A Christian's Assurances

Good morning! If you are visiting with us today, I want to welcome you once again to Grace Bible Fellowship Church. It‘s an honor to be worshiping with you today.

I am sure that many of you were thinking as I was; that we are not going to finish up 1 John for several years. Well, we were right in our thinking because it has been about 3 years but, today is the day. We are going to finish up 1 John with an incredible series of truths of which we can be confident as Christians. 1 John 5:13-21, John says….

13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. 16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death. 18 We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. 19 We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:13-21)

We live in a world of uncertainty! It is a fallen world that has few guarantees and very little that is dependable. We know that eventually and ultimately, that old age will catches up with us in the end, because we “are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). But, until the end of our life comes, we will be confronted with doubts, questions, and uncertainties because there is very little that we can truly be assured of in this world. For example, companies are constantly “right-sizing” or “outsourcing” jobs. Has anyone looked at the stock market lately? The stock market volatility, economic fluctuations, and government in fighting creates further uncertainty across many areas that impact each or our lives. What about relationships? Our relationships come and go, people relocate or people end relationships because they just aren’t “happy” any more or they are unwilling to forgive a wrong suffered. Of course there are earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and floods, which can sweep away in an instant your family and accumulated “treasures.”

Uncertainty regarding the future of this world motivates people to spend their income on insurance, as they attempt to safeguard against all of the potential negative consequences. There is car, home, fire and flood insurance. There is also health and life insurance. You can even get insurance on a letter or a package but, all insurance is meant to minimize losses associated with uncertainty. It is always discerning to make wise decisions but, uncertainty can be so prevalent in this world that there are people that have no real hope. That’s because most people put their hope in false religions or personal ideologies to somehow get them into a better place or a happy eternal state. In fact, there is a very popular belief that all religions lead to heaven and most people are good, thus they are headed to paradise to live forever. Unfortunately for them, this is just a popular belief, and some would say a complete lie. Either way, they have no assurance that they will actually get there.

However, the Bible is filled with absolute certainties of which all Christians can be assured. We can be confident of where we are headed and so much more! Just sit back and mediate for a moment on this very short list of truths found in God’s Word; we are certain that sin has consequences, that God alone is God and He can do all things, He judges according to truth, He is faithful, He punishes sin, He created everything and is good and merciful. We know that Jesus Christ died for our sins, He bore our griefs and sorrows, He is the Messiah, the Holy One of God, He was sent by the Father, He has authority to forgive sins, He will not reject those who come to Him, He knows those who are His, He has entered into God’s presence on believers’ behalf and that the Day of the Lord will come. We know that God’s promise of salvation is guaranteed and He causes all things to work together for the good for those who love Him. WOW!!! Of this we can be sure!!!

With that as a background of all that we know regarding God, John wrote this epistle to provide us assurances about all that God has revealed concerning salvation. This is a powerful climax to all John has written because it reaffirms and reassures believers of God’s promises to true Christians. Throughout the letter, John has reiterated tests to identify those who are true Christians and to give increasingly stronger confidence and assurance to them.

So, here we are as John brings an end to this letter with an absolutely incredible crescendo of confidence for the Believer. John provides a list of five things that genuine Christians can be assured of:

  1. eternal life with God
  2. answered prayer
  3. victory over sin
  4. believers belong to God
  5. Christ’s deity

John begins by saying we can be assured of…

ETERNAL LIFE WITH GOD

13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)

This verse starts with two words, “these things.” These two words encompass the contents of the entire letter. We know this because of two things. First, John shifting to the first person here suggests that John is not merely continuing the flow of thought from the previous verse. And, second, in chapter 1 verse 4, John announced his purpose in writing and now he looks back on what he had written. So, what is John’s purpose for writing this letter? To wrap it up in one sentence; It is assurance of eternal life that produces fullness of joy. We can be assured of eternal life. There is an interesting correlation between John’s gospel and this his first epistle. John wrote his gospel so that people might believe and be saved and he wrote his first epistle so that those who believe would know they are saved. So, believe, be saved, and be confident of your salvation!

