This is the final week of our series called DNA. In this series, we’ve been exploring who we are. As God’s people, what is at the core of our DNA? What does a sold-out follower of Jesus look like?
We’ve looked for our answer in the New Testament book of 1 John. This book is a letter that the Apostle John wrote near the end of his life. And as someone who had walked with Jesus for much of his life, John is able to lay out what is really found in the DNA of people who are in Christ.
So far in this series, we have learned that we are a movement, we are love, and we are free.
Today, we’re going to wrap up with this truth: we are bold.
Let’s pray and we’ll get after it.
Trust is based on identity. We all know that’s true. Knowing someone’s identity is the key to knowing how much you can trust them.
A couple of years ago, Nicki and I went to Tennessee, just the two of us, which was awesome. During the trip, we took a drive through Cade’s Cove, which is part of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It is one of my favorite places on this planet. The wildlife we saw was incredible: deer, wild turkeys, several bears…and one snake.
As we were walking around some of the old cabins, mills, and churches in Cade’s Cove, we saw a sign that said, “Snakes active around buildings. Watch your step.” This sign wasn’t joking. We looked down and there was a very large snake lying next to the steps of one of the cabins. And there was a dude standing there who was telling everyone else, “Stay back. That’s a Copperhead.”
Then the whole thing got hilarious. This guy had developed a pretty inflated ego because everyone was standing there, listening to him pontificate on this “Copperhead.” Then a park ranger walked by. This guy flagged him down and said, “There’s a copperhead over there.”
The ranger looked over and very calmly said, “That’s a northern water snake.”
For the uninitiated, Copperheads are venomous. Water snakes are harmless. That’s not a small difference.
I smiled and thought, “I love it when arrogant people get put in their place. This dude was the Big Man On Campus until that ranger told him how wrong he was.”
But after the ranger left, this man said…I’m not kidding…he said, “I don’t care what that ranger says. That’s a Copperhead.”
I did the smart thing and walked away, because if I didn’t, I was going to say something like this: “Are you kidding me? That man was a national park ranger. He has gone through years of intensive, rigorous training. He has to be able to identify anything that walks, flies, or crawls in this entire national park. And you…the dude in the Budweiser t-shirt…think you know more than he does??? If the ranger says it’s a northern water snake, then it is a flipping northern water snake!!!”
As I said, it’s probably best that I walked away. But I just couldn’t believe this guy’s arrogance. Why would anyone trust what he was saying when they heard a national park ranger contradict him?
Knowing someone’s identity is key to knowing how much you can trust them. When it came to identifying this snake, I’ll trust the guy wearing the park ranger badge over the dude in the Budweiser shirt. The park ranger’s identity made me trust him.
Here at Connect, one of our core values is it’s all about Jesus. Everything we do, everything we are, is all about Jesus.
It’s all about Jesus because we trust Jesus. But maybe you find it hard to trust Him. Maybe you are really struggling with the whole Jesus thing. We’re so glad you’re here. I know you may not even believe everything you hear today, and that’s okay. We’re just thrilled that you’re here and we encourage you to keep asking questions. Keep seeking the truth.
Or maybe you are a believer, but you’re still struggling with trusting Jesus in certain parts of your life.
Trust is based on identity. When we don’t fully trust Jesus, it’s because we’ve lost sight of who He is. Some of us are going to rediscover who He is today. Some of us are going to truly discover it for the first time.
We’ve been in the book of 1 John for this series. Let’s go to chapter 5 to get things started today. At first, this is going to seem like a complicated passage. But don’t worry about it, because we’ll unpack it all. This message is going to be a little heavy on teaching at first, but just hang on, because by the end you’ll see how it all applies in your life. And if you really get this, the impact in your life will be huge.
“This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.” (1 John 5:6-8, NIV)
In these verses, John gives evidence to reveal Jesus’ identity. And if trust is based on identity, then we really need to listen to how he identifies Jesus.
Specifically, John lays out three pieces of evidence that identify who Jesus is: the Spirit, the water, and the blood.
Again, at first glance, this sounds really weird. But when you dig in a little deeper, you really get a complete picture of who Jesus is. So let’s go through these three things.
First of all, John uses “the Spirit” to identify Jesus. This is a reference to the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity. God is made up of three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s job is to testify about Jesus.
In the book of John, Jesus said, “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.” (John 15:26, NIV)
The Holy Spirit’s job is to testify about Jesus. To point us to Jesus. To reveal Jesus.
Some people get all weirded out by the Holy Spirit. It sounds creepy or weird. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The Holy Spirit is who keeps us connected to Jesus. He convicts when we’re wrong. He comforts us in hard times. And He always, always, always keeps pointing us to Jesus.
And some of the ways He does that is by pointing us to the water and the blood.
