Summary: 1) The Confidence that Faith Furnishes (1 John 5:13), 2) The Prayer that Faith Enables (1 John 5:14-17), 3) The Understanding that Faith Grants (1 John 5:18-21)
Life in this fallen world is filled with uncertainty, with few guarantees and little that can be depended on. Jobs vanish as companies downsize and outsource. The volatility of the stock market, the fluctuations of the economy, and increasing taxes create further uncertainty. Relationships come and go, with people’s faithfulness often lasting only as long as their felt needs are being met—or until they find someone more attractive. On a larger scale, natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and floods, can sweep away in an instant the accumulated treasures of a lifetime.
But the most profound uncertainty with the most disastrous results exists not in the material realm, but in the spiritual and eternal realm. Because they reject the gospel and are without God, people are also without hope (Eph. 2:12), or protection from divine wrath and eternal hell. Most people put their hope in false religions or personal ideologies to get them into a happy eternal state. And it is popularly believed that all religions lead to heaven and most people are good, thus they are headed there. What is not popular is the reality that only the Bible is the true Word of God, the gospel the only way to heaven, and all who do not believe it go to hell forever.
When the Apostle John closes out his epistle in 1 John 5:13-21, he summaries his main themes and calls on people to Know the Word. In doing so, he calls on people to have certainty. To Know and trust the Word is to know and trust God. When one truly does this they can be assured of: 1) The Confidence that Faith Furnishes (1 John 5:13), 2) The Prayer that Faith Enables (1 John 5:14-17), 3) The Understanding that Faith Grants (1 John 5:18-21)
1) The Confidence that Faith Furnishes (1 John 5:13)
1 John 5:13 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. (ESV)
The phrase these things sweeps backward to encompass the entire letter, as is evident from several considerations. First, the shift from the second person in verse 12 (“He who has the Son … he who does not have the Son …”) to the first person (I write these things …) suggests that verse 13 does not merely continue the flow of thought from the previous verse. Second, in 1 John 1:4 John announced his purpose in writing; in verse 13 he looks back on what he had written. Together, the two verses state John’s purpose in writing, since it is assurance of eternal life that produces fullness of joy (cf. Jn. 20:31) John wrote his gospel so that people might believe and be saved; he wrote his first epistle so that those who believe would know they are saved.
As has been clear throughout, the blessings of salvation and assurance are only for those who believe in the name of the Son of God (cf. 1 John 3:23).
Please turn to Galatians 2 (p.973)
To believe in the name of the Son of God — to place one’s trust in God’s truth; one who takes God at His word and trusts in Him for salvation. Mere assent to God’s truth is not saving faith, according to the Bible (John 8:31–46; Acts 8:13–24; James 2:14–26). A belief that saves is one that rests in the finished work of Christ; it trusts God alone for salvation (John 3:16). Believers are those who have trusted God with their will as well as their mind (Rom. 1:16; 3:22; 1 Thess. 1:7) (Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). In Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc)
Paul explained what it means to believe in the name of the Son of God to the Galatians:
Galatians 2:16-20 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. 17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (ESV)