As Christians, we try not to offend but some things are unavoidable. Join us as we finish our study of 1st John with a 3-week series that dives into the final 21 verses of the letter. They discuss some of the most offensive aspects of the Gospel that are ironically the most powerful Truths of the Gospel! #Offensive #1John #DareToVenture
Offensive: Embracing the Harsh Realities Of The Gospel
1 John 5:4-13
The popular view of Jesus is that He was a man who taught us how to love. That He lived his life preaching about God’s plan for everybody to get along and that all he ever tried to do was bring people together and teach them how to get along! Now, there is no doubt whatsoever that God expects us to love each other and that Jesus very clearly and abundantly and absolutely did have much to say about it! However, the idea that Jesus never offended people, that he never confronted sin, that he never made people feel uncomfortable or awkward requires that you find some other source to replace the Bible to inform you on the life and teachings of Jesus!
Luke 12:49-53 is the classic example of where Jesus flat out says I didn’t come to create peace but division! He said what I’m preaching is going to divide families. It’s going to cause people to be murdered. What he said so offended the Jews that the entire city of Jerusalem wanted Him crucified! And they weren’t offended because he taught them to love each other. It was because He claimed to be God! It offended them so much and had them in such a stir that Pilot feared a revolt if he didn’t crucify Jesus!
So, when you read the Gospels, you find out that Jesus was constantly offending people! He wasn’t an offensive person. He sincerely loved everybody, engaged with everybody, treated everybody as equals and even served those who betrayed him and got offended by his preaching. Yet the truth he kept preaching was obviously offensive, and he kept preaching it anyway!
Fast forward to 2020. More and more we are told that if something is offensive, then it’s wrong to say it. That right and wrong, ethical and unethical, is more and more determined by whether people agree with it or not. Whether they want to hear it or not. If they are offended or not. Not whether it's true or not! This trend demonstrates the thin skinned immaturity of our society. Now this shouldn’t bother the church. What should bother the church is how the trend is growing among people who claim to be Christians!
Now some Christians glory in offending people. They glory in being offensive. They seem to be on a mission to be as offensive as possible! That is ungodly and egotistical. While others have gone to the other extreme of making sure to never offend anybody about anything which is equally ungodly and egotistical. They would rather a person die and go to hell, than risk that person not affirming them!
So, I’m not talking about trying to offend people or being an offensive person. Rather that as we come to the end of 1st John we are going to read three different subject matters that are highly offensive to people in our culture, and even in the Christian Church. But John presents these as deal breakers. As things the church must proclaim, out loud, with no watering it down or excuses. John stated them knowing the gnostics of his day were going to be furiously offended! But these subject matters are necessities that must be proclaimed even though they are unavoidably offensive. If you do not proclaim them you are not sharing the Gospel!
So today we jump right in on the first subject. It’s a doozy in the land of offending people and it’s the exclusivity of Christ. That He alone is the enteral son of God’s and He alone saves!
Will you stand with me as I read this passage.
4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is he who came by water and blood--Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. (5:4-13)
1 John 5:4-13 gives us 3 reasons why there is only one way to have eternal life.
The 1st reason John gives to why there is only one way to have eternal life is that
The doctrine of the Gospel is exclusive. (5:4-5)
4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
It is not “faith” that overcomes the world or the measure of our “faith” that overcomes the world. But rather John is referring to the Faith. The Faith that is summarized by the belief that Jesus is the Son of God. What is that faith? Now remember, the “Gnostics” literally claimed to be the people who had new knowledge that trumped all that the actual apostles of Christ proclaimed.
Creeds are not God’s word. They are attempts by man to assimilate Biblical teachings into something people memorize and/or reference. Something that puts things together. One of the most famous is the Apostles Creed.
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
[he descended to the dead.] On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
The Christian faith believes that,
1.God is the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit … three and one.
2. That Jesus Christ is the eternal Son who was born of a virgin and as such took upon Himself flesh, became a man and lived among us.
3.That He was sinless in every way.
4. That He came to die on the cross and did so to pay the penalty of our sin.
5. That He rose from the grave ascended to heaven and is coming back to judge the living and the dead.
6. This is the faith that overcomes the curse of sin, nothing else does, Nothing else saves us out of the curse of sin and into the eternal covenant with God that is eternal life!
The 2nd reason John gives to why there is only one way to have eternal life is that
The testimony of Christ is conclusive. (5:6-10)
6 This is he who came by water and blood--Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.
Note: Scholars are all over the place on these three verses. Reading the study helps to learn more. I don’t have time to give you all the opinions, so I’m just going to give you ours. We contend that the ultimate point of these verses is to show conclusive evidence in the form of 3 testimonies that Jesus is God and thus the Gospel is true.
The 1st testimony that John offers that Jesus is God and thus the Gospel is true is his Baptism.
His baptism testifies of His deity. – “water”/Matthew 3:16–17
16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16–17)
The Gnostics could potentially get excited at this point thinking John agreed with them that Jesus became God at His Baptism. But all of the actual Apostles, including John have clearly stated that Jesus didn’t become the Christ at His Baptism. Rather the Father testified that Jesus is the Christ at His baptism!
Everybody else God sent up to that point was a prophet. Including John the Baptist. But here God makes it clear that Jesus is not one who became the son, but is the Son!
The 2nd testimony that John offers that Jesus is God and thus the Gospel is true is His death.
