God Is Life, 1 John 5, 14 June 2015

Big Idea: God is light, love, and life.

Scripture: 1 John 5


Today we conclude our series on the first epistle or letter written by Jesus’ friend John to the first Christians. I have been overwhelmed by the rich content of this short book. We have titled this series “Love Illuminated” and we could say the theme of the first chapter is God is light. The theme of the next chapters is God is love. The final chapter’s theme is God is life.

Jesus said plainly to Thomas in John’s biography of Jesus, the Gospel or good news of John…

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Jesus is life.

As I have said previously, we could take months to dissect this short letter, yet it is just that—a letter. It’s not a painting needing endless interpretation, a song for us to learn to sing or dance, or an inner feeling requiring unpacking. It’s a rather straightforward letter, a letter we will finish reading today.

Victory over the world

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:1-5)

When you trust Jesus you trust what He did and who He is, His identity. If Jesus is LORD, you have been born of God, new birth. You’ve been born again. God becomes your Father, your Dad. Your Dad loves you, you love your Dad, and you love your siblings, brothers and sisters in Christ along with our big Brother, Jesus.

How do you know you’re a child of God?

  1. You are righteous. You do what is right. (1 John 2:29)
  2. You stop a lifestyle of sin. (1 John 3:9)
  3. You love other Christians, your spiritual siblings. (1 John 4:7)
  4. You believe in Jesus. (1 John 5:1)
  5. You overcome the world. (1 John 5:4)
  6. You keep yourself from satan. (1 John 5:18)

Love, obedience, and truth.

Loving God shows we are His children. Last week we said love is more than a feeling, but a verb; it’s action! If we love God we obey His commands. What are they?

Be filled with the Holy Spirit
Love your neighbor
Pray without ceasing
Rejoice always
Give thanks in all circumstances
(and so many more; many are found in 1 Thessalonians 5)

How do we overcome the world? Faith. We’re in the world but not to be of the world.

This is the only time “victory” occurs in the New Testament.

Faith saves us.
Faith keeps us.

J. Vernon McGee says Canaan represents the world where we live today. We’re blessed with all spiritual blessings. Joshua led the people into the Promised Land, but there were battles. Jericho was the first battle (the world). Ai was the second (the flesh). The Gibeonites deceived Joshua (the devil). We overcome the world not by fighting but by faith. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down.

We cannot overcome the world by fighting it.

Assurance of Salvation

This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:6-12)

Water and blood both came from the side of Jesus on the cross.

Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. (John 19:34-35)

Water speaks of the living Word of God. We must be born of water, the Word.

Blood speaks of life and the death of Jesus.

We need the Holy Spirit.

Note: verse 7 may have been added later.

The Spirit, water (the Word) and blood agree Jesus is the Savior of the world because of His death and resurrection.

The witness or testimony of God is greater than that of humans.

The Holy Spirit is given to all followers of Jesus.

If you have Jesus, you have life. It doesn’t say who goes to church or reads the Bible. Is Jesus your Savior and LORD? Salvation and eternal life comes through trusting Jesus.

The next verse is very important.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 John 5:13-15)

We can have confidence and boldness in approaching God.

Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance but laying hold of His willingness.” - Martin Luther

We have a great Dad who will hear and answer.

Prayer may be one of the most misunderstood aspects of the faith, yet it might not be that complicated. I often relate it to talking with my son. I love my son and will do most anything for him…unless I’m unable—which God is not!—or I know it’s not in his best interest (which would be unloving).

John’s gospel records numerous statements from Jesus regarding prayer, talking with our heavenly Father.

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:13-14)

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (John 15:16)

In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. (John 16:23-24)

We are to pray in Jesus’ Name, not because it’s a secret password to miracles but because it states our desire to follow Him and seek the will of God. It means our will and His are the same. To accomplish this, we often must listen as well as speak. Prayer is a conversation, not a monologue. What is God saying to you? We can have confidence when we pray. The Father loves to give good gifts to His children, but prayer is not a formula to be followed guaranteeing our immediate desires. He is not our butler, but prayer is not wishful thinking, either. Daddy knows best. He can be trusted, even if He doesn’t make sense at this moment.

If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death. (1 John 5:16-17)

This refers to physical death. Not all sins are the same, though they all displease God.

We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also 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 by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:18-20)

The new nature will never sin. It has a desire for God and righteousness.

Christianity is not a religion but a Person, Jesus.

Finally, we come to a short yet profound command, an interesting way to conclude the letter.

Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21)

That’s it!

It occurs to me either

  1. there’s more to the letter that has been lost
  2. he had to get the letter in the mail because the mailman was coming!
  3. these are his final words and he wants them to linger for emphasis

Keep yourselves from idols.

What is an idol? Anything we love more than God.

The Bible is filled with them. The Golden Calf may be the most infamous. It was common for religions to have physical idols, often statues believed to possess power.

This week I was reminded of the importance of wisdom…and the consequences of ignoring it. A few days ago in our daily One Story readings God says to Solomon

“As for you, if you walk before me faithfully with integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’ (1 Kings 9:4-5)

Imagine God offering to establish your royal throne forever! Solomon was given one request, he asked for a heart of understanding, and God gave him wisdom, wealth, power, and everything this world can offer.

But he forgot God. He did not keep himself from idols, essentially the first two of the Ten Commandments.

The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’S command. So the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. (1 Kings 11:9-11)

John’s final words…

Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21)

What are your idols? We all have them. Money? Career? Family? Friends? Pleasure? Sports? Education? Food? Religion?

Jesus is life. He is the way. The truth. The life. Is He your life?

