Summary: Series on 1 John, this sermon demonstrates how John put the burden of discernment on believers; we have a duty to test the prophets.
Are We Listening to True or False Prophets? — 1 John 4:1-6
True and False exams: you can guess your way to an “A” — a 50-50 chance anyway. It’s so much better when you’ve studied, and know the material.
✦ All kinds of people claim to have a “word” from the Lord.
✧ Explanation: John knew that false prophets were on the move in the early church.
✧ Illustration: Antoinette Franks — police officer who murdered a family
✧ Argumentation: There is a grave danger facing gullible believers.
✧ Application: God calls us to diligence in our search for his truth.
✦ The Word judges all other words.
✧ Explanation: John wrote that Jesus was the standard of the truth.
✧ Illustration: The best way to show that a stick is crooked is not to argue about it or to spend time denouncing it, but to lay a straight stick alongside it. —D. L. Moody, cited in Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1,501 Other Stories, 2000, c1998.
✧ Argumentation: A teacher’s claims about Jesus reveal the spirit behind his or her words.
✧ Application: We can know who Jesus is!
✦ We are not alone in the struggle to discern the truth.
✧ Explanation: John assured his readers that they need not be afraid of this struggle.
✧ Illustration: The world had done its best to destroy Jesus — even to the point of killing him. But he rose victorious, and promised to be with his people forever.
✧ Argumentation: The people of God will not face ultimate defeat at the hands of the Enemy.
✧ Application: God’s empowering Spirit is here to guide us in the search for truth.
✦ A prophet’s spirit can be revealed by its appeal.
✧ Explanation: John gave a final contrast between the false and the true prophets on the basis of their appeal.
✧ Argumentation: Words that appeal to the spirit of this world must be rejected as false.
✧ Illustration: When we come to think of it, that is an obvious truth. How can a man whose watchword is competition even begin to understand an ethic whose key-note is service? How can a man whose aim is the exaltation of the self and who holds that the weakest must go to the wall, even begin to understand a teaching whose principle for living is love? How can a man who believes that this is the only world and that, therefore, material things are the only ones which matter, even begin to understand life lived in the light of eternity, where the unseen things are the greatest values? A man can hear only what he has fitted himself to hear and he can utterly unfit himself to hear the Christian message. — William Barclay”
✧ Application: As we listen to God’s Word we can find the truth to guide our lives.