May 1981

"Hereby We Know —

Dan S. Shipley

To know God in the ultimate and saving sense involves the keeping of His commandments. In fact, as John points out in 1 Jn. 2:3, this is the only sure mark by which one can truly be certain of "knowing" God: "And hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments." In commenting on this verse Lenski says, "John takes up the question that troubles the mind of so many young people. Is our certainty better than the certainty of men in other religions? Are we Christians merely because we are born in Christian families? If we had been born Jews or Mohammedans would we not feel just as certain and be just as right in feeling that we truly know God? Or is the certainty of the skeptic not as good as the one we claim? Is the whole of religion not a mere subjective matter, unproved and unprovable, especially to a real thinking, scientific mind?"

"Here is the answer", he continues. "God has revealed himself, has made himself known. Those have known and know him, those know that they have known him, who are keeping his commandments." (Interp. of 1 Jn., p.404) Herein lies the difference between professed and true disciples. Many say "Lord, Lord", yet do not the things which he says (Lk. 6:46). The doing demonstrates the allegiance. Thus, "be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only..." (Jas. 1:22). He who claims all authority says that men are to be taught to "observe all things whatsoever I commanded you..." (Matt. 28:20). Such passages (and many, many others!) clearly show that to truly know and please God means doing something — but that's not all. Equally important is what we do. Many have substituted religious activity for keeping His commandments. To be sure, they are busy, busy, busy with their various "church" related programs, but being doers of these projects is often far different from being "doers of the word". The only acceptable doing in the name of religion is God-directed doing and any claim to "know apart from this is false and futile. We live in an age in which religion and religious activity has been accorded an undeserved dignity and respectability. The popular notion that a man can please God while believing and practicing what pleases the man is absurd because it is neither faith nor obedience! Regardless of how many churches may practice a thing (including "OUR" church); regardless of how many "big" preachers and elders may endorse it; regardless of how much good it may seem to accomplish, if it is not doing HIS COMMANDMENTS (truth), it is sinful and divisive! Naturally, most assume themselves to be doing God's will. However, men of conviction will "prove all things" (1 Thes. 5:21); know His commandments; do them and thereby know Him.

Indeed, there can be no substitute for God-directed doing. Rightly viewed, such doing not only does not contradict faith and grace, but rather complements them. God's grace teaches man how to live and serve; through faith man appropriates and applies His word. Thus, it is never a matter of grace only, faith only, or works only, but by grace through obedient faith (Eph. 2:8-10). Do you KNOW that you know Him?