Shelby G. Floyd
What a great song service today! There is nothing like a great song service to lift a preacher up and cause him to do the best job he can in presenting a sermon (Ephesians 5:18-19). We appreciate so much all of you singing out on those beautiful songs in praise to our God.
I am sure that all of us are very happy with the good weather and the Thanksgiving holiday we’ve had this past week. We were blessed last week to have our daughter Cheryl and Greg with us. And today we’re glad to have our daughter Teresa and John with us. We are also glad that many of you have family and visitors with you today.
Some time ago I preached a series of lessons based on the streets in the neighborhood around our church building. The people who planned this neighborhood must have been religious, because they named the streets after biblical concepts. I presented sermons on Faith Street, Melody Avenue, Hope Court and Love Avenue. The Bible declares that there is “faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). But I overlooked one of the streets around our church building-and that is the street called Victory Avenue. That is the title of this lesson.
SYMBOLS OF VICTORY
Therefore our theme today is victory! There are many symbols of victory. There is the V-sign made popular by Winston Churchill after the Second World War Victory. The “wings with wheels” are a symbol of victory for the 500 mile race here in Indianapolis. And then we have the Roman Wreath with which the victors were crowned. We also have the Nike Swoosh symbol of victory. Nike Corporation has put that swoosh on as many sports equipment as they possibly can. We all remember the Nike golf ball that came to the edge of the hole, and then fell in with “the Swoosh” being very visible. And of course for the Christian, the cross of Christ is our symbol of victory. Victory in Jesus!
In our text today the word victory is from the Greek noun “nike” [νικη]. There are several forms of this word found in other places in the Bible, including the verb form. But the thing that stands out is the fact that most of them are found in the book of Revelation. We may not understand many things in the book of Revelation, but one thing we can understand is that the church will have the victory. The church wins in the end! We shall overcome!
One of my favorite paragraphs in all the New Testament is our text today in 1 John 5:1-5:
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. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
FAITH IN THE GRAND PROPOSITION!
When we examine our text, we find that it breaks down into five parts. The first part is indicated when John said, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ…” (1 John 5:1). That is the grand proposition in the New Testament. When John mentions Jesus this is a reference to his human nature. And when he speaks of the Christ this is a reference to his divine nature—his deity. Therefore in this one verse we have the human and divine nature combined. And the grand proposition is that we must believe that Jesus was human as well as divine: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ.” The Bible declares that Jesus Christ—the Word—was manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16).
Therefore we must believe in the human nature of Christ and we must believe in the divine nature of Christ. To deny either the human nature of Christ or the divine nature of Christ is to deny the word of God. In the prologue of his biography of Christ, the apostle John declares the divine nature of Christ:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men (John 1:1-4).
The verb was is continuous action in the original language. Therefore, in the beginning the Word always was. The Word was always God. The Word was always in the beginning with God. There never was a time when the Word was not God. Jesus Christ—the Word—is just as eternal as the Father and the Holy Spirit. But in contrast to the eternal nature of Jesus Christ—the Word, we are told that the eternal Word of God “made all things.” Therefore the Godhead had no beginning, but the material universe had a beginning point in time (Genesis 1:1).
We must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And in his first letter the apostle John declares, “Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:5)? John also wrote: “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God” (1 John 4:15). Therefore, every person must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Every person today must confess with the tongue that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of living God (Romans 10:9-10). On one occasion Jesus Christ was with his chosen apostles up in the area of Caesarea Philippi. Jesus asked them, “Who do men say that I the son of man am?” They spoke up and said some say you are John the Baptist, others Elijah or one of the old prophets. We notice they gave many answers, different answers and wrong answers. When you ask people today for answers to religious questions you’re probably going to get the same kind of results. But if we really want the truth to our questions about the Christ, we must go to the word of God. Because Jesus was not any of those people that they mentioned.
