Sunday School Lesson
NOV. 16, 2003
LIVE WITH CONFIDENCE
Bible Background—1 JOHN 5
Focal Verses—1 JOHN 5:1-15
Devotional Reading—ROMANS 5:1-11
1. We will realize how to live by GOD’S COMMANDMENTS
2. We will commit to learning GOD’S COMMANDMENTS
3. We will determine to help teach someone else what we have learned so that they, too, can live in confidence before GOD.
“And this is the record, that GOD hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in HIS SON” (1 John 5:11).
Believers are characterized by faith in GOD. This lesson teaches that faith empowers Christians to love one another, love GOD, and keep HIS COMMANDMENTS.
The Apostle John concludes his first epistle to the believers in Ephesus by focusing on the sufficiency that is found in JESUS CHRIST.
Because these believers were inundated with false teachings, John was motivated by his love for his “little children” to keep them on the straight and narrow path of truth so they would not be swayed away by damnable heresy that could have a lasting effect upon their lives. For John, it was not enough to share doctrine. The apostle stressed that we must walk in confidence and abide by what we receive so as to keep ourselves in the love of GOD and the faith of JESUS CHRIST at all times. It is a tall order, but one John knows we are capable of if we keep the LORD’S COMMANDMENTS and love others as HE has loved us.
1. BELIEVERS CAN OVERCOME THE WORLD (1 John 5:1-5)
In writing his first epistle, the Apostle John clearly understood his assignment. His number one goal was to exalt JESUS CHRIST as “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The apostle knew that without JESUS CHRIST, human beings are hopelessly lost and doomed for all eternity. Because John was writing to believers who were influenced by Gnosticism, the apostle had to make his points about the nature of GOD and JESUS CHRIST clear and succinct.
As John begins the last chapter of his letter, he makes sure that believers have no doubt on where he stands. John says, “Whoever believes that JESUS is the CHRIST is born of GOD, and everyone who loves him who begot also loves him who is begotten of HIM” (v.1, NKJV). For John, the only person who is born again is the one who lives in faith, declaring not only with their mouths, but also with their lives, that JESUS is the ANOINTED ONE sent by GOD.
How do we declare with our lives that JESUS is the ANOINTED ONE? First, we give HIM free reign in our hearts. We allow JESUS CHRIST to live in us so that we are obedient to HIS WORD, faithful to HIS CALL, and committed to HIS LORDSHIP. We can live confidently, knowing that JESUS CHRIST IS IN COMPLETE CONTROL OF OUR LIVES WHEN WE ARE SUBMITTED TO HIM.
Not only are true believers born again, but also they have a love for JESUS CHRIST and a love for their brothers and sisters in the body of CHRIST. John affirms that true love flows out of GOD’S heart into ours, which gives us the power and ability to love those HE loves. If we say that we are children of GOD and JESUS CHRIST is LORD of our lives, we should have no problem loving those who are also a part of GOD’S KINGDOM. In fact, John says that the proof of our love for GOD is that we love others and obey GOD’S COMMANDMENTS.
John made it clear that no one can say they love GOD while at the same time hating their brother. To do so would make one a liar (see 1 John 4:20). Thus, John’s understanding of true love is not just “lip service.” It flows out of an obedient heart toward GOD. When we love GOD, we love those HE LOVES. Therefore, if we want to check our love for GOD and others, we need to ask ourselves: Are we obeying GOD and seeking HIS WILL every day, committed to following HIS COMMANDS, yielding our lives in service to the FATHER, and seeking to be a blessing to our brothers and sisters in CHRIST?
John identifies the nature of true love, which flows from GOD. We are called to keep HIS COMMANDMENTS (V.3). The word “commandments” comes from the Greek word entole and carries the idea of an edict, decree, or order coming from a very high-ranking official. In the context in which John uses the word, the apostle is affirming that we must observe and execute with diligence what GOD has told us to do. If we say we love GOD, then we should obey HIS COMMANDMENTS no matter how difficult they may seem.
2. BELIEVERS CAN KNOW THE ASSURANCES OF GOD (vv.6-11)
John continues his teaching about GOD by focusing on HIS triune nature. Gnostics believed that it was impossible for deity and humanity to become one. But John has already affirmed this truth (John 1:18), and the apostle was not about to back away from his teachings regardless of what others might believe.
The apostle says that if you want to know who JESUS CHRIST is, you must recognize at least two truths. First, JESUS came “by water” (v.6). That is, JESUS’ earthly ministry began when John the Baptist baptized our LORD in the Jordan River. When JESUS came out of the water, the Scriptures state that GOD’S SPIRIT descended on HIM like a dove and a voice from heaven spoke, declaring that JESUS was GOD’S BELOVED SON (see Matthew 3:13-17). JESUS’ baptism was a symbol of HIS humanity.
