BIBLE READING: 1 John 5:13-21
TEXT: And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:11-13)
This is such an important question. How can we know? If you followed most man made religions you wouldn’t know. Because most say that IF you are good enough you will get to paradise. But biblical Christianity is so different. Just look at what John tells us. God gives us eternal life. How does he do that? It is in his Son.
It is very simple. If you have the Son of God you have eternal life. If you don’t have Jesus, you don’t have eternal life. How can we know if we have the Son? If we believe in him and trust in him, then we have him. Believe is not just ‘believe about’ but rather trust in. If you are trusting in yourself, your good works, your family, your friends or anything else then be assured you do not have, and you will not receive eternal life. If however you know that the only person who can save you is Jesus, and if you are trusting in him and what he has done on the cross – it’s not that you will have eternal life – you do have eternal life.
But can we lose that eternal life? Some Christians think we can. They think that we must persevere to the end and that you can be a real Christian and lose your salvation so that you need to be born again, again! This is not what Jesus says. “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29) We are in the hand of Jesus. We are in the Father’s hand. And he won’t let us go. Once you have eternal life it is forever…that’s the meaning of the Word, eternal.
This is a doctrine known as ‘the perseverance of the saints’. It’s not so much that we persevere (although we must), but rather that the Lord perseveres with us – the reason we do not give up on him, is that he does not give up on us.
There are passages in the Bible which seem to suggest that Christians can lose their salvation and which rightly warn us about turning away from the living God – but I think when you read them in the light of the whole of Scripture you can see that they are warning us not to take salvation lightly – indeed the ultimate sign that we are saved, is that we persevere.
Without becoming too introspective it is very important for us to ask whether we really do believe and trust in Christ. Have we just had a ‘religious’ experience or have we really given ourselves wholly to Jesus? For example when people say I believe in Jesus as my Saviour but not as my Lord they are indicating that they do not know Jesus as either Saviour or Lord. We can’t have him as the one without the other.
Sometimes I have had doubts about a lot of things – not least my own heart and condition. All I am left with is this simple faith – I believe and trust in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. That may be faith as small as a mustard seed, but it is real – and it can move mountains of doubt. “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life”.(1 John 5:20)
If you are not yet a Christian – you need to seek Christ. You need to accept Christ. You need to give your whole life to Christ. When you do so – be assured – you have eternal life…. and no-one can snatch you out of his hand.
CONSIDER: How do we know we have eternal life? Have you given your life to Jesus? Are you trusting in something or someone else to save you? What do you do when you doubt these things?
RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING: Assurance – JC Ryle – (this is a small booklet taken from his larger book – Holiness – well worth reading).
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we thank you for your promises. We thank you that you do not lie and cannot lie. We thank you that you promised that whoever comes to you, you would never turn away and that whoever believes in you has eternal life. Lord, we believe, help our unbelief and give us the gift of faith in you, Amen
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