Summary: A sermon that encourages believers to anchor their faith in the Word of God.
"The Three Anchors of Assurance"
INTRODUCTION: "Go!" Said the old reformer to his wife, as he lay a-dying, and the words were his last, "go, read where I cast my first anchor!" She needed no more explicit instructions, for he had told her the story again and again. It is Richard Bannantyne, Knox's serving-man, who has placed the scene on record. "On November 24, 1572," he says, "John Knox departed this life to his eternal rest. Early in the afternoon he said 'Now, for the last time, I commend my spirit, soul, and body' (pointing upon his three fingers) 'into thy hands, O Lord!' Thereafter, about five o'clock he said to his wife, 'Go, read where I cast my first anchor!' She did not need to be told, and so, she read the seventeenth of John's evangel." Let us listen as she reads it! "Thou hast given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou has given Him; and this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent."
Here was a strange and striking contract! "Eternal life! Life eternal!" says the Book. Now listen to the laboured breathing from the bed! The bed speaks of death; the Book speaks of Life Everlasting! "Life!" The dying man starts as the great candences fall upon his ears. "This is life eternal that they might know Thee!" "Life Eternal!" "It was there," he declares with his last breath, "it was there that I cast my first anchor."
There is nothing that is more important than to know that you are going to heaven and make no mistake the Bible assures us that we can know. Verse 13 is the definitive verse in this regard and it points us to other truths that we can rest our faith on. In verses 1-5 there are three great certainties for our faith to anchor too!
I. APPRECIATION OF THE SAINTS (v. 1).
a. The operation of faith
John is the "whosoever" apostle for all may believe even if all don't believe.
b. The object of faith
What are we to believe? We are to believe that Jesus is Christ or Hebrew "Messiah."
"Whosoever -- Greek, "Everyone that." He could not be our "Jesus" (God-Savior) unless He were "the Christ"; for He could not reveal the way of salvation, except He were a prophet: He could not work out that salvation, except He were a priest: He could not confer that salvation upon us, except He were a king: He could not be prophet, priest, and king, except He were the Christ [Pearson, Exposition of the Creed]." JFB Commentary
c. The offspring of the Father
1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
II. APPLICATION OF THE SCRIPTURE (vv. 2-3).
a. The confidence
"By this we know..." verse 2, is John's word of assurance to all those who believe.
b. The connection
There is a connection between love for God and keeping his commandments. Genuine faith produces a result and that result will be a desire and determination to obey God. Twice John declares that those who love God will "...keep his commandments..."
c. The commendation
To the unregenerate man God's commandments seem "grievous" (burdensome) but not to those who "love God".
Mat 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
III. APPROPRIATION OF THE SAVIOR (vv. 4-5).
a. Our creation
"Whatsoever is born of God..." speaks of the new birth. It is unfortunate that in our day and age the word "Christian" has come to be applied to almost any kind of behavior or thing. This word only appears 3 times in the Scriptures. It was first used to describe believers at Antioch who were "Christlike in behavior" but today it has lost its meaning. Jesus makes it plain that you cannot enter the kingdom without being "born again," and Paul writes about this "new creation" in his letter to the Corinthians.
John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.