Then he asked his apostles personally who they thought he really was. Simon Peter, who was impulsive, emotional and always quick to speak his mind said: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed art thou Simon bar Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this unto you, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say unto you, upon this rock I will build my church. And the Gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. But whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:13-19). What is the rock upon which the church was built? Not Peter, not the Pope and not any human being. The church is built upon the divine nature of Jesus Christ that Peter had just confessed. The church is built upon Jesus Christ– the eternal rock of God.
Therefore we must believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. If we believe that Jesus is the Christ, then we must believe that he is the Son of God. The apostle John not only declared the deity of Christ in no uncertain terms, but he also declared the fleshly nature of Jesus Christ who became one of us: “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. (1 John 4:2-3 NKJV). Anyone who denies the human nature and fleshly nature of Jesus Christ is of the spirit of the antichrist. Therefore to sum up both the human nature and the divine nature the apostle John declares, “And the Word became 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 1:14).
And so there we have it my friends. The very first proposition-the grand proposition that everybody must confess is that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God! The perfect Son of God—humanity and deity combined in the person of Jesus Christ.
THE NEW BIRTH—BORN OF GOD
This brings us to our second topic this morning. And that is every person must be born of God. That is how I got into this world—I was born into the kingdom of nature by a physical birth. In our text John declares, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5:1). This statement teaches that we must have faith in the humanity of Jesus and in the deity of the Christ. Does this mean that all we need to do to be born of God is to believe? No! When we speak of someone being born of the father, we say that child was begotten or fathered. When we speak of the mother we say that she delivered or gave birth to a child. But when we make reference to both the father and the mother we say that a child was born of Mr. and Mrs., because both are involved in the birthing process. Therefore when John says that we are to be born of God he is making reference to the entire new birth process. Along this line the apostle John added these words: “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). We must believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and this is evidence that we are born of God. And the word of God declares, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9). Does that mean that after the new birth a person does not sin? No! When one is born of God that person does not continue to live a life of sin. That is what characterizes us before we become a child of God. After we become a child of God, we will sin, but it will be an exception to our rule of life. And our God has made provision for us when we do mess up and fall short. But overall, we are going to live a different kind of life.
JESUS EXPLAINS THE NEW BIRTH
On one occasion Jesus explained the new birth to a man by the name of Nicodemus. The Scripture declares that there was a man by the name of Nicodemus. And he came to Jesus by night, and he said, “Rabbi we know that you are teacher come from God, for no man could do these miracles, except God be with him.” He was commending Jesus as a great teacher, with great teaching ability. Jesus said, “Truly, truly except a man be born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus did not understand that statement. He asked, “Can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
So Jesus explained the new birth to him, “Truly, truly I say unto you except a man be born of water and of the spirit he cannot see God.” Is a person born out of the water first and then of the Spirit? No. Even though water appears first and Spirit appears last in the statement, that does not mean it is the order of occurrence in the new birth. “Of spirit” is genitive of source. The idea is one is begotten by the Spirit and born out of the water. We are begotten by the Spirit of God. Just as in every birth, a person must first be “begotten” and then delivered forth in birth, so in the new birth we must first be begotten by the Spirit and then delivered forth “of water.”
SCRIPTURES THAT ILLUSTRATE THE NEW BIRTH PROCESS
Now I shall present unto you several verses of Scripture that declare and illustrate how this process works.
“Having Been Born Again”
1. 1 Peter 1:20-21. The apostle Peter had something to say about the new birth in one of his letters: “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.” How are we begotten—“By the word of God that lives and abides forever?” God’s word is a living word—it is alive (Hebrews 4:12). There is power in the word of God!
“He Brought Us Forth By the Word of Truth”
2. James 1:18. In his letter, James declares, “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” How does God bring us forth in the new birth? By his will as expressed in the word of truth – the inspired Scriptures.
“I Have Begotten You Through the Gospel”
3. 1 Corinthians 4:15. And then we have a statement from the apostle Paul in first Corinthians 4:15. Paul had spent a year and a half working with the church at Corinth, Greece. After he left them he wrote a letter back to them in which he declared, “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” When a Christian worker teaches someone the plan of salvation and brings that person to Christ, he then becomes like a father to them. Paul said they had many instructors but they only had one father, because he had begotten them into Christ through the gospel. Paul is basically saying to the Corinthians that he had brought them into the family of God. How did you do that Paul? By teaching and preaching the word of God. It is that plain and simple.
