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!
Editor’s Note: If you would like to obtain a single PDF file containing all 25 blogs in the “Counting Down to the Christmas Revolution” series, click here to download. May God richly bless your efforts to explore the revolutionary truth underlying the Christmas celebrations around the world.
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!
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…
In the 1950’s Mamie Eisenhower was living in the White House with her husband, President Dwight Eisenhower. One night her nose was all stopped up and she reached for a jar of Vicks on her bedside table. He writes, “During the night when I woke up, I reached over to put some in my nostrils. Well, it seemed to just get drier, instead of moister, so I kept applying more and more. I didn’t want to wake up Ike, so I didn’t turn on my light. Then in the morning I discovered that I was using INK to cure my cold.” She also discovered that there were black splotches all over her, Ike, the sheets, headboard, and pink dust ruffle!
Has that ever happened to you?
“Light” is used here to describe our understanding and experience of God’s truth. As we apply God’s instructions to our daily interactions with others, we are “walking in the light” in much the way Jesus did 2000 years ago. Jesus put it this way: “…I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me… I always do what pleases him.” John 8:28b, 29b
My walk with God will naturally and positively impact my walk with others.
Are you having a series of problem relationships in your church? Are there members of your church family that you avoid or can’t stand? Are there past hurts in your heart that are keeping you from relating to someone else?
These are the “black splotches” that can result from trying to manage our relationships “in the dark”. Listen – don’t be like Mamie… turn the light on! The remedy for the problem does not lie in rushing to your problem people and trying to fix them. The answer begins first by checking in with the Lord. Let Him speak to you about those problem relationships. Allow Him to guide you in your efforts to repair the damage. Do it when and where and in the manner He directs.
Walk in the light… like Jesus did.