(My apologies for the late upload of this blog posting. The passing of Mister Bear derailed so many things for me, including this blog.)
One of my favorite incidents in the record of Jesus’ ministry is his encounter with the man born blind recorded in the ninth chapter of John’s gospel account. There are numerous lessons we can learn from this event (which is why I love it), and I have spoken from this text multiple times. I will do so again, without question.
Toward the end of the chapter, when the healing is complete, Jesus has the following encounter with the Pharisees who involved themselves in the healing event:
Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.
– John 9:39-41, ESV
Don’t read so quickly that you blow right past the condemning element in this exchange. It is not that they see, but that they claim to see that condemns them. Various translations deal with it differently, but they all convey the same message. Some say, “because you claim you see,” while others say, “because you insist that you see.”
This calls to mind the scripture that says, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”1
We need to be exceedingly cautious about insisting we have knowledge and understanding. I have found that I often do not see so clearly as I believe I see. The apostle Paul told the church at Corinth:
If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.
– 1 Corinthians 8:2, ESV
So, this prompts the question, “What can we know?”
And I’m not trying to get all metaphysical here, like whether we can know that I exist or that you exist, or that we’re not all plugged into The Matrix. Staying within the realm of cogent discussion, common sense, what can we really say we know?
Well, let’s go back to our friend and brother in Christ, Paul, and see what he claimed to know.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
– Romans 7:18, ESV
We can say, with confidence, that in and of ourselves, we are quite incapable of being anything but lost and sinful before a holy God. Until we “know” this and come to accept this truth, we will never see our need for the cleansing blood of Jesus.
But if we reach that point, if we start there and we come to a knowledge of the gospel, we do fall on our faces before the Lord and King and attain salvation through his death, burial, and resurrection, there is something new we know.
I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.
– 2 Timothy 1:12b, ESV
A couple of weeks ago I was neck deep in a discussion with another man on Twitter wherein we were debating whether or not one could “know” they had salvation. Paul’s statement above indicates we can, but the deal-sealer comes from 1 John.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.
– 1 John 5:13, ESV
Walking as a disciple of Jesus is a pathway fraught with difficulty, persecution, turmoil. Paul spoke of labors, imprisonments, countless beatings, near death experiences, lashes, rods, stonings, shipwrecks and being adrift at sea, robbers, death threats, toil, hardship, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, exposure.2
From that baseline, it is astonishing but true that the apostle Paul can tell us something else we know.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
– Romans 8:28, ESV
Don’t misread Paul as saying that only good things happen to Christ-followers. No. Not at all. What he is saying is that from everything that does happen to Christ-followers, when we are those who love God and who are called according to his purpose, good will come of every encounter. It may not be pleasant, but good will be worked out of it.
Because we know that God will work all things to our good, we know something else.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
– Philippians 4:11-13, ESV
Whatever life might bring, it could never shake his certainty of the life to come.
Whatever life throws at us, we can be content. “It’s all good,” as many say today. But there is one more piece … one more truth we can know:
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
– 2 Corinthians 5:1, ESV
I’m really not that old, but Alean and I are definitely noting the deterioration of our physical bodies. Age brings with it some rather unpleasant side effects. But we can be content in that circumstance and we can look forward to that heavenly body that falls prey to none of these things.
I hope this has been a fun blog posting for you, and a little more on the light-hearted side. I know some of my posts get pretty heavy, so I wanted to lighten it up a bit this week. Be comforted that there are many things you can know, and that knowing them makes life more enjoyable.
1. 1 Corinthians 8:1
2. 2 Corinthians 11:23-27