Knowing We’re Genuine Christians

1 John 4:13-21

There’s close connection between Gospel and epistle – can tell by author’s declaration of purpose. Reason for Gospel: John 20:31 “these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.” Reason for epistle: 1 John 5:13These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life…”

Possible to not only believe but also to know. Means two things: will be challenges that cause doubt (am I really a Christian?); and,… God expects us to be confident of our salvation, so he gives us resources we need to possess that assurance. They are things that don’t depend on feelings or circumstances, ones that can be observed by others as well as ourselves. In our text, 5 evidences we are true believers: the indwelling Holy Spirit, confidence in God’s Word, a good confession of faith, experience of God’s love, and expression of God’s love.

A. the indwelling Spirit v.13

spirit of adoption Rom. 8:15-17

promotes in us close, tender, childlike relationship with Heavenly Father

how do you know your earthly father is your father? – bond, attachment, mutual love, resemblance, recognize his voice

Spirit adds his voice to ours, declaring to Father we are his child; confirms in our spirits that is true

spiritual understanding John 14:26; 15:26; 16:8-11, 13-15

Gospel records Jesus’ statements re: ministry of Holy Spirit

teach and remind and apply Jesus’ teaching and guide to understanding of truth

first and primary ministry to apostles, continues for all believers

Paul further amplifies on that theme 1 Cor. 2:9-16

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.

“…we have received …the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God.”

whatever you comprehend of spiritual truth from God’s Word and its application: result of work of God through his Spirit

if you can look into mirror of God’s Word, see image of yourself and image of who you should be. If you are encouraged by likenesses, convicted by shortcomings, determined to grow in likeness to Christ, Holy Spirit is alive and active in you

fruit of the Spirit Gal. 5:22-23

just as evidence of life devoted to serving self are evident: “sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar” (Gal. 5:19-21)

so evidence of life directed by Holy Spirit are evident: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control”

John says God has given us his Spirit who by his presence will necessarily produce these characteristics in us

B. confidence in the Bible v.14, 16a

believe the eyewitnesses 2 Pet. 1:16 (read it)


Transfiguration (Peter, James, John), Damascus road (Saul/Paul) obvious times but not only

miracles he performed – his power over nature, demons, death – displayed his majesty

resurrection and ascension, don’t forget what God revealed to John in visions (Revelation)

our response when we read about these things

not to say or think: no way that can be true, must be exaggerated, nobody could do that

is to say or think: wow, it must be true, they were there to see it; besides, it’s in the Bible

certain it is:

God’s word

not that it contains God’s Word, or is word about God, is from beginning to end God’s word

is just as authoritative as if he were presently speaking to those who read

must be treated with same care and respect and dignity as God himself

true and reliable

says what it means, means what it says, speaks truly about all subjects it addresses

says God created in 6 days, rested the 7th, that’s the way it occurred

says God will re-create and restore when Christ returns, that’s the way it will be

source of life

Qur’an rightly identifies Christians as “People of the Book”

after many followers abandoned Jesus, asked the twelve if they would leave also; “Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68

sing them over again to me,…

C. a good confession v.15

right declaration Rom. 10:9-13

“confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead”

confess that Jesus is the Son of God, sent into the world to save sinners (v.14 also)

meaning full subscription – fully subscribe to, acquiesce to, declare to be your belief the total content of Gospel as declared in Bible (remember why John wrote Gospel and epistle)

accompanied by right belief

a wholehearted commitment to, and trust in, the person of God along with obedience to his commands

and expressed in action

trusting and living under his Lordship, his authority

saying it don’t make it so; declaring belief in Christ as Savior without submitting to his lordship is empty belief/worthless confession, will not lead to eternal life

true confession/belief means God abides in you; God doesn’t dwell there undercover

One Sunday on their way home from church, a little girl turned to her mother and said, “Mommy, the preacher’s sermon this morning confused me.”

The mother said, “Oh? Why is that?” The little girl replied, “Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?”

The mother replied, “Yes, that’s true, honey.” “And he also said that God lives in us? Is that true, Mommy?”

Again the mother replied, “Yes.”

“Well,” said the little girl, “if God is bigger than us and he lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?” (James S. Hewett, ed., ILLUSTRATIONS UNLIMITED, p. 303)

D. experience of God’s love v.16-19

know love of God

Paul prayed for Ephesian saints: “according to the riches of his glory…to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” Eph. 3:18-19

kind of knowledge that comes from intimate personal experience

Spurgeon began one evening service with this series of questions for his congregation to contemplate:

Do I know the love of Christ? Have I felt it? Do I understand it? Do I feel it now? Is it now shed abroad in my heart? Do I know that Jesus now loves me? Is my heart quickened, and animated, and warmed, and attracted towards Him through the great Truth of God that it recognizes and rejoices in—that Christ really loves me, and has chosen me, and set His heart upon me?

future confidence

we love God, know he loves us, are confident of likeness to Christ in some measure; know God will recognize us as his children

confidence of God’s love means have nothing to fear – God doesn’t love those he will ultimately condemn, won’t condemn those who are in Christ

E. expression of God’s love v.19-21

living in unity and fellowship with other believers on basis of love 1 Cor. 13:4-7

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.” MSG

Oscar Hammerstein: “A bell’s not a bell until you ring it. A song’s not a song until you sing it. Love in your heart is not put there to stay. Love isn’t love till you give it away.”

didn’t get it quite right – love isn’t love till you give yourself away – to brothers / sisters; husbands / wives; church family

Are these evidences present in your life? At least in some measure? We’re all in different places in regard to spiritual development, so don’t compare yourself to someone else. Look at God’s standard, seek his help when you struggle. Keep doing the things you know will draw you closer to God, avoid things that come between you. Thank God for the circumstances he puts you in so your love for him and others will grow. Rest in assurance of your salvation when you see these evidences present in your life, confident that God who started a work in you will bring it to completion.

Has he given you a song? Even if you can’t carry a tune, do you have that melody of love in your heart? Sing it through your words and deeds, that others may know you love the Christ of Calvary.


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