Summary: Instead of always being overwhelmed, God wants us to be overcomers.
Becoming an Overcomer
Rev. Brian Bill
Two weeks ago our family was standing outside saying goodbye to our daughter Emily as she headed back to Iowa. I’m not sure if anyone else had shoes on or not, but I was just wearing my socks. There was a lot of commotion as dogs were running around and tears were running down some faces. It was then that I realized that I was pretty uncomfortable standing on some rocks so I decided to jump on to the grass. Everything would have gone smoothly had I remembered that there was a wooden sign stuck in our lawn. My big toe hit the jagged wood; I yelped and rolled on to the ground, writhing in pain. I looked around for some sympathy but all I heard was some snickering.
Some of you have already heard this story and you’ve enjoyed the fact that the sign says, “Welcome to Packer Country.” I’ve been telling people that I took one for the team. Someone else told me that I’ve fallen for the Packers. Guilty as charged. It’s pretty difficult to spin this any other way, especially after finding out that my toe is broken. I’m still not convinced that a Bear fan wasn’t behind this somehow…
Today we move into the next-to-the last sermon from the Book of 1 John and were going to see some signs in 1 John 5:1-5 that declare what team we’re on. And then we’re going pause in the preaching to give thanks, where some of you will have the opportunity to publicly declare what you’re thankful for. We’ll conclude our time together in verses 6-10 with Part B of the message.
Do you ever doubt that you’re a Christian? Every wonder if someone you know who claims to be a Christian is a true Christ-follower? These signs will help us see what salvation is all about.
Signs of our Salvation
1. Belief. The first sign is belief. Notice the beginning of 1 John 5:1: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ…” And now drop down to the last part of verse 4 and verse 5: “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”
The word “believes” means “to commit and trust; to place reliance in” and is in the present tense, meaning we need to keep believing. It’s more than just intellectual assent or emotional excitement; it must involve the will. Have you heard people say, “You just have to have faith”? Faith itself without an object is empty. Our faith must be in Christ. Notice that there are two truths about Christ that we must commit ourselves to:
• Jesus is the Savior. We see this in verse 1: “Jesus is the Christ.” This is the word “Messiah” and refers to Jesus being the anointed one, the Savior of the world.
• Jesus is the Son of God. This is found in verse 5.
Both of these elements are found in Peter’s confession in Matthew 16:16: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
2. Birth. The second sign that flows right out of the first one is the new birth. Let’s look again at verse 1: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God…” And at the first part of verse 4: “For everyone born of God overcomes the world…” John uses the phrase “born of God” seven different times in this brief book.
Here’s the bottom line. If you are not born of God, you are not a believer. Jesus put it bluntly in John 3:3: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” The phrase “born again” is not just a buzzword. Nor is it some special class of Christians, commonly referred to as “born-again Christians.” A true Christian is born again. There is no other kind of true believer than one who has been born again. Unfortunately, we’ve had to use the qualifier “born-again” to distinguish ourselves from others who may call themselves Christians but have never been born of God.
And the only way to become born again is by believing and receiving Jesus the Christ, the Son of God as your substitute sacrifice. To say it another way, the only way to become a member of God’s family is through faith; the only way to be adopted is through accepting Christ; the only way to be redeemed is through receiving the Redeemer. Listen carefully to John 1:12-13: “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”