To Believe or Not to Believe

9 May

You can listen to the podcast for this message here.

Last week we saw the importance of God’s testimony about who Jesus is. The Spirit and the water and the blood all testify to that fact and are in complete agreement. Faith is an important aspect of John’s letter. Faith produces characteristics in the life of a Christian that are unmistakable. What is the result of belief? Let’s find out.

1 John 5:10-12 says, The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”

Let’s look at the facts about Jesus. The key to v. 10 is in the statement that, “The one that believes in the Son of God.” We have seen this before. Belief is more than simply acknowledging who Christ is. We have the testimony of, “The Spirit and of the water and of the blood.” This belief in the Son of God means that you agree with God about His Son. The testimony of God is greater than the testimony of men. God says that Jesus is His Son. God says that Jesus’ work on the cross was sufficient to appease His wrath. God says that anyone that believes in the Son has eternal life. John says, The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.” You believe the testimony of the Spirit and of the water and of the blood and this results in an inner testimony. In other words, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” (Rom. 8:16) And Gal. 4:6, “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”          How do your children know you’re the father? Because you tell them. They recognize you. It’s no different for us as children of God.

When you’re a true child of God, the Holy Spirit moves into your heart. Let’s think about this logically. Can someone live in your house and you not know it? Can you share a dwelling place with someone else, but there is no indication that more than one person lives there? Can two people live together and there are no adjustments? Of course the answer to all of these questions is no. When you share your life with someone, you know they’re there. When the God of the universe moves into your heart, you’re going to know it. There will be changes, adjustments, disagreements and discussions. You have the inner testimony of God because you believe in God.

The opposite is also true. Thinking to a court of law, if you don’t believe the testimony of a witness, it is because you doubt he’s telling the truth. “The one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son.” So we have a problem. Num. 23:19 tells us that, “God is not a man, that He should lie.”   If you don’t believe the testimony of God, you make Him a liar and since God cannot lie, the problem isn’t with God, the problem is with the one that does not believe. Maybe you say, “I’m skeptical by nature.” Rom. 1:19 says, “That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.” There is an inherent, supernatural hole in the life of every person that pushes us to seek the Creator. God’s desire is that we find Him because He’s, “Not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.” (1 Pet. 3:9) If you say you believe in God yet don’t believe what God says about His Son, you fall in line with the Gnostics.

There is a complete exclusivity for John. You’ve likely heard it said that Jesus is the narrow way and the straightway. You’ve probably heard critics say that Jesus can’t be the only way. Some say that as long as you’re sincere, all roads lead to heaven. A loving God wouldn’t send people to heaven. Still others that say Hell doesn’t exist. That’s all cleared up in v. 11. The “us” is John and his colleagues and since this is a letter, it includes those that he wrote to. Since we are part of the church that would include us today who are children of God. That could be a pretty large group. It’s really tough to get into some organizations. In some organizations you have to be really smart – Mensa requires your IQ to be in the top 2% of all people. It takes years to get into some exclusive restaurants. Some neighborhoods are exclusive and you have to go through a gate or maybe a guard to get in. Exclusive means limited to a select few. The church is one of the most exclusive yet open organizations known to man. For some exclusive organizations, you can get in if you know someone. It is no different in the church. Membership is available to anyone that has a desire to join. If you know someone, you can get in. If you know Jesus Christ, you can get in. That’s the only membership requirement. Of course know means whole lot more than simply acknowledging who Christ is. Know means understand who Christ is and accept what He did to pay for our sin. Knowing Christ means He makes a difference in your life.

John says, “The testimony is this.” Jesus is the Son of God. This verse isn’t really a testimony, but rather what the result of the testimony is. The result of God’s  testimony is, “That God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” The answer to the question of whether you accept or reject the testimony of God brings eternal consequences. The destination of your eternity hinges on the answer. Eternal life is only achievable through God’s Son. This is God’s testimony concerning His Son. John is theologically exclusive. Jesus isn’t just one way among many to obtain eternal life. He’s not the way just for people who live in America. He’s not the way just for people that have the Bible. Jesus is the only way to obtain eternal life. Matt. 7:14, “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

The sobering conclusion. It’s awesome to have eternal life. Verse 12 says, “He who has the Son has the life.”This is really a continuation of the previous verse. Notice that it’s present tense. As a child of God, you possess the life. How many times have you thought, “Man, this is the life!” That’s exactly what John is saying. To have the Son of God residing in your heart means that you possess the fullness of life. You can get all out of this life that God intends for you to have. John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  Life beyond our wildest imagination. God’s gift of life to us is way beyond what is necessary. We’re not talking about prosperity or material wealth, but living a life that is wholly and totally committed to serving at the pleasure of our heavenly Father. We’re talking about fulfilling His will and not our own. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing you are in the middle of God’s will.

“He who has the Son has the life” but on the other hand, “he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” One of the mistakes we make is that we say only Christians have eternal life. The reality is that everyone has eternal life.          In the parable of the sheep and the goats, the Bible tells us that you are one or the other. The conclusion to the parable is found in Matt. 25:46 that tells us, “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Everyone has eternal life. The Son of God is the source of life, both in this world and the next. Eternal life has been given to everyone, the location of your eternity rests on who you know. The only way you can live life to the fullest; to live life to all that God wants for you is if your life is in Him. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23) Being a child of God does not guarantee a trouble free life, but gives you the ability to deal with life’s problems in manner that is pleasing to God and glorifies Him. In Gal. 2:20 Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

As hard as it may be, we’re called to live by faith. Live by what we cannot see. After Lazarus died, Jesus went to Bethany where Martha told Him that if He had been there, Lazarus wouldn’t have died. John 11:25, “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.” There is life after death, but the life that God wants for you can only be found in His one and only Son. John 17:3 says, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

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