Sermon on 1 John 5:13-21

A good letter always has a strong ending. Not only does John summarize his message, he emboldens us to live a life of confidence and conviction that Christ is supreme and the only means by which we can have true life.
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 Sermon Outline:

Faith equips us with certainty (v. 13)
 
Be confident in Christ and courageous in your living.
 
Faith empowers our prayers (vv. 14-19)
 
Make requests boldly and rely on Christ’s power entirely.
 
Faith endows us with knowledge (vv. 20-21)
 
Increase in understanding of Christ and value Him supremely.

Watch the message here:

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Sermon Transcript:

Some men leave a legacy of faith far past the point of their body’s decay. One of those men was General William Booth. This man lived from 1829 to 1912, 83 years of life but centuries later his legacy lives on. He was a British minister that not only had great impact in England, but also America and now around the globe. Be founded an organization or ministry called “The Salvation Army.” It is more than a place you drop off unwanted items. The Salvation Army has over 10 thousand community outreach centers, over 440 homeless shelters, 95 centers for refugees, 47 centers for moms and babies, the bell ringers at Christmas raise millions of dollars and they are evangelizing people with the gospel message of Jesus all around the world. I’ve had the opportunity to speak at the national gatherings and in College I served a prominent Salvation Army Shelter in the heart of Chicago. This is an amazing ministry! And to think, all of this started my one humble man dependent on God’s power—WILLIAM BRAMWELL BOOTH.

When J. Wilbur Chapman (also an amazing Godly man with a legacy of love) was in London, he had an opportunity to meet General Booth. At that time he was past eighty years of age, nearing the end of his life. Dr. Chapman hung on every word as the old general spoke of the trials and the conflicts and the victories. Chapman asked the general if he would disclose his secret for success. Here is the account of how Booth answered:

“He hesitated a second,” Dr. Chapman said, “and I saw the tears come into his eyes and steal down his cheeks, and then he said, ‘I will tell you the secret. God has had all there was of me. There have been men with greater brains than I, men with greater opportunities; but from the day I got the poor of London on my heart, and a vision of what Jesus Christ could do [for them], I made up my mind that God would have all of William Booth there was. And if there is anything of power in the Salvation Army today, it is because God has all the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will, and all the influence of my life.’”

Dr. Chapman said that when he went away from that meeting with General Booth knowing that, “the greatness of a man’s power is the measure of surrender.”

The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of surrender.

You can live a life of purpose, principle and passion and still miss Jesus. You can even have great impact and leave a legacy, but miss Jesus. And when you miss surrendering to Jesus, you miss having the greatest impact. As we’ve addressed before—including last week—your life is not about you, it is about Jesus working in and through you.

What would it look like for you, like Booth, to let God have all of you? If you are honest, you, like me, can identify an area of your life where you are not giving everything you are to Jesus. If you surveyed your life, what percentage of your life or areas of your life are given to God and what percentage is kept for you? Perhaps your work is about 70% you and 30% Jesus. Your fathering is about 50/50 but your marriage is about 60/40 (expect when you are in trouble and then you have 90% dependence on Christ).

Booth said, “I will tell you the secret. God has had all there was of me.” ALL, not part, all. What would that look like for you. Listen, I am going to guess that you gave this last week everything you had. You tried your best in all areas and are working to be the best version of yourself that you can be. But if we are honest, we realize that even the best version of ourselves is not enough. We still fail others expectations and our own and we can’t bare the thought of how we must have disappointed God.

We all long for happiness, joy, peace, freedom and fulfillment. Whether you are in the first part of your life, or the last half, consciously or subconsciously we are daily pursuing these things. So when we fail to find them, we either chose to work harder or surrender. When we surrender, we give ourselves (our will) over to something—a person, a hobby, a joy or God. The only one that promises us life—true life—is God.

So today, as we finish our study on 1 John, I want to show you that we can have confidence, joy, peace, happiness, freedom and even power if we will give God all of us that there is. I will give you practical thinks you can do to stop working so hard yet find more life—and in turn, leave a greater impact.

Please open your Bibles with me to page 1023 in the ESV or the Bibles in the seats in front of you. Or you can follow along with my notes in the bulletin or on the Bible App. As you find this passage, let me remind you of the context and content of this letter:

You have to wonder if the original readers had experienced some kind of split or if they had just seen a lot of people leave (2:19) their church. Let’s be honest, it is hurtful when people we love leave the church. Perhaps this emotionally shook them to a point of questioning their own existence as a church or their own faith. John was longing to given them assurance all through his instruction to love. Assurance of faith is a central them.

The content that he lays out can be summarized for each chapter in the following way:

  • Ch. 1: Run after Christ and you’ll find joy chasing you. Be all in with Christ.
  • Ch. 2: Kill sin or it will be killing you. You have an advocated to the Father.
  • Ch. 3: Love is more than lip-service; it is a way of life.
  • Ch. 4: The love of God in and through us makes us an unstoppable force.
  • Ch. 5: We’ve been given new faith, new love, new life in Christ. So love!

