LET’S TAKE A TEST
The early church had been birthed in power. It grew like wildfire and the Lord truly blessed the fledgling church. However, it wasn’t many days until heresy began to creep into the church. One of the earliest perversions of Christianity to make an appearance was known as Gnosticism.
There were many versions of Gnosticism, but the primary areas of the agreement was that knowledge and not the cross was the means to salvation. In other words, the Gnostics believed that only through initiation into the “special” knowledge they alone possessed could anyone hope to be saved. They also believed that all matter was evil. This meant that Jesus Christ did not really have a flesh and blood body. If the matter was evil then Christ could not have had a physical body. It only appeared that He had died. Some did believe that Jesus died, but the spirit of Christ left Him before the cross. This, of course, eliminated the cross and the resurrection as the basis of salvation. Since they believed all matter to be evil, they did not believe in living holy lives. They believed the body could be allowed to do as it pleased since body and spirit were separate one from the other.
As these teachings began to filter their way into the church, some people found their faith undermined and they began to doubt their relationship with the Lord. Our text verses tell us plainly that John felt led to write this book to offer assurance to his readers. He wants them, and us, to know that we can know for sure that we are saved. We do not have to live in doubt. Many do, but it does not have to be that way.
To aid us in knowing for sure whether we are saved or not, John gives his readers a simple test they can take to determine where they stand with the Lord. In some ways, it is kind of like the achievement tests they made us take in school. Those tests were broken down into sections that revealed where we stood in relation to our peer group throughout the country. John’s test reveals where a person stands in regard to this matter of salvation. His is a simple test, broken down into five sections. I would like for us to take this test together this evening. You will not need a number two pencil. All you will need is an honest heart. Take the test, see where you stand and if corrections need to be made, they will be allowed. Let’s examine the sections of John’s test and our own hearts today. Let’s take a test!
I. THE COMMANDMENT SECTION
A. 1 John 2:3-6 – Simply stated the person who is saved will have a desire to walk in obedience to the revealed will of the Lord. This is the same standard applied by Jesus Himself – John 14:15.
B. 1 John 4:6 – The redeemed individual will receive the Word of God and will conform his/her life to it!
C. 1 John 5:3 – The saved person will experience joy in their heart when they receive a commandment from the Lord. God’s demands will not be “grievous” to them, but they will be a pleasure and a delight to the soul! ( Psa. 1:1-3; Psa. 40:8; Psa. 119:35; Psa. 119:47.)
D. Is there something within you that wants to do the will of God? You may not do it completely or perfectly, but is there a pull within you that makes you want to do what God wants? That is not naturally within man, it is supernaturally placed within man when he is saved!
E. How did you do on this section? Grade your own papers, please!
II. THE COMPASSION SECTION
A. 1 John 2:9-11 – The genuine believer will always be marked by a true love for his brothers and sisters in Christ. A person who displays no love for the redeemed is not a child of God!
B. 1 John 3:14-22 – The true Christian loves his brethren, as we have already said. But, this is a love that is seen and not just said! It is a love that transcends all hurts and personal attacks. It is our unexplainable love for people, in spite of their attitudes and actions towards us, that gives us assurance of our salvation. (Note: Verses 20-21 tell us that there are times when doubt may arise and our own heart will attempt to condemn us. That is, we may feel that we are not saved. John wants us to know that we are not to rely on what our heart says! We are to look at the evidence and rest in the grace of God. Just because I may not feel saved, does not change the fact that evidence says that I am saved.)
C. 1 John 4:20-21 – True believers love the rest of God’s family! Without this supernatural love for the brethren, a person is simply not saved, regardless of what they may say!
D. How are you doing? Again, please grade your own papers only!
III. THE CHRISTLIKENESS SECTION
A. 1 John 3:4-10 – These verses reveal the truth that genuine believers live a different life than the world around them. They have been changed by the power of God and are different, 2 Cor. 5:17! A saved person will develop a new pattern of life that will increasingly become more and more like Jesus Christ, 1 John 2:6. The saved individual will not be able to live a life of habitual, unconfessed, unrepentant sin! They will sin, 1 John 1:8-10, but there will be a pull in the heart to make it right with God and to separate from that sin!
