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A Right View of Salvation Pt II




April 21, 2024|A Right View of Salvation Pt II| 1 John 3:11-24

JD Cutler


Click here for the sermon audio


This morning we are going to pick up where we left off last Sunday, as we continue looking at the Apostle John’s explanation of the evidence between a child of God and a child of the devil.

1 John 3:10 (ESV) 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.


If evidence number one can be summarized from last week, those who have been saved, those who are now children of God, their lives will show evidence of a change in relationship to God and his law. They no longer habitually and continually produce or participate in sin. The trajectory of their lives has been radically changed. 


The reason, as we noted last week, is salvation is a transformative experience. 

However, what we did not have time to dig into last week was that John ties an additional evidence to his statement. 

Nor is the one who does not love his brother. 


He then takes the next 14 verses to illustrate and explain what he means by this statement. We know that John’s primary reasoning for writing this letter is so that these Christians may have assurance of their standing with God through faith. He says as much in verse 13 of chapter 5.

1 John 5:13 (ESV) 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.


In his gospel account, he gives this purpose statement. 

John 20:30-31 (ESV) 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Having written so that people may believe and in believing have eternal life, he now writes so that those who believe may have assurance of it. 


I write these things TO YOU WHO BELIEVE in the name of the Son of God, that YOU MAY KNOW that you have eternal life. 

In these 14 verses we are looking at this morning, we find John’s expressed desire working itself out in his treatment of the evidence that someone is a child of God. 

Four times he uses the word know, and three of those times he uses the words ‘by this we know’. John is obviously concerned with not only what we know but what we are basing our knowledge off of. 


Verse 14 serves as a wonderful summary of what we find in these verses. 

1 John 3:14 (ESV) 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.


John helps us understand that not only does a right view of salvation begin with God’s love, not only does it accept the already and not yet nature of salvation, not only does it recognize the transformative nature of it, a right view of salvation includes properly evaluating it so that we may know.


Again, as I warned last week, our assurance of salvation does not come from our works, that is a faulty foundation, our assurance of our salvation comes from the finished work of Jesus Christ and the applicatory work of the Holy Spirit. However, we are reassured that we are in the faith when we see the evidence of God’s work in our lives, which is what I think John is trying to get his readers to see. 


We are going to pick up in verse 11 this morning of 1 John chapter 3. 

From John chapter 3, I’d like to share with you three statements that get to the heart of this issue of love in the life of a believer. 


Love is rooted in our identity as children of God.

Let’s read the first four verses together this morning. 

1 John 3:11-15 (ESV) 11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.


John is not introducing a new teaching, but reiterating what he has consistently taught and proclaimed, rooted in what Christ entrusted to him. He makes this clear throughout his letter. 

1 John 1:5 (ESV) 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you,

1 John 2:24-25 (ESV) 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.


Against the false teachers that have come into the church, against the anti-christs that are trying to lead people away from the faith, John goes back to the basics of what Christ commanded. This is so helpful for me as a Pastor and for you as church members. When we are confronting false teachings or evaluating teaching we simply need to go back to what the Bible says. How does this fit with what our Lord commands? How does it fit with the trusted revelation of our Lord in the scriptures?

When we are confronting false teachings or evaluating teaching we simply need to go back to what the Bible says.

Which is what John does. It is evident from John’s letter that the church was under attack from two fronts. There were those that were denying either the full divinity or full humanity of Christ and there were those that were claiming you could be right with God without genuine life change being the result. He addresses both of these in his letter, it is the second claim that we have been dealing with over the last two weeks. So John says, you already know that loving one another is at the core of who we are. 

This is the message you have heard from the beginning. This is what Jesus taught us and what we taught you. 


John 13:34-35 (ESV) 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”


Here Jesus makes the identifying mark of those that belong to him as their super-natural, sacrificial, love for one another. 

And again in John 15 Jesus ties the identity of his disciples to love. 

John 15:12-17 (ESV) 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

I chose you, I appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, of which the greatest is love for one another.

John got it, and so did Peter. Listen to what he says in his letter. 

1 Peter 1:22-23 (ESV) 22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

Again Peter ties our identity, being born again, with a change of heart towards our brothers. 


Having established in verse 1 of our text that from the beginning the message has been that those who are Christ’s will love one another, John illustrates the difference between, to borrow his language from verse 10, children of God and children of the devil, by taking us back to the very first siblings. We (Christians, believers) should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one (a child of the devil) and murdered his brother.


His audience would have been familiar with this account in Genesis and many of you are too. But if you are not, our first parents, Adam and Eve, after being removed from the Garden because of their rebellion, had two sons. Cain and Abel. 

Both brought sacrifices to God, while Abel’s was accepted, Cain’s was not. 

In anger, Cain murdered his brother. Why?

Because in light of Abel’s righteousness, his evil deeds were exposed. 

Rather than repenting and bringing God his best, he decided, in his hate, to remove the one who had exposed him. 

John highlights that the fundamental difference between the two of them was that they had different natures. 


In the same way, and for all the same reasons, John adds parenthetically, we should not be surprised, or marvel at the way the world hates us.

There are two fundamental natures or identities at odds in the world. Those that have life and those that do not.

How do we know of which we are?

Vs 14- we know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. 

Do you see how John ties our love for the brothers to our identity as born again, children of God?

He goes further. If we do not love, it is evidence that we abide in death. John draws a hard line here and says we either hate our brother or love our brother. If we hate, we are a murderer, which is evidence we have no eternal life abiding in us. 

There are two fundamental natures or identities at odds in the world. Those that have life and those that do not.

How does he get from hate to murder? He is following what he heard his master say. 

Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 

Jesus says that if we are angry in our heart at our brother and the implication then is we would like for them to be removed, we have committed murder in our heart. 


John picks this up and is saying that if we harbor hate in our heart for our brother then we have the very seed in us that led Cain to kill Abel. We may not have expressed it to the ends that Cain did, but the foundation is there. This is not the first time John has said this in his letter. 

1 John 2:9-11 (ESV) 9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.


There is much more we could say on this, for instance in 1 John 4:7-21 John picks up this theme again drawing a clear line between our identity as born again believers and our love for one another, but for this morning, let me simply sum it up this way. 

If we have eternal life abiding in us, it changes our very nature, making it incompatible with hating a brother or sister in Christ. At this point, you might say, no problem, I don’t hate my brother, I may not like him, but I don’t hate him. 

But that misses the point John is making. It is not do you not hate him, it is do you love him? At which point, we should clearly define love, which is good, because that is exactly what John does now. After exposing this dichotomy between love and hate, he turns to answering the question, what is love?

It is not do you not hate him, it is do you love him?

Which brings us to our second statement this morning.


Love is evidenced in our expression of it towards our brothers.

Let’s pick up in verse 16 and read through 19 where we find John’s second ‘we know’ statement.

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

We know what? Love.


Here is one of the fundamental problems in our culture today, if you asked 100 people what love was, you would probably get 100 different answers. It’s one of those words that is hard to define and we use so abundantly that it loses some semblance of meaning. 

I mean with the same breath we say we love a well cooked steak and we love our children. Obviously the same word describes vastly different things or something is wrong in your heart. 

But putting that aside for a second, I think it is fair to say that we learn to love by being loved. 

This principle is not an absolute truth, but it is one that is certainly normative. It could be stated like this, to the extent we experience love, we can express love.

In some ways this is great, a child who gets supportive, corrective, nurturing, sacrificial love from his/her parents will often go on to give this same love to his/her kids. 

But in some ways this is horrible, a child who gets manipulative, damaging, hurtful, selfish love from his/her parents will often go on to give this same love to their kids. 

The kind of love our parents express and share towards one another informs what we think marital love is. 


Now, I can attest to the fact that in coming to Christ and being born again God has given me love far beyond what I experienced in my earthly family. God working through my family in Christ, through my wife, I have now experienced love that has grown my ability to love. This is what John is saying, we know love by this, Christ laid down his life for us.

We do not measure or define love by what we received from our parents, good or bad, we do not measure love by what we receive from our spouse, good or bad, we measure love by what we received from God himself. In another place, John says it this way.

