1 John 1-5 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight 1JOH1
The Bible from 30,000 feet, Soaring through the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
Look at you. You're here. You're at church. It's Wednesday night, and we're almost done with the Bible from 30,000 feet. Man, it took a long time to get through it. COVID sort of took a chunk out of it. But we're back, and in a few weeks we'll be done with the book of Revelation.
We'll take the book of Revelation in two separate weeks so we can kind of go a little deeper than just skimming over it like we do all these books. But tonight we are in the book of I John. If you turn in your Bibles to I John, we're going to look at this comparatively short epistle of John, not as short as his next two, but short enough.
And we'll look at it from a 30,000 foot perspective. So we kind of get the thrust and theme, not all the verses. I know this is some of your favorite territory in scripture. So sorry if I don't cover all your favorite verses. But I think that you'll get a handle on why and how, why it was written, how it is laid out, et cetera.
Let's pray together. Father, we look to you to learn, to grow, to grow in grace, as Peter said, and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are reading the words of a man who walked so closely with Jesus while on Earth, and so as your spirit filtered truth through his pen to us, we get a very unique understanding of who Jesus was, what truth is, what is expected of us in a relationship with you, what you do in that relationship with us. And I pray, Father, that we would grow, all of us, every one of us, whether we have just started our relationship with you, or we've been at it for years. Speak to us that you might work through us, in Jesus' name, amen.
I suppose that to have on your resume, I was one of Jesus' closest buddies would be pretty special. John was able to have that on his resume though he didn't have a resume. We know that he was one of Jesus' closest associates.
There was always this not only group of apostles, the 12, but this group of 3, apostles that were in on certain things that Christ did that the others were not in on. And that was Peter, James, and John. And Peter, James, and John were there when Jesus, for instance, healed Jairus' daughter, the ruler of the synagogue in Capernaum. He brought Peter, James, and John in that room, aside from the rest of the crowd, aside from the apostles. And Peter, James, and John were there when Jesus raised her from the dead.
When our Lord left Galilee and went north up to Caesarea Philippi, and he asked, who do men say that I am? Who do you say that I am? He then took Peter, James, and John up onto a high mountain where Jesus was transfigured before them with Moses and Elijah.
They heard things and saw things the others did not. In the Garden of Gethsemane when our Lord went to pray, Peter, James, and John were with him for that most intimate of encounters with the Father. So they were apostles but they were very close.
John had the unique privilege of being at the cross with Jesus, not only at all of those other things, but not even James and Peter were at the cross like John was. At least the scripture doesn't say James was there. It says most of them were hiding. We know Peter ran away. But John was there at the crucifixion when Jesus gave Mary his mother to the charge of this apostle to keep and to care for until her dying day.
We know that John and James his brother were sons of Zebedee. Zebedee had a fishing business. They were blue collar workers like Peter. Though they were sons of Zebedee, Jesus gave them an interesting name, Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder. Not sons of Zebedee, but Jesus sort of in a playful manner but to prove a point, called them Sons of Thunder and that is because probably an incident that takes place in the Gospel of Luke chapter 9.
When Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and the scripture says he has set his face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem. And the people in Samara-- who didn't have friendly relationships with Jerusalemites-- when they saw that Jesus was intent on just going through Samaria, but really have his focal point at Jerusalem, they took umbrage to that. And so because they weren't well received, it was the idea of James and John to nuke the city.
They came to Jesus and said, Lord, would you like us to call fire down from heaven and destroy this city like Elijah did? Now, we don't know that they even had the power to call fire down from heaven, but they were anxious to do it. The fact that they were anxious to do shows me that really was the default personality of James and John. Now, I'm bringing that out because John is called the apostle of love.
That's what he's nicknamed because he writes so much about love in this epistle especially. And so there you have the apostle of love saying, Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven and nuke them, destroy them. It would be so fun to watch them sizzle and burn, ah, the apostle of love.
Now, that was John's default position. This is what John has become. He has walked with the Lord. And by this time he is quite old. It is believed by many scholars that I John is the last book of the New Testament to be written. Chronologically, it is the last in the order of books that John wrote it after Revelation, the Revelation because it deals with eschatological events and time events, its placed at the end and appropriately so.
