“1st John: The Assurance of Salvation”
One of the great blessings many of us are able to enjoy is that of belonging to a loving family. We are able to enjoy fellowship with our loved ones on a regular basis. We accept each other for who we are. We extend grace and forgiveness. We help and support one another when times are hard. Yes, it is a wonderful thing to be a part of a loving family. If there was one New Testament writer who knew what love was all about, it was the apostle John. He experienced the love of Jesus firsthand. He wrote about it in four books or letters that bear his name, and that love revolved around his spiritual family. In the letter of 1 John, he wrote about what that means. He wrote to those who believed in Jesus Christ and whose faith had made a difference in their lives. He wrote about the fellowship one can enjoy, not only with other believers, but especially with God. He also wrote about God's Holy Spirit living inside those who are His children and the great blessing He provides. All of those things are a reality because of the salvation Christians enjoy in Jesus Christ. John reminds us that we can be assured of our salvation. There is no reason to doubt. There is no reason to look anywhere else, for in Jesus our salvation is secure. For the next few minutes, we will let John's message reassure us that the decision we made to put our faith in Jesus was the right one. I hope you will stay tuned to this station as we now open the Bible and study together.
Throughout Jesus' ministry here upon the earth, He greatly influenced many people. Hundreds and maybe even thousands of people followed Jesus on a regular basis. They witnessed His miracles, and they heard His stories. They tried to decide for themselves whether or not they would follow Jesus or move away from Him. From that large group of people, Jesus chose 12 people to be what we call His apostles. From that group of 12 men, He chose three to be in His inner circle. John, along with his brother James, and then also a man named Peter. But out of that three, John perhaps was Jesus' closest and very best friend. He shared with all of them some very special things that He did not even share with the others who were in the apostles or that large group of people. For example, John witnessed the transfiguration, when Jesus was changed there on the mountain, along with James and Peter. John was there in the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus prior to His arrest and crucifixion. John was at the foot of the cross when Jesus told him, "I want you to take care of my mother because I can no longer do so." John saw the empty tomb. He then witnessed with his very own eyes the resurrected Christ, as Jesus came out of that tomb alive. Yes, there are many stories found in the New Testament about John spending time with Jesus. He was a very credible witness of God's one and only Son. He knew firsthand the things about which he wrote, not only in his own gospel but also in the three letters that bear his name toward the end of the New Testament. Yes, John and Jesus were very close, and John may have been His very best friend. In the letter called 1 John, John writes out of love and concern for those who are following Jesus. His message is based upon God's great love for them and, in fact, for all people. He uses some very encouraging words, and he inspires his readers to stay focused on those things that really matter. Now the apostle had some very definite reasons for writing what he did. In fact, he uses the words "I write this to you" some 13 times in these 5 chapters. He addresses Christians who are living in various places, and he emphasizes the most basic principles of the Christian faith. For the next few minutes, I want us to focus on some of John's most important words. I want us to think about these most basic statements, some of the foundations upon which we build our lives as Christians even today. Let's look at five of them. First of all, John remarks, "I write this to make both your joy and my joy complete." That same phrase is found in verse 12 of 2 John. These believers share a common faith, and through that faith they share fellowship in Jesus Christ. It is something special, and it brings about great joy and unspeakable peace. It produces a spiritual family that belongs to the Lord, and that family shares in the ups and the downs of the Christian life. And as they do, their joy is complete, and John's joy is complete as he sees how these fellow believers are working together, and growing together, and sharing that fellowship and that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, John and his readers will be filled up with joy, as they come together as one, as they have this common faith and fellowship, and as they experience life together in the family of God. I want us to look at John's statement here. In 1 John, chapter 1, notice if you will, verses 5 through 7. "This is the message we have heard from Him and declared to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, His son, purifies us from all sin." Well, there it is. John states, we walk in the light of God. We don't have association with the darkness. But rather, through our faith and fellowship in Jesus Christ, we have that relationship with the glorious father who lives in light; and, therefore, we can live in that light as well. That comes when we come in contact with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, that He is the one who purifies us or cleanses us from the sin in our life. So first of all, one of the greatest joys Christians experience is sharing fellowship with the Lord and with the fellow believers. Here's a second statement. "I write this so you will not sin" (chapter 2, verse 1). It makes no difference how we look at sin: There is no good way to see it. There is nothing positive about it. Sin brings pain and suffering. Sin hurts one's relationship with God and one's relationship with other people. John warns his fellow believers about the dangers of sin some 27 times in these 78 verses. Let's look at some of the statements that John makes about sin; chapter 