1 John 3:23
And this is His commandment: that we should believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and we should love one another just as He commanded us.
The Sign of Brotherly LoveR. Finlayson 1 John 3:13-24
Answers to PrayerJ. Vaughan, M. A.1 John 3:22-24
Faith a WorkJ. M. Gibbon.1 John 3:22-24
God's One CommandmentM. F. Sadler, M. A.1 John 3:22-24
On the Importance of Faith in Christ and Love to ChristiansEssex Remembrancer1 John 3:22-24
Righteousness Essential to Our Pleasing God and to His Hearing UsR. S. Candlish, D. D.1 John 3:22-24
The Conditions of Power in PrayerC. H. Spurgeon.1 John 3:22-24
The Warrant of FaithC. H. Spurgeon.1 John 3:22-24

And hereby we know that we are of the truth, etc. Our text suggests the following observations.

I. THAT CONSCIENCE EXERCISES A. JUDICIAL FUNCTION IN MAN. By "our heart" in the text St. John means, as Alford says, "the heart as the seat of the conscience, giving rise there to peace or to terror, according as it is at rest or in disquietude.... The heart here is the inward judge of the man." Many are the definitions of "conscience." "Man's conscience is the oracle of God." "Conscience is God's monitor in the soul of man." "The sense of right." "God's vicegerent in the soul." Dr. Whewell: "Conscience is the reason employed about questions of right and wrong, and accompanied with the sentiments of approbation and condemnation." The function of conscience is not to give the Law unto us, but to pronounce whether we have kept the Law or not. "It is the great business of conscience," says Archbishop Leighton, "to sit, and examine, and judge within; to hold courts in the soul; and it is of continual necessity that it be so." It is most important that we bear in mind that for us conscience is not an infallible guide in the ethics of conduct. Some of the darkest crimes that were ever committed have been sanctioned by conscience. Saul of Tarsus was conscientious in his fierce persecution of the early Christians. "I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the Name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26:9-11). And in subsequent ages many a persecutor has resembled him in this respect while perpetrating the most revolting cruelties. That the judgment of conscience may invariably be true and perfect it must needs be regulated by the revealed will of God, and be inspired by the Holy Spirit. We should take the will of God in Christ Jesus for our law; and then let conscience, quickened by the Spirit of God, exercise its judicial function in condemning or approving us in our relation to that law.

II. THAT WHEN, IN THE EXERCISE OF ITS JUDICIAL FUNCTION, CONSCIENCE CONDEMNS US, MUCH MORE ARE WE CONDEMNED BY THE HOLY GOD. "For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things." To my mind these words suggest two important considerations.

1. Our conscience is an imperfect judge, but God is absolutely and infinitely holy. Conscience has undoubtedly suffered by reason of human sin. Its judgments arc not always of the most exalted character. As a judge it is sometimes partial. Sometimes it allows what if it were perfectly pure it must condemn. But "God is greater than our heart." His righteousness is perfect. Sin in every form is utterly abhorrent to him. His holiness is without the slightest spot or the faintest shadow. The greatness of his mercy towards the sinner does not lead him to excuse any sin. If our heart condemn us, how much more does be? If our conscience, which is but a faint and imperfect echo of his voice, condemn us. bow much more does he?

2. Conscience may not take cognizance of every sin, but God "knoweth all things." There are sins which escape the vigilance of conscience. A man's secret sins may be of three classes:

(1) those which are unknown to his fellow-men, but known to himself;

(2) those which are not recognized as sins by himself, but are so viewed by his fellow-men; and

(3) those which are not regarded as sins either by himself or his fellow-men. But no sins whatever are hidden from God. "His eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings. There is no darkness," etc. (Job 34:21, 22); "He hath set our iniquities before him, our secret sins in the light of his countenance." If, then, our conscience with its imperfect information, condemn us, how much more must he who "knoweth all things"! "If conscience be as a thousand witnesses," says Dr. Arrowsmith, "the all-seeing God is as a thousand consciences."


1. Confidence in God as to its nature. "Hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before him." It is the firm persuasion, the assurance, of the heart that we are his children, and that we may look to him to be to us and to do for us all that he has promised to be to and to do for his children. Or, if we view it as indicated by the twenty-first verse, it is the confidence that he does not condemn us, but that he accepts us now and will own us in the great day. How precious is this assurance!

2. Confidence in God springing from the exercise of holy love and the approbation of conscience. "Hereby shall we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him." The "hereby" refers to what has gone before. He who loves neither in word nor with the tongue, but in deed and truth, may know that he is "of the truth," etc. "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren;" "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light." Again, St. John speaks of this assurance towards God as springing from an approving conscience (verse 21). Apart from the approbation of the inward monitor, we cannot look Godward with confidence or with joy.

3. Confidence in God inspiring the conviction that he will answer our prayers to him. "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do the things that are pleasing in his sight." The keeping of his commandments is not meritorious; it does not give us a claim upon him for the blessings which we ask in prayer; but it is an indication of character which shows that the suppliant will ask only what is in accordance with his will. That we "do the things that are pleasing in his sight" is a guarantee that we shall desire only those things which he will be pleased to bestow upon us (cf. 1 John 5:14, 15; Psalm 37:4). Having the assurance that we are his children and endeavouring to please him, we are persuaded that the wise and gracious Father will answer our prayers to him. - W.J.

And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments
I. THE ESSENTIALS OF POWER IS PRAYER. We must make a few distinctions at the outset. I take it there is a great difference between the prayer of a soul that is seeking mercy and the prayer of a man who is saved. I would say to every person present, whatever his character, if you sincerely seek mercy of God through Jesus Christ you shall have it. Qualifications for the sinner's first prayer I know of none except sincerity; but we must speak in a different way to those of you who are saved. You have now become the people of God, and while you shall be heard just as the sinner would be heard, and shall daily find the needful grace which every seeker receives in answer to prayer, yet you are under a special discipline peculiar to the regenerated family. There is something for a believer to enjoy over and above bare salvation; there are mercies, and blessings, and comforts, which render his present life useful, happy, and honourable, and these he shall not have irrespective of character. To give a common illustration: If a hungry person were at your door, and asked for bread, you would give it him, whatever might be his character; you will also give your child food, whatever may be his behaviour; you will never proceed in any course of discipline against him, so as to deny him his needful food, or a garment to shield him from the cold; but there are many other things which your child may desire, which you will give him if he be obedient, but which you will not give if he be rebellious to you. I take it that this illustrates how far the paternal government of God will push this matter, and where it will not go. Understand also, that the text refers not so much to God's hearing a prayer of His servants now and then, for that He will do, even when His servants are out of course with Him; but the power in prayer here intended is continuous and absolute power with God; so that, to quote the words of the text, "whatsoever we ask of Him we receive." For this prayer there are certain prerequisites.

1. The first is child-like obedience: "Whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments."

2. Next to this is another essential to victorious prayer, viz., child-like reverence. We receive what we ask, "because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight." Suppose any of us should be self-willed, and say, "I shall not do what pleases God, I shall do what pleases myself." Then observe what would be the nature of our prayers? Our prayers might then be summed up in the request, "Let me have my own way." And can we expect God to consent to that?

3. In the third place, the text suggests the necessity of child-like trust: "And this is His commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ." Let us come back to our family similitudes again. Suppose a child in the house does not believe his father's word; suppose, indeed, that he tells his brothers and sisters that his faith in his father is very weak. He mentions that wretched fact, but is not at all shocked that he should say such a thing, but he rather feels that he ought to be pitied, as if it were an infirmity which he could not avoid. I think a father so basely distrusted would not be in a very great hurry to grant such a son's requests; indeed, it is very probable that the petitions of the mistrustful son would be such as could not be complied with, even if his father were willing to do so, since they would amount to a gratification of his own unbelief and a dishonour to his parent. Expect not, therefore, to be heard when your prayer is suggested by an unbelieving heart: "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass."

4. The next essential to continued success in prayer is child-like love: "That we should believe on the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another as He gave us commandment." We should abound in love to God, love to Christ, love to the Church, love to sinners, and love to men everywhere. You must get rid of selfishness before God can trust you with the keys of heaven; but when self is dead, then He will enable you to unlock His treasuries, and, as a prince, shall you have power with God and prevail.

5. Next to this, we must have child-like ways as well. "He that keepeth His commandments, dwelleth in Him, and He in him." It is one of a child's ways to love its home. Suppose one of you had a boy, who said, "Father, I do not like my home, I do not care for you; and I will not endure the restraints of family rule; I am going to live with strangers. But mark, father, I shall come to you every week, and I shall require many things of you; and I shall expect that you will give me whatever I ask from you." Why, if you are at all fit to be at the head of the house, you will say, "My son, how can you speak to me in such a manner? If you are so self-willed as to leave my house, can you expect that I will do your bidding? If you utterly disregard me, can you expect me to support you in your cruel unkindness and wicked insubordination. No, my son; if you will not remain with me and own me as a father, I cannot promise you anything." And so it is with God.

6. One thing more: it appears from the text that we must have a child-like spirit, for "hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us." What is this but the Spirit of adoption — the Spirit which rules in all the children of God? The Holy Spirit if He rules in us, will subordinate our nature to His own sway, and then the prayers which spring out of our renewed hearts will be in keeping with the will of God, and such prayers will naturally be heard.

II. THE PREVALENCE OF THESE ESSENTIAL THINGS. If they be in us and abound, our prayers cannot be barren or unprofitable.

1. First, if we have faith in God, there is no question about God's hearing our prayer. If we can plead in faith the name and blood of Jesus, we must obtain answers of peace. But a thousand cavils are suggested. Suppose these prayers concern the laws of nature, then the scientific men are against us, What of that? The Lord has ways of answering our prayers irrespective of the working of miracles or suspending laws. Perhaps there are other forces and laws which He has arranged to bring into action just at times when prayer also acts, laws just as fixed and forces just as natural as those which our learned theorisers have been able to discover. The wisest men know not all the laws which govern the universe, nay, nor a tithe of them. If there be but faith in God, God must either cease to be, or cease to be true, or else He must hear prayer. The verse before the text says, "If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God; and whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him." He who has a clear conscience comes to God with confidence, and that confidence of faith ensures to him the answer of his prayer.

2. But next, love must succeed too, since we have already seen that the man who loves in the Christian sense is in accord with God. God always hears the prayers of a loving man, because those prayers are the shadows of His own decrees.

3. Again, the man of obedience is the man whom God will hear, because his obedient heart leads him to pray humbly and with submission, for he feels it to be his highest desire that the Lord's will should be done.

4. Again, the man who lives in fellowship with God will assuredly speed in prayer, because if he dwells in God and God dwells in him, he will desire what God desires.

5. And here, again let us say, our text speaks of the Christian man as being filled with God's Spirit: "We know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us." Who knows the mind of a man but the spirit of a man? So, who knows the things of God but the Spirit of God? And if the Spirit of God dwells in us, then He tells us what God's mind is; He makes intercession in the saints according to the will of God.Practical improvement:

1. The first is, we want to pray for a great blessing as a church. Very well. Have we the essentials for success? Are we believing in the name of Jesus Christ? Are we full of love to God and one another?

2. Next, are we doing that which is pleasing in God's sight?

3. The next question is, do we dwell in God?

4. Lastly, does the Spirit of God actuate us, or is it another spirit?

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. "We keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight." So John writes; and so also Jesus speaks (John 8:29). The language is the very same; the sense and spirit in which it is used must be the very same also. Jesus uttered the words for our sakes; and as expressing a human feeling which we may understand, and with which He would have us to sympathise. That human feeling in the bosom of Jesus must have been very simple and intensely filial; realising intensely His filial relation to the Father and His filial oneness with the Father. There is, if I may venture so to speak, a child-like simplicity, a sort of artless straightforwardness, in His saying so confidingly, so lovingly, so naturally, "I do always those things that please Him." He has the Cross in view. Men, displeased with Him, are to "lift Him up," and leave Him to die in His agony alone. Not so the Father. He leaves me not alone; He is with me; "for I do always those things that please Him." Somewhat similar are the circumstances in which John would have us to say; "we do those things that are pleasing in His sight." Oh! to be converted, and become as little children! First, to be made willing as little children, that all this misunderstanding should be ended, and this breach thoroughly healed at once, and once for all, as the Father would have it to be, in the Son. And then, as little children, to know something of a little child's touching and artless simplicity, as we look with loving eye into the loving eye of the Father, and lovingly lisp out the touching words: "We keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight."

II. "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him." In this saying also we have the countenance of Jesus (John 11:41, 42). "Thou hearest me always!" It is a blessed assurance. And the blessedness of it really lies, not so much in the good he gets from the Father's hearing him, as in the Father's hearing him itself; not so much in what he receives, as in his receiving it from the Father. For this is the charm, the joy, the consolation, of that access to the Father and that influence with the Father which you now have in common with the Son. It is not that you may enrich and gratify yourselves with what you win by asking from Him. But it is literally that whatever you ask you receive of Him, as His gift; the proof that He is ever with you and heareth you always. Ah! how then shall I ask anything at all? If such is my position, in and with Christ, how shall I have the heart or the hardihood to ask anything at all of the Father, except only that He may deal with me according to His good pleasure? If I am really on such a footing with the Father that "He heareth me always," and "whatsoever I ask I receive of Him"; if I have such influence with Him; if, as His dear child, pleasing Him, and doing what pleases Him, I can so prevail with Him that He can refuse me nothing; what can I say? What can I do? I can but cast myself into His arms and cry, Thou knowest better than I, oh my Father! Father, Thy will be done.

(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)

We must make a wide distinction between a cause and a condition. The cause of anything is the actual reason why it is — the source from which it flows. The condition is something which comes in afterwards — super added — to limit and to guide the actings of the first cause. Just, for example, as the rain is not caused by the particular state of the atmosphere, but it depends upon it; and there must be a certain rarity in the air, without which the rain would not fall. This is its condition. In like manner, "keeping the commandments" is not the cause of our prayers being answered, but it is the condition. Your prayers will not be answered unless yon "keep the commandments." If we ask, "what is the reason why any prayer prevails with God?" the explanation lies very deep. You will find it among the grandnesses of the Holy Trinity. It is because God is a Father, and therefore of Himself loves to listen to His children's petitions, and to give them everything they ask. It is because every believer praying, prays in Christ — he presents Christ — he is in Christ. Hence the almost omnipotence of prayer. It is because whatever true prayer goes up to the throne of God, it is the Holy Ghost who prays it. Thus the whole Trinity meets to make the prayer of the weakest Christian, and this is the cause why prayer gets answered. Who has not asked of God a great many things? Who does not believe that many, at least, of the things which he asks are the legitimate, nay, the covenanted subjects of prayer? Who has not the evidence of his own heart that for many of these things, at all events, he has prayed, and is praying very earnestly. And yet, who has not to feel "My prayers are not answered; I do not obtain what I ask"? And who has not wondered why it is thus with his prayers? Now what is the reason? Certainly the cause cannot be in God; it must be in you. But where in you? I answer deliberately — in your life, in your heart. In some way or other, you are not "keeping" some "commandment," you are not "doing those things that are pleasing in His sight." Let us now pause upon the thought that the life rules the prayer — that according as you are holy, so wilt you receive answers to your prayers — that the condition of prayer is obedience, and without obedience prayer loses its prerogative. If a man is leading a religious life — not grieving his conscience — a man of pure thoughts and holy pleasures — that man grows into such a state of mind that he will only wish such things as God has promised to give him, he will not desire many temporal things; but his tastes will be spiritual, therefore his prayers are always keeping within the bounds of the promises. He will not ask nor long for anything which is not after the will of God to give. The Spirit which is in him will take care of that for him.

1. And here is the first grand secret of the success of a good man's prayer, which arises out of a conformity of his mind to the mind of God, and that conformity of his mind to the mind of God arises out of his daily habits of life.

2. Secondly, blessings may be ready to come down, and they may pour, but unless your heart be in a right state to receive them, they will pour in vain. The heart is hard, and they cannot come in; or it is so crowded that there is no room; or it is so weak that there is no holding. Now any state of wilful sin puts the heart in that state. Hence, prayer cannot be answered — for even should the answer come, it will not find entrance.

3. Thirdly, remember this; that when God says that a man must "keep His commandments" if he will have his prayers answered, part of the commandments is faith in Jesus Christ; and therefore the passage runs thus in very emphatic order — "Whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ."

4. And then fourthly, it is quite evident that what God gives to those who are leading a godly and devoted life, He gives to the promotion of His own glory; because, either directly or indirectly, they will use the gift for the extension of His kingdom, and this gives a plain reason why their prayer should be granted. For shall God give to a man whose life has two faces — one face in practice, and another face in prayer? Shall He give to a sheer hypocrite?

5. And once more, why should not our heavenly Father do what all fathers do, love to give His good things to the child who tries to please Him most, and who delights in His society?

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

And this is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another
Essex Remembrancer.

1. It is necessary to obtain pardon of sin.

2. It is necessary to produce purity of heart.

3. It is necessary to promote vital union with God, the fountain of life and felicity.


1. Let us consider the nature and extent of that brotherly love which the gospel inculcates and demands. It is esteem, complacence, compassion, benevolence.(1) Love is evinced by sincerely sympathising with our Christian brethren in their sufferings.(2) Love is evinced by cheerfully communicating of our substance to relieve the wants of our Christian brethren.

2. The grounds and obligations of brotherly love.(1) Faith in Christ, and love to Christians are represented as closely and inseparably connected.(2) There is an express and very particular command of Christ, enjoining brotherly love upon His followers.(3) The basis of our obligation is the cause of God.There are two cases to which this subject may be applied.

1. Let it serve as a test or touchstone of our personal piety.

2. Let this subject rouse us to more seriousness, activity, and zeal.

(Essex Remembrancer.)

The true believer has learned to look away from the killing ordinances of the old law. He turns with loathing from all trust in his own obedience and lays hold with joy upon the hope set before him in the one commandment contained in my text.

I. THE MATTER OF BELIEVING, or what is it that a man is to believe in order to eternal life? That faith which saves the soul is believing on a person, depending upon Jesus for eternal life. We must believe Him to be God's Son — so the text puts it — "His Son." We must grasp with strong confidence the great fact that He is God: for nothing short of a Divine Saviour can ever deliver us from the infinite wrath of God. Furthermore, we must accept this Son of God as "Jesus," the Saviour. We must believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became man out of infinite love to man, that He might save His people from their sins. We must look upon Jesus as "Christ," the anointed of the Father, sent into this world on salvation's errand, not that sinners might save themselves, but that He, being mighty to save, might bring many sons Unto glory. Moreover, we should rejoice that as Jesus Christ, by His dying, put away forever the sin of His people, so by His living He gave unto those who trust in Him a perfect righteousness, in which, despite their own sins, they are "accepted in the Beloved." We are also taught that if we heartily trust our soul with Christ, our sins, through His blood, are forgiven, and His righteousness is imputed to us. The mere knowledge of these facts will not, however, save us, unless we really trust our souls in the Redeemer's hands.

II. THE WARRANT OF BELIEVING. This is the commandment, that ye "believe on His Son Jesus Christ."

1. First, negatively.(1) That any other way of preaching the gospel warrant is absurd. Are we to go running up and down the world proclaiming life to the living, casting bread to those who are fed already, and holding up Christ on the pole of the gospel to those who are already healed?(2) To tell the sinner that he is to believe on Christ because of some warrant in himself, is legal. If I lean on Christ because I feel this and that, then I am leaning on my feelings and not on Christ alone, and this is legal indeed.(3) Again, any other way of preaching than that of bidding the sinner believe because God commands him to believe, is a boasting way of faith. When we tell a sinner that filthy as he is, without any preparation or qualification, he is to take Jesus Christ to be his all in all, finding in Him all that he can ever need, we leave no room for self-glorification, all must be of grace. Law and boasting are twin brothers, but free grace and gratitude always go together.(4) Any other warrant for believing on Jesus than that which is presented in the gospel is changeable. Since everything within changes more frequently than ever does an English sky, if my warrant to believe in Christ be based within, it must change every hour; consequently I am lost and saved alternately. Can these things be so?(5) Again, any other warrant is utterly incomprehensible. Multitudes preach an impossible salvation. Personally, I do not remember to have been told from the pulpit to believe in Jesus as a sinner. I heard much of feelings which I thought I could never get, and frames after which I longed; but I found no peace until a true, free grace message came to me, "Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth."(6) Yet again, I believe that the preaching of alarms of conscience and repentance as qualifications for Christ is unacceptable to the awakened sinner. Oh, I am ashamed of myself when I think of the way in which I have sometimes talked to awakened sinners. I am persuaded that the only true remedy for a broken heart is Jesus Christ's most precious blood.(7) Any other warrant for the sinner's faith than the gospel itself, is false and dangerous. It is as false as God is true, that anything in a sinner can be his warrant for believing in Jesus. There cannot be a true and real hatred of sin where there is not faith in Jesus. All the sinner knows and feels before faith is only an addition to his other sins, and how can sin which deserves wrath be a warrant for an act which is the work of the Holy Spirit. How dangerous is the sentiment I am opposing. Take care of resting in your own experience. All that is of nature's spinning must be unravelled, and everything that getteth into Christ's place, however dear to thee, and however precious in itself, must he broken in pieces. Sinners, Jesus wants nothing of you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; He gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as ye are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity He addresses you, "Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out."

