Yesterday I had the opportunity of preaching from 1 John 4:13-21 in our series through the epistle of 1 John. As we’ve pointed out all through the series, John has a desire for his readers to know some things about God, about themselves, and to have assurance of their salvation. We have purposely titled the series, “Know” for that reason.
Millions of professing Christians wake up everyday and approach life without concrete assurance of their salvation. They ask themselves often if their faith is real, if their religion is genuine, and if they have truly pleased God. However, they continue to fall back into ongoing patterns of sin and seem to have very little if any love for God’s Word and their local church. How can a person know they are indeed a true Christian?
The Gift of Assurance
John writes the following verse 13, “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” In other words, we know that we are indeed a true believer based on the fact that we have the Holy Spirit abiding in us. All through the New Testament, we find the clear teaching of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who comes at the point of conversion. Texts such as Titus 3:5 reveal this truth to us.
Titus 3:5 – he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit
It is John’s aim in this section to demonstrate that the assurance of salvation comes as a result of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. From birth, we are born into the bondage of sin and are unable to live in a manner that pleases God in our human flesh. Yet, after conversion and the receiving of the Holy Spirit, we receive the freedom to live in a God honoring manner. We see this clearly taught in passages such as Galatians 5:16-18.
John also labors the point of God’s sovereignty in salvation as he points to the deity of Christ and then places clear emphasis upon the fact that salvation is God loving us rather than us choosing to love God. He says, “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16). God has loved us before we love God—or our fellow brethren in the church (1 John 4:19). Salvation is not us coming to God or us finding God—in the Bible salvation is pictured as God coming to fallen, helpless, dead sinners who need a Savior.
The Fruit of the Spirit
After conversion and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit becomes evident in our lives. First of all, we have a peace—a true confidence to approach the judgment throne of God knowing that Christ has taken our sins upon himself and satisfied the justice of God on our behalf. We have no need to live in fear of punishment. Jesus was punished in our place (Is. 53:10).
Last of all, John returns to his theme of love by demonstrating that the ministry of the Holy Spirit indwelling believers will lead to genuine love for the brethren that proves true salvation. In other words, if a person claims to be loved by God and claims to love God but refuses to love his or her fellow church members, John calls that person a liar (1 John 4:20). The person who claims to be a Christian but harbors bitterness, animosity, hatred, envy, jealousy, and continually gossips and slanders other church members proves to not be a child of God.
Are you a Christian? On what basis do you claim to be a follower of Christ? Do you have proof that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is at work in our life bringing about the fruit of the Spirit in your daily lifestyle? If not, you have reason to fear that you religion is empty and worthless. If that’s true, you need to repent and trust Christ alone for your salvation.