The Apostle John similarly taught in his first epistle that unbelievers are to come to faith in Christ and, through the receipt of a new nature, become people of love who also are to exercise particular acts of faith in Christ (1 John 3:23),[i] while believers, those who have exercised saving faith and become believing ones,[ii] should, by obtaining assurance of their salvation, believe more deeply. Their growth in faith is associated with their disbelief in false teachers (1 John 4:1)[iii] because of the failure of such teachers to fit the criteria set forth by the Apostolic faith in the Word (1 John 4:1-6). Concluding his epistle, John stated: “These things have I written unto 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” (1 John 5:13).[iv] The verse indicates that John writes his epistle to those who are believers[v] in the Son of God. He wants them to enjoy the knowledge that they currently possess eternal life.[vi] By possessing assurance, and growing in their assurance of their personal salvation, they will believe the more deeply and exercise ever greater faith in the Son of God,[vii] resulting in full joy (1 John 1:4) and holy living (1 John 2:1).
John’s teaching in his Gospel and first epistle are in agreement with the teaching of the Old Testament. Moses knew the value of greater experiential knowledge of God and of the holy graces that flowed from such knowledge, and consequently prayed in Exodus 33:13 that because he had found grace, the Jehovah of the Theophany, the eternal Son of God (John 1:18), would reveal Himself to him, that he might have the more grace, based on Jehovah’s redeeming covenants with His people: “Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.” The presence of experiential knowledge and communion in the text was recognized by the LXX translator: “If then I have found favour in thy sight, reveal thyself to me, that I may evidently see thee; that I may find favour in thy sight, and that I may know that this great nation is thy people.” David recorded the Messiah’s promise to His Father that as the Risen Redeemer He would reveal the Father to His people after His crucifixion and resurrection: “I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee (Psalm 22:22, cf. 22:1-21 & Hebrews 2:12, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.”). The intertestamental Jews also knew that the Lord revealed Himself to those who believed in Him: “Love righteousness, ye that be judges of the earth: think of the Lord with a good heart, and in simplicity of heart seek him. For he will be found of them that tempt him not; and manifests himself to such as are not disbelieving in him” (Wisdom 1:1-2).
In agreement with the teaching of the Old Testament, John makes it clear that communion with the Father and the Son by the Spirit through the revelation of the Triune God in His ontology and economy to His beloved people will result in ever greater degrees of Christ-conformity in the ever more deeply believing believer. The saints are the possessors of a real relationship with, sharing in, assocation and fellowship with[viii] Jehovah; they can say: “truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). The saint who is right with God has Christ’s promise: “I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).[ix] The Lord Jesus does not leave His purchased ones alone, but promises: “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18).[x] They love Christ and keep His commandments, and are those whom the Son and His Father love, and to whom they manifest themselves in a manner of which the unconverted world can know nothing, so that the Divine Persons come to dwell in and with them, that their closeness and sweet fellowship might grow the more as the Triune Presence is the more manifest. The Lord Jesus explained:
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.[xi]
As their Theanthropic Mediator, Christ makes known to His people by the Holy Spirit the revelation the Father gave Him for them.[xii] Through the Spirit and mediated by the Son, they have the Father’s glory revealed to them, and are transformed by this vision of God’s glory and brought into ever closer union with the Triune God through the God-Man. Such a revelation of the Father was the eternal Divine purpose on the heart of God, as appears in the covenant of redemption among the Divine Persons and the covenant of grace[xiii] through which the Father would save the elect by the Son through the Spirit, for this revelation of God, which takes place through the Word, is at the heart of what is involved in the possession of eternal life:
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. . . . I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. . . . For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. . . . I have given them thy word . . . sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. . . . And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. [xiv]
The supernatural revelation and manifestation of God’s name, character, and glory through Christ by the Spirit in the Scriptures to the saints results in their sanctification, in a greater degree of God’s presence in and with them, and in their possession and manifestation of all the communicable Divine attributes, so that as they are filled with the Divine presence they are also filled with Divine love and all other holy attributes, including faith and faithfulness.
Both the Old and New Testaments teach that the just—those who receive the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, and who consequently have lives characterized by justice—will live. They possess spiritual life and fellowship with God on earth and are certain of eternal life in Christ’s everlasting kingdom. This life came to them through the instrumentality of faith. At the moment they believingly embraced Christ, they were justified. Their Christian growth is associated with greater and stronger entrustings of themselves to the Lord Jesus in faith as He draws closer to them and they draw closer to Him. In this manner their spiritual life is carried on by faith until the completion of their earthly pilgrimage and their entry into that glorious realm of sight where faith and hope are done away and charity only remains.
