By Dr. Donald Whitchard
“If Christianity is just another religious belief, then why have people, rulers, and nations fought against it, outlawed it, killed those who believe its teachings, burned the Scriptures, tortured its leaders, slaughtered them by the thousands in the past few years while the world did nothing, attempted to discredit its authority, and taught people to ignore or hate it?”
If you have not read part one you can find it here: 1 John: Christianity in Black and White
Part two can be found here:
Part three can be found here:
Part four can be found here:
Part five can be found here:
Part six can be found here:
Part seven can be found here:
Part eight can be found here:
Part nine can be found here:
Part ten can be found here:
Part eleven can be found here:
Part twelve can be found here:
“This is He who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood, and it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three which bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on Earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and these three agree as one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater, for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself. He who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life. He who does not have the Son does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the Son of God, that you may know you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”
- 1 John 5:6-13 (NKJV)
Here’s a question for consideration. If Christianity is just another religious belief, then why have people, rulers, and nations fought against it, outlawed it, killed those who believe its teachings, burned the Scriptures, tortured its leaders, slaughtered them by the thousands in the past few years while the world did nothing, attempted to discredit its authority, and taught people to ignore or hate it, especially as we see this occurring more and more in this day and age? Why are lawsuits filed against it? Why are schools banning it? Why are some church leaders ignoring it in favor of psychology, entertainment, self-esteem seminars, and are praising the teachings of people who would have been labeled as heretics just a few years ago? All I can say, after being a follower of Jesus Christ for over forty years is, He must be right and all the other religions are wrong. I don’t see an organized campaign of persecution against Muslims, for example. The hard fact is that Satan doesn’t bother with the religions he established in response and rebellion towards God and His absolute standards of obedience, worship, and devotion He has declared in His Word. Jesus Christ Himself declared that He was the ONLY way to the Father (John 14:6). I find nowhere in Scripture that this declaration had to be declared null and void by either His disciples or the generations that were to come, often at the expense of their lives.
John was dealing with satanic forces disguised as “alternative” forms of Christian belief, and there has not been a time in the history of Christianity that the enemy has not attempted to sell us viewpoints and teachings about the person and work of Jesus Christ that sounded reasonable, yet were in direct opposition to the teachings of the men who had been with the LORD during His ministry on Earth.
The letters of the apostles not only deal with the doctrines of the faith, but also address the problem of false teaching and belief that Jesus Himself said would occur (Matthew 24:4-5; Mark 13:5-6; Luke 21:8) and also be repeated by the Apostle Paul (Acts 20:29-30; Galatians 1:8-9; 2 Timothy 3:1-5), Peter (2 Peter 2:12-17), John (1 John 2:18-23), and the LORD’S half- brother Jude (1:12-19). John was dealing at this time with a group of heretics known as the Gnostics, who taught that while the soul does need to be redeemed, the physical body was to be treated as something evil and abhorrent. They taught that as long as your soul was secured, one could do whatever they wanted to with their body.
This subject has been discussed in previous studies, but bears repeating for the fact that much of gnostic ideology is eerily similar to that of what is referred to today as “New Age” thought. Followers of this movement often present terms as “the Christ spirit” or “the divinity within you” as they present the belief that we can come to understand God in terms of mysticism, meditative practices, spirit-channeling, and becoming one with the avatars, or “Enlightened Ones” or “spirit guides” that include their concept of Jesus as one of these numerous “teachers.” It is a means by which man can become “one with God” on one’s own terms, relying on his self-effort and ignoring his or her sinful behavior that prevents them from coming to God in the first place.
The Gnostics taught that since the body was evil, they emphatically denied that Jesus was God in the flesh. The “Christ spirit” came upon Jesus at His baptism, but left Him when He was put to death on the cross. They taught that Jesus only appeared to be human and therefore did not rise bodily from the dead. As a result, they denied both His divinity and humanity and nullified the message of redemption altogether.
Gnosticism still rears its ugly head, often coming in the form of “direct revelation” from God, a practice that is all too often found in the “Word of Faith” ideology championed by far too many “teachers from God”. Some, in their declarations, have outright denied Jesus’ position as the Son of God, deny His power as God, who teach that God can do nothing without human interaction, and that we can “write our own ticket with God”, according to some in the movement, who get a lot of this “inspiration” from New Age philosophy. This is nothing but pure, vile, demonic blasphemy, and will be addressed on the Day of Judgment, where they will be terrified to hear what the Lord Jesus thinks of them, their teachings, and their “ministries” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Why does stuff like this still find its way into society? The answers are found in the Scriptures that many tend to have a copy of somewhere in their house, collecting dust, but don’t bother to open and read that this overt evil behavior is a stinging indictment against their self-conceived notions that they aren’t so bad and that “all roads lead to God”, content with teachings that make them “feel good” at the expense of their immortal soul (Matthew 5:19; 15:9; 15:14; 23:16; Luke 6:39; 11:52; 17:23; 2 Corinthians 11:4, 13; Galatians 1:9; 5:8; 1 Timothy 1:7; 4:2; 6:3; Revelation 2:2). This problem will only accelerate as the days to the LORD’S return draw near.
