The Promise for the Church

You can listen to the podcast for this message here.

Last week we identified some traits that will help us identify who the anti-Christs are. They are in the world today and it is likely you know someone that has this spirit of anti-Christ that John talks about. Any person or group that opposes the facts concerning Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection outlined in the Bible can be classified as anti-Christs. These people deny the Son and therefore deny the Father. Today, we’ll look at some contrasts between the anti-Christs and those people in the church.

Let’s take a look at 1 John 2:24-27.

Look at John’s first contrast. In v. 24 he says, “As for you.” He could have used the word but, but he didn’t. Instead he says, “Let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning.” He reminds them of what he said in the beginning of this letter. 1 John 1:1-3 says, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life – and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us – what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” And then in 1 John 2:7 he says, “Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.” What they heard from the beginning was that Jesus is real. He did come to earth as a man, born of a virgin. He lived a sinless life and was murdered on the cross. He was buried, but three days later, the power of God raised Jesus from the dead. “He presented Himself alive after His suffering by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of 40 days and speaking of the things concerning the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3) These fundamental truths about Jesus Christ are contrary to the teaching of the anti-Christs that denied the incarnation and deity of Jesus.

So John reminds them what they heard from the beginning and then repeats himself with a conditional clause. Anytime Scripture repeats itself, we really need to pay attention to it. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.” Notice the order of the verse. There is the qualifier: “If.” Then there is the condition: “What you heard from the beginning abides in you.” And finally the conclusion: “You also will abide in the Son and the Father.” Notice who is listed first. The Son then the Father. This reinforces John’s teaching that you can’t get to God unless you go through Jesus. Remember Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:6) This abiding is a present tense, continual process.  John 5:38, “You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.” John 15:4, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”This abiding is what we are to do. It takes effort, it takes work, it takes a conscious decision to abide each and every day. You cannot live a life for Christ apart from Him. You need Him, you cannot do it alone. Abiding in Christ is obvious to those around you.

Another result of abiding is found in v. 25. Eternal life is guaranteed to the believer. It is granted by God through the person and work of Christ. This same promise is made at least 8 times by Jesus in John’s Gospel. It’s important to remember this in light of those that are trying to deceive the church. Those that deny Christ. Those that claimed that knowledge through spiritual enlightenment is the key to salvation. How can a promise of eternal life be made? Because we abide in the Son and the Father. “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” (John 14:23) “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 9) This is consistent with John’s theme of authenticity. If you say you’re a Christian, your daily behavior must reflect that. It is not salvation by acting a certain way. We act a certain way because of our salvation. Obedience and faithfulness result from having Jesus and God abide in us because we are abiding in the teachings of Christ. In other words, if you claim to be a Christian, there must be some outward expression of the newness that is in you. If you claim to be a Christian yet there is nothing about you that reflects the transforming power of Christ, guess what? You’re probably not saved. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) John is talking about action.

Another reason for writing is in v. 26, “These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you.” Deception is an important tool in Satan’s toolbox. It is nothing new.  He has been using it since the world began, yet Christians continue to fall prey to it. Remember that Satan is the craftiest of all creatures God created according to Gen. 3:1. Of course John is talking about the Gnostics, but there are numerous applications for us today. John is warning us to pay attention. 1 Pet. 5:8 says, “Be of sober spirit be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Eph. 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” Satan is actively engaged in trying to derail you. Trying to get you to question God’s Word or better yet, disagree with God.

John gives another contrast in v. 27. This can be a very dangerous verse if you don’t understand what John is saying. The anointing that was received from Him – past tense –abides or remains in you. Remember the abiding message John mentioned in v. 24. He’s not saying you don’t need any human instruction. Remember this letter was written to the church to provide instruction and encouragement as well as other reasons. We have the spiritual gift of teacher. We see Paul and Barnabas teaching in Antioch. In fact, we see the apostles teaching throughout the book of Acts. Paul told Timothy to, “Prescribe and teach the hope that is fixed on the living God, the Savior of all men.” (1 Tim. 4:10-11) Paul told Titus to, “Speak the things that are fitting for sound doctrine.” (Tit. 2:1) So John is not saying ignore human instruction.           Remember Christians have the Holy Spirit, the anti-Christs do not. John is saying the Holy Spirit works through the apostles, through Christians, not through false teachers. In Jo. 16:13 Jesus said, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” This guiding to the truth, this idea of the Holy Spirit being our teacher is just one aspect of His incredible ministry. The command to abide occurs six times in the passage we’re looking at today so it must be pretty important. How can we abide? Well, Jesus gives us a pretty exclusive deal. Jo. 14:17 reminds us that, “The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”

Our responsibility as Christians is an active pursuit of Christ. We must remain in Him, in His teachings, in His Word, and with His people. This will help us to not be deceived. Yes the Spirit leads and guides us, but we have a responsibility too. We must be actively engaged in a daily pursuit of Christ.

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