Philosophical types revel in “not knowing.” They like to challenge and undermine the faith of believers, asserting that we cannot really know anything. It is a sort of insanity, really. Can you imagine going through life confident only of the belief that nobody can truly know anything? Yet, that is where a great many stand, including some who would profess to be Christians. They say, “Objective truth is unknowable,” “God is unknowable,” and only fools and simpletons say otherwise.
Poor John. He missed that memo. It was not because he lived in the time before philosophy was born. He wrote that masterful, Divinely-inspired first epistle bearing his name at the front end of a movement that would come to be known as “gnosticism.” While gnostics would consider themselves an elite spiritual force who alone had special knowledge, they and their predecessors to whom John writes enjoyed trying to knock the mental legs from beneath those who were trying to hold onto assurance. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
How could John say things like, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (2:3). “…We know that we are in Him” (2:5). “…You know that He is righteous” (2:29). “…You know that He was manifested to take away our sins” (3:5). “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us” (3:16). “We know that we are of the truth” (3:19, a particularly galling statement to some). “By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (4:6). “You may know that you have eternal life” (5:13). About 20 more times in this short letter, John asserts something that we know or that can be known. Maddeningly simple, but stubbornly confident! Why would John try to move away from the esoteric and enigmatic? Why would he boost his readers’ confidence in what they could and should know?
Try living life without that assurance. Many do. Not coincidentally, many are unequivocally miserable!