Summary: John’s concluding words tells us how we have eternal life through Christ, and what we should do with that life.
1 John 5:13-21 February 11, 2007
… so that you may know that you have eternal life.
This is the last sermon in 1 John. John ends the letter by telling us why he wrote it. He does the same in the gospel of John. In the last verse of the Gospel he says: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:31
So the Gospel of John is written to people who don’t yet believe in Jesus hoping that they will. The letter, on the other hand it written primarily to Christians to encourage them that they have found eternal life. He says “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” – 1 John 5:13
John wants us to be confident of our salvation; he wants us to be sure that we have new life in Jesus.
Last week I told you that “eternal life” is not necessarily the best translation, that the more literal translation is “the life of the coming age.” When we say eternal life, we often think of something that happens after we die, but it is better to think of it as a new life given to you as soon as you put your trust in Jesus. It includes life everlasting, but is also includes being made new right here right now.
John wants us to be confident of this new life. God is faithful – if he promise us new life in Jesus, if we put our lives in Jesus he will give us this new life. John wants us to be so confident that we can approach God at anytime. When we sing “bold I approach the eternal throne and claim the crown through Christ my own” we usually think of an experience after our death. But John is encouraging us to be bold right now.
At the end of the book of Jude you find one of my favorite benedictions:
“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”
Once again, our minds often times go to life after death when we think of this image of Jesus presenting us before God without fault and with great joy. But this is what happens every time we come to God in prayer. We come to him through Jesus, Jesus takes us by the hand, we enter God’s presence and God sees us the way that Jesus has made us – without fault, clean and pure, and he greets us with great joy and says “what would you like to say my child?”
When I think of it this way, I wonder why I do not pray more – we have direct access, not to Bill Gates, or our favorite movie star or sports great, but to the God who created Bill Gates! Not only do we have direct access, he is happy to see us – he greets us with great joy!
John says that we have confidence because we can be assured that when we pray we will be heard.
He has this amazing promise that “if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”
John has written these promises before, in his Gospel where Jesus says, ”And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” – John 14:13-14
That might seem like an open offer to get whatever we want from God just by asking – “Almighty Bruce” clip?
There is the caveat “In my name” in the Gospel or in the letter, “according to his will.”
This statement is not just an “out” for God; an excuse for when prayer does not work, it is an invitation into relationship in prayer, so that we listen to what God desires as much as we ask him what he desires.
In John15:7 Jesus says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” I think that the remaining in is more important than the asking here
“Prayer is not a convenient device for imposing our will upon God, or for bending his will to ours, but the prescribed way of subordinating our will to his. It is by prayer that we seek God’s will, embrace it and align ourselves with it. Every true prayer is a variation on the theme ‘your will be done’.” – John Stott