Saved and Sure

Bible Book: 1 John  5 : 13
Subject: Salvation
Series: 1 John

Most of us who grew up in church memorized certain verses from the Bible. Many others memorized the Lord’s Prayer and the Twenty-third Psalm. I participated in the Junior Memory Work Drill promoted by the Mississippi Baptist Training Union Department. We had a lot of verses to memorize, and fear of failure (I will admit it now) drove me to work hard and I moved through the local church drill, the associational drill, the district drill, then the state drill in Meridian. I was perfect all the way through, not so much because I was that smart, as I said, I didn’t want to get up there and be embarrassed in front of all those people. Then I found out that if I had won the next year I would have gone to Ridgecrest for national competition. There was another motivation for memorizing those verses and that was that I loved the Bible. I had loved Bible stories before I was saved. Sunday School and Vacation Bible School were more important to me than baseball or boxing, and that is saying a lot.

Most of the verses I quote from memory today I memorized when I was participating in that memory drill or in the youth drill that followed. One verse stands out above all others. It is the verse I have quoted more than any other. It is John 3:16, and of course I learned it in the King James Version:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Other verses from John became important to me and while I do not recall whether or not I first memorized them during those memory work drills, I seem to remember that I did. There is John 10:28: “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” Then, there is the verses I have often quoted in this series from First John. Those verses are John 20:30-31: “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”


A. The First Three Gospels Proclaim Jesus Christ.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the Synoptic Gospels. That word means seeing alike. They give an account of the life of Jesus on earth. They tell us of the announcement of His miraculous birth, His virgin birth, his growth and development as an infant, child and youth. These three Gospels tell us about His baptism and the beginning of His ministry; they tell about the miracles and how the masses followed Him when he gave them bread, but turned and followed Him no more when He told them that He was the Bread of Life. There we have preserved an account of His teaching and preaching, as well as the great miracles. In the Sermon on the Mount, we see the greatest standard of ethics the world has ever known. The Mosaic Law was superior to anything else the world had ever known, but the Sermon on the Mount moves us from Law to Grace in relationships.

B. The Gospel According to John is Uniquely, the Evangelistic Gospel.

“These things I have written” refer to all John has written in this epistle, but I do not think we will do these words an injustice if we relate them to all John had been inspired to write up to this point.
We would do well to remind ourselves that it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, recorded by John the Evangelist as He was inspired by the Holy Spirit. When we read the Gospel According to John, we are keenly aware of the fact that everything in this really special account of the life and ministry of our Savior focuses our attention on God’s provision for our salvation, and the way we may be saved.

If I had but a moment to put a portion of Scripture in the hands of a lost person, and knew that his eternal salvation, or punishment, depended upon the decision he made while he was reading that Scripture, I would not hesitate to hand him the Gospel According to John. The Synoptic Gospels record miracles which declare Jesus’ authority over the elements, disease, demons, and death. In John the miracles are called signs and those signs point us to Jesus in a special way. The significance of the feeding of the five thousand was explained when Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life.” The raising of Lazarus from the dead was an occasion for Jesus to declare, “I am the Resurrection and Life.”

If I only had an opportunity to give a lost person one verse, I would not hesitate to share with him John 3:16. I would love to follow that with other verses, but that one verse has rightly been declared “The Gospel in a Nutshell.” This verse gives us the story of God’s redemptive love, the Savior’s sacrifice, and our opportunity to receive everlasting life. We are also warned of the consequences of rejecting Jesus Christ - which is hell, forever.

Rocky and his friend were in trouble. They were downstairs in the juvenile section of Hinds County Jail in Jackson, Mississippi when I met them. They were twelve years old boys from New Orleans. There was an empty cell between Rocky and his friend’s cell and a cell occupied by single male prisoner. At the time, I did not know why that single male was held apart from other men - I figured that out later. Then I knew the reason there was an empty cell between him and those boys. It broke my heart when I tried to witness to Rocky. When I talked with him about Jesus, he assured me he believed in Jesus. To almost every question, is response was, “Yeah, I’m a Christian. I was baptized when I was a baby.” He made that statement several times that first day. We never got beyond that. However, on the next visit a week later I had just begun talking with Rocky and his friend when two friends from Mississippi College stopped by and asked me if I would trade places with them and talk with the man two cells down and let them talk with the boys, The man had intimidated them, so i did not know what to expect. That day, however, the Lord got the attention of this man who had been separated from other men and held away from those boys. He was saved that day. Rocky had no idea what it was of which I spoke - I could only trust that those words from the Scripture would lead him to trust Jesus for his salvation.