What in the world is that? The blood refers to Jesus’ death on the cross for our sin. He died the death we should have died. He bled and died on a cross, even though He never sinned. He was the perfect sacrifice, the perfect sin payment. He took the punishment for our sin so we would never have to.
And the Holy Spirit constantly points us to the cross. Somebody here knows that because the Spirit is tugging on them right now. The Spirit is prompting them, whispering, “You know it’s true. You know Jesus died for you. Why do you keep running away from Him?”
Now, what about the water? What is that? That’s a reference to Jesus’ baptism. As Jesus began His ministry, He was baptized by John the Baptist. But it wasn’t just to signify that His ministry had begun. It was also a sign and an example for us.
Listen to how the Apostle Paul describes baptism in Romans 6. “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:4-5, NIV)
Baptism is when we are buried with Jesus. Our sin is nailed to the cross. We die to sin. But it is also when we unite with His resurrection. Jesus rose from the grave, and we rise to a new life.
I know some people always want to take issue with baptism. Here’s my simple response…when you see how baptism is presented in the Bible…it’s something that Jesus did as an example for us…and it’s where we unite with Him in His death and His resurrection…when you see all of that, why would you NOT want to do that? Why would you NOT want to be part of that?
Look, there is nothing magical about the water. You know what water we use for baptisms? Clermont County tap water. Nothing special about the water. It’s what the water symbolizes. It symbolizes dying to our old life, being buried with Jesus, and then receiving a new life through His resurrection.
As with anything else, if you have questions or concerns, we’re always here to talk with you. Always. We’ll talk with you, pray with you, whatever you need. But the question I would ask you to wrestle with is, “Why would I NOT take this step? Why would I NOT want to be part of that?”
Is your reluctance based on pride? Pride is a horrible motivator for anything.
Is it based on former teaching or instruction you received? We’re not bashing you or anyone who taught you. We’re just showing you what it says in Scripture.
Whatever your reason for reluctance, I can tell you this much. The Holy Spirit is not the one telling you, “Don’t do it. Don’t get baptized.”
John points out that these three witnesses aren’t in contradiction. They’re in agreement. And for someone here, the Holy Spirit is whispering, “Why are you putting this off? Why do you keep making excuses? You know what you need to do.”
Listen to what John said again. He said, “For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.” (1 John 5:7-8, NIV)
These three all testify about Jesus, and all three are in agreement. They don’t disagree with each other. They compliment each other. They agree with each other.
And when we understand their testimony, we get a full understanding of Jesus’ identity. And when we know who Jesus is, we know who we are.
The Holy Spirit points me to Jesus. He always reminds me that it’s not about me. It’s all about Jesus. It’s not about what I can do. It’s about what Jesus has done.
The water tells me that Jesus sets me free. It tells me that I don’t have to be defined by my past. Jesus has given me a new life.
The blood tells me that Jesus loves me. Regardless of what I’ve done, I am loved. There is nothing that God would not do to love me. He loves me. He will never give up on me. When I fall, He will catch me. When I fail, He will give me a second chance. He loves me that much.
When you truly get all of those things, it changes everything in your life. Let me show you why. We have this testimony about who Jesus is and what Jesus does.
Now, listen to what John said earlier in chapter 5. “…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:4-5, NIV)
Everyone born of God overcomes the world. Faith is the key to that victory. It’s an awesome idea, but it’s one that a lot of people get wrong because they stop reading too soon.
Faith is the key to victory. In other words, just believe. Just have faith, and it will all work out.
Faith in what, exactly? People have faith in all kinds of things. People have faith in themselves. They have faith in their family. They have faith in their job. They have faith in saving the environment. They have faith in their government.
And that’s not even counting all the different religious faiths that exist.
But John is very, very specific. Faith does overcome the world. It does give victory…if it’s laser centered on Jesus.
Look at what he said in verse 5. “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:5, NIV)
ONLY the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. It’s not just about faith. It’s about faith in Jesus. In who Jesus really is. In what Jesus really does.
But when our faith is laser-focused on Jesus, we have this promise. We will overcome the world. We will have victory. We cannot be stopped.
And that’s why we are bold. I know it took a long time to get there today, but this is how John lays it out. We are bold, because of Jesus. We overcome, because of Jesus. We are victorious, because of Jesus.
But once you get this…once you know that it’s all about Jesus…once you understand that Jesus sets you free…once you understand that the phrase, “Jesus loves me,” is not a cliché but instead it’s a truth that changes everything in your life…once you get this, there is a boldness, even an arrogance, that invades your life.
Listen to how John says it later in chapter 5. Look at all these big, bold words that John uses. “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:13-15, NIV)
Look at how boldly John writes these words. If you are in Christ, you can KNOW that you have eternal life. You don’t have to wonder about your eternity. Your eternity was settled on the cross and in the empty tomb.
