1 John 5:1-12 | All or Nothing
1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.
- Belief is synonymous with new birth. It is not that one of these things comes first and the other follows but both happen at the same time and are intrinsically linked. You cannot have one without the other.
- Similarly, the same can be said for loving the Father and his children (the church). We see this principle demonstrated in scripture where David, out of his love for Jonathan, wants to show love to whomever is left in Jonathan’s family; namely Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9). If we truly love God then we should also truly love the family of God.
- So salvation is an ‘all or nothing’ kind of thing, it’s a package deal. A love of the father, the son and the children of God and a desire to carry out his commandments should coexist alongside each other. None comes first or last but they are the evidence of new birth.
2This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.3In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.
- These things are so linked that they can be used to test each other. We know that we love the children of God, not by measuring our works of love, but by observing our love for God and obedience to his commandments.
- His commandment is ‘that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another’ (1 John 3:23). We therefore love one another not because we alone think it is a good thing to do, but because God has commanded it and empowers us to do so. Therefore our love for one another is rooted in our love for God.
- One cannot say ‘I love God’ but have no desire to keep his commands, since keeping his commands is the very expression of love for God.
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 the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
- New birth in God is not for our burdening but for our overcoming. Our faith is the victory that has overcome the world, since the world does not embrace faith (in Christ).
- It’s important to note and remember that it is not good works, morality or the unity of man that overcomes the world, but faith alone (in Christ alone).
- Faith rises above the antichrist spirit of the world and brings with it all who believe that Jesus is the son of God.
6This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7For there are three that testify: 8the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.
- The phrase ‘came by’ does not describe how Jesus entered existence as a man (i.e. through natural birth) but describes the manner of his coming and ministry, as this was the purpose for it.
- Water is a reference to baptism (which Jesus set us an example to do) which symbolises repentance
- Blood is a reference of Christ’s death which accomplished our atonement
- Christ’s ministry was a ministry of repentance and forgiveness (through atonement), and this was followed up by new life through the Spirit.
- So Christ came to do three things and these three testify to his ministry:
- He came to lead us in repentance (through the waters of baptism)
- He came to atone for our sin (through his blood on the cross)
- He came to give us new life (through his Spirit)
- As above, these all coexist alongside each other, we cannot have one without the others.
9We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.
- Human testimonies can be false or prone to error, but God’s testimony must be true and reliable
- God has testified about his Son through his word, through the scriptures as a whole and at various specific times recorded in the scriptures
- God has also testified about his Son through these means: water, blood and Spirit. These three point to our broken sinfulness and our need for wholeness, forgiveness and new life. Whoever believes in the son of God becomes and living embodiment of this testimony (‘has the testimony in himself’)
- Whoever does not believe God denies our need for wholeness, forgiveness and new life. Having no faith in God means thinking that God is ‘wrong’ about the state of humanity
11And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
- The sum of all what God has testified is that we have eternal life through his son. He is the key to it all, and so whoever has the son has eternal life, and whoever does not have the son does not have eternal life.