A Summary of 1st John

In by Joel Webbon

This is the final article in an extended series of articles. If a particular statement seems to be lacking sufficient support or clarification, we encourage you to go back and read the previous articles. Thank you for your patience.

Throughout the book of First John, there has been a massive emphasis on what we as Christians can know for certain. John writes, “By this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3). John writes to fathers, because they “know him who has been from the beginning” (1 John 2:13). He writes to children, because they “know the Father” (1 John 2:14). Then he says, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14). At the conclusion of his letter, John belabors this theme of certainty one final time by saying, “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” (1 John 5:13).

John does not merely want his readers to have eternal life, he wants them to “know” that they have eternal life. Therefore, assurance of salvation is the ultimate aim of John's letter. The apostle does not carefully outline key components of authentic Christianity so that all those who read his letter walk away feeling discouraged and doubting their own salvation. We must remember who John is writing to: His “dear little children” in the Faith. Each of these tests of authentic Christianity which John presents in his letter are not meant to prove that his readers are unregenerate (not born again), but that his readers truly have been born again.

No one other than Jesus Christ has ever passed every single one of these tests with flying colors. So if you find that you are failing one test, humbly acknowledge that failure as sin and strive by God's grace to repent. Then simply move on and look at the next test to see how you are doing in that area. The question to ask yourself is this: Are there any vital signs in my life at all? If so, you should possess at least some measure of assurance of salvation. Allow this assurance to comfort your doubting heart and propel you into greater joy-filled obedience, which will inevitably produce even stronger assurance in the future. Remember, it is not the will of God for his precious children to be constantly doubting his fatherly love for them. God wants us to be confident of his love. God wants us to rest in his love. And by the power that his Holy Spirit graciously provides, God wants us to live out of his love with courage and strength.

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