Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Dec 6 2020 - 1 John 5:1-21 – Whoever has the Son has life

The Christian gospel can sometimes sound very arrogant – as if we Christians alone have the answer to all of the world's problems. John makes a bold statement of this sort in 1 John 5:12 when he says, "Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life."

We need to be careful that such statements do not lead to arrogant and intolerant attitudes. This is not a statement about Christians – that we've got it all right and everyone else has got it all wrong – it's a statement about Christ. In equally striking fashion, John says of Jesus Christ at the end of his letter, "He is the true God and eternal life" (5:20). There is no one else like Jesus: He is the true God come in the flesh; he is Immanuel, "God with us". He is the source of true life: resurrection life; eternal life. He is the one who said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). As C S Lewis said, one who can make such statements cannot be brushed off as a wonderful teacher or fine moralist; he is either mad, or he is bad, or he is truly the one he claims to be. It is the unique person of Jesus Christ who stands at the centre of the Christian message.

So, when John says "Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life", he is reminding us that Jesus is the source of life – eternal life, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (5:11). To embrace him is to receive life. This should not be the source of arrogance and intolerance but of humble thankfulness and praise. It should also make us determined to live the life that is ours in Christ – to turn away from sin and to live for him.

Moreover, we will want to invite the world to come and find life in Jesus – life in all its fullness. John writes, “this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (5:11). This is our testimony and this is the message we have for a world that is under the deadly control of the evil one (5:19). Far from having a sense of superiority, we should be marked by the compassion that moved John Wesley often to say, "Let me commend my Saviour to you."

John concludes his letter with the plea, "Dear children, keep yourselves from idols" (5:21). There is no one else like Jesus Christ. We need to make sure that he is the unrivalled Lord of our lives.

Lord Jesus, we recognise that there is no-one like you. You are the one in whom the living God has appeared in a perfect human life; we want our lives to be filled with the life of God; we want to live the life that appeared in you. You became the atoning sacrifice for our sin; we thank you that we are forgiven and welcomed into the embrace of Father God. Help us to turn away from all that nailed you to the cross; keep us from sin. You were raised from the dead; we thank you that, in fellowship with you, we share in that resurrection life now and we shall know that life in all its fullness when you appear. You have overcome the evil one; help us to overcome his malevolent influence in this world – to push back the dark realm of his kingdom with the light of your presence. Help us to keep ourselves from idols and may our testimony to you be used to turn many others from idols to serve the living and true God.

Peter Misselbrook