1 John 5:20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
John closes his letter with three “We know” statements. It’s important to know things, to have them settled in our hearts and minds. That’s actually not a very “politically correct” thing to say, because the devil wants us to think that everything is relative, and what is “true” for one person might not be “true” for another. He does all that he can to sabotage the very idea that there is an absolute Creator who cannot be anything less than true. Indeed, our understanding is often faulty, and it is imperative that we maintain humility, but as this verse says, that very Creator does give us understanding so that we may know Him, and in the process know some other things too. I think it was Karl Barth who, when asked what was the deepest thing he had discovered in all his years as a highly respected theologian, replied, “Jesus loves me. This I know for the Bible tells me so.” Whatever you think of Barth’s theology otherwise, that statement is profoundly true. We need to get a few things firmly settled in our hearts and minds, or otherwise we will be vulnerable to all sorts of attacks. Paul described it as “Infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.” (Ephesians 4:14) The Bible speaks many times of God being our Rock, our foundation. Without that foundation, the first storm that comes along is going to do us in, as Jesus so famously said. (Matthew 7:24-27) We need to remember that in that parable, Jesus expressly spoke of “He who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice.” (Matthew 7:24) Strictly head knowledge isn’t much use; we’ve got to apply what we know. In other words, if I know that God loves me and wants the best for me, how is that going to affect the way I live? If I know that God is holy and calls me to be like Him, what choices will I make? Some humanists insist that we can’t really know things – but are adamant that they know that! As John says here, God gives us understanding. (The Japanese says, “The power to understand.”) It’s all grace, so there’s no room for pride, and our level of knowledge is certainly limited. As Paul pointed out, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:9, 12) That’s one of the many things to look forward to in heaven! For right now, one thing is enough: “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)
This is very close to home for me because I like knowing stuff. However, I understand that accumulating facts is no more than a trivial hobby. My goal is like that of Paul: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11) (There is no uncertainly as to whether I will “attain to the resurrection,” but rather a lack of knowledge as to exactly how that is going to come about.) I have had, and continue to have, many misunderstandings and misconceptions, as well as accepting wrong information at times, so I must maintain humility, but at the same time I must not budge from the things God has engraved on my heart by His Spirit. I am to speak the truth in love at all times, so that others may know God by what they see and hear through me.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You indeed for reminding me again and again of the things I already know, because I am so prone to let them slide, as if I didn’t really know them. Help me be firm and faithful as Your servant, Your child, so that all of Your purposes for me may be fulfilled, on Your schedule and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!