Half a century ago, when I first arrived at Bible school, I entered its doors as an impressionable teenager.   Three years later, as I graduated, I was not quite so pliable and malleable.  I had a tiny bit of education; I was married by that time; I could almost grow a mustache.  When I left Bible college, out to conquer the world for Christ, I was no longer the same impressionable young man.  I had become a somewhat more opinionated know-it-all.  I was armed with a nice crisp certificate, telling the world that I had apprehended that for which the Lord had apprehended and called me.  But in reality I was just a childish, semi-educated fool – a fool for Christ and foolish in a hundred other ways.
Over the last few weeks, I have shared with several people, and I have heard my own words echoed in return, that there are doctrines and opinions about which I used to be dogmatic, but now in my dotage, I’m not as authoritative.  I haven’t cast them aside; I still believe them to be true; but I’ve found that my former proof-texts, are not quite as bullet-proof and as fool-proof as I thought them to them to be.  I hope that I haven’t just gotten soft.    I hope that am simply more gracious toward others who might disagree with me.
With those conversations in mind, I was recently reading a sermon from Romans 8, when the preacher pointed to verse 28:   “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  The preacher highlighted the words “and we KNOW,” saying that there are a lot of things we don’t know for sure, but on the other had there are things we should “know.”
That led me to surveying my Bible looking for the words “we know” and “I know.”   I discovered several things, including that there is a difference between “we know” and “I know.”   For example, there is more punch and importance in the words “WE know.”   I found that “I know” is more common in the Bible – 56 times in the New Testament and 135 times over all.  “We know” is used 40 times in the New Testament and 48 times in the entire Bible.  I found it interesting that almost a quarter of the time we read the “we know” in the New Testament, the words come from the pen of the Apostle John.  In their entirety, all those verses put those words in a variety of contexts, most of which have nothing to do with this lesson tonight.  For example the unbelieving Jews said of Jesus, “We know this man whence he is; but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is.”    Their knowledge was faulty.  They were not speaking under the direction of the Holy Spirit.  And to Jesus’ face they said, “We KNOW that thou hast a devil,” which of course was not true.  Something else I learned was that most of the “we know” statements in the Bible refer to salvation, not to other doctrines.   There may be a lot of spiritual and eternal things of which we can’t be absolutely sure, but salvation is not one of the.  Of this we can be sure. That was disappointing, but I’ve decided to press on nevertheless.
Admittedly, I am cherry picking references for you this evening, but I would like to point you to things about which we should have absolutely no doubt whatsoever. We should know them, because under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the Apostles of God declared that we should know them.  Not only should we know them, but knowing them, we should live them and share them with others.  When I began my preparation for this lesson, I didn’t intend it to be so much about the gospel, but that is the way the Holy Spirit has led me.
I would have preferred to conclude with II Timothy 1:12, but it is the natural place to start.
“I KNOW whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”  This is the only scripture I’ll share with you this evening that begins singularly – Paul says, “I know.”  Under the circumstances, what he knew about his salvation, all of God’s children should know.  How unspeakably sad it is that so many professing believers are not sure that our Saviour is able to keep their souls against that future day of glorification and/or judgment.  I know that my faith is in Christ, and I am convinced that He has given unto me eternal life.  I know that no man, devil, sin, or circumstance can pluck me out of either Christ’s or God the Father’s hand.  hope that you know that as well.
I mentioned a couple weeks ago I had been reading a book of sermons by B.H. Carroll.  One of those messages caught me a little off guard.  It was related to a theological controversy of his day.  Apparently there were Texas Baptists declaring that unless people had absolute assurance of their salvation in Christ, they weren’t saved at all.  If they had any doubt it proved that they had no faith.  Carroll was of the opinion that assurance is not a necessity to salvation, and agree with him.  Certainly, none of us can judge the quality or the depth of another person’s faith in Christ.  But I have found there are weak believers, who are children of God, but only as babes.
This verse in II Timothy can be used as an evangelistic tool for those who are trusting in their works or in their personal righteousness for salvation.  There are many who lack the assurance to which Paul refers, because they are not trusting Christ to save them, and thus they shouldn’t have any confidence.  Paul’s faith was in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in his own service, or sufferings, or personal sacrifices in order to obtain salvation.  And the Christ in whom he had confidence is the God and Saviour who could guarantee his redemption.
