“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
There are some things in life that you want to be really sure about. Your salvation is such an issue. Since the Bible warns that many are deceived about this crucial matter, you especially need to know that you know your eternal destiny.
God Wants Us to Know Him
Christianity is not just knowing about God or knowing certain doctrines or following certain moral precepts. It is essentially to know God. Jesus said, “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Christianity, at its heart, is knowing God personally through Jesus Christ, who revealed God to us. You may have been raised in the church and you may have always adhered to Christian morality. But if you do not know God personally, you are not saved.
There is a vast difference between knowing about a person and knowing that person. I may know many things about the President by reading the news or watching TV. But I do not know him personally. I’ve never met him or spent any time with him. In the same way, you may know a lot about God, but if you have not entered into a personal relationship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ, you do not know God personally.
It’s easy to claim that you know Him, but it’s also easy to be mistaken. John mentions someone claiming, “I know him”, but because this person’s life does not back up the claim, John bluntly says that this person “is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4). 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). That parable shows that if a person truly believes, he will endure trials and root out the weeds of the world. How can we know if a profession of faith is genuine, saving faith? Look at the fruit that comes from it.
Knowing That We Know
John writes, “Hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3). We need to be careful to not 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. Knowing God changes your heart and life. Jesus said, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). He added, “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21).
“He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked” (1 John 2:6). This verse points back to Jesus’ words about the vine and the branches. There Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me” (John 15:4). John says that if we are abiding in Christ, He will be our supreme example for living.
Walking the Walk
John’s words show us that the Christian life is a walk. That is a helpful metaphor that the apostle Paul uses often (Ephesians 2:10; 4:1; 5:8; Colossians 1:10). Walking is not as spectacular or swift as running, leaping, or flying, but it is a steady, sure movement in one direction. It implies progress toward a destination or goal. A walk is made up of many specific steps, but it points to the overall tenor or general quality of a life, not to any one step.
Thus John is saying that you can know that you truly know Christ if you walk in obedience to His Word. But someone may say, “As far as I know, I do believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I seek to obey Him. But, I often fall short. Since I can never walk perfectly in this life, how can I have complete assurance that I truly know Him?”
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 says: “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 sins? If so, ask, “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 know Him.
—Condensed from a sermon by Steven J. Cole, Copyright 2005, All Rights Reserved.