Ephesians 2:8 - For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Galatians 5:22 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.



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Contained in 1st John

2 Peter 1:5-11 - And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Author: Elder Marty Hoskins

Preface


Living life in this sin forsaken world is an extremely difficult affair. Every day we are faced with many trials and afflictions. We see and are affected by the death, destruction, and sin around us. We are assaulted by the dramatized and real violence in the news and entertainment media. It seems that sin has taken over this world and surely, in many ways, it has. Sickness affects our loved ones, and we watch with a perceived helplessness as war and acts of terror take lives on a daily basis. On top of that, we are faced with decisions each and every hour as to what direction we will go with our life. Will we continue to serve the God that made us, or will we walk contrary to his ways and bring reproach upon ourselves and upon Him?

With all of these difficulties, how are we to stay the course? It is not an easy question to answer, however there is hope. One answer to staying the course is to know where you are going. In the children's story "Alice in Wonderland" there is a scene where Alice reaches a fork in road upon which she is traveling. At this point in the story, the Cheshire Cat comes on the scene. Alice asks whether she should go to the left or to the right. The Cheshire Cat asks "Where are you going?" Alice tells him that she does not know. The Cheshire Cat then tells her that if she does not know where she is going, it does not matter which path she takes. There is an element of truth in that story.

The point that I am trying to make and will examine in this document is that there is a source of personal assurance. Personal assurance is important and probably even more so in our modern, stress laden society. The child of God needs the precious refuge of knowing that they have the gift of eternal life and knowing that they are secure in Christ in order to face the daily trials and decisions that they endure. The presence and/or lack of the personal assurance of our eternal destiny will have a marked impact on how we live our life, for if we know where we are going it makes many decisions concerning the direction we will go much easier.

Introduction


2 Peter 1:5-11 - And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Peter reminds us of our duty and privilege to make our calling and election sure and that we can do so through our labors to add to our faith. We know that faith is the gift of God in regeneration.

Ephesians 2:8 - For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Galatians 5:22 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

We can make that calling and election sure by adding to the faith that we have been given. To whom are we making it sure? To ourselves, of course, as it does not need to be made sure to God.

2 Timothy 2:19 - Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

The consequences of not making it sure is that we would be "blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins." We lose sight of what God has done for us. If we are not making our election sure through the exercise of our faith, then we will forget where we are going and lose the personal assurance of what God has already done for us. The presence or lack of assurance does not change the reality of our position, but it certainly affects our possession of the promises while we live here in this world.

The purpose of this current work is to examine the "birth marks" that are provided in 1st John by which we are told that we can know who we are in Christ. 1st John is a book that is packed with assurance for the child of God. I encourage you to take to heart those things provided through God's providence in this small epistle that it might refresh you in the midst of this sin cursed and stress laden world that we now live.

I submit that there are three distinct "birth marks" contained within this epistle. I call them "birth marks" as they are marks in our life that can assure us of our position in Christ Jesus as born again children who have Jesus as our Lord and heaven as our final destiny.

The Birth Marks Exposed


The Commandment Mark

The first of these birth marks is found here:

1st John 2:3 - And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

John tells us that we know we know him (Jesus Christ) if we keep his (Jesus Christ) commandments. If we are a follower of Jesus Christ, keeping his commandments is a mark of our birth. Does this imply that the only way I can know that I am a child of God is that I always keep his commandments? I do not think that is the intention of this passage for John has already told us that no one is without sin and no one can say that they do not sin. (1st John 1:8-10) The intention of this text is to tell us that if we have the commandments of Jesus as our guiding principle, and we look to his word to guide our steps then we have a basis for personal assurance. Note that it says that "we do know that we know him." It does not say that this is the evidence that he knows us. This verse is not about declaring the elect from the non-elect but is rather a statement to assist a child of God in knowing that he knows Jesus Christ. So it is not saying that those that do not keep his commandments are not children of God, but rather that those that do not keep his commandments cannot know within themselves that they know Jesus Christ.

Notice verse 4 of this same chapter:

1st John 2:4 - He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

We cannot make an honest claim to know Jesus unless his word and his statutes are the guiding principle in our lives. Again, this is about personal assurance to the child of God not about marking out the non-elect. John goes on to write:

1st John 2:5 - But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

It is not that keeping the commandments puts the love of God in use, but rather that through keeping them the love of God that is in us is perfected. And through perfecting the love of God in our own personal life we are able to know that we are in him.

Lastly, in this same chapter John says:

1st John 2:6 - He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

Here we see the positive command to be doing the things that God has commanded us to do. We "ought" to "walk, even as he walked." Jesus is set up as the ultimately example of how we should live our lives. The purpose of walking this way is not to make ourselves a child of God, but rather to make ourselves sure that we are.

Can you find the commandment mark in your life? How wonderful it is to have the assurance of the hope of Christ in your life!

The Companion Mark


Birth mark number two is the love of the brethren. It deals with how we treat our companions in the faith.

1 John 3:14 - We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

We know that we are alive in Christ if we love the brethren. Again notice the emphasis on personal knowledge. This does not imply that we know others are children of God based on their love, but rather that we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. The emphasis is on self examination, not the examination of the condition of others. No matter how many good or bad acts we see in others, we can never assuredly know their motivations, however we can certainly know our own. He that does not love his brother "abideth in death." He doesn't say that he is dead, but rather that he "abideth in death." It is a strange thing for a living child of God to take up residence among the dead, but yet it happens. However, the child of God can gain assurance of his salvation through loving his brethren.

Love is not a feeling, but is rather an action. It is not how we feel about somebody, but is how we treat them. You cannot say that you love someone and treat them in a bad way.

1st John 3:17-18 - But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

Can you find the companion mark in your life? How wonderful it is to have the assurance of the hope of Christ in your life!

The Commitment Mark


The last birth mark is our personal belief on the Son of God.

1st John 5:10-12 - He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

If we believe on Jesus, the Son of God, then we have him, and if we have him, we know we have eternal life. This belief is more than a mere mental affirmation of Jesus Christ but is a committed belief, a belief that leads to action. Without a personal conviction and belief upon the Son of God, the child of God has no basis upon which to claim an assurance of a home in heaven. Does this mean that God does not have children that have not made a public profession? It means nothing of the sort. It means that a man that will not claim Jesus cannot claim eternal life. There is no basis for him to make such a claim for "He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." (John 5:24) Only those that believe, actively, can be assured of their position in Jesus Christ.

Can you find the commitment mark in your life? How wonderful it is to have the assurance of the hope of Christ in your life!

Conclusion


There are obviously other marks of personal assurance within the word of God, but these are the three that John focused on in his first epistle. Each of these marks provides the child of God that is walking in them a basis for personal assurance that he belongs to God. Through these, the child of God knows that he knows God. With this assurance he can calmly face the trials and difficulties of this life knowing that all those trials and all those difficulties are only temporary obstacles on the ultimate journey to eternal glory that has already been purchased for him.

Each of these marks is based on the labor of the child of God. In order to experience personal assurance, the child of God must keep his commandments, love his brother, and believe on the Lord. Assurance is not something that just comes, it is something for which we work. Personal assurance is not based on past experience, but is based on current obedience.

John sums up this personal assurance in this manner:

1st John 5:13 - These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

John wrote this epistle so that those that have believed and are believing might know that they have, as a current possession, eternal life that they might continue believing. Personal assurance has a direct effect on our ability to continue to walk the walk of faith, for if we do not know where we are going, how are we to know which way to go?