10 May 2006

How do you know?

Submitted by theshovel
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Hey, Jim. Tim again. Thank for your thoughts (from the Shoveletter, Coincidences). I must admit, you're still somewhat of a mystery to me. And I do still wonder how to connect the things you share with the "real world" of life on this side of glory. Tell me again, what do you mean by being validated in Christ. Also, how do you yourself know that you are living in Christ?Tim

Hello, my brother, Tim! Greetings to you. :)

Somewhat of a mystery, you say? I guess that would make me mysterious. :) I suppose I can live with that. haha!

How I connect these things with the "real world" is simple. You and I are our own connection with the real world. Our very life, as the new creation, is where the reality of Christ touches this world. Instead of looking for formulas or signs or validation from the world in which we live we stand and operate from a source other than the world itself.

Validated in Christ? This is the reality of who I am in him. It is God's approval of me according to himself. I am already approved, already validated as his son through Christ. However, I have come to recognize this one and only true estimation of myself by having constantly been slammed with the disappointment and rejection of every other false estimation.

How do I know that I am living in Christ? You know what? There are many reasons and many occasions in which I have questioned anything and everything about this life in Christ. There are times it appears as total BS. But you know what else? It won't go away. Not only that, but as my eyes have been opened to true life I find everything else to pale. The multitudes of reasonings I have encountered and fallen back on from time to time simply do not stand. I have seen the end of all things. I know that road, and it is singular despite all the different forms it has taken. It goes nowhere. It spins upon itself and leads back to the endless nothingness.

How do I know? I know because even in this world everything testifies to the one true life. For me it does. I think it does for you, too. Though this world is passing away, and others may see only death, I see life. Its testimony rings true. Do you hear it, too? :)

Jim

I know we have discussed this before, Jim, but I still do not see that there is to be no validation from anyone else. According to the things we read in John 15 is there not to be the bearing of fruit from our lives that is visible to us, others and the world? Can we and others not evaluate whether there is any fruit bearing going on? Understandable, we can be fooled, but does not the spiritual discerning one know the difference between what is real and false?
Jim, how do you know these things to be true? How do you know God approves you? How do you know for sure that you are already validated as his son through Christ?
How do you know for sure that you have what won't go away? I'm not sure I understand what you are saying here, Jim. How does "everything" testify to the one true life?Tim

We may indeed witness to this validation that is found in Christ alone, but unless we recognize it as coming from him alone we will only be leaning upon some other validation.

How do I know? Because of him, because of his death and resurrection, because he has made me alive, because he has made me to see and hear.

I will trust to his life in me.

To the pure all things are pure Titus 1:15

We have been changed at the very core of our being by his spirit who lives in us. Where there was death there is now life, where there was darkness there is now light. With what eyes are you viewing all things?

Jim

How do you for sure know you know Him? How do you know He died and rose again? For you and me? I think you know what I am getting at.Tim

Hello again, Tim! :)

You seem to have missed this last pivotal question (as I see it anyhow): "With what eyes are you viewing all things?"

Yes, I'm pretty sure I know what you're getting at, for you have often gotten to it in our past correspondence, if I remember correctly. ;) It seems obvious that you want me to finally break down and admit to you that the only way we could possibly know that we know him is because that very thing has been written down in a book, aka, The Holy Bible. Logically, your reasoning is sound, for it stands to reason that we couldn't know anything about Jesus dying on the cross unless it had been recorded for us. However, whose reasoning is that? God's? Are you sure?

First though, let me be very clear to say that I am not a fool who tries to pretend that the testimony of Christ through the apostles as recorded in the NT letters (which I have read and studied extensively) has not been instrumental as a witness to us in this present day of this life that is found only in Christ, by Christ, and through Christ. The many direct references and obvious allusions to the writings of the apostles found in much of what I've written should make testimony to that. However, I don't think your questions suggest that I disregard what the NT letters say, but instead, that I avoid what seems to be the only possible conclusion regarding our knowledge of God.

What do the apostles say about our knowing that we know him? Does it agree with this ultimate reasoning? Believe me, I know there are verses that can be used to help prove the point, for I was taught to see it the same way at one time. What I'm asking is this: what do they say in direct consideration of the point?

