The Way of Perseverance

It is interesting to note that John begins and ends this epistle discussing sin, its place in us, and how we escape it.  John begins saying when we see our brother in sin, we should pray for him.  This is life giving, for God has said he will give him life, but through one praying for that brother.  He then goes on to explain how we keep from falling away: we don’t remain in sin because we are born of him; and this motivates us to not walk in sin.  Finally, everything John has spoken of is possible because Christ was incarnated for us, to show us the Father, and make of covenantal heirs of the with himself.   (more…)

Walking in Eternal Life

I John 5:11-15

When does eternal life begin? 

  • The traditional answer is that it begins (more…)

Three Witnesses of Christ

I John 5:6-10

How do you know that you are in Christ?  As John wrote to these believers, they had been tested by false teachers and were confused as to what it means to be a Christian. 

  • God has provided three witnesses on our behalf, all of which are visible. 
  • The Christian life is not lived between our ears.  It is lived (more…)

A Life of Sacrifice

Much thanks to Peter Leithart for his insight in regards to Cain (in his book, Behind the Veil).

I John 3:11-18

In this section, John is describing two attributes of the sons of God.  One that we looked at last week is walking in righteousness.  Today we look at the second mark of the sons of God, sacrifice of love for one another.

What is sacrifice?  It is giving up something for something or someone else.

  • There are sacrifices made all the time.
  • Ever since the fall when God slew an animal to cover Adam and Eve, humans are surrounded by sacrifice.
  • A sacrifice is designed to atone, or pacify someone.
  • Each day we sacrifice, either on behalf of ourselves or on behalf of someone else.
  • Each day we either live like Christ or like Cain.  And the way we live demonstrates whose child we are.

The church was being persecuted, mostly by the Jews.  The true sons of God were being (more…)

Beware of Antichrist

What do Benito Mussolini, Ronald Regan, Pope John Paul, Henry Kissinger, and Sadaam Hussein all have in common?  They have all been called the antichrist.  Who is this figure who is only mentioned in I John (and not Revelation)?  Before we answer that question, it is important to remember what the apostle has already said in this letter.

  • Jesus Christ is the gospel made flesh.  All the promises of God were fulfilled in Him.  So just as Jesus was God’s word made flesh, these Christians were to enflesh or live out the words of God. 
  • He just warned them to beware the enticements of the world (the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life).  The believer is at war with the world and its lusts.  That doesn’t mean that we will be victorious in every battle; rather it means that we never don’t stop our fight.  We are either on the side of the world and its way of life, or of Christ, who is THE way of life.  In verse 17 John contrasted two things: worldly desires which are passing away and the one who does the will of God, who will abide forever.  Now he warns them of another deception: the antichrist.  
  • First I need to explain something.  This will not make sense if whenever you hear the word “antichrist” you picture a mysterious person who rules the world.  Why do we have that image?  Because we combine this word with the “beast” in the book of Revelation (where the term antichrist is never mentioned).  I say this because Christians have made a pastime out of figuring out who “the antichrist” and we’ve neglected John’s warning to the church to beware the antichrist.

The time of antichrist—v. 18

  • John says it is the last time, or last hour.  That means something was about to happen. 
  • Why does he say it was the last hour?  Because antichrists had come.  Hold on!  That means they were already here.  The antichrist was not someone who would come in the year 2010; there were many of them already.
  • Jesus said  false christs (a subset of antichrist) would come within one generation of His death and resurrection (Mark 13:6, 21-22, 30).
  • Does that mean there aren’t any antichrist’s here today?  No, as we will see later.  But I want us to understand that John is writing this church to encourage them to be strong against a heresy taking place in their day and time.
  • The threat was real, just as it is today.

The belief of antichrist—v. 22-23

  • Antichrist denies that Jesus is the Christ.  The term “Christ” isn’t Jesus’ last name.  It is a title.
  • The term Christ means “anointed one or Messiah.”  This is the one promised of God, who would be “anointed” to fulfill all the prophesies of the Old Testament.  He would be the promised King of Israel who would sit on David’s throne.
  • Those who were antichrist deny that Jesus is the promised savior.
  • Some didn’t like that way He did things.  Jesus was too…different.  He didn’t follow anyone’s preset image of what the Messiah would be, except God the Father’s.  He came to save sinners and destroy the works of the devil, and Paul says that He accomplished those things and now reigns as King. 
  • These antichrists didn’t want that.  They either wanted a savior who would fit their mold and He didn’t.  So they denied Him. 
  • Some set themselves up as the savior, like Jesus predicted they would.  But they only said what every man and woman who comes into the world thinks, “I can save myself.”  You see, there are only two sides in this battle: Christ or antichrist.  You can either confess Christ or remain with antichrist.  There is no in between.
  • To deny the Son is to deny the Father.  For those who say, “I love God but don’t believe in Jesus,” John says they are liars.  To say Jesus was a good man, a great man, and kind man, or a leader without calling Him who He claimed to be is what I John 4:3 calls the Spirit of antichrist.
  • It is impossible for one to love God without loving His Son—John 10:7,9.  Jesus claimed to Christ.  If you enter in by Him (the door) you will be saved.  Unless you go through the door, you will not be saved.

