Sunday School Lesson
Lesson 7 (KJV)
PRAISE GOD FOR PAST DELIVERANCE
DEVOTIONAL READING: Psalm 107:33–43
BACKGROUND SCRIPTURE: Psalm 107 PSALM 107:1–9, 39–43
1 O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;
3 And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.
4 They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.
5 Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.
6 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.
7 And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.
8 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
9 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.
39 Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow.
40 He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.
41 Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.
42 The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.
43 Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the LORD.
They cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.—Psalm 107:6
Called to Praise God
After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:
1. State reasons for praising God.
2. Identify influences that hinder people’s recall of God’s faithfulness. 3. Prepare a journal that recounts personal experiences of the Lord’s loving-kindness.
HOW TO SAY IT
Herod Agrippa Hair-ud Uh-grip-puh.
Pharaoh Fair-o or Fay-roe.
A. Thinking and Thanking
A hymn for congregational singing was supposed to be listed in the church bulletin as “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come.” But the word Thankful was misspelled and printed as Thinkful. Most of us are quite familiar with the bulletins we are handed as we enter a Sunday morning service. Typos may seem fewer these days because of computer spell-check features used to prepare bulletins. In the previous era, however, uncorrected typos could make for “interesting” reading!
When the minister noticed the error, he was not at all bothered or upset. Instead, he used the mistake to point out that thinking and thanking go hand in hand. A thankful person is “think-full”; such an individual is always mindful of the good things God provides daily. Ungrateful people, by contrast, tend to be those who are so caught up in the busyness of life that they do not stop to consider the role that gratitude should play in their lives. The thinking person will follow the admonition of Scripture to “remember the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:18) and to “forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2). Thinking will be followed by thanking.
The ancient book of Psalms has much to teach us yet in this regard.
B. Lesson Context
Psalm 107 opens Book V, which consists of chapters 107–150 (see Lesson Contexts of lessons 5 and 9). In its transitional role, Psalm 107 also wraps up a series of longer psalms, namely Psalms 104–106. These highlight the mighty works of God in the world He created (Psalm 104) and on behalf of His people through the centuries (105; 106). The latter includes various circumstances of great need through which the Lord had shown himself able to come to the rescue of those in distress (also 107). Psalms in this group are specific in affirming the greatness of the Lord and the wonders that demonstrate that greatness (examples: 104:1, 24; 105:2, 5; 106:2). A repeated refrain in Psalm 107 serves the same purpose (107:8, 15, 21, 31; see commentary on verse 8 below).
None of the psalms in this subgroup are attributed to a specific author. However, evidence within the psalms themselves suggests that they were written following the exiles’ return from Babylon. The earliest possible writing then would be about 538 BC.
Lesson 5 spoke briefly of poetic parallelism, and some students see a certain parallelism in Psalm 107 in this manner (numerals are verse numbers):
Introduction: Call to Praise (1–3)
Stanza One Stanza Two Stanza Three Stanza Four
Situation (A1): 4–5 10–12 17–18 23–27
Despair (B1): 6a 13a 19a 28a
Rescue (C): 6b–7 13b–14 19b–20 28b–30 Thanks (B2): 8 15 21 31
Situation (A2): 9 16 22 32
Conclusion: Call to Praise (43)
The saving actions attributed to God in Psalm 107 should be considered in light of the covenant God established with the nation of Israel. That covenant promised what He would do in response both to the people’s obedience and disobedience. Blessings such as agricultural abundance and respect from surrounding nations would follow obedience (Deuteronomy 28:1–14). But curses such as disease, famine, and subjugation by enemies would come if the people abandoned the Lord for other gods (28:15–68).
I. God of the Redeemed
A. Summons to Praise (v. 1)
1. O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
This call to worship is found several places in the Old Testament (see 1 Chronicles 16:34; Psalms 106:1; 118:1, 29; 136:1). Variations of it are also noteworthy (see 1 Chronicles 16:41; Ezra 3:11; Psalms 30:4; 92:1; etc.). The text before us is in the imperative—the people must give thanks unto the Lord! At other times, the idea summarizes the tasks of those who carried out the various daily duties associated with the people’s worship (example: 1 Chronicles 16:37–42).
