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. – 1 John 5:13 ESV
1 John 5:13-21
Near the end of the Gospel that bears his name, John gave his purpose for having taken the time to write it – “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” (John 20:31 ESV). John’s intention was that those who read his account of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, would come to believe that He was the Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah, and the Savior of the world. From the opening lines of his Gospel, John had made it clear that Jesus had been more than just another man. He was not merely a prophet sent by God. He was not simply a good teacher who taught about God. He was God in human form. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2 ESV). Notice that John refers to Jesus as the Word of God. John goes from speaking of Jesus as “the Word” to referring to Him as “he.” John went on to say, “In him was life and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4 ESV). John uses that same terminology to refer to Jesus in his letter – “the life was made manifest and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us” (1 John 1:2 ESV).
John wrote his Gospel so that those who read about Jesus might believe in Him. He wrote his letter to believers, so that they might remain confident in their belief – all the way to the end. John wanted his believing audience to remember that their faith in Jesus was based on the promise of eternal life. And eternal life was only possible if Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be and who God the Father testified Him to be. “Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concering his Son. And this is the testimony that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:10-11 ESV). To a certain extent, verse 13 of chapter five is a summation of John’s entire letter. While he has covered a lot of topics in these five short chapters, the underlying theme has been all about eternal life. But we must remember that eternal life is not just a destination. It isn’t some future residence or celestial city featuring a mansion with our name on the front door. John has already made it clear that Jesus is eternal life. “This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us” (1 John 1:2 NLT). Jesus isn’t just our ticket to eternal life, He is that life. Listen to what He said of Himself. “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25 ESV). “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6 ESV). John confirms the claims of Jesus when he writes, “He is the only true God, and he is eternal life” (1 John 5:20 NLT). When Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10 ESV), He wasn’t just referring to heaven. He was talking about an ongoing, abiding relationship with Him. Jesus is the abundant life we are looking for, not some kind of golden ticket to guarantee our entry into heaven. To have Jesus is to have life.
When Jesus walked this earth, He had a frank conversation with the religious leaders of His day. These men were experts when it came to the Scriptures. They thought knowledge of and adherence to God’s Word was the key to having a right relationship with God. But Jesus told them, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” (John 5:39 NLT). Eternal life is found in Christ. The Scriptures point to Christ. God testifies to the claims of Christ. In fact, “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11 ESV). John goes on to say, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12 ESV). All the life we will ever need we get in Jesus. In Him we have life abundantly and life eternally. The life Jesus offers isn’t something reserved for us somewhere out in the future. Paul tells us, “though we were dead because of our sins, he [God] gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead” (Ephesians 2:5 NLT). “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ” (Colossians 2:13 NLT). We have life more abundantly, right now. We have eternal life, right now. And as Paul reminds us, even the lives we live in these earthly bodies, we live by trusting in the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20).