There was a time in my childhood years where I really feared hell and desperately wanted heaven. So I thought of ways to attain eternal life. I became good to my parents. I always prayed to God. And I can still vividly remember that there were days that I’ll wake up early, turn on the TV, and instead of watching cartoons, watch 700 Club. And I’m just a grade schooler by this time. Of course, now I’m a grown up, I realized that there’s no amount of good deeds, prayer, and Christian TV shows would get me to heaven. I can only attain eternal life through Jesus Christ.
This is what I realized as I pondered in that childhood experience: People don’t want feelings of uncertainty, especially when it comes to their eternal destiny. Some believers even struggle with thoughts of whether they possess eternal life or not. But there’s a good news! God doesn’t want us to live in this uncertainty. He wants us to be assured of the eternal life found in Jesus. And it’s my aim to help you gain confidence that you have the assurance of heaven.
Let’s read 1 John 5:9-13:
9We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
The first epistle (or letter) of John was written by the apostle John, who also wrote one of the gospels. The purpose of the gospel of John is to prove the divinity of Jesus. John 20:31 says,
“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
So if you have doubts on Jesus, I encourage you to read the gospel.
While the purpose of the first epistle of John is to assure believers of the eternal life found in Jesus. First John 5:13 says,
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Let me emphasize that the audience of 1 John is the believers (I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God…). The apostle John wrote to the believers because it is possible for a believer to doubt his or her eternal life. Now, I ask you this: If you have given your life to Jesus, are you in doubt of your salvation?
Let me run you through the verses in our text. I’ll begin with verse 9.
9We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.
Let’s take note of the word “testimony” (it appears six times in 5:9-11). We usually hear this word in a trial or in a courtroom. Sometimes, we hear it in church. If you live in the days of Friendster (a social networking site), you may be familiar with this word. But by definition, it is a verbal witness of someone verifying the truth of something.
So what makes a testimony trustworthy? Remember that the reliability of a testimony depends on the person giving it. It depends on his character and knowledge. We accept people’s testimony when it is reliable. How much more will we accept God’s testimony? He is more trustworthy and knowledgeable than us. And God has given his testimony about his Son, Jesus.
10Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.
After a witness gives a testimony in the court, the people are given to options: to believe him or not. Now that God has given his testimony about Jesus, we are also left with the same choices. If we believe, then we have God’s testimony in our hearts. If not, then we make Him a liar. And who are we to call God a liar?
11And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
Take note of the word “given”. In Greek, it is translated as didomi. This word has many shade of meanings. But I believe one definition perfectly fits in the verse. Didomi means to bestow a gift. Eternal life is given as a gift, not as reward or wage (something we worked for). What we need to do is to simply receive it. And that eternal life is found in Jesus.
12He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Finally, we have arrived at the “juice” of the passage. In this verse, there are two kinds of people: Those who have the Son and, thus have the life, and those who don’t have the Son or the life. Eternal life is found in Jesus alone. Apart from Him, there is no eternal life. Many people think that they possess eternal life by another means. But they are dead wrong. So, if you have a personal relationship with Jesus, you are assured of eternal life. You can be confident that you are going to heaven because of what is said in this verse.
Now I ask you this: Do you have the Son? I hope you do.
God doesn’t want us to live in uncertainty we regards to our eternal destiny. He assures us that if we have the Son, we have eternal life.