Related to that verse there is I Corinthians 8:4.  “As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we KNOW that an idol is nothing in the world, and (we know) that there is none other God but one.”  Verse 6 – “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.”  There were people in Paul’s day who ate meat which had been sacrificed to idols, and many of them were thinking that those meals gave them favor with those idol gods.  Of course, no one today eats food dedicated to idols in order to gain salvation.    Except Roman and Orthodox Catholics and a lot of Protestants.  They call it “the mass.”  In that context Paul says, “we KNOW… there is but one God, the father, and one Lord Jesus Christ.”  There was no doubt in Paul’s mind, and there should be none in ours, that we worship and serve the true and living God, and that we have been saved by His grace.
There are other things we know and about which we are absolutely in regard to our salvation.
There is I John 3:14.  It begins by saying, “We KNOW that we have passed from death unto life.”  Christians should know that the spiritual death with which they were born as babies is gone – having disappeared in Christ’s resurrection.  Christians know they have passed from spiritual death into eternal life, heavenly life – the very life of Christ.  The doubt is not about the principle of passing from death unto life, but whether we have thus passed.  So the verse goes on, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.”  Assuming that we find our hearts being drawn to God’s saints, to the fellowship of one of God’s churches…  Assuming that we love God’s children as our own brethren…   Assuming that we rejoice when other believers are blessed, and we grieve when they are hurting…  we can be absolutely sure that we have passed from death unto life.
Later in that chapter John gives us another “we know” which is again linked to our Christian behavior.  I John 3:24 – “We KNOW that (Christ Jesus) abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.”  A New Testament Christian is not someone who simply nods agreement to a group of Christian doctrines.  A Christian is someone who has been born again and who has been given the life of Christ the Saviour.  And to that life the Holy Spirit gives His assent by residing in us.  As Romans 8:16 says – “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”  And Galatians 4:6 adds – “Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”  “We KNOW that (Christ Jesus) abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.”
The Apostle John says in I John 5:19 and 20 – “We KNOW that we are of God…”  “And we KNOW that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God, and eternal life.”  Christians know why the Son became incarnate.  He came to give His life a ransom for many.  And those children of God know, and are sure, that Christ gave His life a ransom for them personally.
Christians are people who should know that Christ dwells in them.  I John 3:24 – “We KNOW that (Christ Jesus) abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.”  But the verse begins with the words, “He that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we KNOW that he abideth in us…”  Of course, keeping the commandments is a pretty large order.  But here you are this evening.  Isn’t assembling with the saints a part of the will of the Lord?   It is not certainly not everything, but its something.
Leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, there are a few other things we may know with assurance.
There is the knowledge of guaranteed communication with heaven.  I John 5:14 and 15 – “And this is the confidence we have in (the Son of God), that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we KNOW that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we KNOW that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”  We very often do not know what God’s will is, and so we pray sharing with the Lord our hopes and wishes.  That is fine so long as we are willing to sacrifice our desires in order to have the Lord’s will.   We may not know God’s will, but we do know that His will shall be done, and we are assured that whatever it is will be good.  So armed with this knowledge, we are encouraged to pray, to plead, to beseech the omnipotent God to manifest His glory in our tiny lives and world.
And speaking of God’s will, we have Romans 8:28 – “And we KNOW that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  Then related to this we have II Corinthians 5:1 – “We KNOW that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands eternal in the heavens.”  Of course, these things take us back to our salvation in Christ.  We have been saved completely – from stem to stern – from beginning to the unending end.  Philippians 1:6 – “Being CONFIDENT of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  “Being confident” of something is essentially the same as “knowing it to be true.”
I know that I’m not being very thorough tonight, but I’ll conclude now with a couple of questions.
From where does this assured knowledge come?  Does it come from our sanctified meditations on God?  Does it come from our whimsical surmising?  Does it come from human philosophy?  Does it come from our eloquent pastor?  No, none of these.  This kind of knowledge, about these eternal subjects, can come from the only source of sure information –  from the Word of God.  There are a great many things, especially spiritual, which we can only know through the revelation which God has given to us.  We can only know them because the Bible tells us.  “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”  Through those men, “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…”  The inspired Word of God is profitable to us in dispensing certain absolute sureties.
But isn’t it true that millions of homes have Bibles, and yet the residents of those homes have no confidence in anything, and they don’t possess the knowledge these apostles are teaching us?  How is this knowledge and God’s revelation grasped?  How does it become a part of our confidence?  Faith, one of God’s great gifts, is the means by which we know of our salvation.  It is by faith we are sure “and we KNOW that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Let us praise the Lord for His saving grace, and for the gift of His Word.  Then let us praise Him for faith and the assurance He gives us about these things.