1 John 5:18-21
August 24, 2014
We don’t often like to admit it, but most of us are pretty ignorant most of the time about most things. We don’t know nearly as much as we’d like to convince people we do know.
- Our children ask us questions about the way things operate — “Daddy, how does ___ work?” and sometimes we try to bluff our way through an answer and sometimes we man-up and admit that we just don’t know.
- Other times they ask about our rational behind a decision we’ve just made, and rather than attempting a theological explanation, we say, “because I said so…”
- Sometimes things happen in our world and we think we should have an opinion and sometimes we even vehemently express an opinion, but we really don’t know. Take for instance the events of the past week in Ferguson, MO: two prominent and respected pastors offered two divergent opinions on the events that happened there. But neither was present at the time of the event and neither really knows what happened (nor do you or I).
- Some of us have pretty specialized knowledge in particular fields — how to fly an airplane, or medical information about the body, or how a piece of machinery works, or how plants grow. But it doesn’t take too much time for most of us to have our ignorance exposed. Ask me a Bible or baseball question and I’ll probably be able to give you a reasonable answer pretty quickly, but ask me a geography or geology or international politics or biology or mathematics (I can add and subtract and multiply and divide, but after that…) or economics question, and I’m probably going to be clueless.
A few years ago we purchased the book How Things Work and then later the companion CD and while I enjoyed looking at the book, I was amazed I just didn’t know anything about so many things that I interact with and use on a daily basis — vacuum cleaners and telephones and the internet and electrical motors and combustion engines and…
I’ve come to the place that when I meet someone I haven’t seen in a while and he says to me, “What do you know?” that I’m tempted to respond, “Nothing. I am completely ignorant about everything.”
However, most of the things that we don’t know are pretty inconsequential. You can survive quite nicely in the world even if you don’t know anything about baseball or international affairs or even mathematics. Yet the things that are most important, we are told we do know everything we need to know about those topics; all that is essential, we know. That is John’s message about the gospel and our salvation in his first letter.
And as he draws the letter to a close (5:18-21), he summarizes the essentials of what we know:
The one who is born again by God is kept by God.
This passage contains four certainties of the Christian life:
- The Believer Does Not Live in Sin (v. 18)
- God keeps him out of sin
- Satan cannot keep him in sin
- The Believer Does Not Belong to the World (v. 19)
- The believer belongs to God
- The world is in Satan (and his control)
- The Believer is in the Truth (v. 20)
- Christ came as the God-Man
- Christ gives His people understanding
- The believer lives in Christ, the Truth
- The Believer Fights Against Sin (v. 21)
- God keeps the believer, but the believer also guards himself
- The believer particularly resists false perversions of Christ
Now all four of these declarations are premised on what happens to the sinner when he is saved. In verse 18 John calls that process being “born again.” The theological word for that is regeneration. When a person is regenerated, he is given a new life:
- God is the one who makes the person come alive (no one gives life to himself — either physical or spiritual life; Jn. 1:13).
- The only way to see God is to have this new birth (Jn. 3:5ff).
- When a person is regenerated, he can and will do righteous things (1 Jn. 2:29) — something he cannot do without that new life.
- The born again person loves God and loves God’s people (1 Jn. 4:7; 5:1, 4).
In summation, all the regenerated person’s relationships change and his activities and focus and purpose in life change. And because he has been regenerated, John says there are at least four certainties about his life that he can know.
Download the rest of this sermon on 1 John 5:18-21.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.