The Graces That Accompany Assurance - Part One 1 John 5:13-15
Our text for today is found in 1 John 5:13-15; however, I am going to read 1 John 5:13-21. There is going to be a theme that is woven throughout this text so I would like for you to look for it. John says,
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.
We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.
We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
And we know 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, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Did you notice the theme as we read through it?
John is telling these believers that they can ‘know’ certain things. There are certain things that a believer can be ‘confident’ in.
These Christians had encountered false teachers. These churches had been infiltrated by anti-Christ’s who had perverted the message concerning Christ, they did not love the believers, and they had compromised true righteousness and holiness. All of this left these believers confused. But the apostle John has written to them and he tells them that they can know these wonderful truths.
True believers can know that they have eternal life. John says, “I am writing these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” (13)
True believers can know that when they ask God for anything according to His will, God will hear that prayer. And they can know that if God hears their prayer they have the requests that they have asked of Him. John says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to His will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.” (14-15)
True believers also know that those who have been born of God will not continue in sin. God will protect them from the evil one. John says, “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.” (18)
A true believer will know that they are from God and that the whole world likes in the power of the evil one. John says, “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (19)
Finally, a true believer knows that the Son of God has come and has given them understanding, so that they may know Him. John says, “And we know 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, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (20)
Seven times in these verses John stresses things that a true believer can know and be confident about. Let me ask you a few questions as we begin.
Do you know that you have eternal life? Have you tested yourself to see if you are in the faith?
Are your prayers filled with petitions and requests that you know are according to the will of God? When you pray are you confident that you will have what you have requested and that your prayers have been heard?
Do you know that you cannot continue in sin because you have been born-again and God’s Spirit abides in you? Are you confident that the LORD is protecting you from the power of the evil one?
Finally, do you know that the Son of God has come and given you understanding; so that you can know Him who is true?
A believer who has come to the Scriptures and taken the tests that John has given to us will enjoy great blessings. They will know and be confident about many things. There will be a depth to their way of life and to in their way of thinking that will not be shared by those who have not taken these tests and had their hearts assured before God.
One cannot experience these blessings if they only presume (guess, infer, pretend) to have eternal life. There is a biblical way for a believer to gain this assurance and a believer who has this assurance will experience all these blessings more and more.
Let me plead with each of you that you would engage with the scriptures and take the tests that John has given. When we read the Scriptures and apply them to our lives are spelled out in 1 John 5:13-21. But if we read this letter but do not apply these tests to our lives we will not experience these blessings in a profound and lasting way.
We might be tempted to say that if a person is confident and assured that they have eternal life that they will become prideful, spiritually sluggish, arrogant, sloppy in their sanctification. But 1 John 5:13-21 will teach us that those who know that they have eternal life will be passionate, loving, compassionate, maturing disciples who are producing godly fruit.
Do you desire to have a more passionate prayer life? Come to the Scripture and take the tests.
Do you want to know that when you pray you will receive what you have asked? Come to the Scriptures and take the tests.
Do you need more power in your sanctification and more growth in holiness and righteousness? Come to the Scripture and take these tests.
Do you need more assurance that you are a child of God and that you have been kept from the evil one? Then come to the Scriptures and take these tests.
Do you want to grow in your understanding about Jesus Christ and in your relationship with Him who is true? Then come to the Scriptures and take these tests.
I am stressing the need for each of us to come to the Word of God so that it can test the sincerity of our faith and life. Yet, not everyone will do this, but those who will come and take these tests will enjoy the blessings that we find in these concluding verses.
Look with me at 1 John 5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”
The verb ‘know’ is a present subjunctive active verb. The active verb means that the one who ‘knows’ is the person who reads this letter and applies its truths. John cannot make this happen in a person. The listener, the reader of scripture, bears this responsibility.
It is also in the subjunctive tense which means that this knowing is based upon some condition. It makes an assertion about something in which there is some doubt, uncertainty or indefiniteness. (Zodhiates) Again, it is every individuals responsibility to come to the scriptures and to believe them, to take the tests that John has given, and having passed the test they will be the better for it. It is so easy to ignore our need to have assurance. It is easy to admit that we lack assurance but then just do nothing! We sometimes act as though it will matter very little in our everyday life.
The believers that John is writing too had been unsettled by false teachers. They had their minds and hearts confused about the truth of the gospel. But, John, has written this letter to remove the fog, the doubt, and the confusion, the nagging questions that they had. He has given them confidence in what they know to be true. Those who will embrace the things in this letter will experience these blessings in an abiding and increasing manner.
What a blessing this is for a believer to have such a confidence. Dr. Peter Barnes speaks of the rarity of this sort of confidence when he writes, “Many churches and virtually all the cults teach that assurance is not possible...Verse 13 is dealing with assurance, not presumption. If you are truly a Christian, one of the consequences of working through John’s epistle (or any portion of God’s word, for that matter) is that you should grow in assurance. The worst thing the church can do for non-Christians is to convince them that they are Christians; the best thing it can do for true Christians is to assure them of God’s electing and everlasting love.”
Colossians 1:3-6 speaks of the importance of having this type of assurance. Paul writes, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth...”
My life, as well as many of yours, is a testimony to the fact that if a believer fails to understand the hope of salvation that we have in Jesus Christ they will be unfruitful in their faith and in their ability to love God and the saints. But if a believer has this hope they will have a strong faith in God and a divine love for the saints.
Are you are struggling in your faith?
Are you struggling to love God and the saints?
