Foundations: What Every Christian Ought to KnowJanuary 23-27
The Test of Authentic Faith
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life – . 1 John 5:13 (ESV)
One pastor wrote, “Sometime when you’re in an airport, observe the difference between passengers who hold confirmed tickets and those who are on standby. The ones with confirmed tickets read newspapers, chat with their friends, or sleep. The ones on standby hang around the ticket counter, pace, and smoke, smoke, and pace. The difference is caused by the confidence factor. If you knew that in fifteen minutes you would have to stand in judgment before the Holy God and learn your eternal destiny, what would your reaction be? Would you smoke and pace? Would you say to yourself, “I don’t know what God’s going to say–will it be ‘Welcome home, child,’ or will it be ‘Depart from me; I never knew you?” (Too Busy Not To Pray)
John wrote 1 John in order to give believers confidence in their standing with God and hope of heaven. “These things” refer to the entire letter John has written. This letter was written so that Christians will not be unsettled by the false teachers and instead be assured of their salvation. “May know” speaks not of experiential knowledge, but of absolute, beyond a shadow of a doubt knowledge. All throughout 1 John, John has provided a list of the evidence of authentic saving faith.
This week we will review a few of the pieces of evidence Pastor Jim talked about in His sermon. Everyone who says they are a Christian isn’t a Christian. How confident are you that your faith is authentic? When did you first express authentic faith in Jesus?
Thank God for wanting you to have confidence and peace in your salvation. Pray that God would help you clearly identify the things in your life that provide the certainty of your salvation.
The Test of Authentic Faith: Light vs Darkness
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. – 1 John 1:6 (ESV)
Making decisions in the dark can lead to some regrettable consequences. Back in the days before electricity, a tightfisted old farmer was taking his hired man to task for carrying a lighted lantern when he went to call on his best girl. “Why,” he exclaimed, “when I went a-courtin’ I never carried one of them things. I always went in the dark.” “Yes,” the hired man said wryly,” and look what you got!” (Source unknown)
In the Bible, walking in darkness is symbolic of someone who lives a lifestyle of spiritual and moral sinfulness. In the book of 1 Joh, John repeatedly associates what one says with what one does or how one behaves. John certainly seems to want to make sure we are who we say we are, as determined by how we live. Some argue that John is saying, a man who says he has fellowship with God and continually walks in darkness was never saved at all.
John calls God light. In what ways do you see God as light? What are areas of darkness and light in your life currently? What bad choices have you made in the darkness?
Praise God for the things that light represents about Him. Ask God to help you see any additional areas of darkness in your life and to remove them.
The Test of Authentic Faith: Truth versus error
We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. – 1 John 4:6 (ESV)
Two men went to a judge to settle an argument. The plaintiff made his case. When he finished, the judge nodded in approval and said, “That’s right, that’s right.” On hearing this, the defendant jumped up and told the judge his case. When he finished, the judge said, “That’s right, that’s right.” When the clerk of court heard this, he jumped up and said, “Judge, they both can’t be right.” The judge looked at the clerk of court and said, “That’s right, that’s right.”
Some things in life are truth and some are error. One of the pieces of evidence of authentic faith is the capacity to deliver and receive biblical truth. John is contrasting himself (and other apostolic writers and writings) with the false prophets who are from the world. John argues that people from God listen to God. This is not just hearing God’s truth but obeying God’s truth.
2 Timothy 4:3 says, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” How is this showing up in culture, churches, and perhaps in your own life?
Thank God for providing you with the truth of His Word. Ask God to grow your discernment of truth and reveal any errors you may be believing.
The Test of Authentic Faith: Love versus hate
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:7-8 (ESV)
Pastor Larry Petton writes, “I love the story of the stressed-out woman who was tailgating a man as they drove on a busy boulevard. When he slowed to a stop at a yellow light, the woman hit the horn, cussing and screaming in frustration and gesturing angrily. As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a police officer who ordered her to exit the car with her hands up. He took her to the police station and placed her in a holding cell.
An hour later, the officer returned and said, “I’m sorry, Ma’am. This has been a big mistake. When I pulled up behind you, I noticed your ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ license plate holder and your ‘Follow Me to Sunday School’ bumper sticker. I assumed the car was stolen!” Satan doesn’t care so much if you’re a Christian as long as you don’t act like one.
The word “love” appears over thirty times between 1 John 4:7 and 1 John 5:3. John wants to ensure that we understand that love is not optional for the believer. It is to be the distinguishing mark of Christians in the world. John goes so far as to say that you do not know God if you do not love others. John connects the Spirit of truth in 1 John 4:6 to the Spirit of love in these verses. He concludes God’s truth produces love and the spirit of error produces hate.
When have you seen Christians or the church display an unloving spirit? When have you seen them display a supernatural love for someone who seemed undeserving?
God is love. Praise God for a few of the ways you’ve experienced His love. Pray that our Second Baptist family would be known as one of the most loving places in our community.
The Truth of Authentic Faith
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. – 1 John 5:13 (ESV)
C.S. Lewis wrote, “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?” (C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed)
The truth of our faith shows up in our daily life choices. Genuine belief does involve an intellectual assent and consent of one’s mind but also includes an act of one’s heart and will. John was writing to people who claimed to believe in Jesus and laid out a picture of what true faith looks like.
In what ways, did Pastor Jim’s sermon reassure you of the authenticity of your faith? Did any part of the sermon cause you to doubt your faith?
Praise Jesus for being trustworthy and worthy of faith. Ask God to give you any assurance you need on the authenticity of your faith or any steps you need to take to nail down your decision to follow Jesus.