The traits of antichrists—v. 19

  • They are divisive.  John says they went out from us (referring to the other apostles, I John 1:1-3).  We know there was a scattering in the church at Jerusalem because of persecution (Acts 8). 
  • These went out but didn’t remain in fellowship with the apostles.  But in addition, they didn’t remain in the faith.  They reverted back to their old ways.  That is the way of sinners.  It is possible for a sinner to join a church outwardly but they will not remain.
  • This is what is meant by perseverance of the saints.  They continue in faith towards God.  Not that they don’t ever sin because all Christians will commit sins.  But John has already said (1:9) that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive our sins.
  • John’s point in verse 19 is that these false teachers proved that they were never believers by the fact that they divided from the truth.
  • Two points about these antichrists: they were divisive and they were not faithful.  That’s how I can say we still deal with antichrist today.

The opposition to antichrist—v. 20-21, 24-25

  • What is our role in this?  The same one assigned by John to the believers at that time. 
  • Hold to the truth that Jesus is the Christ – v. 24
    • Unlike the false teachers, John reminds the congregation that they know the truth.  The false teachers claimed to have knowledge, but it was not of the true God.
    • When you are tempted by those lusts mentioned in verses 15-17, or when you fall, don’t look to yourself to fix it.  Look to Christ in faith, for only He can save you.
    • Many times we are tempted to trust in ourselves, but that is a loosing proposition.  He must be our only hope.  We rest in His grace alone.
    • Our hope isn’t based in our system of belief, or in belonging to the right family.  The only hope is Christ Jesus and what He has done.  
    • The true believer will continue in that teaching, not only in words but actions (v. 24b).  The false teachers didn’t have righteous lives.  They said they were in the light but walked in darkness. 

Remember their anointing – v. 20, 27

  • They (the antichrists) are contrasted with the anointing Christ gives to His body (v. 20). 
  • What is it that keeps us from falling away?  It’s certainly not our own strength but the Holy Spirit, the anointing John speaks of.  The different is that we have an unction (anointing, the Holy Spirit) from the Holy One (Jesus).  In other words, we are different because we’ve been anointed with the Sprit by Jesus Christ. 
  • This is what keeps the body of Christ together.  Those who have the anointing will remain together because of who applies it (Christ) and what the anointing is (the Holy Spirit).
  • Because they have the Holy Spirit they know the truth of God.  It is only because of the Spirit that we know the truth.
  • In verse 27 John again explains the outworking of the Holy Spirit in them.  This verse is not saying people don’t need teachers, because if that were true, John is opposing himself, saying, “you don’t need me.” 
  • No, Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide us in all truth ( John 16:13).  We should be submissive in learning, but remember that it is the Spirit of God that leads us.  Any truth we know is from God, whether we heard it from another person or discovered it ourselves.
  • We are called to evaluate what we hear through the grid of God’s word (I John 4:1).
  • There are still seducers today, men who oppose the Lordship of Christ.  We oppose them by holding to the faith delivered once for all to the saints, and we do that through the Holy Spirit. 

How to not love the world

I John 2:15-17 

Last week we established that we must engage our enemy from the position of a forgiven, as victorious, and as one who has given up everything for the knowledge of God.  That is the territory from which we should fight, but now we come to one of our enemies—the world.  It would be really easy to turn this into a legalistic diatribe.  But it’s a lot more complicated than that. (more…)

How must we engage the world – I John 2:12-14

The entire letter centers around living incarnationally, or showing what the gospel looks like when it is lived out.  The first section of the letter explains the difference between those who live what they profess and those who only profess. 

  • False teachers were saying the way you live doesn’t matter, as long as you have inward knowledge of God.  He has just spoken of the difference between walking in the light (by obeying God’s commands and love one another) and walking in darkness (disobeying God’s law and not loving the brethren). 
  • John is about to explain how to wage war with the prevailing philosophies of the time, but first he gives the perspective from which all believers must wage war.  

After speaking of walking in the light, John takes an apparent detour to speak to three groups of people: children, young men, and fathers.  What can we observe from this?     (more…)

Walking in God’s Light

I John 2:7-11

If you had to summarize the Christian’s responsibility toward one another, what would you say?  It would probably be simple—love one another.  This passage starts out with discussion of the commandment. 

The commandment – love one another as Christ has loved us.

  • What is the new commandment that is also an old commandment?  To love (more…)

Displaying the knowledge of God

Displaying the Knowledge of God – I John 2:3-6

John is writing to a church that had heard false teaching.  These teachers said the knowledge of God is spiritual, that is to say, it can only be found within.  They taught there was no objective standard of the knowledge of God.  Only you can know in yourself.  But this theology had consequences: they were living sinful lives because all that mattered was the spiritual, not the physical.  He takes aim at this false teaching by reinforcing the objective standard of knowledge. 

V. 3 – John says that we “know” that we know him. 

  • He is using the language of the false teachers against them.  They said they knew God because (more…)

How is Jesus the Savior of the world?

How does Jesus Save the world? – I John 2:1-2 

John is continuing to combat Gnostics in his letter to the church.  Here he speaks of one of his purposes for writing—that they not commit sin.  He just referred to those who say they don’t commit sin, but in addition they should not walk in it either.  That is to say, they should walk apart from sin because they have been purchased from its power and possession.  And when they do sin, they (and we) have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.  John then says that he is the propitiation for our sin.  What does this mean?  It means the atoning sacrifice.  He atoned for our sin.  But He not only atoned for our sin, but for the sin of the world.  Let us break this down.  First of all, what is a propitiation?  Next, what does it mean He died for the sins of the world?  Finally, we will consider scriptural objections to that doctrine.

Christ is our propitiation—v. 2a (more…)