There are a lot of things in this world I do not know. I never took Calculus in School, so my knowledge pretty much limited in that area of Math. The Chemistry class I took in High School was nearly 50 years ago. I have forgotten much of what I learned, and science has gained so much more knowledge in the last 40 years, that I would have to say I know very little about chemistry. Sub-atomic particles exist and are studied that we had never even dreamed about back in those High School Chemistry Classes.
In this political environment in which we live, I have to confess to you that my understanding of the International World is pretty limited. Economics is way beyond my ability to grasp. Knowledge is doubling every few years, and I find that I am forgetting about that much in the same period of time.
And I am not alone.
Thirty years ago I was very sick. I had been in the hospital for a week, had come home, and was still in a pretty bad way. All kinds of tests had been run on me. After being sent to a couple of different specialists and running up a huge hospital bill, the best anyone in the medical profession could do was to tell me “Yes, you have a bronchial infection and laryngitis.” But no one knew why and what to do. It took me several months before I was back close to normal, and now 30 years later I’m still plagued with a bronchial cough on occasion.. It was so frustrating to go through all that without a definitive diagnosis or cure. But I have discovered that often time the medical professions, as proficient as they are, still do not have all the answers.
There is so much in this world that we do not know~
And the truth is there is so much about God that I do not know. He is infinite and by definition unlimited. I am finite and I am not able to contain or comprehend the fullness of God. And I confess to you there is much in the area of theology that I struggle with, much I do not know.
But I rejoice that there are things I do know. I’m like the man who said, “It’s not the things in the Bible that I don’t understand that trouble me—it’s the things that I do understand!
`The Apostle John lived in a world that was struggling with understanding. Power struggles created an unstable and troubled Roman Empire; corrupt Jewish politicians, Religions that were competing with many different viewpoints, Greek philosophy that was dominating Secular thought. And in the midst of these, one religious group claimed that only a select few could learn the secret “knowledge” that would give them enlightenment with God.
John had lived a long life by this time. He was tried and tested, had been a powerful leader and influencer especially in Asia Minor. He had seen Christianity blossom and spread in the midst of this Roman World. And He was well aware of those who were distorting its message of Salvation for “Whosoever Will.”
So in this little letter, written towards the end of the 1st century sometime around 90 A.D. this old Apostle, quite possibly the last living eyewitness of the earthly ministry of Jesus, felt compelled to write a message of assurance and hope. He did not focus on what we do not know, but on what we do know. His words reflect a lifetime of spiritual growth and maturity and were, no doubt, reverenced as words of Wisdom by those who personally knew this beloved disciple and prophet of God. With the loving heart of a Shepherd for his flock, John tells us not only what we should know, but also, how we can be certain of some basic truths of our experience. The phrase “WE know” or “You Know”, or variations of this proclaimed assurance is evidenced throughout these 5 chapters, appearing over 30 times.
Today I can say there are some things that I wish were so…some I hope are so. Some I wonder if they are so. But John dispels doubt and gives us a CONFIDENCE IN OUR CHIRSTIANTY.
Seven Times John uses the Phrase, “THIS IS HOW WE KNOW…” Let’s briefly look at these statements.
1. 1 John 2: 5-6 “But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”
a. Of course you know that this does not mean we are to literally walk like Him physically—with long steps or short, with a limp or a skip or a bounce. Rather, this means that we are to try to be like we think Jesus would be in our world.
b. Dr. B. J. Garber in our Holiness class in Carthage some years back strongly agreed with the statement: “Holiness is Christ-likeness.” –“I WANT TO BE LIKE JESUS!”
c. Jesus told us that we could know a tree by the fruit it bears. The person who claims to be one of His, therefore will produce Christ-like qualities in his life.
d. Jesus is our Great Pattern, or Example: When we truly come to Him, we are filled with His Spirit, cleansed from sin and unrighteousness, filled with His divine love. WE are never the same as before. We become the living bodies of our Lord—To A LOST WORLD WE PORTRAY JESUS!
e. Look at yourself: Are you in doubt about your relationship with Christ? John tells us that if we are “in Jesus” we will be like him. What evidence do you find in your life that you are walking with Him? In your relationship to your husband or wife? …To your children and relatives…In your attitudes…In your commitment to please God?