From the very beginning of this letter it is clear that the blessings of salvation and assurance are only for those “who believe in the name of the Son of God.” Many of the readers of this letter had been stunned by John’s uncompromising presentation of the truth in absolute, authoritative terms, as well as, his relentless attacks of the false teachers. John assured them that if they passed the doctrinal and practical tests he presented in this letter, they could “know” for certain that they had eternal life. God wants us to be assured of our salvation as well. If you are having doubts, nail it down! Once and for all know that you are saved and start living like it!

According to Matthew 25:46 and Mark 10:30, in its most basic sense, “eternal life” is living forever with God in heaven. But as we discussed previously in 1 John 5:11, eternal life does not refer primarily to duration of life, although it is forever, instead it refers to quality of life. Eternal life is primarily knowing Jesus Christ and sharing in His life. Now that’s eternal life; living and sharing life with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! It doesn’t and can’t get any better than that! A believer’s eternal life began at the moment of salvation and although we already possess it, it is not fully manifested in this life. But, there will come a day when the eternal life we already possess will no longer be confined in our sinful flesh. On that glorious day, they will experience our “adoption as sons, the redemption of [the] body” (Romans 8:23). Then, and only then, will the glory of eternal life shine through us unencumbered by our mortal bodies.

That promise, that truth, would have been more than enough but, we have an incredible loving Father that wants so much more for us. John’s second point is that we can be assured of…

ANSWERED PRAYER

14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. 16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death. (1 John 5:14-17)

As we just highlighted, the full experience of eternal life awaits all Christians in heaven. Even though we have not yet fully received our eternal inheritance, we have access to all of God’s resources through prayer. The word for “confidence” literally means “freedom of speech.” It can also be translated “boldness” or “openness.” The phrase translated “before Him” has the sense of being in His very presence. Therefore, through Jesus Christ we have “bold and confident access” to God that enables us to draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we can receive mercy and grace from the One who pours it out so richly on us.

“If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” And if we know that “He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” What an amazing promise of God that when we boldly and freely come to Him with our requests, He will hear and answer. Hearing refers to more than merely God’s being aware of our requests; it also means that He grants “the requests which we have asked from Him.” However, our requests have one very important qualifier: the requests must be “according to His will.” We know that it is God’s will for us to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). However, we don’t know all the details of how He will transform each individual believer. Some may enjoy the blessing of a great job, good health, wonderful marriage, incredible friends, etc. Or, it may be that we are transformed into Christ’s image by difficult trials, serious illnesses, great loss, tumultuous relationships. We just don’t know what is in store. However, we do know that God loves us and desires the very best for us and we can pray according to His will regardless of our circumstances.

Praying according to God’s will assumes that the person praying has received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior because God is in no way obligated to answer the prayers of unbelievers. Although He is not obligated to answer an unbeliever’s prayer, He may choose to do so when it suits His sovereign purposes. In John 15:16, the Lord Jesus Christ says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Only believers can have the certainty that God will answer our prayers that are prayed according to His will.

The Lord’s promise in John 14:13–14 also supports the requirement of praying according to God’s will; “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” To pray in Jesus’ name is to pray consistent with who He is, with the goal of glorifying Him. It is to follow the pattern of His model prayer and His example of humble submission to the Father’s will. We must remember and understand the goal of prayer is not to gratify our selfish desires but, to align our wills with God’s purposes. Let’s move on.

An initial look at verse 16 seems that John introduces a new subject. However, there is a connection between verses 14 and 15 with verses 16 and 17. John gives us one important exception to the extent of God’s promise to answer prayer. When a believer sees a “brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death.” On the other hand, “there is a sin leading to death,” and John advises Christians not to “make request for this.”

