Summary: Security in Christ is a controversial topic. Let’s see what John has to say about it, and discover the fingerprints of God that mark us as His own beloved children.
Well, I was taught in seminary that this is how you do public speaking. And if you’ve taken a public speaking class, you’ve probably heard this too. First, you tell people what you’re going to tell them. And then, you tell them. And then, you tell them what you told them. Right? That’s how you do it in public speaking and that is what I was taught. But, have you noticed that the apostle John does things a little bit differently? He’s got his own particular and peculiar style. And basically, he does it backwards from that. If you look in his gospel, John 20:31, at the end of his gospel look what he says, "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in His name." John goes through the whole life of Christ in that book, His death, and before His resurrection he inserts this part. "Oh, by the way, this is why I wrote these things." And it’s exactly the same thing he has done here in this part of 1 John.
Here at the end, he writes in verse 13, "[Here’s why I’ve written these things] I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God." Now, you’ll notice this verse from [the gospel of] John was written to people who need to hear the gospel and need to respond to it. "I tell you these things that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ." And now writing to people who have believed that Jesus is the Christ, here in 1 John he writes, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that [here’s the purpose] you may know that you have eternal life."
And as I thought about this I said, "Why is security so important?" Why does John use in this little passage this word ’to know’? He uses it again and again and again. It’s starting again in verse 18, "We know …" "We know…, " verse 19. "We know..," verse 20. And again, "So that we may know." The word that he uses here is the Greek word that means ’perfection of knowledge.’ There are two Greek words. One of them means ’an experiential knowledge that is growing.’ The other one means a real sure, "I know this to be true" kind of a knowledge. And that’s the word he is using throughout this passage.
Why isn’t it better to be insecure? I had a man in my first church. I was teaching on security, and he said, "But it’s more motivating to be insecure. It’s easier to motivate people to live the Christian life if you hold the dangle of the carrot of fear. Say, ’You’re not so sure you’re going to heaven, but if you’ll do these things then maybe you’ll make it.’" Well, that may be a nice fleshly, manly style of motivation, but that’s not what John is saying here is it? He’s saying, "I want you to know."
Why does he want us to know? Why doesn’t he choose the fear route? Because we’ve learned that insecurity frees us from fear, and fear we have found out is the enemy of faith. Fear and faith do not go together like peas and carrots. They don’t fit like a hand in a glove. They are oppositional to one another. If you are afraid, you don’t have faith. If you have faith, you’re not afraid. John’s response from the beginning of this epistle until the end has been the same: if you have Jesus you have it all. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be insecure. Don’t be nervous. Don’t chew your nails. Because when you start doing that and you give in to that fear, you start making decisions based on that fear that are wrong decisions. I was reminded yesterday that there is a verse in Romans that says this, "Everything that is not of faith is sin." Wow. "Everything that is not of faith is sin."