1791. Helps To Full Assurance

by on

No. 1791-30:397. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Morning, July 20, 1884, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

I have written these things 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 believe in the name of the Son of God. {1Jo 5:13}

For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 596, “Praying and Waiting” 587}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1791, “Helps to Full Assurance” 1792}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2023, “Blessings of Full Assurance, The” 2024}
   Exposition on 1Jo 5 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2759, “Pleasures of Piety, The” 2760 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on 1Jo 5 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3071, “Idolatry Condemned” 3072 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on 1Jo 5 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3252, “By Water and Blood” 3254 @@ "Exposition"}

1. How very simple this all is! John had an eagle’s wing with which to soar aloft, and an eagle’s eye with which to penetrate into great mysteries; and yet of all the writers of the Old or New Testament he is one of the simplest. He never endeavours to show you the greatness of his mind or the grandeur of his rhetoric; on the contrary, he speaks as a child to those who are children in the school of love. I wish that all of us who try to teach others would remember this, and immerse ourselves in our lesson.

2. It is equally notable how practical John is. When he writes he always has a worthy intention in every line; “These are written,” he says, and he explains the purpose with which he penned the record. These epistles are not written to dazzle you, nor to lead you into speculation, nor to gratify your curiosity; but these are written “that you may know that you have eternal life.” The practical object may seem to the high soaring followers of modern thought to be commonplace; but John had a deep veneration for matters which moderns despise. The commonplaces of theology are the greenest of the pastures where the sheep of God feed and lie down. It is infinitely more to our benefit to know that we have eternal life than to be able to predict the future of empires or to forecast the destiny of kings. It is of more practical importance for us to know that we have eternal life than to be able to explain all mysteries, or to speak with languages. John acts according to his loving heart when he writes to lead his brethren into the assured knowledge of their personal possession of eternal life.

3. When he tells us his intention, it is that he may help to accomplish his purpose; for by informing men of understanding what he is writing for, he stirs them up to see his purpose and to fall in with it. “I have written these things 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 believe in the name of the Son of God.” Dear friends, if this is the purpose of the inspired apostle, let us not be slow to co-operate with him; but let us pray this morning for the full assurance of faith, so that we may know for certain that eternal life is pulsing in our hearts. May you who have not believed in Jesus feel a fervent desire within your spirits to take that preliminary step, and become believers in the Son of God.

4. Come, then, to the text, and with us consider, first, to whom it was written, — “I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God”; secondly, for what purpose it is written, — “That you may know that you have eternal life.” This will lead us, thirdly, to consider how what was written in this epistle is conducive to this blessed confidence: and then, lastly, I shall have to call your attention to an added matter which is never forgotten by John, even when he writes with the purpose of promoting the highest form of Christian attainment, — “That you may believe in the name of the Son of God.” They already believed in the sacred name; yet it remained a part of his purpose to confirm them in that faith, and conduct them to higher degrees of it.

5. May the Holy Spirit make our meditation profitable.

6. I. First, then, briefly, TO WHOM WAS THIS WRITTEN? It is important to observe to whom the letter was addressed, for I may be reading a communication meant for someone else, and if it should contain good news, I may be deceiving myself by appropriating the news.

7. This epistle, and this particular text in it, were written for all those who believe in the name of the Son of God. In part of the epistle he says, “I write to you, little children”; then he says, “I write to you, young men”; further on he says, “I have written to you, fathers”; but now he writes to babes, to young men, and to fathers under the one comprehensive description of those who have believed in the name of the Son of God. Our discourse is, therefore, for all of you who are believers in Christ. Little child, you who have just begun the spiritual life, we would have you attain to the confidence that you have eternal life. Young man, sternly battling with sin, we would have you strengthened for your conflict by knowing that you have eternal life. And you fathers, let us hope you have not come so far without this knowledge; but whether you have or not, these things are written so that you in your mature years may rise to the full conviction that the life of God is strong within you. No person, young or old, is excluded from this text, unless he is an unbeliever.

