1 John 2:28-29, “28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.”
Throughout our study of this epistle, we have discovered, that John wrote this epistle at the end of the first century to help his audience be assured of their salvation. False teachers had come into the church, and orthodox believers had successfully resisted them (1 John 2:19). These false teachers claimed to have a “higher” knowledge of God that caused some Christians to doubt their faith.
John now aims to correct these errors from the false teachers and at the same time assure his Christian readers. To this end, he gives three tests to help Christians determine the authenticity of their salvation. First, belief in the incarnation, second, holy living, and lastly, love (1 John 1:1-5). John teaches if anyone denies the Son of God has become incarnate in Christ, then they have the spirit of the antichrist (1 John 2:18-25). Christians walk in the light, not in darkness. True Christians will have hearts set on joyful obedience to Christ, admitting their sin when they sin, and fleeing to Christ alone for forgiveness (1 John 1:5-2:6). True Christians will love the Lord rather than the world and love their fellow Christians (1 John 2:7-17).
In 1 John 2:28-29, John goes back to holiness, as a mark of the Christian who is born again. 1 John 2:28 tells readers for the second time, they must abide in Jesus Christ. To abide in 1 John 2:28 refers to the practice of personal righteousness, whereas, 1 John 2:27 emphasizes apostolic foundation as the source of what it means to abide in Christ. As we have already seen throughout this series, we may distinguish between sound doctrine and sound living for instructional purposes, but life and doctrine can never be separated. True doctrine informs right living, and right living corroborates true doctrine.
Personal righteousness gives Christians assurance of their salvation because it shows they reflect the character of God the Father. The “him” in 1 John 2:29 is God the Father, and it is only those who practice righteousness who have been born of God. Even as, children in earthly families resemble their parents, so there will be a resemblance between the Father and His children in the heavenly family.
1 John 2:28 tells readers they will not be ashamed at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ if they abide in the Lord Jesus. We do not get into heaven by our efforts, but only through the righteousness of God, even so, true Christians do reflect they have been born of God, which enables them to look forward to final judgment with confidence knowing we are the Beloved of God. Today, if you say you are a professing Christian and cannot confidently look forward to the final judgment, please, ask yourself if it is because you neglect the righteousness of God applied to your account by the Lord Jesus. If you aren’t looking confidently toward final judgment, please repent and endeavor today to be holy, just as God is holy.