[i] pisteu/swmen twˆ◊ ojno/mati touv ui˚ouv aujtouv ∆Ihsouv Cristouv, leading to continuing love, a fruit of regeneration (aÓgapw◊men aÓllh/louß). The first person plural “we should believe,” and the fact that the audience of 1 John is believers, indicates that the pisteu/swmen is not limited to the conversion of the unbeliever. God also commands the regenerate to exercise particular acts of faith in Christ.
[ii] 1 John 4:16; 5:1, 5, 10, 13; hJmei√ß e˙gnw¿kamen kai« pepisteu/kamen th\n aÓga¿phn h§n e¶cei oJ Qeo\ß e˙n hJmi√n, through which the Christian now is oJ pisteu/wn, 1 John 5:1, 5, 10, 13, while the unbeliever is oJ mh\ pisteu/wn because ouj pepi÷steuken, 5:10. Those who enter into perfect tense faith possess present tense faith.
[iii] mh\ panti« pneu/mati pisteu/ete.
[iv] Tauvta e¶graya uJmi√n toi√ß pisteu/ousin ei˙ß to\ o¡noma touv ui˚ouv touv Qeouv, iºna ei˙dhvte o¢ti zwh\n e¶cete ai˙w¿nion, kai« iºna pisteu/hte ei˙ß to\ o¡noma touv ui˚ouv touv Qeouv.
[v] toi√ß pisteu/ousin.
[vi] ei˙dhvte o¢ti zwh\n e¶cete ai˙w¿nion. Since ei˙dhvte is from oi•da the perfect functions as does the present e¶cete. It is unfortunate that the critical Greek New Testament follows a tiny minority of Greek MSS to corrupt both the purpose statement of 1 John in 5:13 and the purpose statement of the Gospel of John (20:31).
[vii] iºna pisteu/hte ei˙ß to\ o¡noma touv ui˚ouv touv Qeouv.
[viii] That is, koinwni÷a.
[ix] Revelation 3:20 has absolutely nothing to do with an unsaved person asking Jesus to come into his heart in order to be saved. The unregenerate need to repent and believe, not ask Jesus to come into their hearts.
[x] oujk aÓfh/sw uJma◊ß ojrfanou/ß: e¶rcomai pro\ß uJma◊ß. The Lord Jesus will not leave His own “without the aid and comfort of one who serves as associate and friend, orphaned” (BDAG on ojrfano/ß; cf. KJV margin, “comfortless: or, orphans.”)
[xi] John 14:21-23, oJ e¶cwn ta»ß e˙ntola¿ß mou kai« thrw◊n aujta¿ß, e˙kei√no/ß e˙stin oJ aÓgapw◊n me: oJ de« aÓgapw◊n me, aÓgaphqh/setai uJpo\ touv patro/ß mou: kai« e˙gw» aÓgaph/sw aujto/n, kai« e˙mfani÷sw aujtwˆ◊ e˙mauto/n. le÷gei aujtwˆ◊ ∆Iou/daß, oujc oJ ∆Iskariw¿thß, Ku/rie, ti÷ ge÷gonen o¢ti hJmi√n me÷lleiß e˙mfani÷zein seauto/n, kai« oujci« twˆ◊ ko/smwˆ; aÓpekri÷qh oJ ∆Ihsouvß kai« ei•pen aujtwˆ◊, ∆Ea¿n tiß aÓgapaˆ◊ me, to\n lo/gon mou thrh/sei, kai« oJ path/r mou aÓgaph/sei aujto/n, kai« pro\ß aujto\n e˙leuso/meqa, kai« monh\n par∆ aujtwˆ◊ poih/somen. The verb e˙mfani÷zw is to “lay open to view, make visible . . . to provide information, make clear, explain, inform, make a report . . . of matters that transcend physical sight or mere verbal statement reveal, make known . . . e˙mfani÷sw aujtw◊ˆ e˙mauto/n I will reveal myself to that person J 14:21” (BDAG). Compare the use of e˙mfani÷zw in Exodus 33:13 (LXX) and the evidence of inter-testamental Judaism in the use in Wisdom 1:2.
[xii] John 15:15; 16:13-14, “[A]ll things that I [Christ] have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. . . . [T]he Spirit of truth . . . shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you,” pa¿nta a± h¡kousa para» touv patro/ß mou e˙gnw¿risa uJmi√n. . . . to\ pneuvma thvß aÓlhqei÷aß . . . e˙kei√noß e˙me« doxa¿sei, o¢ti e˙k touv e˙mouv lh/yetai, kai« aÓnaggelei√ uJmi√n. Note that the order of the working in the economic Trinity reflects the eternal order in the ontological Trinity; the Son who is eternally begotten by the Father is, in time, sent by the Father and is the Agent for the revelation of the Father, and the Holy Spirit, who eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son as from a single principle, is in time sent by the Father and the Son to reveal to the saints what has been given by the Father to the God-Man Mediator. Compare also Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22; John 1:18; 14:6-9.