And you can have CONFIDENCE in approaching God. Because your sin is forgiven, you can approach God confidently. You can pray audaciously. You can pray boldly.
And you can KNOW that He hears you. Your prayers aren’t just bouncing off the ceiling, even if it feels that way sometimes. You can KNOW that He hears you.
And if you are praying within God’s will, you can KNOW that you have whatever you asked for. That’s bold, isn’t it? If you are praying for something that is within God’s will, you can not just know that He hears you. You can know that you will receive it. In fact, the way John writes it, you can know that you have already received it. It’s as good as done.
There is a boldness, an arrogance, a reckless abandon to this kind of faith. But it’s all rooted in what John said at the beginning of these verses. He said, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God…”
It’s all about Jesus. When you truly understand who Jesus is and what Jesus does, it makes you bold. You are so confident in who Jesus is that it doesn’t matter who you are. You are so confident in what Jesus can do that you stop thinking about what you can do.
We’ve talked about how Jesus totally wipes out your sin. Your sin is put to death, your past is wiped clean, when you come to know Jesus. But your sin is not the only fatality when you truly know Jesus.
Fear dies right along with it. Listen to how John said it one chapter earlier in chapter 4. “In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:17b-18, NIV)
The death nail for fear is knowing who Jesus is and what Jesus does. When you understand the freedom He brings…when you grasp the love that He has for you…it makes you bold. It makes you fearless.
What fear is stopping you?
Are you afraid of what people might think of you? Flip it around. What does Jesus already think of you?
Are you afraid that you might fail? Flip it around. Even if you do fail, life in Christ is a life of second-chances.
Are you afraid that you aren’t smart enough or strong enough or good enough? Flip it around. Jesus is all of those things in abundance, so you don’t have to be.
You see what we’re driving at here? Fear has a mortal enemy. His Name is Jesus.
That’s why our church has made the bold moves that we have made. None of the moves our church has made came with guarantees attached to it. None of these moves were a “sure thing.”
But we made these bold moves because we are a church that is all about Jesus, and when you understand the perfect love of Jesus, fear is driven out. And it’s replaced by a confidence, an arrogance, in who Jesus is and what Jesus can do.
There’s a reason that we know that our best days are still ahead of us…and it’s not because we’re that good or that smart or that talented or that strong. It’s because Jesus is.
And the next time our church is faced with a difficult, tough, bold decision, we will make it. And the reason we will make it is because we know who Jesus is. And the more you know someone’s identity, the more you know how much you can trust them. Because we know who Jesus is, we know we can trust Him.
And that’s why our church won’t back off. That’s why our church won’t back down. That’s why we will keep pushing hard. That’s why we will keep taking risks. That’s why we will keep being bold. Because when you truly know who Jesus is, you can’t be anything else.
Let me ask you again. Where is fear stopping you in your life? Where have you been something less than bold? Where are you living half-heartedly? Where are you wishy-washy? And how does truly knowing Jesus turn that upside-down?
Listen to what Solomon wrote in Proverbs 28. “The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” (Proverbs 28:1, NIV)
Our family went to the zoo last week to check out all the spring flowers. It fell on my wife’s birthday, so it was perfect.
As we were walking around, Nicki stopped and said, “Did you hear that?” We all stopped and listened, and then we heard it again. It was one of the lions roaring. And it was awesome!
But the thing is, we were about as far away from the lions as you could get in the zoo. But a lion’s roar carries a long, long way. It’s an incredible sound. It’s a majestic sound. And it’s a sound that will make you stop in your tracks. A lion’s roar tells you that you really don’t want to mess with this animal.
Proverbs says it very simply. The righteous are as bold as a lion. You don’t mess with a lion. A lion doesn’t back down from a fight. And if you are in Christ, that’s who you are.
Where do you need to be a lion? Where have you been something less than bold? Where have you allowed fear or uncertainty or worry to dominate instead of faith in Jesus?
Your marriage? Your family? Your job? Your finances? Where do you need to lion up?
Do you need to be bold and have that hard conversation? Is there something that you know you’re supposed to do to help someone, but you’ve put it off because it’s going to be difficult? It’s time to lion up.
Is it that person that you know you need to talk to about Jesus? You know you should invite them to church? You know you need to open up a spiritual conversation, but you’re afraid? It’s time to lion up.
What is it in your life? Where have you been timid instead of bold…fearful instead of faithful?
Whatever you’re afraid of…whatever has intimidated you…whatever has stopped you…the answer is Jesus. Truly knowing who Jesus is and what Jesus does sends fear to the showers.
Listen to these words one more time. “The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” (Proverbs 28:1, NIV)
If you know who Jesus and what Jesus has done for you, then you know that you can trust Him. And if you know that you can trust Him, then it’s time to go all in. It’s time to be bold. It’s time to lion up!