************ Sermon on 1 John 5:13 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on May 24, 2020
1 John 5:13
I A World of Uncertainty
A We live in uncertain times in an uncertain world. There is so much we are uncertain about. After 9/11 we have become uncertain about flying. After the depression of 2008 we have become uncertain about the economy. The coronavirus has made us uncertain about the knowledge and ability of the CDC, WHO, and medical science; it has made us uncertain about making travel plans, worship, jobs, work habits, and cruise lines; it has made us uncertain about hand-shakes, hugs, and sitting close to one another; it has made us uncertain about shopping, dining, or being in any kind of a crowd. There is so much uncertainty.
One of the laws of the material universe is that everything tends toward disorder and disruption. That's one of the reasons evolution makes no sense because it assumes the opposite. This law means we can't be sure about gravity, changing seasons, sunrise and sunset, or even the existence of planet earth and our solar system. Earthquakes mean we can't be certain about the ground we walk and live upon. Climate change means we can't be certain about the weather -- sometimes we have drought, sometimes we have rain, a couple of times we have even had snow.
Ask an unbeliever "What are you certain about?" Do you know Ben Franklin's answer? "Nothing is certain but death and taxes." "Nothing is certain but death and taxes." Isn't that depressing and sad?
B John's audience faced uncertainty. There were false teachers among these believers. There were antichrists among these believers. In the church there were those who were fakes, frauds, phonies, and deceivers. All of this shook up the true Christians and made them uncertain about their faith, forgiveness, the person of Jesus, eternal life. They lost their confidence. They lost their joy.
C In an uncertain world, man has a deep desire for certainty. And he will go to great lengths to get it: complex computer programs and models, astrology, palm readers, weather patterns, watching a groundhog on February 2, political polls, and so on.
II The Christian's Certainty
A "Nothing is certain but death and taxes." I am happy to say Ben Franklin is wrong. Let me tell the girls and boys some things we are certain about ... So when Ben Franklin says nothing is certain but death and taxes, he sure is wrong, isn't he?!
Look at the word "know" in our text. In 1 John, our pew Bibles use the word "know" 33 times in 26 verses, 6 times at the end of chapter 5. Christians aren't uncertain. Christians aren't unsure. Christians know. We are sure. We are confident.
We Christians have certainty in an uncertain world. It starts with the Bible, the Word of God. The Bible is filled with absolute certainties. We are certain how the universe began and we are certain how it someday will end. We are certain why and how God created man and woman and marriage. We are certain about sin and man's fallen nature. We are certain about what is right and wrong. We are certain about how we are saved from sin and judgment. We are certain about justification and sanctification. We are certain about the atoning sacrifice of Christ. We are certain about eternal life. We are certain about Jesus' birth, death, resurrection, ascension, rule, and return. We are certain about all these things.
Our certainty is a problem for our uncertain world. People are offended by our certainty.
B We know. The Greek word for "know" in our text means absolute knowledge. It is not something learned by experience or observation. It is not something learned by science or philosophy. It is not something learned from nature or astronomy. Rather we know it because it has come to us by divine revelation -- from the Bible, from the inspired and infallible Word of God.
Go through the Bible and take note of how many times it says "we know." Let me mention some texts that stand out in my mind:
(2 Tim 1:12) I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.I know. We know.
(Rom 8:28) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
(Rom 6:6) For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--
(Rom 6:9) For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
(Job 19:25) I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
(Ps 51:3) For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
(Ps 135:5) I know that the LORD is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods.
C I know. We know. We are certain. About what? John emphasizes we are certain about "eternal life."
(1 Jn 5:13) I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.Think about this. One of the questions I ask the elderly or dying is, "Do you know where you are going? Are you going to heaven when you die?" There is no need for any Christian to answer, "I hope so, I think so." The correct answer is, "I know so." Let me quote Q & A 21 of the Heidelberg Catechism:
What is true faith?Did you hear that? I know. Christians know. We know we are saved. We know ours is eternal life. There is no doubt. There are no questions. We know. We know for sure. We have assurance.
True faith is ...
a deep-rooted assurance [that] ...
not only others, but I too,
have had my sins forgiven,
have been made forever right with God,
and have been granted salvation.
