A Promise for SalvationThis promise makes the others pale
in comparison, the promise of salvation, deliverance
from sin, freedom from its bondage, release from its
guilt, salvation from eternal damnation and to see that
replaced with eternal life.
Every now and then, you and I get so tangled up with
the here and now that we really forget that we are
pilgrims on our way to a greater place. But in those
moments when we don't forget, we realize that above
everything else salvation is what I need and salvation
is what I desire. So the promise in 1 John 5:13 is
especially meaningful. "I write these things to you who
believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may
know that you have eternal life."
I was in my mid-20's when I read that seriously for the
first time, and it literally made my head jerk. I got
to that verse and thought, what? John, the apostle, has
written something here so that I can know that I'm
saved because more than anything else in the world, I
want the promise and the assurance of salvation. Do you
know what I did that day? I went back and started all
over again, and I read very slowly and very carefully
to see those things that he had written so that I can
know I'm saved.
Do you want the promise of salvation? Let's see facts
1. You're a sinner. John says, if you want to
embrace the promise of salvation and know you're saved,
understand first of all that. "If we claim to be
without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not
in us." (1:8) You're a sinner, I'm a sinner, every-body
I know who reaches the adult years has chosen to sin,
not born in sin, but chosen the path of sin.
He reminds us. "If we claim we have not sinned, we make
him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our
lives." (1:10) You see the problem, my sin. My sin
separates me from an all righteous and an all holy God
who has never sinned, who will never sin, and who
cannot by his very nature abide with sin in his
presence. That's a real problem, isn't it? I'm a
sinner, you're a sinner, and we serve a God who will
not live with any sin. That's why Romans 3:23 says,
"...all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory..."
And Romans 6:23, three chapters later, says, "The wages
of that sin is death." That's our problem.
Do you know one of the great misconceptions that we
have in our country? George Gallup reveals it every
time he does a religious poll about heaven. He'll ask
people who believe in a heaven, "do you believe you are
going to heaven". Most of America says, yes. He then
asked "Well, why do you believe you're going to
heaven?" The typical response is: Because I think I'm
as good as everybody else. But that's not the question.
The problem doesn't deal with how good you are, or how
good you may not be. Your goodness is not the issue.
It's your bad-ness that's the issue. Though you may be
awfully good, you're still bad because you are still a
sinner and the one sin that you first committed was
enough to tarnish you to keep you out of presence of
God for eternity. Do you understand that?
Sometimes we focus on our goodness. That would be like
lining all of the American population up on the coast
of California and saying, "On command, we're going to
all jump in the Pacific Ocean, without food, without a
rowboat, without a life jacket, without any aid of any
kind and swim to Hawaii." Now how many are going to
make it? That's what I thought. I'm not either.
But you know we could argue about how far we're going
to make it. Some of you might not get even over your
head before you drown because you're dangerous in a
bathtub. Some of you are pretty good swimmers, maybe
you could go a quarter of a mile, maybe you could go a
half-mile. I think I could go the better part of a mile
if the waves aren't too bad. Some Olympic swimmers
might go 50 miles, maybe more, but I'll tell you what's
going to happen to every one of us. We're going to
drown. Whether you're 50 miles off shore, or 50 feet
off shore, you're going to be dead as a doornail,
because the issue is not how good a swimmer you are.
The point is the chasm is too great. That's the point
about my sin. You and I think we're good. If we had any
glimpse of the chasm between little minute, vile
humanity and the God who created the Universe, we would
bow in shame and say like Isaiah "Woe to me!" I cried.
"I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I
live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have
seen the King, the LORD Al-mighty." (Isaiah 6:5) The
apostle John makes sure we know that we are a
2. Jesus Christ is the answer to sin. "I write
this to you so that you will not sin." (1 John 2:1)
Why? Because sin is to our own detriment. "But if
anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father
in our defense-Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is
the atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 2:1-2)
Some of the older translations say, "The propitiation,
atoning sacrifice, for our sins, and not only for ours,
but also for the sins of the whole world." That's the
best news you will ever hear, if you've never heard it,
most of you have. But even if you have, it's the best
news you'll ever hear.
