St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Love Conquers All

Sermon on 1 John 5:1-6

Text: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
6 This is the one who came by water and blood — Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.

It’s a story plot that has been time and again in literature, television and the movies. The is a man and woman who have obstacles in their way of being together. It might be because their families didn’t like each other, such as you find in Romeo and Juliet. There might be a war that separates the couple, until he is finally able to return home safely. Whatever the circumstance might be, at the end of the piece as the music swells, the two are finally together. How wonderful to know that love conquers all. Of course, we live in the real world, not in literature or the movies. We know that, sometimes, it doesn’t work out exactly as was planned. Things don’t happen as we had hoped they would. There is a place, however, where we learn of a love that does overcome all obstacles. That is the love that is spoken of in the Bible. This morning, as we study this portion of God’s Word we see LOVE CONQUERS ALL. We will see 1. The Father’s Love Won His Family For Eternity and 2. The Children’s Love Overcomes The World Each Day.

The first type of love is spoken of in verse 1, where John writes, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” There is obviously a love the exists between parent and child. We are God’s children. This is, of course, something that we are not by nature. We are God’s enemies. As Paul reminds us in Romans 8:7, “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” We still see evidence of this sinful nature every single day of our lives in the many sins that we commit. There are sins of thoughts, as we think of ways to get other people’s things or feel a lack of contentment with what we have. There are sins of words as we say things that hurt other people’s feelings or fail to say a comforting word, when appropriate. There are our sins of activity as we go out of our way to make other’s lives more difficult, or inactivity as we don’t help where we can. We are, by nature, sinful and deserve God’s punishment for all eternity.

However, by the grace of God, we have become his children. We were born again. For many of us, this happened when we were baptized. For others, it happened later in life. Through the working of the Holy Spirit through the Means of Grace, we have been brought to faith. That is why John writes, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” It is this faith that brings us a new life in and with God. Note the specifics of this faith. It says, “believes that Jesus is the Christ.” This means that, through the Spirit-born faith, we know that Jesus is the one who was promised already to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, after the first sin.

Jesus is more fully described in verse 6: “This is the one who came by water and blood — Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood.” What does it mean that Jesus came “by water and blood”? At first glance, we might think of the blood and water that flowed from his side after he was crucified. Remember the Roman soldier who thrust his spear into Jesus’ side? This is a distinct possibility. However, there is another possibility that seems to hold more weight. John was writing to people who were being infiltrated with a false teaching that Jesus was only a human being, who was filled with the Holy Spirit from time to time. Other than those times, Jesus was just a human being. If we think of two times when water and blood played important roles in Jesus’ life, we might bring to mind Jesus’ baptism and his crucifixion.
At the time of Jesus’ baptism, the Father showed us his approval of all that his Son had done until that point as he spoke from the cloud, “This is my Son, whom I love. With him I am well pleased.” This showed the world that his Son was perfect, which is something that no mere human being could ever be. Also, at his baptism, Jesus was anointed into his three-fold office of prophet, priest and king. That is the water through which Christ came.

The blood through which he came is quite obvious. His blood was spilled for all the world, including us, on the cross. Because he was perfect, his suffering and death paid for every one of our sins. We know that God accepted his payment for our sins because Jesus rose from the dead. This fact, which we celebrated one week ago, assures us that our debt before God has been paid in full. In order to receive the benefits of what Jesus did, we had to be brought to faith. Because of this faith, God now calls himself our Father. We are his dearly loved children. It was his undeserved love that moved him to send Jesus to be our Savior. The Father’s love won us for eternity. We know that heaven is waiting for us when we pass from this life, whether it be on the Last Day or sooner if we should die before that time. The Father’s love gives us confidence as we face eternity, because he has purchased us for himself.

There are some that say that Christians have their heads in the clouds. They say that we are always talking about heaven and how wonderful life will be then. They don’t look at Christianity as being beneficial to today’s life. John shows us that nothing could be further from the truth. In verses 2-5, he speaks time and again about overcoming the world. For example, he writes in verses 4-5, “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” Those who believe in God, who have been born of God, overcome the world. We have the victory over the world around us. How is this true?

John shows us one example in verse 3: “This is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” We overcome the world when we obey God’s commands. This is something that the world cannot understand. When they hear the word “command” they think of it as being something that is harsh, something that will take all the fun out of their lives. According to their sinful nature, they don’t want to have anything to do with them. But, as Christians, we look at God’s commands as something that is wonderful. They are a way to show our God that we love him. Since they are a way of saying “Thank you” they are not burdensome. Rather they are something that we enjoy doing. If someone does something nice for you, you want to show your appreciation, even if it takes some effort to do so. God has given us everything. We cannot help but want to show our love for him. In addition, in reality, God’s commands do not make slaves out of us and take all the fun out of life. If we do things God’s way, we will have a better life. For example, part of the Ninth and Tenth commandments teach that God wants us to be content with things that he has given to us. If we could truly be content with the things that we have, we would have a more peaceful life. If we would truly love our neighbor as ourselves, we would have a nicer life, because those types of actions cannot help but have an effect on those around us. If we make it a priority to grow in our faith, as God wants us to, we will have a better life, because we would have the sure knowledge that whatever comes into our lives is for our benefit. We would be reminded to let go and let God be God.

Of course this doesn’t mean that as Christians we will never have any problems in this life. That would be very naive to think that. But, since God has chosen us to be his own, we know that he is in control of things. It also reminds us that the things of this life are only temporary. There is no reason to get so involved in building up and getting more and more. There is no reason to worry about what is happening to our things. God’s love for us gives us a new outlook on life.

In addition, we now face temptations differently. Because of what Jesus did for us, we don’t have to give in to them. When Jesus died and rose, he broke the power of Satan. Now, with God’s help we can stand up to him or our sinful nature or the world around us and say, “NO!”. We have been set free from following these temptations. God gives us the ability to serve him. He even praises us for doing these things for him. The love that the Father has shown to us gives us the ability to overcome the world every day. We don’t have to sit in the corner cowering in fear. Again, as John wrote in verses 4&5: “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” We who have been brought to faith in Jesus as the Christ have the victory right now. Christianity is not just for the after life. It is for the here and now. Because Jesus lived, died, and rose for you, you have the victory. This is the confidence we have, because God is on our side. As Paul so eloquently states in Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” You can have that same confidence because God the Father chose you to be his own, because Jesus came to be your Substitute and because the Holy Spirit has brought you to faith.

You really have to admire someone who wins a victory after overcoming all sorts of obstacles on the way. Whether it be some sort of physical ailment, or things not seeming to fall into place for them, the fact that they overcame is something that we can appreciate. Look at where you and I were by nature. We were lost in our sins. There was no way we could overcome that. God, in his love, did. With his help, and out of thankfulness for all he has done for us, we can and do overcome the world everyday. It is true. Love conquers all. Amen.