Read 1 John 5:9-13
As a group of young, neighborhood friends, we were playing a fierce game of tag, running through backyards and between houses. I was being hotly pursued, when I sped around the corner of a house and saw him: a huge, tethered dog staring at me from a back patio! He barked and lunged at me. I stumbled backward and landed hard on my pride. As the beast approached, I did not feel safe—until he reached the end of his chain and stopped abruptly.
In that moment, I wanted immediate answers to some basic questions! Was I at a safe distance? Would the chain hold the beast back? How could I get out of this predicament?
Have you ever questioned whether you were really saved? I may believe the facts of the Gospel and I may believe in God’s ability to forgive my sins—but how can I know it all applies to me personally?
Based on John’s teaching, there are three diagnostic questions you can use to determine whether you are “safe in Jesus” and be certain of your salvation.
Does the Holy Spirit live inside you as a messenger of God’s truth and love? (vs. 9-10)
John explains that God is a witness to the identity and work of His Son. He did not want to leave you in the dark! In the gospels, God the Father verbally identified Jesus as His Son on two different occasions (Matthew 3:16-17 and Matthew 17:5). God the Father clearly tells you who Jesus is: the Son sent to die for you, setting you free from sin’s power and penalty.
How does He communicate His witness to your heart? John says, “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself…” (1 John 5:10). When someone hears the good news and responds—turning from sin and trusting in Christ’s work on the cross—the Holy Spirit has played a significant role. He not only convicts, but at the moment of decision, He comes inside the new believer.
In Romans 8:9, the apostle Paul writes: “…if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” The presence of the Holy Spirit in you—the witness of the Father—is the greatest assurance that you are safe in Jesus.
In Romans 8:16, Paul adds, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…” The Father wants you to know that you are His child, so He interacts with you and communicates to you through the most intimate means possible: His Spirit living inside your body (Colossians 1:27).
Are you experiencing a growing, personal relationship with Jesus Christ? (vs. 11-12)
Visiting a friend at a large corporate headquarters, I had to wait in a comfortable lobby behind locked doors while he made his way downstairs to meet me. Once he arrived, I was free to enter and move around the building, so long as I was with my friend. If I had my friend with me, I had access. No friend, no access.
John writes, “He who has the Son has life.” Eternal life is not a promise, but it resides in a Person. Other religions may offer a different path to heaven, but God does not offer a path to eternal life—He offers a Person who says, “Follow Me!”
If you are growing in an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ through His Spirit and His Word, you can know that you are safe in Jesus.
Is your faith resulting in a changed life? (vs. 13)
The Holy Spirit is at work inside us, confirming God’s Word. Jesus lives in relationship with us, engaging us to follow Him. With these powerful influences at work within us, our lives should change.
John says, “These things I have written to you… that you may know you have eternal life.” What things? Throughout John’s letter, he explains that inner transformation results in outer reformation of our attitudes and behaviors. Over time, I should see real change in my life such as:
· A readiness to obey God (1 John 2:3);
· A sincere love for other Christians (1 John 3:14); and
· A concrete, practical response to those in need (1 John 3:18).
Over and over again, John indicates that if I am not changing outwardly, I am not being honest with myself or with others about my true spiritual condition (e.g. 1 John 1:6; 2:4, 9-11; 4:20).
Staring into the eyes of that angry dog years ago, I was able to conclude that he was chained up securely and couldn’t reach me. I got up and brushed myself off. Then with great relief and confidence, I walked away from the snarling beast—absolutely safe.
In the same way, you need to reach a conclusion regarding your personal experience of salvation. Ask the right questions. Be honest with yourself as you examine your own heart. Sin and hell would devour you if they could—but in Jesus, you can find a safe place—forever!