Today’s selected passage continues in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle John unto the saints which were in Ephesus. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first twelve verses of the fifth chapter. When we come to this particular passage of scripture we find the first epistle written by the apostle John preparing to draw to a close. I have to say, that upon reading this first epistle written by the apostle, I can’t help but see an overwhelming amount of similarities between this first epistle written unto the saints at Ephesus and the gospel which he wrote concerning the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. In fact, I would dare say that one cannot truly understand that which is written in this epistle without also first being willing to explore and examine the gospel which John wrote concerning the One whom he followed and walked with for three and a half years. If you would like to truly appreciate and truly understand that which is contained within this first epistle, you must recognize and understand the themes which were present within the gospel account of Jesus’ life and ministry. What’s more, is that if you read this epistle you will find that there is a strong overlap between what is found and recorded within this epistle and what is recorded and found in the New Testament gospel concerning the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. In the first chapter of this epistle the apostle John prepares us for what is the foundation of this epistle and all that is contained within it—namely, that it was written based off what he heard with his ears, what he saw with his eyes, what he looked upon with his eyes, and what his hands handled and touched. In all reality, this epistle was written based off a personal and intimate experience the apostle John had with the Lord Jesus Christ—one that lasted for three and a half years as he walked with and talked with Jesus on a regular basis.
The more I look upon, and the more I read and consider the words which the apostle John wrote within this epistle, the more I can’t help but be brought face to face with just how important experience is when we are attempting to speak about the Lord Jesus Christ. There are a number of men and women who would attempt to preach and even speak concerning Jesus the Christ from a place of knowledge and have absolutely zero experience touching and handling the Lord Jesus Christ. What makes this particular epistle so incredibly profound and unique is the fact that it was written from a place of knowledge, yes, but more importantly it was written from a place of actual experience with the true and living Christ. One of the most important facts concerning this epistle is that like the first and second epistles which were written by the apostle Peter, it was written from a place of experience with the true and loving messiah. While the apostle Paul wrote much of the New Testament and is attributed with writing thirteen epistles within the New Testament, his words and his writing game not from a place as was manifested in the lives of the apostles Peter and John. It was true that the apostle Paul was taught and learned of Christ while spending three years in the desert, he did not walk with Christ as Peter and John did. This is not to diminish that which the apostle Paul wrote, for there is not a single Christian or saint of God who would deny that he did not experience and encounter the Lord Jesus Christ and learn from Him. In fact, the apostle Paul emphatically declared that the gospel he received, and the gospel he preached came not from man, but was received directly by and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover, the beloved physician Luke records in the second treatise written unto the most excellent Theophilus that while traveling and journeying on the road to Damascus, the apostle Paul, who was at that time only Saul, experiences Jesus Christ s he was thrown from his horse to the earth.
There would be a number of men and women who feel as though knowledge alone is enough to sustain us in any relationship we have or process to have with the true and living God. There are many men and women who look to knowledge to be the bedrock and foundation of their relationship with Jesus Christ, and yet the reality of this is that it simply is not the case. When our Lord spoke unto the apostle peter concerning that which he received and that which was revealed unto him from His Father in heaven, our Lord highlighted and pointed out the tremendous importance of revelation—particularly and especially revelation from the living God. What I absolutely love about this particular account within the life of the apostle Peter is that it came directly on the heels of Jesus asking the disciples for the opinions of men. Jesus began asking His disciples who men said that he was, this essentially asking them what they had heard others speaking and professing concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. After listening to and hearing the opinions of men, Jesus made the question more personal and asked them who they said and who they thought He was. This is incredibly important, for what Jesus was drawing off of was a declaration and