Summary: God's love empowers us to overcome all that would keep us from experiencing loving relationships with others.
We Have Overcome!
Walter Gowans knew that God was calling him from his homeland to share the gospel in the Sudan. He traveled there to work among the people of the region because he knew that was God's plan for his life. God had so impacted his life that it was evident to those around him that Walter was part of something much bigger than his own dreams and aspirations. Walter's mother, who lived in Canada, was so captivated by her son's passion for the mission that she felt as if she were with him every day. Rowland Bingham, one of the founders of the worldwide missionary organization called, S.I.M. writes of the impact that Walter's mother had upon his life. Bingham wrote,
In the quietness of her parlor she told how God had called a daughter to China, and her eldest boy (Walter Gowans) to the Sudan. She spread out before me the vast extent of those thousands of miles and filled in the teeming masses of people. Ere I closed the interview she had placed upon me the burden of the Sudan.
Mr. Bingham felt as if God Himself were calling him to leave his post and go to the Sudan to join Walter Gowans as a missionary to the people of the Sudan. He did just that and then eighteen months later Bingham returned to Canada, alone. Walter and Thomas Kent lay buried in Nigeria's interior. Bingham writes of visiting Mrs. Gowans when he got home,
I visited Mrs. Gowans to take her the few personal belongings of her son, he recalled. She met me with extended hand. We stood there in silence. Then she said these words: 'Well, Mr. Bingham, I would rather have had Walter go out to the Soudan and die there, all alone, that have him home today, disobeying his Lord.'
What can cause a mother to say such stunning words? Only the love of God that allowed her to see that there are more important things in this life than life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What is this that is more important that these inalienable rights - passionate obedience, radical obedience to the will of God.
Rowland Bingham, after he visited with Mrs. Gowans and gave her the news of her son's death at age of 25, went back to Nigeria where 60 million people were waiting to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. The year was 1900 when he went back to follow God's call and he failed. In 1901, Rowland Bingham and his assistants set up the first home base for the mission at Patigi, 500 miles up the Niger River. Today there are still S.I.M missionaries working to spread the gospel throughout all of Africa. Rowland Bingham once wrote.
Our success in this venture means nothing less than the opening of the country for the gospel; our failure, at most, nothing more than the death of two or three deluded fanatics. Still, even death is not failure. His purposes are accomplished. He uses deaths as well as lives in the furtherance of His cause.
Two young men in their early twenties, possessed with a deep love for their Savior and an undying thirst to serve Him no matter the cost has resulted in the salvation of millions. Obedience cost Walter Gowans his life, but today we know him as an overcomer who willingly paid the price of obedience because of his love for Jesus and his desire to see others come to know his Savior's love.
This truly is the heart of our Scripture study for this morning. Everybody wants to be an overcomer, to rise above the cares and troubles of this world and stand atop the platform of victory, but few are willing to walk the path of obedience that ends in victory. Let's take a look at our Scripture this morning found in 1 John 5:2-5.
2This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:2-5 NIV)
We have been studying John's little letter to the church for many weeks now. I have to tell you that I have been so blessed by the numbers of you who have told me what a blessing this study has been to you. I've seen the list of those who are requesting sermons over the Internet grow during this study like I've not seen it grow in the past. This has caused me to stop and ask, "Why?" Why has John's letter captured the hearts of so many folks? Why are so many people requesting the sermons to study on their own? I think I have an answer. John's letter has captivated us and caused us to yearn for more because it hits us where we live. John's letter is more relevant than the morning news. It gives us a solid foundation upon which to build our lives. It is a guiding light in a dark and dreary world. It is a plumb line to show us where our lives have grown crooked and out of alignment with God's heart for our lives. John's letter speaks to our hearts and souls of the deepest truths of God's Word.