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That You May Know You Have Eternal Life

That You May Know You Have Eternal Life

John wrote the letter of 1 John so that those who read it would know that they have eternal life. His goal was to give them confidence that they truly share in the life of God, that they have been born into God’s family.

Some of you may be reading 1 John, doing Growth Group studies and hearing the sermons, and you say, “This is having the opposite effect on me! The more I read this letter, the more I wonder if I have eternal life.”

I don’t want to be like a doctor that tells a cancer patient, “You are okay. It’s not that serious,” and then the patient skips the chemotherapy and dies from the cancer. Some people reading this may be among those who should see in 1 John their need to repent and truly trust in Christ. If you practice sin habitually and do not want to turn from it, you may not really be a child of God.

However, many who have trusted in Jesus and who have sensitive hearts may read 1 John and be discouraged. Please let me encourage you with the truth that John gives us so that you might be confident that you do have eternal life.

Here are four reasons to be encouraged that you do know Christ and your sins are forgiven.

1. You believe in Jesus Christ as He has been revealed in the Scriptures.

If you believe the testimony that John and the other Biblical authors give us about Jesus, then you are His child! Listen to 1 John 5:1a: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.”

God promises that if you believe in Jesus, if you confess Him as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, then you will be saved (Romans 10:9).

John tells us to believe the testimony that the Father gave at Jesus’ baptism and at the transfiguration, the testimony of the Holy Spirit through all the miracles and at Jesus’ baptism, and the testimony of His death and resurrection.

It is that wonderful and simple: God promises that if you believe in Jesus, if you confess Him as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, then you will be saved (Romans 10:9). John wants you to be assured that you are a child of God because you have believed the message preached in the Bible about Jesus Christ.

2. You love other Christians.

John repeats it over and over: If you are a child of God, you will love God’s other children. 1 John 4:20-21 says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

What does this mean? Does this mean you will perfectly and in every moment love other Christians? No. That is why he says in 1 John 1:8-10 that we have sin and we need to confess it. We will fall short of perfectly loving each other.

Paul removes any notion of sinless perfection being achievable in this life in Philippians 3:12-14: He strives to lay hold of what Christ is calling him to and acknowledges that he has not attained it. The question is not, “Do you love others perfectly and all the time?” Rather, the question is, “Do you love others?”

Would the movie of your life, not just the snapshot, show a person who is growing in loving other Christians? Are you laying down your life in small ways? Are you a committed member of a church where you serve, give, pray, sing, and speak in order to love others?

If you are desiring to grow in how you love fellow believers in Jesus, be encouraged that you are sharing in the life of God.

3. You obey God’s commands.

Are you committed to obeying what God has said in His Word? When you see something clearly in Scripture, do you want to obey it? Are you willing to work hard at obeying Him even when it is difficult?

1 John 2:3 says, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.” 1 John 3:7 says, “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.”

Both of these verses are talking about the practice of your life. Is your life moving in the direction of practicing righteousness and keeping God’s commands? As you grow in understanding the gospel and knowing Jesus better and better, are you seeking to obey Him more in every area of your life?

This is not meant to comfort you as you selectively disobey. If there are areas of your life where you are stubbornly refusing to obey Him, you will seek help from others if you are God’s child. You will want to find grace from Christ to grow and change.

Be challenged and encouraged by 1 John that Christ has died for those sins and is your Advocate. He wants you to confess your sin to Him and receive His forgiveness and help! If you are willing to turn from your sin to Christ to seek His help, then you are doing what is necessary to obey His commands.

The key question is, do you recognize His voice in the Bible? Are you committed to obeying God’s Word? When other Christians show you ways you are sinning, are you willing to listen and to repent? If you are growing in obeying Him as you learn to trust in Him, that is a good sign that you are His child.

Paul said in 1 Timothy 1 that he was the foremost of sinners. He saw the greatness of his sin, but even more he saw the greatness of His Savior.

4. You confess your sins.

If you admit your sin to Christ and seek to change, that is a sign that you are a child of God. God’s children love Him and want to obey Him. They will see their need and their sin and will come to Him for forgiveness and help.

Paul said in 1 Timothy 1 that he was the foremost of sinners. He saw the greatness of his sin, but even more he saw the greatness of His Savior.

Is that you? Do you see more and more how far short you fall of the mark? At the same time, you can trust like Paul did that Jesus is your Savior, that He died for you, and that He wants you to draw near to Him.

Either way, turn to Jesus

Whenever you are desiring your sin more than God, you need to hear the hard teachings in 1 John about those who claim to be God’s children but are not. May these warnings give you wisdom and a heart of repentance that turns back to God because you are His child.

But when you are feeling discouraged and start to doubt if you are God’s child because of your poor performance, turn your eyes to Jesus! Trust in Him! He has earned your salvation through His life and death and resurrection. If you are humbly trusting in Him, He will help you to grow in loving others and obeying Him.

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