1 John 4:19 (ESV) 19 We love because he first loved us.

Paul says it this way to the Roman church Romans 5:8 (ESV) 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

We do not measure or define love by what we received from our parents, good or bad, we do not measure love by what we receive from our spouse, good or bad, we measure love by what we received from God himself.

Love is…Christ voluntarily laying down his life for his sheep so that they might be saved. 

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Love is…Christ being made sin for our sake, although we did not deserve it. 

Love is…Christ providing to us what we needed and could never attain apart from him, forgiveness and reconciliation through his name. 


We know love because Christ loved us. How did Christ love us? With his actions. We see the evidence of his love because it was expressed towards us in tangible, real ways. 


Having been loved like this, understanding that this is love, how do we then love our brothers? John says, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

He laid down his life for us. Yes, his physical life, it’s not less than that, but it is more than that, he laid aside all his life to be in obedience to the father’s will to be the propitiation for the sins of the elect. His whole life was lived for the good of those who would receive his love.  Think about that, his whole life was lived in the context of coming not to be served but to serve.


Now, what Christ did, we cannot repeat. If I died for you, my death would accomplish nothing for you eternally or spiritually, because I am not even righteous enough to die for myself, much less anyone else. 

So what is John calling us to? How do we lay down our lives for our brothers?


Interestingly enough, John’s application seems to go the other way than what we would expect. 

If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him. 

John paints a situation in which one brother has in his possession the ability to meet the worldly needs of another. 


I have food, you have none, and I am not moved to share with you because I close my heart, or affections off to you, how could I say that God’s love abides in me?

If I have clothes, if I have shelter, if I have resources that are essential to your good and it is within my power to help and I do not, I am evidencing that God’s love does not abide in me, I have not been a recipient of Christ’s love and I do not belong to him. What an interesting argument that John makes? I mean how simple does this sound?


Calvin points out that John seems to be arguing from greater to lesser here. If I would refuse to alleviate, by my resources, the needs of my brother, while my life is safe and secure, that is, it would not cost me much, how much less would I be willing to love him when it would expose my life to danger. 


Don’t say you would lay down your life for your brother if you won't lay down an afternoon, an extra serving of food, or a couch to sleep on. Don’t you dare. Because the evidence of love is not in what you say, but what you do. 

18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Let us not think we love someone or say we love someone only, but rather let us express it in acts and in objectively loving deeds. 


I mentioned Calvin’s observations on John’s argument, let me share with you his following propositions based on this text.

Let this, then, be the first proposition, that no one truly loves his brethren, except he really shews this whenever an occasion occurs; the second, that as far as any one has the means, he is bound so far to assist his brethren, for the Lord thus supplies us with the opportunity to exercise love; the third, that the necessity of every one ought to be seen to, for as any one needs food and drink or other things of which we have abundance, so he requires our aid; the fourth, that no act of kindness, except accompanied with sympathy, is pleasing to God. 


To summarize, love is not love if it isn’t evidenced. Two, if I have the means to help my brother, I am bound to, and three, there are no exceptions for those who belong to our Lord. There should be no brother or sister in Christ in our fellowship that is suffering by means of being without a basic need, especially judging by the abundance that we possess in America. Fourth and finally, what is pleasing to God is not merely the act, but the love behind the action. 


For our students here this morning, are there brothers and sisters in Christ who are in need that you can meet with what you have? This doesn’t have to be monetary. Do you have an abundance of clothes and know someone that is in need of clothes? Are you really good at math and your brother or sister could use your help? This is about using what God has entrusted to you to meet the needs of the other Christians around you. 


Adults, many of us don’t feel like we have a large margin to help others. But why? Is it because we are spending all our resources on indulging ourselves? Are there things we could cut out or desires we could go without to meet the needs of others? 

But even without making large changes, could we invite the family we know is struggling financially to share dinner with us? Could we offer to give a ride to someone who is struggling to keep gas in their car? How might we better minister to one another if we stopped viewing everything we had as a means of self-indulgence and started viewing it as opportunities to meet the needs of others? Something to think about this morning. 