I preached at the Hinds County Jail every Thursday afternoon, leading a group from the BSU at Mississippi College for more than two years. During a part of that time I was preaching at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman at 8:00 A.M before going to the Dockery Baptist Church, between Ruleville and Cleveland where I served as a student pastor. During this time I had an opportunity to preach to several people at Parchman whom I had the privilege of leading to the Lord at the Hinds County Jail.

One Sunday morning I drove to Camp Four, got out of my car (and locked it!), and walked over to the walk that led to the camp. There was a post on either side of the general walkway. The posts were sticking up about two feet out of the ground. A cow chain (for country boys) was hooked on a nail that had been driven into the posts. The chain was suspended between the two posts and you walked up to the chain and stopped and waited for a guard (trustee or half-trustee) to come over and lift the chain from the nail and lower it to the ground. Then I stepped over the chain and walked on to the door. In come cases the chain was almost touching the ground in the middle - but you never crossed that chain until the trustee lowered it all the way to the ground. By the way, a trustee word pants with stripes running up and down and the half-trustee wore the traditional pants with the stripes running around the leg, but with a vertical stripe running down the outside of the leg. I don’t know what they would have done if I had stepped over the chain but I was careful to obey all the rules.

When I entered the lobby an officer walked over to the large common room and announce, “Church!” Those who wanted to attend lined up and came through the door and then turned left and entered the mess hall. As each man walked through the door, he put his right hand over the right side of his mouth, turned his head slightly to the left, and counted, “One.” All who followed counted, and when the last one came through the door he said, “one forty-one.”

“Whoa! Go back and count again.” This time they numbered 142 so I was told to go on to the mess hall and preach. At the close of the service they lined up and came by and spoke to me as they filed out and returned to the barracks. As one man approached me I could not miss the tattoo on his left arm: BORN TO GO TO HELL. How desperately I wanted to tell him that no one was born for the expressed purpose of going to hell. While I was trying to think what to say he came even with me and I was prepared to shake his hand and speak to him. Just before I reached out my hand, he gave his face a slight jerk to the right (away from me) and a split second later he gave his left shoulder the same little defiant jerk. He had heard God’s message of salvation but very defiantly rejected it.

At the came camp, either that day or another, another man walked up to me and stopped the line to ask, “Were you in Jackson last May.” I thought for a second and realized that I had been at MC. He then asked, “Did you visit the Hinds County Jail?’ I assured him that I did, every Thursday.

A big smile broke ut on his face as he held up a New Testament with a note in the front - in my hand writing! I had witnessed to him trough a wire mesh in the outer door so he had never seen me. He said, “I didn’t see you but I remember your voice. A few years later I preached in his brother’s church and learned that this man who had murdered his wife - it was a cold-blooded, premeditated murder - was getting a ten day furlough each Christmas to spend with his brother. Both men are in heaven now, and I thank God I was able to share God’s simple message of salvation with a man who was bound for hell.

C. God Wants All Whom He Saves to Share His Salvation with Others.

Make no mistake about it, the Great Commission really is a commission, not a suggestion. Just before His Ascension, Jesus proclaimed that His followers would be empowered to be His witnesses just as soon as the Holy Spirit came upon them. The Lord gave us the message and He gave us the command, but he did not give us one certain way of witnessing. Dick walked up to a prisoner and shouted, “God can’t save you.” When the man began to protest, Dick said, “God can’t save you unless you let Him.”

Wade Armstrong was Director of Evangelism for the General Baptist Convention of California when I went door to door with him in Rayville, LA. He lived and breathed soul winning and I was amazed at how the Lord blessed his testimony when he shared God’s “plan of salvation.”

Dr. Leonard Sanderson was the Director of Evangelism for Louisiana Baptists when he preached a revival for me. When he arrived, I announced, “I have just taught your book on persona soul winning in preparation for this revival. He stumbled over the words for a few seconds before saying, “I no longer use that method of witnessing. The method I advocated in that book is too aggressive and it turns some people off.” Everywhere we went he shared with people his own salvation experience and using Scripture, encouraged lost people to trust Jesus - just as he had.

Here is a simple but very effective arrangement of some key verses that may be used in sharing your faith. Read them and improve on them - or find the little Gospel tract, THUS SAITH THE SCRIPTURE, and use it.


1. YOU HAVE SINNED. (1) “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). (2). For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

2. YOU ARE LOST. (1) “The soul who sins shall die” (Eze. 18:20). (2) “He who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

3. GOD LOVE YOU. (1) “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). (2) “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).

4. GOD WILL SAVE YOU. (1) “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47). (2) “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (! John 1:9).

5. HE WILL SAVE YOU NOW. (1) “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (Heb. 3:15). (2) “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).