Our faith is not a hope. It is not wishful thinking. It isn't a pleasant dream. It is reality. We know. Why? Because God has spoken and what God has spoken is always true.
D John want us to know. John wants us to have surety. John wants us to be certain. Did you catch that from our text this morning?
(1 Jn 5:13) I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."I write these things ..." What things? What John writes in his whole letter. What John writes in the other two letters. What John writes in the gospel that bears his name. What John writes in the Revelation.
"I write these things ..." Why? So we know. So we are sure and confident. So there are no doubts and no questions and no fears when it comes to eternal life. So we don't torture ourselves about our eternal destiny. Can we know? Do we know? We certainly do. That's why John wrote 5 books of the New Testament.
Pity all those who don't know. Pity all those who die having no idea where they will be ending up. I'm afraid there are a number of Reformed denominations who specialize in creating uncertainty in the hearts and minds of their members. That is terrible. Pity others who also don't know. Jews and Muslims don't know because under their works-based religion one can never be sure. Unbelievers don't know. False religions, false prophets, false teachers and their followers don't know. Roman Catholics don't know either; there is always another sin to confess; there is always another rosary to say; there is always penance to be made.
So someone asks you, "When you die are you going to heaven?" what will your answer be? Are you going to say, "I hope so. I think so. I think I am good enough. I am trying." No, that's not the answer to give. Rather, you say, "I know, I am sure, I am positive, I am certain, I am going to heaven. I know, I am sure, I am positive, I am certain, I have eternal life."
E I am absolutely sure not because my faith is so strong. Not because John's words are so eloquent and convincing. Not because the preacher says so. I am absolutely sure because -- hear the condition John lays down -- because I "believe in the name of the Son of God." Because of Jesus I am sure. Back to what Paul wrote, words we will shortly be singing:
(2 Tim 1:12) I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
III Eternal Life
A In an uncertain world, Christians are certain. In an uncertain world, Christians -- because of Christ -- are certain about eternal life.
Eternal life. That's our last point. Let's spend a few moments looking at eternal life.
To understand it, let's look at its opposite as expressed in the Bible's best known text:
(Jn 3:16) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.What is the opposite of eternal life? Its opposite is to perish. Its opposite is to be sent to the fires of hell and to be forever under the judgment of God. Its opposite is to experience the lake of burning sulfur. Its opposite is the second death. The first death is the death of the body -- something we all will experience. The second death is to be forever dying, to be forever under the wrath of God.
B So what is eternal life. It is life with God. When we first die, eternal life is life with God in heaven. After Jesus comes again, eternal life is life with God on the new earth. Do you hear that? Life eternal is life with God. Without becoming divine, we possess the very life of God Himself. Without becoming divine, in Christ we possess the life of God. We get it from Jesus. All God's life is in Jesus, and all of Jesus' life is in us.
When we talk about eternal life, we tend to use the future tense. It is something coming. It is something we are awaiting. However, it is also something present. Listen carefully to what Jesus said in His High Priestly prayer in John 17:
(Jn 17:3) Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.Is eternal life only future? No. It is already our present experience. John writes so that you may know that you have eternal life -- have, present tense. That you have eternal life -- not will have, future tense. As Jesus told Martha, "whoever lives and believes in me will never die." Yes, their body may die but they will never die. Why not? Because theirs is eternal life.
Do you believe in Jesus? Do you accept the testimony of God about His Son? Well, then, you know that you have eternal life. That it is already your present experience. Because of sin, what we see is often dim. What the world sees is dimmer yet. But someday the life in us will shine forth as lights in the universe.
C One more thing. Too often what is emphasized is the duration, the length. People emphasize that it is life that never ends. That is not the Bible's emphasis. It is not length of life that counts, it is quality of life that counts. It is life with God. It is the life of God: holy, pure, righteous, good, sinless, fulfilling, satisfying. It is a life that lacks nothing. It is life missing nothing. It is life that seeks nothing more, desires nothing more, than what it is -- life with God and in God.
"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 Jn 5:13).
Do you know? Do you believe? Are you sure?
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