1, verse 9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness;" chapter 3, verse 6, "In Him is no sin. No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning;" then, chapter 5, verse 18, "We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin. The one who is born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him." John wants these believers to be free from sin. He wants them to eliminate any kind of sin in their life, and that happens when one stays in tune with the fellowship he or she has with Jesus Christ. Yes, John wants the people to eliminate anything that keeps them from being in that right and holy relationship with God. He reminds them that this very same Jesus came into the world to forgive that sin and so that people can be in that right relationship with the Lord. Sometimes that's hard to do. Sometimes it's hard to eliminate the sin in our life. We know that our sin is cleansed, and forgiven, and washed away when we come in contact with the blood of Jesus Christ. Yet sometimes that sin creeps back into our life, and John says don't let that happen. Eliminate that sin. Walk in faith and fellowship with Jesus and forget about the sin of the past. No doubt, these are important reminders for all of us; that God, through His son Jesus, provided a way for our sin to be forgiven, and that way came when Jesus came into this world to die upon a cross, that God sent him for that very purpose. God was not mad at His son. He was not angry. He was not punishing Jesus in any form or fashion. God was simply demonstrating His love for you and for me. So He asked His son Jesus to give His life so that we might have life, a life that is free from sin, a life that is free from condemnation. That is exactly what Jesus did. And through our faith in Him, we experience that forgiveness. Once that happens, we are no longer to go down that sinful way anymore. Yet, we realize these temptations continue to present themselves on a daily basis. So, how do we deal with that? On a number of occasions, we are told in scripture to resist Satan, to flee from Satan, to say no to Satan and his temptations, and to say, "That's enough, I'm not going to allow that to affect my faith nor my fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ." So that's the second thing that John highlights here in this letter. He writes 1 John so that we will not sin. Here's a third thing which John highlights. "I write this to give you a new command." Notice if you will the words of chapter 2, verses 7 and 8. "Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining." The old command the people had from the beginning was to love God. Based upon God's love for them, based upon His faithfulness, based upon everything He was doing on their behalf, they were to love God. They were also to love the people among them, even the foreigners who were living in their midst. Now, however, that idea of love takes on newer and even deeper meaning in Jesus Christ. Based upon God's love, they are to live in loving sacrifice for other people. John reminds them of their status with God. In chapter 3, verse 1, he writes, "How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us that we should be called the children of God," and that is what we are. Oh, I love that word "lavished." It means to over and abundantly pour out love upon a person, that God in His great love for us, He loved us more than we could ever imagine. In fact, the love that God has for us is greater love than we could ever give or receive from anybody else. I want to read a passage of scripture here in the 4th chapter that reminds us of God's love for us and our response to that love. Let's look at chapter 4, beginning with verse 7. "Dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we love God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us." This is one of the most beautiful passages in all of scripture. It helps us to know, and to understand, and appreciate the love of God. We love Him, but it's based upon Him first loving us. For those who are His children, we experience that love. We are a part of His family. We are His children, as we notice in chapter 3, verse 1. We belong to Him, and He belongs to us. Because of that love relationship, there is no need, then, to fall in love with this world. John highlights some of those things in chapter 2, verses 15 through 17; lust of the eye; and lust of the flesh; and the pride of life. Instead, the believer spends his time loving God and loving people. There are several examples of what that love looks like, which are found in chapters 3 and 4. So, to put it in very simple terms, to live as a follower of Jesus is to love. It is to love God and to love people. And what was important for these first century Christians is still very important for us today. It is one of the basic principles of our faith. Here's a fourth thing that we want to highlight. "I write this so you will not be led astray." Evidently, some false teachers said Jesus did not live upon the earth as a man. He was only the son of God, and the reasoning for saying that was they believed everything physical on the earth was evil and everything spiritual or in heaven was good, and Jesus could not be both. He was either one or the other. The only way to escape the physical evil and the body in which we live was to have some special insight or wisdom, and these false teachers said they had it. In fact, they had it to greater measures than did the apostles and anybody else who had taught the Word of God. There were many different variations of that type of teaching, but it was false teaching. It was not the truth. It was something different than what these believers had heard and put their faith in previously. So John warns them, don't be misled by the false teachers. Don't be led astray by something that is not true. He writes about that over in the 2nd chapter. Look if you will at verses 26 and 27. "I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit, just as it has taught you, remain in Him." Yes, John's readers were being confused and misled by false teachers, and that's perhaps one reason why John