Series B Easter 5
1 John 3:18-24  
May 21, 2000
Our Confidence Is In Christ

INTRODUCTION:  Can you be sure?  That is the question that we must deal with this morning.  Can a Christian be sure of where he or she stands with God? Can you be certain about going to heaven?  As this question is posed to people in this world it is amazing how often the answer to such questions are answered with statements to the effect of “well, I think so” or “I hope so”.  Some, who apparently live with a strong and vibrant faith are sometimes unsure, and as a result are troubled about their future.  They wonder to themselves “am I good enough?” or "have I done enough?" to get to heaven. What do we do about our questions and our doubts?  If you have ever been troubled about your eternal destiny our Epistle lessons can assure us of an eternal hope.  We can be confident about our future because Our Confidence Is found in Jesus Christ.

I.                    Self-examination in the light of the Scripture's description of a disciple of Jesus could easily undermine our confidence before God. In short we could easily question our future if it were all left up to us.

A.    Think of how real and powerful faith is suppose to be.

1.      It can “move mountains” through answered prayer (Matt.17: 20).  Fear and doubt grip us however when we question "will God truly hear me?" and when we ask ourselves "am I praying sincerely enough and fervently enough for God to answer?" But there is the statement "the faith as small as a mustard seed is able to move mountains".

2.      The power of faith enables men and women to be heroic conquerors for the Lord. Just think of the heroes and heroines of the faith who endured numerous trials and setbacks and yet endured to the end. There are folk like Abel who offered a more excellent sacrifice. Enoch who was translated. Noah who trusted God and Abraham who was called to go out into a place which he did not know…(Hebrews 11)

3.      It enables them to trust in the Lord no matter what might come their way. Paul reminds us that with such faith that "we know that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes." (Romans 8:28)

B.      The requirements of being a follower of Christ are startling as well as demanding to be sure.  Consider the expectations that the Lord has for His followers who bear His name.

They are to love- and possess a love that is perfect "This is My command that you love one another, as I have loved you" Jesus says in John 15:12.

They are to demonstrate self-denial and cross bearing as Jesus says in   Matthew 16:24-28 "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up His cross, and follow Me". They are to demonstrate unselfish service to others as Jesus says in John 13:14-15; " If I then Your Lord and Master,  have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you".

How do you stack up under these demands of discipleship?  None of us can measure up perfectly can we? Am I good enough to be His disciple? How do we deal with these questions of fear and doubt?  Does this mean that our eternal reward is in question?  How do we handle these issues of our fear and our doubt?

TRANSITION: We could easily be led to ask with Jesus’ disciples, “Who then can be saved?” (Luke 18:26).  The answer lies in looking not to ourselves but looking only to God and His words and promises.

II. Our confidence is based purely on the promises of the Gospel

           (1 John 3:20) "For if our heart condemns us God is greater then our heart, and knows all things!"

A.    The amazing grace of God has saved us!

1.      In Jesus Christ all sin is forgiven – PERIOD! Your salvation does not depend on how good enough you have been. Your relationship with Christ is determined on the basis of what Christ has done for you at the cross and at the empty tomb.

2.     His resurrection, which we celebrate during this Easter season, is our victory over sin and death. When Jesus died - sin died. When He rose from the dead so the guarantee of life and salvation was given to us. 

3.     By the gift of faith His righteousness is made ours.

B.      The Holy Spirit is our indwelling Comforter - We have been given the promise that the Holy Spirit will continue to abide with us forever! (v.24)

1.     Through the Spirit’s testimony in Scripture we know that we are saved because of Christ’s accomplishments, not ours. The focus of the Scriptures will always be Jesus. They remind us of what Jesus has done. They remind us of where we stand because of Jesus and His most gracious work on the cross.  How do we handle our fears and our doubts? We focus on Christ and Him alone. The testimony of the scriptures is to get us to stop thinking constantly about ourselves and to focus on "that one thing necessary" with is Christ and Him crucified!

2.     Jesus works faith in us and maintains that faith through the Word and the Sacraments that we might remain connected to Him. In this meal Jesus has promise that His body and blood is given and shed for you. The promise of Baptism is for you and your children. These promises are given that you might believe in Him.

TRANSITION: Although our hearts may condemn us for many and great shortcomings, as redeemed people we know by faith where we stand before God in Christ Jesus our Savior.

III.               Our confidence is demonstrated by obedience to God’s Holy will.

Remember the words of our text "WHOEVER ACKNOWLEDGES THE SON, HAS THE FATHER ALSO! (v.23) 

A.    Faith in His promises is alive and active within us.

1.     It is displayed in our love for Jesus and in the use of the means of grace.

2.     It is expressed in worship and witness. For why have we come? We have come to praise and honor our risen Savior Jesus! We have come not to focus on our own needs and ourselves but to center on  Jesus who brings light to this world.

B.      We practice Christian love toward each other.

1.     Admittedly, our practice of love leaves much to be desired and often causes our hearts to condemn us.

2.     Love is alive and practiced, and God knows it, or else faith has died out in us. "Faith without works is dead" James will tell us. (James 2:17) Because you live the faith demonstrates the fact that there is faith in you and it is alive and active.

CONCLUSION: There is never room for self-righteousness in a believer,-NEVER! All that we are comes by the grace of God.  That is why we walk humbly as we demonstrate a Spirit-empowered confidence in God’s grace and work in us.  All that we are comes by the grace of God - may He continue to work and do in you all for His good pleasure. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +