“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
To be perfectly candid, I do not understand how people go to bed at night not knowing how they will spend eternity. The year was 1967, I was laying in bed saying my prayers, when the thought came to my mind; I don’t know for sure that there is a God, and will I go to heaven if there is one. At that point I said to myself, “if there is a God please help me to go to sleep because I don’t want to think about this anymore. “
Having grown up in a semi religious home and taught in a religious school I understood certain facts about the “Christian” religion but I did not know that those facts were true. When I fell asleep that night it was with fear of the unknown on my heart. My mother was an atheist, brought up in a home of unbelievers. I once heard her say, “When you die, you die, they put you in the ground and that’s the end of it.” My father on the other hand was religious as a result of being shot and while laying in a fox hole just days beyond Anzio beach during World War II. At that time he told God, “If you let me live I’ll serve you.”
I can remember sitting in religious instruction and hearing the teacher say, “Because you are part of this religion you will go to heaven.” I thought to myself, I am very glad that I am part of this religion, but shortly after that time I found myself in bed with no assurance that the things I believed were true.
One of the primary reasons the Apostle John wrote his first letter was so that believers might be assured of their eternal destination. “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. Only a true believer in Jesus Christ can know without any doubt that he possesses eternal life. In the upcoming blogs on revival we will explore how a person can know that he or she has eternal life.
John’s letter examines the evidences to eternal life in chapters 2 through 5, but in chapter 1 he gives 7 realities that a Christian must live within if he/she is to contend with sin in an effective way. We will explore them in a later blog. There seems to be a dichotomy between chapter 1 and the rest of John’s letter, but in reality there is no true contradiction. In chapter 1 John deals with the Christian’s continuing battle with sin, but in the rest of his letter he proclaims the victory that belongs to a true believer. It is that victory, in all its various ways, that establishes assurance in the believer’s heart and mind.
Assurance of salvation is a purifier of the soul and purity is a major contributor to an assurance of salvation. Because a believer has assurance of salvation he is kept from sinning, and when he does not sin he is given an assurance of salvation. Therein lies a victorious cycle that no believer can afford to be without. John tells us in his letter, ” And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” 1 John 3:3. In context the Christian believes that when Jesus returns he will be made like Him because he will see Him for what He is and not what he wants Him to be. The believer lives in the reality of truth provided by the Bible and not a false reality provided by Satan, which all unbelievers are willing to accept because of indwelling sin. And it is this hope and the reality of loving Jesus Christ that purifies the believer’s heart and soul.
The seeming dichotomy between chapter one and the rest of the letter is in the fact that chapter one deals directly with the believer’s ongoing battle with sin, while the remainder of the letter seems to indicate a serious victory over sin. It is the believer’s serious battle with sin that indicates that a believer has eternal life dwelling within him. All men sin but what separates the believer from the unbeliever is that the man who possesses eternal life has moved from death to life and from unbelief to belief.
“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” John 3:19-21