Back when we started this series, we learned that John had two major themes in his letter: Christ's nature and assurance of the believer. This Sunday, we wrapped up our series with a focus on that assurance. There are so many things in this world that we can't be sure of, but if we believe in Jesus, our relationship with God should not be one of them. We can have confidence in our faith, and John outlines 5 major areas in which we can stand assured in Christ.
We have eternal life
Knowledge of eternal life in Christ is one of John's central themes. John knew Jesus in person, and he wants his readers to have the same confidence he has in that first-hand experience of Christ's power. Why is assurance of eternal life so important to the believer? Without it, we can become bogged down by depression, ineffectiveness, and anxiety. With it, we have confidence, freedom, security, and boldness in our faith. So, how do we know we have eternal life? Well, those signs of salvation in a believer have been what we've been talking about over the past several weeks. John tells us that if we examine our beliefs, our behavior, our love for God and our love for others, we'll be able to see that God is working in our lives. Such outward signs are evidence of God working out His life in us -- not just life in eternity, but abundant life right now!
God answers prayer
The next area of assurance we have in Christ is in the area of prayer. John told us earlier that if we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive them and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Here, John reminds us that God always hears us, and that, when we pray for His will, we will receive what we ask for. The important thing to remember here is praying for God's will. John learned this lesson directly from the source, when Christ taught his disciples to pray, "your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." When God's will and God's reign is the focus of our prayer life, God will give us what we ask.
We have victory over sin and the devil
Because we know that we have eternal life and that God hears and responds to our prayers for his will, we also know that Satan and sin have no control over our lives. Although we may struggle at times because we live in a sin-filled world, John assures us that we will never be harmed, and that ultimate victory is ours in Christ.
We belong to God
This point follows from the last. Since we do not belong to Satan, we do belong to God. More importantly, if we belong to God, we are His forever -- nothing can separate us from Him. Nothing can take us away from Him.
We can know truth
Although all the knowledge of this world can be shaken, John encourages us that, in Christ, we can know truth. John then closes with an exhortation: "Dear children, keep yourselves from idols." Now that we know what the truth is, we should never settle for a counterfeit!
How to gain access to this assurance
Finally, we would be remiss to go through this whole series without a reminder of how to gain access to the peace and security found in Christ. Simply put, if we believe that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved. Or to put it another way, we need to admit our sin, abandon our own good efforts to defeat that sin, acknowledge that Christ's death on the cross and resurrection from the dead is the only way to healing, and accept Christ's Lordship over our lives. That's how we can know that we have eternal life.
Questions to Consider
- Do I live in continual doubt? What aspects of the gospel do I need to remember so that I can live in confidence?
- When I pray, am I asking for God's will and reign instead of my own?
- Are there any idols or counterfeit gods in my life? If so, how can I remove them and trust Christ completely?