Friday, May 31, 2024

Morning Message: Blessed Assurance

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "Blessed Assurance"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Raised as a Roman Catholic, I learned early on that taking on responsibilities came with the Ten Commandments, and avoiding responsibilities produced feelings of guilt. Even when accomplishing those things, I often ended up second-guessing myself. Was it enough? Or even good enough? The resolution to this dilemma is to trust Jesus for all things. It was a great relief to learn that my salvation was not my responsibility, except to hear God’s Word, and respond to it. That’s a decision-making proposition. Once we hear the Gospel, we have a decision to make: Do we believe God’s Word, or not?

The Apostle John began making his point in the beginning of this Epistle, and now he drives the point home for us in this second half of 1 John 5. From “whosever” meaning me, to an “assurance” of salvation if we believe. Learning that salvation is the work of the Lord, takes that responsibility off from a believer’s shoulders and leaves it upon Jesus’ shoulders, the one who promised it to us. And Jesus promised that even our mustard seed sized faith would grow into a great tree!

This creates a division with the world, and with some others who call themselves believers. Those who remain unbelievers have made their choice, and God will continue to try to get their attention throughout their lives, because it is His desire that none would be lost. And God continues to try to reveal to those other professors that works do not save us. “Works” do not save us, but works do come naturally by faith once an individual realizes that they are indeed “saved,” others can become the focus (Ephesians 2:8,9 and James 2:18, 26).

Belief in the Lord Jesus brings with it first the indwelling, and then the actions of the Holy Spirit of God. The good works come from Him, working through us, in many ways showing our faith by works of compassion and empathy. In these are displayed the gifts of the Spirit. If we ask for them, He will not deny us.

Spiritual gifts: 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 - Word of wisdom; knowledge; faith; healing; miracles; prophecy; discerning of spirits; diverse languages; interpretation of those languages. Ephesians 4:11– apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.

"I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me."  Philippians 4:13

Bobservations Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
1 John 5:9-21 - "Blessed Assurance"

Summary/Additional Commentary and Definitions:  

1 John chapter 5 serves as a concluding exhortation to those who believe in Jesus Christ. It offers reassurance of eternal life and emphasizes the importance of love and obedience in the Christian Walk.

All through the epistle he’s been giving tests, tests that identify the true and the false believers. There were false teachers among these believers. There were antichrists among these believers. There were spiritual fakes and frauds and phonies and deceivers among these believers. They were insecure, as believers tend to be when they’re not well taught, and so John gives tests, doctrinal tests, the test of understanding a true view of man as sinful, the test of understanding a true view of Jesus Christ, who He is and why He came. Those are the doctrinal tests. The moral tests have to do with obedience to the law of God and to Christ, and love for God and not the world, and love for others. 

As we read and study John's epistle, we are easily able to discern whether or not if what we believe lines up with God's Word.  John gave certain tests by which we can test the spirits, doctrines, teachings, teachers and those who claim to be Believers. Believers believe the right things about themselves as sinners and about Jesus Christ as Savior. They obey the Word of God and demonstrate love for Him and love for others.

John declared, “This is why I’ve written this. I want you to know; I want you to be certain; I want you to be confident.”

The apostle John was vitally concerned that his “little children” (5:21) know a number of things because they had come to believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. In fact, a quick survey of this 5-chapter letter reveals at least the following things we can know: 
  1. We can know that we know God (2:3, 13, 14; 4:7). 
  2. We can know that we are in God (2:5). 
  3. We can know that it is the last hour (2:18). 
  4. We can know the truth (2:21; 3:19). 
  5. We can know that Jesus is righteous (2:29). 
  6. We can know that we will be like Jesus (3:2). 
  7. We can know Jesus appeared to take away sins (3:5). 
  8. We can know that Jesus is sinless (3:5). 
  9. We can know that we have passed out of death into life (3:14). 
  10. We can know no murderer has eternal life (3:15). 
  11. We can know love (3:16; 4:16). 
  12. We can know that God abides in us (3:24; 4:13). 
  13. We can know the Spirit of God (4:2). 
  14. We can know the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error (4:6). 
  15. We can know that we love God’s children (5:2). 
  16. We can know that we have eternal life (5:13). 
  17. We can know that God answers prayer (5:15). 
  18. We can know that we will not practice sin (5:18). 
  19. We can know that we belong to God (5:19). 
  20. We can know that the Son of God has come (5:20).
  21. We can know that the Son of God has given us understanding (5:20). 
  22. We can know Him who is true (5:20).
In this final section of 1 John (5:13-21), John the things every believer can and should know. Seven times the word know appears. Christianity is not an “I hope so” or “I think so” faith. It is an “I know so” faith because what has been revealed in the Bible was given to us by God, a God who speaks and a God who speaks only truth. As he brings his letter to close, what is it, in particular, that John wants, that God wants, every child of His to know?
  • We can know we have eternal life
  • We can know that God answers prayer
  • We can know victory over sin
  • We can know we belong to God
  • We can know what is true
Knowing these things brings confidence.  That confidence is knowing that as we come to God in prayer, He hears our prayers and will answer according to His will (verses 14-17).

Quick Review: The chapter opens by establishing a connection between being born of God, believing in Jesus as the Christ, and loving both God and his children. This love is demonstrated through keeping God’s commandments, which are described as not burdensome. It then highlights the believer’s victory over the world through faith in Jesus Christ.

