And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. – 1 John 5:11-13
Bubbles… float… to the surface.
John makes the case throughout his letter that when God is at work on the inside of a person, His activity “bubbles up” into changed thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
God begins to transform a person from the inside out, beginning at the moment when that person abandons self-rule (sin), yields himself to the love and governance of God the Father, and believes that Jesus Christ bore his sins (past, present, and future) on the cross (John 3:16; 1 Peter 2:24; Romans 10:9-10). Salvation begins with a sincere expression of faith in Jesus upon hearing the good news (the gospel).
But how can I know that He has come into my life? How can I know for sure that God is at work within me?
John’s purpose in writing his letter is to lead Christians to a place of great assurance and certainty that they are, in fact, children of God. His argument is simple: the “bubbles” of God’s activity on the inside will surface in the believer’s life. It is certain and it is inevitable over time.
A few years ago, I composed some diagnostic questions based on John’s insights. These are not practices to strive for… but “bubbles” of change associated with God’s activity within a human heart over time. John’s “bubbles” are indicators of the presence of God.
- Am I dealing with a God of revelation or imagination? (1 John 1:5)
- Am I living the way I want or the way He wants? (I John 1:6-7)
- Am I hiding or exposing sin in my life? (I John 1:8-10)
- Am I struggling against sin in my life? (I John 2:1-2)
- Am I motivated by love for God to yield to His directional control over my life? (I John 2:3-6)
- Am I drawn to love Christian brothers? (I John 2:7-11)
- Am I pursuing this life’s rewards or the next? (I John 2:12-17)
- Am I sensitive to doctrinal error? (I John 2:18-27)
- Am I longing for purity in my life as a pathway into my Father’s presence? (I John 2:28-29; 3:1-10)
- Am I responding to Christians in need with “deeds”? (I John 3:11-22)
- Am I conscious of the Holy Spirit’s activity in my life? (I John 3:23-24; 4:1-6)
- Am I growing in love because of my experience of God’s love? (I John 4:7-21)
- Am I exercising faith in God? (1 John 5:1-13)
Who is the active agent of change inside the Christian? The Son of God… the One born in Bethlehem!
The kind of confidence we are supposed to have comes from recognizing that inside us something has changed forever—that God has changed us and come to live inside us through His Son. John doesn’t write, “He who has the Church has life,” but rather, “He who has the Son has life.”
Salvation does not occur when we come inside the church, but when the Son comes to live inside us… the life-changing consequence of the Christmas Revolution!