I John 5:10-15
In a Nutshell
John tells his readers that they know God's gift because God has given it to them.
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Consider, once again, the intense intimacy between those who believe in Jesus Christ and their Heavenly Father?
10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the confirmation in his or her own person. The one not believing God has made him out to be a liar by not believing God's own testimony which He has confirmed concerning His own Son. 11 And this is the [confirmed] testimony: God gave eternal life to us, and this life is in his Son. 12 The one who has hold of the Son has life; whoever does not grasp the Son of God does not have a hold on this life. 13 [So,] I write these things to you so that you may grasp that you have eternal life as those who believe in the name of the Son of God. 14 And this is the boldness which we have in him that when we ask for anything, according to his will he hears us. 15 And since we know that he hears us whatever we ask, we realise that we have already taken hold of what we have requested from him.
As I read through this letter, wondering whether we are actually being presented with an edited compilation of say 2 or 3 or 4 letters, it also becomes apparent that John has written about faith in Jesus Christ that is somewhat foreign to the usual way we think about these things. In his gospel, John tells us that the first inklings of his believing were when he saw the empty tomb and the "linen wrapping rolled up in a place by itself" (John 20:21) but without an understanding from the law and the prophets that the Messiah must be raised from the grave. For him not to believe would be tantamount to making God into a liar - after all Christ Jesus then came and presented Himself to the disciples and dispelled all fear, opening the way for them to receive the Holy Spirit (20:22) and to live mercifully. How could He not believe under these circumstances?
So are these the musings of an erstwhile philosopher, trying to re-jig his faith into a set of logical propositions? If they are followed with mental assent, would they not enable his readers to conclude that their intimate prayers of the Heavenly Father have been are answered? I suspect this is often how we are tempted to read this and other New Testament writings. It is possibly how many of our non-Christian neighbours will tend to interpret this document as well. This letter will be viewed as the writer's attempt to convince himself of a truth he has invented in order to maintain his pre-eminence among fellow believers. That will be seen to be why he is so intent upon passing it on to others.
There is simply one problem with that approach: John says that anyone going down that path is simply calling God a liar. In Jesus Christ, God has announced that those who believe are members of His extended family, welcomed guests into His family circle for all time and henceforth. This stupendous announcement might tempt the believer to ask: why me? Why has God granted me the inestimable privilege of grasping hold of life in His Son? John points out that it is God's action which has authoritatively confirmed eternal life bestowed on those who believe. That is why God's confirmation of Jesus Christ is self-evident for those who believe. We pray because God dearly wants to hear our requests. And with that we are confident not only of being heard but of having our prayers answered in full.