In Order That You May Know
The apostle John presents eleven objective and subjective tests for assurance of salvation.
The New Testament epistles are filled with enough material on assurance to fill volumes of commentaries. Yet there is one small epistle, 1 John, that was written to deal exclusively with the issue of assurance. The apostle John states his reason for writing this letter in our verse for today: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life” (emphasis added). John did not want his readers to doubt their salvation; he wanted them to have full assurance of it.
Certainly what John wrote in this epistle will not disturb genuine believers, but it will alarm anyone who has a false sense of assurance. In fact, he directed his letter to those who have placed their faith in Christ, which is the bedrock of all assurance: “I have written to you who believe.” There is no place for self-examination outside of faith in Christ. That’s why everything John says about assurance is predicated on faith in Christ and the promises of Scripture.
Throughout his epistle, John maintains a delicate balance between the objective and subjective grounds of assurance. The objective evidence makes up a doctrinal test, while the subjective evidence provides a moral test. John moves in and out between the two kinds of tests as he presents a total of eleven criteria that will indicate whether one possesses eternal life.
As you study through these tests for the next eleven days, they will confirm for you, if you are a genuine believer, the reality of your salvation. But if you have been given a false assurance, you will know where you stand and what you need to do.
Suggestions for Prayer
If you are a true believer, ask God to use these upcoming days to give you a greater love for Him. If you’re not sure if you truly know our great Lord and Savior, ask Him to reveal Himself to you so that these next few days will be life-changing ones.
For Further Study
Read John 20:31. How would reading through the Gospel of John also provide assurance of salvation? Begin such a reading plan.
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.