2. But now, positively, and as the negative part has been positive enough, we will be brief here. "This is the commandment." Do you want any warrant for doing a thing better than God's command to do it? The command to believe in Christ must be the sinner's warrant, if you consider the nature of our commission. How runs it? "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." It ought to run, according to the other plan, "preach the gospel to every regenerate person, to every convinced sinner, to every sensible soul." But it is not so; it is to "every creature." Then how is it put? — "He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned." Where is there a word about the prerequisites for believing.(1) I shall only add, that the blessings which flow from preaching Christ to sinners as sinners, are of such a character as prove it to be right. Do you not see that this levels us all? We have the same warrant for believing, and no one can exalt himself above his fellow.(2) Then how it inspires men with hope and confidence; it forbids despair. No man can despair if this be true; or if he do, it is a wicked, unreasonable despair, because if he has been never so bad, yet God commands him to believe.(3) Again, how it makes a man live close to Christ! If I am to come to Christ as a sinner every day, and I must do so, for the Word saith, "As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him"; if every day I am to come to Christ as a sinner, why then, how paltry all my doings look! what utter contempt it east upon all my fine virtues, my preachings, my prayings, and all that comes of my flesh I and though it leads me to seek after purity and holiness, yet it teaches me to live on Christ and not on them, and so it keeps me at the fountain head.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Every thoughtful reader of the Word of God must have been struck with the very great importance that the sacred writers attach to names. In the opening chapter of the Sacred Volume we read of God giving" their names to the works of His hands: "God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night." The very first thing that Adam, the first man, does, is by God's direction to give names to all God's creatures. Then, when God entered into covenant with Abram, He changed his name from Abram to Abraham. When God wrestled with Jacob, He changed his name from Jacob to Israel. But we must pass on to the New Testament. It also begins with God giving a name. On its very title page we have God sending an angel to give a name to One not yet born — that Second Adam — that Beginning of the New Creation of God, whom He sent into the world. In the very first chapter of the New Testament we have two names assigned to the Saviour. First, the angels say, "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." Then the name of "Emmanuel," given to Him in the spirit by Isaiah, the prophet, is also claimed as His by the Evangelist. These two names, given to the Second Adam in the first chapter of the book of the New Covenant, answer to the two names by which God made Himself known to the children of Israel. Emmanuel signifies what the Saviour is in Himself — God with us; God in our nature. Jesus rather signifies what He is to His people — their "Saviour from sin." It means literally, "The Lord is salvation," or "The Lord Our salvation."

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY BELIEVING IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST? It must mean more than believing that some years ago a person came into this world who had such a name given to him. It is believing that Jesus Christ is to us what His name means. Now let us take the best known name of our Saviour — "Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord." We know Him as the only Son of God — as Jesus — as Christ. Take the first of these — the Son of God. See how our Lord insists upon our believing in this, as His name, in His discourse with Nicodemus (John 3:18). Now a man who believes this respecting the Person who was then speaking to Nicodemus, and who was afterwards crucified and raised again, believes in the greatest possible instance of God's love. It is quite clear, also, that any interpretation which attaches to the term "Son of God" a lower meaning than that of "only-begotten Son," really destroys all the testimony which such a text as "God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son" bears to the exceeding love of God. Now let us proceed to the human name by which we know the Son of God — Jesus Christ. The name "Jesus" signifies "the Lord our salvation." He has saved us from the guilt of sin by His sacrifice on the Cross. Again, He saves us from the power of sin by His indwelling Spirit making us partakers of His nature, so that His risen life is in us our spiritual life. And so with that title of Messiah, or Christ, or Anointed One, to which is joined His name of Jesus. It is implied in the very fact of His being called Christ that He has been anointed by the Holy Ghost to be the Prophet, Priest, and King of His people. Believing in the name of God's Son, Jesus, then, is believing that God's Son is that very Lord, our Saviour, which His name implies. This is God's commandment. No, no; it is only part of God's commandment: for the one commandment of God, which God inspired the beloved disciple to give to His people, is made up of two things. "This is His commandment, that we believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He" — i.e. as Christ Himself — "gave us commandment." Anyone who knows anything of the history of the Church, or about religious society, knows well that a man may have, or at least may express, not only belief in the name, but the sincerest trust in the finished work of Christ, and yet be bitter to those who differ from him, uncharitable to those who oppose him, and churlish to those who are at all in his way. St. Paul writes his Epistle to the Ephesians to men who realised the gospel far better than any Christians now do; and instead of "leaving the gospel to itself," and simply insisting on believing in Christ crucified, the apostle actually bids those who are supposed to believe the gospel not to lie, nor to steal, nor to use bad language, nor to grieve the Holy Spirit, but to walk in love, and put away all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking. Similarly with St. Peter. If there is any place in which he declares the precious truths of the gospel in terms full of consolation and good hope, it is in the first chapter of his Epistle; but, so far from thinking that all this would do its own work, he tells them at the beginning of the very next chapter to lay aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings. But what is "loving one another"? Why, according to St. Paul, the apostle of justification, it is keeping the last six commandments (Romans 13:8). And in the next chapter he reckons working ill to our neighbour's soul, as well as to his body, as a breach of love. But what, according to St. John, is "loving one another"? This is His commandment, that ye believe in all the power and grace that is contained in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and seek out, visit, relieve, and comfort your sick and needy fellow Christians. This is His commandment, that ye believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God, and be kindly affectioned one to another, in honour preferring one another. This is His commandment, that ye believe in the name of Him who saves His people from their sins, and put away from you all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, and all malice. This is His commandment, that ye believe in the name of Him who was anointed by God to be a Prince and a Saviour, and covet earnestly that best gift of a charity that suffereth long, is kind, etc.

