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So Can You Can Know For Sure

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(4/6) Give me one word that summarizes today?

Every Year as I think of Easter or Resurrection Sunday, I think of the word, Hope. Because of this day in history 1985 years ago, we have the confident expectation of eternal life. Thatís real hope. The hope of the world is wishful thinking. I hope I have been good enough, I hope I go to heaven, but for a true Christ follower, our Hope is a sure guarantee. The Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 15, that our hope is firmly grounded and sure because of this day. Because Jesus rose from the dead and is alive today, we have the absolute assurance, not wishful thinking but assurance that we will never die. When your heart and brain stop, you will be immediately transported by angels into the very presence of Jesus. You will see His face and feel the gentle touch of His hand. This is the most important day of all history. I believe finishing the letter of 1 John is a perfect way to teach this Resurrection Day.

I remind you again of the miniseries that starts tonight and runs for 12 weeks on NBC called A.D. Itís the story of the 1st 10 chapters of Acts. I also again encourage you to go and see the movie, Do You Believe? Itís about faith in what Jesus did for you on the cross. Do You Believe?

John wrote the 4th Gospel, the last Book of the Bible called the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and 3 the letters that bear his name, 1, 2, 3 John. When he wrote the Gospel, following the leading of the Holy Spirit, he tells us specifically why he wrote it. In John 20:30-31, he writes, "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." Itís as if his primary audience will be people who have not yet trusted in Jesus and John wrote this 21 chapter book to show you why you should believe. John chose 7 specific miracles and certain things that Jesus said and did, to show unbelievers that Jesus is not just a religious guy that died as a martyr; rather, He is God the Son, the incarnation of the eternal God. And, John wants these facts to convince you of that so you will put your trust and confidence in Him and receive His gift of forgiveness and eternal life. That life is available and can be received by anyone who will believe in who Jesus is and what He did on the cross and with the empty grave. One of the best tools to give anyone that has not yet believed is a copy of the Gospel of John. Do You Believe?

As we come to the end of this first letter by John, He also tells us why he wrote this letter. There are some things that you can and should know for sure, with absolute certainty. For those of you who may be visiting and donít know the story behind this letter, let me briefly tell you. There was a very popular cult at the end of the first century called Gnosticism. It comes from the Greek word ginosko, a word meaning knowledge or to know. This cult taught that only certain people who had undergone a spiritual initiation and learned some special knowledge knew the truth about God, Jesus and eternal life. This cult had no love for the uninitiated or the lost. John has spent 4 Ĺ chapters telling people the truth about how to be a believer and have eternal life. He will use this word Know or confidence, 8 times in these few verses, to show us that if we trust with complete confidence in Jesus we can rest in assurance in our relationship with God. This isnít only for the initiated but for anyone who will trust with full confidence in Jesus Christ. Would you stand in respect to Godís word as we read these 1 John 5:13-21?

Chuck Swindoll has written: "Isnít it great to know something for sure? For example, to know that you are loved; to know that your physician found nothing suspicious following a thorough Examination; to know that your son or daughter has now safely arrived back home following those long months in combat . . . or to know that you passed your final exams, having finished the academic requirements, and will soon receive your diploma at the commencement service. On the other hand, isnít it difficult to not know something for sure? Such as not knowing if the surgery removed all of the malignant cells . . . not knowing that your spouse is faithful . . . not knowing why your teenage daughter failed to return home last night . . . not knowing if you have enough fuel to make it to the next gas station . . . or not knowing where your wallet and keys are. It is very interesting that when John came to the end of his letter, he underscored the things every believer can know with absolute assurance."

I. Letís notice verse 13:

"These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God."

This is a particularly important verse in my life. This was the ah ha verse for me. I told most of you before, but my wife married a heathen. However, I believed in God, and would attend church with her. At the end of every service the pastor would say these words, "Bow your head and close your eyes. Now, If you know for certain that you will go to heaven when you die, raise your hand." I would peck and see all these hands raised and would think, how cocky and presumptuous can you be. No one can know that for sure. You just have to do the best you can and hope that you have more good in your life than bad and if you do you will make it in. I would also hear him say that you had to be born again to go to heaven. But according to the gospel of Gary, it didnít matter who you were or how you worshipped as long as you were sincere. God would accept the sincere Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, JW, Mormon. Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, etc. Debbie would cry saying that she didnít want me to go to hell and I would laugh, because the gospel according to Gary knew that a loving God wasnít going to send anyone to hell.

