Title: Signs of Salvation

Bible Book: 1 John 2 : 3-11

Author: Gil McKee

Subject: Salvation, Signs of



If I asked you this morning, “Are you sure you are saved and will go to heaven when you die?”, what would your answer be? Unfortunately, there are many Christians today who struggle with an assurance about their salvation. However, the apostle John actually stated that this was the very purpose behind his writing this particular letter we are currently studying together. In the thirteenth verse of the last chapter he said: “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.” 1 John 5:13 (HCSB)

The Bible clearly teaches that we can know with certainty that we are saved. We don’t have to live day to day uncertain about our relationship with God because His Word tells us we can know.

But the Bible also teaches that when we are truly saved there will be signs of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, both in attitude and behavior. Of course, the apostle Paul referred to those signs as fruit of the Spirit and gives a list of that fruit, or signs, in the fifth chapter of Galatians. You might want to spend some time in that chapter during the next week. (Return to Title Slide)

But this morning, in our text in John’s first epistle, He mentions two very specific signs of salvation – obedience to Christ and love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. So let’s read what he has to say beginning in verse three of chapter two. Read 1 John 2:3-11.

As we can tell from these verses, John was not one to mince words. He made it very simple and very plain. He is simply saying that if a person truly knows Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior there will be two very clear evidences or signs in their life. First is…

I. The Sign of Obedience

Notice again what John says in verse three: “This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands.” 1 John 2:3 (HCSB)

Now it is very likely that when John wrote these words that he was thinking back to that night in the upper room where he and the other disciples took the last Passover meal with Jesus before His death, burial, and resurrection. During that meal Jesus told the disciples: "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15 (NASU) In other words, “If you really love Me then you will do what I say!” It’s as simple as that!

A few minutes later Jesus went on to say: "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me…If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word…He who does not love Me does not keep My words.” John 14:21, 23-24 (NASU)

Listen…this isn’t rocket science. If we know and love the Lord Jesus Christ then we will do what He says! We will keep His commands! We will be obedient to Him!

And then John turns up the heat a little in verse four of our text. He says, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ without keeping His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:4 (HCSB)

Those are strong but necessary words of warning to anyone who might be misled into thinking that being a follower of Christ means nothing more than just praying a simple prayer or being dunked in a tank of water. Being a follower of Christ means a life transformation in which we turn the controls of our life over to Him and from that moment forward we live to obey His commands, not ours. Being saved means not only being saved from sin and hell but from our own way of life to follow and obey Jesus Christ.

That’s why John goes on to say in verse five: “But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected.” 1 John 2:5a (HCSB) Notice two very important things in this statement. First, is the phrase, love of God. This is a phrase that can mean either God’s love for us or our love for God, depending on the context. Obviously, from the previous verses we know that John is talking about our love for God.

And he says that when we keep God’s word we prove that our love for God is perfected. The word perfected does not mean without flaw but rather “to bring to completeness or full maturity.” What John has in mind here is the love of a mature and steadfast believer.

You might think of it this way: A mature and steadfast love for Jesus results in a mature and steadfast obedience to Jesus. In other words, if we truly know Him and love Him, then as our love and relationship with Him matures and grows so will our obedience to Him.

That’s why John went on to say in the latter part of verse five and verse six: “This is how we know we are in Him: the one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked.” 1 John 5b-6 (HCSB)

When John says that we know we are in Him, he is simply saying that we know we have a personal and saving relationship with Jesus Christ. In fact, the New Testament refers to being saved as being “in Him” 130 times.

And then John uses another favorite word of his – remains. Many translations translate this word as abide but the Greek word, meno, literally means “to remain or to continue.” John uses it forty-one times in his gospel and twenty-six times in his three epistles.

Of course, Jesus provided the clearest and best explanation of this word with His illustration of the vine and the branches. Here’s what He said in John 15: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5 (NIV)

As long as a branch remains where it belongs, attached to the vine, it will do what it is supposed to do because the life of the vine will flow through the branch and make it possible for the branch to produce leaves and flowers and fruit. But if the branch is severed from the vine it withers and dies.


