Download PDF
Watch Video

THE VICTORY THAT OVERCOMES THE WORLD

The  “world,” as John uses the term is everything in the world that is opposed to Christ and our salvation. Sin, death, deceit, unbelief, despair, and the like are all part of this world. Faith clings to the word of God, His testimony, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. The one who has the Son has life.” (1 John 5:11-12 (CSB))

By faith you have the Son. By baptism, and by His sacrifice, you “have the Son,” that is, by faith you have received the precious gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation. Forgiveness is yours, therefore eternal life, is yours, therefore the resurrection is yours, wherein you will live forever in true and everlasting joy, for…

The Lord is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

The sermon for The Second Sunday of Easter, April 11, 2021, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

1 John 5:4–12 (CSB)
               4 because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.
               5 Who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? Jesus Christ—he is the one who came by water and blood, not by water only, but by water and by blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify:, the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and these three are in agreement. If we accept human testimony, God’s testimony is greater, because it is God’s testimony that he has given about his Son. 10 The one who believes in the Son of God has this testimony within himself. The one who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in 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 The one who has the Son has life. The one who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Dear fellow redeemed: Remember what Jesus’ apostles do in their letters; they point out the significance of the objective realities, the “what happened” in the gospels, and they apply them to you. The event of Easter was that the One who is God but also a man, who was put to death by crucifixion, rose from the dead on the third day after. He was truly and physically alive, but immortal and incorruptible. There is more. He fulfilled the Scriptures in that His death was sacrificial. He made satisfaction for the sins of the world, and His righteousness is given as a gift to the world. It is also written that what was His, His satisfaction for sin and His righteousness is given by promise in word and sacrament, and it is received by faith.

It is part of this great cosmic war between God and the rebel angel, Satan (the adversary; the enemy), the Devil (the slanderer, accuser). God won. “The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the devil’s works.” (1 John 3:8, CSB) So in the resurrection, Jesus destroyed the power of sin and death. “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:21–22, CSB)

As John teaches here, this victory of Christ is played out in our lives and our times in this world. We too share in …

THE VICTORY THAT OVERCOMES THE WORLD

  1. The World Our Foe
  2. Faith Our Victory
  3. Eternal Life Our Salvation
  1. The World Our Foe

But for the time being, this world is occupied territory, so to speak, and so it is our foe. It was no wonder that John more than once wrote of “the world” as everything that is hostile to Christ and our salvation. As he said, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15, CSB)

So it is in our day, the world is arrayed against Christ and the salvation that He bought for us at the price of His suffering and death.  Then as now the danger of the world is that it separates us from Christ by undermining our faith.

  • The establishment of materialistic religion – that there is nothing beyond what we can see and touch and measure – biases all thinking against the Christian faith. The worldview of many is warped from reality.
  • Anti-Christian propaganda labels the Christian message of repentance and forgiveness as “hate,” and new laws explicitly set aside constitutional protections for the exercise of our faith.
  • The emphasis upon getting and having turns our hearts from our Savior to the idols and counterfeits that offer happiness but give nothing, hopelessness.
  • The world worships death. Whether it is abortion or killing human embryos for stem cells, Stalin’s genocide in Ukraine, or euthanasia, over and again the world clings to death as the universal solution.
  • Finally, “the world” as John uses the term, is completely enmeshed in deceit, in unbelief, and in rebellion against God.

    2.   Faith Our Victory

I could go on of course, but then we might miss the point that John makes that  everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.

Who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

We conquer the world because by faith we receive the gifts of God. So while the world falls, we will stand, as Peter wrote, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; … [he gives other examples]… then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,” (2 Peter 2:4–9, ESV)

And about that judgment, Peter tells us, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:10–13, ESV)

But our victory is not only at the last day! Overcoming the world is the opposite of the world’s works.

  • We are given a worldview that is not materialistic, but as revealed in the Scriptures, where spiritual, moral, historical and physical realities all have their proper place.
  • We replace the hate of the world with love, and see ever person as worth the price paid for them, – the blood of God’s Son.
  • We use the good things of this world without becoming enslaved to them.
  • We value and enjoy life as a precious gift and as a time of grace.
  • We endure the crosses of live without despair.
  • By the truth of the gospel we are freed of the lies and deceit of the world where it matters.
  • We live life in repentance and faith and in love toward our Savior.

We confess all this in the catechism, in the creed, “[He]  has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood, and with His innocent suffering and death; in order that I might be His own, live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness…” (Second Article, meaning) “…He daily and richly forgives me and all believers all our sins; and at the last day He will raise up me and all the dead, and will grant me and all believers in Christ eternal life.” (Third Article, meaning)

   3. Eternal Life Our Salvation

Again, it is by faith that we receive the gifts of God, won by Christ and His victory on the cross.  John tells us, he is the one who came by water and blood, not by water only, but by water and by blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify:, the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and these three are in agreement. If we accept human testimony, God’s testimony is greater, because it is God’s testimony that he has given about his Son.

That bit about the water and the blood seems unclear, but it is clearer if we consider the situation. John’s letter is written to people who may have been influenced by a heretic name Cerinthus, who denied the two natures of Christ, that Christ was both God and man. Cerinthus said Jesus was baptized with the Spirit that left him to die as any other man on the cross. But Jesus was not just chosen as a great teacher, but He is the Divine Sacrifice, hence the reference to the blood.

The specific heresy isn’t so important, for in all my 38 years of schooling, mainly secular, I found that the attacks on Christianity were all just rehashes over and over again, so what we need to remember is John’s response, that we need to preserve the truth in our faith: 10 The one who believes in the Son of God has this testimony within himself. The one who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony God has given about his Son. Faith is a spiritual life which is in us. We are alive to the truth, which is itself a testimony about Christ, our Divine Savior. We recognize the truth from the lies.

And what is the truth that we reflect upon, still in the glow of the resurrection? 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 The one who has the Son has life.

By faith you have the Son. By baptism, and by His sacrifice, you “have the Son,” that is, by faith you have received the precious gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation. Forgiveness is yours, therefore eternal life, is yours, therefore the resurrection is yours, wherein you will live forever in true and everlasting joy, for…

The Lord is risen!

He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

AMEN: This is most certainly True.