By William V. Beasley
Has John led you, in our brief study of 1 John, to “know that ye have eternal life” (1 John 5:13)? The, saints of the first century could know if they had eternal life, and we, today, can know also. Let us consider John’s conclusion to his epistle.
“Believe On The Name . . .” (1 John 5:13)
The New Testament divided all people into two classes: the believers and the unbelievers (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 41; John 3:16, 18; 3:36). There is no third or fourth category. One may ask, “What about the one who believes, but is not baptized?” Such a person does not truly believe. If they did, he would obey the Lord’s command to be baptized to be saved. Another may wonder, “How about the Christian who believed but went back into the world?” Such a person, as the other, does not believe (1 Tim. 1:19). The true believer looks at all that John has presented (actually all of the New Testament) and subjects himself thereunto.
Prayer (1 John 5:14-15)
We have the promise of God to answer every prayer He “hears” in the affirmative. The key to His “hearing” is the phrase “according to his will” (5:14). God’s will is not our desires. In addition to a prayer being “according to his will” it must also be “in faith” (Jas. 1:6-8), with a right motive (Jas. 4:1-3), by one in the proper spiritual condition Psa. 66:18; Prov. 28:9; John 15:7) and in the name of Jesus (John 14:13-14). There are, of course, other conditions to acceptable prayer, to God’s hearing us.
Sin Unto Death (1 John 5:16-17)
In the Bible death means: (1) separation of body and spirit (Jas. 2:26), (2) condition of one out of Christ (Eph. 2:1), and (3) banishment from the presence of God at the judgment (2 Thess. 1:9; Rev. 21:8; Rom. 6:23). Which of these is referred to in 1 John 5:16-17? It is not speaking of one out of Christ for John says “all unrighteousness is sin” (5:17) and then draws a distinction between this and a particular sin (condition). It is not speaking of physical death because there is no need for such instruction destiny is sealed at physical death. It must be speaking of the final separation from God at the judgment. Many people make the mistake of making this refer to an act, one particular sin. John speaks not of the nature of the sinful act, but of the condition of the one sinning. I have authority to pray for the one who confesses his sin (Jas. 5:16), but not for the brother who does not repent nor confess his sins. Any sin unrepented remains unforgiven and is therefore sin unto death (for a fuller discussion of this see Robert C. Welch, “The Holy Spirit Blasphemy,” Faith and Facts, Vol. 5, No. 3, July, 1977, pp. 161-170).
“We Know . . .” (1 John 5:18-20)
“We know that whosoever is begotten of God sinneth not . . . ” (5:18). This, like 1 John 3:9-10), denotes continuous action – will not remain in sin. It is not teaching, as some falsely claim, that a child of God cannot commit a sin; we shamefully know better. “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in the evil one” (5:19; see also 1 John 3:10). It is either “we” or “world.” There is only two positions – the “we” who serve God or those in the “world:” The “we” compose the one church (body) of Christ (Eph. 4:4; 1:22-23). “And we know that the Son of God is come. . . ” (5:20). We know by eye, ear and hand witnesses (1 John I:1-3) that Christ came in the flesh and was, raised in the flesh. Jesus gave us to understand that eternal life is to know God (John 17:3) and that the only way to the Father was through His Son (John 14:6-11).
Conclusion (1 John 5:21)
“My little children, guard yourselves from idols” (5:21). An idol can be anything that keeps us from serving God. It could be another person, money, popularity, a false doctrine (salvation by faith only, once saved always saved, etc.), or even a misconception of God. Many today worship an idol that would sentence no one to hell, or, at least, no one whom they know. They call this idol Jehovah. It is their misconception of Jehovah as a god who would send no one to hell which is today’s popular idol. Beloved, you can “know that ye have eternal life, even . . . you that believe on the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13). Thank God!
Truth Magazine XXIII: 6, p. 98
February 8, 1979