BELIEVE AND LOVE
And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and to love one another as He commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us. We know it by the Spirit He gave us (1 John 3:23-24).
John’s recurring refrain through this letter is “we know”. How different from the religions of the world which can only say at the end, when they have presented all their fanciful theories and ideas, “We don’t know.” How tragic to get to the end of life, to pass on and to discover that they were wrong all the time.
There are so many reasons why those who believe in Jesus can say with confidence, “We know.” I am aware that some accuse us of pride and arrogance, that we have no right to force our beliefs on other people, that we are intolerant and guilty of “hate speech” and many other accusations but why should we not be confident in what we believe when we have concrete evidence of its truth.
Take, for example, the historicity of the person in whom we put our confidence. Did Jesus Christ really live? Was He a historical figure? Some have tried to disprove His existence but, apart from the testimony of the Bible (which is a historical document with more early manuscripts to verify the reliability of its records than any other ancient document in history), there is the evidence of secular documents from that period of history that Jesus actually lived.
Not only was He a historical figure, but He also did what He said He would do. The Jewish Sanhedrin accused Jesus of blasphemy. They found Him guilty and referred Him to Pilate for sentencing. Pilate exonerated Him of treason against Rome but sentenced Him to death by crucifixion as a concession to the Jews. He rose from the dead on the third day and appeared to more than five hundred people at different times.
His disciples were so convinced of His identity as the Son of God and His resurrection from the dead because they saw Him that they went everywhere preaching and passing on the good news of the kingdom of God. They were mercilessly persecuted as blasphemers and enemies of Rome because they refused to bow to Caesar as Lord, but they declined to recant. In spite of the threat to their lives, thousands of Gentiles turned from the idols to believe in Jesus and to worship the true and living God.
Was this whole interlude just a series of events which took place in history? God’s trump card as far as authenticity goes, is prophecy. Hundreds of details about God’s Messiah were written into the text of His holy book centuries before they happened and accurately fulfilled in one person, Jesus Christ. The fulfilment of prophecy is impossible unless God both planned the events and executed them exactly as He had predicted because He knew the whole scope of history before it happened.
What is even more amazing is that He was able to marry His will and human free will in such a way that no one can accuse Him of treating people like puppets. Peter captured this thought accurately on the Day of Pentecost when he said:
This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men put Him to death by nailing Him to a cross (Acts 2: 23).
Peter could also triumphantly declare:
But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him (Acts 2: 24).
Jesus Himself prophesied that He would be arrested and put to death by the Jewish leaders, not because they had power over Him but because He willingly laid down His life for His sheep.
The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord (John 10: 17-18a).
The rabble who came to arrest Him had no power to take Him until He handed Himself over to them (John 18:3-6). He had every opportunity to evade arrest, but He approached them and willingly allowed them to take Him.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost sealed every word Jesus had spoken and every promise He had made. The disciples were transformed in an instant from frightened and cowering men to bold and confident apostles of Jesus, facing the wrath of the Jewish leaders with courage and refusing to back down on their message because they knew it was true.
We also, who believe in Jesus, have every right to say, “We know,” because we share the same Lord, the same message, the same Holy Spirit and the same experience of transformation from selfish rebels to submissive and obedient sons and daughters of the living God as they had.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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