Summary: Is it possible for a person to really know that he has eternal life as a present reality?
CAN WE REALLY KNOW?
Is it possible for a person to really know that he has eternal life as a present reality? Some people hope that they are among the elect but feel that no one can really know until that day. Others believe that a person can be saved one minute and loose it the next. I once heard a preacher fuss at some of his church members who had attended a country music festival. He said, "Had Jesus returned while you were at that meeting, every one of you would have gone to hell." A man active in his church told me, “No one can know for certain whether he is saved or not. In 1 John 2:3-11, John gives us two evidences of eternal life. Can believers have real assurance? Let’s look at the evidences found in this passage.
There is the evidence of obedience (1 John 2:3-6): The Bible teaches us that we can know with absolute certainty that we have eternal life. In fact, one of the main purposes for the first letter of John is that we may know that we have eternal life. (1 John 5:13). In 1 John 2:3-6, John shows how we can know that we have eternal life. Note what John writes in these verses. “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” Note that John is not telling us that one has eternal life because of obedience. Rather he is telling us that obedience is evidence that one is genuinely saved. There is something seriously wrong with a claimed salvation experience that does not result in a changed life. Before salvation the sinner lived in unbelief and rebellion against God. Many people want to accept Jesus as sort of a fire insurance policy to keep them out of hell, but do not want to submit their lives to his lordship.
The Bible makes no distinction between the fact of the Lordship of Christ and the fact that He is also our Savior. The Bible teaches that Jesus is both Lord and Savior, and to confess him as Lord is to commit out lives to him. Jesus said "Why do you call me, ’Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46) The word for "Lord" is used almost 700 times in the New Testament. Most of those uses refer to Jesus. The word "Savior" is used only 24 times. Truly Jesus Christ is our Savior but He is also our Lord.
Verse 6 says, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” The NIV translates this verse, "Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." The words "must" (NIV) and the word; "ought" (KJV) speak of a moral obligation for the believer to pattern his life after the life of Jesus.
There is the evidence of brotherly love (1 John 2:7-11): Love for our fellow believers is another important evidence that a person is genuinely saved. Believers are to love their fellow believers. This love is not the self seeking, self pleasing kind of love that many think of today. Love for our brothers in Christ is not that love for the world that is condemned in verses 15-17. It is the love that Jesus is. “Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.” The kind of love that believers are to have for their brothers in Christ is that unconditional Calvary love. How are we to respond to Calvary love?
• The believer is to love God with all his heart. That means that he gives himself willfully to the Lord. What we do for Jesus is not out of a sense of duty, but out of love.
• The believer is to love his fellow man. He is to love all those for whom Christ died.