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The Positivism of John (13 of 23)
Series: The Hope of the Gospel
1 John 5:18-20
John's object in writing this epistle has been to confirm and strengthen faith. He is himself perfectly frank about it. All John's writings were written with a definite purpose. 'These things are written,' he says about his gospel, 'that ye may believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that believing ye may have life in His name.' 'These things have I written unto you,' he says about this letter, 'that ye may know that ye have eternal life.' The purpose of the gospel and of the epistle is not exactly the same, and the difference is accounted for by the difference in the people to whom gospel and epistle were respectively addressed. The gospel was addressed to a wider constituency than the epistle. The gospel was addressed, not to Christians only, but to those who were not Christians as well, and its object was to quicken faith. The epistle was addressed to those who already believed on the name of the Son of God, and its object was to strengthen faith and create assurance.
In this last paragraph John keeps that main purpose of his still in view. To create the feeling of assurance in the hearts of his readers he feels moved, before he lays his pen finally down, to remind them of three great certainties which he shares in common with them, and which, taken together, furnish a broad and stable foundation for faith. He introduces each great positive with the phrase 'We know.' Here they are: 'We know that whosoever is begotten of God sinneth not'; 'We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in the evil one'; 'We know that the Son of God is come.' Or, as Dr. Findlay paraphrases them-treating them as if they were the apostle's personal creed-'I believe in holiness; I believe in regeneration; I believe in the mission of the Son of God.' Only that word 'I believe' is scarcely energetic enough. All this was not matter of speculation to the apostle. It was not a ca ...
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