John presents various evidences for Christ’s identity as the Son of God, including the Spirit, the water of baptism, and the blood of the cross. This section provides believers with confidence in their salvation. John declares that, for believers, this testimony about Jesus is both objective and personal. Christians have evidence of the truth because God lives within them. There are natural, powerful effects of a relationship with Christ that can be seen and felt by ourselves, and by others. Those who do not believe God, John says, are rejecting His truth, which is the same as accusing Him of lying.

There is a final warning in verse 21, that every Believer must heed, Keep yourselves from idols."  
John ends this epistle with a warning. Cities across the Mediterranean were filled with idol worship. But throughout this letter, the errors that John has confronted have focused on a wrong Christology, lack of love, and lawlessness. Why does he bring up idol worship now?

Because John has just exhorted his readers that Jesus Christ the Son is 
"the true God and eternal life" (5:20). The essence of idolatry is substituting something false and unworthy in the place of the true God. So, John is saying: Little children, watch yourselves so that you don't let anything false or unworthy take the place of your true faith in the true God -- a fitting way to conclude!

Sunday Morning Audio Message:  

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

Hath the Witness (5:10) - The internal witness is none other than the indwelling Holy Spirit, who is both 
"in heaven" (as the third Person of the Godhead) and "in earth" (note 5:7-8), as He indwells each believer.  Compare Romans 8:16-17; Galatians 4:6.

Made Him a Liar (5:10) - Those who recoil at the thought of eternal punishment of the lost need to reckon with the infinite magnitude of their sin - that of calling their own Creator a liar.  An infinite sin warrants infinite punishment, especially in light of the infinite sacrifice made for them by their Creator, and the free gift of infinite life (5:11) offered them by that loving God on the basis of His sacrifice.  The punishment is more than merited by the crime.

The Record (5:10) - The same Greek word, in either verb or noun form (martureo, marturia).  It is translated "record" three times in this epistle, "testify" twice, and "witness" seven times.  
These Things (5:13) - References all that John has written in his letter.

That Ye May Know (5:13) - While John wrote his Gospel to bring unbelievers to faith (John 20:31), he wrote the epistle to give Believers confidence that they possessed eternal life. 

Confidence (5:14) - Confidence in God.  God's love delivers us from self-condemnation.  The manifestation of God's love in a believer's life and deeds brings confidence about his relationship with God. Christians can know with absolute confidence that God answers prayer when they approach the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16).

According to His Will (5:14) - This phrase constitutes a strategic key to answered prayer.  To pray according to God's will is to pray in accord with what He would want, not what we would desire or insist that He do for us (John 14:13, 14).  

He Heareth Us (5:14) - The word hear signifies that God always hears the prayers of His children (Psalm 34:15-17), but not always in the manner they are presented.

Sin Unto Death (5:16) - Such a sin could be any premeditated and unconfessed sin that causes the Lord to end a believer's life.  It is not one particular sin, but whatever sin is the final one in the tolerance of God.  Failure to repent of and forsake sin may eventually lead to physical death as a judgment of God.

Pray For It (5:16) - Praying according to God's will with the specific example of sin leading to death."  No intercessory prayer will be effective for those who have committed such sin.  There is no use in praying for the dead.

Unrighteousness is Sin (5:17) - Here is a very succinct definition of sin.  

Keepeth Himself (5:18) -"Keepeth" is used in the sense of "guardeth."  The born-again Christian should guard himself against the deceptions of Satan by constantly availing himself of "the whole armour of God" (Ephesians 6:10-18).  We resist the devil steadfastly in the faith (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8, 9).  We follow Christ's example in silencing him with appropriate Scriptures (Matthew 4:1-11).  That "wicked one" cannot touch us to the extent that we thus guard ourselves against the wiles of the devil, (1 John 4:4).  The Believer belongs to God, Satan must operate within God's sovereignty and cannot function beyond what God allows, as in the example of Job (Job 2:5; Romans 16:20).  While Satan may persecute, tempt, test, and accuse the believer, God protects His children and places definite limits on Satan's influence or power (2:13; John 10:28; 17:12-15).

We Are of God (5:19) - We can be certain that Christians belong to God.  Only two types of people exist in the world according to scripture:  they are either the children of God, or the children of Satan.  

Wickedness (5:19) - This explicitly refers to "that wicked one" of the previous verse.  Satan indeed is not"the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4), the one "Which deceiveth the whole world" (Revelation 12:9).  We, however, "are of God" and certainly should not be pandering to the world system, as so many churches do today. 

True (5:20) - The word means "genuine" as opposed to what is false (vs 21).  Jesus Christ is the TRUE God.  The greatest certainty of all that we know is the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.  This is the doctrinal foundation out of which comes love and obedience.  

Idols (5:21) - John contrasts the term idols with "the true God" of verse 20.  He has reference here to the false teachers who withdrew from the brotherhood with which they had been formerly associated (2:19).  Their false beliefs and practices are the idols from which the readers are commanded to protect themselves.  The false teachers upheld the world's philosophy as superior to God's revelation as demonstrated in their perversion of basic Christian teaching (faith, love, and obedience).  John closes by highlighting the importance of adherence to the fundamentals of the faith. 

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