6. HE PROMISES TO KEEP YOU. (1) “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 19:28). (2) “Kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:5).

7. HE OFFERS ASSURANCE OF SALVATION. (1) “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.”
(2) “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life” (John 3:36).

Not only will God save you, He will keep you, and He will provide assurance that you are His. The Holy Spirit, Who inspired John to write the verses we have seen from the Gospel According to John also inspired Him to write the fantastic little epistle that I like to call the Epistle of Assurance.
The Gospel tells us how to be saved and this epistle tells how to know we are saved. God wants us to know Him and he wants us to know that we know Him.


“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

A. “These Things” Were the Things John Has Written to Believers.

The Gospel of John was written to proclaim the good news that Jesus Christ is the Son of God Who came to provide for our salvation. This epistle was written to those who already believe in Jesus Christ. In case there seems to be a lot of repetition in this little epistle, let me assure you there is. Until the invention of the printing press, and until Scripture was widely distributed, repetition helped people remember God’s Word.

There is an interesting story about John Wesley - hey, it may even be true! It seems that he had preached three Sundays in a row, “Ye Must Be Born Again.” After the third sermon someone asked, “Mr. Wesley, why do you keep preaching Ye Must Be Born Again. The founder of Methodism had a ready answer: “Because, Sir, Ye Must Be Born Again!”

For one who is in need of assurance of salvation, the repetition is not going to be a problem. But what specifically does John mean by “these things”? It could refer to all that precedes it, but I think it refers more specifically to the verses preceding this one:
“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (5:11-13).

“These things” were written to those “who believe in the name of the Son of God.” It is interesting that different people refer to the message of salvation in different ways. I grew up hearing preachers talking about presenting the “plan of salvation.” Little did I realize I would go off to a seminary and sit under a professor who had a problem with the term. And someone asked me if I was going to that cemetery! They were not trying to be funny, either.

Different people describe our salvation in different terms. Here, John simply says these words were addressed to those who “believe in the name of the Son of God.” “Name of” in the Bible is tantamount to the person. A person’s name denoted the person’s character and nature. Those who believe in the name of the Son of God are people who believe in Jesus Christ.

B. These Things Were Written That You May Know That You Have Eternal Life.

There are many words we associate with the our salvation: faith, hope, and love you recognize from 1 Cor. 13. Of course, the greatest of these is love. However, the prominence of love in that brief list does not minimize faith or hope. Faith is essential to our salvation, and hope is essential to the joy of our salvation. I love it when someone finds an unforgettable way of expressing a great truth (that is one reason I love to listen to Adrian Rodgers). Someone named Gilbert Beenken said of hope, “Other men see only a hopeless end, but the Christian rejoices in an endless hope” [BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR]. I love that, and it takes on special meaning when we realize that it was Jesus who introduced the word hope to the world - at least in its New Testament usage.

Hope is not wishful thinking, it is something that is assured. The New Testament assures us that this hope justifies our faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord knew we would need this hope, and He provides it:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).

Paul wrote to his son-in-the-ministry, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Tim. 1:12b). Don’t you love that?
Hope in the New Testament is synonymous with assurance.

Jesus said, “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one” (John 10:28-30).

The Bible offer hope to those who believe in the name of the Son of God. On the other hand, no hope is ever held out to those who do not believe in Him. Writers H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw were brilliant men, yet they rejected the message of Scripture. They placed their trust in their own systems of belief, which were based on human reason. Yet they could not find lasting inner peace, and they slowly lost confidence in what they believed.

Wells’ final literary work, for example, has been aptly called “a scream of despair.” And shortly before Shaw died in 1950, he wrote, “The science to which I pinned my faith is bankrupt. Its counsels, which should have established the millennium, have led directly to the suicide of Europe. I believed them once. In their name I helped to destroy the faith of millions. And now they look at me and witness the great tragedy of an atheist who has lost his faith” [BI].

To paraphrase a popular message on a church marque,

No Jesus, No hope.
Know Jesus, know hope.


Our Lord wants lost people to know Him. He wants believers to know that they know Him. If you cannot say, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day,” I want to urge you to pause right now and ask Jesus Christ to forgive your sin and come into your life. The Bible makes it a simple as possible, and if you understand what I am talking about it is because the Lord is revealing this truth to you. If you do not understand what I am saying, or if you are not interested, I am deeply concerned for you. Either the Lord has not yet gotten your attention, or He has ceased to work with you. This is a disturbing thought. If there is even a spark of interest, let me urge you to bow our head and ask Jesus to forgive your sin and give you eternal life. This a matter of great urgency. The Bible says, “Today is the day of salvation, this is the accepted time.”