15 sermons, over 4 months, we have studied this book on depth. God inspired it and John wrote it, and as he wraps his thoughts here with us today, I want to grasp the power-close to this letter. I want you to be impacted by the great send off so you can live the like of relationship with God and other’s John has described the whole way through. Read verse one with one, I will read it out loud:

[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.

John leaves no question as to why he wrote this letter.  Have you every gotten an email where you get to the end of reading it and you cock your head to the side and go, I’m not really sure what this email says. Not a problem here, his purpose is stated: that you may believe and that you may knowThis part part seems to indicate that John believes seems we can understand and know for certain that our faith is secure in Christ.

Belief is the tightrope we walk between certainty and doubt; John wants to give them certainty that they are Christ’s and he is their—the means to life—if they simply will have faith and believe.

Believe—Believe what? In the name of the Son of God. If you will remember, we talked about how believing in the name is to believe in the person of and all that they are. This means you believe and embrace not only that Jesus is God but also Jesus was man (4:3). To believe in the name of Jesus is what Paul wrote about in Romans 10:9 when he said, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

We talk about being saved—a women this week said to me “please help my husband get saved.” What she was saying was I want him to have Jesus. She even added, “Save him from eternal damnation.” That’s not me that saves a person—that is Christ who does it THROUGH their faith! They must believe. This is why we can sometime in Christian circles talk about people being “Saved” or being “Believers” and use the terms interchangeably. To be saved by Jesus is to believe in Jesus name, that is what John is saying. His first point on the letter was for them to “Believe.”

Secondly, he says, I want you to know that you have eternal life. Eternal life is that relief that I’ve been given the opportunity to be with God forever after this life. No one says, “I want to go to hell when I die,” or at least almost no one. There was a guy who wrote a book, “I hope they serve beer in hell.” His name was Tucker Max and it became a New York Times best seller. He was hell-bent (pun intended) on enjoying this life so much, that it didn’t matter to him that he was going to hell. He thought eternal torment was worth it for pleasure in this life. I don’t think he knew what he was asking for.

But let’s call a spade a spade: many people live their life like Tucker and think that all that matters in this life, not caring what they will face in the next. That is because they don’t life without God is hell, in this life and the next. A person shouldn’t run from hell because they are afraid of hell; they should run from hell because they are afraid of living without God.

John says that we can have confidence and security in our eternal destiny by having faith and true belief. Here’s point:  Faith equips us with certainty. Certainty of what? That we are His and He is mine. That for the rest of this life, I have him and for all of eternity I get Him. To be loved, owned, forgiven and enjoy his companionship is the greatest thing in this life and the next. I have been so deeply loved. Nothing greater.

So then, how do we live? We dare to live to get to know Jesus more b/c the rest of eternity is about Him. Everyday is about an intentional pursuit of Christ and his purposes.

Let me use this role of duct tape as an example. Imagine that this goes on forever. Imagine also that this is a timeline of your existence. Eternity means “Forever, perpetuity, infinity.” Our life is just a small portion of eternity. It started at your conception and it will never end—whether you go to heaven or hell, it will always go on.

For many of us, we just keep looking back, thinking about “the good ‘ol days” or the times whish we could change. Or regrets keep us looking over our shoulder wishing we could go back. When this is happening, we are not thinking about eternity before us.

Think of this small black part as your life. Your life is only this in light of all that.  When you are focused on this life, you make decisions that are only helping you now, but not keeping in mind that someday you will be with Jesus forever. A life that is not thinking about eternity is consumed with what we have now: vacations, what you eat, what you look like, what you have in the bank.  Don’t be crazy and care only for today.

The Apostle Paul said in Philippians that Philippians that we should count everything in this life as “rubbish” compared to knowing Christ for all of eternity. He also said, “Strive for what is ahead, not behind you.” Press on toward the goal of Christ for all eternity.  John complimented this with what he says about eternal life starting knowing and going on forever. Our goal to start to know and enjoy him know so we can do so more then.

This means that don’t waste your life in the momentary pleasures of this life—how many levels you won on a video game, how many vacation spots you went to or how many “Toys” you have. You may enjoy those things but your accomplishments in this life don’t’ bring you security. It is your faith in Christ that gives you the confidence to do bold things and leave a lasting impact. Write this down: [we must] Be confident in Christ and courageous in [y]our living.

Satan would like nothing more than for you to believe that you have time to do what you want and incorporate Christ in your life later. He knows, if you do not have firm faith in Christ, you will lack the courage to live life in light of eternity.

