Summary: Knowing Christ gives us confidence in experiencing God both today and at the 2nd coming.
An Incarnational, Missional People
“Becoming Confident & Hopeful”
A few years ago Billy Graham was honored in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. Billy Graham is in his eighties and suffering from Parkinson’s disease. He agreed to respond briefly at the end of this great tribute from his hometown. His brother-in-law, Leighton Ford, described his response.
Billy Graham stepped to the podium. He briefly related an incident that had happened in the life of Albert Einstein. This great man, chosen by Time magazine as The Man of the 20th Century, was on a train. The conductor came to punch his ticket. The great scientist became quite flustered as he searched his pockets, his briefcase, and even the floor underneath his seat, to try to find the ticket. He couldn’t find it. The conductor responded, ’Dr. Einstein, we all know who you are. I believe you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it. I know who you are.’
The conductor continued up the aisle, only to glance back and see the renowned professor down on his hands and knees, looking under the seat, still fumbling with his pockets, frantically trying to find the ticket. The conductor came back and once again assured Dr. Einstein that he knew who he was, saying, ’Don’t worry, I don’t need to see the ticket.’ To which Einstein responded, ’I, too, know who I am. The problem is, I don’t know where I’m going. I need that ticket to remind me.’
With that, Billy Graham concluded by saying, ’See this suit I’m wearing? It’s a brand new suit. It’s a very good suit. My children and my grandchildren are telling me that I’m not keeping my clothing as up-to-date as I used to. So I went out and bought this suit. I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be alive. And, frankly, this is the suit in which I’m going to be buried. Thank you for honoring me this day. The final word I want to leave with you is this: One of these days I’m going to die. When I do, I want you to know, because of Jesus Christ, I not only know who I am, but I know where I’m going. I hope you do too!’ And he sat down."
(- As told by John A. Huffman, Jr., "God’s Promise for When You Confront Death," February 13, 2000, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach, California.)
Today we’re studying a passage that begins in 1 John 2:28. As we read the text we will see that Billy Graham’s statement can also be true for you. It is possible for you to fully know who you are and where you are going for all eternity.
[read 1 John 2:28-3:3]
This is a letter written by a pastor to people that he loves in his church. Thus John refers to his church as “dear children”. The reason that John is writing is that these dear ones are being confused by some people that used to be in the church but have since left. These departed ones are now declaring some things about the Christian faith that are not true. When you believe or teach things that are not true to the Christian faith that is called heresy. People that speak heresy are called heretics.
One of the claims the heretics were making is that those who were still in the church didn’t really know God and have relationship with God. Therefore John addresses the heresy head on by declaring that his dear ones not only have relationship with God but they do so with confidence and without shame.
Recently a friend gave me a book by Michael Lewis entitled The Blind Side. It is a true story based in Memphis which is my hometown. The central character is a black athlete named Michael Oher (pronounced ’oar’). Oher now plays left tackle for the University of Mississippi and is a pre-season All American and predicted to be a great professional football player.
Michael Oher grew up in the 3rd poorest zip code in America, a ghetto area in Memphis. His father was killed in a crime related situation. His mother was a drug addict and non-factor in his life. Oher basically grew up carrying a garbage bag of his stuff from one friend’s house to another for years. He was parentless and homeless. He was also huge. By the time he was 15 he was 6’5” and weighed 350 pounds.
To make a long story short, Oher was discovered by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, a wealthy white family in Memphis, who took him into their home. He attended the same exclusive private school that the Tuohy’s daughter and son attended.
Oher was a giant of a man but afraid of everything. He never raised his head and looked anyone in the eye. He never answered a question or spoke to anyone. It was as if he tried to live an invisible life so that he wouldn’t be any trouble to anyone and he’d therefore have a place to sleep overnight.