Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #1025 MP3 Audio File Video File

Assurance of Salvation

(1 John 5:13)

Delivered 08/16/20

We are continuing our study of 1 John this morning. I have been saying since we started our study that this epistle is written to those who have trusted Christ, that is, believers. John's purpose in this epistle is to instruct his readers on how to have fellowship with Yeshua and the Father.

that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Yeshua the Christ. 1 John 1:3 ESV

This verse introduces the purpose of the Epistle: "So that you too may have fellowship with us."  This is a hina purpose clause with a present active subjunctive. The main theme of the Epistle is fellowship with Yahweh.

But if you are reading commentaries, you will quickly see that most see this epistle as a series of tests to show who is saved and who is not. John MacArthur writes, "This is a book that is intended to distinguish true Christians from false Christians." We’ll talk more about MacArthur’s tests a little later. 

I think that this "test view" is a dangerous view because it can easily cause believers to judge each other and to become very pharisaical. This epistle is not a test of who is saved because it is written to believers. Within that framework, John gives us ways by which we may test our own relationship to Yahweh. It is not a test of salvation but of fellowship.

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 1 John 1:6 ESV

If you are walking in darkness, you are not in fellowship with Yahweh. Then in 2:6 he says:

whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:6 ESV

If you are not living like Christ, you are not in fellowship with Yahweh. The verb "abides" here is the Greek meno. This is a major theological term for John. It is used twenty-four times in this letter and forty times in his Gospel. This phrase, "abides in Him," means exactly the same thing as the phrase "knowing Him" does in verse 4. Both expressions convey the same thing as saying we have "fellowship with Him" (1:6). They are all one and the same experience. Having fellowship with Him, knowing Him, and abiding in Him all indicate the same thing. They are all synonyms for having a close, intimate relationship with Him.

We begin a new section of this letter this morning. First John chapter 5, verses 13 through 21 constitutes the conclusion of the epistle.  With verse 12, John ended the formal argument of the book. Verse 12 summed it all up:

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:12 ESV

Colin G. Kruse in the Pillar New Testament Commentary gives us an overview of this final section.

"With this section, 5:13–21, the author brings his letter to its conclusion. In doing so, he picks up several of the themes already developed within the letter. This concluding section comprises four subsections: (a) 5:13–15: the author indicates that his purpose in writing was to reassure his readers concerning their possession of eternal life, and explains what that means as far as prayer in general is concerned; (b) 5:16–17: he amplifies the theme of prayer, urging his readers to pray for those overtaken by sins that do not lead to death, while indicating that he is not asking them to pray for those whose sins do lead to death; (c) 5:18–20: the author further reassures his readers by reminding them that they are no longer under the power of the evil one, being kept safe by Jesus Christ himself, and that they have been given knowledge of the truth and eternal life in Jesus Christ; (d) 5:21: the concluding exhortation, ‘Dear children, keep yourselves from idols’, with which the letter ends."

The closing context of this letter (5:13-20) lists seven things that believers know. In six of them the word eido (to know) is used. It denotes positive, absolute knowledge given by divine revelation and not something that is learned by experience. Their knowledge of gospel truths provides a bedrock foundation of assurance. We know that the number seven in Scripture is often used symbolically of fullness, perfection, and completion. Believers have full complete knowledge.

Let’s look at our text:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13 ESV

Let’s look at this in Young’s:

These things I did write to you who are believing in the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that life ye have age-during, and that ye may believe in the name of the Son of God. 1 John 5:13 YLT

The last clause found in the Textus Receptus is the basis of the KJV and Young's renderings. Although found in some later manuscripts, it is most likely not genuine. This is why modern translations do not include it.

Verse 13 is theologically similar to the closing of the Gospel of John:

Now Yeshua did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Yeshua is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31 ESV

The Gospel of John was written to convince people that Christ was who He said He was and that His claims and His work were valid and effectual. It was an evangelistic work. But we see from chapter 5 and verse 13 that his first epistle is written to those who have already professed faith in the Lord Yeshua. They are those who have believed:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13 ESV

The Gospel of John has a message of salvation. The epistle of John has a message of assurance. That the letter and the Gospel both end (and begin) on the same note (life) is noteworthy and gives us one more piece of evidence suggesting a common authorship.

"I write these things"—what are the "these things"?Many see the "these things" as a reference to the entire letter. But as we said earlier, John's purpose in this epistle is to instruct his readers on how to have fellowship with Yeshua and the Father.

