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“Summer of Love” // 1 John 5:1-12

Mary Ellen Ermis July 24, 2022 Devotionals, sermons, 1 John, cityrise, Crosspoint Church - Bellaire, houston, Kirby Follis, Summer of Love,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Executive Pastor Kirby Follis on Sunday, July 24, 2022 at our Crosspoint Church-Bellaire campus. To view the sermon in full, check out the link below.

Stories like the ones just shared become reality because of your generosity. Because you give, we’re able to take the gospel to Honduras and provide great medical care and encouragement to local churches there. Thank you, Church! You may know that everything we do is connected to our Deep and Wide Initiative. Anything you give truly funds ministry both local and global as well as several major initiatives planned for the next few years.  If you haven’t made a commitment to the Deep & Wide initiative, you can do that at any time including today.. Commitment cards can be picked up at our Info Center in the lobby or you can make your commitment online at cityrise.org/commit.  Let’s pray.

Welcome to Crosspoint Church-Bellaire, a CityRise campus.  My name is Kirby and I’m grateful to be with you today.  We’re continuing our study of the letters of John so please find 1 John 5 in your Bibles and you’ll be ready to go.  1 John is the 5th book from the back of your Bible, if that helps.

1 John 5 starts with what sounds like a bit of a review of the themes of the previous chapters.  Love for God, love for others and obeying God’s commandments.  Since scripture is inspired by God, I’m guessing He knew we needed to hear this a LOT – it isn’t just some random repetition.  Then, a few verses later, he ties our faith in God to being overcomers – walking in victory.  And that’s really attractive isn’t it?  I want to be a victor – don’t you?  We can easily work today’s whole passage under the umbrella of being overcomers through love.

Let me give you some context regarding this theme of overcoming that we see emphasized in vv. 4-5.  It is born out of the promise of Christ in…

John 16:33

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Nikao – is the Greek word for overcome:  meaning to conquer, to prevail, to be victorious, specifically in the face of obstacles.  This word talks of victory but also implies that for there to be victory, there must be a battle.  For us, that means taking time to assess what we are battling.  In context, the battle is against the world system, our flesh (which we know from scripture is a daily battle) and the enemy of our souls, Satan.  The entirety of his desire is to wage incessant war against God’s saints, working to ruin our life in Christ and our testimony.

Love Overcomes Through…

  • Obedience (vv. 1-3)
  • Faith (vv. 4-5)
  • God’s Completed Work (vv. 6-12)

I. Love Overcomes Through Obedience

Let’s read the first three verses of this chapter…

1 John 5:1-3

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.

We’ve put the word “obedience” on the negative list, haven’t we?  The word obedience doesn’t always strike joy in the heart of the hearer.  As parents, we like it a lot!  At weddings, we tease about putting it in the vows for the newlyweds to repeat to each other.  But what we often fail to realize is that there is liberty in obeying the right people, the right things.

Can you think of someone right now that you took joy in being obedient to them?  Maybe a teacher or a coach, a supervisor or a mentor?  I had a number of favorite teachers growing up – I wanted them to like me – I wanted to please them.  Obeying them wasn’t always easy and I didn’t always LOVE what they were asking of me.  But in general, I strove to obey and please.  Roger Patterson is our senior pastor and my boss.  Few things bring me greater joy than when he is pleased with my work and ministry.  Few things cause me greater concern than when he is not.

How much greater should our desire be to walk in obedience to God and His Son, Jesus – the perfect teacher, the perfect coach and mentor – our creator and redeemer?  Put simply, John is advocating that faith and love are inseparable and that one aspect out of which they are fully lived or expressed is in our obedience to God.

Faith and Love are Inseparable

It isn’t enough merely assent intellectually to who God is, there must of necessity be an ethical dimension to our faith.

Commentator Daniel Akin writes…Those who have faith are born of God, so faith can be taken as a sign of sonship.

