HOW TO KNOW THAT YOU KNOW
I John 5:1-13
When I was a child I had a Sunday School teacher who often said concerning salvation, "you have to know that you know that you know that you are saved. Ironically many years later the Holy Spirit revealed to her that she was not saved and at that point she was truly born again.
As a pastor, I have often been asked, "how can I know for sure that I am saved". This is a very important question to ask, especially considering that there are many people who have never truly been born again. Countless people have had an emotional experience, prayed a prayer, been baptized, and joined a church, without truly being saved. Furthermore, some have served in the church for years, some as teachers, deacons and even pastors without being born again. On the other hand, there are others who indeed have been born again, yet they lack assurance of their salvation. These two scenarios show us why it is so important to "know that you know that you know".
The goal today is for each and every person here to leave this place knowing where they stand spiritually. If you have not been saved, I pray that this is the day that you receive salvation thorough Jesus Christ. If you have been saved, I pray that you leave here with peace and victory because you have full assurance that you have truly been born again. As we walk through this passage, let us consider the thought "How To Know That You Know".
Doubt concerning one's salvation is nothing new. In fact, it is one of the main reasons that John wrote this letter. He said in - v13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God
You may think that doubting your salvation is a sin, it is not! Doubt is not a sin, but unbelief is. "Unbelief is the product of a rebellious heart, doubt is the product of an unsettled mind." - Dr. Herb Reavis
Jesus will not rebuke you for doubting your salvation. In fact, there are scriptural examples of Jesus seeking to provide assurance to those who experienced seasons of doubt.
The Gospels tell the story of John the Baptist. Zacharias and Elizabeth (who was barren) learned from an angel that they would have a son. The angel told Zacharias "thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God." (Luke 1:13-16)
Before he was even born, John was chosen of God to be the "forerunner" of Christ. This is the man who baptized Jesus. He is the one who saw Jesus coming and boldly proclaimed "behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." He was extremely bold in his faith, so much so that he found himself in prison facing certain death. While in this prison, John heard about the many miracles of Jesus. He was giving sight to the blind, making the deaf to hear, cleansing lepers, casting out demons and even raising the dead. Yet, John remained in prison, discouraged confused and doubtful. There came a point when John's doubt became so great that he sent two of his friends to ask Jesus "are you the One that is to come, or should we look for another".
Jesus sent those men back to John to tell him what they had seen and heard. He wanted to confirm the truth to His beloved servant. Notice that Jesus did not rebuke John's doubt, He sought to reassure his mind. You see, doubt is within the mind whereas unbelief is in the heart.
Listen to what Jesus had to say about John even after he doubted Him, v11 ... Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist...
I find encouragement in the fact that Jesus understood John's doubt and He sought to calm his fears. In the same way, Jesus wants to give you assurance concerning your relationship with Him. I am concerned when I hear people say that they have never had any doubts about their conversion. This concerns me because doubt is one of Satan's favorite weapons to use against God's children. He will use doubt to bring you to a place of discouragement. He will use doubt to steal your joy. He will use doubt to rob you of your victory.
* I believe that Jesus wants everyone here to know two things today:
1. If you are lost, you can be saved.
2. If you are saved you can KNOW IT!
While there is no shortage of people who think they are saved and they are not, there is also a multitude of people who ARE saved but they are not sure. If you fall into that category, I want to show you through John's 1st Epistle that you can know that you know that you are saved. Notice first of all:
I. You Can Know That You Know Because Your Life Has Been Changed
v1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
Salvation occurs when you "believe". This word "believe" is more than knowledge, the literal definition of this word means "to entrust". Salvation is when you trust in Jesus Christ and Him alone to be your personal Savior. Nothing else... there is no work that you can do in order to be saved. Jesus did all that was necessary to secure your salvation at Calvary. Your only responsibility is to believe! When referring to salvation, the word "believe" is used over 150 times in the New Testament.
John 1:12 ...as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Notice this, John says that we are "Born, not of blood"
This means that we do not inherit salvation through our bloodline. You can be born Muslim, you can be born a Jew, you can even be born a Catholic, but you cannot be born a Christian. To become a Christian you must be born again!
