RELIGION COLUMN: Do you know that you know?

Published 4:16 pm Tuesday, March 25, 2014

By Jake McCall

Consider this important question: How do you know that you know Jesus Christ? This is what the Apostle John wants us to be able to answer. John knows there is a knowledge that is more important than the existence of God, and there is even a knowledge that is more important than the existence of Jesus the person. He says that we can and we should know that we know this Jesus (1 John 2:3). Why is this important and how is this possible?

First, it is important because, if we know Jesus, then when we sin, we have an advocate with the Father. This means that in the presence of a holy God, Jesus takes up the cause of the sinners he knows. He does this because he has made the payment for the sins of the sinners he knows (1 John 2:1-2). Therefore, there is no greater knowledge than to know the one who can take up our cause.

The second question would be how is it possible to know that we know him? John sees that we can know that we know “if we keep his commandments.” Notice that he did not say, “If you keep his commandments, you will come to know him.” Notice also that he did not say, “If you keep his commandments, Jesus will take it into account.” John wants us to know that knowing Christ is the pathway to keeping his commandments, and keeping his commandments proclaims our knowledge and love of him. Keeping his commandments is not a pathway to knowing him.

So what is all of this telling us? We are being warned of two dangers. First, are you looking to keep God’s commandments and yet do not even consider whether you really know Christ, or do you dangerously consider commandment keeping synonymous with knowing Christ? Do you look to morality or a systematic approach to living for your salvation? If so you cannot know that you know him.

The second danger is to claim to know Christ and yet you do not keep his commandments. John says this makes you a liar. One of these warnings may resonate with you. There may be times that you have been familiar with both of these warnings. The Gospel wants us to be familiar with these warnings and to see that our sinfulness takes us toward these dangerous understandings of salvation that leave us without an advocate who knows us.

The Gospel also wants to tell us that there is a way out of these false ways of believing and living. By placing ourselves in a humble position of faith and repentance, God will deliver us and open our eyes to the knowledge of his Son. When the Gospel is at work, then we will recognize that we are loving ourselves less and we are loving Jesus and our neighbors more. This is a work of the Spirit, and when the Spirit is at work, he will bear witness with our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:16). This always leads to abiding in Christ, being conformed to his image, walking as he walked and knowing that you know him.

—Jake McCall is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. He is the pastor at Grace Fellowship Presbyterian Church. His column appears each Thursday.