But it is believed that I John is the oldest, written around 100 AD just after the book of Revelation. When you get to be 100 years of age, your personality is tempered, hopefully. You don't want to be a cantankerous 100-year-old. There's nothing worse. So Boanerges, Mr. Nuk'em has now become the apostle of love. God has tempered him. God has changed him. And he writes this beautiful epistle.
Now John refers to himself, though he is called the apostle of love, he calls himself the apostle that Jesus loved. He refers to himself, I'm the apostle Jesus loved. Now I think people misinterpret that. They think that he is bragging. I'm the guy he really loved. I'm one of the three special guys who got to hang out with him. And those two, Peter and James, well, look at Peter, he failed. But I'm really the one that he loved. Not so.
I think when John said, I'm the apostle that Jesus loved, it was out of sheer gratitude and amazement, like, look, he knows me. He knows I'm the Son of Thunder. But he loves me. And he experienced on a personal level in a way not to diminish but to demure himself, he just said, instead of naming himself, I'm the apostle that Jesus loved. And I loved that about him.
Now, John writes five books in the New Testament-- the Gospel of John, I John, II John, III John, and the book of Revelation, five books. 20% of the New Testament is written by John. The one that wrote most of the New Testament is-- not Paul. If you do a word count, it's Luke. If you tally up the words in Luke and Acts, it's about 27% of the New Testament or 28%. Then Paul weighs in just under Luke. And then John is at about 20% of the New Testament. So it was a trick question. Sorry I kind of did that on purpose.
Now, it begins by saying, "That which was from the beginning which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, our hands have handled concerning the word of life. The life was manifested--" et cetera. It's not a normal introduction. It doesn't even say John wrote it.
The reason we believe John wrote it is twofold. Number one, history, all the old early church fathers, Irenaeus, Eusebius, Tertullian, all give credit to John for writing it. So that tradition goes way back. And second, style, John had a very colloquial easy Greek writing style very similar is this layout and language to the Gospel of John and to II and III John.
In fact, when you or if you ever take New Testament Greek classes, I John will be the book that you first study because it's the easiest Greek to read. And so John writing just in a very simple way writes this book.
Now, I mentioned that he was old probably when he writes. He writes from a very tender point of view, like you would expect a dad, or better yet, a grandpa to speak. He talks about God being the Father. He uses that term 13 times in 1 John alone. God is our Father. He speaks to the church not as the church, not as believers, but as children, or little children he calls them. Two different Greek words, "teknia" and "paidia." which refers to ages of children.
He uses those terms 11 times. And then one of John's favorite words is found in this book, beloved, beloved, or loved ones you might say. He loved to call the church little children or children or just loved ones.
There is a beautiful tradition that says when John got quite old we believe he died and was buried at Ephesus that the apostles around him, or the church leaders in Ephesus around him carried him from church meeting to church meeting, to different congregations. Because he was old, I mean 100 years old, you can't ride a bicycle or run down the street, you have to be carried.
So he was carried. He was feeble. And congregations would swell because the last living apostle John is going to come and speak to our church today. He's our special guest speaker so these places would be packed in anticipation.
And John would be lifted up, face the crowd, and say this, little children, love one another. And that's it. He was done. Not a 30-minute sermon, not a 45-minute sermon, not an hour sermon like that Skip guy. Just one sentence. So you see the older I get, there's hope that I'll get shorter not longer.
John just said, little children, love one another. And on one occasion somebody complained, I think it was one of the other leaders said, how come we cart you around and that's all you say, little children love one another. And John said, if that's all they do, it is enough. That is the Lord's command. And if that only be done, that is enough.
So the apostle of love, little children love one another. So think of it this way. Paul writes to the church, John writes to the family. Speaks to fathers, children, but from God the Father to the children of God.
Now, let me tell you about the outline of this book because it's one of my favorite parts. I have found it impossible to outline. I John defies all normal epistlatory-- if there is a word, I think that is an adjective-- ancient or modern outlining. And I remember reading through I John. And I would read a section. Then I read a little more. And it's like, well, he just said that. And it's like he repeats themes over. And I thought, well, maybe he's just old.
