By Hugo McCord
Some commentators think the apostle John was extremely aged, about 85, when he wrote the five chapters of first John. But his heart was young and his confidence strong: “We know we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before him.” (1 John 3:19.) This writer, at 73, has visited with brother John (in his epistle) and has learned of at least five reasons why John’s heart was assured.
I. Death Into Life
“We know that we have passed out of death into life.” (1 John 3:14.) A thrilling thought is the fact that, though we at one time were dead spiritually through “trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), when we obeyed the gospel God “made us alive” in Christ Jesus. Since that happy day each Christian rejoices to say, “Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
II. We are in Him.
“We know that we are in him” (1 John 2:5.) Since being without Christ is to have no promise, “having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12), what a glorious assurance it is to know we are “in Christ” in whom “every spiritual blessing” is placed. (Ephesians 1:3.) We rejoice also that the information is plain about the transition from without to within Christ, namely: “Baptized into Christ.” (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27.)
The Christian feels comfortable and assured in being so close to the Lord: “For in the day of trouble he will keep me secretly in his pavilion: In the covert of his tabernacle will he hide me…” (Psalm 27:5.)
Confidence is enhanced when one reads that a Christian’s life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3, and that a blessing is pronounced on those who “die in the Lord.” (Revelation 14:13.)
III. He Abideth in Us.
“We know that he abideth in us.” (1 John 3:24.) Here is a thrilling turnabout! Great is the mystery of godliness! John not only affirmed that we are in the Lord, but now he has asserted that God is in us! This exalted thought no human is able to comprehend. At one and the same time God is in us and we are in him. How honored we are, and what a feeling of protection is ours!
It gives a Christian an assured heart to be able to say, “Jehovah is on my side; I will not fear: What can man do unto me?” (Psalm 118:6)
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31.) Imperfect and sinful though all of us are, how a pure and holy God could descend to dwell in us we do not know, but that he does lifts our courage and spirit.
IV. He Heareth Us.
“We know that he heareth us.” (1 John 5:15.) Not only are we unworthy to be in the Lord, and unworthy that he should live in us, but now we discover he is willing to listen! Moreover, he does not want us to approach him in fear: “this is the boldness which we have toward him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us.” (I John 5:14.) No Matter if millions talk to him at the same time, there is a private line for each one. Nobody ever gets the busy signal. Furthermore, he is on a 24-hour shift: “he that keepeth thee will not slumber.” (Psalm 121:3.)
V. Eternal Life.
“These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13.) All normal people have “eternity in their heart by divine implantation (Ecclesiastes 3:11.) Normal people do not want to become extinct, for life is sweet. They yearn for immortality. Divine assurance of an unending life in a better world than this gives us “strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us: which we have as an anchor for the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast.” (Hebrews 6:18, 19.) “This is the promise which he promised us, even eternal life,” and we rejoice that “the Lord is not slack concerning his promise.” (1 John 2:25; 2 Peter 3:9.)
The strong assurances lifting the heart of the aged John were, wrote John, conditional. They can only be enjoyed “if we keep his commandments.” (1 John 2:3.) “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:4.) However, he who does what a loving God asks (his commandments are not grievous,” 1 John 5:3) has nothing but a happy hope for the future life. John’s assurances make him bold and fearless, readying him for the “day of judgment.” (1 John 4:18.) “Fear hath punishment.” (1 John 4:18.) He who is scared is not keeping God’s commandments.
- Hugo McCord (Reprinted from Gospel Advocate, January 3, 1985); via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY. Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com