At the time John wrote the Gospel of John, and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John and Revelation, all of the other New Testament books had been written for many years. There is little doubt that he had read each of them. He wrote from the great sea port city of Ephesus where he was an elder. In John and 1st John he summed up the gospel story. It was akin to a skilled prosecutor making his closing argument before the case goes to jury. He skillfully presents the evidence and leaves no room for reasonable doubt.
After seeing what he had seen, and heard what he had heard, and read what he had read, the Apostle John pointed only to evidences as a basis for Christianity. Both in the Gospel and in 1st John he laid out crystal clear evidences. There was no uncertainty. The validity of the Christian faith was not left to doubt.
He begins the Gospel by saying:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:9-14)
Now , the beginning of 1st John:
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard,which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. (1 John 1:1-4)
Jesus himself is eternal life! Those who get him, get life, those who reject him, reject life and remain in spiritual death.
How can we know we have Eternal Life (Jesus)? As John begins his close of the Gospel that bears his name he says in chapter 20:
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30,31)
Now look how he ends 1st John:
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.
20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:13; 20)
John didn’t write so the reader would have hope, or that he would think “I have a good chance”. No, it as clear as language can possible be “..that you may know“. God wants you to put your head on your pillow at night, not wondering or hoping you are safe, He wants you to KNOW!
Here are some encouraging promises from 1st John. These are evidences that you have eternal life.
1. Those who are born of God keep his commandments.
1 John 2:3-4: “By this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
1 John 3:24: “Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him.”
2. Those who are born of God walk as Christ walked.
1 John 2:5-6: “By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
3. Those who are born of God don’t hate others but love them.
1 John 2:9: “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.”
1 John 3:14: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.”
1 John 4:7-8: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
1 John 4:20: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar.”
4. Those who are born of God don’t love the world.
1 John 2:15: “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
5. Those who are born of God confess the Son and have him.
1 John 2:23: “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.”
1 John 4:15: “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”
1 John 5:12: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
6. Those who are born of God practice righteousness.
1 John 2:29: “If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.”
7. Those who are born of God don’t make a practice of sinning.
1 John 3:6: “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.”
1 John 3:9-10: “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”
1 John 5:18: “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.”
8. Those who are born of God possess the Spirit of God.
1 John 3:24: “By this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.”
1 John 4:13: “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.”
9. Those who are born of God listen to the apostolic teaching.
1 John 4:6: “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
10. Those who are born of God believe that Jesus is the Christ.
1 John 5:1: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.” (What Peter preached..)
11. Those who are born of God overcome the world.
1 John 5:4: “Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”
None of these things make you a Christian, but each of them are the characteristics of a Christian. We are “made for good works” (Ephesians 2:10). We are not made Christians by our good works. (Titus 3:5)
There are two places where people get off track here. After reading these passages some people will conclude “If I am a true Christian I will not sin any more“. Nothing can be further from the truth. Not one of us will ever obey what God has said perfectly. Our obedience will always be flawed obedience. This is precisely why Jesus had to die “for us“. In the same way Jesus was counted as a sinner when He was crucified (2 Corinthians 5:21), God counts you and me righteous because of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf.
John tackles the sin question head on and in no uncertain terms. Don’t ever think you will get to the place on this earth that you never sin again.
If we say we have no sin [present tense], we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins [present tense], he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10)
It’s not “if” I will sin, it’s a matter of “when” I will sin. When I do, there is a remedy. Here it is:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
When we know we have missed the mark, done something not becoming one born from above, we see it God’s way. We agree with Him about it despise it, turn from it and rejoice in the forgiveness we have in Christ. There is no need to agonize with God about it, just turn from it and do the next right thing. In the passage above the word “confess” has deeper meaning than just saying. It also means seeing. It means to agree with God about it and see it as He sees it. If you do you’ll hate it!
The other misconception some have after reading parts of 1st John is “If I do these things well that will make me a Christian.” NO! Read the following passage with care.
Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life (Past tense), and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life (Present tense); whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
(1 John 5:10a-12)
I hope those who read this will find blessed assurance swell up in their hearts. God loves you and didn’t send Jesus to condemn you but to save you. But, it’s not about you, it’s about Him and His glory. I’ll give you one last truth that should give you peace and confidence.
Of all the great people on the pages of the Bible, can you think of one more likely than Jesus to get his prayers answered? I can’t. Child of God, do you know Jesus prayed for you? Did you know he prayed that you would one day be with Him? He did and you will.
Near the end of what is called Jesus’ “high priestly prayer” he talks to the Father saying these words with all of us who are trusting in Him in mind.
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Here it is in the very words of Jesus himself. He asked that you and I and every believer since his ascension be with Him, where He is (vs 21). Oh what will it be like to see Him in his glory? He prayed that I would, and I will.
Blessed Assurance – Jesus is Mine!