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

God is Love, 1 John 3, 31 May 2015

Big Idea: We are in the midst of a battle fought with love and prayer.

What is your favorite book of the Bible? Why?

What is your favorite chapter in the Bible? This may be a less popular question.

As we continue our series “Love Illuminated” on the book of 1 John, we come to the fourth chapter of this essential letter from one of Jesus’ three best friends, John. While this may not be my favorite chapter in the Bible, few are loaded with more incredible, memorable verses. It’s packed with theology, challenge, encouragement, and insight.

Its overarching theme is a four-letter word which best summarizes the entire Bible.
It’s a four-letter word which best summarizes God.
It’s a four-letter word which best summarizes what we are called to be as followers of Jesus and as the Church, the Body of Christ. The word is…love.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (1 John 4:1-3)

There were and are false prophets, false teachers, false teachings. Test the spirits. Test me! The Bible is our authority. Jesus is our authority. The reason cults exist is people follow leaders that are not following Jesus.

The question isn’t do you believe in God, but what do you believe about God. What do you believe about Jesus? We note previously how there were those in John’s day—and ours—who believed Jesus to be human but not God or God but not human. He is uniquely fully God and fully human.

This the the third time John mentions antichrist (1 John 2:18, 22). We said antichrist can mean against Christ or instead of Christ. Jesus said many would come in His name and also there would be opposition. There are many antichrists but they are not the antichrist mentioned in Revelation.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because
the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. (1 John 4:4-6)

The spirit of antichrist is in the world. We are engaged in a real, cosmic battle between good and evil. Can I let you in on a little secret? We win!

The Holy Spirit is given to all believers. The Holy Spirit teaches through the Word of God, the Bible. Believers have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, but unless we surrender to God we can still sin and rebel against God. If, however, we remain or abide in Christ (John 15) and invite the Holy Spirit to fill and guide us, we will have the mind of Christ and act like Jesus, bearing fruit.

Imagine you’re in a bicycle race, hot and sweaty. You just happen to have a bottle of ice cold water, but never reach for it and drink it. Does it help you? No. Is it available? Yes. Would it be foolish to not take advantage of it? Absolutely! It’s not enough to have the Holy Spirit, which all believers do. We are to let the Spirit take control. Hands off! That’s hard for many of us who want to be in control. It’s not whether you have the Holy Spirit, but whether or not the Holy Spirit has you!

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

Believers are to love one another. This is not sentimental, sexual, or social love but supernatural, unconditional agape. It says, “I love you. Period.”

In 1984 the band Foreigner had a huge hit that said, “I Want To Know What Love Is.”

When I was in high school our youth leader told the story about proposing to his wife. He knew he had feelings for this woman but struggled to define love. He was reading 1 John 4 and saw this verse (and verse 16).

God is love.

One of my greatest fears for us is that we become so familiar with the
idea of love without actually receiving and/or giving it. We know about love, but do we love?

Love is not being nice.

Love is not avoiding conflict.

Love not the absence of hate. In fact some have said the opposite of love is indifference, not hate, since love and hate are both intense. How often are we indifferent?

Love is a verb. It requires action.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:9-12)

He is the propitiation for our sins. The word means mercy seat, the place where the priest met God in the Old Testament. The word atonement means to cover. Jesus is the mercy seat for our sins. He died. He conquered sin and death so we can come boldly into the presence of Almighty God.

Do you love?
Do you love believers?
Do you love unbelievers?
Do you love your enemies?

The question is not can you but do you. The test of our faith is not our knowledge but our love.

Don’t miss the last verse. No one has seen God but people can see God’s love in us, through us. This is what it means for us to shine, to reflect God’s love like the moon reflects the light of the sun.

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. (1 John 4:13-16a)

This is not a human love. The fruit of the Spirit is love…Some believe love is the fruit and the rest of the fruit of the Spirit emerges from love.

Who is Jesus? This question is hugely important! He is the Son of God. If Jesus is not who He claimed to be, His death was useless. He was arrested and crucified for claiming to be God…and He proved it by the resurrection!

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:16b-18)

Here John says again, “God is love.” Love is made perfect or complete.

1 John 4:8 God is love
1 John 4:16 God is love

You can’t say God is mercy or grace or justice, but God is love. God reveals His love at the mercy set, Jesus.

I love the phrase, “Perfect love drives out fear,” but this is not any fear (although love probably has the capacity to drive out any fear). This is about fearing judgment, something we need not fear because Jesus died for us and showed us His love…in action.

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:19-21)

God loved us first. He took the first step, made the first move. Our love for God and others is always a response to knowing and experiencing His love for us. If your love tank is empty, only God can fill it up. He has plenty to share, just ask!

How many claim to love God yet hate others?

Love is a command.

Do you love?

I confess

  • not loving my enemies
  • not loving my friends
  • making it about me and my name rather than the Name of Jesus
  • failing to share God’s love with the lost


Two weeks ago the Christian & Missionary Alliance held their General Council in Long Beach, California, a national gathering that occurs every other year. Viewing it online I heard President John Stumbo share for the first time as President his report, his state of the denomination address. His first word to us was simple: love.
I realize this isn’t fancy, complicated, or trendy, but Jesus loves you and, therefore, you are to love Jesus and people, those Jesus loves.

But what is love? God is love, but who is God? Love!

Twenty five years ago this past week I said “I do” to my bride, and she returned the favor! During our ceremony, we had a chapter of the Bible read aloud. It was not written for a wedding. It is not about romance. It does not discuss eros love. It’s a great description of agape, however.

These words were read that day:

  If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
  Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.