In uncertain situations, we hold on to what we can know. Firm knowledge is always preferred over maybe or what if. We have not been left without certainties. In the letter of First John he used the word “know” twenty-nine times in five chapters. The only book with more is his account of the gospel with seventy-five. God, through John, wants us to know and have assurance.
“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments… By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:3, 5b-6). We know Jesus is not about a personal encounter or feeling. It is about obedience. We know Christ and are known by Him when we are obedient. In knowing Him, we begin to conduct our lives after His manner, even to the point of personal sacrifice.
“We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). He doesn’t begin writing about how we should die for one another but how we should see to the needs of our brethren. “Let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18). Our heart can condemn us in this, but “if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God” (1 John 3:21). God wants us to grow to a point that we can stand before Him in confidence. An integral part of that is love.
“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. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world” (1 John 4:16-17). It is one thing to have heard of the love that God has for us, but it is another thing to know it and believe in it. This relationship we have with God is founded on His great love for us that was manifested in the death of His Son. We, in turn, respond to that love with obedience. In so doing, we have a relationship with God that is the perfection or completion of love. What God started in love with the death of Jesus has come to completion when those that He died for return the love in simple obedience. Then, we can stand in confidence on the day of judgment. Why? “Because as He is, so also are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). How is that? We walk as Christ did, in love and abiding in the Father and the Father in us.
John wrote so that we can know. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).