B. Ill. There are times when I will call home and an older child in that home will answer the phone. Often, it is impossible for me to distinguish the difference between that child’s voice and that of one of its parents. The inflections, pronunciations, and sound of the voices are about the same. The reason? The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree!
C. The same is true in a spiritual sense. You are going to resemble your spiritual father whether it is God or the devil. You will manifest the characteristics of your spiritual father.
D. Did you come through that section alright? Please keep your eyes on your own test results. God called us to bear fruit, not inspect it!
IV. THE COMPANION SECTION
A. 1 John 3:24 – Not only will the genuine believer have the external marks of salvation, such as a desire to obey the Lord, a desire to do His will, a love for the brethren that manifests itself in action rather than mere words and a life that is marked by a resemblance to the Lord Jesus, but the believer will also have the inner evidence of the Spirit of God, 1 John 4:13.
B. At the instant of conversion, the Spirit of God takes up residence within the spirit of the believer. This is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor. 12:13. His Spirit within our hearts gives us the assurance that we are saved, Rom. 8:16.
C. His job in us is to seal us, Eph. 4:30; lead us, John 16:13; and to give us assurance of our salvation; Eph. 1:13-14; 2 Cor. 1:22; 2 Cor. 5:5. The presence of the Spirit of God in our lives is proof positive that we belong to the Lord!
This is a mysterious thing, but it is absolutely essential for the assurance of one’s salvation. When the Spirit of God is present in your life, He will speak to your heart. He will tell you things. He will guide you. He will warn you. He will lead you. He will feed you. He will comfort you. He will teach you the truth. He will rise up within your heart and confirm the reality of your adoption into the family of God, ***Rom. 5:5***. Like a mother who wraps her arms around that insecure child everyday and expresses her undying love, the Spirit of God does the same things for the redeemed child of the Lord. (Note: To put it simply, when you get saved, there is a spiritual instinct placed within you. You immediately begin to desire those things that pertain to God, His Word, His work and His worship. This will not be a passing thing, but it will endure throughout life because of the presence of the Spirit in your heart.)
D. Do you have the inner voice of the Holy Spirit within your heart? His voice may be hard to hear at times because of all the noise from all the other things in our lives, but it can be heard nonetheless! Is there a desire for the things of God? Do you desire His house? Do you long to be with His people. Do you find yourself needing a word from the Bible? Do you ever find yourself needing to seek the Lord in prayer? Friends, this is not naturally within man! This is put there by the work of the Spirit of God!
V. THE COMMITMENT SECTION
A. 1 John 5:1 – The true believer is one who is trusting Jesus Christ and Him alone for their soul’s salvation. They believe all the Bible says about Him and they have embraced Jesus as their only hope by faith. That is the essence of salvation! It is more than just an intellectual assent to the facts, it is a personal acceptance of those things for oneself as your only hope of Heaven, Acts 16:31!
B. 1 John 5:13 – John tells us that this faith in Christ is the ground of our hope! What are you trusting to take you to Heaven? Don’t trust a prayer you prayed. Don’t trust a warn sensation you felt. Don’t trust what someone told you. You must trust Jesus and Him alone. Nothing else will ever suffice to save the soul! This is the clear message of 1 John 5:9-12! How does one trust Jesus? By faith! You merely come to the place where you understand that nothing else will do the job but Jesus and you simply lean on Him alone for salvation. (Note: It may happen in the context of prayer. It may happen in just an instant when trust is transferred to Jesus. It always happens only when there is a conscious decision to turn from a life of sin to faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross.)
C. How did you do in this section of the test? What are you trusting to save your soul? Is your faith in Jesus or the church? Is your faith in Jesus or your profession of faith or some prayer you prayed? Is your faith in Jesus or in the good things you think you have done? Faith that does not rest in Jesus Christ is not saving faith at all!
D. How did you score in this area? I think this is where most people miss the boat when it comes to salvation!