Thursday, 28 May 2020
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 1 John 5:1
“Whoever believes.” John has used the word translated as “believe” rather sparingly in the first four chapters of this letter, but he uses it seven times in this chapter. He is coming to the end of the letter and is culminating his thoughts with an amazing amount of information for the believer to process. In this chapter are several very difficult verses to grasp and there is even a verse which is highly disputed as to whether it even belongs in the Bible. Let us not lose sight of the importance of what John is saying over such differences thought.
In verse 4:7, John said, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” He now begins with, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” It is a confirmation of what has already been said, which is that the love John speaks of here is not a condition for salvation, but is a product of being saved. If one believes that Jesus is the Christ, then he has accepted the premise that Jesus came in the flesh and also came of God. He lived in that state, He was crucified and buried, and He rose again – proving that He is fully God.
In believing that, the love which is of God becomes a part of his very nature. In having this new aspect, John says, “and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.”
The words, “Him who begot,” refer to God. In coming to God through Christ, we now love God – understanding what He has done for us in Christ. This is the idea of what John was referring to in 1 John 4:20 when he wrote concerning claiming to love God but hating one’s brother. Such a person has not loved God, and he is a liar, because he has not come to God through Christ. The hatred is evidence of this. Hence, when one loves God (who begot), they also love “him who is begotten of Him.”
Cambridge lays out the overall thought process here –
Every child of God loves its Father.
… Every believer in the Incarnation loves God.
Every believer in the Incarnation loves God.
Everyone who loves God loves the children of God.
… Every believer in the Incarnation loves the children of God.
Christ is the only begotten of God in the sense of transmission of divine life – From Father to Son. However, believers in Christ are begotten of God through the Spirit (see 1 Peter 1:3). As we are all “begotten” of God in this sense, then we will possess the love which is of God for those who are begotten of Him. Again, this is not the love that we think of in normal human relations, but of the love which is of God, and which marks us as believers. It is a unifying love which will be fully realized in us when we are also perfected. But it is what marks us out at this time, just as the sealing of the Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 14) does.
Life application: John says that faith in the fact that Jesus is the Christ is an essential truth to being “born of God.” Being the “Christ” means that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies that state this One is both human and deity. One cannot claim a belief in Jesus Christ and disregard that He came in the flesh and dwelt among us. However, if one can mentally acknowledge this and then avow its truth, then he is born of God. Once this is realized in the believer’s life, a change takes place which is identifiable as the work of God.
It is God who “begot” us because of our faith. In turn we love Him for this action. We become a member of the family of God and there is harmony and peace between us and Him. However, there is more to identify us as children of God. Just as we love Him who begot us, we also are to love other believers who are begotten of Him. In other words, and is stated several times already in his letter, John tells us that our love for other believers is an identifying mark of our conversion.
Therefore, we need to strive as if it is as important to us as it is to God – to be faithful in loving our family of believers. How can we be a part of a family we don’t love? Just as we are excluded from fellowship with our earthly family when we don’t love them, we are likewise excluded from our heavenly family when we act in hatred toward them. Let us make every effort to display the love which is of God, even as we walk in these fallen bodies, awaiting the time when what we now possess can be fully expressed.
Heavenly Father, Your word – time and again – reveals to us our failings as members of Your family. We have not been as loving towards our fellow believers as we should be. Certainly, this causes a wall between us, and we know this must be corrected. Help us to change so that we can be pleasing members of Your household at all times. Amen.