8. This text is not written to unbelievers: it is for all who trust in Jesus; but it is for no one else. If you enquire why it is not addressed to unbelievers, I answer, simply because it would be preposterous to wish men to be assured of what is not true. John never wished that a man who had not believed in Jesus Christ should even think that he had eternal life, for it would be a fatal error. “He who does not believe shall not see life,” how, then, could he have an assurance of possessing it? Faith is a necessary preliminary for assurance; you must have the blade of faith before you can have the ripe grain of assurance. Dear friends, do not dream of being sure that you are saved apart from making sure that you have trusted yourselves with the crucified Saviour. The atonement presented by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gives assurance of salvation to all who trust in it, but to no one else. It would be taking things out of their due order, it would be doing you real and perhaps fatal mischief if we should lead you to presume that you have eternal life before you have unreservedly believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God rests on him.” I speak, therefore, to all of you who have come to Christ, however imperfect and undeveloped your spiritual life may as yet be; but I invite no one else to the banquet of joyful confidence. As with a drawn sword of fire, John’s words guard the way like the cherub at the gate of Paradise: his words, “I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God,” keep back every man who has not believed in Jesus from dreaming that he has eternal life. What have you to do with the rest, and the peace, and the blessedness of full assurance, unless you have received the appointed Saviour into your heart’s trust?

9. We may gather from this address being made to all the people of God and to no one else, that there are some believers in the world, and true believers too, who do not know that they have eternal life. A very large number of true believers do not know this cheering fact. For example, certain Christians believe that even if they are now saved they may still be lost: that even if they have the life of God in them, that life may die out. Beloved, I pray for you that you may know that you have eternal life, and not a temporary life. The life which the Holy Spirit imparts to the believer is not a thing of days, and weeks, and months, and years: its dwelling-place is in the region of eternity. It is practically a divine life which God puts into us, by which we are made “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” We were begotten again to a lively or living hope in the day of our regeneration. The new birth from above by the Spirit of God is a birth to an endless life. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and endures for ever.” Our Lord at the well of Samaria gives us another illustration: “Whoever drinks the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Many imagine that this spring can fail. How much comfort God’s dear children lose by not apprehending the absolute immortality of the new life I will not venture to say; but this much I will declare — that to me it is the very crown and glory of the gospel, that if I receive Jesus into my soul, and the Holy Spirit imparts to me the new life, I have received an everlasting blessing. Has not Jesus said “I give to my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand?”

10. Again, a large number of Christ’s people who may be perfectly sound in the doctrinal view of the nature of this life do not know that they possess it at this present moment if they are believers. I find even the commentators, when they try to write about this text, and most of the preachers who have left us printed sermons on it, read the text as if it said, “that you may know that you shall have eternal life.” They speak about the full assurance that we shall one day enter into glory. I beg their pardon, the text does not say anything of the kind: it is, “that you may know that you have eternal life,” even here, at this present hour. The spiritual life which is in the believer at this moment is the same life which shall be in him in heaven. The grace-life is the glory-life in the bud: the same life, only less developed. We shall not in the article of death receive another life than what we have while we are sojourning here below. Death sets a seal on what is, but it produces nothing. There is to be a very palpable change performed on the body; but as for the spirit, the life of God which is in it now is the life which will dwell in it throughout eternity. Our believing life is eternal life. We want children of God who believe in Jesus to feel that the holy flame which kindles their lamp today is the same fire which will shine before the throne of God for ever: they have begun already to exercise those holy emotions of delight and joy which will be their heaven: they already possess in measure those perceptions and faculties which will be theirs in glory. Let us remember this, and know that, as believers, we have eternal life.

11. Yet again, there are some Christians who believe all this, and are perfectly right in theory, but yet each one cries, “I want to know that I have eternal life. I want a fuller assurance of salvation than I have already obtained.” That is also our desire for you; for if you know you have believed in Jesus you certainly are quickened with eternal life, and ought to know it.

