Summary: Learn the four marks of a true Christian.
We continue in our study of 1 John, beginning in chapter 5, verses 1-5. If you’ve not been with us over the last few Sundays, this will be new material for you. If you’ve been with us over the last few Sundays, this will be repetitive, but that does not mean you can take a nap.
Very few of us learn important things upon first exposure, and even fewer learn to communicate clearly what we have heard only once. If I were to ask you this morning, what are the marks of a true Christian, I suspect that only a handful of us would be able to list them confidently. (We are not talking about how to become a Christian but what a Christian looks like.)
Being able to list the marks of a true Christian allows you to know whether the people you meet who call themselves Christians are misrepresenting themselves or not. And just as important, you will know whether you are truly a Christian, destined for eternal life with God beyond the grave.
John wants to remind us this morning of the marks of a true Christian in 1 John 5:1-5.
Before we go into the main teaching of this morning, let me define the term, "born of God." To be born of God means to have a living relationship with God, not just to be biologically alive but to be spiritually alive. And only the Spirit of God can make us spiritually alive.
In John’s record of Jesus’ life, John 3:1-8, a Jewish teacher, named Nicodemus, asked Jesus about spiritual matters, and Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!"
Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, `You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
A true Christian is born of God, not the product of indoctrination, but one in whom God’s Spirit has done His work. And John lists four marks of one who is born of God. These birthmarks can be summarized in the acrostics, B.L.O.W., as in the Spirit of God blowing life into us. Let’s look together at each birthmark. (These are not steps to be born of God, but these are signs of a person already born of God.)
The B in BLOW stands for Believe that Jesus is the Christ. We see this in verse 1a.
The evidence of being born of God is belief that Jesus is the Christ, that is God’s chosen Savior for the world. This is not the same as belief in a higher being, a cosmic force or some sort of god. Many believe in some greater power, but not in Jesus as the Christ.
For some people, even belief in God is difficult but not impossible. If you’ve been taught by your education system that there is no God, or if the recognition of God was absent in your growing up, you don’t need to be born of God to believe in the existence of God.
You can rationally and experientially come to the conclusion that there is a God. Simply look around at the complexity, yet orderly, universe and creation. Such design presupposes a Designer, namely God. Furthermore, if you are aware of the law of cause and effect in our universe, you will conclude that what we have today is the culmination of a lengthy series of causes, and there must be a first Cause, namely God.
So your belief that God exists is not an evidence that you are born of God. When you are aware of the world in which you live, you logically conclude that God exists. But the only way that you can conclude that God came in Jesus to be the Savior of the world, is to be born of God. Only God’s Spirit can impress this truth on you.
In Matthew 16:15-17, Jesus asked his disciples, "But what about you? Who do you say I am?"
Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven."
When God reveals the truth of Jesus to a person, we don’t need to persuade, we simply need to be available to affirm with God’s Word, the Bible.