Paul wrote of the reality of spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6:10-18, and John affirmed it by standing strong in the face of this devilish proclamation by the Gnostics. He was the last living eyewitness of the work of His Master, the Lord Jesus, and he was not going to let this poison spread without a fight. John was in no way “tolerant” of any belief or teaching that contradicted the message of the Gospel, and he would never associate with anyone who did. There was no concept of “inter-faith dialogue” with the followers of the devil and his false religion. If need be, he would rather die than to allow these perpetrators of deception anywhere near the church. He was not one to compromise or be diplomatic where the souls of men were concerned. It was Jesus or nothing. No grey areas for him.
It is my conviction that our LORD and His true preachers of the Word would not be welcome in most places of worship today because of the bold, unapologetic stand for the authority of the Word and the unbending Sovereignty and Authority of the living God, who will not allow anything to deter or thwart His message or meaning, and who will put all wickedness away at the Last Judgment (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:11-15). The church, as it stands now, has no fear of God (Hebrews 10:31; Matthew 10:28) save for a remnant. I need to let that sink in as much as you do who are reading this, and to take time to ask the LORD to have mercy on us, to repent, to forgive us of our wickedness, and to cleanse us by the sinless blood of Christ Jesus the Lord.
John expects his readers to adhere to the standards set forth by the LORD and to hold fast to the truth. He rebukes the false teachers by presenting the fact of both the LORD’S Divine and human natures. First, in verse 6, he presents the testimony of His humanity through common observations. He speaks of water, symbolizing His baptism at the Jordan by John the Baptist, by His Spirit, representing His divine nature, and through blood, symbolized by His death on the cross. In verses 7 and 8, John goes on to make his case for the divinity of the Lord Jesus by the testimony of God the Father, Who sent Jesus, the Son Himself, who died as a sacrifice for our sins, and the Holy Spirit, who was sent by the Lord Jesus on the Day of Pentecost to encourage and teach the church. John affirms the fact of the Trinitarian nature of God, being one in Three Persons (Matthew 3:16-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; Matthew 28:19; John 14:26; 15:26; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 Peter 1:2).
The Doctrine of the Trinity is a basic teaching of the faith, although it is often a topic that needs to be approached with the fact that there are some concepts of God that we cannot fully understand, but accept in faith, knowing that at the right time in His omnipotence and will, that it and other issues will be made clear to us in eternity (Deuteronomy 29:29; Psalm 25:2; Daniel 12:9). It, and other doctrines, need to be studied and made a part of our walk with the LORD so as to counteract any false or suspicious teachings that will occur in these last days. There is no excuse whatsoever for biblical illiteracy by those who claim to follow the teachings of the LORD (Deuteronomy 6:1-9; Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 4:12).
John concludes his teaching by presenting the testimony of Divine Witness (vv.9-14). He writes that the Scriptures are God’s witness and are greater, even more so, superior to what men may say or think. Nothing has ever come close to the majesty and worth of the Holy Word of God, and to deny or dismiss it only demonstrates its truth and assessment of man’s self-imposed intellectualism (Psalm 2:1-6; 14:1-7; 53:1-6; Romans 1:18-32; 3:10-18; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25). The believer himself is a witness in that he can attest to the fact that the promises made by Jesus to redeem the world of its sin is true and trustworthy. The Scriptures say much about the power of a testimony:
- It relates to personal experience founded on Scripture (Psalm 66:16; 71:15; 119:13, 46)
- It recounts God’s blessings (Isaiah 63:7)
- It bursts forth from an inward fire (Jeremiah 20:9; Daniel 4:2; Jonah 1:9)
- It is an everyday duty of God’s children (Malachi 3:16; Matthew 9:31)
- It is inspired by the Spirit (Acts 2)
- It cannot be repressed (Acts 4:20; 5:32; 26:22)
- It is an outgrowth of faith (2 Corinthians 4:13; 1 Peter 5:12) The Gospels themselves are a direct testimony of the life, ministry, and message of the Lord Jesus Christ, who offers us eternal life (John 3:16).
As John comes to the conclusion of his letter, he presents both comfort and encouragement to his readers, both then and now. We will finish our study of this letter by examining verses 14-21. Afterwards, we will look at John’s second and third letters, and then look at what Jesus’ half-brother Jude had to say about the false teachers of his time. Until then, may the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word bless and encourage you.
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