We Can Know We Are Saved

Bible Book: 1 John  3 : 21-24
Subject: Salvation, Assurance of; Eternal Security
Series: 1 John

This is a wonderful epistle. It meets a need that lies deep in the heart of every believer. I know I need it. In the Gospels, we learn that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He died on the cross to pay our sin debt. He arose that we might live. God wants us to know that, so he inspired Paul and others to record His assurance that all who place their faith in Jesus Christ will be saved - not may be, will be. We are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). Now, once you are saved God wants you to know you are saved. He promises to save to the uttermost all those who place their trust in Him - yet no one can come to him in the flesh, or on their own. He chooses us, we do not choose Him. He also promises to keep all those whom He saves. He makes it possible for you to have assurance of salvation. He wants you to know. And you can know. Now, let me ask you one question: If you refuse to accept what God says, is that not sin?


We need to connect this with the preceding verses to keep it in context:

“We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him, in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God” (1 John 3:19-21).

“And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight (3:21).

A. “Whatever We Ask We Receive from Him.”

Do you believe that? I mean, really and truly believe that? Then will you pause and think with me about a time when you prayed as fervently as you knew how - and nothing happened. Has that ever happened to you? Well, I have a confession. That has happened to me more than one time. I am sorry, but that is an honest confession. I was thirty-six years old and pastor of a very strong church in Texas when I began having severe pain in my left foot. My secretary volunteered to call her foot specialist and make an appointment for me. After several attempts to solve my problem, two “foot specialists” had almost destroyed both feet. I could not believe it. I was the one person on my high school football team who could do his knee-bends on one leg and push-ups with one arm. I was the one who walked the cotton fields of Quitman County measuring cotton for the ASCS. I was the one who walked a mile and a quarter to catch the school bus every morning and then home every afternoon. After a baseball game, if there was no ride I walked and ran seven miles to my home. I was the one who set my son on my shoulders and walked down the mountain to Table Rock Lake and then ran back up the steep hill - and that was only a few months before all this happened to me.

I remember distinctly praying that God would give me relief in just one toe, and that the next morning when I awoke there would be some sign of relief. I quoted Scripture to the Lord: “The fervent effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much,’ and Lord, I am praying as fervently as I know how.” The next morning it was worse!

So! Either God was misleading me, or I was not a righteous man. Which was it? Have you ever noticed that when we pray for God to do something for someone, we try to “give Him an out”? We remind ourselves that we had prayed, “Thy will be done.” Maybe, we reason, the person for whom we prayed is guilty of some secret sin. Or is it my sin that is hindering my prayer. The great accuser will tell us anything that will confuse and discourage us.

Now, do you remember the verse we have already seen that tells us that even when our heart condemns us, God will not condemn us. In other words, our relationship with our heavenly Father does not depend upon how we feel, or even what we may be thinking at any particular time. It depends upon the sure promise of a holy God, a God Who is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient.

God promises to respond to his children. And He does. We may not always understand what He is doing, or how He is doing it, but we have His word on it. Can you not remember some time when your child has come to you, filled with enthusiasm over some plan he had devised in his mind. It seems perfectly logical to him, and he is absolutely positive you are going to agree, and even help him with it, and that you will be as excited about it as he is. You did not want to discourage him from planning and dreaming, but there was no way you were going along with the scheme. You did not say either yes or no, but gently directed him in a new direction.

I well remember preachers saying that God always answers prayer. He either says yes or no. Well, if you read God’s Word you are well aware of the times when God, in essence, said, “I refuse to listen to you! Take away your offerings, take away your songs, I am sick of your worship.”

Yet, the Bible promises that God will hear His children who walk in humility and obedience with Him.
I have received many blessings through the writings of some of the Lord’s noblest servants. For example, I have read something like twenty-two books by Francis Shaeffer - all of them two times and some of them three or four times. I have been blessed by preachers like Charles Haddon Spurgeon, theologians like Carl F. H. Henry and Norman Geisler, creation scientists like Henry Morris and Dwayne Gish, and many others who have written on a variety of subjects. Today, people are reading Henry Blackaby. Beth Moore, Rick Warren, James Dopson, and John MacArthur.

There are many popular writers today, but I am still amazed at the work of many great saints of another century - from Thomas Chalmers, to Meyer, to Bounds, to Andrew Murray. The first book by Andrew Murray I read was WITH CHRIST IN THE SCHOOL OF PRAYER, but there have been many others since that one. Let me share with you something Andrew Murray said in one of his books: The proof that you have worked a math problem right is in the answer. The proof that you have prayed aright is in the answer. We are invited to pray, asking in faith, expecting to receive an answer. If there is no answer, or if we do not recognize an answer, we must take .

