Back in the prehistoric days of my childhood there were strange publications called encyclopedias, containing articles on every imaginable subject under the sun. As I recall, one publisher produced a multi-volume set of encyclopedias for children entitled The Book of Knowledge. Those texts have been replaced by Wikipedia, Google, and who knows how many other search engines—all promising information at the tip of a finger or even the tip of a tongue because the thirst for knowledge is insatiable. But as with all other human productions, the information provided may or may not be accurate. The Word of God is a book of knowledge, but, by contrast, the information it provides is always one-hundred-percent reliable.
The Bible itself insists that it is a book of accurate facts, not fiction—facts that can be known. Incredibly, some form of the word know occurs 558 times in the New Testament as a whole, 199 times in the epistle’s written by Paul, and 40 times in the brief epistle of First John, the theme of which, John explains this way: “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” (5:13). It is an incontrovertible fact that God wants us to know a body of concrete truths, the most important of which is the knowledge that we are truly saved (or still lost in our sins). God has made it clear that He has provided, not a hope-so, maybe-so, I’m-not-sure salvation, but one that is real, certain, and measurable by concrete standards that He provides in His Word. John assures us that we can know that our faith and hope are real and provides us with an open-book test enabling us to determine the validity of our faith. If you know the following truths, you pass the test.
1. “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments” (2:3).
2. “Whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (2:5, 6).
3. “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him” (2:29).
4. “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death” (3:14).
5. “Let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth” (3:18, 19).
6. “The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us” (3:24).
7. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (4:7).
8. “We know that no one who is born of God sins [i.e., as a pattern of life, cf., 1 John 1:8]; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (5:18, 19).
Today I heard a well-respected pastor say on his national radio broadcast that someone who doubted his salvation should reread John 3:16 and consider whether he believes that verse to be true. God, on the other hand, has given us inspired evidences of salvation and has told us in so many words to read First John and examine our lives in accord with the standard set forth there. Then we may truly know.
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