"I write 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
The purpose of the apostle John's letter is to help believers know whether they have eternal life or not. John looks at the evidence or fruit of the life of one who is truly saved to help us know what the life of a believer should look like. Before we look at some of the fruit of a born again believer we need to understand what it means to be saved.
Many Christians think that salvation is about believing in Jesus Christ so that when they die they will not go to hell but will be given eternal life in heaven. Although that is true, it is only a limited understanding of what salvation is all about! What many people don't understand is that through faith or trusting in Jesus Christ, the believer is "born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable" (1 Peter 1:23). That means that the believer receives life that is imperishable - eternal life. This eternal life is not an impersonal force but the very presence of the One who lives forever because He has conquered sin and death - Jesus Christ. The believer therefore receives the indwelling presence of Eternal Life. John writes,
"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." 1 John 5:11,12
So we see that eternal life is not just something believers receive after they die, but it is Jesus living in them, the moment they believe in Him and confess Him as Lord of their lives (Rom. 10:9,10; 1 John 4:15). Those who don't believe in Christ Jesus are separated from Eternal Life, the life of God, but anyone who does believe, "God lives in him and he in God" (Eph. 4:18; 1 John 4:15).
The proof of Eternal Life
The question then is, "How can I know that I am born again and have received Eternal Life?" The apostle John explains that believers can know that they have Eternal Life because,
- the Holy Spirit testifies with their spirit that they are children of God (1 John 3:24; 4:13; 5:10)
- they are walking in the Light and don't keep on sinning (1 John 1:6; 3:6,9; 5:18)
- they don't deny their disobedience when they have sinned (1 John 1:8)
- they obey God's will (1 John 2:3,4; 2:17; 5:2)
- they are like Jesus (1 John 2:6; 3:2)
- they love the children of God (1 John 2:9,10; 3:14; 4:7,11; 5:1)
- they overcome the evil one and the world (1 John 2:13; 4:4; 5:3)
- they don't give in to their sinful desires (1 John 2:15-17)
- they have an anointing from the Holy One (1 John 2:20)
- they know the truth (1 John 2:21)
- they are confident and unashamed (1 John 2:28; 3:21; 4:17; 5:14)
- they do what is right (1 John 2:29; 3:10)
- they have hope (1 John 3:3)
- they love with action and in truth (1 John 3:18)
- they have peace with God (1 John 3:19)
- they please God (1 John 3:22)
- they speak from God's viewpoint (1 John 4:5,6)
- they live in love (1 John 4:16)
- they don't fear punishment (1 John 4:18)
- they receive understanding (1 John 5:20)
The reasons for lack of fruit
The fruit of Eternal Life is simply the revelation of Christ in the believer. The problem, however, is that many believers are not seeing the fruit of Eternal Life in their lives. Does that mean that they are not saved? I believe the lack of evidence is due to three reasons. Clearly there might be the possibility that the person is just a nominal Christian who has not entirely surrendered his life to Jesus as Lord of His life and is therefore not born again. The second reason is that believers don't respond to the Eternal One in them. They simply continue doing their own will and ignore the presence of God in them and with them! The third reason believers don't see more evidence of Eternal Life in their lives, is simply the fact that they don't remain in fellowship with God.
Fellowship with God
Fellowship with God means I live my daily life with an awareness of God's presence in me and with me all the time. This awareness of God means I include God in every aspect of my life. As I do so I become sensitive to His presence and learn to respond to His leading. I get to know God and learn what grieves Him and what pleases Him. I spend time in the secret place to draw near to Him in worship, to meditate on His Word and to receive from Him. I learn to acknowledge His presence and become sensitive to His every movement as I go into the day. As I become increasingly sensitive to God, I have my mind on what the Spirit desires so that I avoid giving in to the desires of the flesh. Fellowship with God will cause me to produce the fruit of Eternal Life! Those who remain in Christ know that what John describes as the evidence of Eternal Life is possible! (Rom. 8:1-16; Gal. 5:16-25).
Fullness of joy!
Jesus came to give us fullness of life (John 10:10)! Those who truly believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, receive Christ who is Eternal Life itself. Having received fullness in Christ, the believer has received everything he needs for life and godliness and can participate in the Divine nature as he remains in Jesus and continues to have fellowship with Him (Col. 2:10; 2 Peter 1:3,4; John 15:4,5).
I encourage you today, to spend time in God's presence and enjoy fellowship with Him. Practice the presence of God and you will produce the fruit of eternal life as you obey Him. I write these things so your joy will be complete (1 John 1:4).