Thursday, January 17, 2013

What Some People Don't Know

On the blog this week we looked at what the Apostle John says we know that we know. There are several spiritual truths that we can know with certainty. Most importantly, God's word says that we can know that we know God.

Interestingly, though, John also speaks about a few things that some people don't know. After each unknown, see John's words of concern from the letter of 1 John.

Those who hate their brothers or sisters in Christ don't know the direction they are going.

But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and doesn't know where he's going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 John 2.11, HCSB)

Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. (1 John 3.15, HCSB)

Those who haven’t looked to God as their Father don't know or understand His children.

Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God's children. And we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn't know Him. (1 John 3.1, HCSB)

Those who continue in a life of sin don't know God.

Everyone who remains in Him does not sin; everyone who sins has not seen Him or known Him. (1 John 3.6, HCSB)

As you can see, this is a devastating list of unknown unknowns—things they don't know that they don't know. How can they know unless someone tells them?

I hope that you and I will take the time today to let others know all that is available in Christ.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Knowing What You Know

Yesterday we considered that although there are a vast number of things we don't know, when it comes to the most important things in life, we can have more certainty than we might initially think.

The Bible says that we can be sure that we know God through Jesus. We can have real certainty about who He is and who we are because of Him. We can know that we know God. For the believer, it is a known known.

And there are lots of other spiritual truths that John the Apostle says that we can know. In teaching through the letter of 1 John, it struck me how many things the Apostle says that we can know. By my count, he uses a form of one of the two main Greek words for know at least 40 times in 32 verses, throughout this five-chapter letter.

Below are six categories of items that John says we can know with certainty. The verses of Scripture that follow each statement are indicative of the ways that John speaks with conviction.

We know that the end of days could happen anytime.

Children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard, “Antichrist  is coming,” even now many antichrists have come. We know from this that it is the last hour. (1 John 2.18, HCSB)

We know that we have the truth about God.

I have not written to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie comes from the truth. (1 John 2.21, HCSB)

We know what genuine love is, and how to show it.

This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. (1 John 3.16, HCSB)

And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. (1 John 4.16, HCSB)

We know that we have been given real life, escaping death.

We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death. (1 John 3.14, HCSB)

We know that God abides in us, and we in Him.

The one who keeps His commands remains in Him, and He in him. And the way we know that He remains in us is from the Spirit He has given us. (1 John 3.24, HCSB)

This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given assurance to us from His Spirit. (1 John 4.13, HCSB)

We know that we have a saving relationship with God.

This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands. (1 John 2.3, HCSB)

I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5.13, HCSB)

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know the true One. We are in the true One—that is, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5.20, HCSB)

Remember, this is just a sampling of the 40 instances of what John's first letter says that we know. If we followers of Jesus lived our lives in the certainty and gracious boldness that is possible, we would make a much greater impact on our world.

I'm so thankful for the confidence that is available in Christ.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Knowing That You Know Him

How much do you really know?

You know more than you think you do. Or at least you can.

I can still remember the press conference in 2002 when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made a statement that later became established in pop culture. A reporter had asked him a question by stating that there were "reports that there is no evidence" of something. Rumsfeld's response was classic Rumsfeld.

Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.

—Donald Rumsfeld, February 12, 2002

There are certainly thousands of things you don't know. More like billions. But even when it comes to the most important concerns we have, we often have no certainty as to what the outcome will be. We have no idea if our loved ones will still be with us next year, or whether we will be healthy next month, or whether we will lose our jobs next week. When it comes to knowledge with certainty, it seems we don't know much.

So how about God, and spiritual things? That seems like an area where we might not know much. After all, that's the very definition of faith, isn't it? Believing without seeing?

We might be surprised to see just how much the Bible says we can know with certainty when it comes to our faith. The Apostle John, the same one who through amazing experiences had matured into a great man of God (see these posts), wrote in a letter about what we can know with certainty concerning God and ourselves, when we are in Christ. And he even says that we can know that we know God. Take a look at these remarkable words:

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. (1 John 2.3, ESV)

He actually uses the primary Greek root word for know twice in this sentence. I used to hear pastors ask, "Do you know that you know Him?" And I used to think it was funny that they would word it that way. But the fact is, John the Apostle essentially does just that.

We'll cover later what John is saying in 1 John 2.3, about doing what God says to do. But one thing is certain. He says you can know that you know God through Jesus Christ. And that's real certainty. Some translations even word it that way: "And by this we are certain…". 

God's word says that you can know that you know Him. That's profound. Do you know Him?

Next time, we'll look at more of what we know.