The very fact that we have faith and express it through love helps prove out that we are the sons and daughters of God.  And this faith and love, expressed through not only individuals but through the body of Christ, signifies who He is and who sent Him…we see this in Christ’s prayer in…

John 17:20-21

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Being born of God as mentioned in vs. 1 is the very thing that leads us to right behavior (you can confirm that in 1 John 2:20), keeps us from habitually sinning (you can confirm that in 1 John 3:9-10) and causes us to love others.  All of our faith boils down to what we do with the Son.  And John isn’t trying so much to demonstrate here how a person experiences this new birth as he is working to indicate that there should be evidence of it if it has taken place.  Simply put, being obedient to the Father and the Son through faith and love leads to right living.

So verse 1 clarifies that believers in Christ have been born of God and that the outworking of that birth is that we believers also love everyone else born of Him.  Vs. 2 shows how we more deeply demonstrate this in our lives when it points that the proof of our love for the children of God is fueled by our love for God AND obey His commandments.  Verse 3 then basically states that the love of God IS keeping His commandments.  With regard to this theme…

John Stott writes…Love for God is not an emotional experience so much as moral commitment.

If you’ve ever been in ANY meaningful relationship, you understand this concept.  Apply this to your parents, your children, your spouse, your siblings, or anyone else.  If we’re honest, just because we love someone, doesn’t mean we always defer to them, does it?  It doesn’t mean we always want to be with them.  It doesn’t mean we don’t occasionally drive each other crazy.  It does mean because we love them, we’ve made a moral commitment to see our relationship through.  We’ve made a commitment.  We’ve disciplined ourselves to stick together through thick and thin.  God is worthy of this kind of commitment.  If we love Him, we will obey Him and we will love others in His name.

Finally in vs. 3, John states that the commandments of God are not burdensome.  Then how do we come to questions like, why does God give me more than I can handle?  Or, if His commandments are easy, why do I struggle so mightily to do what is right?  The answer is that His power is made evident in our weakness.  His perfection shines in our brokenness.  They are not burdensome because His yoke is light.  These commands are not just meaningless laws; they are designed to show us the heart of God while drawing others to it.  Because of the new birth highlighted in vs. 1, believers receive supernatural power to accomplish these commands.  This is how love overcomes through obedience.  But love also overcomes through faith…look at vv. 4-5.

Love Overcomes Through…

  • Obedience (vv. 1-3)
  • Faith (vv. 4-5)
  • God’s Completed Work (vv. 6-12)

II. Love Overcomes Through Faith

1 John 5:4-5

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?

First, this verse answers the question, “who is an overcomer?”  What does it say?  EVERYONE who has been born of God.  So before we can go further, you need to wrestle with the question, “Have I been born of God?”  Are you a follower of Jesus?  Do you believe in Him and have you confessed Him as your Savior?  The answer to this is important because the outworking of this verse for you is EITHER – you need to be born of God through faith in His Son OR you need to walk in victory as an overcomer BECAUSE you have already done so.

This OVERCOMING PROMISE is not made unilaterally to everyone but only to those who are rooted in Christ!  These verses also go on to delineate what it is that we overcome – it simply states that we are victorious over “the world.”  We discovered previously in this letter that “the world” is mankind organized in rebellion against God.  Let’s look briefly at all that includes:

  1. We will overcome the broken systems of the world – you don’t have to look far to see that the world is a messed up place. You also don’t have to be undone by that truth.  God has a perfect plan that ultimately involves His timing to redeem the brokenness completely.  It isn’t that He can’t fix what’s broken here – it’s that His timing for doing so has not yet come to pass.
  2. We overcome individual trials and tribulations – we read this earlier in John 16:33…in this world you will have TRIBULATION. James tells us more about the plan for tribulation in our lives in his letter…

James 1:4, 12

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

See how James echoes John here?  For those who love God, He has made a promise to them…that promise is to give them the strength to conquer sin and the world.  And when we do that – when we remain steadfast under trials, we are promised the crown of life.  Further, remaining steadfast in His perfect strength makes us mature and complete and fulfilled according to James 1:4.  I want that – don’t you?  We are promised tribulation but we are promised the power to overcome and the presence of God who remains with us throughout.

