During our annual conference last summer, the speaker shared from the first two chapters of 1 John. His key point was to remind us of three tests that will help us know that we are true followers of Jesus Christ. It is clear that God wants us to have this certainty (see e.g. 1Jn 5:13) so that we can serve Him unabashedly and faithfully. The tests are as follows:
- The Truth Test (1Jn 1:1 – 2:2): We commit to confessing that Jesus is the only way; if you don’t hold to the common confession, you don’t have fellowship.
- The Obedience Test (1Jn 2:3-6): We commit to living in obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ; a person who is a believer will be growing in obedience to Jesus.
- The Love Test (1Jn 2:7-11): We commit to sacrificially loving our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. One key part of this is loving them contra-conditionally; knowing full well that they will disappoint us and loving them anyway.
The key thing about these tests, is that you must pass all three to be certain of your salvation. You can’t pass to the Truth Test and fail the Love Test and be certain of your salvation; neither can you pass the Love Test and fail the Truth Test or the Obedience Test. In my own life I see a propensity to be very strong on the truth, but weak on love. I have friends who are very loving, but quite weak on truth. And we all struggle with obedience.
God calls us to a higher standard, but this standard will protect us in our relationship with Him and with our fellow believers. And that intimate relationship is ultimately what these tests are about.