Summary: Characteristics of a follower of Jesus Christ.
Birthmarks of a Believer
July 9, 2006
Were I to ask you if you are sure that you have been born physically you would think it a foolish question.
"Of course - I have been born physically.
Shake my hand.
Touch my hair.
Smell my feet.
I have a physical presence." You might say
"Why are you asking me a question to which you know the answer, of course I have been born physically."
Yet if I asked you if you are sure that you have been born spiritually, would it be as obvious?
There are certain characteristics that mark those that are of the same family.
There are physical similarities like eye color - "she has her mama’s eyes."
Hair quantity - "he has his father’s lack of hair."
Sometimes these characteristics are obvious and quite detectable.
This is also to be true of the people who find themselves in the family of God. Though the characteristics of similarity are not physical but have to do with beliefs, behavior and attitude.
Just as you could perhaps be identified as your Mama’s son or daughter by how you look, talk, walk, etc. So too are there qualities present in a follower of Jesus that clearly identify one as His.
I’m calling these birthmarks, the Birthmarks of a Believer. John gives us 3 of these in his short little letter called 1st John.
The first one I want to point out is in 1 John 5:1, "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God."
A birthmark of a follower of God is that they believe that Jesus is the Christ.
Throughout Jesus’ life he was inviting people to believe in him and in his Kingdom way that he was living out and seeking to establish among the people.
When a man named Nicodemus, who by all appearances was a very religious man, approached Jesus being intrigued by him, Jesus told him he had to be born again.
"How can a man be born again when he is old. Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born." (And all the women said Amen.)
And part of Jesus’ reply is that well loved verse John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Belief in Jesus as the Christ
identifies and initiates one into God’s family.
And belief is open to all. In our text the word "everyone" is used and in John 3:16, "whoever" believes - God does not permit only some, nor does he identify and invite only a certain type of person to believe. No "whoever believes" and "everyone" who believes becomes part of God’s family
Let me go out on a limb here. When it comes to faith, everybody has it. The idea that some people have faith and others don’t is a popular one. But it is not a true one. Everybody has faith. Everybody is following somebody. (Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis)
We can talk about evolution and creationism
homosexuality and heterosexuality
the existence of God
and people will have a reaction - a response. They will have a belief on these matters.
But we need to take another step and ask what has formed that belief. Is it Jesus the Christ, the Son of God or is it a teacher, a personality, a textbook that has taught that belief.
All people have faith, but the reality of those who have been born of God is that their beliefs, their decisions are formed and influenced by Jesus.
The 1st birthmark of a believer is belief in Jesus Christ.
1 John 5:1, "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God."
On the radio this week, I heard a story about immigrants to America who desires to have their children join them. These legal immigrants want to sponsor a child or children to join them. Part of the process is for them to submit the necessary paperwork and a birth certificate.
But our immigration service has learned that many of these birth certificates are false. So they are using DNA test to get a definitive answer on if the child they claim as their own really is.
I tell you this, because many people claim belief in Jesus Christ. They claim they have the proper "paper work" but when watching more closely the truth is learned. Their true DNA is revealed.
That’s why John doesn’t just say that belief is the only birthmark of a believer.
A second birthmark of a believer in John’s writing is found in 1 John 4:7b, "Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." While the first birthmark - belief is an inner reality, a mental exercise. This 2nd birthmark is outer. Is demonstrable. A person is born of God’s family when they love. Because love comes from God. Because love belongs and originates with God, it follows that anyone who loves must belong to that sphere - he has been born of God." (Marshall, p. 211)