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The Circle of Faith

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1 John 5:1-5

Introductory Thoughts

  • John combines the three tests (correct doctrine, correct actions, correct love)
  • What we see here is a circle of Truth, tied together with the New Birth, the action of God in salvation.

    1. Faith: The Cause and the Effect—1 John 5:1a “…Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God,…”

      a. Language notes

        (1) “…believes…” is a present participle—”…the one believing…”

        (2) “…is…” is present tense

        (3) “…born of God…” is perfect passive

      b. Faith—of the strongest kind (ATR). This term indicates a person sold out to the Truth—they are characterized as “…one who is believing…”

      c. The Faith—the doctrine of Who Jesus Is

        (1) The Gospel is about the life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, intercession, and return of Christ.

        (2) As John has emphasized again and again, that is the heart and soul of Christian teaching.

      d. The cause—the New Birth

        (1) The perfect tense identifies the new birth as happening in the past, being a culminating event, the effects of which have lasted until the present.

        (2) The passive indicates that the action comes from outside—we do not beget ourselves into the Christian life. “You had nothing more to do with your second birth than you did with your first…” (Rev. Ronnie Stinson).

James 1:18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again (passive), he cannot see the kingdom of God.”“

        (3) Since faith is in the present tense, that makes the cause of believing to be the New Birth, not the other way around.

        (4) “…The Divine Begetting is the antecedent, not the consequent of the believing…” (A.T. Robertson)

      e. The Effect—the continuing and strong faith of the true believer.

    2. The Test of Love— “…and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him…”

      a. A new way of stating the test—you love your family!

        (1) We have been adopted into the family of God—Gal 4, Rom 8

        (2) All believers are our brothers

        (3) We should love our family!

1 Th 4:9 “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;”

1 Pet 1:22 “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,”

John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:”

Rom 8:15 “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”“

2 Cor 6:18 ““I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.”“

Gal 3:26 “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Gal 4:5-6 “to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”“

Eph 2:19 “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,”

Eph 3:15 “from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,”

Heb 2:11 “For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,”

    3. The Test of Conduct—1 John 5:2 “…By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

      a. Language

        (1) “…we know…” —> ginwskomen , experiential knowledge, present tense

        (2) “…we love God and keep His commandments…” “love” and “keep” are present tense

      b. Exposition: —>1 John 5:2 “…By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments

        (1) First, this is a great corrective to those who misconstrue what love is.

        (2) Love is not being friendly

        (3) Love is not being affirming and accepting, no matter what

        (4) Love is not avoiding all offense

        (5) Love is not soft-pedaling the truth

        (6) We only love the brethren in truth when we love God and keep His commandments

      c. Exposition —> “… 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments…”

        (1) This IS the love of God, love for God, love with God as the object of the love—Love for God is seen in action, in deeds, particularly in self-sacrificing deeds—Jn 3:16-18

        (2) If we love God, then we will live a life consistent with that possession.

        (3) We do not have the quantity, the amount of love that God has, and we will not be 100% consistent in our love, but if we are His, the tenor of our life will be that we demonstrate our love for God by being obedient to Him.

      c. The Commandments of God are Good—”…And His commandments are not burdensome…”

        (1) Language—”burdensome” means “heavy and oppressive…”

        (2) The OT Law was good, and the moral and ethical requirements of the Law have been reiterated in the New Testament—but the Law was never a way of salvation, and the commandments of the New Covenant are also not a way of salvation!

Psa 19:7 “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;”

Rom 7:12-14 “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. 13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.”

1 Tim 1:8-11 “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.”

        (3) The problem was that the Pharisees, scribes, and Saducees added even more burdens with their man-made interpretations and man-made laws.

Mat 23:1-4 “Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 “Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4 “For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”

        (4) The Commandments of Christ are not burdensome—

Mat 11:28-30 ““Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”“

    4. Victory in Jesus—1 John 5:4 “…For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world; our faith…”

      a. Language

        (1) Born of God—perfect passive participle

        (2) Overcomes— , “…to conquer, to gain a victory…” Rogers and Rogers. It is present tense.

        (3) Victory, and overcome are from the same root.

        (4) “Has overcome…” —>Overcame—aorist participle

      b. Exposition—Faith IS the victory

        (1) Whatever—this applies to every believer, so this is not something that depends on maturity or discipleship—it is the possession of all the saved

        (2) Born of God—those who have been called to salvation, who have experienced the New Birth, these are the ones who experience victory.

        (3) Overcomes—we are more than conquerors (Rom 8:37) through Christ

        (4) The World—the temptations, beliefs, and ways of the lost world—all under the “god of this world,” the “ruler of this world.” Satan.

        (5) Overcame —> At a point in time

        (6) Our faith—

          (a) In the sense of history—victory came at a point in time, with the person and work of Christ

          (b) In the sense of personal victory, victory came at the time we believed.

    5. The Test of Doctrine—1 John 5:5 “…Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?…”

      a. The most important victory is the victory of salvation

      b. And, what a claim—”…the daring of this first-century claim that the victory belongs not to Rome, then reigning supreme, but to Christ and to the humble believer in Christ…” (Stott)

      c. Look at the forces arrayed against the faithful

        (1) The World, with its riches, seductions, and power.

        (2) Satan, with his wiles

        (3) The believer’s own remaining sin, subject to temptation and sifting.

        (4) These seem to be such powerful forces.

      d. But these powers are overcome with the most simple and humble of divine-human transactions—faith in the risen Son of God!

Related Topics: Soteriology (Salvation), Faith