12. But it is only to you who have believed that the text speaks. If you have not believed in the glorious name of the Well-Beloved, then come at once and put your trust in him. This is the gospel for every unbeliever: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” For “he who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe shall be damned.” An unbeliever may have an assurance that he will be lost, but he cannot have an assurance that he is saved, or ever will be. First, believe in the name of the Son of God, who is revealed to take away sin. Trust in his glorious Person, in his finished work, in his accepted sacrifice, in his prevailing intercession, and in his glorious advent which is yet to be. Look to him, and be saved. Rest only upon the one foundation which God has laid in Zion, and then the word of this consolation will be sent to you, but not until then.

13. II. So, secondly, I have now to mention FOR WHAT PURPOSE JOHN HAS WRITTEN.

14. When he says, “that you may know that you have eternal life,” I think his first meaning is that you may know that everyone who believes in Jesus Christ has eternal life. This is not a fact about you and a few others only, but it is a general truth — every man who believes in the name of the Son of God has eternal life. We may not doubt this, it is not a matter of inference and deduction, but a matter of revelation from God. You are not to form an opinion about it, but to believe it, for the Lord has said it. Listen to these words. “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born by God.” {1Jo 5:1} So says the Spirit of God, and so it must be. We do not need any further evidence: if we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. The Spirit of God bears witness to this, and since the Spirit is truth, his witness is certainly true: accept his witness and ask for no other. It is written, “He who has the Son has life; and he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” {1Jo 5:12} This is the unvarying testimony of the entire Scripture, and especially in the writings of the apostle John. How many times over he insists on it that the believer has eternal life! I beseech you, never question the statement. Settle it in your mind; for if you have any doubt about it you have undermined the gospel, and rejected the witness of the Lord, and denied the Holy Spirit. You will not behave so wickedly; therefore glorify God by believing his testimony.

15. I think that John in this passage meant, and we will consider him as meaning, something more — namely, he would have us know that we personally have eternal life by having us know that we do personally believe in Jesus. It is one thing to know that every believer has eternal life; but it is quite another thing to know that I am a believer in order to have eternal life myself. I have read of one who fell into the water, and as he was sinking he saw a rainbow in the sky above him. “Ah,” he thought, “God has made a covenant not to destroy the earth with a flood, and yet it is no comfort to me, for I fear I shall be drowned.” The largest provisions of grace avail us nothing unless we have a personal interest in them. It is true that every believer has eternal life, but what if I am not a believer?

16. It is a very exceptional thing that people should not know whether they believe in Jesus or not: for it is an ascertainable piece of knowledge. I know whether I think. I know whether I resolve, I know whether I doubt; I ought, therefore, to know whether I believe. But you see human nature received a terrible twist at the Fall, and it has fallen into a very foggy region, so that the eyes of the understanding are all squint, and the air around is very dank. Perhaps you ask me to speak for myself, and I assure you that I do so; but at the same time I do not hesitate to say the same of you. You, my clever friend, who are so wonderfully clear-headed, I should not wonder if you are the foggiest and blindest of the whole company. The worst darkness is what so blinds a man that he thinks he can see better than other people. We are all by nature in such a mixed up state that we need not wonder about any strange statement or feeling. When you hear brethren assert that a person who is not assured that he believes must necessarily be an unbeliever, you may say to yourself, “That friend does not know everything.” There is no estimating the possible inconsistency and contradiction of the human mind. I have been in a state of mind in which I have questioned the possibility of there being a grain of grace in me, and yet I have clung to Jesus with a death-grip. At such times my mind has worked morbidly, and its way has been turned upside down. Bunyan speaks of being “much tumbled up and down in his thoughts”; and that nearly hits my mental condition. It is very possible for a man to be a very strong believer and yet to question whether he has a spark of faith. I have heard ministers ridicule this state of inward questioning; and, indeed, it is ridiculous to all except those who are in it. If you once become a sufferer under this wretched complaint, the absurdity of your disease will not lessen its painfulness. Our mental distresses need not be logical; they can be full of anguish, and yet be most unreasonable. You probably know some people who are excessively nervous: they are afraid the skies will fall or the earth will crack: this is very stupid, but the agony caused by it is very real. There is little of the Christian spirit in the man who can increase mental torment by turning it into jest. This is not to pour oil into the wound, but to rub salt into it. No doubt, the doubts which many have of their personal safety are very unreasonable; but a servant of God is not therefore to scorn the subject of them, for the Lord Jesus Christ had compassion on the ignorant. He did not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax, nor must we. I am personally taught to be tender with poor doubters, for I have often been one myself. I would sometimes give all that I have to be able to feel myself to be even the least in the Lord’s family. Just now I enjoy a full assurance, but I am not always on the mount; and therefore I have a heart for others because I am myself surrounded with infirmity. We may not judge harshly, as if things were as we would theoretically arrange them, but we must deal with things as they are; and it cannot be questioned that some of the best believers are at times severely stressed to know whether they are believers at all. The prayer of John is that such people, yes, and all believers, may know for certain beyond all doubt that they have eternal life.

17. Human nature is so far out of joint that it is necessary for me to say what it seems superfluous to say — that full assurance of our possessing eternal life is possible. The Church of Rome teaches that no man can be assured that he has eternal life, except some few to whom supernatural revelations may be given. That kind of doctrine lingers in the air of Protestantism, many people think the same, though they do not say so. Impossible to know that you are quickened! It ought to be impossible to have any doubt about it. Rationally, a living man should know that he is alive. No man should give sleep to his eyes or slumber to his eyelids while he has a doubt about his eternal state.

18. It is possible, and if it is possible it is very desirable; for when a man knows that he has eternal life, what a comfort it is to him! What gratitude it produces in his spirit! How it helps him to live above the world! With what holy ardour does he pursue the service of God, knowing that he has an eternal reward! He does not have to waste time in calculating evidences, and perpetually examining himself; for he has examined himself, and he has cast himself upon Christ, and he knows that he has eternal life. With what rapidity does he make progress, for he leaves the first principles and goes on towards perfection! No longer questioning, he shows holy daring, and goes from strength to strength in rapturous fellowship and ecstatic enjoyment: he advances from glory to glory, his faith, even while he is here below, making substantial to him the joys which are laid up for the redeemed. I say again, if full assurance is possible, it is eminently desirable.

19. And I go a little further: it is our duty to obtain full assurance. We would not have been commanded to give diligence to make our calling and election sure if it were not right for us to be sure. I am sure it is right for a child of God to know that God is his Father, and never to have a question in his heart concerning his sonship. I know it is right for a soul that is married to Christ to know the sweet love of the bridegroom, and never to tolerate a cloud of suspicion to come between the soul and the full enjoyment of Christ’s love. Therefore, I would urge you onward to know that you have eternal life. My brethren, John, being dead, still speaks out of this Book: he calls upon you to know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding that we may know him who is true, and that we are in him who is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. He tells us as believers to firmly repose our souls upon the promise of our faithful God.

20. I sorrowfully remind certain of you that, since you have not believed, you have neither part nor lot in this matter, and the beloved disciple does not speak to you.

21. III. Thirdly, I come to where I would lay the stress of the discourse this morning, — WHAT HAS JOHN SAID IN THIS EPISTLE WHICH IS CONDUCIVE TO OUR FULL ASSURANCE?

