Christian Certainties

Title: Christian Certainties

Bible Book: 1 John 5 : 13-21

Author: Gil McKee

Subject: Peace; Truth; Certainties; Assurance; Security



Today we come to the final verses and the final message in this series of sermons from the epistle of First John. As you may recall, when we began this series I told you that John was writing to a group of people in Asia Minor that, not so unlike people in our nation today, were experiencing some very uncertain and unsettling times. Along with all of the material and physical uncertainties, they were living in a culture that had become a melting pot of ideas, philosophies, and religions. As a result, pluralism, secularism, and relativism ruled the cultural thinking of the day. And unfortunately, it was all beginning to take a toll on the churches there in Asia Minor.

So John’s purpose in writing to those people was to encourage them and provide them with some certainty in the midst of their uncertain times. Specifically, John wanted to provide them with certainty concerning their relationship with God.

And that is why his final remarks in this letter are not just a random collection of thoughts but rather a powerful conclusion to everything he has written. As he concludes, John focuses on five things that Christians can be certain of.

First, he says that…

I. Christians can be certain of eternal life. (13)

Read verse thirteen.

The phrase, these things, refers back to everything John has written in this letter. He is simply saying that the main reason he wrote this letter is to give Christians absolute certainty about their relationship with God and eternal life.

It’s interesting that this verse in John’s first epistle is such a close parallel to a passage in his gospel. In the last two verses of the twentieth chapter John’s gospel he said this: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31 (NIV)

John wrote his gospel so that people might believe in Jesus Christ and, through Him, be saved. He wrote his first epistle so that those who believe in Jesus Christ could know with certainty that they are saved.

Just think about how awesome that is. God has made it possible through His Word for us to not only know the way to be saved but for us also to have absolute confidence and certainty that we are saved. Listen…Christians we may struggle with uncertainty about a lot of things in life but one thing we should never have to be uncertain about is our salvation. John says we can be saved and sure! We can be absolutely certain that we are Christians and have eternal life!

The second thing John says is that…

II. Christians can be certain of answered prayer. (14-17)

Read verses fourteen and fifteen.

The word translated confidence literally means “freedom of speech; boldness; openness.” What John is saying is that Christians can be certain when we come before God openly and boldly with our requests that He will hear our prayers.

And when John says that God hears us he means more than God simply being aware of our requests. He makes it clear that God not only hears our requests but grants our requests. “And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.”

It’s hard to read that and not see a blank check from God. But notice the qualifier he includes in verse fourteen: “Now this is the confidence we have before Him: whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” What John is saying is that Christians can be certain that God will answer our prayers when we pray according to His will.

Somebody says, “How do we do that?” Well, let’s talk about praying according to God’s will for a moment. What does that mean? Well, first of all, praying according to God’s will means…

A. Having a personal relationship with God.

In other words, praying according to God’s will requires that a person be saved. Now listen to me carefully. God has never obligated Himself to answer the prayers of unbelievers. Of course, He may choose to do so at times when it suits and supports His sovereign purposes in the world, but God never obligates Himself to any unbeliever.

In the third chapter John alluded to this very thing when he said: “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us we have confidence before God, and can receive whatever we ask from Him because we keep His commands and do what is pleasing in His sight…The one who keeps His commands remains in Him, and He in him.” 1 John 3:21-22, 24a (HCSB) In other words, God answers our prayers when we remain in Him and obey Him and do what is pleasing in His sight. Of course, only a person who is saved and living in a personal relationship with God can do that.

Jesus also made a very similar statement Himself. He said: “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.” John 15:7-8 (HCSB)

Praying according to the will of God is something only a true disciple of Jesus Christ can do. Only a person with a personal relationship with God can pray according to the will of God. Second, praying according to God’s will also means…

B. Praying with a pure heart.

Having a pure heart requires confession of sin. The psalmist said it like this: “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” Psalm 66:18 (NASU)

The word translated regard is a Hebrew word that literally means, “see.” In other words, the Psalmist was simply saying that if there is wickedness and sin in my heart then God will not hear my prayers. In order to pray according to God’s will we have to pray with a pure heart that is free and clear of unconfessed sin.

Third, praying according to God’s will also means…

C. Praying with the right motive.

Jesus said it this way: “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” John 14:13 (NASU) It’s the same reason Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion: "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." Luke 22:42 (NASU)

You see, the goal and motive of prayer is not to gratify our selfish desires but to glorify God by aligning our will with God’s will. That’s why James said: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:3 (NASU)

Praying according to God’s will means praying with the right motive; and that is, to bring glory and honor to God.

Then we come to verses sixteen and seventeen. At first glance these verses don’t seem to have anything to do with what John is talking about so far. However, when you look at them closely you realize that there is a very real connection between these two verses and verses fourteen and fifteen.

Read verses sixteen and seventeen.

As we know, John is writing to believers so it sounds a little strange for him to talk about sin in the life of a believer that leads to death. Obviously, John is not talking about eternal death because he has already assured us that we have passed from death to life and now have eternal life. So what is John talking about?

