Summary: The Bible does plainly teach that it is possible to know for sure you are a Christian, but that assurance is to be built on facts. This introduces a series of three tests by which anyone can know beyond a shadow of a doubt whether or not they are a child
A Study of the Book of 1st John
“Back To the Basics”
Sermon # 4
“The Test of Fellowship”
John states the purpose of writing his letter in 1 John 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” He says that he is writing so that they may know that they have eternal life, but the question remains, How can we be sure we are saved? What happens after we are saved a while and our zeal starts to get zapped; when our evangelistic fervor starts diminishing, then we begin to wonder, “Have I really been changed? The same temptations are still after me if not worse? How do I know if I am truly a child of God?”
Some teach that if one has repeated a certain prayer, gone forward at the conclusion of a service, made a profession of faith, or has been baptized then you are definitely saved and should never question that salvation. The Bible DOES clearly state that those are truly saved can never lose their salvation (Jn. 10:28). They have been permanently sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13), and nothing can separate them from the love of the Savior (Rom. 8:38-39). Yet the Apostle Paul admonishes in 2 Corinthians 13:5 that every professing Christian, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.”
The Bible does plainly teach that it is possible to know for sure you are a Christian, but that assurance is to be built on facts. In today’s text I want you to note a phrase that occurs three times in these verses. It is the phrase, “He who says,” (vv. 4, 6, 9) and introduces a series of three tests by which anyone can know beyond a shadow of a doubt whether or not they are a child of God.
In verse three we read, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. (4) He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (5) But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. (6) He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (7) Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old comman-ment which you have had from the begin-ning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. (8) Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. (9) He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. (10) He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. (11) But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
The believer can and should enjoy the confident assurance of knowing that they are really saved, but that assurance is to be built on an objective source of certainty. This objective source is the result of personal examination that reveals the practical evidence in their lives that John outlines for us in today’s text.
First, The Test of Attitude (vv. 3-5) Obedience
“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. (4) He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (5) But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.”
How can we know that we have truly come to know God in a life changing way? Is it in the church we attend? Or is it the version of the Bible that we use? Is it the length of our hair or the way that we dress? Or is in having some kind of second blessing, spiritual experience? John states his case with certainty; he does not say, “we hope so” or “we think so,” but rather he says “we know.” The Greek language has two different words for “know” and here it is (ginosko) (present tense form) and means the knowledge attained from experience.
The first test that John gives for us to evaluate our spiritual condition; is that of obedience and will answer the question – Am I Keeping His Word?