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January 16, 2010
The Book of Knowledge
Not that it is very noticeable,but I have always been a big fan of learning. Growing up, there was one book, or set of books, that always was of great fascination to me. It was a worn and well-used set of books that were much older than I — they had been printed in the early twentieth century! My volumes are from 1910-1919, I think. I was fortunate enough to have inherited these twenty-one (twenty plus an index) volumes as a youngster and still have them today. They contain lessons in literature, language, culture, history, science, agriculture, and my all-time favorite, “Things to Make and Do.” This set received the name in 1910 of, aptly enough, “The Book of Knowledge.”
In some senses, the idea of “knowledge” is a relative thing. Looking back into “The Book of Knowledge,” it is amazing not only for what is in it, but for what is not. It knows nothing of twentieth century literature. It knows nothing of the US Presidents from Teddy Roosevelt until the present time. It makes no mention of the World Wars or of flights into space. It becomes obvious that “The Book of Knowledge” does not contain all knowledge of literature, history, culture, or anything else. There is, however, a book that contains knowledge that is much more precious than even knowledge of literature, culture, or history.
The Spirit, for our benefit, has seen to it that we have in Scripture a writing — a letter or “book” — called First John. One of the central themes of First John is that of “knowing.” Knowing, coming to knowledge, is our recognition, our perception based upon facts. More than 30 times John references the things we can or should know. The writing of John is truly a “Book of Knowledge.”
We are told about “knowing” God. We can “know” that we “know” Him (1John 2:3,4). This is of major importance since upon the Lord’s return He will deal retribution to those that do not know God (2Thessalonians 1:8). There is a way to determine if we really “know” Him and John tells us — keep His commandments: “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” It is possible to claim to “know” Him and yet deny him by our works (Titus 1:16). It is also possible to “know” Him and then later forget him (Romans 1:21).
We are also told that we can “know” that we are in God (1John 2:5,6). These, who keep his word, love Him, and follow Him, are in Him: “but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. 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.” Keeping His word — this is how the love of God is brought to completeness — and we can “know” it.
We are then told about “knowing” all needed things — i.e., all that is necessary to know regarding spiritual things (1John 2:20,21). Peter also gives this message: “seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2Peter 1:3). This is “the truth” John speaks of in 1John 2:21. Remember what John records for us in his gospel — the words of Jesus: “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31,32).
John continues in telling about “knowing” the righteousness of God: “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him” (1John 2:29). The value of this is that if we can know Him, then we know that those who are righteous are those who are born of Him. The emphasis is again placed upon the necessity of obeying Him.
Then we are told about “knowing” what we will be like: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1John 3:2‑3). But who will these be? They are the ones mentioned in 1John 2:3-4 who keep His words.
Later in chapter three, we are told about “knowing” why Christ came: “You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin” (1John 3:5). Unless we know the purpose for Jesus’ coming, how can we know about a new life free from our sins? You see, John now tells us about “knowing” of a new life: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death” (1John 3:14). Now we see “love” is a condition along with obedience.
We are then told about “knowing” that we are of the truth: “We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him” (1John 3:19). But how do we know this? He tells us how in the preceding statement: “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1John 3:18). Notice how John has tied together all the things he has mentioned — love, obedience, and truth — these are facts. Remember what “knowing” is — it is our recognition, our perception based upon facts.
We are then told about “knowing” that God hears and answers prayer: “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him” (1John 5:14,15). This confidence goes right along with “knowing” that we have eternal life: “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” (1John 5:13).
We are also told “knowing” God demands godly living. “We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1John 5:18,19). We “know” from previous passages of this book that John is not saying we “cannot” sin, but is pointing out how different we look than those who are of the world.
Finally, we are told about “knowing” Jesus had come and knowledge had been imparted. “And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1John 5:20)
This is only a partial list of things which we know from this “Book of Knowledge,” but it is enough to make us want to investigate it. Are you a product of “knowing” the right things? (John 8:32)
— S. Scott Richardson Sr.