We read in 1 John 5:4 that it is our faith that overcomes the world. As we all use faith every day in ordinary activities for example:-
- When we put our plastic card in the ‘hole in the wall’ we have faith it will spit out money for us;
- If we walk across a bridge we have faith it will hold us up;
- If we go to the doctor for a problem, we have faith in him that the prescription will sort the problem if he says it will.
I am sure we can all think of loads of examples when we use faith in our everyday circumstances. As Christians, John wants us to now seriously look at Who we put our faith in and what we really believe. When he wrote this letter there was a group who believed that Jesus became the Messiah at His baptism and stopped being God just before He died. John wants us to be very clear in our thinking, understanding that what God says is the Truth; He is not a liar. If Jesus had not died as the Son of God we would have been left without any eternal destiny as it had to be the pure perfect Lamb, the Son of God who could take all the sins of the world and pay the complete price for them. It is a historical fact that Jesus of Nazareth came as a real man and lived in time and space, but He is also the Messiah. He was the One foretold in the Word (Isaiah 53) and recognised by the people on Palm Sunday as the One who came in the Name of God, Matthew 21:9. He was the One who created the Universe (Genesis 1, John 1:1-14 and 1 John 1:1-4)
What is the Truth?
Today we live in a generation that believes that truth is whatever feels good to us; it does not think too much about the consequences of its actions. When we ask someone their opinion we do not know if we are getting the real answer or just the answer that makes them feel good. We cannot rely on evidence in court even though sworn on the Bible. We cannot rely on things said at work as there is very little integrity especially if someone feels they may get promotion if they lie. God will have nothing to do with this sort of behaviour and will only accept the Truth. We cannot tell Him on Judgement Day that we were not sure of what was Truth as Jesus says in John 8:31-32, ‘If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.’ Also Jesus answered, ‘I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’. John 14:6. How do we know we have the Truth?
Again we look to what Jesus says in John 16:13 ‘But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all Truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come’. So, if we are God’s children, we have the Spirit of Truth living in us and His Word guarantees that He will guide us. We know we have the Truth as we keep His peace in our hearts. We can try to add our opinions or someone else’s ideas like the people at the time of John did, but if we seek peace and pursue it (1 Peter 3:11) God will definitely reveal Truth to us.
Earlier John said ‘all of you know the Truth’ (1 John 2:20); we have it down inside us in our hearts. We only get into trouble when we try to use our heads, and reason and knowledge come in just like it did in the Garden of Eden when the snake lied to Eve. We can never reason God’s way of doing things; His Kingdom operates totally by faith in His Word. It is amazing when a newspaper or TV program tells us a story about a person and we believe it completely and yet if we hear all about what God says about His Son and about ourselves, we have an attack of doubts and we find it hard to hold onto His Truth. His divine authority is so much greater than human authority, 1 John 5:9.
This passage seems complicated, but looked at in the context of the culture of the day we can see why John was trying to confirm the Truth that Jesus was both man and God. God Himself confirms that there is salvation only through the Son. God wants to confirm our faith through His testimony and His actions. So we see that God sent Jesus to enter the world by water through a normal human birth and to start His ministry through water baptism. He was baptised to identify with humanity, and yet God spoke at His baptism (Matthew 3:17) which confirmed Jesus’ identity as His Son. The blood points to His death on the Cross as God’s perfect sacrifice, without which we could not be offered cleansing for all sin and eternal life for our future. Then the Holy Spirit is the third witness to God’s actions for our salvation. One of the works of the Holy Spirit is to testify to the Truth. The testimony of the Holy Spirit is always true so we can have complete confidence in all He tells us. It is through the Holy Spirit that people follow Christ and that the Church is established and grows. It is through the Holy Spirit that believers are empowered to overcome the temptations of the world. In all His work He points all people to Jesus Christ whom He testifies is the Son of God. In Jewish tradition three witnesses were required to confirm a judgement so John is confirming that Jesus has these three witnesses, the water the blood and the Holy Spirit. Each in its different way shows that Jesus is the true Messiah sent by God for the salvation of the world.
