Pastors all over the world land their Sunday sermons by recapping their main points and giving the flock their charge for the future. John brings down this love-filled jet in a similar fashion.
Three Tests, One Last Time
In chapter 2, John introduces the believers to his three tests for authentic Christianity: moral (obedience), social (love), and doctrinal (belief). In chapters 3 and 4, he talks again of the three tests, elaborating on his points. Finally, in this closing chapter, John weaves all three tests into one, demonstrating the necessary union of obedience, love, and belief in the life of the church. To love God, you must obey. To obey, you must love others. To love others, you must believe in Jesus Christ. And around and around we go. If you have all three, you have everything. If you have only one, you truly have none. True faith obeys all commands, loves all people, and believes the historical truths about Jesus Christ.
After reminding the readers about the content of true faith, John then declares to them that they already have victory in this world. The same word in Greek translated into our English Bibles for victory and overcoming is νικα (nika). The Greeks had a goddess of victory, Nike, that they worshipped. The Christian God, rather, makes His people the Nikes, the victorious ones. People seek out ways to win; God hands us the victory. For the readers of this letter who faced opposition from false teachers and the world around them, this guarantee of victory over their foes must have encouraged them deeply. God offers us this same victory and same encouragement.
Of course, for John to make such bold claims, he had to ground his declarations in a reality outside of himself. This is why John appeals to the three witnesses. In Jewish legal proceedings, two or three witnesses were necessary to substantiate a claim (Deuteronomy 19:15). The water (Jesus’ baptism), the blood (Jesus’ crucifixion), and the Spirit all testify to the claims John made throughout his gospel and his letters. Again, John grounds the claims in historical events with eyewitnesses. Many saw Jesus get baptized by his cousin John. Many saw Jesus lifted high on the cross, and He appeared to many after His resurrection. John practically begs the readers, “Check the facts! These things are true! You can ask people who saw them with their own eyes (author included).” Both history and God Himself testify about these things. Who are we to disagree?
Watch a captioned version of today’s video here: https://vimeo.com/300206943
How have you seen victory over this world in your life? Who needs to be encouraged by our victory we have in Christ?
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