Roger's Postings

Friday, May 11, 2012

1 John 5:1-6.               Living in the face of victory??                        13/5/12

 (1)  Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. {2} This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. {3} This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, {4} for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. {5} Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. {6} This is the one who came by water and blood--Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.

 Today we are reminded again that Easter impacts all of life for us as God’s people. We now have every reason to live with hope and confidence every day as we live out our lives here on earth. In fact our whole approach to life is surely different for us as Christians, for we are now living in the face of victory. Because of Christ and his victory over sin and death, we can now have love for God and one another. We can confidently give of ourselves for the benefit of others, because we know that forgiveness of sins and eternal life is now guaranteed.

This message is vitally important for us as we are constantly encouraged to face life focussed on ourselves and what we want out of life. Sadly even within ‘christian’ circles this same approach and thinking has taken precedence. The pressure is on us to perform and experience, so that we can be truly Christian. The results of this are becoming clearer and clearer as we go on. Numbers in churches are either dropping as people find that they and the churches can not live up to what is proclaimed; or others are becoming increasingly self-righteous and judgmental. With the focus on me and how I must live in order to be ‘Christian’, then we face not just a struggle in this life, but there is no certainty of the next. There is no guarantee of victory!

 In this regard, take careful note of how passages such as this, that have a great deal to say about love; hear how so many twist and turn this to a requirement that we have to perform: something we have to do if we are to be Christian. Again and again we hear that, ‘doctrine is not important; but it is love that counts’. ‘It is love that will overcome the world’. ‘Victory will come by us being more loving’ and more. It sounds good; but this is not the message that is given here and in the rest of the Scriptures. This is turning the Gospel into another law.

 No; our text here tells us that it is faith that is the victory that has overcome the world. It is faith that turns our world upside down. It is faith that enables us to go forward with confidence and certainty: no matter what it is that we are facing in life. Why? Because faith assures us that the victory has already been won for us. Faith simply trusts that what God has said and done for us through Jesus Christ, is what has given us the victory that is ours; even now as we live in the midst of difficulties and tragedies.

 But how do we know? How can we be so sure? Do we have the faith that is required? John here again assures us that we can say yes to these questions of ours. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. It is not up to us. Jesus has already won the victory through his death and resurrection. From Jesus’ baptism through to his death and resurrection we have all that is necessary for our salvation. There we come to know that here in Jesus Christ we have God himself come into our world. This is God’s very own Son come in love to do all that is needed for us to be forgiven and accepted once again as his children.

 So, who is it that overcomes the world? Jesus Christ has done it all for us. All we are commanded to do is to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. As we trust that this is the case then we are assured that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God. Knowing that he is totally committed to us and to our welfare means that we can go forward with certainty and confidence: the victory is already won for us.

 Because we are now born of God we now surely love God and others around us. In fact here we are firstly reminded that the most valuable way for us to love others is to first love God and carry out his commands. Surely because of what he has done for us through Jesus Christ, we will want to now be completely devoted to him. He will be the one who is all important in our lives. What love he has for us! What an amazing and great God we have here! How incomprehensible and ingenious is his salvation. Through the cross - through death, he brings life in all its fullness. Surely we cannot help but to love him with all our being.  Instead of focussing on ourselves and what we want, we will look first and foremost to God and what he wants.

 This appreciation of God for who he is and what he has done for us will then be encompassed be these following words. This is love for God: to obey his commands. Because God is truly Lord, we will then seek to live and be the people that he wants us to be as we live out our lives every day. We will want to heed all that he has to say to us in his word. We will obey his commands, instead of wanting to do our own thing and to change his word to suit ourselves. We will seek to follow his command to love Him and our neighbour. We will take up his call for us to share his love with the people that we come into contact with. We will not do this because we have to; but simply because that is what our Lord has now created us anew to live and do. And he promises to help us and work in us the ability to do so.

 Again our faith: our trust in Christ is the best way for us to help the people around us. We therefore can and must keep pointing again and again to Christ; because there is our victory. That is the best thing we can ever do for one another. So as we keep focussing all our attention on Christ and his death on the cross we are both living in the victory and proclaiming that victory to the world. Greater love has no one than this.

That is why the Word and the Sacraments are so important for us, and how we can both live in the victory and proclaim that victory to the world around us. In baptism we are joined to Christ and his death and resurrection. There we died with Christ and were raised again by him to a new and everlasting life. There God himself has joined us to this victory of his, and there he keeps reminding us to look back to and go back to each day of our life. For there we are clearly telling ourselves and the world that God has saved us and brought us into his kingdom.

Then week by week he calls us forward to the Altar Rail so that again he can remind us and the world around us of the victory that has been won for us through Jesus death on the cross. There he gives us his love – his very body and blood which he shed for us and for our salvation. Now we can again be sure that we are forgiven and that eternal life is ours. It is here again that the focus is clearly on Christ and what he gives and does for us so that we can be sure that the victory is ours. There we proclaim the Lord’s death, until he comes again in his glory.

 Then daily as we go back to the Word we again and again hear and give all credit to God and what he has done for us through Jesus; and then of the things that we need to know in order to live as his people in the world. As we take his Word as his Word, we again are telling the world that it is God and what he has to say that is all important for us. Instead of trying to change it and discredit it, we will uphold it as God’s truth to us, and thereby proclaim God’s victory over all, for us all. This is how we know that we love the children of God. This is how we truly are loving toward our neighbour.

From there we will naturally follow on to show and extend God’s love to those around us in all kinds of other ways as well. We can now seek to do what is best for others instead of simply for ourselves, in whatever way is good for the people we are dealing with. Because of the victory that is ours we have no need to worry that we will somehow go short ourselves, or that we will somehow miss out. Christ has won the victory and he has extended that to us; and no one and nothing can take that away from us. 

Now surely his commands are not burdensome. Remember again everyone born of God overcomes the world. Eternal life is ours guaranteed, so we lose nothing. So each day we can live in the face of victory with confidence and certainty. We can believe it and live it. For Jesus Christ alone and his death and resurrection is our guarantee that this is so. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.

So let us continue to give all glory and honour to our great God Father, Son and Holy Spirit: For to him alone belongs all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN

 Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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