Supporting Scripture: Isaiah 55:6; 34:16; Luke 2:15-16; Malachi 3:1; John 5:44, Psalm 69:32
“Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.” Isaiah 55:6 KJV These words are a command from God, and they speak of immediacy.
“. . . the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethelhem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the LORD has made known to us.” Luke 2:15-16. NKJV. The “Wise Men” were also seekers; following the evening star.
Are you a “SEEKER”? When does one’s seeking begin and when does it end? Seeking is immediate, continual, and it does end. Until that time, we are to search (seek). Let no one boast in their Salvation and of having been born again, God forbid – and He does!
“Search (seek) from the book of the LORD, and read: Not one of these shall fail; not one shall lack her mate, for My mouth has commanded it, and His Spirit has gathered them.” Isaiah 34:16. NKJV This prophecy deals with: God will destroy His enemies. We’re not only told to seek all things through the Word of God, we’re to be in the Word of God immediately, continually. Bible study is imperative. It is a time of fellowship – with our Lord. We should not quit our search for knowledge and understanding of His Word and His Will. He hasn’t stopped leading us, why would we stop seeking Him?
So, what are we to be “seeking?” Specifically: His name, His Word, His face, His strength, His commandments, His precepts, His Kingdom, His Righteousness, all of which bring us to this time of the First Advent. Seeking Christ who first sought us. “Behold, He is Coming, says the LORD of hosts.” Malachi 3:1.NKJV
“How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?” John 5:44. NKJV Where do I seek Him – in addition to the above? Seek Him in His house, seek Him in prayer; while He may be found (again, immediacy); seek Him with all your heart in the day of trouble.
“The humble shall see this and be glad; and you who seek God, your hearts shall live.” Psalm 69:32 KJV
As I said above, our seeking is immediate, continual, and it does end. When does it end? “Seek and it shall be opened onto you.” When we are with Him in His Kingdom. Amen. Stay in His Word, Worship and Prayer.
INTRODUCTION - THE BIRTHMARKS OF A BELIEVER
Scriptural Passage: 1st John 5:13; 20:31; 1:4; 2:1; 2:26
This is the first of a series of six articles; save them and review them in their finality – like having all the pieces of the puzzle one see the full picture. 1st John 5:13 KJV, “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.” Here in 1st John, he is writing to those who already believe.
John 20:31 KJV, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.” Here in John, it's written “that you might believe.”
Let’s work our way from the beginning of the Book of 1st John to see the purpose of this book.
TO PROMOTE JOY IN OUR LIVES: 1ST John 1:4 KJV, “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” Do you have that joy?
TO PREVENT SIN: 1ST John 2:1 KJV, “My little children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin not.” The word of God says that God has given us this book of the Bible to prevent sin. Understand, Christians are no sinless, but they should sin less.
TO PROTECT THE SAINTS: 1ST John 2:26 KJV, “These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.” Christ sent the Holy Spirit to teach believers and remind them of all they’ve been taught. Let the Holy Spirit lead you and guide you.
TO PROVIDE ASSURANCE: 1ST John 5:13, KJV, “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.”
Let’s consider “The Birthmarks of a Believer.” If one is a believer, there should be certain birthmarks in his/her life; and they should be easy to find in your life. These birthmarks should identify you with Jesus Christ. This DOES NOT mean you should have marks in order to become a Christian, [these birthmarks] are to present evidence that you’re a Christian.
Allow God’s Word to speak to your heart and see if these birthmarks of a believer are evident in your life.
THE BIRTHMARK OF OBEDIENCE - I
Scriptural Passage: 1st John 2:3 – 6, KJV. “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not him. But whoso keepeth His Word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.”
This first birthmark is the “Birthmark of Obedience.”
Ask yourself: Do I have it? Do I have an obedient heart? Understand; obedience is not simply doing the will of God; it is delighting in doing the will of God. Obedience is a wonderful birthmark.
There are many people who say they are Christians but have no desire to obey the Lord or follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. They lack that evidence in their Christian lives. Do you have the birthmark of obedience in your life? Read the Scriptural passage (above) once again.
That said. Do you ever stop to think how many people are counting on some religious experience to get them to heaven but have not real steadfast assurance?” They are holding to some fragment of religion. May the Spirit of Jesus Christ speak to each of us and reveal whether or not we have this birthmark of a believer – the birthmark of obedience to God.
