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I John # 10 Certainty in Uncertain Times!

I John # 10 Certainty in Uncertain Times!

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Published by Ron Lair
Can you be certain about your place in Heaven? Yes!
Can you be certain about your place in Heaven? Yes!

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Published by: Ron Lair on Nov 06, 2010
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11/08/2010

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Certainty in Uncertain Time
I John 5:13-21
And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us insight to know him who is true,and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This one is the true God and eternal life.
(I John 5:20)We live in uncertain times. It seems like so much of what we used to take for granted has been changed,devalued, or redefined. If you were asked just a few years ago “How do you define marriage?” you’d thinkthat’s about the silliest question you’ve ever heard. Moral absolutes are a thing of the past and the linebetween right and wrong has pretty much been erased. You can hardly turn on the TV news or read anewspaper without seeing some report of doom and gloom. Terrorism, global warming, the latest 'killer' flu… allerode our wall of certainty.You know, in this day and age, I don’t think we even want to be clear-cut. Our society has so bought intorelativism that if you claim to be sure about anything, you’ll be looked at with suspicion. Everyone has theirown opinion and everything is decided by surveys, polls, and focus groups. We can’t make up our own mindsabout anything without first finding out what everybody else thinks. That’s the way we market our orange juiceand that’s the way we decide public policy.It wasn’t so different in the first century. If you think your life is uncertain, imagine living in those times. Life washard and virtually nothing about it was certain. You might have work today, you might not. You might havesomething to eat, but you might not. And if you were one of these Christ followers, well your life was all themore uncertain. Add to that, the entrance of the gnostic influences in the church. These people came into thechurch casting doubt on the Apostles’ doctrine and mixing in the popular ideas of the day.What was a first century Christ follower to think? What could he hold on to? What is a twenty-first centuryChrist follower to think? What is it that we have to hold on to?In this section of 1 John, the Elder is wrapping up all that he has had to say. He’s summarizing and he’s alsogiving us his goals and purpose for writing his letter. His message is about confidence and certainty in anuncertain world. There are things about which you can be absolutely confident. No guesswork. No wavering.Things that we can know with certainty and be able to act upon and incorporate into our lives.
I. The Certainty of Eternal Life (vs. 13)
Where have we gone off track? The very thing that is so clear and important to John is completely rejected bymost people today. If you tell someone that you’re sure that you are a child of God and confident in your placein Heaven, chances are you won’t be received very well. They’ll think that’s the most arrogant and conceitedstatement they’ve ever heard. They hear it as “I’m such a good person that I’m sure that I’ll make it.” YouHOPE you’ll go to heaven. You try to do what you can to make it. But, most people think it’s not possible toknow for sure that you have a home there.It
would 
be arrogant to think that I can be sure of myself. I know all too well how much of a failure I am to livingup to God’s standards. But, it’s far from arrogant to be confident in what Christ has done for me because He isfar from being a failure.
 
 
Can you know if you have eternal life? Well, John tells us that the whole purpose of his writing was so that
“that you may know that you have eternal life.” 
You can know for sure. It doesn’t do anybody any good for youto be in doubt…not you and not God.If it’s true that you can know for certain that you have eternal life… does it make a difference? D. L. Moodysaid: 'I have never known a Christian who was any good in the work of Christ who did not have the assuranceof salvation'. I remember reading years ago about the building of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco,some of you have probably been over it. When they started building there were no safety precautions anddevices used, and because of that 23 men fell tragically to their death. However, during the construction of thelast part of the bridge a safety net was constructed at a cost of $100,000 - which in those days was exorbitant -but it was worth it, because it saved the lives of 10 men. But the interesting thing about that story was thatwhen they completed the bridge they discovered, through a very exhaustive study, that 25% more work wasaccomplished in the same period of time when the men were completely sure of their personal safety. Theycould get on with the work! They had that security that they longed for, to put those questions and doubts outof their mind and throw all their energies into the work! Do you have that? Do you have the certainty of eternallife?
II. The Certainty of Answered Prayer (14-17)
 Prayer is one area of the Christian life that is completely vital yet so often misunderstood and neglected. All toooften, what we say about prayer is far from what we do. It’s something that should bring us comfort andstrength but often a discussion about prayer only stirs up feelings of guilt and disappointment for the typicalChristian. Now, I think prayer is the foundation of this church more than any other church I’ve been a part of.But, I think we all could use encouragement in this area.John tells us:
“And this is the confidence that we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, then we know that we have the requests that we have asked from him.” 
(1Jo 5:14-15) 
A. He Hears
First of all - He HEARS our prayers. Sometimes you may feel like your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, butwe can be assured that He’s listening. It’s more than just acknowledging that we’ve prayed. Hearing assumesthat He’s intimately involved. He’s listening to our requests; when we pour out our hearts to Him. When I waslittle and skin my knee, I’d always run to my mom, never my dad. Why? Because Dad would say “aww youain’t bleeding to death. You’ll be alright.” But, you know moms. She’d act all concerned, run for band aids andlisten to my wailing. Moms are like that. They’re just modeling their Creator. God listens to our prayers and isconcerned with our problems. He there waiting to run for the band aids.
B. He Answers
John says not only does He hear, but “
then we know that we have the requests that we have asked from him.” 
that is… whenever we ask anything according to his will. That’s powerful language… that’s confidence!When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, he made it simple.
“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.” 
That’sthe essence of prayer. I think that often our prayers seem to go unanswered because we spend too much timetrying to get God on our side. But, the real purpose for prayer is to get us on God’s side. James says that
“You do not have because you do not ask; you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions. “ 
(Jam 4:2-3)
 