John says that "we are born, not of blood"..."Nor of man". This means that no human being can give you the new birth. "we are born, not of blood... nor of man... nor of the will of the flesh". You can never do enough good works to earn salvation. Salvation is an exclusive work of God.
Many people worry about whether they "prayed the prayer right or not". My friend, you are living dangerously if you put your faith in some prayer you prayed once upon a time. Your assurance does not come from the fact that you prayed a prayer, your assurance comes from putting your faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said you must "believe". John 6:47 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." Saying a prayer is not how we are saved, prayer is the way that we express our belief and believing is what saves!
There was a publican in Luke 18:13 who "would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. Jesus said that "this man went down to his house justified"
The penitent thief on the cross next to Jesus said "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. (Luke 23:42) Jesus said unto him, "Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." These two conversions show us that there is no specific prayer that is a perfect formula for salvation. If there is a specific prayer that must be prayed then one of these men is in trouble. Furthermore, I am in trouble because I did not pray either of these prayers. I venture to say that most all of you would be in trouble because you didn't pray the same prayer either. The good news is that it is not the words that come out of your mouth it is the faith in your heart.
The prayer is our way of expressing our belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Prayer is our way of stating that we are not trusting in anyone or anything others that Jesus Christ to save us from our sins!
In our selected text John says "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (v1) When one is truly born again, they receive new life. To be "born again" means to be born from above. When you are born again there will be evidence of a changed life. Not a change in your life, but a CHANGED LIFE!!! Once you are saved, Jesus is in you. When Jesus is truly in you, there will be a change for the whole world to see!
Churches are filled with people who prayed a prayer in VBS 40 years ago but there is no evidence that they have ever believed in Christ. Our assurance does not come from something that we did 10,20, or 50 years ago. Our Assurance comes from what is happening now, The question you must ask is not "did I believe in Jesus?" ...the question is "am I believing in Jesus now?" Is there evidence that you have been changed by the Spirit of God?
Sadly, many people who profess to know Christ live just like those who are lost. There is zero evidence that they have truly been born again. What is the evidence of salvation that I speak of? Well, it is found right here in our text. Notice: v2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
John says the evidence of our salvation is love. If we are truly saved we will love God and we will love others. John goes in to say: v3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." Where did John learn this doctrine? He learned it directly from Jesus Christ. One day a lawyer came to Jesus and asked Him, "which is the great commandment in the law?
Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
With these 2 commands Jesus summed up the Law of God. And they were both centered on love. We must also remember what Jesus said in - Luke 6:27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
This kind of love is absolutely impossible apart from Christ. But it is an essential way of living for those who are in Him. We can love others because of the Holy Spirit that is dwelling within us. In Romans 5:5 Paul tells us that "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
The kind of love that Jesus, John and Paul referred to in the scriptures is a new kind of love. It is not something that comes natural to us. When you are born again you begin to love things that you didn't love before salvation I am not implying that you will achieve sinless perfection, but there will be a change in your life. You will love God, you will love God's people, you will love God's house, and you will love God's Word, You will have a love for the work of God.
Furthermore this love will cause your priorities to change! You will not want to go to the places you used to go. You don't want to do the things that you used to do. You don't want to run with the people you used to run with. Our desires are changed when we are born again.
It is not a burden for us to live God's way. John says in verse 3 that God's "commandments are not grievous." When we are saved we don't dread the things of God we desire to do the things of God. We don't dread going to Church, we desire to go to Church. We don't dread praying, we desire to talk to our Father. We don't dread reading God's Word, we desire to hear from Him. We don't dread our service to Him, we desire to use our talents to glorify Him.
- You can know that you know because your life has been changed. John also declares that:
II. YOU CAN KNOW THAT YOU KNOW BECAUSE JESUS IS THE SOURCE OF SALVATION
We can not work to be saved, but we can trust in the finished work of Jesus at Calvary. - v6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.
The Lord bears witness that you are His child through the water, the blood and the Spirit.
A. JESUS BEARS WITNESS THROUGH THE WATER
This is a reference to the Baptism of Christ. The Baptism of Christ is one of the most amazing portions of scripture in the Bible. Listen to what took place at that great event: Matthew 3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
All three members of the Trinity were present at this event. Jesus was there being baptized by John. The Holy Spirit descended as a dove and the Father spoke from Heaven and said "this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased". In this testimony God declares that this is where salvation is found. Salvation is only found in Jesus Christ.