When he refers to sin that brings death he is talking about a sin in a Christian’s life that is so serious that God takes the life of the one who committed the sin. In other words, John is saying that it is possible for a Christian to commit a sin that is so offensive to God that God is willing to remove that person from the earth prematurely.

Someone says, “Has that ever actually happened?” Yes it has. Acts five tells us about a Christian couple by the name of Ananias and Sapphira who lied to the Holy Spirit in front of the whole church about the amount of an offering they gave. In 1 Corinthians 11 the apostle Paul reports about the death of some in the church in Corinth because of their disrespect and wrongful use of the Lord’s Supper. In the Old Testament in Joshua chapter seven the Bible tells us about a man named Achan who disobeyed God and took some of the spoil from the battle of Jericho for his own personal use; and as a result he and his entire family were stoned to death and then their bodies burned and buried.

Someone says, “Do you think God still does that today?” I am personally convinced that in some situations and circumstances He does. In fact, I never will forget a story a pastor related to my father some years ago. There was a man in that pastor’s church who claimed to be a Christian but he often displayed attitudes and actions that were anything but Christian. And it seemed that one place those attitudes and actions often surfaced was during church business meetings.

One night during a business meeting the congregation was discussing a sensitive matter that raised different opinions among the people. Well, this particular man took the floor and with a very ugly spirit communicated his displeasure in the motion on the floor. And as he was sitting down he said: “And if I am wrong may God strike me down!” And before the air was squeezed out of the pew cushion he had a massive heart attack and died right there on the spot.

What do we need to learn from this? Well, we should certainly learn that while God in His mercy does not punish every sin a Christian commits with premature physical death, every sin we commit is nonetheless a very serious matter to Him and carries with it serious consequences. That leads us to a third thing. John says that…

III. Christians can be certain of victory over sin. (18)

Read verse eighteen.

This, of course, is a subject that John has already discussed, especially in chapter three. However, he reiterates it here by saying that everyone who has been born of God does not sin. As we have already learned, John does not mean that Christians can reach a point in this life where they never sin. We are all still guilty of occasional acts of sin. But the pattern of a Christian’s life will be righteousness and obedience to God. The flow of a Christians’ life will be toward godliness and Christ-likeness.

And then John adds another explanation for why a Christian will not live in continual and habitual sin. He says it’s because the One who is born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. Notice that the One who is born of God is capitalized in this instance. That’s because John is referring to Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God.

As the Good Shepherd, Jesus protects His flock so that the evil one does not touch them. Satan can tempt us but he cannot touch us! He can’t control us or ever reclaim us because it is the Lord Jesus Christ that holds on to us and keeps us safe and secure.

That’s why the apostle Paul said: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 (NASU)

That’s why John says we can be certain of a fourth thing. He says that…

IV. Christians can be certain that we belong to God. (19)

Read verse nineteen.

In addition to knowing that we have eternal life and that our prayers are answered and that we have victory over sin, we can also know for certain that we belong to God. Though we live in this world that is presently under the sway of the evil one, we are not of this world. We are not a part of this world’s system. We are not a citizen of this world. We belong to God and His kingdom.

But as we learned in our study of the Book of Revelation, the day is coming when we will return with Christ as He sets up His millennial kingdom. At that time He will incarcerate the evil one and set up a system of righteousness on this earth. And because we belong to Him we will rule and reign with Him.

The bottom line is this: There are only two options; there are only two kingdoms – God’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom. There is no middle ground. Everyone is part of God’s kingdom or Satan’s kingdom. As Jesus said, “You’re either for Me or against Me!”

Finally, John says that…

IV. Christians can be certain that Jesus Christ is the true God. (20-21)

Read verses twenty and twenty-one.

In these verses we once again discover the main reason for John’s letter. He wants to make it clear that the only way to know the true and living God is through Jesus Christ. No one can be saved who does not believe in Christ, for there is no salvation apart from Him. That’s why John says in verse twenty that Jesus Christ is the true God and eternal life.

In light of all the other philosophies and religious ideas in the world, John concludes by saying in verse twenty-one to guard yourselves from idols. In other words, guard yourselves from worshipping any other god than the true God Who has revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

What an applicable word for us today! Like those to whom John wrote in the first century, we live in a very pluralistic and secularist society that offers lots of different religious viewpoints, opinions, and ideas especially when it comes to having a right relationship with God. But Jesus Christ made it crystal clear Himself when He said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 (NIV)

Jesus didn’t leave any room for us to be inclusive when it comes to spiritual truth. He was unapologetically exclusive about the way to heaven. And like everyone else on the planet, we each have to make our own personal decision about the claims of Christ. There is no middle ground when it comes to Him because that is the way He chose for it to be. Jesus Christ is, in fact, the only begotten Son of God, and thus the only way to heaven or He is the greatest liar and lunatic to ever live. By His own admission, Jesus can’t be just one way or just a way to get to heaven. He’s either the only way or He is not a way at all.

So what are you going to do with Jesus? I hope if you have never trusted Him and accepted Him as your personal Lord and Savior that you will do that today. Come to Jesus today and you can be saved and leave here absolutely certain about your relationship with God and that you have eternal life.

Let’s pray.


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