9If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.
For the past seven weeks we have had the invaluable testimony of the Apostle John about all that it means to be a child of God. We have followed the testimony of the earliest Christians as they lived out their faith in Christ and bore witness to the world. But as John himself says, you don’t even need to take their word for it, because you have something even greater. We have also seen once again the testimony of God’s love and kindness displayed in the life death and resurrection of Jesus and the further work of the Spirit. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God; and so we are!
It is in stark contrast to the testimony of the world. A testimony that at its heart believes that life is cheap and meaningless and so are you. The whole of life in our world is really a testimony to the power of death at work in us. I don’t even mean here the obvious demand for the rights to kill the unborn in the name of health care, or to euthanize the old and burdensome in the name of some mythical dignity. I am also not talking about the natural disasters that kill tens of thousands every year, or the fanatical groups and governments like ISIS, or China, or Syria that systematically murder all those who are different than they.
The world’s testimony of death is really deeper and more subtle than all that. Everything we pursue as a culture and society is predicated on the power of death at work in our lives. Eat, drink, and be merry … live it up dear friends! Why? Tomorrow we die. Eat right, get your exercise, don’t drink, quit smoking, see your doctor … so that you can avoid dying quite so soon. Live a life that is worth remembering … when you are gone and buried in the ground. Life in this world is a testimony of death. Either you are trying to avoid it, ignore it, or you are being relentlessly hunted down by it.
But this is not the testimony of God. No that is something remarkably different and eternally better! 11And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Only those who are in the Son through Faith have eternal life, but where there is Faith there is eternal life already! Mark that well dear children of God. Where there is the risen Lord and Saviour there is eternal life … already! As in now. As in Here. As in You. Children of God, by faith in Christ are already alive in an eternal sense. Death no longer leads or controls our lives. Life does. Death no longer motivates what we do or don’t do. Jesus does. And in Him we are now truly alive!
As Luther said: “If you accept this testimony, you will have eternal life. It is not pretense or hypocrisy. No, it is a serious matter. It is not a testimony that boasts of its own splendor. No, it is a testimony that gives eternal life to him who believes the testimony of the Father concerning the Son. Therefore we guard this testimony. For it is of the utmost importance that the divinity of Christ be preserved, then that we have eternal life … Therefore if you want to have eternal life, it is necessary for you to have the Son. If you want to have the Son, it is necessary for you to have the testimony of the Father concerning the Son. And thus our entire life consists in clinging to the testimony of the Father concerning the Son.”1
And this goes to the heart of the question for those no longer facing death. What do we do with our new-found life? How should we spend it? How do we live it? Why in full and everlasting confidence! 14And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
Knowing that we have eternal life in Jesus (even now) gives us the confidence to live a life that is ready to ask for anything – knowing that we will receive according to God’s will. This is especially true when we pray for others! The life we live now, is not ours but His. The life we live now is not for us but for them. Our life in Christ is eternal. There will be no lack of time for us. Here and now is for the glory of God and the welfare of our neighbours. And so we live as children of God by praying for this dying world.
God knows how to give good gifts to His children, even when we don’t always know what to ask. His will is for our salvation and the salvation of the world. So we live life to the fullest, even in the face of death and disease and old age and violence. We live life praying for the life of our families, our friends, our neighbours and communities, and for our enemies. We pray that they may have the life we have. We pray that God in Christ would rescue them from sin and death as He has already rescued us. We pray that they would be blessed with the assurance of eternal life even now. We pray that they might be Children of God with us … and then we go out and share the testimony of Life through the Son of God who lived and died and rose again.
13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. So ends our time in John’s epistle dear children of God. What He has written for us has been written that we might know that eternal life is already ours in Christ. We have eternal life even now because in Him we are victorious over sin and death. We are victorious because we have been given His Spirit that overcomes the world. We are so spirited because we are loved as only God could choose to love. In that love we have been purified – no longer like the dying world around us, but like our ever-living Lord. And we are purified because we are forgiven in the blood of Christ who died for us so that we might not die and who rose again so that we might truly live. In short, we are Children of God with an eternity ahead of us to live in, appreciate, and give thanks for all that this title means! AMEN.
1 Luther, M. (1999, c1967). Vol. 30: Luther’s works, vol. 30 : The Catholic Epistles (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther’s Works (1 Jn 5:11-13). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.