Presentation on theme: "A Study in 1 John 4:1-7 Wednesday, 13 July 2011. Test the Spirits: Do They Originate with God? We continue our study in 1 John which primarily teaches."— Presentation transcript:
Test the Spirits: Do They Originate with God? We continue our study in 1 John which primarily teaches disciples how to live, individually and collectively, in the “beloved community” which the “Church” personifies. The author, the Apostle John, “the Beloved Disciple” who also wrote the Gospel of John as well as the other two epistles and the book of Revelation, instructs believers on the practicality of living in fellowship with God through a relationship with Jesus Christ (the Logos and the Life) within a community of fellow believers.
Test the Spirits: Do They Originate with God? In this week’s passage, we explore the necessity of “testing the spirits” to ascertain whether they come from God. John cautions the young disciples of the beloved community against uncritically believing anyone and everyone who professes to speak in the name of Jesus Christ. Rather, believers have an obligation to evaluate “Christian” teaching to determine whether it glorifies Jesus Christ and coheres with His teachings.
Test the Spirits: Do They Originate with God? John hastens to remind the beloved communities that allusions to the Holy Spirit do not suffice to justify any strange or questionable teachings. In the gospel, the apostle declares the Holy Spirit leads and guides toward the Truth and reminds disciples of Jesus’ teachings. He uses this brief passage in his first epistle to reiterate the inherent clash which exists between Christian principles and worldly concepts of love, truth, justice and wealth.
Test the Spirits: Do They Originate with God? John reminds his fellow disciples that their identity and in turn allegiance emerges from Almighty God who adopts them into His family. Progressing in this relationship encourages and empowers disciples to discern the difference between truth and falsehood.
Test the Spirits: Do They Originate with God? John opens this significant fourth chapter with a sober warning to his fellow believers. Addressing them as “Dear friends,” the apostle substantially cautions the beloved community against unconditional acceptance of any doctrines declaring “Christian” teachings. In contrast, he recommends they test the spirits (interesting use of word instead of teachings, ideas or propositions) to determine whether they originate from Almighty God. What are the means of testing the “spirits” to ascertain whether they come from God?
Test the Spirits: Do They Originate with God? Let’s consider God’s character, the Person of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, reason, the daily and practical impact upon people’s lives, and any eternal ramifications. Allude to Wesleyan quadrilateral of scripture, reason, tradition and experience. Allude to Calvin’s TULIP. Allude to historical methodology of REPS. What are the practical results of our beliefs about God? How do those beliefs influence our behavior? How do those beliefs determine our use of resources and power and the way we structure human relationships?
Test the Spirits: Do They Originate with God? In light of the extreme divergence of teachings on “Christian” television and radio, how do we understand John’s admonition as twenty-first century disciples? Returning to his use of the word, “spirits” instead of teachings or ideas, allude to the effects of teachings and myths to determine distribution of economic resources, use of political power, societal composition and geographical allocation. Refer to redlining, gerrymandering, predatory lending, and gentrification.
Test the Spirits: Do They Originate with God? Allude to 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. We take every thought captive to the cause of Christ. John completes the first verse of the fourth chapter by referring to the many false prophets who have gone into the world. In the second verse, John details methods for assessing the Spirit of God. Acknowledging unconditionally that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is the primary step.
Test the Spirits: Do They Originate with God? Combating the Docetic heresy, John emphasizes the foundational and traditional doctrine of Christ’s paradoxical and mysterious Incarnation which precedes His crucifixion, resurrection and glorification as Lord. The New Testament writers share John’s teaching and perspective: Luke 1:1- 4, Luke 2:8-20, Acts 10:34-43, 1 Corinthians 15, Colossians 1:15-20, and 1 Peter 1:3-9.
Test the Spirits: Do They Originate with God? On the contrary, any spirit failing to recognize the Incarnation of Christ is not of God. More significantly, it is a spirit of the antichrist of which disciples had already been forewarned. In fact, John contends spirits diminishing the validity of Christ’s example and teaching pervade the world. Arguably, every feature article, print and otherwise, relating to the life of a religious leader contains venom of cynicism about the legitimacy of his principles because of his imperfections.
Test the Spirits: Do They Originate with God? In the fourth verse, John reminds his fellow believers of their inheritance as children of God who accordingly overcome the trials and tests faith in the world. He reassures them with this memorable proclamation. “Greater is He that is within you than he that is in the world.” The indwelling spirit of Christ equips disciples to conquer any challenges.
Test the Spirits: Do They Originate with God? In the next verse, John proffers that false teachers actually come from the world. They forward the world’s point of view instead of the teachings of Christ. Not surprisingly, the world listens to them as they turn a deaf ear and blind mind to the words of Jesus Christ.
Test the Spirits: Do They Originate with God? Possibly, the most dangerous teachers are the ones who mix the teachings of our Lord and worldly concepts. Genuine disciples listen to the Lord and His teachings. By listening to the Word of God, we determine the difference between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.