How can I know I’m saved? How can I be sure that I have genuine life giving faith? It’s a huge question isn’t it? Lots of us have found ourselves asking that question at some point as we follow Jesus. Some of us find ourselves asking it again and again. Maybe as we’ve relapsed yet again in our struggle with a besetting sin, or when we’re reminded of something in our past. Or simply because we grew up in church and can’t remember a specific date and time when we decided to follow Jesus. Some of us have asked it lots of times, it haunts us when we have questions or doubts or struggles.
How can I be sure I’m saved? 1 John is the spiritual MRI scanner of the Bible, carrying out a deep soul scan for believers. John writes to a church that’s wounded and weak. Riddled by questions and doubts. Some in the church have left (1 John 2v19), led astray by false teachers who deny who Jesus is, and now the church is shaken. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Who’s really saved? Was Jesus really the Son of God? Have we got discipleship wrong? Are we following the wrong saviour? Is our eternal salvation real or have we believed a lie?
John writes to reassure them about the basis for their faith and to help them see what saving faith is. He gives them three marks of genuine disciples. Here they are: firstly, genuine disciples believe Jesus is the Christ the Son of God. Secondly, they see their sin in all its horror and turn from it by seeking to live obeying God, and finally they love their brothers and sisters in Christ as Jesus did.
We’ve looked at the first two in previous weeks in our reset series, but this morning we’re going to think about what it means to love our brothers and sisters. As soon as I say the word love all sorts of thoughts, ideas, and images flood into your mind. Our world writes lots about love. Musicians sing about it. Psychologists study it and write reams about it, trying to understand it and codify it. But the Bible has a totally different image of love. But what is the love John writes about? How is it distinct? What is John really calling disciples too? How do we love one another?
It’s worth taking some time to answer that question: what is love? What does love look like? How do you show love to others? How do you receive love from others? How is the love disciples enjoy and show different from other love? And why? And how can you do that to weak and wounded and limping people, those who are battered and weak, who are tempted to turn in on themselves?
That’s what we’ll be looking at in a couple of posts this week.