But wait a minute, this is by the Holy Spirit. So this is divine scripture, so why the repetition? And I discovered the answer to it in a little book by Richard Lenski, who by the way is probably the best exegetical New Testament set of commentaries you can buy. If you ever find Lenski in a used bookstore, get him. That's where I bought mine in a used bookstore because I'm a cheapskate and he was like $10 for the whole set.
So the New Testament scholar Richard Lenski says this, "I have never found the like--" of like I John-- "I have never found the like in all of literature. No poetical composition approaches this--" that is, this book-- "in structure. It is constructed according to a different and a higher method."
When you think of I John, think of it as spirals. So John covers a few truths that form basic Christian belief, then he circles back over them again, widens out his swath the second time around, covering the same subjects but from a little bit different angle with a little bit different feeling and adding a few details, then he does it a third time, then he does it a fourth time. There are four spirals or revolutions in this book.
So that is what he does. And it's important because you're going to read things and think, well, he just said that back there. Ah, but he said it differently back there. So he covers the truths, covers them again, covers them again, covers them again. That's how he writes the book.
So you can't think of it in logical left brain one, two, three, four. You have to think of it in terms of a flowing spiral, or revolution. This book is truly revolutionary. We'll get to the book of Revelation. This is the book of revolutions.
And so not only is it a book of revolutionary outlining, it will revolutionize your life. It will revolutionize your relationship with God and with people and with holiness. So he covers all of those themes but in that manner.
Let me tell you, and I know, we haven't even started yet. And believe me, I'm going to cover the whole book tonight. And I'll explain it as we go through. But there is something that is on his mind as he writes tenderly to the family of God.
There is a false doctrine that is starting to grow inside the congregations of 100 AD, and that is called gnosticism-- G-N-O-S-T-I-C-I-S-M, gnosticism. It is essentially the belief that the material world is evil. The spiritual world is good.
It derives its thinking from Plato, platonic thought, a philosophical dualism in which the material world is evil. The spiritual world is good. Everything material is bad. Everything unseen spiritual is good. Therefore it denied in some cases that Jesus had a physical body.
In other cases, it ascribed a physical body, but not the deity of Christ. And I'll explain some of the nuances because it is sort of hard to nail down gnosticism. It had different branches to it. I'll share with you a couple as we go through this letter. John has this in his mind.
They generally denied that Jesus Christ had a body of flesh, was a real person. They had an idea that he was a phantom. One branch of gnosticism said that Jesus appeared to have a body but didn't really have a body. And so when he would walk, he would not leave footprints in the sand, that you could go up to him and sometimes he looked like he was a real person, other times you could like push right through him, all sorts of fanciful ideas.
All of that was gnosticism. And with that came a denial of biblical revelation. So notice how he begins the book. "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hands have handled concerning the Word of Life."
A pause for a moment. To John the apostle, Christianity was not a second hand experience. Christianity was not a class or course in theology. It was to him a first hand experience. He had a personal encounter. He lived for 3 and 1/2 years with Jesus Christ in the flesh. He heard things. He saw things. And he uses that terminology.
All of his senses were employed, touch, sight, sound. So far from Jesus being not real, being a phantom, he was real. We handled him. We heard him. We saw the miracles in which we did. We heard his sermon on the mount and the upper room discourse and the olivet discourse.
And then not only does he say we have heard and seen, but he says we have looked upon. You see that term in verse 1, looked upon, "theaomai" is the Greek word. "Theaomai" is where we get our word theater. It means to gaze intently for a prolonged period, or to study. We studied Jesus. We gazed upon him.
How interesting it would be as one of the apostles listening, watching miracle after miracle, message after message, then suddenly it dawns on you one day, this guy is God. This is God. And what that means, just the understanding of the incarnation, we've handled the Word of Life.
Now interesting, just a quick, quick, quick, quick. If this is the very last biblical book written, it's interesting to compare it with the first biblical book written, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." And this one, "That which was from the beginning," speaking of Jesus. So however old you think the world is, thousands of years, millions of years, billions of years, wherever you put your pole down, your stake down, whether you're a young earth adherent or an old earth adherent, go back trillions of years if you want to, put your peg down, Jesus will walk out of eternity to meet you there. He was from the beginning. And he realizes he was the eternal one, and we saw him, we heard him, we handled him. He is the word of life.