It is also important that we allow the Holy Spirit to give testimony through us that ‘He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves’, Colossians 1:13. Our testimony is so important, just like that of the disciples who talked and preached about all Jesus had done in their lives. Just as the early Church grew as a result, so today we cannot afford to keep silent for the sake of the Name of Jesus Christ. Through the Holy Spirit, Christ lives in us as Lord, ‘And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you’. Romans 8:11. So we need to speak out!
Our faith is not just a matter of hope or a stab in the dark without any basis. It is hope based on the evidence of God’s actions and the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. Without faith in Christ there can be no Eternal Life, but through faith we have the Son AND Eternal Life.
‘…. With the measure of faith God has given you’ Romans 12:3. We see that God has given us the gift of faith; that is how you and I became Christians in the first place, Galatians 3:26. We cannot continue with just a small faith, God’s plan is for us to increase our faith by hearing the Word (Romans 10:17) and then speaking it out. When we have a baby it is born perfect with all its muscles in place but as parents we would be very disappointed if these muscles even though perfectly formed did not develop. This is how our Father feels if we are very passive in the use of our faith, He longs for us to develop our faith muscles so we can grow in stature as His child.
In Genesis 1 when God saw ‘the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep’, He did not say ‘what a mess’, instead He spoke by faith calling forth light. He had a picture on the inside of what He was going to create so He expressed it in words which when joined with His faith made the earth. The image we have on the inside of us will also be expressed in words and will create our situations for good or bad. When we have a picture in our heart of something we think God is telling us to do, we can see the impossible become possible as we obey the Word and take the next step. Usually we do not know all the steps to reach our desired goal, but the Holy Spirit will give us the next step; we just have to obey one step at a time. Fear will try to stop us doing that and will cause us to freeze in our comfort zone so we do not obey or grow in our faith. The devil will try and get us to focus on the problems rather than the promises of God’s Word. He will tempt us to focus on our own weaknesses and inabilities. We have to resist him (James 4:7), keeping God’s Word before our eyes, in our ears and in our heart. Stay totally determined to obey what He says each step of the way. Then we can look at the impossibilities before us and say ‘with God all things are possible and I believe God’. God will consistently, faithfully and supernaturally do through us and for us things that are totally impossible in the natural.
The devil wants to keep us focused on the difficult circumstances in the physical realm. Look at Peter in Matthew 14:22-33. He had a real ‘adrenalin rush’ when Jesus was walking towards him on the water in the early hours of the morning. Jesus reassured them and gave Peter His Word ‘come’ and, based on faith in Jesus’ Word, Peter stepped out of the security of the boat, and he too walked on water. He walked on across the lake without a problem! He was totally focused on Jesus’ Word. But when he took His eyes off that Word and he noticed the wind and the waves, he started looking at the impossible thing he was doing and knew from all his knowledge that he would sink or, worse, drown. When he took his focus off the Word his faith slipped back into natural mode and he did start to sink. We must seek God for His direction and then step out into the impossible, keeping our hearts focused on Jesus until the picture of the completed task is more real on the inside of us than anything else. Then our faith muscles will grow strong!
22 Faith in the Son of God – 1 John 5:6-12 Challenge Questions
Read all the notes on ‘Faith in the Son of God’ -1 John 5:6-12
1. Give two examples of when you use faith in your everyday lives.
2. If we are Christians what two ways (or more) do we have in order to check out Truth?
3. Share a testimony you have heard recently? How did it affect you?
4. How do we receive faith and how does our faith grow?
5. Read Mark 11:20-25. What mountain are you facing today? What does God want you to speak to this mountain? What will be the outcome? When?
Read verses 1 John 5:13-17
6. Why did John write this letter?
7. What is the condition that John states here for when we approach God? Can we ask God for anything?
8. Does God hear everybody? Give a Bible verse to back up your answer.
9. Has God always answered all your prayers? Do you always expect Him to?
10. Give an example of a small thing you prayed about recently and God answered.
11. Give an example of a big thing you prayed about recently and share God’s answer.
12. If we see a Christian doing something wrong what should be our first reaction? 1 John 5:16
13. What promise is there for us if we have God’s reaction?
14. What sin do you think leads to death? 1 John 5:16; Mark 3:29; Galatians 5:19-20.
15. Write out in your own words James 4:17. Does this make sin easy to understand, what exactly is sin for you?
16. Sum up in one short sentence what you have learnt from this study.
Memory Verse. ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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, and always perseveres. Love never fails.’ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8