First, a few statements from John in his first letter (and I quote these knowing that they usually stir up other false issues built upon their misunderstanding):

  • By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: (1 John 2:3-5 NASB)
  • The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. (1 John 2:10 NASB)
  • I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. (1 John 2:21 NASB)
  • Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. (1 John 2:23 NASB)
  • As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. (1 John 2:24 NASB)
  • As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. (1 John 2:27 NASB)
  • We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. (1 John 3:14 NASB)
  • Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. (1 John 3:18-22 NASB)
  • By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; (1 John 4:2 NASB)
  • We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:6 NASB)
  • By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. (1 John 4:9 NASB)
  • By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. (1 John 4:13 NASB)
  • We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:16 NASB)
  • We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19 NASB)
  • By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. (1 John 5:2 NASB)
  • The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. (1 John 5:10 NASB)
  • We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know 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, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:18-20 NASB)

Now I know you think my quoting of these verses only proves your point, for I suspect your logic looks at the overwhelming rationale that demands I wouldn't be able to say anything like this unless it had been recorded for us. However, the reason I quoted these statements is to consider what John believed to be the ultimate reality as to our knowing of God. And what is this ultimate reality? That God did what he did through Christ so that his spirit could be put in us. To see the recording of this truth as being the ultimate reality is to see it one step removed.

There is no question that the testimony of Christ has been passed to us through God's own witnesses, especially the recorded words of these witnesses. But the difference is that of life and death when making the logical one-step-removed conclusion that we can only know that we know Christ because it is found in the words of a written document. This is why I will not make this conclusion together with you. I'm not trying to be obstinate, I just can't go where you would like me to go. You can speculate and/or argue all you want as to what particular understandings/viewpoints/teachings could or could not possibly be known without having the written volume of the Bible, but the obviousness of teachings contrary to Christ because of having had this written document should obliterate that very logic. After all, how in the world could this world get so far from the truth of Christ while holding so strenuously to the belief that the written word validates these disparate belief systems. How to know that one knows seems to be the one thing that can't be agreed on.

While John's statements have often been misused in an attempt to prove that knowing God comes through a set of requirements they instead all validate the one reality that because of something that has happened, something that God brought about in Christ, and only because of this do we know that we know him.

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life-- and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us-- what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:1-3

Now consider that even though John began the letter by reminding these believers of his and the other apostles' role in preaching Christ to them that he did not continue on in the letter to connect their knowing as based upon their preaching but upon the reality of God in them. Their inclusion in Christ came about through the good news being preached to them, but the confidence of the ones who believed is found elsewhere.

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 1 John 2:3

Once again, despite the overwhelming misuse of this verse in attempting to establish the teaching that one is saved or draws close to God by ones own works, John had declared to those believers that they could know that they knew God because of something intrinsic. The reality John stated was that something miraculous had changed these folks from being those who boasted about doing God's works and instead became those who did. Of course, as we read the letter through, John made it clear that the true works of God were found in their faith in Christ and in loving one another. Notice that John did not write something like, "By this we know that we have come to know Him, that it has been written that we are to keep His commandments." Of course, I think that's how it seems to be interpreted.

The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him1 John 2:24

Do you realize that this particular condition is easily built upon a knowing of God based upon the it-is-written mentality? Oh yeah. There are multitudes who make claims based upon "The Bible says it and I believe it!" I think you know this as well as I do. This is why the institutional church has been so often criticized for making its self-righteous claims while doing anything but what the claim states. Organized religions have tried to fix this known problem by insisting that its people follow up on their claims instead of realizing that the whole concept of the Biblical/moral claims-based life is devoid of life. In view of this, those who have given up on such futility only to discover that God's life is actually working in them to some effect is the very reality John wrote about. The ones who weren't making the claims were the ones who were truly believing in this Christ. They were also the ones who were loving one another, not just endlessly droning on about how they need to do it.

By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.1 John 4:13

How do we know this? Because it is written? No, because He has given us of his spirit! Paul pretty much says the same thing:

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Romans 8:16-17

No doubt, Paul made many mentions of HIS preaching of the gospel to the people, how that God witnessed this reality through HIM. But when it came down to how they could KNOW they were children of God he did not say it was because he preached to them but because the spirit of God testified with their spirit that they were. Don't you find that interesting? :)

Thoughts?

