Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

1 John: True, Fulfilling Fellowship With God
Part XI: Identifying God's True Spiritual Fellowship By Its Assurances
(1 John 3:19-23)
  1. Introduction
    1. A great need exists for believers in Christ to gain assurance of the quality of their relationship with God.
    2. 1 John 3:19-23 provides several practical signs of such assurance, and we view them for our edification:
  2. Identifying God's True Spiritual Fellowship By Its Assurances, 1 John 3:19-23.
    1. We can be sure we are of the truth if we actively meet the material needs of other Christians, 1 John 3:19 with 3:17-18 (and by application, if we actively meet their other kinds of pressing needs, too!):
      1. The statement of 1 John 3:19 NIV about how we know we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in God's presence likely refers back to 1 John 3:17-18 in the context. (Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament , p. 897)
      2. Since 1 John 3:17-18 directs us to love fellow Christians not only in word, but in deed and in truth by actively giving of our goods to meet their material needs, John indicated our actions of meeting the needs of materially needy fellow believers is a signal that we belong to the truth.
      3. If that signal occurs in our experience, it should lead us to set our hearts at rest in God's presence that we are real believers who truly fellowship with God, 1 John 3:19.
    2. We can be assured in our hearts we are of the truth if our hearts condemn us by letting God evaluate us:
      1. Sometimes we may be too lenient or otherwise too strict in evaluating our efforts, or we may even think we are too lenient or too strict in evaluating our works. In either case, we can condemn ourselves as ungodly even though we may be properly helping other believers, 1 John 3:20 implied.
      2. In such circumstances, we can rely on God to make the judgment in His omniscience and so to lead us into the truth regarding our true spiritual state, 1 John 3:20. A passage applicable in such a case is Psalm 23:3b where the Lord is said to lead us in the paths of righteousness for His Name's (i. e., for His reputation's) sake! (Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. Four, p. 364 [s. v. "Name"]) We can trust God to evaluate and correct us if we need it!
      3. On the other hand, if our hearts do not condemn us, we can rest confidently in the fact that our tangible acts of meeting the material needs of fellow believers signal we are of the truth, 1 John 3:21!
    3. [By application, not only regarding God's command that we love fellow believers in deed, but how we tangibly heed any other command from the Lord in His Word equally becomes a test of whether we truly are in spiritual fellowship with Him, cf. John 14:21-23. In such a case, if we obey the Lord, He promises to demonstrate His encouraging involvement in our daily lives as a reward for our obedience!]
    4. We can be sure we fellowship with the Lord in keeping His commands in our Christian walk by the fact that we receive whatever we ask from Him in prayer, 1 John 3:22! To illustrate, John noted that since God has commanded us to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love fellow believers in action (1 John 3:23), we know from receiving God's answers to our prayers that we are indeed trusting in Christ as Savior and showing love to each other in action.
    5. [Other Scriptures explain in more detail specific things we do well if we receive God's answers to prayer:
      1. Answered prayer occurs when we pray in accord with God's revealed Biblical will, 1 John 4:14-15.
      2. Answered prayer occurs when we pray without cherishing sin in our hearts, Psalm 66:18-19 NIV.
      3. Answered prayer occurs when we pray as true believers, for God has told all men to trust in Christ, and God answers prayer only for those who do not sin, but who obey Him, Acts 17:30; Psalm 66:18-19.]
Lesson: When we truly fellowship with God, the following practical assurances occur: (1) we actively meet other believers' needs; (2) when we have doubts in judging our own works and let God Himself evaluate us, He clarifies to us the spiritual truth about our spiritual status; (3) we see God encouraging us in our everyday walk and (4) we receive answers to prayer.

Application: May we test our fellowship status with God utilizing these tests, and repent of sin if necessary or rejoice if encouraged that we are indeed in fellowship with the Lord!