JourneyOn Today

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October 20

1 John 5:5-13

5 Who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 Jesus Christ​—he is the one who came by water and blood, not by water only, but by water and by blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and these three are in agreement. 9 If we accept human testimony, God’s testimony is greater, because it is God’s testimony that he has given about his Son. 10 The one who believes in the Son of God has this testimony within himself. The one who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 The one who has the Son has life. The one who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. — 1 John 5:5-13

So That You May Know

by Karla Worley
Brentwood Campus

Have you ever reread a book or scripture passage and come upon your own notes in the margin from a past reading? Wait, I knew this already? I forgot I knew it! This happened to the first century believers too, as they received the good news of salvation and began to live it. One role of early church leaders like Barnabas, Paul, and John was to affirm believers, reminding them what they had heard and believed.

False teachings confused early believers. One false teaching from Greek culture was Gnosticism. From the Greek word for “knowledge” (gnosis), Gnosticism taught that there was a special knowledge that ordinary Christians didn’t possess. Only a few could have this special knowledge, and those people had true salvation. John addressed this false thinking in his Gospel and in all of his letters to the first century church (John 20:31; 1 John 5:13; Revelation 22:6-20).

“I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)

Believe—to be persuaded, to have confidence in, to trust—from the same root word as faith: being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not yet see (Hebrews 11:1). 
Know—to be as sure as you can possibly be, to be secure

What we can’t see is sometimes shaken by what we can see and feel—what’s up in our face seems like reality. Like the early believers, we need to be reminded of what we do know for sure. We need our faith in an unseen reality affirmed.

Gnosticism shows up in our culture in insidious ways:

Expert culture. Even in the church, we’re tempted to think there are those with special knowledge. We gather around teachers, ministers—spiritual “experts”—to tell us what we can’t understand. But the Bible tells us that every believer has the Spirit living within, equipping, speaking, making sense of God (Acts 2:38, 1 Corinthians 2:12,6:19). We may not be experts in all things theological, but we can know for sure our own experience of salvation and following Jesus. Then we become people who can testify, “This is what I know for sure.”

Relative truth. Alternative facts. Culture tells us truth isn’t truth and you can’t be sure of anything. But we can know for sure that there is absolute truth because of the reliable witness of the Spirit. The Spirit affirms that we are God’s children (Rom 8:16). The Spirit guides us into all truth (John 16:13), testifies about Jesus (John 15:26), reminds us of everything Jesus has promised (John 14:26), and is the down-payment, the guarantee that everything promised to us is real (Ephesians 1:13-14). We can be certain of it.

Everyone has moments when we forget what we already know. Circumstances pile up, and voices within or around us cause us to doubt what we believe. That’s when we need an encourager to come alongside us and help us remember the truth of the Scripture—the truth of our own stories. Like Barnabas, like John, we can be affirmers of truth. We can come alongside those who’ve been shaken by what’s in their face and remind them of what they know for sure.

Praxis

1. What do you know for sure, from your experience, about Jesus? Take some time to write out your story, or tell it to family or friends. How does this line up with what the Bible tells you? Can you cite a scripture that agrees with your experience?
2. What causes you to doubt what you know or believe? Circumstances that overwhelm you? Conversations with people of other faiths? An inadequate knowledge of Scripture? Talk about this with friends or family, and prayerfully make a plan to grow in the skills you need to face your doubts.
3. Who is someone in your life who can remind you of what you know for sure, especially when you’re overwhelmed and discouraged? Get together with them and give them permission to speak affirmatively in this way into your life. Pray together.