"That life was manifest. And we have seen and bear witness and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us, that which we have seen and heard, we declare to you that you also may have--" notice the word-- "fellowship with us." one of the key themes of this book. "And truly our fellowship is with the father and with his son."
Go down to verse 6, "If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanses us from all sins."
Fellowship is one of the key themes in the New Testament. It means partnership. It means communion or community. We have something in common with God. And we have something in common with other believers. That's why the family theme is so prominent here. God is our Father. And if he is my father, and he's your father, that makes you and I brother and sister. So we should treat each other with that same kind of tenderness and care, "Little children, love one another."
I think one of the weak links in the church is fellowship, true fellowship when it comes to ministering to one another. That's why we place an importance on home groups, breaking up the large family into small units where there can be sharing, receiving, prayer, taking care of needs, physically, et cetera, accountability, that kind of thing that you can't just get by being a part of an audience experience, the body of Christ in fellowship one with another.
Verse 4, notice, and you're going to see this throughout the book, he says, here's why I write this book. And there's five different reasons he writes this book. Here's one of them.
"And these things we write to you--" here it is-- "that your joy may be full." Now, John said that, but you know what? John heard that first from somebody else who said that. He's just repeating what somebody else said he was in the room when it happened. That was Jesus.
At the last supper when he gave that discourse called the upper room discourse, Jesus said these words to them. Now, I'm reading out of John 15 verse 11. John wrote this as well. He was there. He recorded it. Jesus said, "These things I have spoken to you that my joy might remain in you--" listen-- "and that your joy may be full."
The very next chapter, chapter 16 of John verse 23, "In that day you will ask me nothing. Most assuredly I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive that your joy may be full."
So John says, one reason I am writing you this book is I want you to have fullness of joy. The world is searching for joy. What the world is searching for, Jesus promised you have. You can have. The gospel produces joy. Now, a Christian without joy is a little bit of an enigma to me. Oh, we all have bad days. Sometimes we give off the air, the idea, the message that following Jesus is just well, it's a bummer.
Look I'm suffering. I'm a Christian, but life is really hard. And the world is bad. But I'm going to get through it and die and go to heaven after that. Really, that's all you got going. You're just going to grin and bear it and die and go to heaven. That's your only hope.
Billy Sunday used to say, if there is no joy in your life, there's a leak in your Christianity. Is there a leak in your Christianity? John had fullness of joy, and he suffered being exiled to Patmos. He suffered the threat of being boiled in oil. And I believe he had fullness of joy. And he writes that we also might have fullness of joy.
Now, I'm going to take you over to chapter 2. "My little children, these things I write to you--" here's another reason he writes this book-- "these things I write to you that you may not sin. And if anyone's sins--" I'm glad he said this next part-- "if anyone sins--" shoo, yeah, because the first part he wrote, John, sorry too late. I'm writing that you don't sin. OK, now what? So he wrote this part.
"And if anyone sins, we have an advocate--" a lawyer, a defense attorney-- "with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he himself is the propitiation-- the atoning sacrifice for our sins-- "and not for ours only but also for the whole world. By this we know that we know him if we keep His commandments."
And he says, I'm writing that you don't sin. And he'll say this a few times in this epistle. He'll circle back through that spiral outline. It doesn't mean you'll never blow it, you'll never ever fail. It doesn't mean that at all. It means that your lifestyle, your day-to-day practice won't be governed by sin. You won't practice it as a lifestyle. It will diminish as you walk with the Lord.
It was Dwight Lyman Moody, pastor and evangelist from Chicago who said, he pointed to his Bible and said, this book will keep you from sin. But sin will keep you from this book. So get into this book because it is a good deterrent from sin. "These things I write to you that you sin not."
Paul said in Romans chapter 6, "The old man has been crucified with Christ that we might be servants--" or slaves-- "to Christ and not to sin any longer."
Now, go to chapter 3 verse 4. I'm following a thread here. "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness." Now, would you agree that the idea of sin seems a little out of place in this modern day and age in which we live? It certainly is not a popular idea or concept.
If you mention sin in a conversation at lunch or at the office, they'll probably say, what did you say? Could you remove your mask so I can hear? Did you say the word, sin. Because it's such an outdated idea, nobody really believes that it's possible to sin. The general idea for most people is there really is no higher being above us to which we are accountable.
