you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.
WE can be certain that we have been given an incredible life and that life is in His Son Jesus Christ!
Nothing is certain but death and taxes. Benjamin Franklin penned those very words in 1789. My parents perspective was the same except they used to slip in, ‘Jack, if that is the worst thing that is going to happen to you, you are doing alright.’ They did a great job teaching me perspective goes a long way in assessing my life. They raised me with a foundation about things that I could have absolute assurance about from the love of God to the realization that my life is in His hands! This passage testifies to the truth that there are absolute certainties about life for those ‘born of God’. This chapter is all about building into the children of God the confidence that comes from knowing Jesus!
To a point, John affirms, ‘we know’ 39x in this letter and 8x in this final chapter. There is a lot to be said about a child who knows and believes it when it comes to being joyful in obedience, victorious in faith, assurance in belief, confidence in prayer and absolute in truth.
If we can raise our children with this capacity, they will be ‘tigers for the Lord’!
I can remember being interviewed for accreditation and as I laid out my beliefs, the ordaining council shared with me that it had been a long time since they had someone come through with such an affirmation and lack of doubt in regards to their beliefs. I do not tell that story to say, ‘hey, look at me’ but to say I had parents, brothers, mentors who took the time to instill it into my life. Our kids will not learn it by osmosis! We need spiritual coaches, mentors, trainers in the church for the life of the church!
Joyful In Obedience v1-3a
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome
The idea of being joyful in obedience may seem like an oxymoron to some. The first truth about life is found in learning obedience. The word ‘obey’ would seem like being in a controlled situation and frankly that may scare you, but with God, we will thrive when we are obedient to his commands.
What are his commands ultimately….to love the Lord your God and love to another….
I hold fast to your statutes, O LORD;
do not let me be put to shame.
32 I run in the path of your commands,
for you have set my heart free.
33 Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees;
then I will keep them to the end.
Running to me sounds like a lot of movement, a lot of freedom for expression. I think all to often we hear the word, ‘command’ or ‘be obedient’ and naturally our backs get up. Nobody likes to be told what to do, but when it is God doing the telling, the Scriptures testify, David testifies, Paul shares with confidence that when you are obedient, when you listen, when you follow through on God’s commands, it will give you life!!
What really is burdensome is the reality of life for those who do not obey his commands. It is then that life gets really hard to live.
The first step of obedience in Jesus’ life was to accept his mission and He ‘came by water’ in verse 6 referring to His baptism. When Jesus was baptized by John in the
Believer’s baptism is a step of obedience. It is all about control and some of you need to take that step. Some of you might be thinking but is it really necessary. Jesus thought so or he wouldn’t put it up right beside disciple making!
Obedience to God for you might be breaking a bad habit, having a neighbor over for a bbq, or stop working so much so that you can be there for your family
Obedience to God might be actually asking Him what He wants to do with your life! That might scare you, but it shouldn’t. It’s about opening up your life to possibilities and dreams you never imagined…Ephesians 3:20
I know someone who is ready to change the course of the direction of their life in the last month and the joy is unmistakeable.
It was while actually running this week that God spoke to me about returning the hearts of the children to the fathers and the fathers to the children. I literally go on the run with God and I know I have to be obedient to that voice in my life. I’m already wrestling about the implications of it, but also crazy excited about what that could give birth to!!
Victorious In Faith v4b,5
for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
I don’t know about you but I don’t like losing and the truth of the matter is that we are on the winning side
The spell has been broken with regards to the world. The fascination with what this world, everything apart from God, has lost its appeal. It just doesn’t have that gravitational pull in their life…they can throw the ads in the recycling bin because they really know that they are not missing out on the greatest deal of a lifetime!!
There are definitely times that we are overcome by grief and we read stories in the paper that can really crush you and perplex you…for Paul it was very real and very physical
8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
BUT the point is that we are not destroyed. Hope is not destroyed, faith is not lost. There is a very real sense for the believer that have learned to overcome, for someone whose faith has gone through the fire…
Assurance In Belief v6-13
13I 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.
We have already focused on Jesus coming by water, but He also came by blood which refers to His crucifixion, His death on the cross and the third testimony of Christ is the Holy Spirit of God.
Assurance of life giving belief rests in this:
- the testimony that Jesus is God’s Son in our hearts
- the testimony that in Jesus there is life and life eternal
testimony – truthfulness, sincerity, authenticity. It is a legal word that speaks to giving evidence and proof
don’t lose sight of the testimony of God in your heart….so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life!
Confidence In Prayer v14,15
14This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
Prayer is not a meaningless exercise. It carries incredible weight, it brings amazing clarity and reveals His will. Prayer brings resolution in our lives!
Absolute In Truth v16-21
16If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. 17All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.
Truth #1 Intercession changes people. The fact is that through prayer we can watch God change the course of direction of a person’s life.
OK, so what is the sin that leads to death?
Certainly in the OT there were many sins that were punishable by death in the Levitical Law. Leviticus 20 Some might even say the sin of apostacy is the sin that leads to death – a complete and total denial of faith. There are those who would say it is the unpardonable sin, the sin of blasphemy --- the Pharisees who attributed the works of God to Satan and they are all good answers.
BUT, here is the bigger question, how can you give life to someone who is already alive? A believer is alive, A believer has life! So, both people being referred to here are not Christians, but dead, dead in their sins as Ephesians 2 would describe them. The word brother here is being used in the nominal sense of a brother, in the broader word of a brother being a neighbor.
So, while a good Bible student may get hung up on this, that is really not the point here. The point that is so powerful is that we need to pray for our neighbors because the only sin that leads to death is the SIN OF UNBELIEF!
We need to pray that God will open their eyes to the light of the glorious gospel in all its fullness. We have been given such an amazing life and this is not by random choice and natural selection!
Truth # 2 I will feel differently about sin
18We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.
The reality of Christ’s presence in your life will not allow you to persist in deliberate sin.
Truth # 3 I am a child of God
As much as we affirm and hold on to the truth, it also means the opposite is true for all those who do not have Jesus…they are under the power, influence and control of the evil one.
19We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
THE FINAL TRUTH or the TAKEAWAY is found in verse 20. It holds everything together
20We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
We have an incredible LIFE in Jesus, God’s Son, a life like no other. Pray for understanding for others as you testify to what you KNOW!
21Dear children, keep yourselves from idols – Idols always steal time and your affection away from Christ….by the way, there is no life in an idol.
Questions For Discussion and Small Groups
- What does eternal life mean to you?
- Who are people in your life that you can pray for their understanding? Write their names down and keep them in your Bible or somewhere to remind you.
- Testify! Have you ever put your testimony on paper and identified what God has done in your heart? Take time to write down something fresh that God is doing in you right now and share it with your family or small group.