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The premise of our assurance of salvation is: "All who believe in Jesus Christ are saved. I Believe in Jesus Christ. Therefore, I am saved."

  • When we say "I know am saved because I have believed," how do we know that we have truly believed?
  • You who "believe - πιστεύουσιν" in Present,Part. Active. Does "these things" refer to an added "assurance" to those already believing on the name of the Son of God?

1 John 5:13 -I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.(NET)

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  • This question appears to be predicated on the assumptions that (1) belief is a work we do to earn salvation (however, salvation is of Christ not us), (2) having believed, we cannot be lost. Both these need to be demonstrated before the question is answered.
    – Dottard
    Sep 11, 2022 at 11:23
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    The question is not predicated on any theological assumption, as suspected. Instead, it is to grasp John's intended message through collective exegetical efforts on the text, unbiased, natural meaning.
    – Sam
    Sep 11, 2022 at 18:35
  • Up-voted +1. But this is a very broad question covering both the nature of faith itself (what is faith ?) and also the content of faith (what is believed ?) and also the experience of faith (how do I know that my faith is true faith and not short of real faith ?). I think too much is being asked in one question and I suggest an edit in order to reduce the breadth and to focus on each of these aspects in turn.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 11, 2022 at 20:13
  • If you could delete the first doctrinal sentence in your question, and instead focusing on asking what John meant, it would be a more appropriate question for this site.
    – Robert
    Sep 12, 2022 at 15:26
  • For many, if not all, assurance of salvation is of great concern. It is more than a doctrine. We know that "justification by faith alone," but the question is, what "faith" on the Faith-Spectrum? In the text, John speaks to those already "believing" that "these things" will assure them more. So, what are "these things" John has written in his epistle? is the point of the question.
    – Sam
    Sep 12, 2022 at 17:29

2 Answers 2

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"These things" is a reference to the letter that John is now drawing to a close; he is echoing the sentiments with which he began the letter:

2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. (1 John 1:2-4)

John opens & closes his letter by explaining that he is writing to affirm the faith of his audience and to teach them of eternal life.

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Does "these things" imply something additional to believing on the name of the Son of God?

"These things", both in 1:4 and in 5:13, is a reference to the entire letter; it is not a reference to a checklist.

John testifies of what he knows and wants his audience to know.

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When we say I know am saved because I have believed, how do we know that we have truly believed?

Through the Holy Ghost.

Compare 1 John 2:27

But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

with John 14:26

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)

Both speak of the role of the Holy Ghost to teach us and make truth known; see also John 16:13

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth

John further establishes that our knowledge of truth comes through the Holy Ghost in 1 John 3:24

And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

In the passage above John also speaks of the importance of living the commandments in order to come to know of their surety, in keeping with the teaching in his Gospel:

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (John 7:17)

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Conclusion

"These things" refers to the letter; John explains at the beginning and end of the letter why he is writing.

John teaches that we come to know divine truth through the Holy Ghost, and that living Christ's teachings in essential to coming to know of their truth.

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John's first epistle answers this question several times; allow me to quote:

  • 1 John 2:3-6 - By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments. If anyone says, “I know Him,” but does not keep His commandments, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone keeps His word, the love of God has been truly perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him: Whoever claims to abide in Him must walk as Jesus walked.
  • 1 John 3:10 - By this the children of God are distinguished from the children of the devil: Anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is anyone who does not love his brother.
  • 1 John 3:16, 17 - By this we have known love, because He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone with earthly possessions sees his brother in need, but withholds his compassion from him, how can the love of God abide in him?
  • 1 John 3:19, 20 - And by this we will know that we belong to the truth, and will assure our hearts in His presence: Even if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and He knows all things.
  • 1 John 3:24 - Whoever keeps His commandments remains in God, and God in him. And by this we know that He remains in us: by the Spirit He has given us.
  • 1 John 4:6 - We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. That is how we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.
  • 1 John 4:7, 8 - Beloved, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
  • 1 John 4:12 - No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is perfected in us.
  • 1 John 4:13 - By this we know that we remain in Him, and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit.
  • 1 John 4:16, 17 - And we have come to know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love; whoever abides in love abides in God, and God in him. In this way, love has been perfected among us, so that we may have confidence on the day of judgment; for in this world we are just like Him.
  • 1 John 5:2 - By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.
  • 1 John 5:20 - And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true—in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

Thus, the focus of the Christian is NOT on our correct belief (no one believes fully and correctly) - our sole focus is on Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:2), or as Heb 12:2, 3 expresses it:

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Paul says something similar:

Col 3:1-4 - Therefore, since you have been raised with Christ, strive for the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

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