1 John 5:1-12                           12 February 2017

THE IMPORTANCE OF FAITH

Ill. Boris Cornfeld was a Jewish doctor who lived in Russia during the Stalin years. He was sent to a Siberian concentration camp where he was forced to keep his fellow prisoners alive so they could work in the mines. He was made to falsify the prisoners medical records to show that they were healthy when they left the hospital. Most of them were actually dying of malnutrition. While there Boris became very disillusioned with communism and searched for a better way. And through the influence of a fellow prisoner he heard of Jesus Christ and personally received Jesus Christ into his life. Boris immediately felt a deep bond of love with the other believers in the camp and a God given compassion for the both the prisoners and the guards. He was operating on a prison guard who ruthlessly and cruelly tortured and beat the prisoners and knew if it wasn’t for Christ he would have allowed him to die of internal bleeding, but because Jesus was living in him could not do it.

His transformed life had a real impact on the other prisoners. On one occasion he was treating a prisoner who had bowel cancer and it looked as if he wouldn’t survive. Boris was so concerned about his patient’s soul that he shared with him the good news about Jesus. The guards found out about this and brutally murdered Dr Cornfeld, but the patient survived and became a devoted follower of Jesus. The patient’s name was Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

When Boris Cornfeld believed in Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, the evidence of his faith was seen in a real change in his attitudes and behaviour and most of all in his love for God and his fellow believers.

And that is what I want to talk about this morning. The evidence of our faith and the evidence for our faith.

THE EVIDENCE OF OUR FAITH v1-5

I have heard some Christian leaders say that everyone in the world is a child of God. The Bible doesn’t teach that. The Bible teaches that you can only become a child of God by believing in His Son, Jesus Christ. John 1:12 “But to all who believed in Christ and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.”

What is the difference between a child of the world and a child of God? A child of God is one who believes that Jesus is God’s Christ, Messiah, Saviour and the Son of God.

You may believe that God exists, but that does not make you a child of God and that won’t grant you entry into His heaven. Even the Devil believes God exists.

Believing Jesus is the Christ and Son of God isn’t just saying it with your mouth. A lot of people can rattle off the Lord’s prayer and the apostles creed without really and truly believing it.

In fact you could teach a parrot to do that and it wouldn’t make an ounce of difference to the parrot.

Ill. My grandson has a Cockatoo, Rockie, and he has taught it to whistle a little Sunday school song, “If you’re saved and know it nod your head.” He even nods his head at the end, but he isn’t saved.

The evidence that we truly believe Jesus is God’s Anointed Saviour and beloved Son is that we love God and love His people.

The proof that we love God is not that we have gooey, gushy feelings towards Him. These feelings come and go. They are not reliable or consistent.

I feel sad that many of the choruses we sing today are more like romantic, emotional, sentimental love songs we would sing to a boyfriend or a girlfriend. I would never belittle the emotional side of loving God because love often touches out emotions and there are times when we feel very deeply our love for God.

Ill. Prayer time this week.

The real proof of our love for God is that we obey His commands. Our chief desire is to please God and do what He wants. If you claim to love God and yet don’t really want to obey him or please Him, it doesn’t matter what you say or what you feel, you do not love God at all.

But look at this “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.”

Haven’t you found that when you really love someone, doing things to please them is not a burden or a chore, it is a privilege and a pleasure?

Ill. I read of a woman who was married to a very strict, demanding husband. He wanted everything to be done his way and gave her a list of rules and he expected her to keep those rules to the very letter. Each night he came home from work he would go through the list with her and check that she had carried out his wishes exactly the way he had laid down. She lived in fear of her husband and life became such a burden that she wanted to die. One day he had a heart attack and died and a few years later she remarried. Her new husband was nothing like her first husband. He was so loving and kind and considerate that she really enjoyed doing things for him, Nothing was a burden, it was a pleasure.  

One day she was cleaning out the drawers in her room and she discovered the list of rules her first husband had made out for her. She read through them and suddenly realised, “I am doing these very things for my present husband and really enjoying it because he loves me so much and I love Him.”

“Loving God means keeping His commandments and His commandments are not a burden.” Jesus actually said, “When you love me and do what pleases me my joy will be in you and your joy will be full.”

The evidence of our faith is that we love God and love His children. Some people say, “I can be a Christian without going to church. I don’t need to be in fellowship with other Christians.” That is a lie.

How can you say you love God and separate yourself from His children? The Bible is very clear when it says, “Everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too.”

What makes us different from the children of this godless world? John says it is our faith. But faith is like an electric plug it needs to be plugged into the power source. Faith on its own can do nothing and achieve nothing, but when we plug our faith into Jesus Christ, His power, love, resources flow through us giving us the inner strength to stand up to and overcome the pressure and pull of this evil world.

1 John 5:19 “We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the power of the evil one.” Every human being in this world gives into the power and pressure of this evil, godless system that is controlled by the evil one, whether they realise it or not. Just look at how everyone blindly follows the trends, the behaviour, the values, the morals, the thinking of this culture.

You can’t rise above it in human strength, you can only do it through plugging your faith and trust into Jesus Christ who alone can give you the power to stand up to and overcome the world.

THE EVIDENCE FOR OUR FAITH v6-12

In our legal system if we want to find out the truth about something we need to have the testimonies of witnesses so that we can make an informed decision.

I have said this many times, but the NT is an historical document put together by people who witnessed the life, teaching and works of Jesus. In fact the NT is full of evidence given by many witnesses and supported by secular history and archaeology.

All the other major religious leaders in the world made claims that no one else witnessed and they could not substantiate, but Jesus made claims about Himself, was able to substantiate them and many people witnessed them and testified to those claims.

