Knowing and Believing
Text: 1 John 5:13-21
Proposition: Knowing and believing in Jesus are two actions like inhaling and exhaling, both are required in order for eternal life to do what it is designed to do.
Introduction: Do you believe in the name of the Son of God? It can seem a strange question. The phrase in the name of the Son of God refers to all that is the substance of the Son. The name of Jesus, it will cause every knee to bow and tongue to agree with God about Who Jesus is as Lord. The name of Jesus, we proclaim it at baptism, demons are cast out by the name of Jesus, a paralytic beggar was raised to new feet and legs in the name of Jesus. Paul set a slave girl free from oppression by the name of Jesus. The name of the Son of God speaks of the eternal existence He has with the Father, it speaks of His sinless humanity and omnipotent deity. The name of the Son of God declares peace with God through the cross, the implement of the death of the Son. The name of the Son of God reminds us of His power to not only lay His life down but also to take it up again. The name of the Son of God is what the angels bow at, is what the saints in heaven are proclaiming. This morning we here are invited and called and commanded to know and believe in the name of the Son of God. Read with me this passage in 1 John 5:13-21.
I. The Main Point, Know and Believe In the Name of Jesus.
Sometimes when we read Scripture certain words can seem like synonyms, like saying the same thing but in a slightly different way. The words know and believe are like that. The words know and believe are cyclical in relationship, like how you inhale and exhale, separate actions, yet both are a part of breathing. No one only inhales, you can only hold your breath for so long. Let me suggest to you that to know is the beginning point, to believe is the ‘exhale’ part, the release of action, the outcome of knowing. To ‘know’ in Greek is the word ‘eido’ and it has many uses but central to it is the idea of ‘to discover, to perceive, to see’. The main point of all that John has written in this letter is that you would see Jesus, that you would discover Him more and more. That begins when you first discover Jesus by faith and receive Him as Lord and it then continues to discover, perceive and see more and more of Who Jesus is. The counterpart to this is also true, because of what you know you also begin to exercise in believing. Listen to how John states this in verse 13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” To know that you have eternal life means it is yours now, not because of what you did but because of what He did. If it were dependent upon what you do, in praying, in serving, in works of any sort then the assurance of you actually having eternal life is denied you because it’s still a work in progress. There is no certainty because you might fall short in your efforts. John’s point is that you have an assurance of your salvation knowing that now you have eternal life because you know the Son of God. As a result you believe in His name, in all that Jesus said and did but especially in Who He is as God, as the Son of God. Know Jesus, see Him, discover Him. Believe in the name of the Son of God, the substance of all that God is in Christ.
II. Belief Will Move You To Confidently Pray.
God desires that we would have a growing confidence not only in what we know about Jesus but also in how we come to Him. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” To come boldly is with confidence, especially in the prayer for mercy and grace in times of need. We have come to know what God desires, what His will is. We come to know His promises, His Word and in these His will. Consider verse 14, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” I don’t think that people wrestle very much with whether God hears them or not, they are more concerned about whether He’ll give them what they ask for. But hearing precedes responding, what God hears and how He responds is to related to your awareness of His will. Look at verse 15, “And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” That’s what belief will do, it moves you to confidently pray because you know He hears because what you ask for is what God desires to provide. That this is open to abuse and misinterpretation is evident. When it is about self-gain, when it is just from a human perspective that assumes we see all the particulars, all the issues, then it is flawed. Yet we are to confidently pray, to pray even though we can’t see what He does, to pray according what we know His word says and to pray according to His will.
Then to confidence we add compassion, that’s a love for others that moves us to pray for them, even when we don’t agree with what they are doing. Verse 16 says, “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.” The idea is to love one another to such a degree that our first response when we see someone sinning is to pray for them that God would show them where genuine life is to be found rather than the synthetic life that sin offers. That’s the main point but it’s the secondary point that catches our attention. What is the sin leading to death? This kind of a sin is one out of ten thousand or maybe even ten million when you compare it to seeing everyday issues of sin. Yet what is the sin that leads to death? The context is that John is addressing ‘a brother’, a fellow Christian. So the issue of this being spiritual death doesn’t seem to fit here. So if it is not spiritual death then it must mean physical death. This would be a death that results through a neglect of the Word and what it commands such that there is a settled and willful resistance to Christ. The example of Ananias and Saphira would be that kind of a sin that leads to death. You might also consider the words of 1 Corinthians 11, “For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.” There can be sins that are ongoing and willful and mocking God and it is not impossible that God can take a believer home as a result of that. The startling statement is that John says, “I do not say that he should pray about that.” In other words we should not pray that God would look the other way when His name is being mocked by a believer in Christ. The situation is something which God alone will address as He wills.
John’s point is that you know the Son of God, you believe in His name and that is intended to give you both confidence in how you approach God and a compassion in how you approach people.
III. And You Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Make You Free.
The inference behind this statement from John 8:32 is that without the truth there is bondage and captivity, with the truth there is freedom. So John lists three things that you know because of your faith in Jesus.
1. “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.” The sin he refers to is a habitual, willful, resistant sin that defies God. If you are born of God, you don’t continually shake your fist at Him. But this also implies something else. It’s that habitual willful sin is connected to the wicked one’s grip on them. That word ‘touch’ literally means, ‘to fasten oneself to, to assault’. The wicked one is Satan and the one born of God is the Christian who has the Spirit of God in them. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. In the truth of Christ there is freedom even from the grasp and assault of Satan.
2. “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” The whole world is under the sway, under the control, under the power of Satan. The wonderful news is that you have the capability in Christ to both see the influence of the world and its source and to resist both. If you are sentimental about the heart of man being essentially good then take another look at Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” Your ability to withstand the sway of the world and the sway of Satan is in Christs strength. Knowing that, believing that, will enable you overcome the world and that will be freedom indeed.
3. “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” Did you catch that first part of the verse, He has given us an understanding. We didn’t figure it out, we couldn’t because we were dead in trespasses and sins. He gave us an understanding. ‘That we may know Him who is true’. There is no other way to know the depths of Who God is apart from knowing Who the Son of God is. To see Jesus is to see the Father, to obey Jesus is to obey the Father. There is no dream or vision or angel or prophet that can take the place of the Son in revealing the truth of Who God is. In Him is truth and therefore in Him is that freedom that soul so longs for.
So the caution comes, “Little children, keep yourself from idols.” You, keep yourself, it’s a command, you have the capability, you know that this is His will. Don’t let anything move in front of God and obscure or block out your view of Him. If you can’t see God and you believe in the name of the Son of God, yet right now you can’t see God, then look for the truth of what is obscuring the way. There is a way to see what the barriers are, to see what the schemes of the devil are, to know the power of Christ in overcoming them. Consider Paul’s words in
Romans 8:35-37, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
This we know and this we believe. Amen.