The Marks of a Christian
This article, an abridged sermon, originally appeared in the October 14, 1957 issue of Christianity Today.
In the First Epistle of John, fifth chapter, thirteenth verse, we read: "These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." That is the reason this epistle is written to the people. "These things I write unto you," said John, "that ye may know that ye have eternal life."
Now I ask you, do you know whether you have eternal life? What do I mean by eternal life? I mean life, here and now, a full-orbed life, life's complete fulfillment, as well as heaven to come when you die. Do you know that you have that? The Bible says you can know it. You can be sure of it. John says, "These things I write unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life." A Christian who has received Christ can say with assurance, "I know that I have eternal life. I'm sure. I have received Christ. There are certain evidences in my life that indicate that I've passed from death unto life. Whether I was conscious of the moment or unconscious of it, I've passed from death unto life and I know that I'm ready to meet God. I know in whom I have believed."
All through the epistles, the apostles say, "I know." You can know, you can be sure. Paul said, "I am persuaded … I know these things." How can you know, how can you be sure?
Well, I want to give you an examination. I want to ask you some very pointed questions about your own life. The Bible says that God's law is a mirror. And when I look into the Law, the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount, the Bible says that I see my true self. I see how I appear in the sight of God. The Bible says that God does not judge the outward appearance. I'm not asking about your financial status, about the latest fashion in which you are dressed, about your social position, about the color of your skin, nor about your cultural background. I'm asking, How do you stand in relationship to God? Are you sure that you have eternal life?
The rich young ruler came to Jesus and said, "What must I do to have eternal life?" What did he mean? He meant that he wanted the best out of life here, that he wanted full-orbed living. Now, he had religion. He had culture. He had education. He had everything that would normally make a person happy. But there was an empty spot in his life. He knew that there was something else in life that he didn't have, and so he came to Jesus. But, he asked something else. He wanted to know about life after death. He wanted to know whether he was going to live with God forever. He wanted to know about this life that Jesus was talking about when he said, "I have come to bring life, more abundant life."
Source of Life
The Bible teaches that God is from everlasting to everlasting. God is life. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." Life: Life with a capital L. That is, spiritual life. Now, there is physical life. Physically you are alive. Spiritually, the Bible says, all of us are dead and separated from God. Take the illustration of a lovely plant. I cut off a stem and the plant lies on the floor. It looks just as well as it ever did from the outside, but the sap can no longer come into it, and eventually it will die because it is separated from life. Now that is exactly what sin does. Sin has cut the lifeline between you and God, and God speaks of us as spiritually dead. Separated from God. Cut off from God's fellowship. Separated from life.