It is unclear what the exact meaning of the phrase “sin leading to death” was, but, there are two possibilities. The first possibility is the sin of a non-Christian leading to eternal death. In that case it would be a final rejection of Jesus Christ. Such apostasy is unforgivable.

Another possibility is that John is referring to a believer. The “sin leading to death” refers to a Christian’s sin that is so serious that God takes the life of the one committing it. According to Acts 5:1-11, God put to death Ananias and Sapphira when they lied to the Holy Spirit in front of the church. In 1 Corinthians 11:30, Paul wrote to the Corinthians concerning those who were abusing the Lord’s Table, “For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.” Sleep was a reference to death. The “sin leading to death” is one that the Lord determines is so serious that it warrants severe and immediate discipline.

It is hard to be dogmatic about either view but, in either case, prayer for those committing a sin leading to death will not result in the outcome they expected. Thankfully God does not immediately punish every sin with death, although every sin is nonetheless it is reprehensible and seriously offensive to Him. John says, “All unrighteousness is sin,” even “sin not leading to death.” Every sin is a violation of His law and an affront to God, and is to be confessed, forsaken, and mortified.

God has provided believers with eternal life with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, He answers our prayers in accordance with His will, and He also has given us…

VICTORY OVER SIN

18 We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. (1 John 5:18)

As John closes out this letter, he repeats a vitally important principle he previously repeated: no one who has truly accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and been transformed by the new birth, goes on living in a habitual pattern of sin.

On the other hand, unbelievers can do nothing but sin. They are slaves to sin according to John 8:34. They are slanderers, rebellious haters of God, insolent, and inventors of evil according to Romans 1:30. They are “dead in [their] trespasses and sins” according to Ephesians 2:1 and are under the dominion of Satan according to Ephesians 2:2.

However, “one who is born of God” cannot live in an unbroken pattern of sin for several reasons. First of all, sin is incompatible with the law of God We learned this truth back in 1 John 3:4. Those who have been truly redeemed and love God’s law cannot habitually live in opposition to it. We also know from 1 John 3:5 that sin is incompatible with the work of Christ, who “appeared in order to take away sins.”

As we just mentioned, John 8:34 says, the unredeemed are “slaves to sin,” but the redeemed are “obedient from the heart” to God’s law, and thus “having been freed from sin, [they are] slaves of righteousness.” While the inevitable outcome for those who live in sin is spiritual death according to Romans 6:23, those who have “been freed from sin and enslaved to God” gain “eternal life.”

John says a true believer can never return to a pattern of habitual sin because “He who was born of God keeps him.” This first reference is to all believers while later reference to the “one born of God” is a reference to Jesus Christ. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus protects His flock so that “the evil one (Satan) does not touch” them. Therefore, Satan cannot lay hold of or fasten his grip on a believer because they have having been “rescued … from the domain of darkness” (Col. 1:13). However, Satan can tempt, harass and hassle, the saints as he did Job and Peter, but he can never repossess them. We can be assured that Jesus will not fail to keep the redeemed who were given to Him by the Father. Hebrews 6:9-10 reassures us of the hope we have;

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:9-10)

John is highlighting God’s work of supernaturally preserving His people. The promises of God constitute the first guarantee. In Philippians 1:6, Paul wrote:

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

Nearing the end of his life Paul still confidently affirmed in 2 Timothy 4:18,

“The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (2 Timothy 4:18)

God not only guarantees the believers’ security, He has the power to ensure that He alone can fulfill that promise. In Romans 5:10, Paul says,

“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:10)

Paul is highlighting that God has the power to do the work of redemption so He certainly has the power to preserve those He redeemed.