She asked her Pastor and Deacon to come see me and though I didnít give in to them, something clicked in me. I understood what I later came to know as the logical law of non-contradiction. If two or more statements are in opposition to each other and each claims to be true, they are either are wrong or only one of them is true. Either Gary was right, or Debís pastor was right. One of us was wrong. So, I prayed a sincere prayer. "God I believe you are there but Debís pastor says this and I believe that. Please, would you show me the truth." I picked up the Bible and began to read it. I donít know where I started but I can tell you where I ended. 1 John 5:13. Its like the light went on. God wants you to know with absolute confidence that you are going to heaven. You donít have to have special secret knowledge. You just have to believe in the name of Jesus.

The name of Jesus means everything about the character and person of Jesus. He is God in the flesh. He was born of a virgin and was sinless and died on a cross to pay for your sins. He was buried and on the third day He arose and is alive forevermore. He now offers forgiveness and eternal life, or the promise of heaven to everyone, who will repent and believe. I tell you with great humility, I am going to heaven. I am not going because I am somebody. I am going because I am a sinner who has accepted the grace of a great God (1 Tim. 1:12-15). In the Gospel of John 5:24, Jesus said this, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." That is a promise to me and to you who believe. Listen to what He says in the Gospel of John. "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Fatherís house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know." 5 Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" How do we know it is true? The blood of Jesusís cross and the empty tomb. "Because I live, you shall live also," (John 14:19). That is what He promised us. Do you have that confident assurance this morning?

II. We Can Have the Confidence of Answered Prayer (vv. 14-15)

14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. This is the second time John has mentioned this. 3:22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. I realize that we could spend several weeks on this subject. And I donít want to upset anyoneís Easter. But this is not a blank check or a carte blanche credit card. This is a promise for the Children of God who are specifically seeking to know and to do the will of the Father, even when you donít know what that will is. This is about accomplishing the Great Commission and the Great Commandments of God, not about being healed or about winning the lottery, or avoiding pain in life. Again, it seems to come right out of the 14th and 15th chapters of Johnís gospel. John is reminding us of the promise of Jesus in accomplishing great things for God because Jesus was going to the Father. John 14:12 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

John 15:7-8, If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. There are things that we know are Godís will. Loving Him with all our hearts, Loving people like He loves us, reaching the world with the Gospel to make disciples. Staying sexually clean, and committed to our spouse or future spouse. Giving thanks for everything. Respecting all human life; and suffering for His glory are some of those things. On the night before His crucifixion Jesus committed Himself to the will of God as He agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane and said, "Not my will but thine be done." He taught us to pray whenever we pray, "Thy Will Be done." God always answers those prayers. There are three answers. Yes, No, and Not now. Not now, seems like a no, but it isnít. There are circumstances that God is working together for a greater purpose. But this is Godís Promise to His children.

Donít ask me what verses 16-17 mean. I donít know and I have found that no one knows for sure. There is a lot of speculation, but no one seems to have a definite answer. I believe they are serious and probably understood by the folks in Ephesus when John wrote this. Sin is a serious matter. So letís look at vv. 18-19.

III. We Know Satan has Lost His Grip on Us! Notice 3 things

A. We have been adopted into Godís family. We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. 19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. We know that we have been adopted and born again by God. John 1:11-12, "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him (1 John 3:1).

B. Children of God no longer sin habitually. The KJV or NKJV doesnít state it exactly right. It says he doesnít continue to sin. We all still sin occasionally, but we sin far less. We dealt with that in detail in chapter 3. We know that this is true because we have been forgiven and the presence of the Holy Spirit in us makes it impossible to continue in the former lifestyle. He gives us a new nature and the power and desire to say no to sin and yes to honoring and obeying God. Sin no longer is a pleasure, and it is a source of heavy conscience, and the child of God wants to be done with it and can be because Jesus is alive and has sent His Spirit to live in us.