I think it’s better to see the phrase "these things" as referring to only what John had just written about God's witness in 5:6-12. The "these things" in 1:4 refers to what was previously written in 1:1-3. The "these things" in 2:1, likewise, refers to what immediately precedes in 1:5-10. Following this pattern, we conclude that the "these things" in 2:26 concern what immediately precedes in 2:18- 25. John stated the purpose of the whole epistle in 1:3-4:

that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Yeshua the Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 1 John 1:3-4 ESV

In summary, I think it is wrong to take "these things" (v13) as a statement of purpose for the entire epistle.

"To you who believe in the name of the Son of God"—these words do not mean "to those of you who believe." The Greek here means, "to you believers." Nowhere in this Epistle does John even hint that he thinks some of his readers might not be Christians. He is writing to believers.

"Believe in the name of the Son of God"—what is "the name" of the Son of God?

Is it Jesus? Is it Yeshua? In Hebrew thought name means: "character." We see this in Exodus 20:7.

"You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. Exodus 20:7 ESV

This could be translated: "You shall not take the 'character' of Yahweh your God in vain." This could literally be translated: "You shall not falsely represent the character of Yahweh." When followers of Yahweh live and act ungodly, we take His name in vain.

Who is it that has the right to become children of God?

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, John 1:12 ESV

The word "received" is the aorist active indicative of lambano. The aorist tense indicates that at some point in the past they received Him. It is a verb that is put in the active voice stressing the activity of God.

Who received him? It is those, and those only, who believe in His name! To the ancients, one's name expressed the sum of the qualities that marked the nature or character of that person. To believe in His name means to accept the revelation of who Yeshua is that God has given. It involves believing that Yeshua is fully man and fully God and is come to redeem the world. You cannot deny the deity of Yeshua and believe in His name. You can't say He is only a man and still claim to believe in His name. He is not just a man; He is the God-man. John 1:1 says:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 ESV

The Word has been in existence since the very beginning, since eternity past. The Word was with God—the words "was with God" prohibits us from seeing no distinction between the Father and the Word. There is a distinction. The Son, the Word, is distinct from the Father. That is Trinitarian. And "the Word was God." In verse 3 we see that the Word is the Creator of all things. Then in verse 14 John writes:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 ESV

I like the way the Complete Jewish Bible translates this:

The Word became a human being and lived with us, and we saw his Sh'khinah, the Sh'khinah of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 CJB

The eternal Word who was with God and was God and the Word who created all things became a human being. This verse teaches the staggering truth that Yeshua of Nazareth was Yahweh become man.

To understand the importance that believing "in his name" means look at:

I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." John 8:24 ESV

Is Yeshua saying that people must believe so that they don't die in their sins? The conditional clause provides the proper object of faith: "If you do not believe that ego eimi." The translators add "he" but it is not in the Greek text. So, what is Yeshua claiming? He is claiming to be "I Am." And by doing so was asserting equality with God Himself who was revealed as the "I Am That I Am" —the self-existent, eternal God.

"The Son of God"—this is a title that unambiguously claims deity. Son of God means "He is God":

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. John 5:18 ESV

Yeshua is equal with God; He is God. John the Baptizer identifies himself as the preparatory voice of Isaiah 40:3. They asked "Who are you?" And he said, "The Voice." He is a voice preparing the way for whom? He was preparing the way for Yeshua! Look what Isaiah says:

A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Isaiah 40:3 ESV

Here the voice is clearing the way for Yahweh, yet John says he is preparing the way for Yeshua. This is because Yeshua is Yahweh! John the Baptist testified that Yeshua was Yahweh. As the Jews accused, he was "calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God."

Isaiah says,

And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" Isaiah 6:5 ESV

"For my eyes have seen the King, Yahweh of hosts." He is in the throne room of Yahweh. He sees Yahweh. Then in John 12 we are told that the person Isaiah saw was Christ:

Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. John 12:41 ESV

As you look back in the context of this chapter, you will see that Isaiah saw Yeshua, whom he called "Yahweh." Yeshua is Yahweh the Son, the Second person of the Trinity. To believe in his name is to believe the testimony of what the Scripture says about Him.

"That you may know that you have eternal life"what could be more important than knowing that you have eternal life? In the culture we live in, for someone to say "I know something," is seen as blatant arrogance, pride, or presumption. But for a believer not to know that he has eternal life is a sad thing. We don’t hope for eternal life; we have it.

But these Christians to whom John wrote had been shaken by false teachers. They had been shaken by antichrists who denied important elements of the message the readers had embraced at the beginning. The readers’ assurance had been shaken by these denials and claims, so John writes to bolster their assurance by counteracting the false teaching of the secessionists.