- We also see that:
B. JESUS BEARS WITNESS THROUGH THE BLOOD
v8 there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood:
The "blood" is a reference to Jesus' death on the Cross. Many amazing things took place at Calvary when the Lord's blood began to flow. There was a supernatural darkness that covered the earth, there was a great earthquake, and the veil of the temple was torn into from top to bottom, signifying that we can now enter into the presence of God. The witness of the blood says to look to Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross.
- Jesus bears witness through the water, through the blood and:
C. JESUS BEARS WITNESS THROUGH THE SPIRIT
Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit. He promised His Disciples that He would send them "another comforter".
John 16:7 It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
The Disciples received the Holy Spirit and so have all who are in Christ. When we are saved the Holy Spirit comes to live within us. John says in verse 10 "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself". This is a reference to the Holy Spirit of God that dwells within us. The Holy Spirit was there when Jesus was Baptized. The Holy Spirit was there when Jesus was transfigured. The Holy Spirit was there when Jesus was crucified and The Holy Spirit is living in you if you are saved!
We have already talked about the change that takes place when we are born again, this is possible because of the work that the Holy Spirit does in us. He gives us new desires, He leads us in a new direction, He provides us with a new awareness of God and He reveals God's Word to us. The Holy Spirit will not allow a genuine believer to sin successfully! When we are saved the Holy Spirit dwells within us.
Sin disturbs the Holy Spirit and He will convict us when we sin. Again I say, if there is no conviction when you sin, you need to get saved!!! Furthermore, the Holy Spirit gives us an inner confidence that we are in Christ. However, the Devil will seek to destroy that inner confidence.
Why does Satan seek to make Christians doubt their salvation? Because he doesn't want you to love God, he doesn't want you to serve God, and he doesn't want you to grow closer to God, Our Adversary seeks to steal, kill and destroy.
Satan knows that if he can make you doubt, he may be able to cause you to quit church, quit serving the Lord, quit worshipping the Lord, quit fellowshipping with the Lord, and quit sharing your faith. Satan cannot take your salvation but he will do all that he can to stop you from enjoying it! He to rob you of your joy, how can he rob your joy? By keeping you confused ....by keeping you doubting whether or not you are really saved.
The Bible describes him as "the accuser of the brethren". James describes him as "a roaring lion walking about seeking whom he may devour". Satan is on the prowl and he loves to use doubt to his advantage. Understand this, the Holy spirit does not accuse, He convicts. Holy Spirit conviction draws us to Christ. The accusations of the devil produces a guilt that drives us away from the Christ. When doubts arise, always remember the source of your salvation. Salvation comes from the Lord and the finished work of Jesus Christ testifies that you are saved!
- We can know that we know because our lives have been changed, we can know that we know because of the testimony of Jesus Christ and:
III. WE CAN KNOW THAT WE KNOW BECAUSE OF THE TRUTH OF GOD'S WORD
v11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Eternal life is not something that we have earned, it is a gift that we have received. Salvation is not about a feeling, it is about faith! John says that God gives eternal life to those who believe in His Son. If you don't have the son you don't have life if you have the son you have life
v12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
If you are saved you cannot sin and get by. If you can sin with no shame, no guilt, and no conviction then you need to get saved! Listen to what John says in v9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He says "you believe the testimony of men, the testimony of God is far greater."
We can know that we are saved because we trust in what God says! God has given us His Holy Word and His Word tells us how we are saved. Therefore it doesn't matter how we feel, what matters is what God says! John said in - v13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
I have no doubt that I am saved because I am resting in what God has said.
Jesus said - John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
These are not my personal opinions, they are promises directly from God Himself. These truths are settled and you need to believe it! If you don't believe these truths you are calling God a liar. If you are saved, your Heavenly Father wants you to have assurance. He wants you to know that Jesus is your Savior. Your sins have been blotted out, you are forgiven and you have passed from death unto life.
God has a purpose and a plan for your life He has eternal life for you He has a home in Heaven for you. And He wants you to know that Jesus is coming back for you. You don't have to wonder about these things. You can know that you know that you know that you are saved because your life has been changed, because Jesus is the source of your salvation and because of the truth of God's Word.