The Cross Made the Difference for Us
1 John 5:1-8
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Jan. 25, 2015
*Christians are like other people in a whole lot of ways.
We go to school and work.
We love our families.
We enjoy the same foods, sports and hobbies.
Like non-Christians, we also go through problems in our families, our finances, and our health.
We certainly don't look different from non-Christians.
But today's Scripture reminds us that in the most important ways Christians are different.
*The cross made the difference for us! -- And God's Word shows us how.
1. First: As Christians, we are blessed with two birthdays.
*Every true Christian in the world literally has two birthdays: A physical birthday and a spiritual birthday.
That's the day we were born again by receiving Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
*John confirmed this truth for us in vs. 1, when he said: "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." Christians: We are born again by the Holy Spirit of God working through the Word of God to bring us to faith in Jesus Christ.
That's why 1 Peter 1:23 tells all Christians that we have "been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever."
*In John 3, the Lord explained how crucial it is for people to be born again.
And Jesus said this to Nicodemus:
3. . .
"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.''
4. Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old?
Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?''
5. Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
*"You must be born again," Jesus said.
-- The reason why is because physical birth can only give physical life.
Horses produce horses.
Dogs produce dogs.
And mortal people produce mortal people.
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh."
*But "that which is born of the Spirit (or that which is given birth by God's Spirit) is spirit."
The Holy Spirit produces a new kind of person by a new kind of birth, the spiritual birth that gives us God's eternal life.
*But this new birth can only come by trusting in the cross of Jesus Christ.
And Jesus was talking about the cross when He went on to say this to Nicodemus:
14. . .
"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
15. that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
*Obviously we are born again by truly believing in Jesus Christ.
But what does that mean?
What does it mean to believe?
What does it mean to have saving faith?
-- Jerry Falwell really helped us understand.
*And he started by saying that saving faith "is like taking a drink of water.
In John 4:14 Jesus said, 'Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.
But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.' Saving faith is like taking a drink of water.
*And saving faith is like sitting down to an expensive feast someone else provided for you.
In Luke 14:16-17 Jesus said:
16. . .
'A certain man gave a great supper and invited many,
17. and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, "Come, for all things are now ready."'
*Saving faith is also like accepting an invitation.
In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, 'Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'
*Saving faith is also like walking through a door.
In John 10:9 Jesus said, 'I am the door.
If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.'
And saving faith is also like receiving a gift, because Romans 6:23 tells us that 'the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.' (1)
*Saving faith is like taking a drink of water, like sitting down to an expensive feast someone else provided for you, like accepting an invitation, like walking through a door, and like receiving a gift.
Are you born again by having saving faith in Jesus Christ?
*"Decision Magazine" told of a lady who had gone to church for 40 years.
She had sung in the choir, taught classes, given her time, and given her money.
She had also visited the sick.
*But one day this very nice woman realized that her heart was not right with God, and she later said: "I fell onto my knees and prayed, 'Dear God, I'm lost.
Please show me the way!
Forgive me of my many sins.
In Jesus' name I pray.
You see," she said, "I had never admitted I was lost.
When I did, and asked God to forgive me, Christ came into my heart.
My battle was won." (2)
*She was born again from above.
She was born again by God, for "whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God."
The cross made the difference for that lady, and if you are a Christian, the cross made the difference for you too! Christians, we are blessed with two birthdays.
2. We are also called to live by love.
*All Christians are called to live by love.
This truth is undeniably clear to us in vs. 1-3, where God's Word says:
1. Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.
2. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.
And His commandments are not burdensome.
 In these verses God tells us 3 things about His commandment to love one another.
First: There are no exceptions for believers.
*All Christians are commanded to love their brothers and sisters in Christ.
That's at the end of vs. 1, which tells us "everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him."
*In other words: "Everyone who loves the God who gave us new birth also loves the others who have received the new birth.
Everyone who loves the Father also loves His children."
So there are no exceptions to the love commandment for Christians.
 Also notice that this godly love is evidence for our salvation.
*As vs. 2 says: "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments."
In other words: "When we love God and keep his commandments, we will also love the children of God."
And this godly love is evidence of our salvation.
 On top of that, godly love is easy for Christians.
*That's why vs. 3 says God's commandments are not "grievous" or "burdensome."
God's commandment for us to love one another is not a heavy burden to us.
*That doesn't mean it won't be hard at times.
Sometimes we all get irritable and hard to live with.
Sometimes all of us can be a pain in the neck.
But the grace of God that saved us also flows in us.
And it works through us, so that we can love each other in spite of our short-comings.
And all of us have them.