(M. F. Sadler, M. A.)

I. THE WORD "BELIEVE," which enters this Epistle for the first time at this point, is one of the royal words of the New Testament. It contains three ideas.

1. First there is knowledge. That which you believe must first announce itself as a fact to your intellect. It must enter the crystal chamber of consciousness.

2. Then follows assent. That is the answer of your mind to the claims made upon it by the fact.

3. Then comes the last and most important of all, viz., trust. You say to yourself, "This is truth — this will bear," and you put your whole weight upon it.

II. BUT WHAT IS TO BE DONS WITH IT? To what shall a man attach himself by means of this threefold cord? The object around which we are bid throw our faith is no series of propositions — not any Church — not even the Bible as a whole, but the full name of Jesus Christ. The full title of Christ, as given here, gathers up into itself every ray of spiritual truth diffused through the whole Bible. "His Son Jesus Christ." Say that seriously, simply, honestly, without qualification or reserve, and you have repeated the full Christian creed. That name is the gospel.

III. THIS IS GOD'S COMMANDMENT. Note that well. Faith is set before us as a duty, as a work. Now, if God commands us to believe, then surely belief is something that is possible to us all. We cannot imagine God commanding the impossible. Then, too, unbelief is a sin. It is positive disobedience. And further, St. John says that belief in Christ is not simply a commandment, but that it is the commandment. Faith working by love is the spiritual unity of all commandments, and unbelief is therefore the root of all sins.

IV. NOW, HOW FAR HAVE WE THE POWER TO BELIEVE IN CHRIST? To what extent is faith subject to our will? It is worth while finding this out, for the measure of our power to believe will be the measure of our sin and of our punishment if we disbelieve.

1. If we look into the Bible we shall find two sets of texts. One set ascribes the whole work of redemption to God — faith, repentance, love, holiness, are all declared to be gifts of God. Another whole class of texts describes repentance, faith, purification, and love as acts which each man ought to, and therefore can perform himself.

2. Again, in the teaching of the Church we have two opposite camps of opinion on this matter. held very strong views on this point. He taught that when Adam fell he lost his freedom of will; the will sank into a state of infirmity, in which it had no power of choice at all between good and evil — only the power of always choosing the wrong; and through his sin all his successors fell into the same state of bondage. In fact, as one said, he taught that in the fall of man one whole piece of human nature had fallen out! But out of this mass of mutilated humanity God has elected a number to be saved. These must be saved. God's grace overpowers them, and they are saved by a fiat of the Almighty Will. As to the others, they must be lost — they are reprobate. held very strong views on the subject of our text. "All men," he said, "are as free to choose as Adam was. The will is not impaired, and can of itself, at any moment, free itself from sin." Man stands at the parting of the ways, and he has full power to choose either. Man — man's own power, is the note that is heard sounding all through his teaching. Grace scarcely appears at all. Thus, while the one almost did away with the free will of man, the other almost did away with the grace of God. And these two men divided the Christian world into opposing factions. The majority followed Augustine, though many too followed Pelagius. And so from age to age the pendulum of opinion swung from extreme to extreme.

3. Neither of these views is right. The first libels both God and man. It represents God as partial and arbitrary. It reduces man to a poor puppet of destiny. It robs religion of morality and deprives heaven of holiness. It takes away the guilt of sin, and lifts the blame of hell from the souls of men and lays it at the feet of God. Equally distant from the New Testament truth is the other view. It renders the best half of Scripture meaningless, and the whole mediatorial work of Christ needless. It peoples the earth with an imaginary race of moral giants, each of whom is sufficient in himself, and fills heaven with a multitude of self-saved souls.