And if there is no higher being, because they say the idea of God is invented by people to deal with their guilt nature and guilt complex and the idea of sin is an unhealthy, unrealistic, antiquated paradigm. And the view today is a mechanistic view. You just live and you breathe and you die, and you make the best of between birth and death.
But there's really no God to which you will be accountable for eternity. So the idea has just sort of been written out of our culture, whether it's the philosophy of Charles Darwin with his evolutionary theory or BF Skinner's behavioral psychology. I read a little article in Psychology Today that called guilt, the idea of guilt a wasted emotion.
You shouldn't feel guilty. Why waste your emotional bank on the feeling of guilt. It's a wasted emotion that tends toward just self-deprecation. Well, let me tell you why people feel guilty. And people do feel guilty. I've been in the ministry long enough, you don't have to go very deep. People feel guilty. People feel guilty because people are guilty.
It's a conscience that God put in them. He put a stamp in them that people know, I need to deal with this idea of falling short. You know, you can try to deny it all you want but all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. There's something that most people know deep inside, even though our culture tries to wash that away.
Now let's keep going here, after verse 4 of chapter 3, verse 5, "And you know that he--" Jesus-- "was manifested to take away our sins. And in him there is no sin. Whoever abides in him does not sin--" does not continue to practice that lifestyle-- "whoever sins--" in a practice or a lifestyle-- "has neither seen him nor known him.
Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous just as he is righteous. He who sins is of the devil. For the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Whoever has been born of God does not sin for his seed remains in him and he cannot sin. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest. Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother."
Now, the Bible not only in 1 John but in other places, makes a distinction between sin singular and sins plural. Sin singular is the root. Sins plural is the fruit of that twisted root. So we have a sin nature. We are sinners by birth, by nature, and by choice. But we make the choice largely because of our nature. David said, I was conceived and born in sin. So the Bible acknowledges that all of us are born into that problem caldron called sin, singular.
And then to prove that, we commit sins. That is the fruit of it. But in Christ, we are given a new nature though that old root is still in the ground, the old sin root. God by his spirit enables us to bear the fruit of the Spirit and not practice those sins, not be controlled by that nature.
Now, it's not easy. There's a battle Galatians tells us. But it is possible. And John says, it's mandatory that as a practice lifestyle sin less and practice righteousness more. That's another theme that he circles back and around through this book.
Now I want to look at another theme, another thread. Go back to chapter 2 verse 18, "Little children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come by which we know it is the last hour." Verse 21, "I have not written to you because you do not know the truth but because you know it and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is--" the Messiah-- "the Christ." He is attacking gnosticism.
"He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the son does not have the Father either. He who acknowledges the son has the Father also." Verse 26, "These things I have written to you concerning those who tried to deceive you.
But the anointing which you have received from him abides in you. And you do not need that anybody teach you. But as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things and is true and is not a lie, and just as it is taught you, you will abide in him."
Now go to chapter 4, it circles back through that idea again. Verse 1, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits, whether they are of God. Because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.
And every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist--" which you have already heard, or "which you have heard was coming and is now already in the world. You are of God little children and have overcome them because he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."
Now John, though tender, though speaking to "paidia" and "teknia," little children and children, speaking of God the Father, this beautiful family tone, at the same time is not only pastoral but polemical. He gets a little bit feisty here. A little bit argumentative. One of the reasons he writes this book is to instruct and to warn believers against this insidious new and growing and very popular from the Greek philosophy way of thinking known as gnosticism.
I mentioned that it had its roots in Plato. You probably know that Plato taught this philosophical dualism, the material world versus the spiritual world. OK, so I'm not going to get too deep in the weeds here because we still have II John, III John and Jude. With Jude especially, it talks a lot about gnosticism.
So let me just tell you a couple little facts, OK? Again, I don't want to get too deep, but I'm going I'm going to give you two divisions of gnosticism. Because anybody who tries to explain or understand even gnosticism is sort of like trying to nail down a flopping fish. It's very difficult. It was a growing belief system that morphed and changed and had peculiarities depending on where you went and what time frame you're dealing with. It really didn't get fully developed until post New Testament era, OK.
