Summary: 7th in First John Series
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES?
INTRO: John teaches us in these verses that we can either ground ourselves in the truth or suffer the consequences. It is important for us to understand the days we live in.
ILLUS: I heard about an old farmer that had a grandfather clock that went haywire and chimed fourteen times one midnight. He jumped up and said, “Wake up, Nellie, it’s later than it’s ever been before.” I want to tell you folks, it’s later than it’s ever been before. I believe that we are living in the last times of the last time.
This passage of Scripture deals in particular with those who profess the Christian faith and then abandon the church (v. 19). Every church anywhere that I know anything about has an inactive roll. There are three characteristics in these verses which help us recognize those who go away and really don’t belong to the Lord.
I. THEY DENY THE CHRIST.
Christianity is not merely a set of doctrines, it is a relationship with a person. If you do away with Jesus Christ, you’ve done away with Christianity. Notice what he says in v. 18 “...and you have heard that Antichrist shall come.”
Probably you could understand that a little better if you put a capital “A” at the beginning of the word “Antichrist” He is talking about a personality. We know the Bible predicts there will come, at the end of the age, a personality known as the Antichrist. The word anti means instead of and opposed to. Antichrist...instead of Christ, a counterfeit Christ. John continues by saying that even now there are many Antichrists, plural. Keep your place right there and flip over to 2 John 7.
It was already happening in the days of John. It has continued down to this very time. That’s why in every age sincere Christian believers have looked at personalities in history and have mistakenly identified them as THE Antichrist; because they take on the characteristics of the Antichrist, and they oppose Jesus Christ. Go back to 1 John 4:1. Now look at v. 3.
That spirit of Antichrist, is that atmosphere that opposes Jesus Christ. And, of course, we are experiencing that today.
II. DESERT THE CHURCH (v. 19).
This desertion is at least three-fold in its nature.
1. Physical Desertion — People who at one time were physically present in the church but have now deserted the church and have gone their own way. Some people come in and set the world on fire for Jesus for six months then you never see them again. John said they went out from us because they were not of us. One of the tragedies of the Christian faith today is that everywhere there are people with their names on a church roll and yet they haven’t darkened the doors of their church in years. Can you imagine what would happen next Sunday morning if everybody came whose name was on the roll?
Well, what about those people? Some of those people we call backsliders have never been born again.
2. Moral Desertion — They will morally depart from the faith also. Doing anything and everything that the lost world does (See 2 Corinthians 5:17). Those who depart always take the stand on the opposite side of the church. When a moral issue comes up in a community, if those who name the name of Christ and belong to churches would take the right stand, that would be the end of the matter right there.
The sad thing is, there are people who profess to be saved members of churches that if the church stands for purity, they stand for impurity. If the church is on the side of righteousness, they’re on the side of unrighteousness. They depart from us, they were not really of us.
3. Intellectual Desertion — We call it apostasy. That is a person who departs from the faith, a person who deserts the doctrines of the Christian faith.
ILLUS: In our Southern Baptist Convention we pass resolutions every year. A resolution is a position statement, on certain moral and ethical issues that arise. One of the things that the Southern Baptist Convention did a few years ago was to pass a resolution about Jesus being the only way to salvation. Listen to what one pastor said:
“In regard to the resolution, I understand God to be a gracious, life-giving mystery who, for me, is most clearly encountered in the human Jesus, the Christ. Therefore, I am Christian. I assume that there are other lights, other understandings of God’s movement of love and justice in our world. To judge with certainty another person’s relationship to God is for me the height of arrogance.” (SBC Annual Meeting June, 1994)
What he is saying is Jesus is not the only way. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by me.” Look at 2 John 9. “Whosoever transgresses, and abides not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.” The way I read that, if you depart from the doctrines of Christ which are revealed to us in the Word of God, then you don’t have God, you’re not saved. When you get a genuine experience with the Lord Jesus in your heart, you won’t have any trouble believing the Bible.