Love, Jim

Hi Jim. Thanks for writing back. You've taken some valuable time to address my question.
First of all, I want you to know that I was first attracted to the Shovel site because of the "freedom in Christ" I saw there. It appears that the Lord has done a special work in your life that you have a desire to share with others, and you're doing it. Secondly, I think that we are both a bit gun shy and are jumping to conclusions over things that we perceive in each other due in a large part to the unique work God has done each one of our lives.
You have a "history" that seems to make you sensitive to certain things I share and I have one that does the same for me. I do not believe in dead-literalism and you most certainly have a great respect for the Word of God. At this point in my life, the Lord has given me a heart to help many of my colleagues have a deeper respect and appreciation for the authority of God's word in Genesis 1-11 and because I have dealt with many skeptics my antennae are particularly sensitive to questions of doubt. So, sometimes, I can blow people away who are only sincerely seeking with honest questions. This is easier to do by email, too, when you are not able to hear their heart better.
So, we could probably go round and round to no avail other than to strengthen our own positions against what we perceive to be the position of each other.
I think I have and can draw value from your ministry, Jim, and want to be open to the things God lays on your heart to share. Please speak to me what you believe I need to hear. I don't mean to avoid all you have written in your previous message but want to remain in friendship with you.
In Christ, Tim

Hey there, Tim! :)

How do you for sure know you know Him? How do you know He died and rose again? For you and me? I think you know what I am getting at.Tim

Oh boy ... did I totally misunderstand what you were getting at? Please excuse my faulty assumption, I should have just asked to make sure I was hearing what I thought I was hearing. I would like to better understand where you're coming from, so should you sooner or later want to broach the matter again I would be very open to hear you out. You'll have to make sure you don't suggest that I might know what you're getting at, but instead to just tell me what you're getting at!

Jim

Jim,
I don't think you misunderstood me, I just think that we both jump to conclusions and are sensitive to certain things that we are more attuned to looking out for. It's awfully hard to discuss this over email, but alas it is probably the only way you and I will communicate. Seriously, I am open to hearing what you might think I need to hear from the Lord sometime. Tim

Tim,

Okay then, talk to me about how the conclusions I jumped to missed what you were asking. For example, I had written, "Now I know you think my quoting of these verses only proves your point, for I suspect your logic looks at the overwhelming rationale that demands I wouldn't be able to say anything like this unless it had been recorded for us." and I'm guessing that I had assumed this upon you. If you need to give me a cyber-slap across the face, go ahead! hahaha!

Jim

Nope, you didn't assume too much. It's exactly what I was thinking. No "cyber-slap needed. Tim

Okay, okay, so you don't want to give me a hint as to the conclusions I jumped to? :) hahaha! Maybe another time after the dust clears. :)

Love you, bro! :)
Jim

Perhaps, that because I do place such an emphasis on the written testimony of God that I place my faith in words rather than in the living person of Christ.Tim

Tim, my friend,

Good observation. :) I only speak to you in view of the reasoning I hear in your questions. I am not the one who sees your heart. However, I assume through what I know of you that you indeed desire the only true reality of faith, which is that which rests upon Christ himself. I'm certain you have struggled as I have between a faith in words versus faith in the living Christ. Let's face it, the one can be held on to giving us that sense of solidity we have found so comforting in this world.

Anyhow, in view of this, how do you really know for sure that you know him?

Love, Jim

Now, Tim did send back an excellent answer to my question, but I leave it off for you to consider how you would answer this. :) Also, I'm passing on another response from a reader who was encouraged by the above.

Hi Jim
Your dialogue with Tim through the q and a, "How Do You Know?", was very encouraging to me. Why? Your 'spiritual' logic rivets my attention to THE WORK OF GOD WITHIN ME...BY HIS SPIRIT! I have a tendency to look and KEEP looking at my 'changed' behavior to validate myself. How good to keep remembering, it is God who is at work within us...and HE IS GOOD AT HIS WORK!
God speaks to me so wonderfully through YOU...and I am thankful! God bless you, my friend. Chris

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Comments

”..Yes, I’m pretty sure I know what you’re getting at, for you have often gotten to it in our past correspondence, if I remember correctly. ;) It seems obvious that you want me to finally break down and admit to you that the only way we could possibly know that we know him is because that very thing has been written down in a book, aka, The Holy Bible..”-Jim Ah yes but, true KNOWING comes from another mind! Love, Adam

Jim, Did you publish on the web site Tim's "excellent answer" to your question from the above discussion? I would like to read it. (I also copied your last response from the discussion here:
"Now, Tim did send back an excellent answer to my question, but I leave it off for you to consider how you would answer this. :) Also, I'm passing on another response from a reader who was encouraged by the above." -Jim

theshovel's picture

I did not publish it anywhere else, but with a little searching I found it. He answered: “I know by the witness of the Word and the Spirit.”

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Random Shovelquote: False Assumptions about Knowledge (view all shovelquotes)

We only think we can't understand Christ because of a lack of knowledge, and we only assume another can understand because he knows more than we do!   source