Am I Really Saved? A First John Check Up
Lesson 8: Testimony
Please Read: 1 John 5
Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
2 Corinthians 13:5
1 John 5:1-3
Am I Really Saved? Checkpoint 17: Do my love for God and my love for His people testify to each other?
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
John starts off chapter 5 by reminding us of the central truth of the gospel (which we covered in lesson 4): only those who believe that Jesus is the Messiah, as defined by Scripture, are truly born again. Before anything else matters, you’ve got to get that right, or you’re not a Christian.
John then moves our focus back to yet another facet of love that characterizes a Christian: the intertwining, inseparability of love for God and love for His people.
- According to the last half of verse 1, all who love the Father also love whom? According to verse 2, how do we know we love God’s people? Do these two verses demonstrate circular reasoning or an unbreakable connection between loving God and loving His people? How?
- What are some ways your love for God is shown by the way you love others, and vice versa?
- Why is obeying God’s commandments evidence that we love Him and are saved? (3)
- What does it mean that Christ’s “commandments are not burdensome”? (3) How can we understand this statement in light of Matthew 24:1-4 and 11:28-30?
1 John 5:4-5
Am I Really Saved? Checkpoint 18: Have I “overcome the world”?
4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
- What does it mean to “overcome the world”? How can these verses shed some light on the meaning of this phrase? Does this mean Christians will always be victorious over temptation?
- How does our faith enable us to overcome the world? (4) How, and from whom, do we get faith? Who is the object of our faith?
- According to verse 5, is it possible for non-Christians to live in a condition of victory over sin?
- Think back over your spiritual history. Can you see evidence of growth in the area of resisting temptation and putting sin to death? Do you give in to the same temptations now, and as often, as you did when you were first saved?
1 John 5:6-12
Am I Really Saved? Checkpoint 19: Do I have God’s testimony of Christ and eternal life in my heart?
6 This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Think about all the things you’ve read about Jesus in the Bible, particularly, in the four gospels. Whose testimony about Jesus are you reading and believing? For the most part, we’re reading the eyewitness testimony of the apostles – human beings – that Jesus was indeed the Christ. Wouldn’t it be great if we also had some testimony about Jesus’ deity and authority from God, personally, first hand? Well, we do, as John explains in this passage. We find God’s testimony to the deity and authority of Jesus externally, through His baptism (water) and through his death, burial, and resurrection (blood).
Remember what happened right after Jesus’ baptism?
And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said,“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17
We see the testimony of the Holy Spirit as His presence rests on Jesus, and we hear the verbal testimony of God the Father authenticating and commending Jesus. The third Person of the Trinity, Jesus Himself, testified to His own deity and messiahship by living a perfect life, dying a perfect death on our behalf, and rising again, conquering death. These are all tangible, observable testimony from God about who Jesus is. Everyone can witness this external testimony from God- both Believers and non-believers. All you have to do is read the Bible. But what about internal testimony, inside our hearts and spirits?
- Look at the first sentence of verse 10. How does God’s testimony move from the merely external to internal and personal? What does the remainder of verse 10 say about who can experience having the testimony of God about Jesus “in himself”? Does everyone have this inner witness, or only Christians?
- According to verse 11, what is the culmination of believing in “the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son”? Who has eternal life (12), Believers or non-believers?
- Do you have the internal testimony of God about Jesus? Are you confident you have received the eternal life God promises Believers? (Note: This is very subjective. Most false converts are certain they are Believers possessing eternal life based on what they “feel” in their hearts or spirits. This checkpoint focuses on the negative aspect of this issue rather than the positive. In other words, if you know you do not believe in the external testimony about Christ and have no internal testimony from God about Christ or security about your eternity with Him, there is no reason to think you are a Believer. The “feeling” that you are a Christian and that you have eternal life, by itself, is not proof that you are actually saved.)
1 John 5:13-20
In these last few verses, John is giving final instructions, wrapping it up, and bringing it on home. He beautifully restates his reason for writing the epistle in verse 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.
God wants Christians, those who believe in the name of the Son of God, to know that we are safe and secure in Christ. He doesn’t want us to be afraid of His wrath or wonder if we will spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. He wants that settled and for us to be at peace.
When we’re settled in that knowledge and peace, we can be confident that God hears us when we pray and answers us when we pray in accordance with His will.
Additionally, when we are secure in Christ, we are able to intercede and intervene when our brothers and sisters are caught in sin. Sadly, sometimes a genuine Believer can be so entrenched or caught up in willful, unrepentant sin that God – at His own sovereign discretion – will take her life in order to protect His holy name, her victims, the church, or for other reasons known only to God. This is the “sin leading to death” that John mentions.
Blessedly, this is usually not the case for Believers – John, again, reminds us that Believers don’t make a practice of sinning – and we can pray for that person, help her get out of her sin (not leading to death), and help restore her to a right relationship with Christ and the church.
Finally, when have assurance of our salvation, we have the understanding that we are from God and that the world is under the power of Satan. Therefore, we should not take part in idolatry, but, rather, “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.”
This week we’ve looked the final three checkpoints in our “Am I Really Saved?” study (But don’t go anywhere, our last lesson is next week!):
Do my love for God and my love for His people testify to each other?
Have I “overcome the world”?
Do I have God’s testimony of Christ and eternal life in my heart?
Saved people’s love for God is reflected in their love for His people, and their love for His people is evidenced by their love for, and obedience to God. Their God-given faith in Christ, gives them the victory over sin and worldliness. God gives them peace and security by testifying in their hearts that Jesus is the Christ and that they have eternal life.
Unsaved people cannot genuinely love God’s people because they do not love God. Since they have no faith in Christ, they are part of the world’s system, and it is impossible for them to live in victory over sin. Despite any emotional experiences or feelings they may have, unsaved people do not have the testimony of Christ in their hearts or the assurance of eternal life.
1 John 5– Matthew Henry’s Commentary
Victory in Jesus by Kevin DeYoung
The Sin Unto Death by John MacArthur
True or False? A Study in 1 John– at Naomi’s Table (lessons 17-20)
6 thoughts on “Am I Really Saved?: A First John Check Up ~ Lesson 8: Testimony”
I’ve never heard a single pastor teach on 1 John 5 in the way you deal with it here. You write:
“Sadly, sometimes a genuine Believer can be so entrenched or caught up in willful, unrepentant sin that God – at His own sovereign discretion – will take her life in order to protect His holy name, her victims, the church, or for other reasons known only to God. This is the “sin leading to death” that John mentions.”
I don’t know where you’re getting this. The “unpardonable sin,” or sin that leads unto death, as far as I have ever heard, is the sin of rejecting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and as God incarnate by repudiating His claims of Lordship and Godship, His death as payment for our sins, and His resurrection. The reason this sin leads unto death is because the individual is permanently separated from God for eternity once their eyes close for the final time. That is referenced as SPIRITUAL death in the scriptures. (See Rom 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death,” Eph 2:1 “And you He has made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins,” and John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life.”)
I have never heard someone equate this verse with PHYSICAL death. It seems obvious to me that John is speaking throughout this chapter of SPIRITUAL life or death. He talks about being born of God (v 1, 4), having eternal (ie Spiritual) life (v 11-13), and being children of God (v 19). This is a case when taking the entire text together is helpful in gaining context.
I think your confusion is a result of your conflating the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit/the unpardonable sin with “sin that leads to death” in 1 John 5. These are two completely different and separate things.
The way you describe the “unpardonable sin” is correct. It is when a sinner dies in unbelief. He has never repented and placed his faith in Christ, therefore his sin is not pardoned and he will spend eternity in hell. This is a sin committed by an UNSAVED person.
