Knowing About or Knowing
Sunday, May 14, 2017
1 John 2:12-14
Many people know about God. Fewer know God. Do you get the difference between knowing about something and knowing it?
I know about science. I have a passing acquaintance about science. I understand the basic principles of science. I do not know science. I practice science on a very rudimentary level. I learn about the world around me by observing it. I do not go into it to the depths that true scientists know science.
I know about some people. I have heard of them, but I do not know them. I know about Martin Luther. I learned about him through classes I have taken or things I have read about him. Martin Luther is said to be the father of the Protestant Reformation. I am part of the Protestant Reformation. I know about him, but I do not know Martin Luther.
I could get to know more about Martin Luther by reading what has been written about him. I could get to know Martin Luther better than I do by reading what he wrote, but I cannot really know Martin Luther. When I get to heaven, perhaps I will have the opportunity to know him. I would love to sit with him and really get to know him.
Many people know about God. Fewer know God.
What about you? Do you know about God or do you know Him?
Think about the difference between knowing about God or truly knowing God as we read our passage of Scripture for today. We are reading from the Apostle John’s first letter to believers, chapter 2 beginning with verse 12:
12 I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of His name.
13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.
14 I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (NIV)
A man came to Jesus one day and asked Him what he needed to do to have eternal life. Jesus told him to keep the commandments. This rich, young ruler said he had kept them from his youth up.
Do you think that this man had really obeyed all the commandments all his life? I don’t think so either. But Jesus did not confront him on this as I might have if I were speaking to him.
Instead, Jesus told him to sell everything and follow Him. Unfortunately, this rich, young ruler went away disappointed. He was sad because he had lots of things. He was rich in the eyes of the world. He loved the world more than he loved God. He did not really know God. He knew about God.
Jesus was asking this man to get to know God. If he had followed Jesus, he would have been spending time with the Creator of all things. He would have had the opportunity to get to know Jesus, not just to know about Him.
He knew about the law. He knew about the promise of eternal life. He knew about God, but he did not really KNOW God.
Look at verse 12 again. “I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of His name.” (NIV)
Here is where knowing God, having a relationship with God instead of just knowing about Him, begins. The rich, young ruler did not recognize his need to be forgiven. Earlier John told us how to have our sins forgiven. He said we must agree with God that we need to be forgiven, that we have fallen short of what God expects of us. We must agree with God about our failure. We need to confess our sin.
When we acknowledge that we have not loved God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength God is faithful to forgive us. We are God’s dear children. He loves us and our sins have been forgiven on account of His name. God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit loves us and we need Him. He is the source of life. We need to know Him, to have a relationship with Him. He is the giver of life. Knowing Him begins with recognizing our need of Him. Knowing Him begins with realizing that we have not really known Him, we have just known about Him.
In order to have a relationship with God we must first acknowledge that He is our source of life. Without Him, we are missing the most important part of our existence. We were created to have this relationship with our Creator. We were created to love Him. The relationship with Him must begin with our understanding that we need Him. It must begin with our accepting Him as Creator, as Father, as Savior. We must accept that He loves us and that He is the rightful Lord of our lives.
God’s offer of forgiveness for our failure to accept these truths about God and about ourselves opens the door for our continued relationship with Him.
John continues in the first part of verse 13:
13a “I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning.” (NIV)
You know Him who is from the beginning. Who is from the beginning? God the Father, Jesus the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The One True God. The Creator of ALL THINGS. He was and is and always will be. He is the source of all that is not Him. He is the source all things. He is the reason we exist.
John had come to know “Him Who Is From The Beginning”. He met Him in Galilee. He lived with Him for at least 3 years. He was the beloved disciple, the one human being closest to the Son of God. He was there at the cross with the mother of our Lord. He was there at the empty tomb after Jesus was raised from the dead.
Are you one who knows Him? Do you have a personal relationship with God the Father, with Jesus, God’s Only Begotten Son, with God the Holy Spirit?
If you know Him, you are one who has overcome the evil one. In the last part of verse 13 John wrote:
13b “I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.” (NIV)
14b “I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” (NIV)
If you really know Him, the word of God is living in you. This is more than memorizing the words of the Bible. This is more than knowing the Bible and studying the Bible all your life until you know it inside and out.
When John speaks of the word of God living in us, He is talking about Knowing God. God, the Holy Spirit, has come and taken up residence in our hearts. Jesus is the Word. He is God who took on flesh. He is God the Holy Spirit, who is the source of life that overcomes evil.
It is not enough to know about God. We must be living in the Presence of God, knowing Him and being known by Him. Opening our lives to Him and allowing Him to own us.
If you truly know Him, you know Him as Creator. If you truly know Him, you know that He loves you and sent His Only Begotten Son to die, so that you could be forgiven and be restored to a relationship with God.
Forgiveness is about restoring relationships. Forgiveness is about moving from hate and rejection and condemnation. Forgiveness is about giving up the right to be loved and choosing to love the one who has offended us, the one who has failed to love us.
God chose, before He created us, to forgive us when we fail to love Him. He knew that He would do what was necessary to convince us that He loves us unconditionally. He knew He would take on flesh and die that we might have life. He knew, before He created us that He would love us unconditionally.
Once we accept His love for us, accept that we are forgiven, we can now begin to obey Him because we love Him, not because if we do not we will die and go to Hell. Now that we are forgiven, we can know God as the Lord who loves us. Now we obey out of love, not out of a need to be loved.
God loves you and He is your Lord. If you truly know Him, you will love Him. If you truly know Him you will obey Him because you love Him.
We overcome the evil one, the enemy of our souls, when we accept, when we cling to, when we hold on to the truth that because Jesus died, we are forgiven and we live knowing God. We can live in a relationship with God. It is not enough to know about Him. We must know Him. Do you KNOW Him today?