• The Bible Studies for Life lesson for Sept. 13 focuses on 1 John 5:6-13.
One of the most frequently asked questions of pastors is, “How can I be sure I’m saved?” That question has eternal consequences, so the answer is exceptionally important. The lesson from 1 John 5 encourages believers to embrace God’s promise of eternal life.
Jesus is God’s Son (1 John 5:6-9)
For John, the content of true faith is believing Jesus is the Christ or Messiah and believing Jesus is God’s son (vv. 1, 5). How can one know with certainty this is true? John’s first evidence focuses on Jesus’ coming by “water and blood.” This enigmatic phrase has puzzled scholars for centuries, but certainly the gist of it teaches Jesus actually came to earth, lived his life, and was baptized, crucified, buried and resurrected from the grave. No one should deny the reality of Jesus and his life’s work. Added to this evidence is the word of the Holy Spirit. He applies the truth of the water and blood to the hearts of believers, so they may have the assurance of their salvation in Jesus.
Currently, the subject of apologetics has captivated the attention of many Christians. Apologetics presents rational arguments for the validity of the Christian faith. In verse 9, John adds to these arguments the testimony of God so believers may experience the truth that Jesus is God’s Son through their relationship with him.
Life is found in Jesus (1 John 5:10-11)
Anyone who believes in Jesus accepts the testimony John describes, but for those who don’t believe, John has some hard words. He says they make God out to be a liar. Evidently, the experience of hearing the testimony of the Spirit in one’s heart is heard by all. Some accept the testimony and believe, while others reject it and believe God to be a liar.
Belief in the Son results in eternal life. Many believe eternal life only refers to the future. One day, eternal life will be realized by all believers in heaven; however, that belief is only partially correct.
Eternal life also refers to the life experienced by the believer today in the here and now. Eternal life refers not only to a length of time—in this case, forever—but also to a quality of life experienced once a person believes in Jesus Christ. Eternal life begins the moment someone believes in Jesus, not the instant a believer dies.
Once a person believes, the results of that faith transform the individual immediately. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The believer’s past is redeemed, the future is changed, the present becomes brand new. In this brand-new life, the believer experiences a taste of what God will give in full in the future. A little bit of heaven is experienced now.
We experience life when we believe in Jesus (1 John 5:12-13)
To believe the testimony of God that Jesus is the Messiah means believers actually possess God’s testimony. Possessing God’s testimony results in the possession of life itself.
Not everyone believes the testimony about Jesus. These individuals don’t have Jesus. They don’t have life. Some who don’t believe may assert they do have life, and they are alive in every aspect of the word. In their opinion, their lives are not different from those who believe in Jesus. John argues against this notion. He teaches true life is found in Jesus (John 14:6). It’s abundant and full (John 10:10). Only in Jesus will a person know life the way God created it to be.
John’s entire letter is written to believers. So, what does it mean to believe? To believe is more than mental knowledge or assent. It’s knowledge that changes one’s life. To believe in Jesus is to orient one’s entire life around Jesus of Nazareth, who was born, lived a perfect and exemplary life, died for our sin and rose from the grave.
The purpose of the John’s letter is to give assurance to those who believe, so that they will know they have eternal life and have that life now. What’s the assurance? How can one know if enough belief is present for salvation?
In the late 1990s, Steven Curtis Chapman co-wrote a song titled “The Change.” The message was those who believe in Jesus should expect a change in their lives. Glen Stassen in his book A Thicker Jesus said, “The Christian life is continuous repenting, continuous learning.” Those who believe will see Jesus at work in their lives bringing about changes, so they will know the witness of God is true and active. John wrote these verses to encourage believers who were wavering in their faith. He wanted them to be certain about their salvation.
Knowing the final score
I am an avid college football fan and can’t stand to watch my alma mater lose. To make that goal a reality, I record all their games. Once I learn the final score of the game, I decide whether or not to watch the recording, and I only watch the games they win.
Last fall, my team fell behind by 21 points in the fourth quarter of a game. What was my reaction to this apparent disaster? A smile. How could I smile? I knew how the game ended. Someone had told me the final score, and my team had won.
How can I persevere when life is so difficult and confusing? I know the end, and I experience a small amount of that “end” every day. It’s living out God’s promise of eternal life.