By Charles Wages
(Continued from the December 2003 issue)
Our theme throughout these lessons has been that “eternal life” is not some “far distant hoped for possibility,” but rather a present, permanent, position that every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has by the marvelous, matchless grace of God. This truth is a scriptural “fact” that should determine our every act.
Often the question is asked, “Do you think a person could be saved and not know it?” Or conversely, could one be lost and not know it? These seem to be “foolish” thoughts or questions, but, in fact, they have tremendously important implications. A person could have been baptized in infancy or joined a church, thinking it was necessary for salvation or eternal life. Some even think they have “sinned away salvation” or committed the “unpardonable sin.” There are numerous misconceptions why a person would not know whether they were saved or not.
There is a familiar passage of Scripture in 1 John 5:9-13,
“If we receive the witness of man, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which He has testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God has the witness in himself : he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in the Son. He that hath the Son, hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
Verse 13 is the verse closely connected to our theme, “With Eternity’s Values in View.” This verse is often referred to as an assurance of our salvation. It surely does give us that assurance, however, it specifically says, “that ye may know that you have eternal life.” Surely, “eternal life” and salvation are closely connected, however the stress is on “eternal life,” and further that we may “know.”
Knowledge is a wonderful thing, but how much do we “know” about the eternal life God has given to those who have believed? Knowledge is often defined as “the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association.” However, simply stated, the real understanding of life and eternal life only comes through His Word. It is a wonderful experience to feel like a believer or even to rejoice in the eternal life God has so freely given, but we can only “know for sure” because He has declared it! The apostle John was led to write, ” These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)
The emphasis in this verse seems to be on the expression, “that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” How can we “know” we have eternal life? The answer is, “this is the record” (vs. 11) and “These things have I written unto you” (vs. 13). It is recorded in God’s Word! Therefore, we can know!
Having and knowing we have eternal life is a wonderful experience and feeling, but we “know” it because God says so. Knowing for sure we have eternal life will amplify the values of this life naturally and spiritually. The value we place on human life will increase, and our desire to see them redeemed will be greater.
“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)
The Apostle Paul knew, when he wrote under inspiration,
“For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2 Tim. 1:12)