Can We Be Sure?
Is it possible to really be certain about anything these days? Science reports, news sources, public leaders and historical records are openly challenged at every turn. Christian leaders who historically were charged with reminding people about some certainties are routinely mocked by the larger culture and regularly labeled as untrustworthy false teachers by fellow Christians. Even long standing certainties like gender identification are now apparently in flux leaving us in a place where we can no longer even be sure if someone is male or female. In this unparalleled time of uncertainty, skepticism and questioning, certainty about anything has clearly fallen to an all time low.
Not that long ago people would routinely ask one another, “are you sure?” We all knew what was meant by the question. Are you accurate, certain and clear? Consider these examples. Are you sure you put the luggage in the trunk? Are you sure about your research? Are you sure that you told your spouse to pick up the children after school? The question, “are you sure” was a simple and easy way to seek clarity and certainty about the accuracy of anything. However, it is a question that seems to be disappearing from our daily life, because we now wonder if anyone can be really sure about anything, anymore.
This is especially true for followers of Christ.
Can we be sure that we are attending a church that that really teaches the truth? Can we be sure that we are really following Christ? Can we be sure that we are really saved? Can we be sure about what the Bible really says about human sexuality, creation, gender or finances? These are great questions and social media abounds with perspectives, frustrations and outright attacks on anyone who offers a perspective that differs from the current cultural norm. Who is right? How do we know? Can we be sure?
Part of the answer we seek is to recognize that we are not the first generation to ask such questions. In fact back in the first century the apostle John wrote a short letter to the Christians of his day who were wrestling with some of the same questions. How could they be sure that what they heard about Jesus was true? How could they be sure that their teachers were teaching the right things? How could they be sure about their own walk of faith? John’s answers to their questions are still very helpful in 2017. He emphasized that there were indeed somethings that we could be sure of. In fact he even offered a couple of simple “tests” or checkpoints as a way to be sure.
That’s why we are going to spend some time in this letter. In a time of great confusion and uncertainty we will return to the certainty of the Bible and recognize afresh that we can indeed be sure about some things. Many current questions will obviously remain uncertain for us because this letter simply doesn’t address them, but prayerfully some fundamental things about our faith will get clearer. It is my prayer that we will be able to answer the question, can we be sure about Jesus and our faith with a simple yes, we are sure.
Here is how we will work our way through the letter and the certainty that we will seek each week:
- Are we sure? 1 John 1: 1-4
- Can we be sure about our relationship with Jesus? 1 John 1: 5-10
- Can we be sure that we are following him? 1 John 2: 1-11
- Can we be sure that we will overcome our temptations? 1 John 2: 12-17
- Can we be sure about our teachers? 1 John 2: 18-27
- Can we be sure that we are on the right path? 1 John 2: 28-3:10
- Can we be sure that he lives in us? 1 John 3: 11-24
- Can we be sure about those who influence us? 1 John 4: 1-12
- Can we be sure that love really matters? 1 John 4: 13-21
Can we be sure that our faith is important? 1 John 5: 1-12
- Can we really be sure? 1 John 5: 13-21
You are invited into a journey toward some greater certainty. Are you willing to join the journey?