One of the great promises of God is that we can know for certain we’re saved, Heaven-born and Heaven-bound. If you are saved, you ought to know it. If you’re not saved, you need to be saved so you can know it. The truth is, you can know beyond any shadow of doubt that you’re saved. We’re going to find out what God says about being saved, examining 1John 5:5-13 line by line, so you can be sure.
5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
John’s Gospel was written to tell us how to be saved; John’s first epistle tells us how to know we’re saved. If you take a red pen to the book of First John and circle the word “know,” you’ll find it over forty times. It’s the good news of certainty, not a hope-so but a know-so salvation, so you can say, “Praise God, no matter what happens, I know I’m Heaven-born and Heaven-bound.”
Another key word used ten times in verses 5-13 is a Greek word translated in these verses as witness, record, testimony, and testify. Circle each of these words. God is giving us a witness, a testimony, so we can know. The source of our certainty is a three-fold cord not easily broken.
FIRST CORD: The Atoning Work of the Savior, What Jesus Did for Us on the Cross
But when they [Roman soldiers] came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they break not his legs; but one of the soldiers, with a spear, pierced his side, and forthwith came out blood and water. John 19:33-34
Out of the wounded side of the Lord Jesus poured blood and water. The same apostle John tells us here in his epistle, This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. 1 John 5:6 There was no agony like His agony. The sins of the world were distilled upon the Lord Jesus. When they came, they found He was already dead. He died first because He died of a broken heart.
Blood cleanses from sin. Blood removes the penalty of sin (“Without shedding of blood there is no remission,” Hebrews 9:22). Jesus took my sin and yours to the cross. His blood paid sin’s penalty.
Water continues to cleanse. Water speaks of sanctification, cleansing from the pollution of sin. Rock of Ages, He saves from wrath (blood) and makes us pure (water). You have no hope of Heaven apart from the water and the blood, the death of the Lord Jesus Christ upon that cross. He’s the solid rock on which we stand.
SECOND CORD: The Abiding Witness of the Spirit
6 …And it is the Spirit that beareth witness because the Spirit is truth….9 Since we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.
The Holy Spirit witnesses to you, revealing whether this is true or not. Before we’re even saved, the Holy Spirit is telling us about Jesus. Jesus said the ministry of the Holy Spirit would be to “take the things of mine and He will show them to you” (John 16:15). Men can lie. But the Holy Spirit is truth.
When someone says, “I can’t believe,” they are lying, because if you want to believe, the Holy Spirit will enable you. Jesus did not say, “You cannot come unto me” but “Ye will not come unto me.” When the Word of God is preached, the Holy Spirit of God witnesses to you.
The Holy Spirit then witnesses in you. 10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.
When you receive Christ, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within you, and you have the witness within. A Christian with an experience is never at the mercy of an infidel with an argument.
The witness of the Holy Spirit is not an emotional feeling; it’s a certainty. God’s Spirit speaks to your spirit and tells you, “You are Mine.” If you live by emotions, you’ll be on a roller coaster; your assurance of salvation will go up and down with your emotions. The witness of the Spirit is far deeper than emotions. The assurance of salvation can show up in your emotions, but those who have an emotional salvation experience are no more saved than the child who comes down the aisle and sweetly gives her heart to Jesus. Emotions are fine, but they’re not the witness of the Spirit. God’s Spirit speaks to you that you belong to Him
Third Cord: The Word of the Father
By now in this three-fold cord, you see Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together bringing you certainty. 11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you [that’s the written Word], that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life…
God gave us a record, the Bible, the record. Where do we learn about the water and the blood and the witness of the Spirit? From the Word of God. This is a three-fold cord that is not easily broken. It’s so important that you believe the Word of God, because it has one central message in two words, from Genesis to Revelation: Jesus saves.
This book was not written to tell you how the heavens go; it was written to tell you how to go to Heaven. God gave us His Word that we might have that assurance, that we might be absolutely sure. The divine, inspired Word of God is settled in Heaven. “Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in Heaven” (Psalm 119:89).
The atoning work of Christ, the abiding witness of the Spirit, and the affirming Word of God, those three, put together, enable you to say, “I know I have eternal life.”
Jesus is the source of this life (v. 11). Jesus said, “I’ve come that you might have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10. Apart from Jesus, there is no eternal life.
Jesus is the substance of life (v. 12). “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” Christianity is Christ. It’s not a creed, code, or cause, it is Christ. Jesus Christ is to your spirit what blood is to your body. It is not a religion about Him. It is not simply following His precepts. It is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Other teachers may point to life; Jesus says, “I am the life.”
Jesus is the surety of your life (13). “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that you have eternal life.” (v. 13)
Now suppose you and your wife filed a joint income tax return. And the IRS says, “You’ve not proven that you’re married. We want some proof.” You say, “Oh, I remember the emotion I had, the joy, the commitment.” He says, “For our records that won’t count, no matter how you felt. You have something better?” I say yes, and I get the marriage certificate, attested with a seal on it. Now I can say, “You want something better than emotion? There’s the record, sealed and attested to.” God has given us a record, His Word. It goes beyond emotion.
A little boy was in a revival meeting. The pastor preached from John 5: 24: Verily, verily I say unto you, he that heareth My word and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath eternal life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.
The boy believed it and was saved. But you know, the devil always counter attacks, doesn’t he? On the way home, he felt the devil whispering, “You’re not saved. You don’t feel just right. You don’t deserve it. You’re not good enough.” All the way home, the devil was dogging his footsteps.
He wanted absolute assurance he was saved. He remembered the verse. Where was it? He looked up John 5:24: “Verily, verily I say unto you....” Verily, verily? That means truly, truly. “I say unto you,” Jesus said it. “He that heareth My word,” I heard it. “And believeth on Him that sent Me,” I believe. “Hath everlasting life.” I have everlasting life. I’ve done it! The Word says so!
It seemed to him like Satan was under his bed, so he took his Bible, open to that verse, stuck it under the bed, and said, “Devil, read it for yourself’” From there on, the doubt left. When the devil gets on your trail, don’t argue with him. He’s not worth it. Point him to the Word of God and step out of the argument. Let him argue with God Himself.
People say, “Pastor, only God can say who’s saved.” That’s exactly right, and He has: “He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” Do you have Him? The Holy Spirit is telling you there was one who came by water and blood, who died for you. He is witnessing to you right now. You can receive the witness of God. “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater.” It’s greater than what I’m telling you; it’s what God is telling you.
Do you want to be saved? Then pray this prayer: “Dear God, I know You love me, and I know You want to save me. Jesus, thank You for paying for my sin with Your blood on the cross. I believe You’re the Son of God. I believe God raised You from the dead, and I now receive You as my Lord and Savior and Master forever. Save me, Lord Jesus, and help me never to be ashamed of You. Save me by Your grace and keep me for Your glory. And, Lord Jesus, I thank You for doing it. I will make it public. I will not be ashamed of You. And I will live for You the rest of my life as You give me strength.”
Just as plants need certain essentials to grow---light, water, and fertile soil---so do new Christians, babes in the faith. Without these essential basic truths of the faith, they will never establish strong roots or bear fruit.Adrian Rogers has written this book to give believers the nurture and care their faith needs to blossom and grow. What Every Christian Ought to Know seeks to give intellectual truth, and also provide the "spiritual nutrients" required to produce mature faith.