believe based on personal experience with Him. Having walked and talked with Him for three and a half years—who did they say, and who did they think and believe Him to be. When I consider the words which are found in this particular passage in the New Testament gospel of Matthew, I cannot help but be captivated and gripped by the fundamental difference between the opinions of man and the revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ declaration unto Peter concerning flesh and blood not revealing that He was the Christ the Son of the living God, but rather a revelation from His Father who was in heaven strongly suggests that we must transition from the place of the opinions of men to the place of true and lasting revelation from the person of the divine Father who is in heaven. It would be incredibly easy for us to get caught up, bogged down, and tied up with the opinions of men, and they may very well help us to formulate our own opinion concerning Jesus the Christ, yet to do so would be absolutely detrimental to the place of revelation from the Father who is in heaven. There must come a place within our hearts and lives when we make the transition from the opinions of men to the place of the revelation of Jesus Christ, and anything else is utterly and completely absurd. Consider if you will the encounter which took place between Jesus the Christ and His twelve disciples as it was recorded for us by the apostle Matthew. In the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by Matthew we find the following words:
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Som say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.l And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged He His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ” (Matthew 16:13-20)
Within this particular account presented unto us by the beloved apostle Matthew we find Jesus presenting unto the disciples a very specific question—one that was straightforward and didn’t require much thought, or even much self-reflection and self-evaluation. When Jesus asked His disciples whom men said that He the Son of man was, what He was ultimately doing was asking them to recount everything they had heard from those around them as they walked with and journeyed with Jesus the Christ. What we must recognize and understand is that Jesus’ question concerning who men said that He was required absolutely nothing concerning knowledge or experience, but rather only acknowledging and recounting that which others had spoken concerning and about Christ. This question concerning who others said that Jesus Christ was had absolutely nothing to do with any type of personal experience, or personal revelation, but had everything to do with merely listening to and hearing that which others said and spoke concerning Jesus who was the Christ. In all reality, I might very well say that Jesus wasn’t all that concerned with the opinions of man as much as He was concerned with who they thought, and who they believed Him to be. There is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus led with the opinions of men, but He merely used the opinions of men to arrive at the place where He would ask concerning the revelation of the Father who was in heaven. Scripture is unclear whether or not Jesus was expecting something specific when He asked the disciples very pointedly who they said and who they believed Him to be, but what we do know for certain is that the apostle Peter spoke up and emphatically declared that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this very reality, for to make such a declaration comes not from a place where we entertain and listen to the opinions of men, but from a place where we actually received revelation from the Father in heaven. The question Jesus asked His disciples was one that was built upon the foundation of what their experience with Him had been during the time they had walked and talked with Him. In other words—after hearing Him speak, after hearing Him teach and preach, after witnessing the mighty works and deeds He performed within the earth among men, who did they say, and who did they believe that He was. After all they had seen, and after all they had heard up until that moment in time, Jesus was concerned with one thing—what all their experience and what all their encounters led to within their own personal journey and relationship with Him. What Jesus was seeking to do with this question was bring them from the place of experience and encounter to the place of revelation concerning who Jesus Christ truly is. Oh, I would dare say that if the experiences and encounters you have in your life do not lead you to the place of revelation from the Father concerning and regarding Jesus the Christ, your experiences and encounters are incredibly shallow, and possibly even meaningless. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote when writing his epistle unto the churches of Galatia:
“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: and profited in the Jews’ religion above many me equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: but they had heard only, That He which persecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me” (Galatians 1:11-23).
