“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.” (1 John 5:13 KJV)
In the book of 1 John there are five chapters that give the assurance of salvation. Each chapter builds upon the fact that Jesus is the Christ and those that obey His commands can be saved and be assured of this factual evidence that is found within this writing. There are not many things of which one can be assured today but the facts that are given in 1 John are facts assure us of salvation in Christ. As the Gnostics in the first century were spreading false teachings, the apostle, by Holy Spirit inspiration, delivered the truth to a group of people that were being misled and this truth needs to be study as there are so many that are misled regarding their salvation.
There is an assurance in 1 John 5 given that one can know they belong to God (v.1-5). One can be assured of salvation and belong to God if they believe that Jesus is the Christ (v.1). If one were to remove this verse from the context of the book, then one could falsely teach that in order to be assured of salvation all that is needed is to believe (mental recognition) but keeping the verse in its context and in accordance with other teachings in Scripture would prove that is a false teaching. What does “believe that Jesus is the Christ” actually mean? As we examine the following verses, we read that we can be assured that we are God’s children by keeping His commands which are not grievous (v.2-3), so does that mean that mental recognition of Jesus being the Christ is enough to assure one of salvation? Those that belong to God overcome the world and are granted victory by our faith (v.4-5) but is this simply mental recognition that Jesus is the Christ? What has God commanded, or what has Jesus said that one must do in order to be assured of salvation?
There is no doubt that one must mentally recognize Jesus as the Christ, the One sent by God to die for our sins, just as Jesus stated that we must believe He is the Christ and must confess He is the Christ (John 8:24; Matt. 10:32), but Jesus also commands that we must repent of sins (Luke 13:3) and be baptized (Mark 16:16). After Jesus ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of God (Acts 1), He sent His apostles into the world to preach the Gospel to the entire world (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15), and as we have a record of some of the actions of the apostles (the book of Acts) we read that those that heard their preaching “believed.” Within the book of Acts, the word “believed” is used to encompass a number of things that are taking place, and when one believes there is record of their obedience to the entire plan of salvation, including being baptized for the remission of sins as Jesus commanded. The book of 1 John is no different from any other book in the Bible, and when one “believes” Jesus is the Christ, they obey His commands and are able to be assured of being a child of God’s.
Another assurance that can be given is the fact that Jesus is the Christ, the One sent by God for the redeeming of mankind (v.6-13). There were many during the time of the writing of 1 John that were denying that Jesus had come, but the child of God can have all assurance that Jesus came to this earth, lived the sinless life, and died for the remission of sins. The testimony of the Christ coming to the earth was given by the water and the blood (v.6). This statement is one that refers to the beginning and the ending of His ministry, as His ministry began by Him being baptized by John (Matt. 3:13ff.) and ended with the shedding of His blood on the cross (Matt. 27).
Those that were able to live with Christ while He was on the earth were witnesses of these things, but there is another witness given to this fact which is the Spirit (v.7-8). The apostles were eyewitnesses of Jesus that were sent forth to declare the Gospel, but the greater witness of these facts is the inspired Word given to us by the Holy Spirit that testifies that Jesus is the Christ (v.9). One can have assurance of salvation when they believe/obey the things that have been written (v.12-13).
Having assurance of salvation, knowing one is a child of God, also grants the confidence that God will hear their prayers (v.14-17). This may be one of the most comforting statements in all of Scripture. In a world that is filled with its many trials and troubles, and in a time that is so difficult, the child of God can be assured that when they pray, God will hear them. God is not a God that is distanced from His children, but He is a God that is near and is able to hear His children when they make requests of Him.
As this book closes, it gives a final assurance of salvation (v.18-21). One is able to know they belong to God, although they are surrounded in a world of wickedness (v.19). One is able to know that Jesus has come in order that we may have eternal life (v.20). One is able to be assured of salvation when they continue to keep themselves from serving anything other than God (v.21). The word “know” is found twenty-seven times in the book of 1 John, and as this book closes the impression is made in the mind that one can be assured of salvation because of Jesus.
We can be assured that we have salvation when we obey the commands of God. God has sent His Son into this world in order that the Sacrifice be given for sin. Those that believe and obey His commands can have blessed assurance of belonging to God.
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