D. L. Moody said: "I have never known a Christian who was any good in the work of Christ who did not have the assurance of salvation." Assurance is vitally important for a Christian.

Can you imagine the emotional state of a child who does not know from day to day whether or not he is a member of the family? Today, since he was a good boy, he is considered a member. But tomorrow, if he misbehaves, he may no longer be a member. Today he is loved by his father. Tomorrow he may not be. This child would be a neurotic mess! You are a part of your family, regardless of your behavior. So, it is in the family of God, too. If you belong to Christ, you are part of the family, and can enjoy the emotional security our Heavenly Father wants us to experience.

When they built the first section of the Golden Gate bridge, there was no safety net to protect the workers. Twenty-three workers fell to their deaths in the water far below the bridge. However, during the construction of the last part of the bridge the city of San Francisco decided to install a safety net at a cost of $100,000 (a lot of money in those days).  But proved worthwhile when 10 lives were saved by the netting. The interesting thing about that story was that when they completed the bridge they discovered, through a very exhaustive study, that 25% more work was accomplished in the same period of time when the men were completely sure of their personal safety. They could get on with the work! They had that security that they longed for. They were able to put questions and doubts out of their mind and throw all their energies into the work!

To be a productive Christian, you need to know that your future is secure. That's why understanding our eternal security is so important. It allows our fears to be dealt with, gives us confidence for the task at hand, and offers the emotional stability that we need. If you understand what the Bible has to say about God's security, you would see that the God who saved you, keeps you.

Through the years the subject of eternal security has been hotly debated in theology. There have always been those who have affirmed that you can lose your salvation. The "Five Points of Calvinism" are simply the Calvinistic answer to a five-point manifest put out by certain Belgic semi-Pelagians in the early seventeenth century. We recognize this semi-Pelagian manifest as Arminianism. Its fifth point states: "It rests with believers to keep themselves in a state of grace by keeping up their faith: those who fail here fall away and are lost."

As Christians, do we all live on the brink of damnation? Is our salvation conditional on our ability to maintain it? Talk about depression! I mean, people get depressed for a lot of things far less significant than this. I could understand depression, and I could understand taking massive amounts of Prozac or Abilify if you believe you can lose your salvation. To believe that would be to constantly live in mortal fear.

After the Protestant Reformation (1517-1648), The Roman Catholic Church held sessions at the Council of Trent (1545-1563).  In 1547 it declared in its decrees concerning justification that, "Except by special revelation, it cannot be known whom God has chosen to Himself. If anyone says that he will be certain, with an absolute and infallible certainty, to have that great gift of perseverance even to the end, unless he shall have learned this by a special revelation", that being a dream or vision, "let him be anathema." The Council of Trent pronounced an anathema on reformed doctrine that once one is justified by faith, he is saved and can have assurance of his salvation.

Cardinal Bellermine denounced the Reformation doctrine of assurance as "A prime error of heretics." This must mean that John was a heretic because he taught that believers can know that they have eternal life. Paul must also have been a heretic because he told us in Romans 8 that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

The Synod of Dort was convened in 1618. It rejected the premise that believers can lose their salvation (Arminianism) and upheld the five points of Calvinism.  The fifth point states: "Believers are kept in faith and grace by the unconquerable power of God till they come to glory."

The doctrine that says you can lose your salvation puts conditions of maintenance on salvation. In other words, God has saved us, but we must continue to match up with the standard in order to hold on to salvation. If we fail, we lose our salvation.

The majority of church goers do not understand that our salvation is not based upon what we do but upon what Christ did. They think that their relationship with God is based upon their performance. They think that as long as they live "right" that God will not condemn them. This is a "works" system. To attempt to live the Christian life by works is to live under constant guilt and condemnation. But the understanding that salvation is by grace through faith and that believers are absolutely secure because of Christ's work will bring great peace to the believer’s soul. Security is vital to peace.

We must understand that our salvation is based upon the act of One person—Yeshua the Christ. Please get that! The security of our salvation is not based upon our acts. Just as we were all condemned by Adam's act so we are made righteous by Christ's act.

For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19 ESV

The Greek word for "made" is kathistemi. It means "to set down in the rank of, or to place in the category of, to appoint to a particular class." The word "made" is not causative, but declarative. Those in Adam were declared sinners. It is imperative that we understand this. "By the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners." Paul doesn't teach that we were "made sinful" but that we were "made sinners." The whole human race has been constituted legally as sinners. That is our judicial standing before God. And it is based entirely and solely on Adam's one act of disobedience.