[xiii] The covenant of redemption or pactum salutis is “the pretemporal, intratrinitarian agreement of the Father and the Son concerning the covenant of grace and its ratification in and through the work of the Son incarnate. The Son covenants with the Father, in the unity of the Godhead, to be the temporal sponsor of the Father’s testamentum in and through the work of the Mediator. In that work, the Son fulfills his sponsio or fideiussio, i.e., his guarantee of payment of the debt of sin in ratification of the Father’s testamentum. . . . [T]he idea of the pactum salutis is to emphasize the eternal, inviolable, and trinitarian foundation of the temporal foedus gratiae much in the way that the eternal decree underlies and guarantees the ordo salutis. . . . [The] foedus gratiae [or] covenant of grace; also foedus gratiae gratuitum: gracious or graciously given covenant of grace; and foedus gratiae evangelicum: covenant of grace concerning the gospel or evangelical covenant of grace; considered, first, as a foedus monopleuron, or one-sided covenant, the covenant of grace is the pact (pactum, pactio) made by God beginning with the protevangelium, confirmed and revealed more fully in Abraham, and finally fulfilled in Christ. It is a foedus monopleuron because it stands as a gracious promise of salvation given to fallen man apart from any consideration of man’s ability to respond to it or fulfill it and apart from any human initiative. Human beings are drawn into covenant by the grace of God alone. Once they enter covenant, however, and become parties to the divine offer of salvation, they take on responsibilities, under the covenant, before God. The foedus gratiae, therefore, also appears as a mutual pact and agreement between God and man, a foedus dipleuron” (pgs. 120-121, 217, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms, Richard Muller).
It should be noted that the fact that the idea of a covenant of redemption and covenant of grace has Scriptural support does not deny the clear Biblical covenantal distinctions affirmed by classical dispensationalism, nor does the use of such a terminology constitute an endorsement of Reformed covenant theology or a rejection of dispensationalism, any more than the acceptance of the covenant of redemption and of grace by Lewis Sperry Chafer constitute a repudiation of his own theological system by that outstanding dispensationalist (cf. pg. 42, vol. 1, pgs. 163-165, 232, vol. 4, etc., Systematic Theology, Chafer).
[xiv] John 17:3, 6, 8, 14, 17, 22-26. au¢th de« e˙stin hJ ai˙w¿nioß zwh/, iºna ginw¿skwsi÷ se to\n mo/non aÓlhqino\n Qeo/n, kai« o§n aÓpe÷steilaß ∆Ihsouvn Cristo/n. . . . e˙fane÷rwsa¿ sou to\ o¡noma toi√ß aÓnqrw¿poiß ou§ß de÷dwka¿ß moi e˙k touv ko/smou: soi« h™san, kai« e˙moi« aujtou\ß de÷dwkaß: kai« to\n lo/gon sou tethrh/kasi. . . . o¢ti ta» rJh/mata a± de÷dwka¿ß moi, de÷dwka aujtoi√ß: kai« aujtoi« e¶labon, kai« e¶gnwsan aÓlhqw◊ß o¢ti para» souv e˙xhvlqon, kai« e˙pi÷steusan o¢ti su/ me aÓpe÷steilaß. . . . e˙gw» de÷dwka aujtoi√ß to\n lo/gon sou . . . aJgi÷ason aujtou\ß e˙n thØv aÓlhqei÷aˆ sou: oJ lo/goß oJ so\ß aÓlh/qeia e˙sti. . . . kai« e˙gw» th\n do/xan h§n de÷dwka¿ß moi, de÷dwka aujtoi√ß, iºna w°sin eºn, kaqw»ß hJmei√ß eºn e˙smen. e˙gw» e˙n aujtoi√ß, kai« su\ e˙n e˙moi÷, iºna w°si teteleiwme÷noi ei˙ß eºn, kai« iºna ginw¿skhØ oJ ko/smoß o¢ti su/ me aÓpe÷steilaß, kai« hjga¿phsaß aujtou/ß, kaqw»ß e˙me« hjga¿phsaß. pa¿ter, ou§ß de÷dwka¿ß moi, qe÷lw iºna o¢pou ei˙mi« e˙gw¿, kaÓkei√noi w°si met∆ e˙mouv: iºna qewrw◊si th\n do/xan th\n e˙mh/n, h§n e¶dwka¿ß moi, o¢ti hjga¿phsa¿ß me pro\ katabolhvß ko/smou. pa¿ter di÷kaie, kai« oJ ko/smoß se oujk e¶gnw, e˙gw» de÷ se e¶gnwn, kai« ou∞toi e¶gnwsan o¢ti su/ me aÓpe÷steilaß: kai« e˙gnw¿risa aujtoi√ß to\ o¡noma¿ sou, kai« gnwri÷sw: iºna hJ aÓga¿ph, h§n hjga¿phsaß me, e˙n aujtoi√ß hØ™, kaÓgw» e˙n aujtoi√ß.