His death testifies He’s the ultimate sacrifice for Sin. – “blood”/John 6:53–57
53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. (John 6:53–57)
Every sacrifice prior to Christ was a symbol of the sacrifice of Christ. They were symbols of the grace that could only be given by Christ's blood. Even the Covenant of the Law that was established by blood sacrifice was a temporary covenant. It was not the point, but pointed to the point. That is what is attained through the perfect blood of Christ! Christ's blood and his covenant are permanent. It was a not a symbol of a grace to come but it was the sacrifice of sin and the grace that had come and was completed. That it established the covenant of eternal life!
Now this was highly offensive to the Gnostics because they didn’t believe Christ actually died. Just a good guy named Jesus. That the Spirit of Christ left “Jesus” before he died. But the Bible makes it clear that if Jesus is not God then his death is not enough. What made his sacrifice enough for us was not simply that He was sinless but rather that He was the GodMan. That Man owed a penalty and thus He became man. But it was a penalty only God had the power to pay. The Son had to take upon Himself the eternal wrath of God and eternally pay it to completion. A task only God can do, so that we could be eternally redeemed from sin and into an eternal covenant with Him. Thus His blood is a testimony to His deity.
The 3rd testimony that John offers that Jesus is God and thus the Gospel is true is the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit testifies that He is the promised Christ. - “the Spirit”/John 5:37-40
Now remember, it is the Holy Spirit that has spoke. Literally breathed God's word into the prophets. Not just into the Apostles of the New Testament. But rather the entire Bible is brought to us by the specific work of the Holy Spirit. So with that, in John’s Gospel He records Jesus as saying this …
37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. (John 5:37-40)
The point being that the Holy Spirit didn’t make Jesus the Son. He testified that he is the Son!
The Holy Spirit, who inspired every Biblical writer, had done so to point to Jesus and the Covenant that would only be made in Him. That is life is not in reading Scripture to figure out laws, principles and customs for living. But rather for us to understand the Christ and the covenant of eternal life that is only made possible by Him!
Therefore, the work of the Holy Spirit in every Biblical writer was the same work the Holy Spirit was doing while Jesus walked on this earth. It’s the same work that the Holy Spirit is doing now. He convicts the world of sin (our inability to meet God’s standards) and He convicts the world of righteousness (who Jesus is and what He has provided us!) Every miracle the Holy Spirit performs, every sign He gives, every conviction He brings, and every Word He breaths is ultimately about us understanding that Jesus is the Christ. That His death has paid the penalty of our sin and that His resurrection has guaranteed eternal life for all who surrender to Him!
John then summarizes all three of these by saying this,
9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.
(Again flying in the face of those ready to go hear what the Gnostics had to say. What man had to say about who Jesus is, rather than that what God has said of His Son! but also John is saying there is a higher authority than himself (John) on this issue (God)!
10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him (God!) a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.
If you don’t believe Jesus to be who He said he is. If you don’t believe Jesus is the enteral son of God, then you don’t believe God. You are claiming that God is a liar, because God has took the credit for Jesus being His son! John has just named three testimonies. He could have gone to the Mount of Transfiguration as well. Many others to point to the fact that God clearly said Jesus is the eternal Son of God, His Son!
One more thing. I love how he adds that if you are an actual believer then you have this testimony within you! God has planted that faith in you and he has planted His Spirit in you. The Holy Spirit is literally in you testifying to you constantly that Jesus is God and you are not. Therefore submit to Him, trust Him and love Him! It is a testimony in every believer! The Holy spirit in every believer. Which leads us to the 3rd reason John gives as to why there is only one way to have eternal life.
The method that achieves eternal life is specific. (5:11-13)
11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
This demonstrates the exclusive nature again, and that it only comes through Him. Literally it is a gift that only comes by way of Christ. Who He is and what He has done.
12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. (5:11-13)
Jesus made it real clear in His prayer in John 17 that eternal life is literally living in covenant with God.
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3)
That is knowing Him is not simply knowledge of facts and doctrine, but it is literally knowing Him literally! A literal real relationship just like we see Adam in the Garden before the fall!
This is something that is truly in every way impossible for us to have because of our pathetic faith and propensity to rebel and sin! But this is entirely possible through Christ and only through Christ.
Thus, to have an eternal relationship with God you have to have Christ. Because it is Christ alone that makes that relationship possible!
6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
Eternal life is in His Son. It is the entire Covenant with God that is eternal life (John 17) and is only made possible by Christ. Thus is only in Christ. Therefore you must have Christ to have eternal Life!
Challenge: Are you experiencing eternal life or something else?
So often we ask people are they a Christian or do they believe in Jesus as opposed to asking if they have eternal life. Jesus came to give eternal life (a real relationship with God!) and if we don’t have that we need to ask ourselves why.
Maybe you are not saved because you’ve never given your life to Jesus and thus you literally don’t have it at all!
Or maybe you have it but you are living with such a lack of faith or such a lack of focus on Jesus that you have a totally unused relationship in your life! You as somebody who has an eternal relationship with God is settling for the caged life that is the imprisonment of sin again. A life void of the freedom of knowing God and has been replaced by the slave master of sin!
But the point is, there are only two places to live. For every Christian we are torn between the two. We have eternal life but we find ourselves pulled back constantly to sin. Thank God Christ never leaves us so we always have eternal life! But it doesn’t change the fact that we foolishly and rebelliously settle for sin as our reality instead of life!