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Whaddya Know - 5

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WHADDYA KNOW?

1 John 5:13-20

This series is called Assurances: What God Wants You To Know. The word know appears about 40 times in this book. John's emphasis here is that our relationship with God can be one of certainty, one of assurance, one of security in him.

This is not a smug type of knowledge that feeds our pride; it's a humble type of knowledge that expresses itself in love for others. It's crucial to note that in addition to the word "know" appearing 40 times in this letter, the word "love" appears even more. The Christian life is all about love. In fact, last week we saw that John said, (v. 8) whoever does not love does not know God. Loving and knowing are side by side.

God doesn't want you to live your life in insecurity, constantly second-guessing who you are, why you're here, what your purpose is, where you stand with him, and on and on. He wants you to know these things because he wants you to know him. He wants you to have the assurance that comes with a relationship with Jesus Christ.

In verse 12 John says, "He who has the son has life." That's the crucial connection-our relationship with Jesus Christ. This relationship is founded on what? Our love for him? Not exactly. It's founded on his love for us. We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19) The object of our relationship with God is that we grow in love. The object is that you love him, and that you love others the way he loves others. The more you love, the more you know him. The more you know him, the more you know who you are.

In closing out this series, we'll look at five things God wants you to know. First of all...

1. God wants you to know that you're secure in him.

(v. 13) I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

In the verse before that, John says...

(v. 12) He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Wherein does our security lie? In our connection with Jesus Christ. The fact is, there is nothing about this world that is secure. Health, relationships, money, it can all dwindle so quickly. I'm thinking of how I have seen this illustrated in recent months in the lives of people I know personally.

A friend of mine whose marriage we thought was rock solid-he came home from a business trip a day early to find a car in the driveway that shouldn't have been there. Another friend has watched his life savings decrease by 60% because of some changes in his company's stock price. Another friend of mine's teenage daughter was just diagnosed with cancer. Another friend's church is going through a split and lifelong friendships are being ripped apart as they turn into the Hatfields and McCoys. Each of these have felt the rug of security pulled out from underneath them.

If we were to take a roll call this morning, each of you could personally testify or, at least, relate a story about how someone close to you has experienced something similar. Our existence on this planet is defined by insecurity. That will never change. But God wants you to know that you're secure in him. There's only one thing in life that's certain: God loves you. And that's all you need. I heard Rita Springer say once, "I didn't realize that God was all I needed until I came to the place that he was all I had." Jim Carrey once said, "I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer."

All you need is God, but you don't have to wait until your world falls apart to discover this. You can know now.

(v. 13) I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

He's talking about assurance of salvation. We have a tendency to make this a lot more difficult than it needs to be. I've known a lot of Christians who torment themselves over this question, "Did I really believe? Did I really mean it? Was I really, really, really sincere?" - as if the difference between the second and third "really" is the difference between spending eternity in heaven or hell. What happens is that we turn our assurance into something we earn by our own goodness. Our assurance then becomes founded, not in God, but in ourselves. This misses the whole point of assurance - because then you're only one bad day away from losing your assurance altogether.

John says that you can know you have eternal life because of all the things he has written about: God loves you. Jesus died for you. Your sins are forgiven. You are his child. He is your Father. It is in the love your father has for you that you find your security. God wants you to know that you're secure in him. Also...

2. God wants you to know that he hears your prayers.

Listen to John's words...

(v. 14-15) This is the confidence we have approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him.

I was told once that this was God's small print. His loophole. His backdoor clause. You can pray all you want, but if it's not his will you're not going to get it - so, too bad for you. No. Too GOOD for you. Think about it. God is all-knowing. He sees all things. When we ask for things, we ask with a limited understanding. When God answers, he answers with complete understanding. He answers with your best interests in mind, because doing his will is always in your best interests.

I was watching one of those new-age gurus on TV a while back. (Do you still call them new-age? Even when they've reached old age?) He was saying that the universe will give you whatever you ask for - in your relationships, and finances, and career, and emotional well-being. If you apply the principles of faith, he said, this eternal source will bring it to pass. There's a key distinction between what this teaching and the Christian faith: his cosmic force has no will of its own, no specific sense of right and wrong, or purpose and direction. It's just an energy you tap into to get what you want.