If there was still any doubt in your mind regarding God’s ability to preserve the redeemed, in Romans 8:31–39, Paul articulates the absolute certainty that God will:

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31–39)

Thus far, we have been assured that God has provided believers with eternal life with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, He answers our prayers in accordance with His will, He has given us victory over sin and we can be confident…

THAT WE BELONG TO GOD

We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (1 John 5:19)

There are only two realms in which people live in this world; God’s or Satan’s. It is an absolute privilege for believers to know they belong to God. Though we physically exist in this world, we are spiritually not part of it. In John 1:12-13, he says that “we are children of God,” and in 1 Peter 2:11, Peter tells us that we are “aliens and strangers,” and in Philippians 3:20, Paul tells us that our true “citizenship is in heaven.”

On the other hand, “the whole world,” including its religious system, “lies in the power of the evil one.” We know from John 15:18-19 that the evil world system is hostile to God and believers. Jesus says,

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” The world system takes its guidance from its ruler, Satan, the enemy of God and His people. Because the world is completely under Satan’s influence, believers must avoid being contaminated by the lusts of this world (1 John 2:15–17).

Let’s be very clear, there is no middle ground; no third option. Everyone is either a part of God’s kingdom, or of Satan’s. Jesus make it very clear in Luke 11:23,

“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters” (Luke 11:23).

Also in James 4:4, James says,

“You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

There is no neutral ground when it comes to your spiritual condition; you are either living for God or you are living for Satan. So, if you are here today thinking that it’s ok to float through life claiming to be a Christian and all the while living like you are really a child of Satan by lusting after the things of this world, you need to do a serious reality check and make a decision who you are really going to living for.

True Believers, followers of Jesus Christ, can be assured that we belong to God because we are seeking after Him, being obedient to God’s Word and serving others around us. These are evidences of our faith in Him.

Well, God has provided believers with eternal life with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, He answers our prayers in accordance with His will, He has given us victory over sin, we can be assured that we belong to God, and lastly, we can know…

THAT CHRIST IS THE TRUE GOD

And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, guard yourselves from idols. (5:20–21)

It is very interesting that John has come full circle in these closing verses. John began this letter with the coming of the Word of Life, and now he closes with the certainty that “the Son of God has come.” The verb used here is a present tense verb which indicates that Jesus has come and is still present. It should be very evident to you that our Christian faith is not some theoretical or abstract idea but, instead, it is rooted in the real truth that God sent His Son to become man and live amongst us.

In the later part of Luke 10:22, Jesus tells us that no one can know “who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Therefore, Jesus “has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true.” Christians have a personal union with “Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ.” Our relationship is not just mere knowledge of God, it is a personal relationship with Him; He is our Father. The Bible is very clear that the only way to know the true and living God is through His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, no one can be saved who does not believe in Jesus Christ.

John uses the word “true” in these two verses three times which emphasizes the importance of understanding the truth in a world that is oozing with the slime of Satan’s lies. The last use of the word “true” highlights the most significant truth of all—that Jesus Christ “is the true God and eternal life.” The deity of Jesus Christ is a foundational and essential element of the Christian faith, and no one who rejects this truth can be saved.

John ends this letter with a warning, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” The very last words of this letter are significant; guard yourself from idolatry and therefore you must worship the true and living God exclusively. Although we don’t have many physical idols in our contemporary culture, idol worship is widespread. Why? Because anything that we elevate above God is an idol of the heart. Everything that is elevated above God must be spiritually eliminated and Christ alone must be exalted.

John has once again given us some doctrine that we can reaffirm and be assured of our salvation in Jesus Christ;

  1. God has provided believers with eternal life with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior
  2. He answers our prayers in accordance with His will
  3. He has given us victory over sin
  4. We can be assured that we belong to God, and 5) We can know that Jesus Christ is the true God.

In a world filled with darkness and uncertainty, Christians have glorious assurance because of the truth of God’s Word. Second Peter 1:19 says,

"So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19)

We are to hold fast to the truth of God’ Word and although the world wonders blindly in the darkness, God’s Word is to be

“a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).

As John closes out this epistle, he says….

13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. 16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death. 18 We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. 19 We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:13-21)

Let’s pray.