Summary: A message that challenges us to consider whether our assurance of salvation is biblically sound.
Do you KNOW that you have eternal life?
And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God. 1 John 5. 11-13
Many have been asked the question, “Do you know for sure, that you will go to heaven when you die?” This question is typically followed by a brief four or five point presentation of the “gospel” designed to evoke a response, to prompt the prospect (or victim) to recite a “sinner’s prayer” for salvation, and to receive the “assurance of salvation” so that they may know for sure that they will go to heaven when they die.
Who would not want to have such assurance? After all, who would want to go to hell? Surely anyone in his right mind, if informed that he could be assured of a home in heaven would like to have such assurance.
To be sure, many have been genuinely saved through presentations just like the one described above. Countless souls have been saved through the appropriate use of Bible tracts like the “Four Spiritual Laws”, and evangelistic encounters such as those taught and practiced by “FAITH” or “Evangelism Explosion.” (These programs and methods are useful, especially in their development of intentionality with regard to the sharing of the gospel.) It is not our purpose to discount the validity of genuine biblical evangelism on the basis of the use of some tract or evangelistic presentation. God certainly can and has used such methods for His purpose and His glory. However, we must carefully avoid offering assurance or peace and comfort to those who are not genuinely and legitimately regenerate. To do so, in effect, immunizes a sinner from true biblical conversion and salvation, by offering them a false assurance based on a decision, a prayer, or an emotion.
Jesus pronounced woe upon the Pharisees of His day for making their proselytes “twice the children of hell than themselves” (Matt 23. 15). They sought to make men like themselves—self-assured because of their own actions and choices, not born again by the Spirit of God.
How then can a sinner know that He belongs to Jesus Christ and that he is saved for eternity? Does not our God wish for us to know for sure? Of course He does. John wrote, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5. 12-13) Clearly, God’s purpose is for those who genuinely believe on the Son to have real biblical assurance of salvation.
John states plainly, “He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life.” (1 John 5. 12). How much more direct and simple could he possibly be? There is no in between. Either a person is saved or lost, and the only issue is whether of not he “has the Son.” But how can a person know, for sure, that he “has the Son?”
Whenever God moves into someone’s life He makes drastic changes. Ezekiel 36. 26-27 says:
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
When God comes into a life He changes it, and there is always evidence to be found!
FIVE FOUNDATIONAL EVIDENCES
John says, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life.” The logical question is, “what things?” The immediate reference is clearly to the preceding text of the book of 1 John. In his epistle, John offers five positive foundational tests, or evidences of a changed life, a life changed by Jesus Christ.
1. A Hatred for Sin (1.8-2.1)
Many will quote 1 John 1.9, from memory, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” without fully understanding its meaning. The word “confess” means to “agree with.” It implies that we will agree with God about our sin and feel the same way about it as He does. We will come to see sin as through His holy eyes. It clearly means more than just verbally admitting that we have sinned. It means that we will hate our sin, and forsake it.