Summary: John gives us 2 proofs so that we can know we are Christians
In or Out?
We’ve been looking at The Apostle John’s first letter to the church, and we’ll continue to look at it throughout the fall.
John is writing to an embattled church. There has been a group in the church who have been teaching that Jesus wasn’t really human because the pure divine spirit could not mix with corrupted flesh or matter. They also taught that there was a secret knowledge of God that they had, and it was through this knowledge that you were saved.
It appears that they had left the fellowship, but their effect has remained – the Christians that are left are bruised and beaten, and they are wondering if they really have got it right.
They might not be that far off from how you might feel on any given day. In the broader church there are people who are questioning the divinity of Jesus, or that he even existed; there are people who question the truth and inspiration of the scripture, and there are people who think we have gotten the faith wrong all along. In the broader community, the church is accused of all sorts of conspiracies, they are many different faiths that seem just as authentic, and people are coming up with their own “build your own” faith all the time.
Living in this context it is pretty easy to start to wonder, “Do I have it right?” Am I even a Christian they way Jesus originally pictured it.
21"Not everyone who says to me, ’Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ’Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ’I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
I used to know a woman in Parkdale who had a lot of self doubt about her faith. She had the gift of tongues, and when she would start to doubt whether or not she was walking with Jesus, she would check y speaking in tongues. She figured that as long as she could speak in tongues, God had not left her. According to Jesus – that wasn’t such a good test – he says that we might do all sorts of miraculous things in his name, but we don’t know him. This is a scary statement! It actually produces some self doubt in me. Might I be one of those who says to Jesus, “Lord, Lord, didn’t I run your church for 40 years?”
It brings us to the question: “How can I be sure that I have the true faith? How can I be sure that I really am a Christian?”
The good news is that John is writing to us, not to put more doubt or condemnation in our minds and hearts, but he is writing to encourage his church, and us that, “yes we do have the truth, yes you do know God, yes you do know Jesus.”
He begins his book by reminding us that he was more that an eye-witness of Jesus – he was his disciple and his good friend: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the word of life.”