22. How does he help us to know that we are believers, and consequently to know that we have eternal life? I cannot attempt a full summation of this most blessed epistle, but I shall select a few items from very many. An exposition of this epistle, written to show how it enables men to know that they have eternal life, would be a very valuable thing; and I feel confident that without the slightest forcing of a single sentence it could be shown that the whole letter bears upon assurance. The wish of the apostle that all believers might know that they have eternal life is the silken thread upon which his pearls are strung. Now believers ought to know that they have eternal life, and they ought never to doubt it, for God’s own word assures them that it is so. Remember that word of the Lord Jesus — “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me has everlasting life.” {Joh 6:47} Will you doubt the Lord’s “Truly, truly?” Christ’s word unsupported by any external evidence is quite enough to satisfy every gracious mind. “Let God be true, but every man a liar,” — yes, let every circumstance be a liar. Everything that we have looked upon as evidence should be regarded as a lie if it denies the declaration of the Lord. Out of this simple faith in God comes assurance naturally, by the operation of the Spirit of God upon the heart. Take pure and unadulterated milk, and let it stand, and you will soon get cream. Faith is the milk, and full assurance is the cream on it; and when faith has stood long enough, you may see the rich cream of holy confidence on top of it. The witness of God is true, and therefore to be believed, yes, to be believed with full assurance. According to all right principles, assurance should increase by the lapse of time during which faith occupies itself on the same promise. I have trusted my soul on Christ, therefore I have eternal life. How do I know? I know, because the Spirit of God has declared it is so in the Word of God. So he has spoken — “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life.” I believe in the Son, and, therefore, I have eternal life. Do friends assure me that they see the life in me? I am very much obliged to them, but I do not need their evidence. “He who believes has the witness in himself.” When the Holy Spirit has made a statement, it is something like impertinence either to ask or to offer any further evidence upon the point. Therefore, that matter is not my subject. I take it, we must not offer you any other argument to prove the eternal life of believers beyond this, — God has said it.

23. The matter which may be argued about is this — “Do I believe in Jesus? Am I a believer in such a sense that I have eternal life?” Let us look at the epistle for help in this enquiry.

24. You will find, first, that John mentions as an evidence truthful dealing with God, in faith and confession of sin. Naturally men walk in darkness or falsehood towards God; but when we have believed in Jesus we come to walk in the light of truth. Read in these verses in the first chapter of the epistle. “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not practise the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” {1Jo 1:6-9} The believer does not attempt to deal with God as if he had no sin; for that would be to make Christ useless, since there would be no need of his blood to cleanse. He does not say that he now lives without sin; for that would be to make his cleansing a thing of the past, whereas the Spirit teaches that it is a present matter, concerning our present walk with God. To claim to live without sin is to walk in the dark; for the claim is a false one. The man who walks in the light comes before God as a sinner, whom the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses from all sin. So, then, you may take this as an evidence that you are a saved man, if you deal truthfully with God: if you confess your guilt before God, if your only hope of being cleansed from it lies in the blood of Jesus Christ, then you have come to act towards God on the basis of truth, and he accepts you. You who are not a believer in Christ may try to forget that you have any sin, or by forms and ceremonies to offer some kind of palliation of your sin: but when you are brought into the honest light you will make a clean breast of it, and cease to act a borrowed part. Your cry will be, “Search me, oh God, and try me,” and your appeal will be to the boundless mercy of God in Christ Jesus. Be sure that you are a child of God when sin is confessed, and faith is looking to Jesus for its removal. “Father, I have sinned,” is the cry of a true-born child. “God be merciful to me, a sinner,” is the prayer of the man who goes down to his house justified. We can repeat with rapture the words of Paul to the Romans, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God has presented to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”

25. Next, John gives us obedience as a test of the child of God. Look at these verses in the second chapter: “And by this we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He who says, ‘I know him,’ and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, in him truly is the love of God perfected: by this we know that we are in him. He who says he abides in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” {1Jo 2:3-6} Come, then, beloved brethren, do you obey the will of the Lord from your heart? Is holiness the aim and object of your life? Do you strive to do as Jesus tells you? Do you set your clock by the heavenly sun? Do you try to order your ways and your steps according to the law of the Lord? Do you delight yourself also in the law of God after the inner man? Do you press forward after perfect holiness? Then you are his servant to whom you obey. Rest assured beyond all question that you are one of Christ’s sheep, for he says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” “He who practises righteousness is righteous.” If grace has made you obedient it has given you eternal life.

