I know I have said this before, but it must be said again. As you progress in your Christian life, from time to time there will be doubts that creep into your mind. Satan likes nothing more than to be able to make Christians unsure of their salvation. The nagging questions of am I doing enough am I headed in the right direction can destroy the Joy we are to have in Christ. As long as he can get us to worry about ourselves, he knows that he can neutralize our concern about those around us who don’t know Christ. One of Satan’s most subtle and useful tools is using other people who may believe in Christ, but who claim to have special powers or special gifts that set them apart from everyone else. By comparing our lives with them we may begin to wonder if there is something missing in our own lives. The apostle John wrote to some Christians who were facing a similar situation and similar doubts.
In response to this problem, John told his Christian friends that there is only one thing they needed to be sure about, and that was that they had eternal life. John said in 1 John 5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” But how can we know for sure we have eternal life and what exactlyis eternal life?
In his gospel, John records the prayer of Jesus. From this scripture we learn what eternal life really is. Jesus prayed in John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” So, to know that we have eternal life, we must make sure that we know God and that we are known by Christ. We also learn in 1 John that there are three specific ways in which we can test whether or not we actually know God and Christ.
1. We can be sure that we have eternal life if we continue to obey God’s commands.
This does not mean we will never fail, but that the tendency of our lives is to constantly do what Christ commands. John writes in 1 John 2:3, “We know that we have come to know Him ifwe obey His commands.” Again, he says in 1 John 3:6, “No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him.” If we continue in a sinful lifestyle somewhere we’ve missed the purpose of grace. In Romans 6:1 Paul asks the question:Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?
If the tendency of our lives is to do what God commands and repent
when we do slip into sin, then we have one good reason to believe that we have eternal life.
2. We can be sure that we have eternal life if we continue to listen to the apostles and eye-witnesses of the Lord Jesus.
John writes in 1 John 4:6, “We are from God, and whoeverknows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.” The “us” in that verse refers to the apostles and eye-witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ, in other words, the writers of the New Testament books. There are many voices that compete for our attention in this world of religious confusion, but our eternal life depends upon whether or not we continually listen to what the New Testament tell us.
3. We can be sure that we have eternal life if we continue to demonstrate love.
John declares in 1 John 4:7-8, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for loves comes from God.Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does notknow God.” The kind of love that John speaks of here is not primarily a “feeling.” Rather it comes from a mind and heart devoted to Christ which says, “I will act in your best interest in all situations, no matter how I may feel about it.” Certainly that is the kind of love that Jesus displayed towards us. While we were very unlovable, Christ showed His love by dying for us.
We can use these three tests to examine our progress, ask ourselves where I am in my walk with God. Are you continually obeying His word, listening and applying Gods word to our lives, and loving people as Christ loved us? If you are, then you certainly know both God and Christ! I pray this assurance will be a source of strength and conviction to you all throughout your life!
QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW AND STUDY
1. What does John say is the most important thing to be sure about in 1 John 5:13?
2. According to Jesus, what is eternal life in John 17:3?
3. If eternal life means knowing God and Christ, is it possible to know for sure that we really know them? If so, how many ways are there to test whether or not we really know God and Christ?
4. What are the 3 ways we can be sure that we know God and Christ, and therefore, be sure that we have eternal life according to 1 John 2:3, 1 John 4:6, and 1 John 4:7,8?
5. How do you know that you have eternal life?