Summary: In 1 John 3:19-24, John tells us how we can have blessed assurance.
A. Last week we took a one week reprieve from our 1 John Series in order to review God’s commands and promises about giving. And I hope that lesson was a blessing to you!
B. To get us started on today’s subject of assurance, I want to share an old story.
1. The story is told of a Lion who needed a little additional self-assurance, so one day he decided to go through the jungle and reassert his authority with every animal.
2. First, he came upon a monkey. He roared, “Who is the king of the jungle?” Quite frightened, the monkey replied, “You are, oh mighty Lion!”
3. Next, the Lion came upon a zebra, and roared, “Who is the king of the jungle?” The zebra, fearing that he might be lunch, replied, “You are, oh mighty Lion!”
4. Feeling much better, the Lion then found a giraffe, and roared, “Who is the king of the jungle?” The giraffe replied, “Why, you are, oh mighty Lion!”
5. Now feeling absolutely confident, the Lion then spotted an elephant and roared, “Who is the king of the jungle?”
6. The elephant reached down with his trunk, snatched up the lion, slammed him against a rock, picked him up again and slammed him against a tree.
7. Dazed and bruised, the Lion said, “Well, you don’t have to take it so personally!”
C. What is our source of assurance?
1. Are we confident of our relationship with God?
2. Do we have the assurance that we are saved and have eternal life?
3. Do we know that we belong to the truth?
4. Do we know that Christ lives in us?
D. These are very important questions.
1. These were questions that Christians were facing in the apostle John’s day.
2. And they are questions that all of us face at one time or another in our own lives.
E. We all base our assurance or lack of assurance on something.
1. That something may prove to be either real or misguided.
2. The lion in our opening story stretched the limits of his confidence a little too far.
3. He was beginning to feel pretty good about himself, but he failed to differentiate his FEELINGS from the FACTS of his situation.
4. The elephant gave him a reality check and refocused his attention on the FACTS.
5. Misguided assurance is based on fiction and feelings, but real and true assurance is always based on facts.
F. For years I have used a train to illustrate this principle and to help people have assurance of their salvation.
1. The train has three parts.
a. The engine is the facts of our faith (the truth of God’s Word).
b. The next car is our faith.
c. The caboose is our feelings.
2. To put anything other than the facts at the head of the train is to create problems.
3. To allow our feelings or even our faith to pull the train is to experience failure and a lot of ups and downs.
4. Our faith and our feelings are not consistent and strong enough to pull the train.
G. Another illustration I have heard that teaches the same thing goes like this:
1. The story is told of three people walking on a wall. Their names are Fact, Faith, and Feeling.
2. They were walking along in that order. Fact was first. Faith was walking behind fact. And feelings followed along at the end.
3. Everything went along fine until Faith looked back to see where Feeling was.
4. Every time Faith did this, he fell off the wall.
5. As long as Faith kept his eyes on Fact and not on Feeling, he did fine.
6. The moral of the story is that we need to keep our Faith eyes on Fact and let Feeling take care of himself.
H. I think that this is a profound truth.
1. We must base our faith on the facts of God’s Word and let our feelings follow along behind.
2. While our feelings are certainly very important, they are fickle and unreliable.
3. Our feelings cannot be trusted to lead us because they can lead us astray.
4. Our feelings can be influenced by so many things.
5. Therefore, our direction and our assurance must be rooted in something more reliable than our feelings.
I. And that’s really what John is working toward here in our text from 1 John.
1. John’s attention shifts abruptly from a discussion of practical examples of love to Christian assurance.
2. Both the beginning verse of this section (vs. 19) and the last verse (vs. 24) employ the phrase “this is how we know,” thus suggesting that assurance is John’s new concern.
3. As I’ve said repeatedly in this series, John’s community is one that was under siege, and his followers needed the assurance that they were indeed on God’s side and that they possessed the truth.