1. Jesus specifically made that promised (John 15:7).

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.”

2. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16b NKJV).

James 1:5 promises, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

ILLUSTRATION: John Newton had received from the Lord some almost unbelievable answers to his petitions, and so he often engaged in "large asking." In support of this practice he would frequently tell the story of a man who asked Alexander the Great to give him a huge sum of money in exchange for his daughter's hand in marriage. The ruler consented and told him to request of his treasurer whatever he wanted. So he went and asked for an enormous amount. The keeper to the funds was startled and said he couldn't give him that much without a direct order. Going to Alexander, the treasurer argued that even a small fraction of the money requested would more than serve the purpose. "No," replied Alexander, "let him have it all. I like that fellow. He does me honor. He treats me like a king and proves by what he asks that he believes me to be both rich and generous." Newton concluded the story by saying, "In the same way, we should go to the throne of God's grace and present petitions that express honorable views of the love, riches, and bounty of our King!"

B. We Have Assurance of Salvation “Because We Keep His Commandments”.

1. John the Baptist makes the point.

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).

2. Jesus is very specific about that.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:16).

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me” (John 14:21a).

3. This epistle affirms this.

“And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3-4).

Philip Keller, in A SHEPHERD LOOKS AT PSALM 23, asks some relevant questions for all of us to consider:

Do I really belong to Him?
Do I really recognize His right to me?
Do I respond to His authority and acknowledge His ownership?
Do I find freedom and complete fulfillment in this arrangement?
Do I sense a purpose and deep contentment because I am under His direction?
Do I know rest and repose, beside a definite sense of exciting adventure, in belonging toHim?

Keller adds, “Before I can say He is my shepherd, I need answers to these questions.”

C. We Do the Things That Are Pleasing in His Sight.

1. Jesus taught this in the Model Prayer.

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

2. Jesus reinforces this in Mark 3:25.

“For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

3. Paul amplifies this.

“For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).


“And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.”

A. Christians Are People Who Obey God’s Commandments (3:22).
B. He Commands Us to Believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ. (3:23).

1. Lost people are commanded to repent (Acts. 2:38a).

2. Believers are commanded to believe in Jesus Christ for answered prayer.

“And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive” (Matt. 21:22) .

“And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:13-1`4).

ILLUSTRATION: On a gloomy day in 1857 a man in New York City by the name of Jeremiah Lanthier scanned the morning newspaper as he rode to his office. He was distressed to read that the depression gripping the nation was causing fear and panic among the people. Factories were stopping production and thousands were unemployed. Although Lanthier was not a big industrialist, but only a clerk, he had one important distinction. He was a man who had great faith in God!

Concerned with the grim economic situation, he sent a note to all his business acquaintances, telling them that each day at noon a prayer meeting would be held in his office. With high hopes he arranged 20 chairs in a circle, but the first day no one came. All alone he prayed fervently that God would bring about a great change in him and in America. The second day he was encouraged, for a few friends joined him. A short time later a similar gathering was started on Wall Street, another on Williams Street, and finally a fourth on Broadway. Then like wildfire the movement spread to all parts of the country. The moral tone of the nation was affected, and there was a great upsurge in the spiritual life of the people. Some historians say that this effort of united prayer and faith was an integral part of the improvement in the economy which soon followed [BI].


“And the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And we know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”

A. “And the One Who Keeps His Commandments Abides in Him,” 3:24a.

“And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3).

B. “We Know...That He Abides in Us, By the Spirit Whom He Has Given Us,” (3:24).
C. Review Some of the Proof s of Our Salvation.

1. You eagerly anticipate the return of the Lord, 1 John 3:1.

2. You have a growing freedom from sinful behavior, 1 John 3:6.

3. You have a genuine love for other believers, 1 John 3:14.

4. You demonstrate your love in word and deed, 1 John 3:18.


There are many other proofs, or tests by which we may know that we know Jesus Christ, that we have a redemptive relationship with Him. It is very important for us to know that the assurance of our salvation does not depend upon our quest for some illusive sign or series of signs. There are many proofs offered in the Scripture, many of them in this one little epistle. Not the least of these is the fact that when we are saved God places His Spirit in our heart. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential, both in salvation, and in providing assurance of salvation to believers. “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit” (1 John 4:13). He wants you to be sure of your relationship with Him. Martin Luther, when the devil came to him and asked him to open the door of his heart so that he could come in and discuss some very important matters with Him, said “I don't have the keys to the door; God has them. Ask Him if you wish.”