 
God isn’t our own personal genie in a bottle. Prayer isn’t to get what we want or to make our lives better.God is working in this world and in our lives. It’s not our jobs to tell Him what needs done (and that’s often howwe pray) It’s our job to join in what He’s doing. God has given us prayer so that we can play a part. The greatthing is that anyone can do it. You don’t have to be a seminary graduate and you don’t have to have hours offree time to work in the church. You can have a vital role in what God is doing anytime and anywhere.If you ask according to his will, he will act. Have you ever read about the life of George Mueller? He was apreacher and ran an orphanage in England in the mid 1800’s. Amazingly, he cared for over 100,000 orphans inhis lifetime. But even more amazing, he did it all without ever asking anyone for a dime. The children werealways well fed, clothed, and educated at the cost of around $2.8 million but he never had to solicit funds. Howdid he do it?Well here’s a typical story: Mueller sat down to the table with the children and said it was time to give thanksfor the morning’s breakfast. The kids replied “Give thanks for what? The cupboards are completely bare.Mueller just answered “God will provide.”So they began to pray but were interrupted by a knock at the door. It seems that the milk wagon broke down infront of the orphanage while on it’s route. The milkman said that the milk would no doubt spoil before thewagon could be fixed, so would they be willing to take the milk off his hands? Naturally, Mueller and thechildren unloaded the wagon. They settled back in to finish their prayers and there was another knock. Thistime it was an employee of the bakery. There was a mix up at the bakery and they had over produced breadthat day. They had more bread than they possibly could sell. Could the orphanage us a few dozen loaves offresh baked bread?There are lots of stories about Mueller just like that one. That’s the way his operation was ran - on prayer. Hesimply understood that the work of caring for those orphans was God’s work. He joined in the work with “Thywill be done” and confidently prayed that God would act. That’s the kind of prayer that always gets answered.
C. Prayer Illustrated
Now comes the tricky part of this passage… the sin that leads to death. John gives an example of prayingaccording to God’s will. It’s the case of a sinning brother. How do you pray when you see a brother or sisterwho is sinning? John says there are two different situations and two different ways to pray.All through the Scriptures, we are told that Sin is death. It’s nothing to play with, although we too often treat itas no big deal. Sin ALWAYS leads to dying, even for Christians. If you see a brother sinning, pray that God willrestore him back to life; that sin will be defeated in his life. That’s the best way you can serve him.
 
Yet, John says there is a sin that, no matter how much you pray, will lead to death. What is this sin? Somewant to divide their list of sins into “mortal” and “venial” (or lesser) sins. There are those really bad things thatGod will not forgive. Others say that the sin that John refers to is apostasy, a final rejection after having knownthe truth. That makes more sense to me. But, I’m not sure any specific sin is in mind here. I think maybe it’s just that a person, even a believer, can get so far away from God and be so unresponsive to the truth that he’snot coming back.Of course, if that’s the case, there’s no way for us to know, so how do we know whether to pray or not? Well,John doesn’t command us not to pray. I think the point is that, in this case, our prayers won’t help the situation.

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