I am sure that every day the devil and his cohorts devises plans to get people to reject or neglect faith in Christ. I can just see them down there in their demon meets saying, “Let’s go to them and say there is no God,” but then one them saying, “We tried that… almost everyone believes in God. “Well then, let’s tell them there is no hell, no future punishment for the wicked,” suggests another. But then that idea is rejected because they knew most people believe in some kind of punishment, even if they call it Karma or bad luck.  So finally the sneakiest one suggests, “Tell them there is a God, there is a hell and that the Bible is the Word of God. But tell them there is plenty of time to follow Jesus later. If they ‘neglect’ the Gospel, we can hold them until it is too late.” With that suggestion I could see all hell erupted with ghoulish glee, for they knew that if a person procrastinates putting giving their whole life to Christ, they will neglect him until death.

A life of confidence and courage is all in on Christ—they know and believe He is Lord. Let’s keep reading the next five verses. They are powerful—we even make our requests know to God with great confidence He will hear us, look at this with me:

[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.

Prayer is the central idea here. You can’t have prayer without faith—that is just talking to yourself. And you can’t have faith without prayer. John is making it clear that for us to have healthy faith, we must have a right understanding and use of prayer.

This begins by not just asking God for what you want, but to ask God according to his will. This does not mean that for Christians to pray effectively they need somehow to discover God’s secret plans for the future (sometimes called his “hidden will” or “will of decree”; cf. Deut. 29:29). We pray in accordance with what pleases God as taught in Scripture, then they are praying according to his will (cf. Matt. 6:10; Eph. 5:17).

The promise and benefit (and this is sweet) is that he hears whatever we ask. Why? Because we have relationship with Him. The mere fact that we get to be with Him and heard by him should bring us comfort and peace. This is significate and increased faith. Our faith, working through prayer produces results.

Another way to say is is that Faith empowers our prayers. If our prayers have no faith, then they are not doing what God designed prayer to do. The chief end of prayer is to bring us closer and more aligned with God and His will. So whether we are praying for direction or praying for forgiveness, we are to do so with faith. To live without prayer is to what I call eyeball living. You are “eyeballing” life, trying to make the call that “looks best” but not what is God’s best.

Still talking about pray, John gives instruction on who and how to pray for sin:

[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.

What is this sin that leads to death business?  We know that when John talks this way, he is talking about death as a spiritual state. Life especially eternal life is a spiritual state that is given to us by God. So when he says there is sin does not lead to death, that is to say that there is sin that is forgiven by God. We experience the life by (1) asking for forgiveness and (2) live (with repentance) according to God’s will.

He says that there are some sins that lead to death, and don’t pray your way out of that, asking for a person’s punishment to be taken. Rather, understand that all wrongdoing (beginning of 17) is of concern to God. As Christians, we should be concerned if we are being like Christ. We must be diligent to pray and ask for forgiveness, protection from God and greater understanding of His will. John already gave us that hope that if we are in Christ, we can have power over sin, and he states it again in verse 18:

[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.

“He who was born of God” is referring to Christ. Jesus was from God, physically conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35) and “Born of God” when he was brought back to life (Col 1:18). But when we have faith, then we are “In Christ” or “Abiding in God” and this gives us the protection of god and the power over evil.

He says, there is nothing that the evil one can do to touch the believer because they have been won over by Christ. He said this same thing in 1 John 4:4 when he stated, “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.” The take away is that we can Make requests boldly and rely on Christ’s power entirely to answer our requests. 

Why is our walk with God sometimes a crawl with God? Why the lack of passion for God and his purposes? Why the lack of victory over sin in the average Christian’s life? To put it in the The words of the old evangelist Billy Sunday: “He that is a stranger to prayer is a stranger to power.” If we are not requesting boldly in prayer, then we are lacking the power of God in our life. We can request boldly because we are God’s. Verse 19:

[19] We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

Christians are from God and have been reborn. There is no power in the world that can overcome us; we are not of the World anymore. We are all His! Or faith equips us with confidence, faith empowers our prayers, and Faith endows us with knowledge.

 [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.

WE KNOW He says, that The Son of God has come: referring to the fact that Jesus came to earth to make clear the way to live, love and provide a relationship between us and God. Through the coming of Christ, we have been given understanding of God. It is only by the grace of God we are given the ability to know him who is true. w/o God opening our dark minds we would not be able to perceive how wonderful God is to us.

Because he is wonderful and first loved us he deserves to be loved above all things. I love verse 21 and think it is funny that this is how he ends: [21] Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

Most letters in the NT have a final phrase of warning at the end of their letters. Can you imagine if we signed our emails this way? “Keep yourselves from idols” or “Don’t sin” or “Watch out the the devil.” This would be abnormal now, but was totally normal for their letters, especially from the apostles. What he is saying here is that you must keep yourself from loving or going after anything that is not God. Do not trust, obey or value anything more than God, through His son Jesus Christ.

We must Increase in understanding of Christ and value Him supremely.

Authentic love starts by valuing God above all things. It is living as Booth and saying, “He has all of me.” When sinners surrender, Christ becomes their prize and love becomes their lifestyle. As we finish 1 John, lets let our love be real and our faith genuine.