But there were two main branches of gnosticism. One is called cerinthian gnosticism. And the other is called docetic gnosticism. I'll explain. Cerinthian gnosticism means it came from a dude by the name of Cerinthus. That's all. That was his name, Cerinthus. He lived in Ephesus when John lived there.
He was the mortal enemy of John the apostle. There's even a story that John was going in Ephesus to the public bathhouse which, by the way, if you go to Ephesus today you can still see. And he was going there to hang out and do the bathing ritual. And he noticed that Cerinthus was inside, so he grabbed the person he was with and said, let us flee from here less the bathhouse fall to the ground because Cerinthus the enemy of truth is within.
So he formed one branch of gnosticism. We call it cerinthian gnosticism. Cerinthus taught that Jesus was the son of Joseph, but not the Son of God. So he denied the deity of Christ. He was just a human. He was not God in human flesh.
Cerinthus taught that the divine Christ's spirit did enter Jesus at his baptism and lasted with him for 3 and 1/2 years. But then just prior to his death on the cross that Christ spirit left, that divine Christ spirit left so that Jesus died as a man. So he wasn't God though he possessed for a time the divine spirit. It's a bunch of mumbo jumbo.
The second branch of gnosticism is called docetic gnosticism. And that is the docetists, the idea there is a Greek word that derives the term docetic which means to appear or seem. So if I were to give it to you in our vernacular, I would say appearism, or seemism.
It is the belief that Jesus was not physical, the opposite of cerinthian gnosticism that Jesus just appeared to be physical. He seemed to have a body. But he really didn't have a body. Why? Because the gnostics thought the material world is evil. And that kind of being would never have a real fleshly body because the material world is evil. So it just appeared that he had a body.
Now, this particular form of gnosticism became really wacky because it had a moral component. And here's the moral component. If only the spirit world is good and the material world is evil, that means my fleshly body is a necessary evil. It traps my spirit within me. The goal in life is to be able to kind of escape this prison that the body has held my spirit in.
So if the material world, including my body is evil, it doesn't matter what I do with my body. As long as my spirit is intact and holy and healthy, good. But I can fornicate with this fleshly body. I can commit crimes with this fleshly body. Because the body doesn't matter. That's the warped thing that happened with gnosticism.
Now, all of these ideas were very attractive to certain people at that time. By the way, it's still attractive to people today. And I'll explain at the very end of this book as we close. But that is what he is writing against, as you can see by this language.
Verse 6, "We are of God. He who knows God, this is chapter 4 verse 6, he who knows God hears us. He who knows not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." So he says, look, test these people.
Don't just take their word. They might sound smart. It might sound really appealing. But check it out, test it out. And I always tell people to do that. I don't care if the guy's wearing a collar, black robe and a white collar and special vestments or he's a preacher on TV, and he's got a Southern accent and a slicked back hairdo. Acts 17:11, the Bereans were more noble than those of Thessalonica in that they received the word of God with all readiness of mind but searched the scriptures daily to see if these things be so.
I love it when people say, hey, I'm looking at the scripture and that's not what I read. Well, good, let's now dialogue about that. You always want to check out the preacher against the Word of God. And don't just believe the preacher or the teacher or the evangelists or the ministry. But test the spirits to see whether they are of God. And he gives those tests.
Now, in verse 11 of chapter 4, actually I'm going to take you back there. I'm going to show you another thread. Go back to chapter 2, remember, we're doing the spiral thing, and I'm just touching on a few of these threads. So chapter 2, verse 3, "Now by this we know that we know him, if we keep His commandments."
Look at verse 5, "But whoever keeps his word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him." Go over to chapter 4 verse 2, "By this you know the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God." Now, verse 11, "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." There's the apostle of love speaking.
"No one has ever seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us. And his love has been perfected in us. By this, we know that we abide in Him and he in us because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as Savior into the world.
Let's follow this language down, go over to chapter 5, verse 13. "These things I have written to you who believe--" he's telling us another reason now why he wrote the book-- "these things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know--" you see the emphasis that I'm giving in all of these readings?
It's know. He's writing so you have assurance so that you understand your security. And I my security. "These things I've written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God."
Now, this is the confidence that we have in him that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of him. Now, I know you don't have access to it right now unless you went on to your smartphone and googled it. But don't do that right now please.