“Sin leading to death” is exactly as I have described it in the lesson. This is a sin(s) committed by a SAVED person. Any sin this person commits has already been forgiven at the moment of his salvation, so there is no way it could be termed “unpardonable.” When Christians sin, God disciplines us. For reasons known only to Him, God sometimes chooses to discipline a Christian with physical – but of course, not spiritual – death.
Here are two very good, brief articles I think will help to clear things up. And, to answer your question of where I got this, I got it by reading the passage in context, examining related passages, and using my MacArthur commentary.
What is the Sin that Leads to Death?
What is the Unpardonable Sin?
Thanks very much for your question and your concern that I rightly handle Scripture. That’s a big concern for me, too! If I could just ask a small favor, though– if you’d like to comment again in the future, would you mind adjusting your tone just a bit? We can be firm yet gentle at the same time, right? Thanks.
My apologies if you found my tone to be disrespectful. Perhaps try to read it in the light of a fellow sister in Christ who is attempting also to rightly divide the scriptures, not as an adversary. I come to you genuinely, because, while you have a one-minute vocal recording to support your supposition, I have never heard it before today. It is difficult to correctly “hear” tone over the internet.
I would still disagree with this interpretation of the verse. There is nothing in 1 John 5’s context to suggest that this verse implies physical death, while the very chapter quite fully dives into talk of SPIRITUAL life and death.
The late Chuck Smith’s commentary on this passage is as follows:
“There are sins that are not unto death. There are sins that we commit. The word sins means “missing the mark.” And a lot of people miss the mark. In fact, we have all missed the mark. We are told that in the first chapter. And if we say that we haven’t missed the mark, then you are only deceiving yourself and the truth isn’t in you. We’ve all missed the mark, and if you see a brother missing the mark, he is sinning, but it’s not unto death. What is the deadly sin? The rejection of Jesus Christ, that’s the sin unto death. When a man turns his back deliberately and willfully upon Jesus Christ, that’s the sin unto death.” (Found http://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/smith_chuck/c2000_1Jo/1Jo_005.cfm?a=1164016)
I think this interpretation is much more probable, as I don’t see other corroborating scripture talking about God’s “killing off” of His children (as this verse is most definitely aimed at supposed believers).
This interpretation also makes sense in context of 1 John as, in part, an admonishment against the gnosticism that was taking root in this part of Asia.
Sorry it has taken so long for me to get back to you. I have had a crazy week.
“you have a one-minute vocal recording to support your supposition”
No, I told you I studied the Scripture itself, supporting Scriptures, and a commentary. Additionally, I’ve provided the video clip and an article on the subject, ALL of which say the same thing. I’m sure there are plenty of other doctrinally sound sources out there which would concur.
“I have never heard it before today.”
While it’s a good idea to have a healthy skepticism about teachings you’ve never heard before and examine them against Scripture, I’d encourage you to remember that the mere fact that you’ve never heard it before doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong or unbiblical. Several years ago, I heard a “new” teaching I’d never heard before, and when I examined it against Scripture, I discovered it was right and that I had been taught wrongly about it by pastors and my denomination the whole time I was growing up. So we definitely need to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11, examine what we’re being taught, and if it is in accord with sound doctrine, believe and obey it.
“I would still disagree with this interpretation of the verse.”
And I would disagree with Chuck Smith’s interpretation. A pastor who is so undiscerning that he doesn’t know Joyce Meyer is a false teacher, thinks God is “using” her, and that thinks Mormons will go to heaven, among other things, doesn’t carry a lot of weight with me as a biblical scholar. If he can’t get those obvious things right, why would anybody trust him to get more difficult passages right?
“I don’t see other corroborating scripture talking about God’s “killing off” of His children (as this verse is most definitely aimed at supposed believers).”
How about God “killing off” Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) or the people who died for taking the Lord’s supper in an unworthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:27-30)?
I’m glad you’re taking a look at the 1 John study. I hope you’ll find it helpful. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask any time :0)