4. But while the many thus swung from one extreme to another, there have always been in the Church of Christ a party of common sense men, able, like Melancthon, to combine the two sets of texts, and to see that they are not contradictions — only the two opposite poles of one great truth. Salvation, they teach, is a work of God's grace, in which each man is required and enabled to take an active part. Mankind is a fallen race, but not an abandoned race. Man cannot save himself, yet God's preparing grace has kept alive in each man enough of moral life to respond to the offer of Christ, a something living in each man to which the Christ can make His appeal. So men are utterly unable to save themselves. But they are not literally lifeless like a stone or stick. Faith is preeminently a matter of will. The text does not say, "Believe this doctrine or that," but "Trust yourselves in Christ's hands — trust Christ as your Saviour."

(J. M. Gibbon.)

Cain, John
Believe, Christ, Command, Commanded, Commandment, Faith, Law, Love
1. He declares the singular love of God toward us, in making us his sons;
3. who therefore ought obediently to keep his commandments;
11. as also to love one another as brothers.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
1 John 3:23

     2218   Christ, Son of God
     2369   Christ, responses to
     7943   ministry, in church
     8023   faith, necessity
     8162   spiritual vitality
     8210   commitment, to God's people
     8298   love, for one another

1 John 3:21-24

     2425   gospel, requirements
     8405   commands, in NT

1 John 3:22-24

     8209   commitment, to Christ
     8453   obedience

The Purifying Hope
Eversley, 1869. Windsor Castle, 1869. 1 John iii. 2. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." Let us consider this noble text, and see something, at least, of what it has to tell us. It is, like all God's messages, all God's laws, ay, like God's world in which we live and breathe,
Charles Kingsley—All Saints' Day and Other Sermons

Second Sunday after Trinity Exhortation to Brotherly Love.
Text: 1 John 3, 13-18. 13 Marvel not, brethren, if the world hateth you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath the world's goods, and beholdeth his brother in need, and shutteth
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. III

The Growth and Power of Sin
'And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering: But unto Cain, and to his offering, he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Love that Calls us Sons
'Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God....'--1 John iii. 1. One or two points of an expository character will serve to introduce what else I have to say on these words. The text is, I suppose, generally understood as if it pointed to the fact that we are called the sons of God as the great exemplification of the wonderfulness of His love. That is a perfectly possible view of the connection and meaning of the text. But if we are to
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

The Unrevealed Future of the Sons of God
'Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.'--1 John iii. 2. I have hesitated, as you may well believe, whether I should take these words for a text. They seem so far to surpass anything that can be said concerning them, and they cover such immense fields of dim thought, that one may well be afraid lest one should spoil them by even attempting to dilate on them. And
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

The Purifying Influence of Hope
'And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.'--1 John iii. 3. That is a very remarkable 'and' with which this verse begins. The Apostle has just been touching the very heights of devout contemplation, soaring away up into dim regions where it is very hard to follow,--'We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.' And now, without a pause, and linking his thoughts together by a simple 'and,' he passes from the unimaginable splendours of the Beatific Vision
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

Practical Righteousness
Little children, let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.'--1 John iii. 7. The popular idea of the Apostle John is strangely unlike the real man. He is supposed to be the gentle Apostle of Love, the mystic amongst the Twelve. He is that, but he was the 'son of thunder' before he was the Apostle of Love, and he did not drop the first character when he attained the second. No doubt his central thought was, 'God is Love'; no doubt that thought had
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

The Meaning of Sin, and the Revelation of the True Self
"In this we have come to know what love is, because He laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."--1 JOHN III. 16. It is important that we should arrive at some clearer understanding of the nature of sin. Let us approach the question from the side of the Divine Indwelling. The doctrine of the Divine Immanence, in things and in persons, that doctrine which we are to-day slowly recovering, is rescued from pantheism by holding fast at the same time to the Christian
J. H. Beibitz—Gloria Crucis

How to Fertilize Love
Love is the greatest thing in earth or heaven. Out of it flows most of the things that are worth while in life. Love of relatives, love of friends, and love of the brethren (1 John 3: 14) make life worth living. There is no heart so empty as the heart that is without love. There is no life so joyful as the love-filled life. Love puts a song in the heart, a sparkle in the eye, a smile on the lips, and makes the whole being glad. And God's love is greater than all else. He who has God's love has a
Charles Wesley Naylor—Heart Talks

Vanity of Human Glory.
"The world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not."--1 John iii. 1 Of St. Simon and St. Jude, the Saints whom we this day commemorate, little is known[1]. St. Jude, indeed, still lives in the Church in his Catholic epistle; but of his history we only know that he was brother to St. James the Less, and nearly related to our Lord and that, like St. Peter, he had been a married man. Besides his name of Jude or Judas, he is also called Thaddaeus and Lebbaeus in the Gospels. Of St. Simon we only
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VIII

The First Fruits of the Spirit
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Rom. 8:1 1. By "them which are in Christ Jesus," St. Paul evidently means, those who truly believe in him; those who, "being justified by faith, have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." They who thus believe do no longer "walk after the flesh," no longer follow the motions of corrupt nature, but "after the Spirit"; both their thoughts, words, and works are under
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

The End of Christ's Coming
"For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." 1 John 3:8. 1. Many eminent writers, heathen as well as Christian, both in earlier and later ages, have employed their utmost labour and art in painting the beauty of virtue. And the same pains they have taken to describe, in the liveliest colours, the deformity of vice; both of vice in general, and of those particular vices which were most prevalent in their respective ages and countries. With equal care
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