“He Saved Us Through the Washing of Regeneration and Renewing of the Holy Spirit”
4. Titus 3:5-6. We also have a passage in Titus describing unto us how we are born into the family of God: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” This is equal to being born of water and of the Spirit (John 3:3-5). The Bible declares that we are dead through our sins and trespasses. Therefore we need to be renewed. How are we renewed—by the word of God through the Holy Spirit and the washing of regeneration? We are regenerated spiritually when we are baptized into Christ. And then we have one more verse that bears upon this topic.
“The Washing of Water by the Word”
5. Ephesians 5:25-26. The apostle declares, “That he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that he might present her to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” This teaching corresponds with all that we have said so far. The cleansing by the washing of water by the word is simply another way of describing faith and water baptism for the forgiveness of sin.
So far, we have discussed (1) the grand proposition: we must believe that Jesus is the Christ the son of the living God—both his human and divine nature. (2) Secondly, we must be born again of water and Spirit to enter the kingdom of God. (3) And next, we must demonstrate our love for one another and for our God.
LOVE GOD AND HIS CHILDREN
Our text today declares, “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. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments” (1 John 5:1-2). Most members of the church have no problem declaring how much they love their brothers and sisters in Christ. How can we know if we are genuine when we say that? It is very simple. Our statement is genuine and true if we love God and keep his commandments. And if we do love God we will keep his commandments. We really do not love one another to the extent that we disobey and fail to keep the commandments of God. It is just like Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” If we really love one another we will love God and keep his word.
If we love God and keep his commandments, it proves that we also love one another. If we love one another it also proves that we know that love comes from God, it proves that we know God, and it also proves that we have been born of God: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).
When we love one another, we are carrying out a new commandment given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus declared to his disciples, “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). In one sense this is not really a new command. Even in the Old Testament times God’s people were taught to love one another (Leviticus 19:18). But it is a new command in the sense that Jesus demonstrated how it was to be carried out—“as I have loved you!” No one in the Old Testament died on a cross because they loved the people of God. The Lord Jesus died on Calvary, shedding of his blood because he loved us so much. This brings us to the subject of obedience which we have already mentioned. When we love God and obey his commandments we know that we love one another. God expects his people to be obedient to his will.
OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF GOD
What does it really mean to love God? In our text, the apostle John explains it for us: “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Personally, I have never really found it a burden to obey God’s instructions. They are not that difficult to understand. In fact I think we understand them really well. If someone wants to find out what it means to be burdened, try living the lifestyle of worldly people who are living contrary to the will of God. The people of the world are always experiencing some kind of trouble at various times in their life. And most of these troubles have been brought on by themselves. It is not that difficult to serve the Lord once we make up our mind: “I will serve the Lord Jesus Christ and nothing will keep me from obeying what he is told me to do!”
Everyone who obeys the Father will obey His Son as well. In the great Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared that only those will enter into the kingdom of heaven that do his will. But it is to his remarks near the end of that sermon that I direct your attention. In closing Jesus said,
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:21-23).
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus covered a lot of different topics. While at Freed-Hardeman College, Marshall Keeble spoke on the Bible lectureship. H. A. Dixon, the president of the college, introduced brother Keeble and said he would like for him to stick to his topic today. Those who had heard Marshall Keeble were aware that he would go off in many directions. But when he stood up to speak, he said, “Brother Dixon, I would be glad to stick with my topic if you can tell me what the topic was when Jesus spoke in his sermon on the mount! Everyone laughed, because Jesus covered many topics in his sermon on the mount.
But I have tried to stick with my topic today, and my topic is VICTORY!
VICTORY OVER THE WORLD
The apostle John gives us the Avenue of Victory:
“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 he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:4-5).
The word victory in our text is from the Greek word nike. No doubt this Greek word inspired the Nike company to capitalize on the idea of victory. We all remember that little golf ball that came to the very edge of the cup, and we could see the swish sign on the ball as it fell into the cup. It was victory for that player on that particular hole. Every company would like to have an advertisement like that.
