Seven Wonderful Truths About Genuine Believers
1 John 3:14-18 - Genuine Believers Know That They Have Passed From Death Into Life
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered 8/1/04
We have been looking at the seven wonderful truths about genuine believers as they are revealed in chapter three.
Our focus in this message will be…
"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth."
I have witnessed to hundreds of people. To find out where they are spiritually I would pose a question something like this: "Do you know for sure that you are going to Heaven when you die?"
It was not uncommon for the person to say something like this - "I don’t know for sure, but I hope so!" Or, "you can’t know for sure." So, what is the truth? Turn with me to 1 John 5:13 "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." In fact, John says one of the key reasons that he wrote his letter is that "ye may know that ye have eternal life." Now, that’s pretty clear, it is not? To paraphrase it – you can know that you are saved. That is exactly what John is saying in 1 John 3:14. Look at the little phrase we know (hmeiv oidamen). It is an emphatic expression indicating certain knowledge and that knowledge is the passing from spiritual death to spiritual life.
First, the Apostle John wrote in his Gospel that eternal life is the upshot of believing in Christ.
John 5:24 says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."
John 3:36 "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
It is every believer’s privilege to know that he has everlasting life. And, one of the reasons you can know that you have eternal life is because of the testimony to that fact we have in His Word. God says believers in Christ have eternal life and so that settles it!.
There is another way we can know we have eternal life and that is because of the witness of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. Turn to Romans 8:15-16 "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:" When a person receives Christ as Savior, the Holy Spirit moves into that person’s life. The result is that, instead of having the "spirit of bondage," which is to have the spirit of a slave, which only produces fear and the anticipation of judgment, the believer has the spirit of confidence, which shows itself in feeling of affection, love for God and assurance that they are the children of God.
However, in the little letter of 1 John the old Apostle says that the evidence that we are passed from death unto life is that we love the brethren. I want to make it clear that loving the brethren is not the cause of passing from death to life, but the effect of it, and so an evidence of it. The infallible evidence that we are genuine believers is that we love the followers of Christ. Those who know the writings of the Apostle John know that loving other believers is one of his common themes. Turn in your Bible’s to John 13:34-35 "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
Why does this kind of love (agapwmen – agapomen) make it of so apparent that a person is a Christian? Because, it is so contrary to the norm of the world. The world’s love has strings attached. It has ulterior motives. It is a qualified love, a conditional love, based on how other people behave toward us. It is a love that demands reciprocity. But, genuine Christian love seeks opportunities of to good. It is a purposeful love, unconditional love, volitional love, a giving love, an obvious love and a sacrificial love. John says, in the second part of verse 14 "He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." In other words, the person is not a believer.
Next we come to verse 15 "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him." What this verse is saying is that hatred is the moral equivalent of murder. Hatred, if it were acted out, would lead the one hating to commit murder, as it did Cain. One commentator said, "The private malice, the secret grudge, the envy which is cherished in the heart, is murderous in its tendency, and were it not for the outward restraints of human laws, and the dread of punishment, it would often lead to the act of murder." The Apostle John says, "no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him."
Then we come to verse 16. In this verse and verse 17 we see two tests of love. – "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." Instead of hating, we ought to be following the model of Christ. True believers expose themselves to danger for the sake of helping a brother in Christ. A good example is Priscilla and Aquila who laid down their necks, or ventured their lives for the Apostle Paul (see Romans 16:3-4). Believers should also, when called upon to do so, freely lay down their lives in the cause of Christ, and for the sake of His Gospel, for the gaining of souls to Christ, and for the confirming of the faith of the brethren in Him, as the apostles of Christ, and the martyrs of Jesus, have done.
The first test of love is this: genuine believers put their selves on the line for other believers. They stick out their necks to help a brother or sister in Christ.
Verse 17 reveals the second test love. "But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?"
The phrase "this world's good" is referring to the possessions of this world, worldly substance, and the temporal good things of it. If God has blessed us with wealth and possessions and we see a Christian who is destitute we should share with that person (see James 2:15-17).
In conclusion, I remind you of the title of this
message - Genuine Believers Know That They Have Passed From Death Into
Life. One way you can know that you have passed from death into life
is loving your brothers in Christ. However, this is not just a superficial
thing where you speak hollow words, but rather you meet the need! That is
what verse 18 is saying -- "My little children, let us not love in
word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth."