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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.”—1 John 5:13 (NLT)
Poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” This is easily among the most quoted and well-known lines in literature. I like the idea behind this sonnet. She wants her beloved to know how deeply she loves him, and so she writes down a list. And what proceeds this line is a gamut that includes “I love thee freely,” “I love thee purely,” “I love thee with the passion put to use,” and “I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life.” Sounds like love to me!
As a writer, I love Elizabeth’s intent here. Personally, I know I’d feel very loved had I received this list. I can also appreciate the idea of writing things down for someone in order to establish proof of something. When I see everything compiled and listed, it makes it much easier to believe or confirm. And this is exactly why John wrote his letters.
In today’s verse, John tells his readers they could be certain in their salvation and their eternal destiny. In fact, according to John, that’s why he wrote this letter to begin with! You could actually consider 1 John to be the apostle’s way of saying, “How can you know you’re saved? Let me count the ways.” And what were the ways he counted? Well, he explains what it means to be living in the light of God, how love is an indispensible part of being a Christ-follower, and why we must not love the things of this world—among other things. John gives us a very detailed list of markers to help us evaluate our lives in light of God’s truth.
John is trying to provide an aid to our faith, something to help us honestly examine ourselves, because God can’t be fooled. We’d only be fooling ourselves. The Word of God is so adept at this, at being the catalyst for our faith and a constant evaluation tool. And as Browning’s sonnet and the Gospels—particularly John—show us all the beautiful ways Christ loves us, the epistles of Paul, John, Peter, James, and Jude show us all the ways we can know for sure that our salvation is secure.
So, the next time you feel any doubt within yourself, pray, open His Word, and do a self-evaluation.
DIG: Read 1 John. It’s a fairly short letter.
DISCOVER: What does John provide us with to help us know we’re saved?
DISPLAY: As you read through 1 John, highlight or write down the specific markers John outlines and evaluate your walk. Where are you in relation to these markers? And check back every few months with it.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.