Assurance. Everybody wants it but not everyone has it. People like to have a sense of confidence about their choices in life. Why do we hire home inspectors before closing on a purchase? Why do we read Amazon Reviews before buying an item? One reason: assurance. People go to great lengths to have assurance about temporal issues. But how many of us go to such great lengths to have assurance about eternal issues? A home inspection may be important, but a heart inspection is essential.
Can we have assurance about our salvation? Does God’s Word teach us to live in uncertainty and fear or in confidence and hope? In his first letter, John wrote,
“These things I have written to you…so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (5:13)
John did not write his letter so that believers could merely have feelings, emotions, or an inkling about their salvation. He said that we can know. Specifically, the way that we can “know” that we have eternal life is by whether or not we detect “these things” (that he has written about) in our life.
When it comes to salvation, some people assume that visible morality, religious activity, and intellectual (Bible) knowledge are proof. While these will, undoubtedly, be found in the life of a true believer – they can also be found in the life of an unbeliever. You don’t have to look any further than the Pharisees to find such examples. These are not, by themselves, good indicators of genuine faith.
So, what are some indicators? Consider “these things” from 1 John which help us to “know that” we have eternal life.
Read these verses. Answer these questions. Examine yourself.
SUBMISSION TO GOD’S WORD (1 John 2:3-4)
“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;”
Do I love the Bible? Do I read it? Do I seek to understand it? More importantly, do I seek to obey it? Am I willing to change my mind, opinions, beliefs, attitudes, politics, habits, or behavior if any of them are contrary to Scripture? If the answer to these questions is “yes”, that’s good. If it’s “no” or “not really”, there may be cause for concern.
EAGER LOVE FOR GOD’S PEOPLE (1 John 3:14, 4:7)
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren.”
Do I look forward to meeting with believers, whether it’s Sunday or Monday? Do I attend church out of duty, obligation, or habit? Do I prioritize fellowship? Eating and sharing with other church members? Do I have a sincere concern for others in the body of Christ? Do I have meaningful relationships with other Christians in my church? If interaction with the body of Christ is something you see as more of a chore than a blessing, you may have cause for concern.
CONTINUAL LOVE FOR GOD (1 John 5:2)
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God…”
Do I seek to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and mind? Is God important to me? Is God the most important to me? Do I make decisions each day based on what I want to do or based upon what God would want me to do? Do I have an affection and allegiance to Christ? Is Jesus Christ a stranger from history or a close, personal friend? If you love God in the same way or with the same degree that you love pizza, hobbies, sports, etc.; you may have cause for concern.
PERSONAL PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (1 John 3:24)
“We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”
The Holy Spirit has the task of bringing conviction “concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” in your life. (John 16:8) Am I sensitive to sin – both in avoiding wrong and correcting the wrongs I have done? Do I experience the Spirit’s prompting, conviction, and comfort? Do I seek to walk in the Spirit and be filled daily? If sin is not an enemy and the Spirit is not a comfort, you may have cause for concern.
CHRIST-LIKE LIFESTYLE (1 John 2:5-6)
“By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”
Do the pursuits and goals of my life fall better into the category of earthly priorities or heavenly priorities? Is my obedience to God occasional and sporadic? Is my attitude towards God’s commands joyful or resistant? Do I seek to please God more than I seek to please myself? At the end of the day, am I more concerned with what others think or with what Christ thinks? If your life isn’t willfully surrendered to God, you may have cause for concern.
ENDURING FAITH (1 John 2:29)
“If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.”
Is my spiritual life an intentional, ongoing pursuit? Do I actively seek to “practice” righteousness? Am I concerned with being Christ-like? Am I more devoted to Christ today than I was five years or even one year ago? If your faith is waning and not growing, you may have cause for concern.
When a woman becomes pregnant there are some obvious symptoms and signs. She will experience moodiness, morning sickness, appetite changes and fatigue. One of these symptoms by itself is insufficient for a woman to come to any firm conclusions. But if all these life-changing signs are present, it will give her a sense of assurance that there is, in fact, new life inside of her.
For those that have the new life of Christ inside them, “these things” are the signs and symptoms of genuine saving faith and should give assurance to those that know Him.
Take the test. “Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith…” (2 Cor 13:5) If you have cause for concern, repent of your sins and trust Christ today.