Ways of Knowing
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:16
How do you know what you know?
Let’s talk about this question today. If you like big words for a simple concept I’ve got one for you, epistemology. This is basically the study of not so much what you know, but how you know what you know. Let me give you a quick example. When you turn on the news for the latest update, where do you go for your information? FOX, CNN, PBS, the BBC? Whose voice do you trust?
I have a hard time trusting most of the information that I hear. I tend to think everyone has a political or personal slant and an ulterior motive for presenting the information that they do in the way that they do it. I’ll admit that’s a really cynical attitude to have, but my experience has taught me to be cautious in taking everything that I hear at face value.
I’m not sure who I can trust. Nothing wrong with viewing the news or any information with a critical eye. How do you know that what you hear is true? This is a great question, one that we should always be asking.
At some point, though, you can’t just throw up your hands and say, “I don’t know what to believe; therefore, I won’t believe anything to be true.”
The coronavirus started somewhere, somehow. Something actually happened at a particular time in a particular place. How you, in your mind, put the facts together doesn’t change that. Whatever news outlets and expert opinions youpersonally find most credible, doesn’t change what happened.
Now, let’s talk about how you know what you about Jesus.
This is important. The early church bet the farm on the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Peter, John, and Thomas (eventually) along with about 120 other men and women believed that Jesus had risen from the dead, and they were willing to risk their lives and their livelihoods on that claim. They believed because they had seen. Others believed that their eyewitness accounts were true and they believed.
This is all well and good, and there are a lot of great books that can help you sort through the history and make your own conclusions. If you’re willing to bet the farm on this claim, too, it’s worth a little research, right? Something happened in the tomb. What’s the best explanation for the facts that we have?
But historical investigation is not the only way of knowing. In addition to credible, objective evidence, God gives us experiential evidence.
I believe that I’ve experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life.
I haven’t heard an audible voice. I haven’t had a vision. But I have had particular moments that I can point to on a calendar and say, “I experienced God in my life, right here.”
I can add up a bunch of answered prayers and events that seemed to have God’s fingerprint on them, but the most powerful way I experience the Holy Spirit is through the simple reminder that he gives me in Romans 8:16.
Here’s the claim. The Creator of the Universe loves you so much that he sent Jesus to die for you AND he has given you the Holy Spirit to remind you that you are a child of God. Paul says that you don’t have to be a slave to fear, echoing Jesus’ words to his disciples that he would not leave them as orphans. Why?
Because the Holy Spirit confirms who you are, a child of God.
Here’s how I experience this promise. When I am alone, when I am anxious, when I am afraid, when I am in pain, I simply ask the Holy Spirit to remind me who I am.
We are children of God. If God is for us, then who can be against us?
This is how I know what I know.
How do you really know what you know?
Father, remind me of the truth of who I am, your child.
Read Romans 8, again and again.