Assurance in First John?
As long as I can remember I have been told that if a person is struggling with assurance of salvation you take them to 1st John. The idea being that 1st John will help someone that is doubting their salvation have the assurance that they are saved. Let’s take a look at 1st John and see if this concept really works. Please have your Bible ready and read these verses as we go. Vs 1:6-7 requires you to walk in the light. Vs 1:9 requires you to confess your sins. (What if you forgot one?). Vs 2:3-5 requires us to keep the commandments. Vs 2:6 requires us to walk as he (Jesus) walked. Vs 2:9-11 requires us to love our brother. Vs 2:15 requires you to hate the world and the things that are in the world. Vs 2:20 says that we “know all things” Vs 2:27 says you have an anointing and you don’t need anyone to teach you. (Why do we have Sunday school I wonder?) Vs 2:29 says we must do righteousness. Vs 3:6 says you will not sin. Vs 3:7 righteousness required again. Vs 3:9 if you are saved you will not commit sin and even “cannot sin”. Read this one a few times just to make sure, yes it’s very clear. Vs 3:10 if you don’t do righteousness you are not of God. 3:14 requires you to love the brethren. Vs 3:15 excludes murderers from salvation. Vs 3:17 seems to require you to give to any brother in need, verse 19 using the phrase “hereby we know we are of the truth”. Sounds like a requirement to me. Vs 3:24 commandment keeping is required again. Vs 4:7-8 you are required to love your brother. 4:16 We are required to dwell in love. Vs 5:1 requires you to believe that “Jesus is the Christ” (This does not sound like how we are saved today in this dispensation”) Vs 5:4 requires you to overcome the world. Vs 5:13 probably the most commonly quoted verse on this subject requires you to believe on the “name” of Christ. (Where is our gospel of trusting in the finished work of Christ in this context?) (Where is trusting in the finished work of Jesus death burial and resurrection in this whole book?) We’ll keep moving along. Vs 5:18 clearly says if you are born of God you will not sin. You can read the entire book of 1st John in just minutes. If you have not read these verses please go back now and do this. I can think of no worse advice to a person that is doubting their salvation than to send them to 1st John, yet I have heard this my whole life and seen it first-hand. The entire book of 1st John is about WORKS. We are NOT saved by works. How in the world can we get assurance by our works? I can think of no better advice to a person that is doubting their salvation than sending them to Romans! Among other Pauline books that actually discuss how we are saved today in the dispensation of grace. Romans 4:5 is crystal clear! “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Let’s throw Romans 5:1 in for good measure. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” Being a right divider of scripture I can believe every word in the book of 1st John as it is written because I know where the book of 1st John belongs in God’s progressive revelation. If you believe this book is describing our salvation in this dispensation then you can have NO assurance because you can NEVER hold the standard described in the book. If however, you know that in ISRAEL’s new covenant the Holy Spirit enables them to keep the Law perfectly then 1st John makes COMPLETE sense and is easily understood. Please read Jeremiah 31:33-34 for yourself and see if this doesn’t cross reference to 1st John perfectly.
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Steve Schoenberger is a student of the Bible and the teacher at Abundant Grace Bible Fellowship, A Mid-Acts Dispensational Bible church teaching the Bible rightly divided according the revelation of the mystery delivered to the Apostle Paul