Perhaps the best place to begin is by determining if you are experiencing biblical assurance, a proper confidence and a joyful hope concerning your salvation. You may need to read John’s letter and take the tests that he has given throughout this letter (moral, love, doctrinal). And when you pass these tests you will experience these blessings in 1 John 5:13-21.
Notice that 1 John 5:14 begins with a conjunction that connects it to verse thirteen. It says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.” (14-15)
A person who has received assurance from the Word of God will be a person who prays. A person who gets their assurance from the Word of God will naturally pray according to the will of God. Therefore, they will be confident that God hears their prayers and that He will answer their prayers.
If you are struggling in your prayer life then you may need to go back and evaluate your hope in Christ and your assurance of eternal life.
Charles Spurgeon spoke of the necessity of prayer in the life of the one who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, ‘Some graces, like the lungs, are always in use.’ He then goes on to speak of prayer as such a grace that is always in use by the Christian. He said, ‘Pray without ceasing...and such exhortations pertain to continuous duties of a believer...Other parts of the human frame are exercised only occasionally, but the lungs are always at work, and, even so, certain of the graces are in active motion in their appointed seasons, but faith never ceases to believe in the Lord Jesus, for it is essential to spiritual vitality.”
John says that a person who believes in the Son of God and has an assurance of the eternal life that they have received will be a person who prays according to the will of God.
There are two possibilities when we pray.
First, we may know the will of God concerning what we are praying for.
Secondly, there are times when we are not sure what the will of God might be in a situation.
The question is often asked, ‘Why do we have to pray? If God knows what He wants to do then why do I need to pray about this? ’One answer to this question is that God uses prayer to conform our will to His, prayer does not make God’s will change to reflect ours desires.
When we pray do we spend much time evaluating our requests upon the revealed will of God in scripture?
Do we take the time that may be needed to search the scriptures so that we can pray more in line with what God’s will might be?
We have a responsibility to pray and this also implies a responsibility to be people who will carefully study the scriptures to know the will of God concerning what we are praying for.
Not only do we study and meditate upon the Word of God so that we can pray according to God’s will, but believers also rely upon the Holy Spirit who helps us when we are praying. We find this in Romans 8:26-27, “Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches the hearts know what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
Notice with me that even here in Romans Paul ties the work of the Spirit to help us with prayer closely with a believers assurance concerning the work of God in our salvation and glorification. Paul goes on to say in Romans 8:28-30, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.”
If we are praying according to God’s will, John says that we will have whatever we have requested. John does not say, however, that the answer will come in the way that we expected.
There is a story about a man who was stranded on an island. He built a shelter with all of the materials that he had. When he would see a boat on the horizon he would run down to the shore and wave a stick and call out for help. Every boat that he saw sailed out of sight. He prayed that God would help him to get off of that island but every opportunity seemed to slip away. He became discouraged but continued to pray.
One evening he saw a boat out at sea so he ran down to call out for it. Again the boat did not see him and slowly moved out of sight. The man returned to his hut that contained everything he had and he discovered it was on fire. He knew that he could never replace the things that were there. He knew that he could never rebuild that shelter and he fell into despair. A short time later the boat returned because it was the smoke in the air. God answered this man’s prayer but not in the way that he expected.
Let me give you another example. In the book of Esther there is a plot to destroy all of the Jews. When Queen Esther, who was Jewish, learned of the plot she knew she would have to go talk to the king. However, if she approached the king without permission she could be killed. She had no confidence and assurance that the king would receive her. She and the people fasted for three days and then she went to the king. He received her and was willing to grant her any request up to half the kingdom. She could ask the king for virtually anything and it would be done. When she revealed the plot against the Jews to the king he became outraged. Yet, not even the king could simply stop the plot that had been put in motion.
Perhaps in that moment Esther may have despaired if she thought deliverance could only come in one particular way. But God answered her prayers as the Jewish people fought the battles and overcame through adversity and achieved victory over their enemies. (Esther 8:3-8)
If Esther was accepted before the king and granted such things, how much more confidence should true believers in Jesus Christ approach the throne of grace to receive the requests that align with the will of God.
This morning we have seen that a believer who has assurance will enjoy certain graces and live a certain way of life. One of the graces that will be characteristic of an assured believer is that they will be confident to come to God in prayer. Matthew Henry gave eight reasons why a believer will continually go to God in prayer.
“Christ is a companion ready in all our solitude's, so that we are never less alone than when alone. Do we need better society than fellowship with the Father?”
“Christ is a counselor ready in all their doubts. He is our guide who has promised to direct with His eye and to lead us in the way we should go.”
“Chris is a comforter ready in all our sorrows to support sinking spirits, and be the strength of a fainting heart.”
“Christ is a supply ready in all our wants. They that have access to God have access to a full fountain, an inexhaustible treasure, a rich mine.”
“Christ is a support ready under all our burdens. They have access to Him as Adonai (my Lord), my stay and the strength of our heart.”
“Christ is a shelter in all of our dangers, a city of refuge near at hand. The name of the Lord is our strong tower.”
“Christ is strength ready for all our performances in doing work, fighting work. He is our arm every morning.”
“Christ is our salvation insured by a sweet and undeceiving earnest….If He thus guides us by His counsel He will receive us into glory.”
Community Church, as we come to communion this morning let us go to God in prayer.
Do you need a companion? You have Christ.
Do you need a counselor? You have Christ.
Do you need a comforter? Christ will comfort you.
Do you have a need and a want? Christ is your supply.
Do you need support under a burden? Christ will be your strength.
Do you need shelter? Christ will be your refuge.
Do you need strength? Christ will empower you by His grace.
Do you need assurance? Come to Christ and He will grant you assurance and admittance into His presence. Abide there.