Quite possibly the saddest and most tragic thing in the whole world is the life that is lived wondering if one is right with God; destined for eternal life in heaven; saved. If you have not found time to consider that question, what are you waiting for? There is no greater question; no more pressing business for you to attend to
In our book-by-book tour of the Bible, we come to the first of the general letters (epistles) written by John the Apostle. John wants us to be certain of some things. He uses the word “know” thirty-six times and “knows” four times in five short chapters. Since no recipient is mentioned, it is difficult to determine, but John was evidently writing not to any individual or any individual church but rather to a scattered group of people and churches. The tone of the letter indicates that John knew and loved and respected those he was writing to. John does not name a specific heresy, but it is pretty clear that he is writing with a purpose. He is refuting some specific false teachings which were infecting the church. This letter reads almost like a sermon and what a powerful sermon it is.
John begins the letter by giving evidence that he was an eyewitness to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Thus his testimony is most trustworthy. He professes to have fellowship with God and he desires to have his joy made complete by entering into fellowship with his readers. John points out that fellowship with God and each other is dependent on walking in God’s light and confessing the times that darkness has been entered into.
John’s purpose in chapter two is clear from the very first line. He wants to help us avoid sin. He rightly points out that as humans living in a fallen state in a fallen world, we will not be able to avoid all sin. Praise God that Christ has already paid the penalty in full. John continues by pointing out that we cannot have fellowship with God as a child of God, if we hate God’s other children. John declares that in this case love is exclusive. It is impossible to love God and the world at the same time. John gives us a strong declaration of the divinity of Jesus and His unity with God the Father. Chapter two closes with a recommendation that since Christ is righteous we ought to make every effort to be righteous as well, so that we will not be fearful and ashamed when we meet Christ face to face.
In chapter three, John describes some trustworthy evidences that prove that a person is really a child of God. One can be sure that he is a Christian if he or she: is striving to be pure; does not practice lawlessness; does practice righteousness; loves other children of God; is hated by the world; and performs acts of benevolent love. John goes on to say that if we have done these things, there will be peace in our heart concerning our relationship with God. Chapter three closes with one last admonition accompanied by a promise: keep Christ’s commandments and the Holy Spirit will testify to your spirit that you do indeed belong to God. Hallelujah, what a Savior! Your own personal witness, living in your heart.
Chapter four opens with a simple truth, a simple test, which will protect us from much false teaching. Applying this test will enable us to discern between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. The teacher of truth will confess that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God come in the flesh. The teacher of error will deny that fact. John goes on to say that love for God and His children: manifested in us, abiding in us, permeating us, controlling us, casting out fear in us, producing truth in us, perfected in us; is proof that God abides in us and vice versa.
Chapter five begins by declaring that our love is proved by our keeping of God’s commandments. It also warns that if His commandments seem burdensome, it is because we are not born of God. If we have not believed that Jesus is the Son of God, then we are not born of God and the commandments will be burdensome. John continues by pointing out some excellent witnesses, in fact the only perfect witnesses, who declare that Jesus was indeed God in the flesh. His witnesses: the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God the Son proclaimed this truth as He walked the earth. God the Father spoke audibly at Jesus’ baptism and through earthquakes and ripped veils and darkened skies at Jesus’ death. The Holy Spirit anointed and empowered the Apostles to boldly proclaim that Jesus was indeed God in the flesh. Since that time, the Holy Spirit has continued to testify that truth to the spirit of every believer.
John draws his epistle to a dramatic climax with these words, in verses 11-13,
“The testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” NASU
Obviously by “these things” John means “the one who has the Son is the one who has eternal life”. I think he is also referring to all the evidences he has describe earlier in this epistle. Aren’t you glad that God did not leave us wondering in our wandering on this earth? We can know without a shadow of a doubt that we are saved, adopted into the family of God, on our way to heaven, to spend it with other children of God, in the presence of God. We are signed, sealed, and awaiting sure delivery. We have been justified; we are being sanctified, we will be glorified. You can know that you know that you know. Read First John and ask the Author to burn its truth into your heart.