Our daughter-in-law Julie was teaching her girls–Abby and Erin, twins, they were 8 at the time–about childbirth. Abby did not like what she was hearing.
“I’m not going to have children, Grandpa,” she said. “It hurts too bad.”
I could not argue with that. I’ve been in the hospital numerous times over the years when my wife or my daughter or my two daughters-in-law were in labor. Nothing about it was easy on them or fun for them. They bring us into the world at great personal cost.
I said to Abby, “Yes, it does hurt. But the pain goes away and you’re left with this beautiful child. And you decide that it was worth it.”
This child looked me in the eye and said, “You’re a man. What do you know?”
When I picked myself up off the ground, we had a good laugh over that.
“You’re exactly right,” I told her. “I don’t know a thing about childbirth other than what the women in my life have told me.”
You’re a man. What do you know?
What do you really, really know? What do you know for dead certain? Not, what do you think or believe somewhat. Not, what is your opinion or even your conviction. Not, where is your membership or what is your affiliation.
What do you know?
The Apostle Paul answered that this way. “Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” (II Timothy 1:12)
Paul says, “I know the Lord Jesus Christ. I have total confidence in Him. I am dead sure that I have not believed in vain.”
When the Apostle John wrote about knowing Jesus, he said, “We know that we know him” (I John 2:3).
I know Jesus. And I know that I know Him.
Can you say that?
Where is the evidence that you know Jesus? I want to suggest three evidences or proofs that any of us know the Lord.
Now, if you were raised in a Baptist church, you were probably taught that the correct answer to the question, “Do you know Jesus?” is your testimony. You give the details of the time and place you were saved. I’m going to suggest that that is not enough. There has to be more than that.
I was saved in the summer of 1951 in a revival meeting in a rural Alabama church. I remember it like it was last month. But that was nearly 60 years ago. If I’m counting on my memory of an event when I was a child to take me to heaven, I may be on shaky ground. There has to be something more substantial than that to prove that I know the Lord Jesus Christ.
Suppose you asked me if I know Billy Graham. I could tell you that I have met him on several occasions. I have sat in hospital waiting rooms on more than one occasion with Billy and Ruth Graham while we were waiting on a member of my church and their good friend, Dr. Grady Wilson, to come through surgery. Billy Graham and George Beverly Shea sat in my office for an hour one time. Then, we did the funeral for Dr. Wilson in the church I was pastoring. My part in the service was broadcast world-wide on “The Hour of Decision” radio program.
But in no way can we say that I know Billy Graham. And even less could we say that he knows me.
To meet someone is not to know them. It’s the first step, of course, but thereafter a relationship has to take place and grow.
If you asked how I know Margaret Ann Henderson, I would not answer that I met her sometime in the fall of 1959. That’s correct, of course, but a better answer would be that we have been married for 48 years. It was necessary to meet her before anything else could occur, but if that’s all that happened, in no way could one say we “know” each other.
As well as the Apostle Paul felt he knew the Lord Jesus, he wanted to get to know him better and better. He outlined the process for us when he said, “Whatever was to my profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him….I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings….” (Philippians 3:7-10)
The point is simple: Come to know Jesus Christ at the moment of salvation. Get to know him better every day of your life. You ought to know him better and love him more today than you did last year. And a year from now, far more than you do today.
That said, what are the evidences that you and I know the Lord in the first place? I suggest three.
These are to answer the question: “How do you know that you know Jesus?”
1) You love the Lord’s people.
Jesus told the disciples, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you love one another” (John 13:35)
I told you I was saved in that country church in Alabama the summer of my 11th year. I distinctly remember floating out of church that night–I felt so wonderful–and I recall something else. My heart was bursting for a love for all those people.
That’s one of the prime evidences of the presence of Christ: we love his people.
Now, the other side of that coin is this: when we backslide, we no longer love his people. We become negative and critical and harsh and unloving toward them.
I know that by personal experience. As a pastor in my 30s, I recall a period of several months when I was backslidden. My heart was cold toward the Lord. I became critical of the staff members and harsh and unloving toward the church members.
