The apostle John wrote, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life,” (I John 5:13). This is John’s purpose statement for writing this little book. Christians can have confidence that they are going to continue to have eternal life when they die! Throughout the book John gives numerous ways Christians can be assured that they will have a home with God in eternity.
First, the debt of our sin has been paid. One biblical description of sin is that each time one sins the “debt” of sin becomes greater. That debt had to be paid so that we could be declared saved or free from the debt of sin. John assures Christians that has happened. “He Himself (Christ) is the propitiation (payment) for our sins,” (I John 2:2). When one takes the steps necessary to have the debt of one’s sins paid, one is saved. Therefore, the sins of one’s past life will not be held against him.
Second, God has given us eternal life in His Son. Eternal life is a gift from God and not based on the work that we do even though there are commands we must obey (Hebrews 5:9). Just before giving us his purpose statement, John also said, “The testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son,” (I John 5:11). Notice that for one to have eternal life he or she must be in God’s Son. One must believe that Christ paid the debt of sin and then he or she must get into Christ where salvation is found. Paul explained how one gets into Christ. “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life,” (Romans 6:3-4). Being baptized by immersion is the only way one can get into Christ where eternal life is promised.
Third, the condemnation of one’s present sins are forgiven. Although each of us should try to live perfectly, we cannot. John explains how the sins we commit are forgiven. “If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanse us from all sin,” (I John 1:7). The word “cleanse” is a present tense verb in the Greek, and it means that the blood of Christ continually flows to keep us clean. Therefore, if we are trying to the very best of our ability to walk in the light of God’s word, Christ’s blood flows to constantly wash away our sins. That blessing is based on another condition. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (I John 1:9). As a Christian realizes he or she has sinned, one must confess that sin to God and ask for forgiveness.
Fourth, the one who obeys the will of the Father will continue to have eternal life. Everyone faces two great choices in life – the lusts of the sinful world or obedience to the Father. One can know he or she has eternal life if the choice is to obey the will of the Father. “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever,” (I John 2:15-17). If we are striving to the best of our ability to obey the will of the Father, we have assurance we are saved.
Fifth, we know that we have eternal life if we love God and mankind. In I John 4:7-21 John explains to us what love is. As he begins to draw this topic to a conclusion he writes, “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love,” (I John 4:16-18). Notice that if we have the proper kind of love, we will have confidence in the day of judgment.
Conclusion: Children of God ought to be able to say with confidence, “I am saved.” If a child of God cannot say that, then he or she needs to correct whatever keeps that one from being saved. God wants the whole world to be saved (2 Peter 3:9), and He has given instruction as to how to be saved. If one follows those instructions, he or she can say with confidence, “I am saved. I have eternal life.”