1. God wants us to
not just knowing about God or knowing certain doctrines or following
certain moral precepts. It is essentially to know God. Jesus said
eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and
Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Christianity at its heart is, knowing
God personally through Jesus Christ, who revealed God to us. If you
do not know Him, you are not a Christian, no matter how correct your doctrine or
how faithful your church attendance. You may have been raised in the
church and you may always have adhered to Christian morality. But if
you do not know God personally, you are not saved....
The apostle Paul was a rabbinical
student steeped in Judaism. He knew the Hebrew Scriptures. He
fastidiously kept the Jewish rituals and feasts.... But he
wrote (Phil. 3:8),
“I count all
things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing
Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all
things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.”
Paul knew a lot about God, but
he didn’t know God personally until he came to faith in Jesus
Christ. Do you know God personally through Christ? ... You begin
2. God wants us to know that we know
Him. John writes
this we know that we have come to know Him….”
There is a difference between knowing
and knowing that you know. It’s easy to claim that you know Him, but
it’s also easy to be mistaken. John mentions (2:4) someone claiming, “I
have come to know Him,” but John bluntly says that this person “is a
liar, and the truth is not in him.”
Since we’re talking about eternal
destiny, we don’t want to be deceived on this crucial matter!
Because this subject is so important, it’s not surprising that the
enemy of our souls has created some major confusion about it in our
day. There are many evangelicals who teach that if a person
professes faith in Christ, he is saved eternally and should be
assured of his salvation, even if his subsequent life demonstrates
no fruit to back up his claim. They argue that if faith must be
by any evidence, then it is not faith alone that saves.
The popular Four Spiritual Laws booklet
also promotes the idea of giving immediate assurance of salvation to
a person who prays to receive Christ. It uses 1 John 5:13,
“These things I
have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God,
so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
The logic goes,
“You just prayed to receive Jesus, indicating that you believe in
Him. Therefore, you should know that you have eternal life and that
nothing can ever take it away from you.”
But the booklet ignores that
refers to all that John has written, which includes
three tests of genuine faith: obedience, love, and sound doctrine.
That view of instant assurance based on a person’s profession of
faith is foreign to what most of the godly men in church history
In the parable of the sower,
those represented by the rocky soil
that received the word with joy certainly would have claimed to
believe. The same would be true of the thorny soil. But only the fourth type, the
good soil, brought forth fruit
with perseverance (Luke 8:5-15).
Now the parable
is this: The seed is the
word of God.
Those by the
wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes
away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and
But the ones on the rock
are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy;
and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of
temptation fall away.
Now the ones that fell among
are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked
riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no
fruit to maturity.
"But the ones that fell on the good ground
are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good
heart, keep it and bear fruit with
That parable shows that if a person
truly believes, he will endure trials and root out the weeds of
the world. But it takes some time to determine this. How can we know
if a recent profession of faith is genuine, saving faith? Look at
the fruit that comes from it. But fruit takes time to grow.
In 2 Peter 1:10, the apostle exhorts us
to “be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and
choosing you;” Why would anyone need to be diligent to make
certain about this, if assurance is something that accompanies initial faith? ...as many Scriptures indicate, this assurance
is linked to how we live subsequent to our profession of faith.
3. The way [to know] is by
walking in obedience to His Word.
John uses three somewhat overlapping ideas here, but there
seems to be a progression in them.
A. Keeping God’s commandments is evidence that we have
come to know Him (2:3-4).
"...by this we know that we know
Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, '
Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a
the truth is not in him.
whoever keeps His word,
truly the love of God
in him. By this we
know that we are in Him.
He who says he abides in Him
ought himself also to walk just as He walked." 1 John
[John] states the
other side, exposing the false claims of the heretics, “The one who
says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments,
is a liar...' John doesn’t use
diplomatic, nuanced language that leaves you thinking, “I wonder
what he meant?” What part of liar don’t you understand?
We need to be careful, though, not to reverse the order of
Scripture. We are not saved by keeping God’s commandments. We
are saved by faith alone, but genuine saving faith necessarily
results in a life of obedience to Jesus Christ. ...
Behind our text in John’s mind were Jesus’ words in the Upper
Room. Jesus said (John 14:15), “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” He added (14:21),
“He who has My commandments and
keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me
will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will
disclose Myself to him.”
If we missed it, He repeats
“If anyone loves Me, he will
keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will
come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not
love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you
hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.”
Just a few sentences later, Jesus
emphasized (John 15:10),
“If you keep My commandments,
you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My
Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”
...You will not obey His words if
you do not know them. Since Jesus’ words are God’s words, we
must study and know them so that they impact everything we do.
...Jesus doesn’t give out helpful
hints for happy living. He isn’t a therapist in the sky,
suggesting that you may want to try His techniques to see if
they work for you. He issues commandments! This means
that you are not free to pick and choose the commands of Jesus
that... fit your agenda. He is the Lord.... His commandments are authoritative....
To the extent that you obey Jesus (and to that extent only) will
you experience His love and to that extent only will you truly
So the issue is, purpose, direction,
and focus. If the purpose and direction of your life is to
please God by obedience to His
commands, you can know that you know Him. It does not mean that
you never fail, but that when you do, you get up and keep
walking in obedience, seeking to please God with all your life.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones sums up these verses
(Walking With God
[Crossway Books], p. 53):
“If you have the life, it
is bound to show itself, and if it does not, then you have
not the life…. You cannot be
receiving the life of Christ without becoming like Him. You
cannot walk with God without keeping His
commandments. You cannot know God without immediately,
automatically loving Him. Love always manifests itself by
doing what the object of its love desires.”
So ask yourself, first, “Do I know
Christ?” Have you trusted in Him as the propitiation for your
If so, ask, “Do I know that I know Him?” How? “Do I obey
His Word and seek to walk as Jesus walked?” If that is the
direction and focus of your life, then you can know that you
Personal note from Berit: These
Biblical guidelines recognize our human weaknesses, faults and
failures. Though we long to live in total and consistent
obedience to our beloved Lord, we stumble and fall. But all the
more, I thank Him for faithfully convicting me of my sins,
reminding me of the cross, bringing me to repentance, and
restoring to me the joy of His presence.
"If we say that we have no
sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we
confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us
our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1
To read the entire message,
please go to: http://www.fcfonline.org/content/1/sermons/121805M.pdf
More of Pastor Cole's Biblical resources
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