When writing unto the churches which were in Galatia, the apostle Paul certified before and unto them that the gospel which he preached was not after man, nor was it received from or taught by men. Instead, the gospel which the apostle Paul preached came by revelation from Jesus the Christ alone, for when the apostle was separated by the predestinate and predeterminate will of the living God to stand before Him as an apostle unto the Gentiles, he did not confer with flesh and blood. Instead of conferring with flesh and blood to receive revelation concerning Jesus Christ, the apostle went into Arabia where he would receive directly from Jesus the Christ. It would be there in the wilderness of Arabia where the apostle Paul would receive such a divine revelation, and such a divine impartation from the living God, that it would dramatically shape and transform his theology. It would be during that time when his initial encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus would come to a head, for building upon that encounter on the road to Damascus, Jesus Christ Himself taught the apostle Paul concerning Himself. It’s worth noting and pointing this reality out—particularly and especially when you consider what is recorded in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew. Think about it—if Jesus asked the disciples who men said that He was, then listened to them recount what man said concerning Him, but then turned and flipped the script to ask them who they said he was, how much more was it necessary for the apostle Paul to not confer with flesh and blood [to not get caught up in the opinions of men] concerning Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul did not want to allow himself to be caught up and consumed with the opinions of men, but sought instead to receive revelation directly from the Lord Jesus Christ who had appeared to him on the road to Damascus. I am absolutely and completely convinced that there is within this passage of Scripture a powerful truth which is presented unto us—namely, that we must make a conscious and deliberate effort to not allow ourselves to get caught up in the opinions of men, and even other men’s experiences and encounters with Jesus Christ, but to taste, to learn of, to see, and to handle Jesus the Christ ourselves. There are far too many among us who would allow their doctrine and theology concerning Jesus Christ to be shaped by the opinions of men, and even on the experiences and encounters others have with the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul could very well have gone to Jerusalem and spoken with the apostles concerning their experience and their encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet what he would, and what he could have presented would have been nothing more than repetition of the opinions and experiences of men. OH that we would recognize and understand this reality, for we must come to the point and place where we transition and move beyond the opinions of man—and even the encounters and experiences of others—and find and allow ourselves to arrive at the place of personal revelation from and with the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul wanted to experience the Lord Jesus Christ beyond the encounter on the road to Damascus, and beyond the experiences others had with Jesus the Christ, and as a result, he went not up into Jerusalem, but went instead into the desert of Arabia.
Building upon this reality of experience, it is necessary that we examine the first chapter of this first epistle written by the apostle John unto the saints which were at Ephesus, and even the words which the apostle Peter wrote in the second epistle which is found in the New Testament. Consider if you will the words which the apostle John wrote in the first few verses of the first chapter of this first epistle written unto the saints which were at Ephesus: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:1-5). In this particular passage of Scripture we find the apostle John writing concerning that which was from the beginning—that which they had heard, that which they had seen with their eyes, that which they looked upon, and that which their hands handled of the Word of life. What’s more, is the apostle John goes on to write how the life was manifested, and how they had seen that life, and bear witness, and show unto them that eternal life, which was with the Father, and yet was manifested unto them. The apostle John took that which they had seen and that which they had heard and declared it unto the saints which were at Ephesus, in order that they might have fellowship with them. Even more than this, is that if you continue reading in this passage you will find that they received a specific message from Jesus who was the Christ and the Son of the living God—namely, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness. What the apostle John wrote unto the saints which were at Ephesus was a wonderful and powerful epistle that was built and founded upon personal revelation from Jesus Christ, as well as personal experience and personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. This was true even in the second epistle which was written unto those who had received like precious faith, and specifically in the first chapter of the epistle. Consider if you will the words which are written in the first chapter of this epistle beginning with the twelfth verse:
“Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yeah I think it meet, as long as I am in remembrance in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this my Tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For he receive from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this is the voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scriptures is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:12-21).
In light of everything that has been written thus far within this writing, we must ask ourselves what our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is based on. Is our relationship with he Lord Jesus Christ based on the opinions of those around us? Is our relationship with Jesus based on the experiences and encounters other men and women have had with Jesus Christ? Or, is our relationship with Jesus Christ based on a personal and individual revelation from Jesus Himself? Is our relationship with Jesus based on our own individual and unique encounter and experience with the Lord Jesus Christ? We must ask ourselves whether or not we are going to allow ourselves to get caught up in the opinions of men, or whether we will position ourselves in the place where we can receive revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ first asked His disciples whom others said, and who others believed Him to be, but then He immediately transitioned from that place of the opinions of others, to the place of personal and private revelation concerning Him. IN other words—based on their own unique encounter and experience with the Lord Jesus Christ, who did they say, and who did they believe Him to be? Though the apostle John did not speak up on that day as did the apostle Peter, the apostle John would go on to write this first epistle which was written and sent unto the saints which were at Ephesus—an epistle which was based on personal and private revelation and experience with the Lord Jesus Christ. When you come to the fifth chapter of this first epistle written by the apostle, you will find that it has remarkable similarities to that which is written, and that which is found in the gospel which he wrote concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. IN the opening verse of the fifth chapter of this epistle, the apostle John emphatically and without reservation declared that whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. Furthermore, the apostle John would go on to declare that every one that loves Him who has begotten also loves those which have been begotten of Him. Essentially and ultimately that which the apostle John is writing and speaking in this particular verse is not only that we love the Lord our God who not only begat His own Son, but also begat many sons and daughters—those who were given the right and the privilege to be born of God, and be sons and daughters of the living God. Oh, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle John wrote in the gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, for in the first and third chapter we find this language used again. Consider if you will the words which are found—first in the first chapter of the gospel of John, and second in the third chapter of the gospel of John:
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through Him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:6-14).