But why is the Apostle so concerned that his dear readers love this way? Or to say it another way, why does genuine Christ-like love expressed towards the brethren matter? This brings us to our last statement and our third ‘we know’ statement of John. 


Love is assurance in our walk with Christ.

19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.


By this. By what? Everything he has said so far. 

By our loving one another in deed and truth, by our opening of our heart and hands, by our emulation of the greatest love ever displayed, the love of our Lord, by this.

What does the presence of this reality in our life mean? We shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him. 

Literally, our hearts are persuaded before Him. 


This is vital, because so many people are looking for assurance of their salvation. They rededicate their life, they pray a prayer again, this time really meaning it. 

People ask their spiritual leaders about assurance and too often they are pointed back to a time or the sincerity of a prayer. 

I have been guilty of doing this, was there ever a time in your life when you confessed Jesus as Lord? And while it can be helpful and encouraging to remember these times, it seems more helpful in light of this text, to say, what does your life look like?

Do you love the brothers? Is there evidence in your life today that you are being changed from a selfish lover of self to a sacrificial lover of the brethren?

Is there evidence in your life today that you are being changed from a selfish lover of self to a sacrificial lover of the brethren?

John says our assurance comes from the evidence of our union with Christ. 

We have confidence towards God because we keep his commandments. What is his commandment (singular)?

That we believe in the name of his son Jesus Christ and love one another. John ties belief and love together.  So at the very least, the question has to be, do you believe and do you love your fellow Christians? 


That seems simple enough, and yet, within these verses, he mentions two types of people that we must seek to deal with this morning as we examine our text. 

A man whose heart condemns him and a man whose heart does not condemn him.

What is John trying to communicate here? I will be the first to admit the difficulty of these verses and most of the great commentators I read seemed to express the same difficulty. 

Is John saying that if our heart condemns us, how much more does God, who is greater than our heart and knows everything or is he saying that if our heart condemns us, we should ignore it because God is greater than it?


From this understanding, Spurgeoun calls the conscience, the heart, a lesser court, and God a greater court and he applies it in both the positive and negative way.

If in our limited and sinful consciousness, we can easily identify condemning sin, how much more does the God of the universe find when he examines our thoughts, our motives, our innermost desires? 

But at this, Spurgeon encourages us. It is in this, the condemnation of our heart, that we ought to go to God the higher court and be reminded that if we are in Christ there is no condemnation. We should remind ourselves that he says that he will wash us and cleanse us from unrighteousness by the blood of Christ. In this case, we should not trust the judgment of the heart but entrust ourselves to the merciful judgment of a gracious God.

But on the other hand, if we find in our heart no condemnation but in our lives no evidence of love for the brethren, we must remember that the heart is not the final judge and likewise we should be willing to go to the high court and seek what judgment it renders. To which we find, Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.


For Spurgeon, he saw both evident in this passage. A warning to professors and a comfort to possessors, which would be completely in line with John’s stated purpose. That you may know you have eternal life. 


But the final word John gives us is this. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

John reminds us that our assurance comes from the presence of the Spirit and what it produces in us, not our obedience. 


How do you know you are a Christian? How do you rightly evaluate yourself?

John’s words not only encourage us to evaluate ourselves, they demand it. 

1 John 3:10 (ESV) 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.


My prayer is that this morning God would clearly speak to you about whether you are his child or not. That as we end our time together this morning that we would either come away from this time knowing that we are his, with an unshakeable assurance in Him or understanding, maybe for the first time that we are not. 

If you are of the first group, my challenge to you this morning is that you would ask God to increase your desire and love for the brethren, that he would open your eyes to the needs around you, that he would open your eyes to the abundant resources at your disposal and convince you to even greater love. 

If you are of the second group, my prayer for you is that you would understand that you do not have to stay where you are. God is in the business of taking dead, loveless, children of the devil and making them living, loving, children of the Most High God. 

Everything that needed to be done to accomplish that has happened in Christ. Do not miss what John says, 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us. Christ died to be the payment for your sins, so that we might become children of God. This is love; unfathomable, grace filled, merciful love.


Let us pray.


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