Summary: John gives us four tests to see if we are spiritually on the right track.
A. How many of you like or liked taking tests at school?
B. There’s a story told about a college student who was taking the course in ornithology (or-nith-ology) which is a study of birds?
1. This class in ornithology had the reputation of being the most difficult class in the whole curriculum.
2. And the professor was an extremely difficult professor. Everybody feared him.
3. But it was a required course, and every student had to take it if they wanted a biology degree.
4. As the course began, the professor announced that the final would be a very difficult test and it would comprise a large portion of their grade. So you had better do well on that test.
5. Everybody studied. They took copious notes. They made sure they understood everything the professor said.
6. On the day of the final exam, the students filed into the lecture hall with sweaty palms, extremely nervous.
6. At the front of the classroom was a table with 5 cages on it.
7. Each cage had a cover and beneath the cover they could see the feet and spindly legs of a bird.
8. At the sound of the bell, the professor addressed the students, “Here’s the test. You can see there are 5 birds and they’re all covered except for their feet and legs. You must tell me the identity of each of those 5 birds by looking only at their feet and legs.”
9. Everyone had studied long and hard, but no one had anticipated such a test.
10. They were all straining, trying to remember something, anything, that could help them pass the test.
11. Finally, one student stood up and said, “This is ridiculous. This is the craziest test I have ever seen, and you’re the worst professor in this whole school.”
12. He continued, “I quit. I‘m out of here. I’m not going to take this test.” And he turned and walked toward the door.
13. “Just a minute young man.” said the professor. “Who are you? I demand your name right now.”
14. The young man stopped, took a long look at the professor, and then pulling up both of his pant legs said, “You tell me."
C. Indeed, some tests are very hard and some are unfair.
1. But tests are necessary.
2. We need to know how we are doing and we need to konw where we stand.
3. Spiritually we often wonder if we are on the right track.
4. We wonder if our faith and our spiritual life are pleasing to God.
D. If you have been here for most of the lessons in this series on 1 John, then you know the context of this letter.
1. You know that John is writing to a church that has gone through some hard times.
2. There has been a group that has left the church because of a doctrinal split, and John is trying to encourage and reassure those who are left that they are okay.
3. The group that remains in the church is wondering if they have the truth, and so John wrote to help them know that they are on the right course.
4. So, in this section, John gives them the objective criteria for testing their faith.
5. So, let’s use John’s tests to see how we are doing.
I. Test #1: Love for the Father’s Other Children
A. The first and perhaps most fundamental measure of Christian faith in John’s “to-do list for believers” is love for God great enough to cause believers to love one another.
1. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,” (1 John 5:1-3)
2. Having fellowship with God, abiding in Christ, and living in the power of the Spirit is not just a good, warm, fuzzy feeling.
3. It can never be reduced to an intellectual belief or verbal proclamation.
4. It is ultimately the daily experience of translating love for God into practical conformity to his will.
5. In a word, it is impossible to claim faith without living in obedience.
B. A person always seeks to please the one he loves, does he not?
1. Jesus both modeled and taught as much: “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14:21).
2. The specific commandment John has in mind here is clear. He thinks it is reasonable and expected that “everyone who loves the parent loves the child.” So, if we love God we must love his Son, Jesus, and all his other children as well.