Because of Adam's one sin, we are all made sinners. This is God's judicial act. He decreed that the whole of humanity should be represented by the first man and should suffer the consequences of that man's actions. We all sinned in Adam and with Adam because he was our Federal head or representative, and therefore, God pronounced all to be sinners.

That is one side, but thank God there is another.  It is introduced by the conjunction, "so." By the righteous act of One Man, the Lord Yeshua Christ, came justification that leads to life:

For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19 ESV

"So"—the great truth that we see here is that all we are and have comes out of the obedience of the last Adam—the Lord Yeshua the Christ. Our salvation is based entirely on Him, and from Him, and in Him. As my being a sinner came entirely from Adam, all my righteousness comes entirely from the Lord Yeshua the Christ.

Your assurance of salvation comes not from your feelings but from your understanding. Look at yourself in Adam. Though you had done nothing, you were declared a sinner. Look at yourself in Christ, and you see that though you have done nothing, you are declared to be righteous. That is the parallel. We must get rid of all thoughts of our actions as far as gaining or keeping salvation. We are justified, declared righteous because of the obedience of Yeshua, and Yeshua alone! Yeshua the Christ lived a sinless life in total obedience to the Law of God, and then died a substitutionary death on our behalf:

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24 ESV

The end of Romans 5:19 says, "So by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous"—the people who belong to Christ are "made" righteous. The word "made" is kathistemi, it means "to set down in the rank of, or to place in the category of, to appoint to a particular class." The word has the same meaning and the same force on both sides of the parallel. We are declared righteous on the grounds of Christ's obedience alone:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV

Yeshua was regarded and treated as a sinner that we might be regarded and treated as righteous in the sight of God. As a believer, I am righteous, and I will always be righteous because I am in Christ. Just as Christ never changes, neither will I. Your salvation and mine depend only, entirely, and exclusively upon the obedience of Christ.

In case that wasn’t enough, let’s look at just a few of the many verses that speak about the security of our salvation. We see Yeshua talking about this security in John 6.

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. John 6:37 ESV

We see here the idea of calling and election. Those given to Christ by the Father come to Christ. Two verses earlier Yeshua had connected "coming" to Him to "believing in Him." So, since the crowd does not believe in Him, they have not "come" to Him. It is this unbelief, then, which Yeshua is addressing in this verse. And all who come/believe are kept.

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. John 6:39 ESV

It is the Father’s will that all those whom he has given to Christ will stay with Christ and will be resurrected.

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." John 6:40 ESV

Everyone who believes in the Son has eternal life and gets resurrected. They would be resurrected on the last day, the end of the old covenant at the return of Christ. We are raised up when we trust in Christ.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28 ESV

Who are His sheep? It is those whom he calls. He gives those he calls eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can remove them from the Father’s hand. That’s security.

Let me ask you again just so that we are clear on this. Who can know that they have eternal life? John says "you who believe in the name of the Son of God."

But John MacArthur says this: "Can you know? Of course. John says, ‘That’s why I wrote this epistle. Measure yourself against the tests. Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Do you understand your own sinful condition? Are you manifesting day in and day out the evidence of a transformed life by virtue of your love for God, your love for others, your hatred toward the world, and by manifestation of your obedience? If that’s the case, if you pass the test,– verse 13 says, you may know that you have eternal life."
WHAT? John says you can know you have eternal live because you
"believe in the name of the Son of God."
He says nothing about passing a test or living obediently or hating the world. John says:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13 ESV

All true assurance of salvation and eternal life must rest on the "testimony of God." To suggest that Christian experience can stand on some relatively equal level with the "testimony of God" as a ground for assurance is blasphemy. How can you compare flawed human works with the testimony of God? Our assurance of salvation rests on the testimony of God, His promise:

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:12 ESV

Once Christian experience is made the grounds for assurance (as some believe 1 John teaches), John's assurance in this verse about knowing becomes a complete impossibility!

Believers, you may have many questions about life and about the world we live in, but there's one thing that we can know. We have eternal life. The greatest question, involves our eternal destiny. As believers, you can have assurance from God that your salvation is secure. Do you know?

Augustine, who is considered one of the greatest theologians within the church, wrote: "To be assured of our salvation is no arrogant stoutness. It is our faith. It is no pride. It is devotion. It is no presumption. It is God's promise."

When Sir James Young Simpson, who was the discoverer of the anesthetic properties of chloroform and pioneered its application in surgery, was on his deathbed, a close friend asked him: "Sir, what are your speculations." Simpson replied: "Speculations? I have none, for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." Amen! He was a believer and he knew that he had eternal life. This is assurance.

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