1 John 5:9-13
As a group of young, neighborhood friends, we were playing a
fierce game of tag, running through backyards and between houses. I
was being hotly pursued, when I sped around the corner of a house and
saw him: a huge, tethered dog staring at me from a back patio! He
barked and lunged at me. I stumbled backward and landed hard on my
pride. As the beast approached, I did not feel safe – until he reached
the end of his chain and stopped abruptly.
In that moment, I wanted immediate answers to some basic
questions! Was I at a safe distance? Would the chain hold the beast
back? How could I get out of this predicament?
Have you ever questioned whether you were really saved? I may
believe the facts of the Gospel and I may believe in God’s ability to
forgive my sins – but how can I know it all applies to me personally?
Based on John’s teaching, there are three diagnostic questions you
can use to determine whether you are “safe in Jesus” and be certain
of your salvation.
Does the Holy Spirit live inside you as a messenger of God’s truth and love? (vv. 9-10)
John explains that God is a witness to the identity and work of
His Son. He did not want to leave you in the dark! In the gospels,
God the Father verbally identified Jesus as His Son on two different
occasions (Matt. 3:16-17 and 17:5). God the Father clearly tells you
who Jesus is: the Son sent to die for you, setting you free from
sin’s power and penalty.
How does He communicate His witness to your heart? John says, “He
who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself…” (1 John
5:10). When someone hears the good news and responds – turning from
sin and trusting in Christ’s work on the cross – the Holy Spirit has
played a significant role. He not only convicts, but at the moment of
decision, He comes inside the new believer.
In Romans 8:9, the apostle Paul writes: “if anyone does not have
the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” The presence of the Holy Spirit
in you – the witness of the Father – is the greatest assurance that
you are safe in Jesus.
In Romans 8:16, Paul adds, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with
our spirit that we are children of God.” The Father wants you to know
that you are His child, so He interacts with you and communicates to
you through the most intimate means possible: His Spirit living
inside your body (Col. 1:27).
Are you experiencing a growing, personal relationship with Jesus Christ? (vv. 11-12)
Visiting a friend at a large corporate headquarters, I had to wait
in a comfortable lobby behind locked doors while he made his way
downstairs to meet me. Once he arrived, I was free to enter and move
around the building, so long as I was with my friend. If I had my
friend with me, I had access. No friend, no access.
John writes, “He who has the Son has life.” Eternal life is not a
promise, but it resides in a Person. Other religions may offer a
different path to heaven, but God does not offer a path to eternal
life – He offers a Person who says, “Follow Me!”
If you are growing in an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ
through His Spirit and His Word, you can know that you are safe in
Is your faith resulting in a changed life? (v. 13)
The Holy Spirit is at work inside us, confirming God’s Word. Jesus
lives in relationship with us, engaging us to follow Him. With these
powerful influences at work within us, our lives should change.
John says, “These things I have written to you . . . that you may
know you have eternal life.” What things? Throughout John’s letter,
he explains that inner transformation results in outer reformation of
our attitudes and behaviors. Over time, I should see real change in
my life such as:
- A readiness to obey God (1 John 2:3);
- A sincere love for other Christians (1 John 3:14); and
- A concrete, practical response to those in need (1 John 3:18).
Over and over again, John indicates that if I am not changing
outwardly, I am not being honest with myself or with others about my
true spiritual condition (e.g. 1 John 1:6; 2:4, 9-11; 4:20).
Staring into the eyes of that angry dog years ago, I was able to
conclude that he was chained up securely and couldn’t reach me. I got
up and brushed myself off. Then with great relief and confidence, I
walked away from the snarling beast – absolutely safe.
In the same way, you need to reach a conclusion regarding your
personal experience of salvation. Ask the right questions. Be honest
with yourself as you examine your own heart. Sin and hell would
devour you if they could – but in Jesus, you can find a safe place –
by: Don Pucik,
Associate Executive Director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention
in Little Rock, AR