The theme of this verse was expressed earlier in Israel’s history when the ark of the covenant was brought into the temple at Jerusalem following its completion (2 Chronicles 5:13) and again when the temple was dedicated (7:3).
This may imply that a psalm David had given to Asaph previously is a background to Psalm 107 (1 Chronicles 16:7–8). The same may be true of the song in Ezra 3:10–11, when the foundation of the second temple was dedicated by those who had traveled to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon.
Within the Old Testament, the phrase for his mercy endureth for ever—the reason for giving thanks—is found numerous times. Psalm 136 is especially notable in this regard.
What Do You Think?
What is a new way you could give thanks to God by your actions, not just in your words or thoughts?
When will you start?
B. Reasons for Praise (vv. 2–3)
2. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.
Christians often think of being redeemed as primarily spiritual in nature, something especially accomplished by Jesus (Ephesians 1:7). But redemption in earthly terms has a long history in Israel. The formative story of the exodus from Egypt is the account of God’s redeeming the Hebrew slaves from their bondage (Exodus 6:6; 15:13; Psalm 106:9–10). The book of Ruth shows redemption in action on a smaller scale (Ruth 2:1; 4:1–6).
The redeemed come out of their dire situations because of God’s intercession. This is obvious in the exodus example; in Ruth’s case, God’s work came long before, in the form of laws that gave her the opportunity to be redeemed by a relative of her dead husband. The exiles who returned from Babylon experienced God’s restoration on a grand scale.
In these and all other situations, those who have been redeemed by the Lord must say so—that is, they must bear witness to that fact. How could the nation be a light to all peoples (Isaiah 42:6) if they never told about the wonderful things God had done for them? Those who have been redeemed from the hand of the enemy—any enemy—by God’s intercession must give Him the credit.
When Aditi’s husband became ill, she sought work from a brickmaker in their Indian hometown. He gave Aditi money for her husband’s doctor bills in exchange for the woman’s labor. However, he charged her such high interest rates that the longer she worked, the more she owed.
Eventually, her husband joined her in her work. But before they knew it, the entire family was enslaved to the brickmaker. This situation is known as peonage.
A woman approached Aditi and offered to pay off the loan and help her and her family escape the grip of the brickmaker. The woman was part of a ministry that worked to free enslaved people. Now Aditi and her family support themselves, free from the reach of their former boss, who used his power to control them.
God is ready to free us from the slavery of sin. He sent His Son to redeem us. Just as Psalm 107:2 says, He redeems us from our enemy. How often do you respond to that fact with rejoicing and thanks? —L. M. W.
3. And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.
Reading the curses in Deuteronomy 28:15–68, we notice that some of the same language is in our passage. These include being gathered from captivity in Psalm 107:2–3; and words such as “oppression,” “affliction,” and “sorrow” in 107:39 fit the circumstances described in the curses. The Lord had promised that His people would go into exile if they refused to obey Him (example: Deuteronomy 28:64). But He also promised that if the people would return to Him in their captivity, He would “gather [them] from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered [them]” (30:3).
Here the promised deliverance is celebrated; the Lord has indeed gathered His people from the four cardinal directions, bringing them home from exile (compare Isaiah 49:12). This reversal accomplishes what a previous psalm had hoped for (see Psalm 105:44). To this we can compare the future gathering of all God’s redeemed (Luke 13:29–30).
C. Time of Despair (vv. 4–5)
4a. They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way.
The reference to wandering in the wilderness brings to mind the Israelites’ 40-year punishment for failing to trust the Lord following the exodus of 1447 BC (Numbers 14:30–35). The immediate context in Psalm 107 should also remind the reader of the plight and peril of the journey into Babylonian exile of 586 BC. The word translated solitary is also rendered “desert” in Psalms 78:40 and 106:14, thus strengthening the image of desolation and hopelessness.
4b. They found no city to dwell in.
No matter where they wandered, the people had found no city to dwell in for refuge and permanency in terms of the 40-year punishment. During the later exile to Babylon, they traveled until their captors told them they had reached their destination (compare Psalm 137:1).
5. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.
When one has insufficient food and water, the impact is more than just physical. The results are felt deep within; despondency and hopelessness soon dominate one’s very soul.
D. Time of Deliverance (vv. 6–9)
6. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.
The turning point for those in trouble and distresses wasn’t the Lord’s deliverance—the turning point was repentance. The people’s cry unto the Lord was one of faith that accompanied such change of heart (compare Ezekiel 14:6). The word delivered echoes the concept of redemption found in Psalm 107:2.
What Do You Think?
In what ways do you need to change your prayer life so that you don’t call on the Lord only in times of distress?
What would be the likely result of not making such a change?
7. And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.
The people’s wandering (Psalm 107:4, above) was replaced by a clear direction from the Lord. Whereas before they had nowhere to put down roots, they found a city of habitation, perhaps a reference to returning to Jerusalem (compare and contrast Hebrews 11).
Of course, Jerusalem needed a lot of work before it was safe again, let alone functional (see Ezra 1:2–4; Nehemiah 2:5, 17). But if the Lord could bring them back to the city, He could certainly ensure that it was rebuilt and habitable (Ezra 6:13–18; Nehemiah 6:15).
Family members packed their things, gathered the children, and fled. They made their way across a national border, eventually settling on the other, “safe” side. There Ella was born. She was a toddler when violence again threatened her family.
The family moved to a refugee camp. Life there was safer. However, food and clothing were scarce. And as a refugee, Ella had no citizenship. So when Ella got the chance to emigrate, she took it.
Ella met and married another refugee. They joined a church full of people who also had fled unrest and danger. Ella used her gifts to help start a children’s program. And in addition to her citizenship in God’s kingdom, Ella was granted citizenship in her new home country.
God led Ella throughout her life. You may never have been a person without a country, but there are times when you have felt alone and afraid. Do you take credit yourself for your rescue, or do you give credit to God? —L. M. W.
8. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
The experiences recorded in the previous two verses are just a sample of countless examples of the Lord’s goodness. The Lord’s wonderful works are not and never have been limited to one generation or period of history.
9. For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.
In Isaiah 29:8 the word translated longing here occurs in context of lack of water. The verse before us suggests this as well when seen as parallel with Psalm 107:5, above. Lack was replaced with adequate means of sustaining life.
The message of the verse is clear: the Lord is willing and able to reverse peoples’ circumstances (compare Nehemiah 1:9). Jesus’ ministry was full of examples of His acting on behalf of suffering people (Matthew 4:23–25; etc). And in the first-century church, we see quite a surprising reversal: the acceptance of Gentiles into the kingdom of God (Acts 10:44–48; etc).
What Do You Think?
When the voiced prayers of gathered Christians are almost exclusively concerned with physical rather than spiritual needs, what should you do?
How do Colossians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:1–2; and James 5:16 inform your response?
II. God of Reversals
A. Humbling the Mighty (vv. 39–40)
39. Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow.
Psalm 107:33–38 (not in today’s lesson text) further recounts the Lord’s reversals of distress to blessing; see also the stanza layout in the Lesson Context. It is He who can bring about or allow a fruitful land to become barren as punishment for wickedness, which might manifest as spiritual apathy or outright idolatry (compare Psalm 107:33–34; Haggai 1:1–11).
Those who had once flourished under God’s blessing didn’t seem to learn the lessons of previous generations. So a cycle of oppression, affliction, and sorrow would begin anew; this is a major theme of the book of Judges. Though Israelite numbers had increased (see Psalm 107:38, not in our lesson text), disobedience resulted in their population being minished (as in “diminished”).
It’s tempting to do an in-depth study of the three words “oppression,” “affliction,” and “sorrow” individually to try to get at what specifically was involved with each one. But such an approach runs the danger of missing the bigger picture of the cumulative effect of those three (compare the same cumulative effect of “sword,” “famine,” and “pestilence” in Jeremiah 14:12 and numerous other passages).
Reversals of life situations as seen throughout Psalm 107 served God’s disciplinary purposes. But they were not His desire. What He desired all along was obedience. The sharpest examples of this discipline are the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles (2 Kings 17:6–23 and 2 Chronicles 36:15–21, respectively).
40. He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.
Princes, referring to the royal line of rulers, are not exempt by their status from God’s discipline (Luke 1:52). Humbling of the powerful and mighty is demonstrated throughout Scripture: consider Pharaoh (Exodus 14), Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:20–37), Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4), and Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:20–23).
What Do You Think?
What specific practices can a Christian adopt to honor God’s contempt for the powerful unrighteous while also honoring His desire for our obedience to authorities (Romans 13:1–6)?
What elements of Daniel 6:1–10 speak to this?
B. Honoring the Meek (v. 41)
41. Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.
The humbling of princes (above) stands in sharp contrast to the Lord’s lifting of the poor. This language brings to mind the reversals described in the prayers of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:5–8) and Mary (Luke 1:46–55). In both Old and New Testaments, God’s people celebrated His concern for the downtrodden. Though “Mary’s Song” is usually considered during the Christmas season, we can and should celebrate by remembering her trust throughout the year: “He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever” (Luke 1:54–55).
C. Heartening the Wise (vv. 42–43)
42. The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.
The righteous are those who follow the Lord’s ways and view people and situations as He does (examples: Genesis 6:9; 15:6; Deuteronomy 6:25). Such people see the series of circumstances described in the previous verses and rejoice to see such reversals take place (see expanded expression in Psalm 97:10–12). They know that these circumstances have not happened as the result of mere chance or luck. The Lord is the true ruler of the world, and He can reverse people’s situations. Those guilty of iniquity are left speechless (compare Romans 3:19).
43. Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the LORD.
Wise people get that way as they observe the things described in the previous verses and see in them manifestations of the lovingkindness of the Lord. The Hebrew word translated as “loving-kindness” is a form of the word translated “mercy” in Psalm 107:1 and “goodness” in 107:8, 15, 21, 31. This indicates an obvious theme throughout Psalm 107, as the chapter is bookended with an emphasis on God’s mercy, or loving-kindness.
Some of the Lord’s actions described in this psalm (such as pouring contempt on princes in 107:40, above) may not seem very loving. But they reflect a system of corrective justice and judgment that a loving, caring God set in motion to uphold His principles of righteous conduct. Human beings are not left to wonder what God’s standards are. As Moses declared in Deuteronomy 29:29,
The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. God’s loving-kindness is demonstrated to all people (Matthew 5:45). But the wise have a greater understanding of and gratitude for how much that loving-kindness impacts daily life.
A. Continue to Praise
God’s consistent loving-kindness and provision of care for those who faithfully honor and serve Him must not be overlooked. Jesus spoke of blessings provided for those who seek first “the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). That must be tempered, however, by the awareness that even in times when such provisions are lacking, God’s presence and grace have not been denied to the faithful. This too is consistently taught in Scripture (examples: 2 Corinthians 9:10–11; 12:7–10; Philippians 4:15–19).
God can and does still bring to pass the reversals found within this psalm, such as providing relief for the hungry (Psalm 107:9) and delivering the poor from their poverty (107:41). These are times to celebrate! But gratitude to God is always meant to be part of our spiritual demeanor (1 Thessalonians 5:18). It is not to hinge on whether material needs (or wants!) are supplied. The physical side of life does indeed matter, but it is not the only dimension of reality. Paul expressed the tension clearly: “though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16; compare Philippians 2:7–11).
For Christians, there is always the most important reason for giving thanks: our redemption in Jesus (Colossians 1:12–14; 1 Peter 1:3–5). Hope in our future resurrection gives us reason both to celebrate the work Jesus did on the cross and the work the Spirit continues to do in our lives, preparing us for an eternity of praise to God.
What Do You Think?
Which concept or imperative in today’s lesson do you have the most trouble coming to grips with? Why?
How will you resolve this problem?
Father, we thank You for the record in Scripture of Your power to deliver Your people. Help us, we pray, to deepen our understanding of Your love toward us and model Your ways to others. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
C. Thought to Remember
We can never praise the Lord too much!
1 John 5:13-21
(1 John 5:13) These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
John wrote his gospel to help people come to believe in Jesus as the Christ (God’s promised Messiah, the Anointed One). John also wanted to give his readers good and sufficient reasons to believe in Jesus as the Son of God. John wanted his readers to learn and believe the truth about Jesus so by believing in Jesus that they might receive the gift of eternal life. As he concluded his gospel, in John 20:30-31, John wrote, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” [Note: in the writings of John, “life” and “eternal life” often mean the same. See the International Bible Study Commentary on the Gospel of John.]
As John concluded his first letter, he stated that he wrote his letter because he wanted to help those who believed in Jesus Christ. All three of his letters were written to believers in Jesus. He wanted to teach believers more about Jesus and the Christian life so those who already believed “in the name” of the Son of God might know (have assurance) that they have eternal life. [Note: as this letter concludes, give particular attention to how often John wants his readers to know (have assurance) of certain important truths.] To believe “in the name” means to believe in and trust in the nature, character, power, and wisdom of someone. In the case of Jesus, believing in the name of Jesus includes trusting in Jesus’ love and willingness to help everyone, especially those who believe in Him. To believe in Jesus’ name is to place your faith in His significance as the Son of God with the result that you entrust your life and future to Him with a commitment to obey His commandments as Lord and God. The word “believe” means “to live in accordance with.” To believe in Jesus includes living in accordance with all His teachings, living in accordance with all He revealed about the Father and the Holy Spirit, and living with a true understanding of the nature of reality as God created the world, as the world has become, and as the world will be someday when Jesus returns visibly as King of kings. To emphasize the fact that believing involves more than an intellectual state of mind, Jesus often spoke about following Him. A believer will follow Jesus as a sheep follows a shepherd, as John described in his gospel. Consider the Gospel of John, chapter 10, and especially John 10:26-28, “You do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.”
(1 John 5:14) This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
John wanted the followers of Jesus Christ to know that when they talk to Jesus or when they pray to Jesus that they can do so with boldness as a child of God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. A follower of Jesus does not need to approach Jesus or the Father with fear and trembling, because they have been forgiven for their sins and they have received the gift of eternal life through faith in the name of Jesus. Here, John stated a condition for Jesus to hear and answer our prayers. We must ask for things that are in accordance with the will of Jesus, the will of God. Briefly, before we pray for anything, we can first pray for Jesus to reveal the will of God to us so we can pray according to His will. We also need to remember that God has revealed His will to us with many precious promises and commands in the Bible. For example, when we pray the Lord’s Prayer as Jesus taught in the Bible, we have assurance that what we pray is in accordance with the will of God (see Matthew 6). John also explained how believers should pray according to the will of God in 1 John 3:21-23, “Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.”
(1 John 5:15) And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
Because Jesus is the Son of God and His Father is our Father, the Holy Spirit will teach us how to pray as we ought; therefore, we know (have assurance) that God hears us when we pray. Remember what Paul wrote in Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” When believers pray according to the will of God, believers know (have assurance) that God will do what God has said He will do. These believers have obtained their requests, but time may need to pass for God to put everything in place for them to see His answer. Consider these words in James 1:5-6, “If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” Believers know that if they pray according to this promise of God in the Letter of James that God will give them what they ask. When they ask God for wisdom, God gives them wisdom, but they also know that wisdom cannot be completely given in an hour or a day. God gives wisdom to believers when believers need wisdom, and wisdom accumulates or increases over time as believers pray, love, and obey Jesus. John wants us to know (have assurance) that we will obtain what we request when we pray according to the will of God or pray for the will of God to be done as Jesus taught His disciples in the Lord’s Prayer.
(1 John 5:16) If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.
A mortal sin is a deadly sin, a sin that can ultimately lead to physical and spiritual death if persistently practiced. A sin persisted in can lead to physical death from various natural consequences. Disobeying any of the Ten Commandments persistently can lead to physical and spiritual death. Thankfully, by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit a person who has persistently practiced sin can repent, turn to God, and pray to Jesus the Son of God for salvation from sin. From Jesus, they can receive forgiveness of sin, cleansing from sin, freedom from slavery to sin, and the gift of eternal life among many other blessings in this life and beyond this life. Because they love God and others, Christians can and will pray for those who do not know God and practice sin. They will pray that a person who chooses to practice sin will repent (turn from) practicing sin and turn to Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Probably, the most mortal sin would be the sin of persistently rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God and persistently refusing the gift of eternal life that He promises to give those who believe in Him as their Lord and Savior. Life is in Jesus. Eternal life is in Jesus. Eternal life is believing in the name of Jesus and loving and following Jesus as one of His sheep. The sin of persistently rejecting Jesus Christ can be compared to what Jesus taught in Matthew 12:31-32 about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the One who leads sinners to understand the good news about Jesus and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”
I think John is telling us that a follower of Jesus Christ does not need to persistently pray for someone who continues to resist the Truth and persistently reject Jesus Christ, the Son of God. With the limited time believers have in this life to pray and serve God, many more will be helped by the prayers of believers when believers pray for sinners as the Holy Spirit leads them to pray. The Bible and the Holy Spirit must be the believer’s guide in praying for fellow believers and slaves of sin who need to come to Jesus for salvation and forgiveness of sins.
(1 John 5:17) All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.
In 1 John 3:4, John wrote, “Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” Some will persist in lawlessness and persisting in lawlessness will lead to death. Persisting in lawlessness is a mortal or deadly sin. Here, John reminded his Christian friends that all wrongdoing is sin, but some wrongdoing is not mortal. A sinner or a believer who has done wrong can come to Jesus, pray to Jesus, grieve over their sin (even as they have grieved the Holy Spirit), repent or turn from their sin (the Holy Spirit will help them do so), receive God’s forgiveness for their sins, receive cleansing from their sins, receive freedom from slavery to sin and the evil one, and know that God has restored them to a right relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Believers can pray for those who seem to persist in sin and for those who seek to be freed from slavery to sin. The prayers of believers can help sinners come to believe in and know Jesus is their Redeemer, Friend, and Shepherd.
(1 John 5:18) We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.
John returned to reminding believers in Jesus of what they know (that they might have assurance of Christ’s faithfulness to them in this world). Those born of God or born again or born anew are believers in and lovers of and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ—they are children of God the Father. They do not practice sin or persist in sinning, though they are still subject to temptations from the world, the flesh, and the devil that they sometimes succumb to temporarily. They are not lawless. Lawlessness and disobedience are not their state of heart and mind. If they sin, they immediately feel sorrow and guilt and want to restore a right relationship with God the Father and Jesus. The One who was born of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, will protect them by leading them to experience sorrow and true moral guilt when they sin to lead them to repentance. He will lead them to turn from their sin and ask Him for His forgiveness. He will give them assurance of His forgiveness and peace with God. He will move them to pray for His power to help them do right and obey His commands when tempted in the future. Believers also receive help in avoiding and overcoming sin from the prayers of others who are born of God. The prayers of believers can help other believers overcome temptations and return to obeying Jesus. The Bible calls this the process of sanctification.
Briefly, believers are saved from sin and death and given eternal life by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (which is called justification). Believers are being saved from practicing sin by trusting in Jesus and the truth of God’s Word (the Bible). Furthermore, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit who abide in them and with them will empower them and free them from slavery to sin (a process which is called sanctification). When Jesus Christ comes again and raises His followers from the grave, believers will be saved: they will be like Jesus (which is called glorification). John looked to the future in faith knowing that those who are born of God will be glorified someday; therefore, they do not sin, and they will never sin again.
John did not need to repeat the Apostle Paul’s words in his letter, but they taught the same truths. Consider what Paul wrote to believers in Romans 6:19-23, “I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity (persisting in sinning), so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification. When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul briefly explained sanctification once again in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, saying the believer’s sanctification (our living lives that are set apart for the Lord Jesus Christ and His service) depends on the Holy Spirit who indwells the believer and their belief in the truth: “But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The evil one cannot do ultimate harm or bring death to a follower of Jesus Christ because God indwells them. The evil one does not “touch” them; therefore, if a believer sins, they cannot give the excuse, “the devil made me do it.”
(1 John 5:19) We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
If you love and follow Jesus Christ, John wants you to know (have assurance based on facts) that you are a child of God. Therefore, even though the whole world lies under the power of the evil one and you temporarily live in the world, the evil one cannot touch you (cause you to do evil and sin). Though this whole world lies under the power of the evil one, we know that at the right time Jesus Christ will return and be manifested to the world as the Holy One in ultimate power and authority. Paul described Jesus’ coming in 1 Timothy 6:15, “which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” In the Book of Revelation, John also described Jesus as the “the King of kings and Lord of lords.” Until Jesus returns, in the world a battle between the evil one and its followers will rage against the Lord Jesus Christ and His followers. In Revelation 17:14, John wrote, “They (those united in yielding their power and authority to the beast) will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.” Know that as a follower of Jesus Christ, you are chosen and (will be) faithful as He is faithful. When Jesus returns and the whole world sees Jesus, they will see Him as John described in Revelation 19:16, “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, ‘King of kings and Lord of lords.’” The evil one will exercise power in this world until evil is finally defeated. The battle continues, but the ultimate victory belongs to Jesus and His followers. The evil one does not touch Jesus’ followers because God indwells them and God will not permit the evil one to touch His children: they will be sanctified and glorified no matter what the evil one tries to do as part of the spiritual battle. Though the world lies under the power of the evil one, which explains why we see evil seemingly increasing in the world, John would have believers pray for one another as the Apostle Paul prayed for those he wrote to in Ephesians 3:18-21, “I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Remember: the evil one cannot touch a true follower of Jesus Christ because those born of God are “filled with all the fullness of God,” and every believer prays as Paul prayed.
(1 John 5:20) And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
John wanted those who love and follow Jesus Christ to know (have assurance) that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and His Father sent Him into the world as a real human being to teach the truth, to suffer and die as an atoning sacrifice for sinners (to save them from sin and death), and to rise from the dead and ascend into heaven to give them eternal life, the Holy Spirit, and life with Him and all God’s children forever. The followers of Jesus know and believe the facts about Jesus Christ. They believe the facts about His first coming and His promised second coming are truthfully revealed in the New Testament. They know that Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit have given them understanding of the Word of God written, and They will continue to give them understanding as they pray and obey and study the Bible. They know Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are the Truth and what They have revealed in and through the Bible is true. They know that all the fullness of God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) abides within them and they abide within the loving presence of the One God in Three Persons. Finally, John summarized once again without reservation that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Jesus Christ is True. Jesus Christ is the true God. Jesus Christ is eternal life.
(1 John 5:21) Little children, guard yourselves from idols.
John seems to end his first letter strangely, but the opposite of what John just wrote would be turning from Jesus Christ and turning to idols. Whatever we make more important than loving and obeying Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, the King of kings and Lord of lords, is our idol. With a term of endearment, “Little children,” John tells us, his readers, to have nothing to do with idols, but love, follow, and serve Jesus Christ the true God. Belief in Jesus Christ is not a belief in an idol, but belief in the true God.
The Believer’s Assurance of Eternal Life
Sunday, October 17, 2021
1 John 5:13-21
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:13—KJV).
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13—NASB).
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 (1 John 5:13—NRSV).
The Apostle John stated his reasons for writing his gospel and his letters. As he concluded the Book of John, he wrote in John 20:31, “But these (signs) are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” The Spirit of God inspired John to write so people could hear the good news about God’s Son; then, believe in Jesus the Messiah, and have eternal life. John went two steps further as he concluded his first letter. He wrote so the followers of Jesus would know and have assurance that they have eternal life. No follower of Jesus Christ needs to doubt whether they have eternal life now and will live forever with God. John wrote to remove all doubts. The children of God experience eternal life now as the Spirit of God loves, comforts, empowers, and gives them the assurance that Jesus abides with them and will remain with them forever. John also wanted his readers to know that God always hears and answers their prayers. In 1 John 3:19-24, John wanted believers to know that they will receive from God whatever they ask because they “obey His commandments and do what pleases Him.” John wrote that believers could come boldly before God in prayer, ask for anything according to the will of God, and “know that he hears us in whatever we ask,” and because He hears us “we know that we have obtained the requests made of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
The Believer’s Assurance of Eternal Life
Sunday, October 17, 2021
1 John 5:13-21
1. Who did John write His letters to? Did he also write His letters to you? Explain your answer.
2. Why did John write 1 John?
3. Having studied 1 John, did he achieve his purpose in your answer to Question 2. for you? Explain your answer.
4. Why do the followers of Jesus have boldness when they pray?
5. How do the followers of Jesus know they have obtained their requests?
The Believer’s Assurance of Eternal Life
Sunday, October 17, 2021
1 John 5:13-21
True and False Test
The Believer’s Assurance of Eternal Life
Sunday, October 17, 2021
1 John 5:13-21