How can one be sure he/she belongs to Christ? This passage provides two ways to know: A Christian should do what Christ commands and live as Christ wants him/her to live. And what is it that Christ tells us to do? Moving from 1st John to the Book of John 3:23: we are taught, “Believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another.” True Christian faith results in loving behavior; that’s why John says our behavior can give us that Blessed Assurance that we carry [in our heart, in our Christian walk] the birthmark identifying one as belonging to Jesus Christ.
THE BIRTHMARK OF LOVE - II
Scriptural Passage: 1st John 3:14-19 KJV. Supporting Scripture: Matthew 5:21-22; Hebrews 12:15; John 15:13; James 2:14-17. 1st John 3:14-19 KJV. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the Truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him."
This is the second birthmark and it is: The Birthmark of Love, 1st John 3:14-19.
We find that some people are kinder than other people. Some people have more winsome personalities than do others. Some people are more approachable than others. So, what is God talking about here? He speaks about loving others with the love of Jesus Christ. That (agape) love that Jesus demonstrates continually. Understand, “love” is not a word; love is a deed. It is a commitment. It is one of the identifying birthmarks of a believer.
Apostle John echoes the words of Jesus, that the one who hates another person is a murderer at heart (Matthew 5:21-22). Christianity is a religion of the heart; outward compliance alone is not enough. The birthmark of love is conspicuous by its absence, i.e., it’s not visible, but by its demonstration (love from the heart) it is indeed a birthmark of a believer. Because it is not visible because it’s of the heart, it is seen in the behavior.
That said, bitterness against another person who has wronged you is an evil cancer within you and will eventually destroy you. Don’t let “a root of bitterness” (Hebrews 12:15) grow in you or the church. Real love is an action, not a feeling. It produces selflessness, sacrificial giving. The greatest act of love anyone can do is to give him/her self for others. How can we lay down our lives?
Sometimes it’s easier to say we’ll die for others than to truly live for them, which involves putting other’s desires first. Jesus taught this same principle of love in John 15:13.
The verses within this passage give us an example of how to lay down our lives for others. The Christian must show his/her love, and one way to do that is to provide money or material possession to help meet others’ needs. This is strikingly similar to James’s teaching (James 2:14-17). How clearly do your actions say you really love others? Are you as generous as you should be with your money, possessions, and time?
CONSIDER: Many are fearful that they don’t demonstrate love toward others as they should. They bring guilt upon themselves because they think they’re not doing enough to show proper love to Christ. Their conscience bothers them. In our Scripture, John had these people in mind when he wrote this letter. How do we escape the gnawing accusations of our conscience? Not by ignoring them, or rationalizing our behavior, rather by setting our hearts to rest in God’s love.
If we feel guilty, we should remind ourselves that God knows our hearts as well as our actions. His voice of assurance is stronger than our conscience.
OUR TEACHING: Romans 8:1; Hebrews 9:14-15, If we are in Christ, He will not condemn us. So, if you are living for the Lord but feeling that you aren’t “good enough,” remember that God is greater and your conscience.
BIRTHMARK OF TRUTH - III
Scripture Passage: 1st John 4:1-6. KJV. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God: he heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." Supporting Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 14:29; 2 Peter 1:20-21.
This is the third birthmark and it is: The Birthmark of Truth. 1 John 4:1-6.
This passage is telling us, we shouldn’t believe everything we hear just because someone says, “It’s a message inspired by God.” Check your teacher to see if their message is truly from God. Check their words with what God says in the Bible; and their commitment to the body of believers, their life-style, the fruit of their ministry. But the most important test is – what they believe about Jesus Christ. Our world is filled with voices claiming to speak for God. Many, when first encountering the reality of the spiritual world, are too impressed and amazed to ask whether the words [teachings] truly are of God. This leads to easy deception.
If there has ever been a day when people want to talk about God without talking about the Lord Jesus Christ being God, this is that day! How often we hear people say, “We need to trust God. We need God in our lives. We need to pray to God.” If you’re a Christian, avoid expressing yourself in this way. Use the title [with assurance & commitment], “The Lord Jesus Christ.” Express your faith in Christ. Pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today, we are passionate about saying, “Jesus is God,” and we should be. But it is no less important to say, “Jesus is a man,” because both the deity and humanity of Jesus are ESSENTIAL to our Salvation.
Today a person might confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh yet deny that He is God while the Bible teaches, He is God. They also are giving false doctrine because they are not presenting a true Jesus.