2. 1 John 2:18-19 “Dear children, this is the last hour, and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrist have come. THIS IS HOW WE KNOW IT IS THE LAST HOUR. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
1 John 2:22 clarifies who the antichrist is: “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son.
We live in a world that has rejected God and the Truth and who refuse to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One, the One who came to reveal to us what God the Father is like, and who died on the Cross for our sins.
More and more Christianity is minimized and marginalized, and even mocked and scorned, we have to say: WE ARE LIVING IN THE LAST HOURS. If this present age is compared to a 24-hour day, we must be rapidly approaching the last minute. Wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, diseases: Jesus said in Luke: “When you see these things coming to past, Look up! Your Redemption draweth nigh!”
3/ 1 John 3:10 “THIS IS HOW WE KNOW who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God, nor is anyone who does not love his brother.’
f. In our understanding of Sanctification and Holiness, we know that a Sanctified Person is one who has been separated from the world and set apart for God’s service. And that morally and ethically a Sanctified person does what is good and right.
g. A person who lies, steals, cheats, and hates, and then claims to be a Christian is either a liar or is deceived.
h. A preacher who teaches that it is all right to break the commandments and disobey God and to have a fling—is a false prophet.
i. A person who refuses to forgive, harbors bitterness, is filled with spite and vengeance is certainly not revealing any Christ-like qualities with such attitudes.
4. 1 John 3:16 “THIS IS HOW WE KNOW WHAT LOVE IS: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”
a. Illustration: The boy who was asked to give a blood transfusion to his sister. He thought he was giving her his life.
b. The world tells us that love is evidenced by butterflies, tingles and warm fuzzies and a strong desire to possess, to enjoy…But In reality that is not true love—that is selfishness and lust. JESUS BECOMES OUR SUPREME EXAMPLE: CALVARY IS AN EXAMPLE OF TRUE LOVE!
5. 1 John 3:18, 19, 20 “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. THIS THEN IS HOW WE KNOW THAT WE BELONG TO THE TRUTH, AND how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
a. I’ve been told that computers do not make mistakes; People make mistakes and put in the wrong information. Some of us as children were programmed wrong…and are continually battling false guilt. There are a lot of people who go around living morally good lives and feeling guilty at the same time. They are trusting God for their salvation and following His commandments. But they are struggling to find peace and joy because they are so fearful they “aren’t Good enough.” Let me tell you, don’t trust your feelings of unworthiness. Don’t let your misguided understanding of what it takes to please God defeat you. God is not in the business of condemning His children—He is in the business of forgiving and cleansing and empowering and healing. Trust Him for your salvation. Like David in Psalm 51 you can pray, “Lord, restore in me the Joy of my salvation!” Trust God to do His work. It is not your goodness that is important—It is His goodness. Love Him and trust Him to do the transforming in your life
6. 1 John 3:24 “Those who obey his commands live n him and he in them AND THIS IS HOW WE KNOW THAT HE LIVES IN US: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”
7. 1 John 5:2 “THIS IS HOW WE KNOW THAT WE LOVE THE CHILDREN OF GOD: by loving God and carrying out his commands.”
In Dr Bresee’s biography, Prince in Israel, the story is told of a young sailor who became a Christian. Returning to his ship, he determined to be a good Christian—to read his Bible and Pray daily. He was greatly mocked, and finally thrown overboard, tied to a rope and dragged along without a lifesaver. He nearly drowned. Finally he was pulled out of the water and revived. Conviction broke out and before long the whole shipload of sailors gave their heart to Christ.
I want you to know today, that more than What you Know about the Bible and Christianity, it is WHO YOU KNOW—AND THAT SOMEONE IS JESUS. YOU CAN KNOW HIM IN YOUR HEAD—BUT YOU MUST ALSO KNOW HIM INYOUR HEART. DO YOU KNOW HIM TODAY?