You and I, when we stand before the judgment seat of
God, the Father, have one who is our "advocate." That
was a Greek term for defense attorney. The other day I
went into a courtroom and I saw a defense attorney
standing beside the defendant. Suddenly in my mind I
thought of the picture of Jesus standing by me as I
stand before the Father's throne.
The good news is, He said, He is the propitiation, the
atoning sacrifice. The Greek root means, "to deflect,"
to deflect wrath. It was sometimes used in another form
to refer to an instrument like a shield that would
deflect the blows from swords and spears, from opposing
soldiers. Do you see the point? When Jesus hung on that
cross, all of the wrath of God that is aimed toward sin
because he hates sin, hit that cross and Jesus
deflected it from you and from me. And that's why he
cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken
Let's all understand that the key to salvation is Jesus
Christ. That is the power of salvation. The apostle
said, "There is salvation in no one else, for there is
no other name given under heaven among men wherein we
must be saved." (Acts 4:12) Do you want to know what
that name is? It's the name Jesus.
Matthew 1:21, the heralding of Jesus' upcoming birth
says, "give him the name Jesus, because he will save
his people from their sins." 1 Corinthians 15:22 says,
"For as in Adam all men die, so in Christ all will be
made alive." The great news is, when Jesus came out of
that grave on the third day, that tomb was left empty.
The bondage and the power of sin and damnation were
left right there. It was broken by Jesus Christ, our
atoning sacrifice. Fact number one is I'm a sinner.
Fact number two is Jesus Christ is the answer. What
else does John tell us about the knowledge of
3. Claiming that salvation - "Everyone who
believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and
everyone who loves the father loves his child as well."
(1 John 5:1)That's part of the answer.
"This is the one who came by water and blood---Jesus
Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and
blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the
Spirit is the truth. For these are three that testify:
The Spirit, the water, and the blood; and the three are
in agreement."(verse 6) Now that may sound a little
confusing to you at first, but let's sort that out.
First of all, accepting the salvation that Jesus offers
begins with the belief that he is who he said he was.
God come in the flesh, the Son of God, that's what
verse one of chapter 5 said. Make no mistake about it.
That belief is the foundation for the eternal life that
Jesus offers. You can do anything else you want, you
can repent, you can be baptized, but if you do not
believe in your heart that Jesus is God's son, you do
not have the foundation for coming to him. But with
that belief, there is the concept of repentance. Now
quite frankly in this brief epistle, John has no direct
reference to repentance, but I'm certain that his
readers knew of it and it flows throughout the New
John the Baptist, the forerunner and the proclaimer of
Jesus, came preaching a message of repentance as a
prerequisite for forgiveness. Do you remember the day
the church began in Acts 2? Peter stood up on behalf of
all the apostles and preached about this man, Jesus. He
closed by saying, "This man, Jesus, whom you crucified,
God hath made him both Lord and Christ." And those who
heard those words were pricked in their hearts, and
they said, "Brothers what shall we do?" Peter said
"Repent and be baptized, of you, in the name of Jesus
Christ for the forgiveness of your sins." (Acts
In Acts 20:21, Paul while in Ephesus said "I have
declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to
God in repentance and have faith in our Lord
So a belief is necessary in repentance. The culmination
of the faith response of accepting Jesus into your life
is baptism. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he
who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. This is the
one who came by water and blood-Jesus Christ. He did
not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it
is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the
truth." (1 John 5:5-6) The language is almost poetic,
it may be confusing. But do you see how he says the
three testify: the spirit, the water, and the blood.
And before that, he says, "When Jesus came, he didn't
come with water only."
Now if you know something about your Bible, you know
that when John, the baptizer, came as a forerunner, he
said, I come only with water, but there's one who comes
after me who baptizes with water and with the Spirit.
Who was he talking about? He was talking about Jesus.
