Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Am I Believing the Truth About Jesus?

Part 5 of Authentic, a series on 1 John

Text: 1 John 2:18-27

You can listen to this sermon here.

Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son (v. 22). 

The Importance of Correct Belief

In 1 John, the apostle John gives us three tests to help us determine whether or not we are authentic Christians (i.e., someone who has eternal life). The first test is the moral test: “Do I obey God?” The second test is the social test: “Do I love others?” The third test is the doctrinal test: “Do I believe the truth about Jesus?”

Have you tried this spring to rid your lawn of dandelions? My dad is not someone who is willing to accept weeds on his lawn. One spring, he decided to spray his lawn with weed killer. A few days later, he noticed brown spots all over his lawn. He told me about this, and I immediately knew what had happened. What my dad believed was weed killer was actually grass killer.

Having an incorrect belief about a bottle of grass killer was harmful to my dad’s lawn. What about what we believe about Jesus? How important is believing the truth about Jesus? Nothing is more important.

We can’t have eternal life if we don’t believe the truth about Jesus. 

There was a group of people who left John’s church over a disagreement on the doctrine of Christ. John writes that these people “denie[d] that Jesus is the Christ” (v. 22). Since they didn’t believe the truth about Jesus, they were not authentic Christians. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (v. 19).

Their denial of the truth about Jesus meant that they lacked a relationship with God. They “denie[d] the Father and the Son” (v. 22). If you deny (i.e., reject) Jesus, you also deny the Father. “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also” (v. 23). John is repeating what he heard from Jesus: “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him” (John 5:23).

The Authentic Jesus

John calls the people who were denying the truth about Jesus “antichrists” (v. 18; cf. v. 22). The prefix “anti” can mean “against” (e.g., anti-aircraft) or “false.” They were antichrists because they were against Christ and teaching a false Christ.

John also states that the presence of antichrists in the world is a sign that it is “the last hour” (v. 18). How could it be the last hour? History has changed its direction. Since the death and resurrection of Jesus, history is no longer traveling toward the end; it’s traveling along the end. At any moment, Christ could return (cf. 2 Peter 3:3-10).

Until Christ returns, we should expect false teaching about Christ. The false teaching that John confronts in verse 22 might have been a denial of the incarnation (i.e., God becoming flesh)—a denial that “Jesus is the Christ” (cf. 4:2-3; 2 John 1:7). They might have believed that the divine Christ came upon the man Jesus at the time of his baptism and left him before his crucifixion.

What is the truth about Jesus? The following are four essential truths about Jesus: (1) he is God the Son; (2) he is God incarnate; (3) he died for our sins; and (4) he rose from the dead. If we don’t believe these truths, we are believing in “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:4).

Two Cautions

In this passage, we find two cautions concerning false teaching about Jesus.

1. We must not sacrifice the truth about Jesus for the sake of unity. 

Both the truth and unity are vital to the life of a church. But if we don’t agree on the essential truths about Jesus, there isn’t real unity. 

2. We must be very careful when someone tell us something new about Jesus. 

The word “abide” is found several times in verses 24 and 27. John says that two things abide in Christians: “what you heard from the beginning” (i.e., the truth about Jesus) and “the anointing” (i.e., the Holy Spirit). Those who spread false teaching (“who are trying to deceive you,” v. 26) want people to go beyond what we have heard and believed to something new. But we must “abide” (stay, remain) in the truth. To go beyond the truth is to go into error.

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