Summary: Painting a picture of what it looks like to be full of faith (faithful) with the acrostic "CHRISTIAN" based upon the text.
An Incarnational, Missional People
“Becoming Full of Faith”
This past week I heard a pastor describe an experience that I think many pastors have experienced. The pastor had a 90 year old church member who was a godly man, lying in a hospital bed dying. This old saint had lived a life as one full of faith. He had been used by God to lead others to faith in Jesus. He loved and served others well. Now his pastor was sitting at his bedside praying and asking the Heavenly Father to graciously take His faithful servant home to a place that has been especially prepared for him.
We live in a place and time that can become preoccupied with the here and now. All around us are people who are giving their lives for the accumulation of wealth and the acquisition of recognition. This old man had given himself away in virtual obscurity.
All around us are people who obsess about having tanned and shapely and young looking bodies. The dying Christian was mostly bones with a thin covering of skin and looked like he was spent.
Yet the old man’s pastor knew that this man would soon hear those words that all true Christians long to hear some day, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter and receive your reward.”
This man had eternal life. This man was saved from the penalty and destruction that comes from sin. This man had stored up treasure in heaven as he allowed God to spend his life in this world.
It was of this type of man that the Apostle John declared in 1 John 5:13--
“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.”
Life in this world is filled with uncertainties. Will you pass the course? Will you graduate with the degree? Will you secure a job that provides a living? Will you marry someone for a lifetime? Will you have to suffer with a disease or difficulties and disappointments?
In a world of uncertainties John writes to Christ followers and declares, “You can be certain of this--you have eternal life!”
That verse (5:13) is the purpose statement to the entire letter. John wanted those in his church who had been confused by Gnosticism and hurt by former members of their community who had forsaken them for the heresy to know that they had eternal life.
Chapter 5 then paints one more portrait of what it looks like to be an authentic, saved, child of God. I’ve outlined the contents of John’s words with the acrostic “CHRISTIAN”.
C Confirmed love (5:1-2)
A Christian is someone who has been born of God and that birth and connection with God is seen or evidenced by loving other Christians. Love is not simply a feeling but a way of being and acting. John says it is a love that obeys God.
What does obeying God have to do with loving other Christians? God is prompting or moving us to do loving things for others every day. God may prompt us to give to meet a need; to serve to meet a need; to care or act with compassion; or to forgive a wrong. Our obedience to God’s promptings both loves God and loves the other person well and thereby confirms our love.
H Hearty obedience (5:3)
John says that a true believer doesn’t find God’s commands to be burdensome. Sometimes God’s commands can be challenging or difficult or even seemingly impossible. But a person born of God has a heart to obey.
The Psalms describe such a “hearty” person as one who loves the law of God and meditates on it day and night.
I know some people that love to work in their garden or in their yard. They read journals about fertilizer and climate. They weed and prune. They spend hours tending to their yard and are glad. It is not a burden because they are “saved” to gardening. It is in their heart. I’m not one of them. I’m “lost” when it comes to gardening. Cutting my grass is burdensome to me.
R Rescuing faith (5:4-5)
When the “world” is spoken of in this context it is a reference to the “ways of the world” or the “systems of the world” that oppose God. As such, the world is warring with God over your soul. God wants you to know Him, love Him and live with Him forever. The world wants you to stay separated from God forever. The world will seek to entice you away from God with either--
Pleasures; who needs God when life feels this good? Or-
Pains; there can’t be a God when life is this hard.