  1. We overcome temptations – people often confuse tribulation and temptation. You often hear someone say “God will never give you more than you can handle.”  WRONG ANSWER!  That’s the plan!  You wake up every day and get handed more than you can handle.  His promise is to work through to grow your faith in it and the promise of life for those who love Him and obey His commands even when it’s hard.  With temptation, though, God makes a way of escape.  We see this in Paul’s writing in…

1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

The theme of vv. 4-5 is that it is through our faith that we have this strength.  So love overcomes through obedience and through faith, but also…

Love Overcomes Through…

  • Obedience (vv. 1-3)
  • Faith (vv. 4-5)
  • God’s Completed Work (vv. 6-12)

III. Love Overcomes Through God’s Completed Work

1 John 5:6-12

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.

Vs. 6 marks a shift in the text.  We see the word “witness” 9 times here.  The theme of vv. 6-12 is tied together by the idea of testimony.  Here John is reinforcing the validity of the One we are called to believe in.  He demonstrates here that there is overwhelming evidence and support that Jesus is the Son of God who provides eternal life to all who believe in Him.

The first three of these verses speak of the three that testify – the Spirit, the water and the blood.  There is a historical context to a matter being established or resolved by two or three witnesses.  You can find that in Deuteronomy 19:15.  In this same vein, commentator Daniel Akin writes…thus, he argues that the Spirit, water and blood all converge on the same point and establish the truth that Christ is the Messiah.

 Where John is leading us is to understand that if the witness or two or three people is enough to establish a matter – in other words that there is validity to this testimony, THEN how much greater should the testimony be considered if God is supplying all of the witnesses?  This goes back to our illustration of obeying a teacher or coach – if we want to obey them, then HOW much more should we want OBEY GOD?

There are numerous thoughts on the water and the blood but I’d like to sum those up with a quote from Dr. Stephen Smalley…

Smalley writes…The inward witness of God’s Spirit shows the Christian that he was right to believe in Jesus; and this ‘internal testimony’ (of the Spirit) balances and complements the external and historical witness of the ‘water and the blood,’ the baptism and death of Jesus, which marked the limits of his earthly ministry.

The converse of the teaching of these verses is that to deny the truth of these witnesses leaves us calling God a liar!  If we see and hear His deliberate acts and their clarity and we disregard them or feign ignorance about them, then we reject Him in doing so and label him as a purveyor of untruth.  And there is no room for indifference to the witness – it is either accepted or rejected – there is no middle ground.

This is the second time John points that our actions can make God a liar.  Remember that he was combatting heretical teachings.  It is likely that the seriousness of his two charges were meant to get the attention of anyone seriously grappling with Gnosticism.

The testimony points to God’s completed work in Christ Jesus!  Faith is the victory.  He’s not calling us to do the work of salvation – He’s calling us to believe His testimony and to accept salvation’s completed work in Christ.  Remember John 16:33 where He states I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.  The question isn’t regarding God’s power to overcome the world.  The question is our faith in Him that He has done it and will continue to do it in and through us as well.

So when does this overcoming take place?  When do we get to experience the victory?  That is the theme of vv. 11-12.  The victory is in eternal life which begins when you accept the testimony and give control of your life to Christ.  John 10:10 records Jesus saying, I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.  He says this right after He speaks of our enemy, a thief, coming to kill, steal and destroy.  The enemy destroys, I have overcome the enemy, believe in me and you too will overcome.

Abundant life is a now and forever promise of God.  Regardless of our life circumstances, if we belong to Him, then we will forever be His – resulting in a secure present and final victory for the future.

Does this mean you win every battle you fight during your lifetime on this earth?  No.  We overcome some battles in the natural realm, but we overcome ALL battles in the supernatural realm.  We win some battles today but we conquer ALL battles when Christ returns.  We overcome some battles in how we feel, but we overcome all battles through obedience, faith and God’s completed work.