If you’re shocked by the title for this morning’s message, you need to know it’s not a mistake. But if you have to leave before I finish this morning’s message, I ask that you do not apply the title to yourself until you hear the entire message on tape or read it on the church website.
We continue this morning with 1 John 5:6-13.
Just before preparing this message, I caught the news of the day, the sentencing of Andrea Yates to life imprisonment for the drowning of her five children. Susan and I talked about how this gives her a better chance at recovery than simply trying to rehabilitate her through counseling.
Consider if she were only required to get counseling, but not sentenced to imprisonment.
I suspect the counseling may help her deal with her prior psychological disorder and even help her to realize what she had done was wrong. But counseling will not remove the guilt for the five lives she snuffed out, whether intentionally or unintentionally. When a person does something wrong of this magnitude, whether intentionally or unintentionally, she will always be burdened by guilt, until she takes the opportunity to pay for the wrong somehow.
Sometime ago, a lady told me she believed that all have wronged God, but she could not accept that we could be forgiven, guilt-free, simply by allowing Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay for our wrongs against God. She wanted to pay somehow for the wrongs she committed against God.
But what if your sins cost more than you are able to pay? What if someone else was willing to pay and could pay for you? Would you let him? Wouldn’t that be great news?
Hebrews 9:27-28 remind us, "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."
This morning, John continues with the purpose of his letter, stated in chapter 1, verse 4, "to make our joy complete." You see, 1 John 5:6-13 tell us that we can have eternal life, instead of a life sentence, when we stand before God at judgment. And the way this would happen is if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins by His death on the cross.
This is not a man-made solution. The man-made religions of the world make mankind pay for our own wrongs through good works or religious rituals. God’s solution is to pay for mankind, because mankind doesn’t have enough to pay. Not only does God provide the solution, but He also testifies to this solution with legal evidence, and He gives certainty to those who trust in His solution.
Let’s look first at the legal evidence from God and then close with the certainty of His solution.
First, God gives us the legal evidence that Jesus is God’s solution for the sins of the world. We see this in verses 6-10.
John wrote to counter the lies that crept into the church during his lifetime, One of these lies involved the teaching that Jesus was a human being until his water baptism, when God’s Spirit descended on him, enabling him to do miracles and teach with great wisdom. Not only that, this lie taught that God’s spirit left Jesus before he was crucified on the cross.
To counter this lie, John wrote, "This is the one [Jesus] who came by water (that is baptism) and blood (that is death on the cross). He did not come by water (that is baptism) only, but by water (baptism) and blood (that is crucifixion)."
People who believe that God came in Jesus only at baptism and left before His crucifixion believe that God came to model the perfect life but not to pay for our sins by His death. Such people have too high a view of mankind and too low a view of sin.
The Bible says in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death...." And Hebrews 9:22 tells us, "In fact, [God’s] law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."
Because you and I have the wage of death for our sins against God, we cannot pay for ourselves and live, not to mention pay for another. Only one who has no sin, and therefore is not already sentenced to die, can pay for another’s sins. More than that, only one who is of far greater worth than mankind can pay for all of mankind.
If Jesus were born human, he would be born with a sinful nature like you and me. If Jesus died as a human, even a sinless human, his death would only be sufficient to pay for the sins of only one human being - one for one. Only the Son of God, without sin and with infinite worth, could pay for the sins of the world.
Matthew 3:16-17 records the baptism of Jesus, "As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ’This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’" The baptism of Jesus confirms His infinite worth as the Son of God and confirms God’s pleasure in Jesus’ sinless state.
The baptism of Jesus demonstrates Jesus as the only legal candidate for taking our place of punishment for sin. The death of Jesus on the cross confirms his follow-through.
2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us, "God made him [Jesus Christ] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." He took our place that we might take His.
The Shaw Pocket Bible Handbook notes, "[The] legal term meaning ’acquittal,’ is a declaration that someone is in the right. Sinners are in the wrong before God. [We] have broken His laws; [we] deserve punishment, but on the cross [Jesus] Christ took [our] place. Now, when [we] put [our] trust in Christ, [we] are declared to be in the right, acquitted, justified. The cross shows God to be just, not simply in the fact that He forgives, but in the way He forgives. To pass over sins would show mercy, but it would not show justice. Forgiveness by the way of the cross shows both" - mercy and justice.
Not only does God give us legal evidence that Jesus is God’s solution for the sins of the world, but God also gives certainty that Jesus’ death on the cross is sufficient payment for our sins. We see this in verses 11-13.
In Dave Breese’ book, KNOW THE MARKS OF CULTS, he points out that one of the marks of cults is to offer uncertain hope. In other words, cults identify our lack of right relationship with God, but they teach no clear or absolute cure for the problem.
While not everyone considers Catholicism to be a cult, Catholicism does share this characteristic with cults. One who practices Catholicism is never really certain that he or she has eternal life with God. Catholics are constantly on a production or performance base, and unless the good outweighs the bad, and the bad confessed before death, the hope of heaven is uncertain for Catholics.
I have a Catholic friend who was always filled with great anxiety, because he was afraid that he would get hit by a truck and die without the opportunity to confess all of his sins first. So he would constantly confess his sins over and over and over throughout the day, in case death catches him by surprise.
Yet, the God of the Bible is absolutely clear about the solution for sinners to have eternal life, and the solution is this: "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son [Jesus Christ] has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."
This means that you can know how to have eternal life and can be sure that you have eternal life. You do this by trusting that Jesus’ death on the cross is sufficient payment for your sins against God. Simply whisper to God, "I believe."
Robert Ingersol, an atheist, commented, "A preacher is one who is willing to take care of your affairs in the next world providing you will support his in this one."
If Robert Ingersol were here this morning, I would say, "Robert, your comment not only reflects your cynicism but also your ignorance. A preacher simply tells you about God’s solution, and God is the One Who takes care of your affairs in the next world."
You cannot give the church enough money to get out of purgatory because there is not such place as purgatory; "this is God’s testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son [Jesus Christ]. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."
There is no such promise of the Jehovah’s Witness that only 144,000 would have new birth; "this is God’s testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son [Jesus Christ]. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."
There is no re-incarnation, trying harder to do better in the next life, "this is God’s testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son [Jesus Christ]. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."
There is no evolutionary process whereby humans become gods as the Mormons teach; "this is God’s testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son [Jesus Christ]. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."
And Mrs. Andrea Yates, the bad news is that neither counseling nor life imprisonment is sufficient to pay for the wrongs you’ve done against God. But the good news is this: "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son [Jesus Christ]. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."
Jesus affirmed this truth about Himself in John 14:6, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father [God] except through me."
Earlier this week, I heard a list of creative bumper stickers that communicate the good news of God’s solution for mankind’s sin. One of them read, "Body Piercing Saves Lives." That’s God’s solution. Jesus Christ nailed on the cross to give eternal life to sinners - who deserve death.
Almost 700 years before God revealed His solution in Jesus Christ, Isaiah the prophet predicted God’s solution in Isaiah 53:5, "But he [Jesus Christ] was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed."