I. The wicked world’s arguments
II. The wicked world’s affliction
1 John 5:5-12 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he 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. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
In the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God, who came by water and blood to bring us eternal life, dear Christian friends,
“Winning isn’t everything…it’s the only thing.” –Vince Lombardi
“Winning isn’t everything, but it beats anything that comes in second.” –Bear Bryant
“Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next.” –George Steinbrenner
How do you feel about those familiar quotes spoken by these now-deceased sports icons? Do they sum up your own approach to playing games or watching your favorite team? Win at all costs!?!
Would you go so far as to apply those quotes to any conversations— or should I call them arguments?— you have had with atheists and agnostics or unbelievers of any kind? Do you have to win at all costs?
These are two very different areas of life— winning a game and winning a conversation about Jesus— and the approaches and outcomes might be very different. While winning a game typically involves physical preparation, human strategy and an outcome that is only momentary, winning a conversation about Jesus involves spiritual preparation, God’s playbook and an outcome that is eternal.
First of all, it is commendable to know you have had these conversations (they are not easy, but they are important). It is also appropriate to have a “win at all costs” attitude because if you lose the point of these Biblical discussions, the person you are talking with loses even more, that is, a beautiful home in heaven alongside Jesus, the saints and the angels. But here is the good news: FAITH IN JESUS OVERCOMES… I. The wicked world’s arguments and II. The wicked world’s affliction.
Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God? Do you believe Jesus is “eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father. Through him all things were made” (Nicene Creed)?
Do you also believe that Jesus “came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and became fully human” (Nicene Creed)? Do you believe what the apostle John writes here: This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. In other words, do you believe he began his public ministry with the water of baptism and concluded it with his blood shed on the cross, in between proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God and securing a place in that kingdom for all who believe in him and his work of salvation?
This is one of the big topics unbelievers will bring up: the person of Jesus— who is he: man or God or both? The apostle John was dealing with the Gnostics who believed and taught that Jesus was only a man who became God at his baptism and then surrendered the nature of God before he went to the cross. Today we hear the Jews proclaim that Jesus was a man, but was not God and therefore could not be the Messiah. The Mormons’ claim is that Jesus was a man who became a god through his good deeds and they will then strive to do the same.
These arguments are logical. They are reasonable. How can Jesus be both God and man? That sounds like the fabled stuff of Marvel and DC Comics fame. How can God die? That is impossible!
Your logical mind and rational brain conclude the same thing. Be careful that your God-given faith does not succumb to human reason! Remember, faith in Jesus overcomes the wicked world’s arguments. God has given you the truth and the victory through his Word. So, use it! To defeat your own sinful nature and in your conversations with these unbelievers, bring out the words of Colossians 2:9: “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form”.
Another popular argument among today’s unbelievers focuses on the theme of this service— the Holy Trinity— God is one God yet three persons. This is also illogical. It sounds rather schizophrenic actually. How can God be eternal, everywhere and ever-loving?
When you and I begin to rely on our human reason and doubt what God says about himself, let’s listen again to the apostle John as he clearly speaks of three different persons in today’s text: And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit were all revealed at the creation of the world, at the baptism of Jesus and throughout God’s testimony, which is his holy Word. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were all involved in giving us eternal life. If you can believe what your parent or your teacher or your friend tells you, you can certainly believe what God tells you.
Shouldn’t a God who was able to create the universe be bigger than the universe? Shouldn’t a God who created each one of our little brains be wiser than all of our brains put together? Those are “reasonable” approaches you can use to win an argument with the wicked world.
Professor Mark Paustian, author of Prepared to Answer writes: “Some think that they should be able to figure out God with their limited rational minds, and they end up in frustration. We in Christ find the mystery of God a holy pleasure to adore. We find humble fascination with God to be wonderful and liberating. It’s the difference between straining to row a boat across a vast ocean and serenely drifting upon it. The ocean in this analogy is God. The wind is his Spirit. We ride in awe and safety upon Christ, the Word of God” (p. 38).
Faith in Jesus overcomes the wicked world’s affliction. The apostle John tells us what that is: He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. The wicked world in its unbelief will receive death in hell for all eternity— neverending agony, pain and torment. When you were given your faith in Jesus at your baptism, you were given life— forgiveness for your every failure here on earth and perfection for every moment in eternity.
Dads, you are celebrated this weekend as you were part of the equation in giving your kids physical life. At that time, you were given a desire to give your kids love and forgiveness and gifts of every kind to sustain them and help them thrive and flourish. Even though you don’t always do that well, thank you for your faithful efforts. Thank God for his grace in your life and forgiveness for your sins.
Be ever thankful that our heavenly Father does that well all the time. He has given us eternal life in his Son. The Spirit testifies that is true!
So, winning is everything…when it refers to faith in Jesus that overcomes the world!