Grace and Peace be to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Do you have a “will”? Although most people recognize the need for a “last will and testament”, Consumer Reports says that only about a third of all Americans have one. A will allows a person to express their final words and decide where their stuff goes - after they’ve died. My wife and I have talked about arranging a will so that our children would be raised in a Christian home were we to die before they were grown up.
A will usually remains filed away until a person dies. But God also has a will and testament. And since the Living God is eternal, His will cannot wait to be read. God expresses His final words in the Bible. His words are not final because they are His last words. God’s words are called final because they are truth and put an end to all argument. Through the Bible God also expresses who gets the riches and treasures of His eternal estate.
The portion of God’s word that we consider today is found in 1 John 5:11-15. In these words is expressed God the Father’s Will and Testament.
1 John 5:11-15 (NIV)
11And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
These are the words of God. May God the Spirit open our minds to their message.
The shortest will on record was written by an Indian man in 1995. Written in Hindi, the will was only four characters long and clearly stated, “all to son”.
God has also clearly stated His will in the Scriptures. First He tells us that all human beings are sinners doomed to die and on their way to eternal punishment in Hell. But God also tells us that though these are the facts, He doesn’t want this to happen.
“…As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live…” (Ezekiel 33:11 NIV).
In First Timothy it says,
“3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4 NIV).
These passages make it clear. God wants sinners to be saved from the punishment heading their way. The first verse of our sermon text is clear also. God has saved sinners from the punishment heading their way. God has gifted eternal life to us. This eternal life comes wrapped up in God’s Son.
“11And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John NIV).
It’s hard to express the Good News of Jesus clearer than that! But just to make sure everyone understands, God has John write on,
“12He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John NIV).
About a week ago, on the plane ride back from pastoral conference, I was talking with the woman in the seat next to me. She said that she was Catholic, but as we talked it became clear that she wasn’t Catholic, and she wasn’t Christian either. When I asked about how much she read the Bible she said not very much. It became clear through our conversation that she considered the Bible a book authored by men, about God - not a book authored by God to reveal Himself to man. She considered Christianity to be just another religion that a person could get some good life lessons from, but not much more. She clearly expressed her belief that all religions are paths to the same God.
I had to disagree, because God’s testimony disagrees with that kind of thinking. Eternal life is a gift that God has prepared for all people, but that gift is found in Jesus Christ. If you don’t have Him, you don’t have eternal life.
When John wrote the words we’re considering He was writing to Christians. These simple statements about Jesus and eternal life were meant to bring joy and reassurance to the Christians who heard them. It must have been a source of joy to the first Christians it reached, and it is a joyful message to us now.
“13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John NIV).
Perhaps in the information age we move to quickly over words. Perhaps we don’t consider the implications of the simple and clear statements presented here.
If you believe in the name of the Son of God, you will live forever.
If you trust in who Jesus is and what He has done, you will actually, physically live in glory throughout eternity.
If He is in you, so is eternal life.
It’s a very simple message, but profound as well. It reminds us of the words Jesus spoke to His disciples in the upper room before His arrest and crucifixion.
“19“A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” (John 14:19-20 NKJV).
My fellow Christians, He is in you. The same Great three-in-one God who Created the universe in six days dwells in your heart. The same Jesus who walked the dusty roads of
Often when a person with a sizable fortune dies, some of their fortune is directed into an endowment fund. Instead of just being a piece of the left over pie that gets spent, this part of their estate is invested. Only the interest earn by this fund is spent for the benefit of whoever the deceased indicates.
It’s a good idea. Money invested can benefit people for ages to come instead of being wasted by a one or two lucky ones. I know it’s sounds cliché, but monies directed to an endowment are really gifts that keep on giving.
In God’s will and testament He also gives a gift that is of continual use to Christians. Along with eternal life, God gives Christians the confidence to approach Him in prayer and the sweet knowledge that He hears our every word and gives us every good thing.
“14This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 15:11-15 NIV).
If we were still covered in sin, we could not approach the eternal God in confident prayer. But because Jesus has suffered in our place and removed the record of our guilt. We now stand cleansed as we approach the Father’s throne. We can confidently speak to our Creator knowing we will not receive anger in return but loving care! The apostle Paul said it like this,
“31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32 NKJV).
God says, “I’ve given you the best, why would I not give you the rest? Ask with confidence.”
Thankfully God promises only to grant us our requests when they fall in line with His wise plan for our lives. What a blessing this is. For we may often ask for things that seem like good things to us, but in fact would hurt us. But our caring, heavenly Father, withholds these things from us in wisdom and love.
“11If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew NKJV).
I don’t know about you, but I don’t pray as much as I should. Actually, I should say it a little different, I don’t pray as much as I want to.
Sometimes I find myself wanting to get started with whatever I’m working on instead of praying for God’s help in doing it. I want to start pondering over how to handle the situation instead of praying for God’s insight and direction. This is not good.
How arrogant to think that I can do anything apart from the gracious will of my loving God and Savior. How foolish to think that any time spent in prayer is time that could be better spent on my own thoughts.
Sometimes our prayers are neglected because our confidence is not in the LORD, but in our selves.
Or think about when we spend our energies worrying instead of talking to God about something. Then our prayers are neglected because we have replaced our confidence in God with human anxiety. There’s a foolish exchange if there ever was one. So much better it is to put the matter in God’s hands by prayer, and know that He will make it good as we walk by His side hearing His direction.
In order to have confidence to ask, we must have trust that we will receive. For that trust we must go again to the source of all spiritual energy, the cross of Christ.
32He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32 NKJV).
In the book of James it also says,
“17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created” (James -18 NIV).
Every good gift comes from the same God who chose us and caused us to be born into His family through faith in His Son. We must expect that He who does not change will continue to give us every good thing .
A human last will and testament is important, but not fool-proof. A will can be lost. Or destroyed. The executor can fail to carry out the wishes of the deceased. The inheritance can lose it’s value, or be spent foolishly. In all these things, the last will and testament of a person can come to nothing.
But God’s will and testament is different. For His will expressed in Scripture does not fail. When He expresses His will, it happens. In the beginning God spoke and matter and energy came into being. He spoke and life was created in it’s many different forms. When God’s Son spoke some 2000 years ago, the Creation recognized its maker and obeyed His voice. The storm was stilled. The dead were raised. The sick were healed and the spiritually dead came to faith in Jesus, receiving in Him the gift of eternal life and an open door to receive every good gift from God above.
I’d like to end our meditation with a reading from the book of Isaiah that expresses the power of God’s expressed will in our lives.
“8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:8-12 NIV).
May your mind always remember: Eternal life is yours for Christ is in you. And this gift comes from Him who still lives to give you every good gift.
The peace which comes from God, which far exceeds all our understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.