26. Follow me as I call attention, next, to the evidence of love in the heart. In the second chapter is says: “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness even until now. He who loves his brother remains in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him.” {1Jo 2:9,10} Then go on to the third chapter. “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother remains in death.” {1Jo 3:14} This will greatly help you to decide your case. Do you hate anyone? Are you seeking revenge? Are you unforgiving? Then you are not dwelling in the light: you are of Cain and not of Christ. Do you feel that you love your enemies, and that, in fact, you are no man’s enemy, because love is the principle of your life? “Love is from God; and everyone who loves is born by God, and knows God.” We must feel a general benevolence towards all men, and a still more intense love and satisfaction for all who are in Christ. This love must be practical, and lead us to help and assist our brethren. Do you have this love? Do you feel a delight in the company of the brethren because they belong to Christ, however poor or illiterate they may be? You would not feel love reigning in your spirit if true faith had not come to dwell there. A loving spirit evidenced by a loving life is a true sign that you belong to God, whose name is love. Be of good courage and enter into full assurance, oh you whose hearts glow with the sacred flame of fervent love for God and men.

27. Next to that comes separation from the world. Read verse fifteen in the second chapter: “Do not love the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” {1Jo 2:15} This is backed up by the first verse of the third chapter: “Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know him.” {1Jo 3:1} Have you had opposition from the ungodly? Have you discovered that Ishmael still mocks Isaac? Do you find when you go out to work that your shopmates who used to drink with you are inclined to avoid you? Are you pointed at as a hypocrite because you are a Christian? Then there is a difference between you and others, and the world can see it. The serpent’s seed will hiss at the seed of the woman: God has put an enmity between the two. Do not therefore be surprised by it. Did not our Lord say, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were from the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not from the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you?” So slander, abuse, and other forms of persecution may turn to your comfort by showing that you are of that sect which is spoken against everywhere.

28. Next to that, in the second chapter, we have the evidence of continuance in the faith. “And the world passes away, and its lust: but he who does the will of God remains for ever. Little children, it is the last time: and since you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists; by which we know that it the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, so that they might be revealed that they were not all of us.” {1Jo 2:17-19} The longer a Christian man is enabled to persevere in holiness, the more confident may he become that his religion is the work of the Spirit of God in his soul. “He who endures to the end shall be saved.” Perseverance in holiness is a sure sign of election. It is the righteous who hold on their way; but mere pretenders are as wandering stars and fading flowers. What comes and goes is not from God: the Holy Spirit remains permanently in true believers.

29. The next evidence you will find in the third chapter, the third verse, namely, purification. “Every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.” {1Jo 3:3} Do you every day endeavour to keep clear of sin; and, when you have sinned, do you at night go with bitter repentance to God, and beg to be delivered from it? Are you fighting against your besetting sins? Do you contend against the customs of the world? Have you come to be a warrior against evil? Let that be an evidence that there is in you a new spirit which was not there by nature, and let that prove to you that you are quickened into newness of life. Conflict and victory are evidences of grace. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.” {1Jo 5:2-4}

30. Again, in the third chapter we find another blessed evidence, and that is a clear conscience, — “If our heart does not condemn us, then we have confidence towards God.” {1Jo 3:21} They say of us that we seek ourselves, or that we are hypocrites; but if we can lay our hand upon our heart and say, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you,” we have the best basis for full assurance. A conscience purged from dead works to serve the living God is one of the seals of the Holy Spirit upon that epistle which he has written in our hearts. This divine witness is a privilege which no one possesses except the regenerate. Prove yourself clear in the court of conscience so that you may know that you have eternal life.

