WHAT CAN YOU KNOW?


"These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may KNOW that we have eternal life . . . And if WE KNOW that He hears us, whatever we ask, WE KNOW that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him . . . WE KNOW that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. WE KNOW that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. And WE KNOW that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that WE MAY KNOW Him who is true . . . " (1 John 5:13-21, NKJV)

Devotion 10 of  32


PAUL'S TESTIMONY


RECEIVING A GREATER WITNESS

To "believe in the name of the Son of God" is to trust in Christ Jesus as He has been declared in the Gospel. It is to receive the greater "witness of God," and to shape our lives around Christ's Person and work. For some, this is not sufficient. They imagine that verbal commitment to Jesus is the highest and most notable achievement by men. But this is not the case, for commitment to Christ and labor for Him are dependent upon something else. They are the fruit, and not the tree. They both spring from faith, and the persuasion that we have eternal life! Where these two pillars are weak, or even nonexistence, work for God loses all of its strength, and those doing the work become spiritually fatigued.

In explaining something of his personal involvements with the Lord, Paul spoke of his own
persuasion. It was profoundly deep, pervading his whole person. "I KNOW whom I have believed and am PERSUADED that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (1 Tim 1:15, NKJV). To "know" the One you have believed is to be acquainted with Him. It is to be familiar with His ways, and cognizant of His preferences. Those who walk with the Lord come to know Him in ways far beyond academic familiarity such as one might have with the record of George Washington or some other historic figure.

Take, for example, the familiarity that is developed between a husband and a wife. This is an appropriate comparison, for knowing the Lord involves being "joined" to him, and thus becoming "one spirit." As it is written, "but he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" (1 Cor 6:17). This joining is similar to that experienced in marriage, where the man and woman become "one flesh." In my own case, I have come to know how my wife thinks, and she knows my mind as well. Each one of us knows the preferences of the other, both likes and dislikes. If someone was to ask my wife what kind of food I liked, she would not have to ask me. She knows me. If a person asked me what type of clothing my wife prefers, or what colors she particular enjoys, I would not have to consult with her. I know her.

Knowing the Lord answers a lot of questions that are otherwise confusing. When we are aware of His holiness and disdain for iniquity, we do not have to ask so many questions about whether this or that is right. When we are acquainted with His grace, and His willingness that all men be saved and none perish, it resolves the issues about whether we should forgive or not, and how patient we ought to be with struggling souls.

I will wax bold and say that most of the dilemmas have risen in the Christian community are directly traceable to an ignorance of God. Too often the churches have cultured their people to be more familiar with the ways of the world than they are the ways of God. They may know WHAT they believe, but they do NOT know WHOM they have believed. The Athenian syndrome is altogether too common among professing Christians. They have an "Unknown God," and are therefore "worshiping Him without knowing who He is" (Acts 17:23, NLT).

Compare Paul's testimony with the above condition. "For I know the One in whom I trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return" (NIV). That is why he was able to "labor more abundantly than they all," for the grace of God sustains and empowers such a person (1 Cor 15:10). That is why he could get up when he was stoned, endure at least eight sever beatings (five with a whip, and three with rods), and spend a day and a night in the deep. He know the One in whom He trusted. That is why he could endure perils of great magnitude, sing while he was imprisoned, and carry on the ministry to which he had been called by writing when he was in prison. He knew the One in whom He believed.

Where such a conviction is lacking, living for Christ will become a burden, and salvation will be easily neglected. This accounts for the instability and vacillation of many professed believers. This is why laborers quit, and preachers and teachers throw in the towel in despair. It is not because circumstances were difficult for them. Such difficulties are part and parcel of being used by God. They fainted because their strength was "small" (Prov 24:10). They have been "wearied by footmen," and cannot hope to survive the "swelling of the Jordan" (Jer 12:5). They persuasion was too feeble, and their knowledge too elementary.

In this day of psychological babble, men are sent to analysts to uncover why they experience despair. Attempts are made to trace spiritual deficiency to earthly circumstances. But all such efforts are a gigantic distraction, and do not deal with the root of the problem. God is still "our strength" (Psa 81:1), "my shield," and "my High Tower, and my Refuge" (2 Sam 22:3). He is still "able to keep you from falling" (Jude 24), and can "make" you "stand" (Rom 14:4).

All of that must go beyond textbook knowledge. It is something of which faith can persuade you when you know the One you have believed.

Knowing we "have eternal life" is more a necessity than a luxury. The Spirit did not move John to write in order that we might enjoy a sort of spiritual hors d'oeuvre. The nature of life in this world demands that we be certain about having eternal life. As is evident from our text, it is possible to have eternal life and not know it. But this is not at all a favorable condition. Too, because of the warfare of faith, it is possible for such wonderful knowledge to diminish, and even disappear from our conscience. Therefore we must be brought to this knowledge, then have our comprehension of it fortified by Divine affirmation.

Paul had no doubts about God's ability. He was persuaded He could keep what he gave to Him, all the way to the time when the glorified Christ will be shown openly, and every eye will see him. You can have the same persuasion, because you too can know Him.

PRAYER POINT: Father, in the name of Jesus, help me to know You so thoroughly that I spend more time praising and thanking You than asking questions.

Tomorrow: KNOWING THAT WE KNOW HIM