The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz. Click here: 1 John 2:3-6, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: 1 John 2:3-6. for the video version. Alternatively, you can read the notes below, or follow along as you watch or listen.
1 John 2:2-6, The Assurance of Knowing God:
- So 1 John has been pointing us to various Christian assurances. We’ve seen the truth about Christ in is humanity and His work. We’ve seen the truth about sin & salvation. And today we’ll see the truth about knowing God.
- So let’s ask the question, how can we have the assurance of knowing God? Well firstly Scripture says it is possible to have the assurance of knowing God. But not only does the Bible teach that assurance is possible, the Bible commands us to pursue that knowledge.
- In 2 Peter 1:10, Peter wrote, “Be diligent to make sure about God’s calling and choosing you.” So having such assurance is not only possible, it’s commanded. It is also a privilege to know that you’re secure. Because it is a person who doesn’t have assurance about their salvation is in misery.
- So back to our opening question, how can we have the assurance of knowing God? Today we’ll look at three ways assuring us that we know God truly: one of them is moral; one of them is relational; and one of them is doctrinal – and Lord willing at the end, you will come to a firm and certain answer to that question… the first assurance then is,
1. Knowing God in Keeping His Commands:
- Text – 1 John 2:3-4
- Explanation – John is notasking the question, “How do we come to know God?” He’s not saying, “If you want to come to know God, here’s how you do it: obey.” John is not dealing with how one is saved. He’s not saying, “If you want to receive God’s grace, obey.” or “If you want to be justified, obey.” He’s not saying, “If you want to be saved, obey.”
- He’s not saying, “If you want to know God, obey.” He’s saying, “Here’s how you know that you know God: it’s revealed in your obedience.” So essentially John says, “We know that we know God by keeping His commandments.”
- Illustration – Let’s take Henry Shafer for example. He is a famous Christian chemist who teaches at the University of Georgia. He tells the story of how he came to reject Christianity. He was raised in a Christian home, attending a mainline Presbyterian church.
- But on a given day he was talking with his dad in the kitchen about an ethical question, saying, “Look, Dad, the Bible says such and such.” And His dad responded by saying, “I know what the Bible says; it’s wrong.” Henry Shafer said, at that moment he decided that Christianity must be nonsense, because his dad claimed to be a Christian and yet rejected the teaching of the Bible.
- Well thankfully, the Lord did a work of grace in Henry Shafer’s heart and brought him to saving faith later on. And then, at that time, he realized that it wasn’t that Christianity was nonsense; it was that his father’s profession of faith was nonsense.
- Application – You see the truth is, if you believe the Living God, you will believe His word and you will acknowledge it as your final rule of faith and practice. Does that mean we keep the law perfectly? Well firstly, we can’t. Secondly, that goes against John’s teaching.
- In 1 John 1, he taught us that Christians will continue to sin. So what is he saying? He is saying: “There are those who love God’s word, and who love to obey God’s word, and who by grace have been able to obey God’s word.” That’s the evidence of knowing God.
- Conclusion – John’s point is that fellowship knowledge of God–true knowledge of God, the knowledge of God in which we share a saving relationship with Him–always expresses itself in a transformed life; it never leaves us unchanged.
- Therefore John says in verse 4, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar.” You see, there’s the other side to the truth. His point is: If you claim to know God but your life is not changed by knowing Him, that is a sign that you don’t know God.
- John doesn’t say, “You have the truth, but don’t put it into practice.” He doesn’t say, “You have head knowledge, but don’t have heart knowledge.” He says, “He has no truth.” The evidence of having God’s truth is that it changes everything. His truth always leads to love, it leads to obedience and therefore it always leads to a transformed life.
- So when that transformed life is not there, then you can be certain that such a person has never had the truth. God’s Word says that Jesus Christ is “the way and the truth and the life.” There is no knowledge of God that does not also lead to the keeping of His commandments.
- Bridge – So true knowledge of God expressed in action, and especially in the action of obeying God’s commandments. And so, we know that we don’t know God if we don’t want to keep His commandments, and if we don’t by grace do just that.
- To know Him changes everything; it changes us from the inside out, and one of the ways that it changes us is it makes us love to obey His word, to believe His word, to follow His word. So, there’s the first thing he says about us knowing God. It brings us to a second assurance,
2. Knowing God in His Love:
- Text – 1 John 2:5
- Explanation – Now we can say that true love for God is expressed not in emotional language, or some claim of mystical experience – it is expressed in moral obedience. Or let me put it this way, the proof of love is loyalty.