Some people believe everything they read or hear. Caution!! Many false teachings are printed and taught yet they are not true. We need our faith but don’t be gullible. If the message is truly from God, it will be consistent with Christ’s teachings. Amen? Amen!
Evil is obviously much stronger than we are. John assures us, that God is much stronger yet. He will conquer all evil – and His Spirit and His Word live in our hearts! So, understand, false teachers are popular with the world because, like the false prophets of the Old Testament, they tell the people what they want to hear. This encompasses some TV preachers and ministries today.
What are we to do? John warns that Christians who faithfully teach God’s Word will not win any popularity contests in the world. People don’t want to hear their sins denounced; or hear demands of changing their behavior. You can spot a false teacher if he/she is well received by non-Christians who never are won to Christ.
Some don’t deny Jesus in word, but deny Him in deed. Some don’t deny Him with their lips, but deny Him in their behavior which betrays the fact that they are Christians. This is not the way Christ would respond. This is not the way Christ would speak. Let each “Christian” ask him/her self: Do I have the birthmark of TRUTH in my life?”
BIRTHMARK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT - IV
Scripture Passage: 1st John 4:13 KJV. “Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.” Supporting Scripture: Romans 5:5; 8:9; 8:16; 2nd Corinthians 1:22; John 14:26.
This fourth birthmark is the Birthmark of the Holy Spirit.
Let’s make sure, that we do not make more or less of this than what God says here. The Holy Spirit is a Person. Just as you know people in your life and you can call them by name and you can get well acquainted with some of them, we need to be acquainted with the Person of the Holy Spirit.
Do you know the Holy Spirit? John 14:26. “. . . the Holy Spirit, who the Father will send in my name.” This is why we employ the term: The Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. This is a birthmark of the believer: His indwelling presence is a birthmark of the true believer.
There are other religions and other people who talk about God and their religious experiences. But they don’t talk about the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to enable them to live the Christian life. Nor do they talk about being filled with the Holy Spirit. They have no understanding of being baptized by the Spirit of Jesus Christ into the body of Christ at the moment of Salvation. They can’t relate to the spiritual anointing by the Holy Spirit to do the work of God. Finally, they don’t speak of the earnest of the Holy Spirit as He comes to abide in the believer forever!
When we become Christians, we receive the Holy Spirit. God’s presence in our lives is a proof that we really belong to Him and give the Power to love. Rely on that power as you reach out to others. If you lack assurance of your Salvation, listen to the Holy Spirit within you.
This birthmark can be witnessed by others who are believers. Have you ever met a person of God – and you feel you met the Holy Spirit in him/her? There are other spirits, but there is only one Holy Spirit who is coequal, coexistent, eternally existent with God the Father and God the Son. This is the Holy Spirit, who is God. This is the birthmark of a believer.
THE BIRTHMARK OF THE WITNESS WITHIN - V
Scriptural Passage: 1st John 5:9-13. KJV. “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which He hath testified of His Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." Verse 13: “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.”
This fifth and final birthmark is: The Birthmark of the Witness Within
Some people hope they will be given eternal life. John says we can know we have it!
Let me focus your attention on verse 13 [above]: When speaking of ‘knowing for sure,’ this passage is telling us “You can know for sure – the ‘assurance of your Salvation.’” Yes, we can know, but we are taking the verse completely out of context. Notice the expression, “These things.” What are “These things?”
Notice it does not say, “This verse is written.” The Bible does not say, “This verse is written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know . . .” However, this is the way we tend to read it.
We read it and try to use it as if it says, “This verse is written.” But it does not say, “This verse is written.” It does say, “These things have I written. . .” The point is: It summarizes the entire book. A quick review. The five “Birthmarks,” each found in a different chapter, “obedience, love, truth, Holy Spirit, the witness within.” If these five birthmarks which God clearly points out in His Word are in your life, then God says, “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.”
This Salvation is instantaneous. The Lord Jesus Christ comes to live in your life, in your heart. At that moment, you are regenerated as you trust Him as your Lord and Savior, repenting of your sin, and by faith trusting Christ and Christ alone. God makes Himself known to you. He reveals His Son to you and He comes to live in your life. Understand, eternal life is not based upon feelings, rather it’s based upon facts. You can know you have eternal life if you believe God’s truth.
Let me close this series on “Birthmarks of a Believer” – you have this Blessed Assurance by having these birthmarks in your life – the BIRTHMARKS OF OBEDIENCE, LOVE, TRUTH, THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND THE WITNESS WITHIN.