When I humbled myself and repented, the Lord took me back and cleansed my heart. Thereafter, I loved those people. It was that simple.
I hope you will remember this the next time you hear someone being critical of the preacher and the staff and the rest of the church. When you love the Lord, you will love His people. When you are backslidden, all you can do is criticize them.
2) You adore your family.
Do you know the last prophecy of the Old Testament? It’s not hard to find; it’s the last verse of the Old Testament.
Speaking of the coming of John the Baptist to prepare the hearts of God’s people for the ministry of Jesus, the Prophet Malachi writes, “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Mal. 4:6).
The home is the first place to feel the effects when a person gets right with the Lord. The children will be the first to know when dad gets saved. Likewise, when the children come to know Christ, the home will be the first to feel the effects.
I asked my pastor, Mike Miller, about vacation Bible school recently. “What’s the best thing that happened to you today?” He told of one class where several children prayed to receive Christ. And then he added this.
“There was a little girl in that class who said, ‘I want you to pray for me that I will be kind to my mother. I love my mother and I don’t know why I’m so mean to her. I don’t want to be that way but I do it anyway.”
Mike said, “There is the evidence of the Holy Spirit at work, even in a child.”
That verse in Malachi provided the theme for James Dobson’s ministry of “Focus on the Family” and “Turning your hearts toward home.”
When you come to know the Lord, He will turn your heart toward home.
A man wanted to follow Jesus in his itinerant ministry. But Jesus would not let him. “Go home to your family, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19).
The home knows. It’s always the first to know.
They asked Dwight L. Moody if a certain man were a Christian. He said, “I don’t know. I haven’t talked to his wife.”
3) You become a person of mercy.
God sent a message to Shallum, king of Judah, by the Prophet Jeremiah. This wicked ruler was the son of a righteous father, King Josiah, about whom the Scriptures have much good to say. The Lord reminded Shallum of his righteous heritage.
“Did not your father have food and drink? He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me,? declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 21:15-16).
It’s about showing mercy.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36).
You and I are most like Jesus when we show mercy and compassion to the needy and the undeserving.
During my seminary years I pastored a church not far from New Orleans. One of my members was a hard-hearted fellow named Andy. He was stern to his kids and could be harsh toward the people around him.
Thirty years later, he and his latest wife called on us in Kenner. We were catching each other up on our lives, when he said, “Joe, you’ve got all these homeless on the streets of New Orleans. Don’t you believe they’re just running a scam, that they’re able-bodied and could hold a job if they wanted to?”
Since I knew him and figured I’d not be seeing him again, I decided to go for broke. I said, “Andy, let me say something to you. If you help the homeless people you know to be in genuine need, then I will believe you are sincere in what you have said. But if you are not helping the ones you know to be in need, then I’m going to conclude that your criticism of them is an excuse to get out of helping them.”
He changed the subject.
Jesus was “moved with compassion” for the people around him (Matthew 9:36).
Mercy toward the needy is a Christlike emotion. To get involved in helping the needy and undeserving is a Christlike action.
It’s evidence that we really know the Lord.
Do you really know Jesus?
Harold Bales was a neighboring pastor in one city where I served. The church he pastored had this cavernous old sanctuary that was mostly empty on Sundays. Across the street was a park where the homeless gathered. So Harold encouraged the people of his church to bring them in and feed them breakfast and encourage them to stay for morning worship. That did not go over well with some of his people.
One lady said, “Pastor, why do we have to have these people in our church?”
Harold said, “Because I don’t want to see anyone go to hell.”
She said, “Well, I don’t want them to go to hell either.”
He said, “I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about you.”
The person with no mercy toward the fallen, the needy and poor, and the undeserving probably does not know the Lord Jesus Christ at all.
Mercy is one of the evidences that we know the Lord.
Love for the Lord’s people is another.
Devotion to our home is the third.
Turn your heart toward home. Turn your heart toward the church. Turn your heart toward the needy around you.
It’s a Jesus thing to do.