Monday, July 26, 2010

Assurance of Salvation and 1st John

I've been reading and listening to "tests" of people's salvation based on 1st John for years... like many of you no doubt have. Right now I'm working on an article for On My Walk about these tests. However, recently Glenn of the Wisdom and Knowledge blog emailed me to say hi. Our short conversation has born great fruit!!! For I found a wonderful article about this trendy subject at a website linked from his blog.

Pastor Jeremy M. Thomas of Fredricksburg Bible Church has written a wonderful article about the assurance of our Salvation that the Apostle John offers in his 1st Epistle. You can read the full thing here.

The full article is most worthy of study, but here is a bit of what you'll read;

1Jn 5:13 These 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.

The words these things have been taken as referring to many different sections of the epistle (1:1-5:12, 5:1-12; 5:6-12). A very popular view, and the way you have probably been taught, is to see these things as referring back to the entire contents of the epistle. Those who hold this view imagine that this one verse gives the entire purpose of John’s epistle. The reason they do this is because they are confused about what John’s argument is so they resort to comparing 1 John to John’s gospel to help them find the argument. When scholars do this they read the Gospel of John and fasten in on John 20:31 as the purpose of John’s gospel, “…these have been 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.” Then they say that John’s 1st epistle is like John’s gospel in that the purpose of John’s first epistle is found at the end of 1 John in chapter 5:13. “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.” So, they use this supposed correlation of John putting his purpose at the end of his letters to stake their case for John’s entire purpose of 1st John. And they interpret 5:13 to mean “I have written to you who CLAIM to BELIEVE”. Maybe you do believe maybe you don’t believe but these things are written “in order that you may find out if you really believe or not.” In other words the first epistle of John is full of “Tests for Salvation”. That is, tests to see whether you really have eternal life? And that’s what 1 John is supposedly all about. Are you really a believer? Do you really have eternal life? If you pass these tests then you are a true believer. If not your not really a believer. So, these people are saying that John’s intention was to write a letter to a mixed group of believers and unbelievers so they could find out by going through these tests if they were believers or not.


Anonymous said...


I am really happy to find that you found something of interest. I haven't read that article myself but I will be sure to check it out.


Kevl said...

Hi Glenn,

The article is WELL worth the time to read. There are a number of things that I need to investigate. If the author is correct about Calvin's view of faith then that will be a powerful argument against the "neo-calvinists" of our day.