31. Furthermore, we find an evidence in answers to prayer: “And whatever we ask, we receive from him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” {1Jo 3:22} Does God hear your prayers? then you are pleasing in his sight. Are you in the habit of speaking with him, and does he reply to you? then you are agreed with God. Does he grant you the desire of your heart? Is it not because you delight in him? He does not hear those who wilfully live in sin; but if any man does his will he hears him. You may look upon every answered prayer as another sign of the love of God towards you in Christ Jesus your Lord.

32. Adherence to the truth is another help to full assurance. Read the whole fourth chapter: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are from God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” {1Jo 4:1} In the sixth verse he says, “We are from God: he who knows God hears us; he who is not from God does not hear us.” {1Jo 4:6} I read in a certain learned divine the other day a declaration that the evangelical doctrine which we preach is not Christianity, but Pauline. By that utterance this divine condemned himself. John says, “We are from God: he who knows God hears us; he who is not from God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” He who does not hear the apostles does not hear their Master. He who dares to say that Paul has not given us the gospel is not from Christ: for Jesus says, “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me.” The testimony of the Holy Spirit by apostolic lips is as certain as the testimony by the Son of God himself; and it is flat rebellion against the Holy Spirit to grade his utterances, whether they are through prophets, apostles, or Christ himself. He who makes this to be true and that to be false, or this true and that truer still, has disparaged the Spirit of God, who speaks as he pleases, but is always infallible. He who questions what the Spirit says does not have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in him. If you have taken Scripture to be your guide, and hold firm by the truth of God, you are one of Christ’s sheep, of whom he says, “they will not follow a stranger, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” Against the detestable spirit of this age, and against everything else that would corrupt the gospel of Christ, it is the sign of the true seed to stand opposed. If you bear witness to the truth, the truth bears witness to you. Blessed are those who are not moved from the hope of their calling.

33. One of the best evidences of true faith, and one of the best helps to full assurance, is a holy familiarity with God. Read in the fourth chapter the sixteenth verse: “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love; and he who dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him. By this our love is made perfect, so that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He who fears is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.” {1Jo 4:16-19} Oh, beloved brother, if you have come to speak with God as a man speaks with a man, if you dwell in him, if every day you say more to God than you do to men, and if you find more joy in fellowship with God than you do in all the world besides, then you are one of his. God never made a man to know him and love him, and then cast him away. Eternal life is surely in you if you have entered into the secret place of the tabernacles of the Most High, and remain under the shadow of the Almighty. When you no longer have that slavish fear which makes you stand back, but that childlike confidence which draws you nearer and still nearer to God, then you are his child. The spirit of adoption is one point of sure witness from the Spirit of God. He who can call God his great joy is among the living in Zion.

34. IV. I would now finish, only I dare not leave out the last point — THE APPENDIX TO JOHN’S PURPOSE.

35. The apostle puts it, “That you may believe in the name of the Son of God.” I think he means this — you are never to get into such a state that you say, “I have eternal life, and therefore I do not need to trust simply in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Years ago I was born again, and so I can now live without the daily exercise of faith.” “No,” says the apostle, “I am writing this to believers, and I tell them that while they may have full assurance, it cannot be a substitute for habitual faith in the Lord Jesus.” Personally, I wish to say, — it is some thirty-four years since I first believed in Christ Jesus, and then I came to him as having nothing in myself, and I took him to be my all. At this moment I possess a comforting and clear assurance that I have eternal life; but my basis for confidence today is exactly what it was at the time when I first came to Christ. I have no confidence in my confidence, I place no reliance upon my own assurance. My assurance lies in the fact that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” and that “Whoever believes in him has everlasting life”: I do believe in him, and therefore I know I have eternal life. Brethren, do not stir beyond that, stick with your first faith. However far you go in other directions, stand firm in your undivided faith in Jesus. If you think it is wise to examine these signs and evidences which I have given to you, do so; but if you think to get food out of them you will find a bare cupboard. If you think you can live without Christ, on what you have known in the past, you are greatly mistaken. It is like trying to live on stale manna. None of you would have done that in the wilderness; you would soon have turned up your noses at it. When it was more than a day old it “bred worms and stank.” Everything you look to apart from Christ will rot in due time, so that you will loathe it. Beloved, every vessel, whether it is a great flagon or a little cup, must hang upon the one peg which is fastened in a sure place. If you leave Jesus, you wander into a land of darkness and of the shadow of death.

