Personal Knowledge

Personal Knowledge

“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life”.

In mans search for the truth he has journeyed down many streets. All of which have turned out to be dead ends.  In antiquity, men  sought after truth through the study of theology; then came the age of philosophy followed by  modern science.  Though  some still believe that through the pursuit of science, they will find some certitude of truth, yet the light seems to be dimming. The foundation of scientific knowledge is beginning to be shaken by the very principle that has shaped it, that is philosophical doubting. When doubters begin to doubt their doubts they are nearing the end of a dead end street.

So what are we to do?  Some have come to the conclusion that there is no truth. The majority of these individuals have embraced relativism and abandoned any search for the truth.  Others have turned to diverse cultures hoping to find certitude in eastern philosophy or religions.  I believe they will be sorely disappointed.

For over 2000 years people have been finding meaning, purpose and certitude in life through Jesus Christ.  I’m not talking about religion, but rather faith in the teachings and person of Jesus Christ.  The Bible refers to faith in Jesus not as a religion but rather as the way.  Believing in Jesus is a way[1] of living, a way of thinking and most important it’s a way of relating to God and your fellow man.  But for our study it’s more important to know that it’s a way to certitude.

The apostle John tells us that we can have an assurance or a certainty that we have the eternal life.2 This certitude does not come as a result of being good enough to earn eternal life but rather it comes through faith in Jesus Christ.  In essence, Jesus has become for us  our certitude and our assurance.  Christians believe that somehow Jesus Christ has satisfied all the demands of the moral law in our stead.  Because of this, Christian certitude and assurance is not based on their moral performance but rather on faith in the performance of Jesus.  Unless you are perfect this is the only way that you could ever possibly have assurance of a relationship with God.  If your standard for having a relationship with God is your own goodness, how good is good enough?

Christians also have the certitude of their relationship with God because of their faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  God has given us an objective fact of history in raising Jesus from the dead. Therefore, we have the assurance that Jesus Christ is alive and has the power and authority to save to the upmost, those that believe in him.  How could you ever possibly have certitude and assurance through faith, if  your faith was based on the teachings and life of a dead man?  The resurrection is proof that Jesus and his teachings are superior to every other man’s, for only he has overcome death, through faith.  After his resurrection Jesus said “all power has been given to me in heaven and on earth”.  Belief in the resurrection of Christ is an absolute necessity for anyone to have certitude about eternity.  Those that claim certitude about the life to come, without faith in Jesus Christ, are just expressing wishful thinking.

Listen to the ring of certainty and assurance in the words of the apostle Paul in Romans chapter ten verses nine and ten “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.  As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Someone might object by saying; how do you know that the resurrection of Christ is true?  Well we know certain things to be facts that are beyond dispute.  Number one; we know that they were literally hundreds of thousands of people that believed in the resurrection shortly after it took place.  Some of these people claim to be witnesses to the resurrection.  In other words they claimed to have seen Christ after his death, raised from the dead3.  Were all these people suffering from delusions?  If so why did the faith so quickly spread throughout the area of Judea after the resurrection?

Number two: Then there is the witness of the empty tomb.  If Jesus was not resurrected the question must be answered what happened to the body?  In the story recorded in the four Gospels about the resurrection of Christ it is stated that the Romans placed a guard at the tomb to ensure that no one would steal the body.  Yet the body disappeared.  The only explanation for the missing body then and now, other than the resurrection, is that the disciples stole the body. But how could a group of rag-tag disciples overcome the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb?  If the body could have been produced why wasn’t it?  All of the commotion caused by the Christian movement could have had been put to rest by simply producing a body.

Number three: we know for certainty that the disciples, that is the twelve disciples, also bore witness to the resurrection and spread the Christian gospel throughout the known world at the time.  They all were persecuted and the majority of them died for their faith but not one of them ever recanted their faith in the resurrection of Christ.

Besides the objective fact of the resurrection, Christians also have an inner witness of the Holy Spirit which God has put in their hearts to give us a conviction and a certitude of our salvation.  The apostle John speaks of this inward witness in his first letter to the church.4 “Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.”  Now there are some who claim to be Christians that have never experienced this inner witness of the Spirit, so they have never had a certitude about their salvation and their relationship with God.  This lack of  an inner witness may be explained in various ways, one thing can be certain; they lack the crucial element of real faith. They may have had intellectual faith in God, thinking that to be true faith.  However, intellectual faith will never bring assurance or certitude to anyone.  Intellectual faith is only a part of the equation of real faith.  There also must be trust in God and an earnest seeking of his being and will.5

Without the certitude of a real faith a person can be easily be swept away into the vortex of relativism, which is like a black hole that is swallowing up every belief in its vicinity.

What must you do to have this certitude and assurance of salvation?  As the apostle Paul said in the above quote you must confess Christ as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead6 and you must be baptized into his name.7

[1] Acts 19:23 “About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way.”  John 14:6-7″ Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

2 1 John 5:13-14 “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

3 1 Cor 15:3-8 “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”

4 1 John 5:10-12 “10 Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life”

5 Heb 11:6 “You can never please God without faith, without depending on him. Anyone who wants to come to God must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely look for him.”

6 Rom 10:9-10 “9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

7  Rom 6:3-4 “3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life”.

 

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