The Great Privilege of those that are Born of God
"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin." 1 John 3:9. 1. It has been frequently supposed, that the being born of God was all one with the being justified; that the new birth and justification were only different expressions, denoting the same thing: It being certain, on the one hand, that whoever is justified is also born of God; and, on the other, that whoever is born of God is also justified; yea, that both these gifts of God are given to every believer in one and the same moment. In one
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

The Beatific vision
"Millions of years my wondering eyes Shall o'er thy beauties rove; And endless ages I'll adore The glories of thy love." We are rejoiced to find such a verse as this, for it tells us that our curiosity shall be satisfied, our desire consummated, our bliss perfected. "WE SHALL SEE HIM AS HE IS." Heaven shall be ours, and all we ever dreamed of him shall be more than in our possession. By the help of God's mighty Spirit, who alone can put words in our mouths, let us speak first of all concerning the
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 2: 1856

A Present Religion
It is astonishing how distance blunts the keen edge of anything that is disagreeable. War is at all times a most fearful scourge. The thought of slain bodies and of murdered men must always harrow up the soul; but because we hear of these things in the distance, there are few Englishmen who can truly enter into their horrors. If we should hear the booming of cannon on the deep which girdles this island; if we should see at our doors the marks of carnage and bloodshed; then should we more thoroughly
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 4: 1858

The Death of Christ for his People
"He laid down his life for us."--1 John 3:16. COME, believer and contemplate this sublime truth, thus proclaimed to thee in simple monosyllables: "He laid down his life for us." There is not one long word in the sentence; it is all as simple as it can be; and it is simple because it is sublime. Sublimity in thought always needs simplicity in words to express itself. Little thoughts require great words to explain them; little preachers need Latin words to convey their feeble ideas, but great thoughts
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 46: 1900

The Warrant of Faith
We sing, and sing rightly too-- "My soul, no more attempt to draw Thy life and comfort from the law," for from the law death cometh and not life, misery and not comfort. "To convince and to condemn is all the law can do." O, when will all professors, and especially all professed ministers of Christ, learn the difference between the law and the gospel? Most of them make a mingle-mangle, and serve out deadly potions to the people, often containing but one ounce of gospel to a pound of law, whereas,
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 9: 1863

The Way of Life.
(Second Sunday after Trinity.) 1 JOHN iii. 14. "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." The writings of S. John the Evangelist breathe forth love as a flower garden does sweetness. Here lies the secret of S. John's title, "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Love begets love, and the disciple was so near to the heart of his Master because he loved much. When the text was written he was a very old man, and Bishop of Ephesus. It was in that fair and famous
H. J. Wilmot-Buxton—The Life of Duty, a Year's Plain Sermons, v. 2

"But Ye have Received the Spirit of Adoption, Whereby we Cry, Abba, Father. "
Rom. viii. 15.--"But ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God," 1 John iii. 1. It is a wonderful expression of love to advance his own creatures, not only infinitely below himself, but far below other creatures, to such a dignity. Lord, what is man that thou so magnified him! But it surpasseth wonder, that rebellious creatures, his enemies, should have, not only
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

"Whereby we Cry, Abba, Father. "
Rom. viii. 15.--"Whereby we cry, Abba, Father." As there is a light of grace in bestowing such incomparably high dignities and excellent gifts on poor sinners, such as, to make them the sons of God who were the children of the devil, and heirs of a kingdom who were heirs of wrath; so there is a depth of wisdom in the Lord's allowance and manner of dispensing his love and grace in this life. For though the love be wonderful, that we should be called the sons of God; yet, as that apostle speaks,
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

"And for Sin Condemned Sin in the Flesh. "
Rom. viii. 3.--"And for sin condemned sin in the flesh." The great and wonderful actions of great and excellent persons must needs have some great ends answerable to them. Wisdom will teach them not to do strange things, but for some rare purposes, for it were a folly and madness to do great things to compass some small and petty end, as unsuitable as that a mountain should travail to bring forth a mouse. Truly we must conceive, that it must needs be some honourable and high business, that brought
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

What is Sanctification?
Scripturally, the word sanctification has three meanings: First, separation; second, dedication; third, spirit-filling. Webster's definition of it is as follows: "1. Sanctification is the act of God's grace by which the affections of man are purified, or alienated from sin and the world, and exalted to a supreme love of God; also, the state of being thus purified or sanctified. 2. The act of consecrating, or setting apart for a sacred purpose." "Sanctifier. One who sanctifies or makes holy; specifically,
J. W. Byers—Sanctification

The Sinner Arraigned and Convicted.
1. Conviction of guilt necessary.--2. A charge of rebellion against God advanced.--3. Where it is shown--that all men are born under God's law.--4. That no man hath perfectly kept it.--5. An appeal to the reader's conscience on this head, that he hath not.--6. That to have broken it, is an evil inexpressibly great.--7. Illustrated by a more particular view of the aggravations of this guilt, arising--from knowledge.--8. From divine favors received.--9. From convictions of conscience overborne.--10.
Philip Doddridge—The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul

The Solidarity of the Human Family
Every man has worth and sacredness as a man. We fixed on that as the simplest and most fundamental social principle of Jesus. The second question is, What relation do men bear to each other? DAILY READINGS First Day: The Social Impulse and the Law of Christ And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, trying him: Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? And he said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is
Walter Rauschenbusch—The Social Principles of Jesus

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