36. Whether I am a child of God or not is a question I will not discuss today. I am a sinner, and Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and those who trust in him are saved. Therefore I trust him! Therefore I am saved! The Word of God declares it. Blessed be his name for ever and ever. Amen.

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — 1Jo 5]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Attributes of God — The Truth Of God The Promiser” 191}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Received by Faith — The Solid Rock” 549}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Attributes of God — Faithful And Unchanging” 193}

Just Published. Cloth Gilt, 1s; Paper Covers, 6d.

Memorial Volume of Mr. Spurgeon’s Jubilee Services, June 18th and 19th

Passmore and Alabaster, Paternoster Buildings; and all Booksellers.

God the Father, Attributes of God
191 — The Truth Of God The Promiser
1 Praise, everlasting praise, be paid
   To him that earth’s foundation laid;
   Praise to the God, whose strong decrees,
   Sway the creation as he please.
2 Praise to the goodness of the Lord,
   Who rules his people by his word;
   And there, as strong as his decrees,
   He sets his kindest promises.
3 Firm are the words his prophets give,
   Sweet words, on which his children live:
   Each of them is the voice of God,
   Who spoke, and spread the skies abroad.
4 Each of them powerful as that sound
   That bid the new made world go round;
   And stronger than the solid poles
   On which the wheel of nature rolls.
5 Oh, for a strong, a lasting faith,
   To credit what th’ Almighty saith!
   T’ embrace the message of his Son,
   And call the joys of heaven our own.
6 Then should the earth’s old pillars shake,
   And all the wheels of nature break,
   Our steady souls should fear no more
   Than solid rocks when billows roar.
7 Our everlasting hopes arise
   Above the ruinable skies,
   Where th’ eternal Builder reigns,
   And his own courts his power sustains.
                        Isaac Watts, 1709.

Gospel, Received by Faith
549 — The Solid Rock
1 My hope is built on nothing less
   Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
   I dare not trust the sweetest frame;
   But wholly lean on Jesus’ name:
      On Christ the solid rock I stand,
      All other ground is sinking sand.
2 When darkness veils his lovely face,
   I rest on his unchanging grace;
   In every high and stormy gale,
   My anchor holds within the veil:
      On Christ the solid rock I stand,
      All other ground is sinking sand.
3 His oath, his covenant, and his blood,
   Support me in the sinking flood;
   When all around my soul gives way,
   He then is all my hope and stay:
      On Christ the solid rock I stand,
      All other ground is sinking sand.
4 When the last awful trump shall sound,
   On may I then in him be found,
   Dress’d in his righteousness alone,
   Faultless to stand before the throne:
      On Christ the solid rock I stand,
      All other ground is sinking sand.
                     Edward Mote, 1825, a.

God the Father, Attributes of God
193 — Faithful And Unchanging
1 How oft have sin and Satan strove
   To rend my soul from thee, my God!
   But everlasting is thy love,
   And Jesus seals it with his blood.
2 The oath and promise of the Lord
   Join to confirm the wond’rous grace;
   Eternal power performs the word,
   And fills all heaven with endless praise.
3 Amidst temptations sharp and long,
   My soul to this dear refuge flies;
   Hope is my anchor, firm and strong,
   While tempests blow and billows rise.
4 The gospel bears my spirit up;
   A faithful and unchanging God
   Lays the foundation for my hope
   In oaths, and promises, and blood.
                        Isaac Watts, 1790.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

Terms of Use

Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

Spurgeon Sermon Updates

Email me when new sermons are posted:

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Learn more

  • Customer Service 800.778.3390