But my friends, when we stand before the judgment bar of God we don’t want to just barely make it to heaven. I have heard people say, “I will be satisfied if I can just barely get into heaven.” But we might just barely not make it into heaven, and that would be tragic. I like what the apostle Peter said. He expressed that he wanted an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom (2 Peter 1:11). We should all want an abundant entrance into our eternal home.
And so, this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. What is faith? Faith is the foundation of things hoped for, and it is based on the evidence of things not seen. It is the substance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1, 6). We all understand what the prefix sub means: submarine – down under the water; subflooring – a floor under the main floor; and subterranean – down under the top of the earth. And our faith is that which stands down under our victory over the world and our hope of everlasting life.
And so we do not have a blind faith. Our faith is based on evidence. The Bible itself is based upon so much evidence that has been handed down to us over centuries. It is better documented and verified that any book that has ever been written by man. And it will live and abide forever.
Now I want to give you about four things that are involved in our victory – our nike.
1. Victory Over Temptation.
Since we are tempted every day we must gain the mastery and victory over the temptations from Satan. All of us are tempted every day to do the wrong thing. Satan tries to blind us through the blandishments and allurements of this world. He is in our face every time we turn around. The Bible says, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touch with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Did you know that Christ was tempted just like we are? Forty days and forty nights he was tempted in all points like as we are and yet he never sinned. The writer Hebrews as these words, “For in that he himself has suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). Christ was tempted and he knows what we are going through and he can help us through prayer and through dependence upon him.
And the apostle James declares, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempted he any man: but every man is tempted when he is drawn away his own lust and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringing forth death” (James 1:13-15). And so our victory starts first with victory over our temptations. Yielding to temptation results in sin.
2. Victory Over Sin.
We also want to have victory over sin. If we give into our temptations, we sin. And the word sin means to miss the Mark. In the game of dartboard your goal is to hit the bull’s-eye. Figuratively speaking, when you miss the “mark” of God’s word, we sin. The apostle John declared and explained sin:
“This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:5-10).
Therefore, we must all gain the victory over sin through forgiveness based on the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. Victory Over the World.
When the Bible talks about love not the world, it doesn’t mean that you cannot love the beautiful sky, the beautiful autumn leaves that are on the trees, the beautiful sunset on the ocean, and all the beautiful things that God has created on this earth.
Love not the world means that you do not have affection and desire for all of the things in this world that are wrong and sinful. And there are plenty of things that people love that are not right. And they are all abhorrent to those who want to live the Christian life. So again the apostle John delineates what he means by the world: “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. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
Therefore, love not the world, but love God Almighty with your whole heart. This world will pass away with a great noise. The elements will melt with fervent heat. The earth and the works therein shall be burned up (2 Peter 3:7-11). So don’t love that world. And finally, there will be one more victory that we must overcome—the victory over death!
4. Victory Over Death.
One of these days you will see my face no more. And perhaps I will see the face of some of you know more. Mitch Davis and I have often stood out by the silent city of the dead and uttered those last words where that body was laid to rest. It will happen to all of us. Scripture says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Death and judgment are two appointments that no one will miss. We will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10-11).
But this wonderful Victory-nike—that we have been talking about, involves even victory over death. We are compelled to believe this. We must believe in the victory over death through our Lord Jesus Christ. If we do not believe this, we are without hope in this world. We want to see, join and live with all of those faithful people of God in time past.
Thank God we are not left without hope. In Paul’s great resurrection chapter we hear him exclaim:
“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:55-58).
Getting up early on Sunday morning, worshiping God in spirit and in truth, and living the Christian life, when everybody around you is doing just the opposite, will not have been in vain. This will simply demonstrate your wisdom and your choice for eternal life. Everyone is encouraged to choose who you will serve even this very day. We all need to be on Victory Avenue!*
* Copyright © 2018 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd delivered this sermon November 26, 2017 at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana 46142.
Shelby G. Floyd