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. – 1 John 5:13-17
If we trace the logic of John’s thought, both through the Gospel of John and through his first epistle, we can see that he is driving at something like this:
1. John writes so that we will hear the truth;
2. John wants us to hear the truth so that we will believe it:
3. John wants us to believe the truth about Jesus so that we will have life in His name;
4. And John wants us to confidently know that we possess this life and that we are secure in our Father’s love forever.
That’s the logic which John wants us to grasp. That’s the logic which God the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit who inspired these writings, wants us to grasp. The LORD does not want His children to twist in the wind pulling the petals off a daisy while we wonder “He loves me” … “He loves me not.” That may be fine for a young boy or girl who has a crush on someone, but that is no way for the children of God to relate to their heavenly Father. 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.
This brings us to the strange reality, that many people will accuse you of pride or presumption if you tell them that you know that you are completely secure in God’s love and that you know that you are going to go to heaven when you die. On the other hand, perhaps this response isn’t all that strange. When people get the gospel wrong this naturally leads to errors throughout their thinking. And to be clear, objections to Christians being confident of their salvation all flow from the dreadful error of imagining that we are saved – at least in part – based on something good in us, rather than by God’s grace alone.
Well, if your salvation did depend on something good in you – then being confident that you have performed up to such a standard that you know that God will accept you on the basis of what you’ve done or become – well, YES, that would be the height of arrogance. But since your salvation depends entirely upon Christ – then there is no arrogance at all in boasting in the amazing Grace which has saved a wretch … even a wretch like me and a wretch like you.
As John Stott points out:
If God’s revealed purpose is not only that we should hear, believe and live; but also that we should know, presumptuousness lies in doubting His word, not in trusting it.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 14
Q. 14. What is sin?
A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.