Now, if what he was saying was true, and I could choose between his method of prayer and John's method of prayer, I would prefer John's method. Why? Because our prayers are protected by an all-knowing, all-loving God.

Do you remember when your children they would sometimes ask for things that weren't good for them? Or they would ask for things that were second best? In your wisdom, you didn't always give them exactly what they asked for, did you?

It's the same with God. He hears your prayers with the ears of a loving Father, and he answers according to what is best for you, in accordance with his will. Some say, "If it's God's will it's going to happen anyway." That's not true. You can miss out on God's will simply by not asking. James said, "You do not have because you do not ask God." (James 4:2) God wants you to know that he listens to your prayers and he responds to your prayers. If you ask for the wrong thing, he'll say no. He won't give you something that isn't ultimately good for you. But if you ask for too little, or nothing at all, you limit what God can do in your life.

Years ago I was keeping my nephew, who was about 4 at the time. His favorite place to eat was, of course, McDonald's. Knowing this I asked him, "What do you want to eat tonight?" He said, "Peanut Butter!" I said, "Wait a minute. You can have anything you want for supper. Anything at all. What do you want." His answer: "Spaghetti-o's!" Now, there's no way he liked canned pasta better than McDonald's, but he probably didn't think I would say yes to McDonald's, so he asked for a little less. Even when I dropped hints like "What kind of meal would make you happy to eat?" he still didn't get it.

I think God looks at us the same way. It's like he asks, "How many hints can I drop? I'm willing to give you so much, but you ask for so little." We get bogged down in wondering if we can ask God for a new TV or a new SUV - and he's saying, "TV? SUV? Come on guys! Think big!" How about asking for this: To wake up every day full of energy and excitement and enthusiasm because your life is so full of purpose and direction that you can't wait to begin each day. How about being filled with indescribable joy and uncontainable happiness and unexplainable peace? How about the chance to make a difference in people's lives, to help them go from death to life, from darkness to light? To change history for the better? That's what's possible. Or, would you really rather just have a TV with a better remote?

God is waiting to answer your prayers. He'll only give you what is good for you - what is consistent with his will for you - but that includes far more than many of us are willing to ask for.

John continues this thought with a couple of verses that we don't completely understand. He talks about a sin that leads to death and a sin that doesn't lead to death. Scholars debate what these sins are and what this passage means. We can't cover it completely here but there's a crucial point we can get from it.

(v. 16) If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life.

This is how important prayer is. When we see someone making choices that aren't good for them, we may not be able to intervene, but we can pray for them. Prayer is enough to save them, because prayer is that powerful.

Paul says, "Don't worry about anything, but pray about everything." (Philippians 4:6) God is ready to listen to your prayers. He's ready to respond. He's waiting on you.

Thirdly...

3. God wants you to know that you can be good.

(v. 18) We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God [i.e. Jesus] keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.

John began this letter by saying that if we say we have no sin, we're lying. But if we confess our sins, we are forgiven and cleansed of all wrongdoing. Then in chapter three he says that God's seed has been placed in you, that you have been born of God, and that his life will continue to grow in you. His life at work in you means that you will win the war against sin.

Now, you won't win every battle. And some battles may rage for weeks or months or years—it may take a while to get victory in certain areas, but you will ultimately win the war, because God's seed is in you.

(v. 19-20) We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true.

God's purpose for us that we will become like Jesus. You can, through his power, through his presence in your life.

CONCLUSION

1 John was written so that we could know. Know that you have forgiveness. Know who you are in Christ. Know that you are secure in God's love. Know that you belong to him. Know that he considers you his child. Know that he loves you for all eternity. Know that he hears your prayers. Know that you will win the war against sin — because once God's life is in you, you cannot keep sinning. Holiness is within your grasp. Don't give up, don't lose hope.

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