In I John 4:7-21 the author presents a full discussion about love. God's love for us, our love for God, and our love for each other are all important aspects of the gospel. Love, in all these dimensions, has an impact on our assurance of salvation. Also, John deals (verse13) specifically with the role of the Holy Spirit in knowing we are saved. This declaration is very similar to what John said in 3:24.
In this message we will concentrate on verse 13. Several points about love, assurance of salvation, and the abiding presence of the Spirit stand out.
One, we know that we abide in Him and He in us.
We know that "we abide in Him and He in us." (Italics Mine) In I John 2:6, John declares that we are "in Him." Then, In I John 3:24, he says that God "abides in us." Now, John combines the two points: we abide in Him and He in us." One condition is never without the other.
God abides in us, and we abide in God. This mutually abiding presence has a powerful impact on our lives as believers. Whatever happens, we know that we are directly and intimately related to the Almighty and loving God. This should inspire our deepest loyalty and an outflow of love from us to others.
Two, we know we are His because of love and the presence of the Spirit.
We know that we abide in God and He abides in us for two reasons. One, as verse 12 says, "No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us." Two, we know, as the last clause of verse 13 says, "because He has given us of His Spirit."
There are many reasons why we know we are saved. We know because the Word of God assures us that we are saved through faith in Christ. We know because God has changed our lives. We know because His love is manifested through us. Here, John highlights the role of love and the Spirit in assurance.
Our hearts yearn for assurance of salvation. When love for each other and for God prevails among us, we have abundant evidence of our salvation. This is augmented and strengthened by the presence of the Spirit in our lives. When the Spirit abides in us, God abides in us! The Spirit of God assures us of salvation and inspires love in us.
Three, God has given us His Spirit who abides in us.
In this verse "has given" is a translation of the Greek verb dedoken, which is in the perfect tense. According to Mounce (p. 218), the Greek "perfect indicates a completed action whose effects are felt in the present." When we believe in Christ God gives us His Spirit who continually abides with us. Thus, in this verse, John emphasizes the ongoing relationship with the Spirit.
With the entire Biblical picture in view, God gave His Spirit to us, is giving His Spirit to us, will give His Spirit to us, and His Spirit abides in us. The language of the Spirit is flexible and comprehensive. His presence and works today assure us of our standing with God.
Four, God has given us "of His Spirit" who empowers us.
In I John 3:24 it is clearly the Spirit who is the gift. However, in I John 4:13 the phrase ek tou pneumatos may be interpreted in different ways. The preposition ek may indicate that a portion of the Spirit is given to us or that the Spirit is the source of gifts. In other words the gifts are from the Spirit. Grammatically, either view is possible. In my view the former interpretation is better.
However, whether a passage speaks of the Spirit Himself, His presence, or His works does not always make a great deal of difference. After all, He is in a sense present in all His works. We may not receive His presence or His works, and thus reject the Spirit Himself, but He is nevertheless present in what He does. The main point is that the Spirit abides in us and empowers us to do God's bidding.
The primary thrust of I John 4:13 is that the Spirit, who is present in our lives, assures us of our salvation. Because of the Spirit, we know that we abide in God and that God abides in us. In addition the Spirit empowers us to do God's work. The empowerment of the Spirit is further evidence of His presence. So, we welcome the powerful presence of the Spirit in our life and in all our activities.