Jesus said that it is the same with us. He is the Vine and we are the branches. As long as we remain in Him we can do what we are supposed to do because His life will simply flow through us and produce the fruit of righteousness. But apart from Him we can do nothing.

Notice in verse six that if we say that we remain in Him then we should walk just as Jesus walked. Why is that? Well, because when it comes to obedience, Jesus was the perfect example. He walked in perfect obedience to the Father. And why did He do that? He explained it this way in John 14: “…so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me.” John 14:31 (NASU)

Listen…If Jesus said that it was important for Him to obey the Father so that it would be clear that He loved the Father, don’t you think it’s important for us to do the same. Obviously, our obedience will not be perfect like Jesus’ was because John has already made it clear in chapter one that none of us can say we are without sin. But He has established the pattern that we are to follow. And if we say that we love Him and belong to Him then we will obey Him and obedience will be the pattern of our life.

Beginning in verse seven John mentions a second sign of salvation…

II. The Sign of Love

Read verses 7-8

What in the world is he talking about? Well, he says that the command he is about to make is really an old command in that it is one you have had from the beginning. What John meant is that this second command, or sign of salvation, is one that they have heard from the beginning of their Christian lives. Jesus introduced it in His ministry when He said: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35 (NASU)

And then he says that it is a new command because it is true in Him. That is, Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of the command to love. Obviously, even the Old Testament commanded us to love one another but Jesus fulfilled that command to love in a way never before seen.

For instance, one time Jesus said this: "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48 (NASU)

Jesus was saying that it’s easy to treat someone in loving ways that treats you in loving ways. But it takes a mature and steadfast Christian to treat someone in a loving way that doesn’t treat you that way.

And that is exactly what John had in mind as he wrote what we now know as verses nine through eleven. (POINT 2 SLIDE) Read 1 John 2:9-11.

The light and the true light, of course, is just another way of referring to Jesus. And John simply says that a person who says they are in the light but hates his brother is in the darkness and they are deceiving themselves because it is the person that remains in the light that truly loves his brother.

John adds an interesting thought in the latter part of verse ten. He says: “and there is no cause for stumbling in him.” The Greek word translated stumbling is actually a noun pronounced skandalon. A skandalon was a trap to which bait was attached to trip up its prey. In the New Testament, it is always used metaphorically to refer to “something that causes one’s demise or downfall.”

What John is saying here in the use of this particular word is incredibly important and really goes against the overall mindset and philosophy of our day even in the church. He is saying that a person who is in the light will not be a skandalon, will not be a stumbling block to someone else in the faith.

The apostle Paul used a word of very similar meaning in his letter to the Corinthians when he addressed their spiritual liberties in Christ verses their witness for Christ. Speaking of their freedom to eat meat that had been offered to idols he said: “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak…Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.” 1 Corinthians 8:9, 13 (NIV)

Then Paul went on to say just two chapters later: “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God - even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” 1 Corinthians 10:32-33 (NIV)

The words of John and Paul and Jesus Himself in Matthew 18 teach us that the person who truly loves others will not cause them to sin or reject the gospel. But a person who claims to know and love God will love others in the same way Christ has loved them.

So let’s try to apply this message today by asking ourselves some very pointed questions. If you claim to have a personal relationship with God this morning…

* Are you living your life in obedience to Jesus Christ? Are you seeking to obey Him in every area of your life?

* Are you loving others with the love of Christ? Are you treating others with love, even those who don’t treat you that way?

I want to tell you this morning that if we are truly saved then these are two signs of salvation that will be evident in our lives. While there may be times that we fail to obey the Lord and fail to love others like we should, these two signs will be the pattern of our lives. Obeying Christ and loving others will not be exceptions in our life but will be the norm of our life.

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 13: “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NASU) Does your life pass the test this morning?

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