, Lesson 14

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. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that 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?

This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. 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. 10 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. 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. (1 John 5:1-12)


In our passage this week, John brings together the strands of right belief in Jesus Christ, love for God and one another, and obedience to God’s commands and weaves them into a single tapestry of assurance for believers. As we’ve read through the epistle to this point we’ve seen that these three tests of assurance must work together, and now John will draw them together, that we may know that we have the victory that overcomes the world—our faith. “What John is at pains to show is the essential unity of his threefold thesis. He has not chosen three tests arbitrarily or at random and stuck them together artificially. On the contrary, he shows that they are so closely woven together into a single, coherent fabric that it is difficult to unpick and disentangle the threads.”[1] Continue reading “Fellowship With God; Confidence in Christ, Lesson 14”

Fellowship With God; Confidence in Christ, Lesson 12

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1-6)

In our passage this week, John returns to the doctrinal test with an exhortation for us not to believe everything we hear taught about Jesus. A Christian who believes by faith all that is good and true, even if difficult, as taught in the Holy Scriptures, is strong, because the word of God abides in her, and she overcomes the evil one (2:14). A gullible Christian, however, who believes everything that “feels” right and sincere, without the scrutiny of Scripture, is unsteady, and therefore vulnerable to the faith-undermining attacks of the enemy. Continue reading “Fellowship With God; Confidence in Christ, Lesson 12”

Fellowship With God; Confidence in Christ, Lesson 11

11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. (1 John 3:11-24)


In our passage this week we find John returning to the second test of assurance: the social, or, love test. In 2:9-11, he reminded us that loving our “brothers” in the faith is a distinguishing characteristic of believers and he briefly described the effects of this love as walking in the light, as opposed to those who hate their brothers and therefore go about stumbling blindly in the darkness. This time around, John will apply the love test to how we live with one another, showing us that our love is not to be merely “word and talk, but in deed and in truth” (18). Our love for one another does not end with sentimental words, but it flows out of our hearts through our hands and feet into acts of compassion in response to the needs of others. Continue reading “Fellowship With God; Confidence in Christ, Lesson 11”