First John 3:19-24
Believe On His Name & Rejoice In Loving One Another

Authored by Rev. Shigeru Matsubara, Assistant Pastor, Osaka Nozomi Church, Osaka, Japan

1.  Last time, we studied the words "Love one another."  In chapter three and verse nineteen it has, "Jesus gave up his life for us.  By this we have known love."  Therefore, the Bible says we too should emulate the love of Jesus and give up our lives for the brethren, and we have received the exhortation (eighteen) to not love only in word and lip service, but love with the truth of Christ and in deeds.

2.  At the top of verse nineteen "by this" is a "by this" taking in verses sixteen and eighteen.  "We know that we belong to the truth and we can have peace of mind before God," (nineteen).  However, after "we can have peace of mind before God" why do the words "although we are condemned by our hearts" continue?  It comes from the human weakness that drops in endlessly on anyone alive in this world and because we have hearts that accuse us.  Thus, I would like for us to digest the importance of the words in the first half of verse sixteen and for us to study hard at the heart and soul of our faith, that is, at the words "Jesus gave up his life for us.  By this we have known love."

3.  We can't just read the details of this epistle we have for today lightly like we would some magazine article.  As believers part of the church, can we say that "we have never been condemned by our hearts" when we would meditate on whether we truly felt compassion for our brothers and sisters when they were in a bind or for those in need and we sincerely loved them with our actions?  This part here about "although we are condemned by our hearts" we can understand better when translated "if our hearts criticize us."  It is certainly important in our compassion for our brothers in need to love them from truth and actions and not just have a love of only words and lip service.  However, in our case, we tag on a "but" to this.  Therefore, we are snug in putting that kind of love into practice and then we don't get into a state of peacefulness with God.  But, in the second half of verse twenty it has, "God is greater than our hearts; for, he knows all things."  It emphasizes that we should fix our eyes on the setting to this peace of mind and always put our focus on the works of Jesus and the love of Jesus.  It lies in the truth that "God is greater than our hearts; for, he knows all things."

4.  "O beloved, if we have never been condemned by our hearts, we can have confidence before God," (twenty-one).  In another version this part "if we have never been condemned by our hearts" is given as "if our hearts do not scold us."  And we [should] always want to lay a foundation in the love of Christ, not be rooted first in a love for ourselves, and continually be in the peace of God, not in anxiety.  We are shown that no matter how hard we love each other, when we drift apart from the love of Christ without realizing it it ends up becoming easy to stand in a place where you cannot love others on your own independently.  As long as we are given a basis for our faith in the love of God in which Jesus gave up his life for us, we are in his presence, and we can continue to firmly have a confidence that we are loved by God.

5.  Thus, "Whatever you desire will be granted by God."  We can answer Amen to what John states in [verse] twenty-two.  "Because we keep God's commandments and practice what suits his will," (twenty two).  When we "love our neighbor" or "love our brothers [in Christ]" it is to imitate Jesus and because it is not a "loving our neighbor" or "loving our brother" by our own nature but is an "act" as a "work that suits the will of God," all that work is for the glory of the Lord and to give praise to the Lord.  Therefore, no matter how much the devil lures us, our hearts cannot accuse us.  Even if your heart gets like that, God the Father of Jesus Christ truly is far greater than our hearts.  Therefore, we can have peace of mind in the sight of God through the blood of Jesus.  And whatever desires we lay before God can be granted, (twenty-two).

6.  Our prayers can be heard by God because our requests line up with the will of God.  "If you are joined to me, and my words are always in you, please ask for whatever you wish.  If you do that, it can be granted," (John 15:7).  This's what John is saying.  "Whatever hopes we give to God can be granted.  Because we keep God's commandments and practice what suits his will," (twenty-two).

7.  What, then, are "the commandments of God?"  In verse twenty-three, "His commandments are to believe on the name of Jesus Christ the son of God and to love one another as he commanded us."  We could summarize God's requirements on us as to these two things.

8.  The important things that God asks of us are that we believe on the name of Jesus Christ the son of God and love one another.

9.  First, what does it mean "to believe on the name of Jesus Christ the son of God?"  Here it has "to believe on the name of Jesus Christ the son of God" and it doesn't say "to believe on Jesus Christ the son of God."  What does it mean that it says "believe on the name?"  Each of us says I believe in Jesus Christ.  Well, don't we really think that it is natural for each and every one of us in our faith in Jesus Christ to vary from person to person just as the individuality of each person is different?  Doesn't everybody believe in Jesus Christ according to his or her own respective free will?  John says that we believe in the name of Jesus Christ the son of God and that God does not ask of us to believe in a Jesus Christ that we freely imagine as we please according to the education and environment that we have undertaken on our own.

10.  Then, where is the record that passes on the name of Jesus Christ the son of God?  As everyone knows, it is in the Bible.

11.  Believing on the name of Jesus Christ the son of God means to believe on Jesus Christ as written and revealed in the scriptures.  Since God loved us, there is one whom he sent into the world to save us sinners, even Jesus Christ the son of God who according to the scriptures is revealed as "...The Word gave the qualifications to become children of God to everyone who received him and believes on that name," (John 1:12).

12.  "God love the world so much that he gave his only son.  Whoever believes in his only son will not perish since he obtains eternal life," (John 3:16).  According to what is written in the Bible, we are saved by this only son of God Jesus Christ and we are given eternal life in Jesus.  John says in chapter five and verse thirteen of this epistle, "I want to enlighten you who believe on the name of God that I write these things for you to obtain eternal life."  Thus, John explains the commandments of God that "the commandments of God are to believe on the name of Jesus Christ the son of God and to love one another as he has commanded us."

13.  "To love one another as he (Jesus Christ) has commanded us."  In regard to loving one another, the Lord Jesus said to his disciples during the Passover meal the night before he was crucified, "I give you a new commandment.  Please love one another.  If you love one another, by that everyone will know you are my disciples," (John 13:34, 35).  When we love each other, it is loving God, it is a witness that we belong to Christ the son of God, that we belong to God the Father, and we are in fellowship with the Father and the Son Jesus Christ.  That is, it is a true fruit of our faith in the name of Jesus Christ the son of God.

14.  The Lord Jesus also said to his disciples at the supper, "Please love each other as I have loved you.  This is my commandment," (John 15:12).  Also, in verse fourteen, "If you practice what I command, you are my friends," he said.  To believe on the name of Jesus Christ the son of God is a source that yields the ability to act as Christians that love one another, (Refer to Gohji Tanaka).

15.  Continuing on to verse twenty-three, then verse twenty-four, John says, "The person who keeps God's commandments is always abiding in God and is abiding in the son of God."  A faith where we believe in the name of Jesus Christ the son of God and love one another, in other words our fellowship, is a fellowship of eternal life with God and it is a fellowship with the Father and the Son Jesus Christ.

16.  "When God abides in us we understand through "the Spirit" which he has given us," (twenty-four).

17.  God gives us the power to love one another by his unconditional love, by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by association with the Holy Spirit.  We thus are made to overflow with peace and joy in fellowship with the Father and the Son.

18.  Well, we have known the deep love of God because Jesus gave up his life for us.  And we have been made into persons who belong to God's truth.  Therefore, we ought to give up our lives for our friends.  This was given to us as a word of blessing.  We have discovered our small selves and have sensed blame in our hearts but let's look to heaven, and let's get a sense of how God the heavenly Father is by far greater than our hearts and knows all of us.

19.  Let's keep the commandments of God, God's order to "believe on the name of Jesus Christ the son of God and to love one another," and let's share in the fellowship of the Father and the Son.

 
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