- Illustration – What would a wife think of a husband who said, “Oh, honey, I love you,” but every week he engaged in an affair with another woman? That profession of love would be hollow. Therefore, true love is loyal.
- And, therefore, God’s Word says, “if You truly love Me? You’ll be loyal to My word.” There will be a commitment to His word. You see, the truth of God exists to promote an active and practical relationship with the Him.
- Application – This relationship should always express itself in love to God and in obedience to God, because love delights to do God’s will. Our true example, Jesus, loved to do God’s will. And so, if we’re in Jesus, then we will love to do God’s will!
- Do you remember what Jesus said to His disciples on the night that He was betrayed in the upper room in John 14:15? “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” That’s what He said. And so, the Christian who teaches that you can love Christ and not keep His commandments is contradicting the Lord.
- Conclusion – Obedience to God’s Word is proof of our love for Him. Listen, I think there are three motives for obedience: We can obey because we have to, because we need to, or because we want to. A slave obeys because he has to. An employee obeys because he needs to. But a Christian is to obey because he wants to – John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
- But as children, we learned obedience was necessary or else we get spanked! And as you grew up, you might discover that obedience meant enjoyment and reward. It is similar in our Christian walk. Young believers must constantly be warned or rewarded and as they grow into mature Christians, they listen to God’s Word and obey it simply because they understand what it means to love Him.
- Bridge – So in summary, one commentator wrote, “The Lord does not give me rules, but He makes His standard very clear. If my relationship to Him is that of love, I will do what He says . . . . If I hesitate, it is because I love someone I have placed in competition with Him, namely, myself.”
- So up till now, we have learned that the evidence for knowing God is knowing and keeping His word as an act of our loving Him. Which brings us to a third which is doctrinal
3. Knowing God in Walking His Walk:
- Text – 1 John 2:5b-6
- Explanation – In other words, you’ll live like Christ. And how did Christ live? He lived in obedience to the Father. See, to abide in Christ is to experience a life-giving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It is a relationship that’s active and committed and effort giving and a love for God’s will and following after Christ’s way of living.
- Let me ask it like this, are you resting in Jesus Christ? Are you trusting in Him for salvation? Are you fellowshipping with Him in grace? If yes, well then your whole life will have been changed. It doesn’t mean you’re perfect, or that your obedience is perfect – it means that by God’s grace, you’re obedient and have a desire for obeying Him.
- Illustration – Now I get how hard this is. I mean we live in a world that opposes God and in some way we follow this world. You might want to abide in Christ, or want to love Christ; and be struggling to faithfully live in accordance with God’s will.
- But if it is just a struggle, having the assurance of know God should comfort you. However, Charles Spurgeonwas quite clear when he said “If any man abide in me, he shall bring forth fruit.” For fruits of righteousness are good works, and they are evidences that we abide in Christ. If I am living in sin day by day, what right have I to conclude I am a child of God?”
- Application – Having doubts is common for any believer. Yet choosing to pursue sin, and live in sin – that’s common for a child of this world. So let’s get to the point, there may be some of us here today who profess to be Christians who are not living in accordance with God’s word and really have no deep desire to do so. And what John is saying to you is, “You’re not a Christian!” You need to realize that you need grace!
- And there are Christians here today that are wrestling with a lack of assurance because of sin and imperfections in their lives. John is saying that your obedience must be perfect. John is asking, do you have a longing to obey God’s word? If you answer that question ‘yes,’” John says, “well, then I have some help for you here.”
- Conclusion – God doesn’t call us to do anything for which He does not also empower us! If we are charged to live likeChrist, but Christ never ceased to be God on earth, yet He did surrender His divine privileges and took on flesh to give us the perfect pattern of how we are to live.
- In short, o earth, Jesus lived in the power of the Holy Spirit, the same Source which every believer has continual access! There is the answer. Yes, we are commanded to work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Php 2:12), but not in reliance on our power, but on His supernatural power.
- Bridge – Perhaps you need to learn to confess sin which grieves the Spirit, ditch your tendency toward self-reliance, and put your trust fully in the indwelling Spirit’s ability to enable you. God’s Spirit doesn’t give us a little help, but enables us, meaning He gives both the desire and the power to live like Christ.
- So hopefully now you can live out 2 Peter 1:10. I trust you can “Be diligent to make sure about God’s calling and choosing you” because you have learned how to have the assurance of knowing God! To know God means to know and obey His word as an act of your love for Him because He has put in Christ with the ability to live like Him too.