Part 11 of Authentic, a series on 1 John
Text: 1 John 5:6-13
You can listen to this sermon here.
And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life (vv. 11-12).
What's Most Important?
What do you have planned for the rest of your summer? A summer vacation? A home improvement project? Weekends at the cottage?
In the busyness of life, we sometimes forget about what is most important. There is nothing more important than having eternal life. How can I be sure that I have eternal life?
A Perplexing Passage
To what do “the water and the blood” refer (v. 6)? Gary Burge writes that “First John 5:6 is perhaps the most perplexing verse in all of the Johannine letters” (Letters of John, 201). The most common interpretation is that “the water” refers to the baptism of Jesus, and “the blood” refers to his crucifixion. Since John’s opponents apparently didn’t agree with him on “the blood” (“not by the water only, but by the water and the blood”), it could be that they were de-emphasizing the cross.
Why does the KJV contain a statement about the Trinity (v. 7) that is not found in modern translations? The KJV reads, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” Most Greek manuscripts don’t include these words, and undoubtedly they were not in John’s original letter.
Having Eternal Life
“And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life” (v. 11). Eternal life is not something we receive when we die; it’s a present possession. “Gave” is in the past tense. John is writing to people who already have eternal life. Also, eternal life is more than a quantity of life; it’s a quality of life. Jesus said that he came to earth so that people could “have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
Of the 136 occurrences of “life” (zoe) in the NT, 66 of them are found in John’s writings. To have eternal life is to pass “out of death into life” (3:14; cf. John 5:24). To have eternal life is to “not perish” (John 3:16; 10:28). To have eternal life is to avoid “the wrath of God” (John 3:36). To have eternal life is to “never be thirsty again” (John 4:14; cf. 6:35). To have eternal life is to “not come into judgment” (John 5:24; cf. v. 29). To have eternal life is to be raised up on the last day (John 6:40, 54). To have eternal life is to “not walk in darkness,” but “have the light of life” (John 8:12). To have eternal life is to live after death (John 11:25). To have eternal life is to know the one true God and Jesus Christ whom he sent (John 17:3).
How can we be sure that we have eternal life?
1. If you have eternal life, your faith is in Jesus.
“And this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (vv. 11-12). To “have” Jesus is to have him abiding in you. When you have something, it does its thing for you (John Piper, "He Who Has the Son Has Life"). For example, if you have a car, it does its thing for you: gives you transportation. If you have Jesus, he does his thing for you: gives you eternal life.
Jesus abides in those who believe in him (v. 13). We must do more have beliefs about Jesus; we must have believe in him. In other words, we must trust in him. If you are going on a trip, you must trust in your car. Some cars aren’t reliable, but Jesus is always reliable. When we trust in what he has done for us through his death and resurrection, we have the Son and eternal life.
2. If you have eternal life, your desires have been changed.
“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” (v. 13). Throughout 1 John, John has been writing that people who have eternal life have a desire to obey God and love others. We don’t earn eternal life by obeying and loving, but our desire to obey and love is a sign that we have eternal life.
We’re told to make sure we do certain things (e.g., brush your teeth, get a good education, save for retirement).
But we must make sure that we have eternal life. And also make sure we do what we can so that others also receive eternal life. Nothing is more important than having eternal life.