But there is a translation called the Wuest Translation of the New Testament. You have heard me refer to it over the years. It's written by Kenneth Wuest. And what he does is he is a Greek scholar, was a Greek scholar. He takes the language of the New Testament and expands it, so that we can understand it. So the way he translates these verses is, "I'm writing this to you so that you might know with an absolute certainty."
So I want you to have assurance. I want you to be certain that you belong to him, that you are a child of God, that you have salvation. This was revolutionary to me. I never thought it was possible to actually know that you're going to heaven.
Before I share my experience, I found that to be true whenever I share the gospel with a Muslim. Because of their doctrine called abrogation that Allah abrogates truth that is, he says something but might change his mind at a future date and say something different, or amend what he is going to say or just cancel it and say something different, a Muslim never knows where he or she is with Allah. They hope for the best. They hope by their good deeds and in keeping the five pillars of Islam that they'll make it. But they're never sure. But I grew up never being sure.
I remember as a young student in school, and I went to a Catholic school early on, I wondered about heaven. And I was starting to search the things of God. And so I went to a priest because I had all sorts of questions. This sort of led up to my conversion in the early days. But I went to a priest and I said, OK, so am I going to heaven? And he goes, I can't answer if you're going to heaven. I can't tell you that.
I said, well, can I be certain? Is there something I can do to know? How can I know for certain that I'm going to go to heaven. And I'll never forget his answer. He said, you can't know for certain. He says, there is nothing in our teaching that says you can know.
Now, you can hope for the best. And you can do the right things. But the only way you'll know for certain is when you die. And I remember, I mean, I was just a kid. I'm no theologian. But I said something that's quite obvious. I said, isn't that a little too late to find out I was wrong? And he never answered that satisfactorily. But that sort of bothered me a little bit. Because I was hoping. But I never thought you could know.
Then when I did come to Christ at age 18, and I started reading the scripture, imagine my delight when I found this text. You can know for certain. So you might die of COVID 19. I don't know, this thing might come back and kill us all. So. I mean, did you ever think you were going to escape alive out of earth. The last time I checked, every human being who's ever lived dies, right? I'm not trying to make light of it. But I know where I'm going.
OK, and I don't want to take it too much further than that because I understand there are sensitivities and sensibilities that people have. But I'm ready. Now, this Sunday, I'm going to officially be in the high risk group. Bring it on. OK, so running out of time. We're in chapter 5. Without giving them all to you and going back again, John gives you in this book five tests that you can know for certain that when you die you go to heaven. That'll be your homework to chase those down.
Now, let me close with this thought. That sort of covers the book. We covered the main themes of the book without reading all of the verses. Sorry if we missed your favorite verse. But did you know that there is something known today as Christian gnosticism? It's made a resurgence.
And you may not know about it. Some of you may know about it. But there is an idea of Christian gnosticism. What is Christian gnosticism? First of all, it doesn't exist literally. It's impossible to be a Christian and to be a Gnostic. By the way, gnosticism the word gnosis, or gnosis in Greek means knowledge.
They believe the only way you could truly be saved is by getting this special knowledge that only they have and they can give you. And you believe that stuff, but we're the real smart ones. So that that's the idea of gnosticism. But there is this idea, now, you can't be a Christian and a Gnostic because the term Christian and Gnostic are by definition mutually exclusive.
But the thread of this began-- those of you who are psychology majors, you know the name Carl Jung and Jungian psychology. And Carl Jung is sort of the father of Western modern gnosticism. He was a Swiss thinker and a philosopher and psychologist. And he was hoping that eventually the Western world would begin to embrace gnosticism. And so, I'll tell you who this appeals to.
This appeals to people who like to fancy themselves as being highly intellectual. And they want a spiritual experience but outside of the ordinary, because they're just too smart. They're just smarter than everybody else. But they want this spiritual experience. They want to say, I'm not really a Christian, but I'm spiritual.
So threads of this show up in something called theosophy, another one, the teachings of Elizabeth Clare Prophet with the Church Universal and Triumphant, Rosicrucianism, all of that has its stem from Jungian psychology and would be considered kind of a neo-gnosticism. And the reason it got popular again is in 1945-- I think it was 1945. It might be 1845, but I think it's 1945, they found the Nag Hammadi texts.