Second, John says that JESUS came “by blood” (v.6). JESUS’ earthly ministry came to its conclusion at the cross of Calvary (see John 19:28-30). JESUS’ death proved that HE was the LAMB OF GOD who came to take away the sins of the whole world. No one but JESUS is qualified to be our SAVIOR since HE is both GOD and man. By HIS death on the cross and our belief in HIM, we are baptized into the body of CHRIST and cleansed by HIS BLOOD. John can give us this assurance because the COMFORTER, GOD’S HOLY SPIRIT OF TRUTH, has revealed the reality and nature of our SAVIOR to JESUS’ disciples and to us.
Unlike Gnostics, who have no basis for their theology, John lays out in detail the source of his teachings. There are three heavenly witnesses to the nature and work of JESUS CHRIST: the FATHER, the WORD OF GOD, and the HOLY SPIRIT (1 John 5:7). John affirms that they cannot contradict each other since they are ONE. What John means is that while each Person of the Trinity is distinct in function they are unified in nature. Despite what Gnostics may teach, GOD cannot be separated from HIS WORD or HIS SPIRIT. Since GOD affirmed that JESUS is the CHRIST and the HOLY GHOST has decreed it, there can be no doubt as to the nature and work of the SON OF GOD.
In like manner, John declares that there are three things on earth that agree as to the nature of JESUS as the SON OF GOD: the HOLY SPIRIT, the baptism of JESUS CHRIST, and the BLOOD that HE shed on the cross. JESUS’ baptism proved that HE was GOD’S SON, HIS shed BLOOD proved that HE was GOD’S SON, and our recreated spirit also knows beyond any doubt that JESUS is the SON OF GOD. Certainly, if the first-century Christians can listen and adhere to men’s teachings, they can receive GOD’S WORD since it is more powerful. John declares that GOD has given the believer the true witness: JESUS CHRIST is the SON OF GOD.
If we take GOD at HIS WORD, our own spirits will come alive to the truth that JESUS CHRIST is the only way to the FATHER and that by believing in HIM we have eternal life. Consequently, if we listen to the Gnostics and believe their damnable heresy, we forfeit our place in GOD. Why? For the apostle, the answer is very clear: there is only ONE who provides eternal life, and that life is in the SON OF GOD. Any other teaching or doctrine that does not acknowledge HIM as SAVIOR and LORD is a lie.
3. BELIEVERS CAN LIVE WITH CONFIDENCE OF ETERNAL LIFE (vv.12-15)
John prepares to give us reasons why the believer can live with confidence of eternal life. Simply put, if we “have the SON,” we have life. If we do not have the SON, we have nothing. The Greek phrase that John uses is zoe ho aionios, which refers to the GOD kind of life that culminates in eternal or everlasting life.
Eternal life is ours the moment we put our faith and trust in JESUS CHRIST and accept HIM as our SAVIOR. We don’t have to wait to get to heaven to receive the benefits GOD has for us. The apostle’s purpose in writing to these believers is to let them know the promise they have in CHRIST. If we believe GOD and trust that HE has given us HIS SON as the only way to the FATHER, we have eternal life. We don’t have to “fly away” or “come up on the rough side of the mountain” to be blessed. GOD wants us to know and have confidence that we can have what HE says right now.
The word “confidence” (v.14) comes from the Greek word parresia and means a fearless and unwavering faith in communing with GOD. It also means that fear and anxiety that is often associated with a human being’s relationship to GOD has been removed. Therefore, we can come boldly to the throne of grace at all times. There is no fear in our relationship with GOD. So whatever we ask for that is in line with GOD’S WILL, we can have faith and assurance that HE will give us.
GOD’S WORD gives us confidence to believe that if we love GOD and love others as GOD says we ought to, we are HIS children and can receive all the blessings HE has for us. Can you trust in GOD’S WORD today?
Today, many people are looking for something or someone in whom they can place their confidence. There are so many people who lack integrity and honor that it is difficult for people to trust them. How can this lesson be used to help build the confidence of someone who has lost faith in humanity because of the way they have been mistreated in the past? Write out some principles that you can share with others that can be used to help someone who is struggling with feelings of frustration and hurt. After your time of prayer, thank GOD for HIS faithfulness in hearing what you have said.
THINK ABOUT IT!!!!
Rev. Chris Lowe, Sr., DD
Email Dr. Lowe
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