1 John 5:1-6
1 John 4:7-10
By Rev. Canon Andrew Sumani (MTS, PGCert), Malawi, Central Africa
NOTES ON THE READINGS
The book of Acts does not only narrate events but also recorded teachings of the Apostles. It shows life and growth of the earliest church after the believers were indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). In Acts 10, the giving of the Holy Spirit extends to the Gentiles who heard the Word (V. 44). The circumcised believers who were with people when this experience happened were astonished that even the Gentiles could receive the Holy Spirit (V. 45). The experience changed their perspective on salvation from being exclusive to the Jews only to being inclusive even for the Gentiles. The outcome of this experience for the Gentiles was a changed life pattern; now they spoke in a different language and worshipped God (V. 46). The change had happened and the sign of that change, which was speaking with tongues, was visibly felt. Even though other Jews might have wanted the status quo to continue of thinking that salvation is only for the Jews but what happened to the Gentiles was irresistible or unpreventable. They too had to be baptized with water with no any condition of circumcision attached (V. 47) as commanded by Peter (V. 48).
Psalm 98 links well to the previous Psalm and forms party to the series of Royal Psalms (Ps 93 -99), celebrating God as the King. It is seen as an official proclamation of the Messiah as a King who conquers over all nations in His holiness and righteousness (Ps 98: 1). The Psalm reveals and blends together God’s unfavourable salvation, righteousness, mercy, truthfulness and judgments (VV. 2, 3, 9). Although God judges because of His righteousness, but He also saves because of His mercifulness. He is true to His words (V. 3) for He never lies (see Num. 23:19). The Psalmist saw salvation being available to everyone (V 3b), and not only to the Jews. Therefore, the whole earth (all peoples) is called upon to celebrate God’s wonders he has wrought, the conquest He has won, (see Col. 2:15; Is. 49: 24), the discoveries of the work of redemption made (see Acts 10:36) and the accomplishment of His promises. The celebrations offered to God will have to be done in the accompaniment of instruments and joined in by God’s creatures i.e., sea, floods and hills. This intimates that the kingdom of God would be a blessing to the whole creation.
1 JOHN 5:1-6
The author of this letter pushes the idea that Jesus is the Christ, and anyone who believes it is born of God (V. 1). In the previous chapters (see 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7) the author mentioned about being born of God. In this passage, he highlights how one is born of God, which is, by believing that Jesus is the Christ. There is close connection between faith and love. However, the author never wants anyone to begin to see that salvation is earned by loving others. Although, loving others is a Christian virtue which is a divine product of the relationship with God but salvation comes when we put our trust on Jesus and on His saving work in our lives. A saved person will love God as well as fellow-believers. Real love is demonstrated by a concern to do God’s will (VV 2-3). Generally, anyone who is born of God is a victor (V. 4). The victory over the world is achieved by the belief that Jesus is the Christ (V. 5). He came by water referring to his baptism and blood referring to his death contrary to the heretical understanding that denied Christ’ death.
The passage is an allegory of the vine. In the OT, Israel was referred to as a vine (Ps 80:8-16; Is. 5:1-7; Ezek. 15:1-6). However, Jesus is the true vine who acted in line with God’s call upon His life unlike the people of Israel. Jesus’ relationship with His disciples is patterned on the basis of the Father’s love for the Son (V. 9). The disciples’ obedience to the Son reflects the Son’s obedience to the Father (V. 10). The relationship between Jesus and the disciples is supposed to be forever reflected three times in the statement, remain in my love (VV 9-10). The author turns back to the issue of love as an essential Christian virtue which the disciples must reciprocate to one another because Jesus had shown them the same (VV 12-13). The change of relationship from servants to friends is significant as it depicts the privilege to information resulting into differences in the knowledge level (VV 14-15). The prerogative to choose rest with Jesus and not the believers. He chooses them so that they can bear fruit which in this context is probably the inviting of others to Christ (V 16). Verse 17 underscores v 12.
DRAFT SERMON/SERMON OUTLINE
LISTEN TO THE WORD:
The word “salvation” understood from its Greek word “sozo” carries an idea of being, rescued from danger, deliverance, preservation, healing, and safety. John refers to salvation as being ‘born of God’ (1 John 5:1). It is an experience that can be enjoyed by anyone because God, is no respecter of human race, colour, sex, tribe, age, background, education, etc. God shows mercy to whoever He wants (Romans 9: 15, 18). This is evidenced by the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles. This experience of the Gentiles changed the perspective of the Jews on salvation from being exclusive to being inclusive even for the Gentiles. Peter asked a rhetorical question about baptism being extended to the Gentiles. They too had to be baptized with water with no any condition of circumcision attached (V. 47). This phenomenon ushered the Gentiles into a ‘new family’ of God whose head is Jesus Christ (Col. 1: 18; Eph. 1:22-23), the true vine (John 15: 1). In God’s family, love for God and a neighbour patterned on the basis of the Father’s love for Jesus Christ, the Son, is supposed to reign over all (John 15: 9-12). However, loving God means obeying His commandments (John 14: 15-17) which includes taking good care of environment (Gen. 2:15; Num. 35:33-34; Deut. 22:6-7). Salvation is a call to action and celebration because faith without action is dead (James 2:26).
LINK TO THE WORLD:
It is clear from the Bible passages read that God is interested in the salvation of the whole world. Those saved are called to the true worship of God which includes water baptism, celebration of God’s wonders, love for God and our neighbours, and offering of praises and thanksgiving to God through music sung to musical instruments. Natural things form integral part of God’s worship. For example, baptism requires water and in the Gospel of John, the vine is used as an allegory to teach people about the relationship between Jesus and His followers. Creation preaches the glory of God (see Psalms 19:1-6). Therefore, as obedient and loving children of God we must show good stewardship of God’s creation.
THINK ABOUT GOD’S CALL:
Salvation is effectual. Once one is saved, certain old ways and perceptions must change. Love for God and a neighbour should become the way of life. To show our love for God, we must show good stewardship of God’s creation. Real love is demonstrated by a concern to do God’s will.
In conclusion, I would like to appeal to all of us to deeply reflect on the message preached today. We should always be mindful that God has saved us not to become passive but rather to take action. Let’s pray that God will help us to become good stewards of His creation.
by Rev. Canon Andrew Sumani, Malawi, Central Africa
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