“I know I’m saved, but why do I have these thoughts?”
“I’ve been a faithful church member for years. Christ is my Savior—but heaven? I hope so.”
“No one can be absolutely sure he’s saved. Didn’t Jesus say himself that he’s going to tell a lot of so-called believers, ‘away from me—I never knew you’?”
These are more than merely hypothetical questions to use as conversation starters at lunch. They are all too real, and ones that many people ask today. Is there any way to be absolutely certain of our salvation? As John pens the final chapter of his first letter, he focuses on this question. (Adapted from How to be a Christian without being perfect, by Fritz Ridenour. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1986, p.190.)
What are the Vital Signs that help us know if we have been “Born Again”? In 1 John 5:1-5, the apostle John gives a simple formula that leads to assurance. Belief + Love + Obedience + Victory = Assurance.
Throughout his first letter, John has posed three tests that help reveal whether or not we are in fellowship with God. There is the doctrinal test—Do you believe? (2:3-6; 2:28-3:10). There is the ethical test—Do you obey? (2:7-11; 3:11-24). There is the social test—Do you love? (2:18-27; 4:1-6). In 5:1-5, John braids belief, obedience, and love together into a strong cord that binds the believer tightly to Jesus Christ.
Belief (1a). This is one of the clearest statements in Scripture of what a person must do to be saved. We must believe that Jesus is “the Christ” (the Anointed One whom God promised to provide as a substitute sacrifice for the sins of the world.)
Love (1b). Love is an action, not an emotion. Don’t wait until you feel love to practice love. Act as if and allows the emotions to catch up.
Obedience (2-3). The proof of our love for God is our obedience to God’s commands. Rather than being a crushing burden, God’s instruction are for our benefit (Matthew 11:28-30). The closer one gets to God, the more delightful his moral and ethical demands become (Psalm 119:16, 24, 35, 54, 92, 97).
Victory (4). Every Christian has overcome the world by his or her initial faith in Christ. To continue to overcome and obey God all we need to do is continue to exercise faith in God.
Belief (5). Faith that overcomes is only faith that believes that Jesus is the Son of God. A believer’s authority is determined by his position in Christ.
To determine the health of your relationship with God, check your vital signs. What do you believe about Jesus? How do you treat others? What is your attitude towards God’s instructions? Are you gaining victory over sin?
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on May 7, 2017. It is part of a series on The Letters of John. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.