LESSON 11 - TOTAL CONFIDENCE (1 JOHN 5:13-21)
Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All Scripture references
are to the NIV unless otherwise noted. Suggested answers are
found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses
INTRODUCTION: I hate to see 1 John come to an end! This week our
study is the last 9 verses of 1 John 5. The good news is that we
will move on to 2nd and 3rd John in the next two weeks.
I. CONFIDENT FUTURE
A. Some time ago I read a portion of the Valuegenesis report
which asked our young people in the Church if they had
confidence they were saved. The number who said they believed
they were saved was astonishingly low.
1. Should we teach Church members, young and old, that
they can have confidence they are saved?
a. Why? What is the purpose of this?
B. Have you ever worked on a project where you doubted the
ability of those who were in charge and there was a general
attitude that this project was not going to come out right?
1. What is the result of such doubt?
2. Isn't doubt good if the project is not going right?
C. Let's read 1 John 5:13-14. Does John want us to have
confidence? (Yes! One theme of his book is the two paths--the
path of light leading to eternal life and the path of darkness
leading to eternal death. Throughout his book he has been
giving us "reality checks" so we can know which path we are
on. Finally he says, "This is true. You can know it, believe
it and have confidence in it. You can take this message to the
bank (of eternal life, that is)!)
D. John says in v.13 he is writing to those "who believe in
the name of the son of God." Why should we believe in the
name? Why not believe in the Son? (This goes back to 1 John
2:12: "Your sins have been forgiven on account of his name."
See also, 1 John 3:23: "And this is his command: to believe in
the name of his Son, Jesus Christ...." Jesus' name is the
essence of who He is. In John 20:31, John says that Jesus is
the Christ, the Son of God "and that by believing you may have
life in his name!")
II. CONFIDENT PRAYERS
A. Let me re-read v.14 and add v.15. Does this confidence that
we just discussed extend to our prayers?
1. Can we be sure we will get favorable answers to our
a. Or does John just promise us we will get a
"hearing" on our prayers?
2. Do you sometimes feel like God does not hear your
3. I am always inclined to do what my wife asks me to do.
Sometimes she "claims" to have asked me to do something
which I did not hear. (My children almost always "claim"
they did not hear!) Hearing the request is the crucial
initial step to answering a request.
a. If God hears us, does John say He will give us
what we ask? (v.15 Yes!)
b. Does John place any conditions on God hearing our
requests? (Yes. "If we ask according to his will,
he hears us.")
B. I find this to be a most interesting statement about
prayer. At least on the surface, John does not say that God
hears everything and then exercises judgment over what He
answers. He says that if God hears your prayer, He grants your
request "--whatever [you] ask--." However, God does not hear
your request unless you ask "according to his will."
1. Do you understand why this distinction exists?
(I do not. Some may argue (validly) that "hearing" really
means "hearing favorably," and therefore I am making an
artificial distinction. However, if hearing literally
means perceiving, if I were in charge, I can certainly
see two advantages to this system. First, wouldn't it be
nice not to have to spend your time considering requests
that you would reject? Wouldn't it be nice just to know
that you should answer every request you hear, and not
worry about any others? I would like that. Perhaps this
is some celestial "screening device" of God that is
beyond the imagination of man. Second, a person may get
mad at me if I consider, but do not grant, his request.
It sure would be a lot easier if I never heard the
requests I would deny. The person with the denied request
would not take it personally, because I just did not
C. However "God's end" of this prayer question works, our
practical concern is with "our end" and John tells us God does
not hear our requests unless they are "according to his will."
1. How do we know whether our requests are "according to
2. How do we make our requests "according to his will?"
(The obvious answer is that we have to first know God's
will. This gets back to the very first part of this book.
In 1 John 1 we are told about the path of light brings us
in "fellowship" with God. This fellowship helps us to
know God. As a result, in 1 John 2:3 John says that we
"have come to know him if we obey his commands." It
would seem then, that our prayer requests should be in
accord with God's commands.)
D. If God is only going to give us things "according to his
will," what is the point of asking? (Our lesson has a great
question, "What kind of relationship is one that is simply a
list of requests?" If we just come dragging in this long,
boring list of requests every morning and night, God must be
"thrilled" to "hear" this. But if we have the attitude that
we are co-workers with Him who are working out a battle-plan
in prayer for advancing His will here, now that would be
something to hear! Thus, the point of asking is to become co-
laborers with God in advancing His kingdom.)
III. INTERCESSORY PRAYERS
A. Let's find out more about prayer, read vv. 16-18. These
texts seem to say that we can (and should) pray for our fellow
Christians when they are involved in certain sins but not
1. What sins are "OK" to pray for?
2. How do you know which sin "leads to death?"
3. Is there a hierarchy of sin? Is some sin worse than
other sin? (Our lesson suggests that all sin can be
forgiven except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mark
3:29), and therefore downplays the distinction made by
John. I think the better view is to fit what John says
here with what he has been saying all along. He has
continually been talking about the two paths: one leads
to eternal life and the other to eternal death. Since he
says that those on the path of eternal life will sin (1
John 1:8), and in fact indicates that those who deny this
are on the path of darkness), why not say that sin that
does not lead to death is the sin of those who are on the
path to life? Thus, his injunction is to pray for fellow
believers who are on the path of life, but are struggling
with sin. They struggle as they progress on the path of
light. This fits perfectly with v.18 which says those
born of God do not continue to sin. There is an end to
the path of light. It is eternal life without sin. This
simple explanation avoids creating some ornate theology
about the various (and doubtful) hierarchies of sin.)
B. John connects not "continu[ing] to sin" with being kept
safe by Jesus ("the one who was born of God"). How are these
two related? (Jesus rescues us from sin. He rescues us from
the practice of sin by changing our attitude, and He rescues
us from the punishment of sin.)
IV. SAFE HARBOR
A. Read vv. 19-20. John says the whole world is under the
control of the devil. But we are children of God.
1. What do yo call a situation when good children are in
the hands and under the control of evil people? (Sounds
like a kidnapping! A hostage situation.)
a. What reason does John have to tell us we are
hostages held in hostile territory?
B. Is victory promised to us? (Verse 20 says that despite the
current situation, we are on the side of the true God who will
give us eternal life! This belief in the "long view" of the
path of light is essential. If we did not look at life in the
context of eternity, we would bow to the one who is in control
of the world here and now.)
C. Read v.21. What an awful way to end the book. Can you make
any sense out of this? Was the bottom of the letter torn off
by accident? Did some very early scribe fall asleep before he
copied all of John's letter, and then later forgot he had not
finished? (Although this seems very strange at first, John is
saying that all of these false teachings on the false path are
idols that turn our allegiance away from the true God. He is
really saying in closing: stay the course with the true God!)
V. NEXT WEEK: "Don't Lose Out!" Study 2 John!