That's who he was proclaiming. Sure enough Jesus did
come with water and after his sacrifice He poured out
the Holy Spirit upon all mankind and it's all possible
because of the blood he shed on that cross. Do you see
why those three, the Spirit, the blood, and the water,
The point of that metaphor there in 1 John 5:6-8, is
because of the blood that was shed on Calvary. When you
and I are baptized in water in the name of the Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of our sins,
we are reenacting the very burial and resurrection of
Jesus. At that time we receive the gift of the Holy
Spirit along with the forgiveness of our sins and all
three of those testify together. It's beautiful. Some
people don't understand it, but that's how John and the
rest of the New Testament writers tell us we come to
the Lord Jesus Christ and accept the salvation he
4. God adopts us as children. "How great is the
love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be
called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1
John 3:1) When we come to Christ in obedience to the
gospel, we are adopted as children. Galatians 4:7 says
the same thing, so does the Ephesian letter.
5. He gives us his Spirit. "We know that we live
in him and he in us, because he has given us of his
Spirit." (1 John 4:13) He says the same thing in 1 John
3:24 "Those who obey his commands live in him, and he
in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us:
We know it by the Spirit he gave us." "Your body is a
temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have
received from God?" (1 Corinthians 6:19) "We do not
know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself
inter-cedes for us with groans that words cannot
express" (Romans 8:26-27) He "bears fruit in our lives"
(Galatians 5:22-23) He works to help conform us to the
image of Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:29)
What happens when one comes to Christ? What happens
when one obeys the gospel? John says He gives you the
Spirit to live within you to help you in your walk with
6. Our lives change. Our lives change after
coming to Christ and receiving forgiveness and
receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.
a. First, we don't
yield to sin with the same frequency that we did
before becoming a Christian. "No one who lives in
him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin
has either seen him or known him." (1 John
Does that mean we're
perfect people after we come to the Lord? No,
remember "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive
ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess
our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive
us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to
be a liar and his word has no place in our lives."
(1 John 1:8-10) That was written to people who are
already Christians. We do sin, but because we serve
a different Lord and Master and because we have the
gift of the Holy Spirit living inside us, helping
us in our prayer life and in our walk to conform
more like Jesus, we are different people. We don't
fall victim to the same temptations. We don't long
for the ways of the world and the ways of the
flesh. No, we are changing day by day, growing
closer and seeking after the things that God wants
us to seek.
b. It makes a
difference in how we treat our fellow man. The
Spirit does that in our lives. "We love because he
first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet
hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who
does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot
love God, whom he has not seen." (1 John
Not only do we go
away from the world values and following the way of
Jesus, we are just going to treat our fellow man
the way God wants us to do.
Let's go back to the original promise. It's the promise
that you can know you're saved. Somebody may say,
"Well, how can I know I'm saved?" It's not a hard
1. You're a sinner.
That's not a hard thing for most of us to
2. Jesus Christ is
the answer through his atoning sacrifice.
3. Accept Jesus
Christ as my Savior by believing, repenting, being
willing to confess, and experience that new birth
in baptism where the Spirit, and the water, and the
blood, all testify in agreement to Jesus.
4. Is the Spirit of
God bearing fruit in my life? I can sense that by
whether my longings are to follow the devil in the
world, or whether day by day it just seems to
become a more natural thing to follow God's way. I
can test it by how I'm treating each one of you
every day. Am I loving you like a brother or am I
trying to exploit and abuse you or ignore
I've heard people say, "I don't believe you can know
you're saved." John says you can. Somebody says, "Oh,
but it's complicated." No it's not. You've either
accepted Jesus Christ, or you haven't. You've either
obeyed the gospel or you haven't. It doesn't take a
rocket scientist to examine ones own life and to say,
"I'm either walking by the Spirit, or I'm not." It's
not up to me to judge you and it's not up to you to
judge me. But it's up to you to judge you.
The whole summary of this lesson is. "And this is the
testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life
is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does
not have the Son of God does not have life." It's not
all that hard, but the promise is sure. Do you have the
Son of God in your life? (John 5:11-12)
Adapted from Amazing
Grace #1166, Steve Flatt, July 3, 1994