C. Satan no longer has a grip on a Child of Godís life (vv. 18b-19). Because Godís children no longer live by their own desires or follow the way of the world, Satan has lost his grip. Verse 19 reminds us that the whole world, the whole world, lies under the sway or grip of the wicked one. False religions, hatred, wars, hunger, poverty, selfishness, greed, turmoil, fear, and more, control the whole world, except for those who follow the Risen Savior. The Risen Lord appeared to Paul and gave Him this mission, as I believe He has given us. "Öfor I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me (Acts 26:16-18)." Paul reminds us in 2 Cor. 4, that Satan has blinded the eyes of those who donít believe so they wonít see the glorious light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But we know he has lost his grip on us. He will still assault you, He will still tempt you, He will still whisper in your ear, and He will still bump you, but he cannot grab you or hold you, or control you. Verse 18 actually implies that it is Jesus that is keeping or guarding you. Jesus is watching over you. Jesus is protecting you and giving you the power to resist the devil, so that he flees from you. But we must remember that as long as we are on this earth, we are in enemy territory, until our King returns and makes all things new. Every person you meet or know is either a child of God or is under the grip of the evil one. Do you understand this? If you are struggling with sin and the things of this world, I remind you that only the risen Lord Jesus can set you free, and He will, and He will stand guard over you, if you will receive Him into your life.

IV. We Know Jesus Personally (v.20). "And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." Notice 3 things:

A. The Messiah, The Savior, The Son of God is come. The one promised for thousands of years, ever since Adam and Eve, has come. God kept His promise. How do we know? That first word know means to know absolutely, certainly. How do we know? Answer, there is an empty tomb. Why is it empty? There is just one explanation, just one. The body was not moved, it was not stolen, it was not the wrong grave. The one who was crucified and buried there is alive. The Holy Spirit put life back in that body (Romans 8) and Jesus rose from the dead and is alive. That is one of the best attested to facts of all of history.

See the second word know, let me remind you that it means to know more than intuitively. It means more than to know factually. It means to know experientially. We know Him, we have experienced Him. It is like the song about Mary Magdalene. (What song is about Mary Magdalene? In the Garden) "He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own." To Know means that we continuously experience Him. He has changed my life and given me the power to be free of Satanís grip.

B. We are in Him who is True. Because Jesus rose again from the dead and is alive forever, and has sent His Holy Spirit to live in us, listen, we who believe; that is we trust with full confidence in who He is and what He has done, we are permanently united to Him forever. We are as it were permanently married to Him. He is in us and we are in Him. He will never leave us, never divorce us, and we will leave this life one day, united to Him and will be with Him forever. Listen to these verses by Paul; "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Every time, a husband and wife unite in a sexual union, they are making a picture of the union Jesus has with every one of us. We are part of Him and He is part of us. And we will forever be inseparable!

C. We Know the Way, the Truth, and The Life. Buddha is not God, Krishna is not God, Allah is not God, I am sorry but the god of the Mormonsí is not God, the god of the JWís is not God. Jesus Christ is one with Jehovah the Father and we have found Him and we know Him. He died for us on a Cross and rose again from the dead so we could be forgiven and have eternal life. And to give us assurance. This then is the message of 1 John and Resurrection Sunday.

Johnís final word is simply this, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. Donít let anything or any philosophy or any sham, try and satisfy what only Jesus can satisfy. Stay grounded in the truth of who Jesus is and what He has done. Donít go after any new thing that offers you temporary satisfaction but cannot give you eternal hope. Trust in Jesus. He was dead but He is alive forevermore.

ē Do you have the absolute assurance of Eternal Life?

ē Are you seeking the will of God in your Prayers

ē Are you Free or still under the grip of the wicked one?

ē Do You Know Jesus personally, experientially? Has he forgiven you and given you His Holy Spirit and New life.

ē Christians thank God this morning for Jesus, His death and Resurrection for you.

ē Un-Sure? Call on Him and He will forgive and save you and give you a new nature today. Turn from your sins and turn to Jesus? Will you do that now? Letís pray!

Our Father, it is with humble gratitude that we pause to thank you on this Easter Sunday for the assurance of eternal life. What a peace and joy to know that because Jesus died for us and rose again, that we will never die, and will one day soon be in your presence. Thank you for giving us your word and your will so we can know how and the best way to live our lives. Thank you for giving us a new nature and for breaking Satanís grip on our lives. Thank you for the privilege of knowing the eternal God as our Father and your Son, our Savior, as our brother, protector, and friend. I confess that sometimes this knowledge seems too wonderful to be true, but we rest in the fact that you have promised us that it is and confirmed it with your presence in our lives. This Easter, this Resurrection Day, confirm these truths to some who desperately want to know these truths for themselves as they call to you and receive your Son as their Savior, we humbly ask in Jesusí name. Amen!

If this life lesson has challenged, encouraged or helped you, let me know, or if you have any questions, write to me at pastorgarybuchman@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you. (p.s. I wonít put you on a mailing list or ask you for money). It would encourage me to know that you were encouraged.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman