New Believer's Series (22) — Loving the Brothersby Watchman Nee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The Gospel of John was the last Gospel written, and the Epistles of John were the last Epistles written. Before the Gospel of John there are three Gospels, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which cover many acts and teachings of the Lord Jesus. The Gospel of John shows us the highest and most spiritual things concerning the coming of the Son of God to earth. It tells us clearly what kind of people can receive eternal life. It repeatedly says that those who believe have eternal life. The Gospel of John is full of the matter of believing. A person receives eternal life when he believes. This is the subject and emphasis of the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John pays special attention to things that the other Gospels do not cover. John 5:24 says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, He who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life, and does not come into judgment but has passed out of death into life." In other words, those who hear and believe have passed out of death into life. Here the door of the gospel is very wide.
When we come to the Epistles, Paul, Peter, and the other apostles also explain faith in a very clear way. They show us that every believer can receive grace. Yet when we come to the final Epistles, the Epistles written by John, we find the emphasis shifting to other things. While the other Epistles pay much attention to a man's faith in God, John emphasizes one aspect of practical conduct before God. His Epistles speak of love. The other Epistles say that those who believe are justified, forgiven, and cleansed. But John's Epistles say that a person's faith must be evidenced by his love.
If we ask someone, "How do you know that you have eternal life?" he may answer, "God's Word says so." But this is not quite enough. He may have spoken it out of his mental knowledge; he may not have truly believed in God's Word. Therefore, John shows us in his Epistles that if a man says that he has eternal life, he must prove it. If a man says that he is of God, others must witness some kind of manifestation or testimony in him.
A person may say, "I have believed; therefore, I have eternal life." He may say this based on his knowledge. He can make the process of believing and having eternal life a formula: First, one hears the gospel; second, he understands; third, he believes; and fourth, he knows that he has eternal life. But this kind of formulaic "salvation" is not trustworthy. The Bible tells us that at the time of Paul there were false brothers (2 Cor. 11:26; Gal. 2:4). False brothers are those who call themselves brothers but are not actually brothers. Some claim to be of God but are actually void of life. They make their way into the church through doctrines, knowledge, and certain regulations. How can we know whether or not a person's faith is genuine? How do we know whether a person's faith before God is living or merely a formula? What way is there to prove who is of God and who is not? The Epistles of John settle this problem. John gave us a way to differentiate between true brothers and false brothers, between those who are born of God and those who are not born of God. Let us look at John's way of discernment.
There are only two passages in the Bible which contain the phrase out of death into life. One is in John 5:24, and the other is in 1 John 3:14. Let us make a comparison between these two portions.
John 5:24 says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, He who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life, and does not come into judgment but has passed out of death into life." Here it says that he who believes has passed out of death into life.
First John 3:14 says, "We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brothers." This verse speaks of the proof of one's having passed out of death into life. The proof is love for the brothers.
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