I enjoy asking trick questions. When I know have stumped somebody and they have given the answer I was expecting them to, I ask, “Are you sure about that?” Unfortunately, for some Christians, they view the assurance of salvation this way. They find themselves asking on nearly a daily basis, “Am I sure I am saved? Am I sure am a Christian?” The problem they typically find themselves in is they do not feel they are saved. The basis for assurance of salvation, though, does not rest on feelings. It rest upon the truth of God’s Word.
The Apostle John begins the last section of his letter by giving the purpose statement for the section and for the whole book: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know you have eternal life” (5:13). The reason John has said the things he has is because he wants to give genuine followers of Christ assurance of their salvation. Notice where he goes next to explain where these Christians can place their confidence in for their salvation. He says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that 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 that we have asked him” (5:14–15). The grounds in a Christian’s assurance of salvation does not rest upon feelings but upon the will of God. As Christians, we know God answers prayers that are in accordance with His will. We know His will by knowing His Word. We see in His Word that for those who repent of their sins and place their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior they will be saved. Therefore, if you have honestly dealt with your sins, confessing and repenting of them, and you have surrendered your life to Christ, you can be assured you are in Christ.
If someone professes with their mouth they have confessed and repented of their sin and yet their life looks no different, then there is great cause for concern. The markers of faith in 1 John are meant to bring assurance to true Christians but they also expose those deceived as false converts. Their way of life reveals their true identity. The Apostle John puts it this way: “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him” (5:18). For the person who professes to know God but lives a lifestyle of unrepentant sin, they are revealed as children of the evil. They follow the ways of Satan, giving into their fleshly desires and indulging in a lifestyle of lies and sin. Their result is death. Their total and willful rejection of the gospel and Christ, signified by a lack of repentance and faith, is the sin that leads to death. To deny a need for Christ is to deny one has sinned. For those who admit they have sinned and need a Savior, there is the hope of eternal life. The world lies in the power and lies of the evil one but those who know God find the truth and know God is greater. God in Christ has given us understanding and He entrusts to us the truth. As Christians, we are in Christ who is the truth and we keep ourselves from idols, the false gods which offer life but bring death. Only in knowing Christ do we have eternal life.
- Why is it important to know we are sinners who need a Savior?
- As Christians, what do we often base our assurance of salvation on? How has 1 John equipped you in understanding the assurance of salvation?