And that's an archeological dig they found in Egypt in a little town called Nag Hammadi. And so it's called classically the Nag Hammadi texts. Because they found it in that town. It's like if they found it in Rio Rancho, it's the Rio Rancho text.
So they found the Nag Hammadi texts. The Nag Hammadi texts were ancient Gnostic manuscripts that go way back. And so they started uncovering them and translating it. And I get questions about a number of books that come from that. What about this writing and that writing?
And so there are even places where they have meetings. This is pre-COVID when people were meeting more regularly. But they would have meetings and read some of the Nag Hammadi texts, the Gnostic texts to get off into this weird idea.
It's goofy, but it's popular, and it does make its occurrence. And enough said about that. Little children, love one another. I say that as an old man to you now. Little children, love one another.
John closes his book by saying this, I love this last verse. I just don't want to pass it by, "Little children, keep yourselves from Idols." Amen. Father, we thank you for this incredible man named John, a son of Zebedee a Son of Thunder, an apostle of love. The one whom Jesus specially loved. And he felt that love and was amazed by that love.
Also Lord, a fighter, one who grew to be about 100 years of age, who suffered persecution, who suffered threats, who suffered the antagonism of false prophets, who suffered being put on an island in the middle of the Aegean Sea called Patmos, and then coming back to Ephesus and living out his last days.
Thank you, Lord, for his influence. Thank you, Lord, for his tenacity. Father, I pray that we as your children would glorify Jesus, the real Jesus, the Jesus of the New Testament. Glorify you father, we as your children. We live to please you, and we want to deepen our relationship with you. Strengthen us, Lord, strengthen your church in these days, in these last days. Help us to know truth, to love truth, to speak truth and to never leave the truth.
Lord, I thank you also for those who are watching online right now and listening on the radio. Far, far, far, more are tuning in who aren't present here in this building, or even outside our facility. Thank you for that technology and that reach.
I pray, Lord, that you would strengthen their families and their lives. I pray if anybody's watching or anybody's here who hasn't said yes personally to Jesus, would say yes to Jesus tonight, that they wouldn't rely on a secondhand experience. But they would have firsthand personal encounter with the living Christ, the one who is risen from the dead and ever present to help them.
If you have gathered here, or if you're watching by television or internet or listening by radio, you can make a commitment right now. And your life can change, and you can live with an assurance that when you die, you will be directly in His presence. You will go to heaven.
It's one step, all you have to do is turn to him. He's done all the heavy work for you. You don't have to make a pilgrimage. You don't have to say a certain formula of prayers. You can just say yes to the One who did the heavy lifting by dying on a cross. If you're willing to turn from sin and turn to Him, you could do it right now.
I'm going to lead you in a prayer in a moment. But if you with your eyes closed, if you're in this auditorium, and you've never personally said yes to Jesus, or maybe you've walked away from him, and you need to come back to him and you're willing to do so, would you just slip your hand in the air.
Just slip it up and keep it up. God bless you and you. Right in the middle to my left. Anyone else, raise that hand up. To my right, thank you for those hands in the balcony. God bless you.
Father, thank you for these. Strengthen those who here are making that commitment. Those outside perhaps, those who are tuning in by other means. Wherever you are, if you raised your hand here, or you're outside these walls, say this right where you're at. Say, I'm a sinner Lord. I admit it. Forgive me.
I believe in Jesus. I believe he died for me. I believe he died for my sin. I believe he rose from the dead. I believe he's alive right now. I turn from my sin. I turn to Jesus as my Savior. Help me to live for him as my Lord. It's in his name I pray, amen.
Would you stand to your feet please. We're going to sing a song. I'm just so glad you raised your hand. I'm going to ask those of you who raised your hands after the service to come forward. There's a room right over here to my right, to your left. We're going to keep distance and do all the protocols and be safe. But if you prayed that prayer, we want to put something that's disinfected in your hands.
It's been cleansed. But it's the Bible. It's the Word of God. It's some literature that will cleanse the inside of you more than even the outside. But we want you to step through those doors and let us give you that if few raised your hand here.
If you are watching or listening by radio and other device, would you call or would you text. If you have a phone, text 505-509-5433. Text that, text the word saved to that number, 505-509-5433. Text the word saved.
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For more resources, visit calvarymm.church. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from The Bible from 30,000 feet.