uses the word "no" some 42 times in this letter. He wants them to not only know about God but to truly know God as the Lord God Almighty. He wants them to not only know some things about Jesus and His ministry but to truly know Him as their Lord and Savior. Yes, John wants them to know the truth about Jesus and the salvation He offers. He adds this in chapter 4, verse 1. "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." To know the truth and to stand firmly on it will allow one to avoid and to say no to the false teachers of the day. Likewise, even today we are still to know the truth about God and His Word. And when we do, we are to be able to recognize and stay away from the false teachers of the day. There's one more thing I want to highlight here in John's letter. "I write this to assure you of your salvation." For me, that may be one of the most powerful and greatest statements that John includes here in his first letter. We find it in chapter 5, verse 13. "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know you have eternal life." Isn't that a great statement? We can know without any uncertainty that we have eternal life when we believe in Jesus Christ. Oh, in the midst of all of this false teaching, the believers needed to know that their belief in Jesus Christ was okay, it was all that was needed, and it was right. They were following Jesus and there was no need to doubt that. Nothing needed to be added to the truth of the gospel message they had already received and responded to in faith. Then, in fact, John closes his letter by basically repeating that same thing in verse 20, the very last verse, where he states that one's belief in God's Son brings eternal life. That's great news. It was great news for them, and it is great news even for us today. There are many things in this world that are confusing. We get all kinds of mixed messages from the television, and from the internet, and from the newspaper, and a variety of other information sources. Oftentimes we don't know for sure what is right and what is wrong. We don't know for sure if we are headed in the wrong direction or if we are going in a way that we don't need to go. Yes, we live in a very confusing world and in difficult times. We may not also get confirmation from others that what we are doing is right, because they themselves don't know either. Yet there is one great truth that we find in the Bible, and I would encourage you to hang on to this truth. There is one thing that is most certain: We can know without a doubt we have eternal life when we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Perhaps more than anybody else, John knew Jesus. Perhaps he was His best friend. Based on his knowledge of and relationship with the Son of God, he could write about Him, His love, and His salvation. These early Christians needed to hear John's message. They needed a reminder to not get caught up in all of the false teaching of the day, but to know that the truth of God's Word was sufficient and it led them to eternal life. They needed the encouragement to stay focused on and to know the truth of God's Word, and there was nothing else that could relate to it. They also needed the assurance that their salvation was secure because of their belief in Jesus and the fellowship they shared with Him, and with others. For those who believe in and follow Jesus today, this letter from His good friend is encouraging. This godly man who loves the Lord and those who follow Him remind us of some of the basic principles of our Christian faith. My encouragement for us today is that we will refer to 1 John on a regular basis, and that we too will be reminded of those basic things that we are to put into our life to make our faith in Him secure, to stay away from sin and the false teachers, and to know without a doubt that God has an eternal home waiting for us in heaven as we put our faith and obedience in Jesus Christ, His one and only Son.
The letter of 1 John was written to Christians for two primary reasons, to expose false teachers and to offer the assurance of salvation. Some were questioning the validity of God's Son coming in the flesh, stating that it did not happen. Yet, John reminds the believers that if Jesus had not lived on the earth and died on a cross, they would not have been set free from sin. However, since Jesus did die, was buried in a tomb, and then rose from the grave, those who put their faith in Him have the assurance of salvation. That salvation, then, leads to eternal life. It brings fellowship with the Heavenly Father and with other believers throughout the world. That salvation allows Christians to live a life of obedience, and of love for one another.
Thank you for watching "Key to the Kingdom." I trust this message from God's Word blessed you spiritually. It is great to know that through God's son Jesus we have the assurance of salvation. Now, if you would like to hear this message again, you can find it on our website at keytothekingdom.com. It, along with other previously recorded messages, is available in a variety of formats without any cost or obligation. Devotional thoughts, inspirational video clips, and even a Bible study can be found there as well. My email address is listed, and I would love to hear from you regarding this message or our ministry. By calling the number on the screen, you can request a six-lesson Bible study. Leave your name and address, and we will send it out by mail. You can work through it at your own pace and it will assist you in your own personal study. Many people have already done that and have greatly benefited from it. Through this ministry, we not only want to share these messages from God's Word, we also want to provide additional things that can help you grow spiritually. I hope you take advantage of these opportunities. Every week at this same time, we allow God's Word to guide our study. As it does, I trust we will accept the challenges presented and seek to grow closer to the Lord. I am grateful you have joined us for today's lesson. Please join us again next time as we continue to study the Bible on "Key to the Kingdom."