1 John 5:13-21: What We Know as Christians
Almost immediately after his well-known conversion experience at Aldersgate Street, John Wesley struggled for months over the uncertainty of his own salvation. Receiving little help from his friends or his church, his thoughts began to turn inward. Focusing on his sinful failures, he became increasingly despondent and dejected. He sought relief by opening passages within the Bible at random, but when that also proved unfruitful he continued his downward spiral. Finally he sank to such depths of despair that he made the following shocking notation in his journal: "My friends affirm that I am mad because I said I was not a Christian a year ago. I affirm I am not a Christian now" (Arnold A. Dallimore, George Whitefield, Vol. I [Carlisle, Penn.: Banner of Truth, 1975], p. 196). What was Wesley's problem? Unfortunately, it is the same problem that afflicts many sincere Christians today—a lack of knowledge. There are certain truths that all of us as Christians must know if we are to avoid an experience like his. Those truths are found in this passage.
Warming Up to God
How well can you relate to Wesley's experience? Explain.
Discovering the Word
- What assurance does John give us in these verses?
- Verse 13 is a summary statement of purpose for the entire epistle. What then are those "things" which assure us we have eternal life?
- How can we get to the point where we want what God wants (vv. 14-15)?
- In light of the whole context of this epistle, what might be the distinction between the sin that does not lead to death and the one that does (vv. 16-17)?
- How does the coming of God's Son enable us to know the true God in contrast to the false conceptions of God that continually surround us (vv. 20-21)?
Applying the Word
- What certainties in this passage are the most encouraging to you?
- In what way do you need greater assurance from God?
Responding in Prayer
Pray that God will make your desires his own will.