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:3-8).
Within his gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, the apostle John declared that as many as received Jesus, to those would He give power to become the sons of God, even to those who believed on His name. The apostle John would go on to write how these individuals were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Please don’t miss or lose sight of this tremendous reality, for to do would be to miss out on the incredible importance of what it truly means to be born of God—what it truly means to be born of the Spirit as Jesus declared unto Nicodemus. When speaking unto Nicodemus by night, Jesus declared that unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Jesus would take this a step further and declare that unless and except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, but that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. It’s worth noting that when Jesus spoke of being born of the water and of the Spirit, that which He was speaking about was being born of and born from the waters of baptism, and being born of the Spirit, as was evidenced on the day of Pentecost, and on. Within the first and third chapters of the gospel of John we find him writing and speaking concerning being born of God, and what it means to be born of God. When we come to the fifth chapter of the first epistle which was written by the apostle John we find him again writing concerning being born of God, and those who believe that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. What I so absolutely love about what we find in this fifth chapter is that the apostle John goes on to declare that whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world, and this is the victory that overcomes the world—namely, our faith in the true and living God. Not only does the apostle John declare that every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, but he goes on to emphatically write that whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world. Please mark these words, and mark them well within your heart and spirit, for the apostle John is making a bold statement here—one that has the power to radically transform every facet of our lives. What the apostle John writes in this particular passage of Scripture is that anything and everything that is born of God overcomes the world, and that the victory which overcomes the world is our faith. Essentially what the apostle John is declaring unto his audience, as well as unto us who read his words, is that we are born of God if we believe that Jesus is the Christ, and if we are in fact born of God, we overcome the world. The apostle takes this concept of overcoming the world even further by declaring that this victory which overcomes the world rests and lies solely in and with our faith in the true and living God. What we must come to terms with, however, is that although that which is born of God overcomes the world, we can only overcome because Jesus Christ Himself overcame the world. Consider the words which the apostle John writes in the sixteenth chapter of the gospel account which is found towards the beginning of the New Testament: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). It is precisely because of this statement and this declaration—namely, that Jesus Christ overcame the world, that we ourselves are able to overcome the world. It is because Jesus Christ overcame the world that we can experience such realities as are found elsewhere in Scripture:
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom he called, them He also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that concemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:28-39).
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame Him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Revelation 12:7-12).
The apostle John wrote that whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world, and that this is the victory which overcomes the world—namely, our faith. The apostle John then goes on to ask who they are who overcome the world, and proceeds to answer that question by declaring that those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God are the ones who overcome the world. It is absolutely necessary and important for us to pay close attention to these words, for it is our faith which overcomes the world, and it is our faith which gives us the victory, but even with that being said, it is also a belief that Jesus is the Son of the living God, and being born of God which enables us to wonderfully and powerfully overcome the world and everything that is in it. The apostle John declared that whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world, and we must ask ourselves whether or not we are born of God. If we are born of God, then it would logically follow suit that we should overcome the world and everything that is in it. What’s more, is that Jesus the Christ overcome the world, and because He overcame the world, and because He gave us who believe that He is the Christ the authority, the power, and the dominion to overcome the world, we have the ability to overcome all that is in the world. Are you overcoming the world? Are you allowing your faith to grant you victory over everything the world would throw at you? Are you living your life in and from a place of victory, or are you living your life from a place of defeat? If you are born of God, then you my friend should be living a wonderful life of overcoming absolutely everything that is thrown at you—regardless of how difficult it may be to face and endure it all. This isn’t to say that there won’t be difficulty in the midst of the battle, or difficulty in the midst of the conflict, but that in and through it all we should find ourselves living in and from a place of wonderful victory, and from a place where we overcome the world and everything that is in it.