Our faith is based on actual events that took place in history and were supported by witnesses and compelling evidence.

I’m a history buff. I have always been interested in history. I enjoy historical books and films. But why do I believe that certain people existed and certain events took place in history? I base my beliefs on the testimony and evidence given by people who witnessed these things and testified to the truth of them.

John says here that we accept the testimony of human beings – but we have an even greater testimony and that is the testimony of God Himself. And He tells of 2 historical events where God audibly testified that Jesus was His Son.

One was when Jesus came up out of the water at His baptism and God spoke audibly testifying, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.” The people standing around Jesus heard this and testified that they heard it.

The second event was when Jesus was discussing His coming death with Moses and Elijah on the Mountain and God spoke again testifying, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.” And Peter, James and John heard this and testified that they heard it.

So God gave His endorsement to Jesus in the waters of Baptism and again as He faced the cross. God testified through the water and the shedding of His blood that Jesus was His Son.

In fact Jesus called His sacrifice on the cross a baptism. In the Jordan River He was drenched with water and on the cross He was drenched with blood. Both baptisms testify that Jesus is the Son of God.

Now there is another baptism that testifies that Jesus is the Son of God. It is the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus baptism in water and baptism in blood were historical events in which God testified that He was the Son of God, but the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is where God’s Spirit enters our lives and testifies to us that Jesus is the Son of God.

3 witnesses – water, blood and the Spirit.

How do we know we have God’s Spirit in our hearts? Because we believe that Jesus is God’s Son. NB John doesn’t say, “Jesus was God’s Son”. He is. He is the living, eternal Son of God.

The Spirit of God within us tells us that this is the truth. So we have the historical testimonies given by people who witnessed the life, teaching and miracles of Jesus, we have the Divine testimony given by God at Jesus baptism and at the cross and we have the internal testimony given by the Spirit who testifies that Jesus is the living, eternal Son of God.

Ill. Back in the 1970’s I met a widow in her 60s who had been a Jehovah’s Witness for many years. She had come to New Zealand on holiday from the UK and was struggling with doubts and questions about Jesus. She couldn’t accept that Jesus was the Divine, eternal Son of God and she wanted me to show her from the Bible all the verses that pointed to Jesus being God. I started to go through the NT with her and make a note of the different verses, but then I felt to ask her had she ever asked God to fill her with His Spirit. She said, “No.” I then asked her if she would like me to pray for her to be filled with the Spirit of God and she said, “Yes.” I laid hands on her and began to pray. She broke down and wept and then she poured out her heart to God praising and thanking Him for filling her heart.

After this I said, “Would you like to keep looking at the scriptures that tell us Jesus is the Divine Son of God?” “You don’t need to convince me now. I know this is the truth.” She left returned to England, left the Jehovah’s Witnesses, joined a Baptist church and married on of the deacons.

V10. “All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true.”

This is why we Christians are so sure and dogmatic about our faith. It’s not just based external evidence, but also on the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit. And this is why John wrote this letter v13  “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” NB movement from belief to knowing.

Non-Christian people get really annoyed with us Christians when we make dogmatic statements like, “Jesus is the way, the truth and life and no one can come to God except through Him.” They can’t stand us saying that we know we have been forgiven by God and are going to heaven when we die. They would rather us say, “We believe or we hope we are forgiven and are going to heaven”, but to say “I know” sounds so arrogant.

Even Buddha confessed before he died that he was still searching for the truth. A man I knew well was deeply involved in the New Age Movement and he told me that he hadn’t found the truth yet.

But until you have the testimony, the assurance of God’s Spirit in your heart you will never understand why we can be so sure and so dogmatic. This is what Hebrews 11:1 calls faith with assurance and certainty.

After Job had been through that difficult time where his faith was severely tested, he made this statement. “I know, not I hope or I believe, but I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my flesh I will see God”.

How could he speak with such confidence and certainty? Because God’s Spirit in his heart gave him that certainty, that assurance.

The Christian faith is not wishful thinking or wild guesses. It’s not a changeable, evolving belief system. It is unchanging, eternal, permanent truth

And that unchangeable truth keeps us stable, secure and at peace in a world that is constantly changing its views and opinions and never arriving at truth.

V11 John makes another very dogmatic statement.

“And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.”

There are no ifs or maybes in this. The truth is that eternal life is only found in Jesus Christ. If you have Jesus Christ in your life you have eternal life. If you do not have Jesus Christ in your life you do not have eternal life.

Is Jesus Christ living in you this morning? Have you turned your back on your unbelieving, godless, sinful ways and come to Jesus for forgiveness? Have you asked Him to cleanse you from all that wrong and sinful and to fill you with His Spirit? If you have, the promise is this – If you have Jesus, you have eternal life. If you don’t, you don’t have eternal life.

That life is not just everlasting life, it is God’s very life within you. Jesus, by His Spirit, living in you. If you are to know this, you need to take the step and come to Jesus and open your life to His forgiveness, cleansing, healing and transforming power.

Ill. Until the middle of last century Tuberculosis or the white plague was widespread and killed one in every three people who contracted the disease. Then in 1944 a cure for tuberculosis was discovered by Selman Waksman. He developed an antibiotic from a fungus and after testing it on patients found that in nearly every case the cure was 100%. Many people who had tuberculosis, read about the discovery and even read the testimonies of doctors and patients and believed that it was true but they still died of tuberculosis.  

Why? Because they didn’t personally take the medication that was available to them.

Faith in Jesus is more than just agreeing that He can morally clean up your life and make you acceptable to God. You need to give yourself to Him and allow Him to do that. You have got to make a commitment.