header image
Home
1 John 2:18-27: Christology Matters Print E-mail
1, 2, 3 John
Sunday, 22 November 2009

Download (right-click) or Listen Now:

We believe and teach that Jesus is the Christ.  He is the Son of God and the Son of Man.  When He walked on the earth He was pure God and pure man.  As John says in the prologue to his Gospel: And the Word became flesh (John 1:14).  Jesus was God incarnate, God in the flesh.  He came and lived among us and died on the cross as our Savior.  Three days later the Father raised Him from the dead.  We believe and teach these truths about the Person and work of Jesus. 

Yet, does a person have to agree with these truths in order to be a Christian?  I mean, how important are these doctrines?  Many who claim to be Christians today do not believe that Jesus really was God in the flesh.  Many deny that He was God at all.  Many deny that He was the Promised Messiah to which the Old Testament prophets pointed.  Many believe that only portions of what the Gospels say about Christ are true.  People believe all sorts of things about Jesus of Nazareth.  So then, at the end of the day, does it really matter what we believe?

John answers that question in our passage this morning.  He makes it very clear that what we believe about Jesus is critical.  He has already addressed some of the errors of the opponents in this letter.  Yet, in our text this morning, he becomes very pointed.  He has called his opponents ‘liars’ and ‘blind’ and ‘walking in darkness.’  But the language he uses in this passage is even stronger.  Here he identifies them as antichrists (v. 18-19, 22).  Strong language indeed.  So what exactly were they doing that demanded such severity from John?  Simply stated, they were denying that Jesus is the Christ.  Look at verse 22.  Christology, or what we believe about Christ, matters to John.  You cannot fail to believe certain things about Jesus and still be a Christian.  John draws a line in the sand with this doctrinal test.  John is writing to warn his readers about the errors of his opponents and to exhort them to remain in the truth.  He gives them and us certain consequences for our beliefs about Jesus. 

Thus, I want to identify four consequences for not believing that Jesus is the Christ and four consequences for believing it.

First, if we believe that Jesus is not the Christ…then we are liars.

As we have seen before, John is not slow to call his opponents liars.  He does the same here in verse 22a.  Look at that with me.  You either believe and teach the truth about Jesus, namely that He really was God in the flesh, or you are a liar.  The truth is important to John and he wants his readers to know what it is.  Likewise, he wants them to identify errors, or lies, as well.  He makes it clear that not believing that Jesus is the Christ is to lie about what is true.

Second, if we believe that Jesus is not the Christ…then we have the spirit of the antichrist.

Before we look at what John concludes in verse 22b, we need to go back and look at what he says in verse 18.  Look at that verse with me.  John says that it is the last hour.  Although it is hard to know exactly what he meant by this, he is obviously referring to the fact that we are living in the last age or the last days.  We are now only waiting for the return of Christ.  This is apparent to John because now many antichrists have come.  The Church had been taught to expect a final ‘antichrist.’  Paul calls him the man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 and John describes him further in Revelation 13.  Yet, here John is saying that antichrists have already come.  As he will later point out, he is distinguishing between the one antichrist that will come at the end of the age and the ‘spirit of the antichrist’ that has already invaded this age (see 1 John 4:3).  Anyone who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh has the spirit of the antichrist.  Thus, since his opponents are denying that Jesus is the Christ, according to verse 22b, he makes the connection that they have the spirit of the antichrist.  To deny that Jesus was really the Christ in the flesh is to have the spirit of the antichrist. 

Third, if we believe that Jesus is not the Christ…then we do not have the Father.

What we believe about Jesus has a direct impact on our relationship with God the Father.  Look at how John describes this in verse 23a.  If we deny that Jesus is the Christ and has come in the flesh, then we do not have a relationship with God the Father.  You cannot know the Father apart from the Son.  This is an important warning for our day.  We meet people all the time who claim to know God.  They claim to pray to God.  But they do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ.  They have not turned from their sins and placed their faith in His sacrificial death.  Others want to claim that there are many ways to God (pluralism).  Christians have their way (repenting of sin and believing in Christ), but this is not the only way.  Yet, the New Testament writers are not so inclusive.  John makes it clear that in order to have a relationship with the Father, a person must have a right relationship with His Son Jesus Christ.  You can claim all day to know God, but without Christ, without believing that He came in the flesh and died for your sins, such a claim is simply hollow.  If we believe such errors about the Son, then we do not have the Father.

Fourth, if we believe that Jesus is not the Christ…then we reveal that we never truly belonged to the community of faith.

Verse 19 is important for a number of reasons.  Look at what John says in that verse.  The pronoun ‘they’ in this verse refers to the opponents.  Apparently they were involved with John’s readers at some point.  They were at least externally members of this community.  Yet, they have now left the community and John concludes from this that their leaving makes it plain that they all are not of us.  Yes, they had some type of involvement or membership in the community, but their lack of perseverance revealed that they never had true faith in Christ.  Just because a person makes a profession of faith and becomes a ‘member of the local Church’ does not mean that they are truly born again.  Jesus taught that only those who persevere to the end will be saved (see Mark 13:13.  This is not because perseverance earns salvation, but simply that perseverance to the end demonstrates true salvation.  A person may claim to follow Christ at some point in their life, but if they do not continue in their belief in Christ, then they make it plain that they were never true followers of Jesus in the first place.  A true profession will be followed by continued perseverance in the faith.

What about those who do believe that Jesus is the Christ?  What does John say about them?

First, if we believe that Jesus is the Christ…then we know the truth.

The description of those who do believe that Jesus is the Christ contrasts the description of those who do not.  Those who do not believe are liars and those that do know the truth.  Look at verses 20b-21.  John says that his readers, those that believe Jesus is the Christ, all have knowledge.  They know the truth about Christ.  Despite what the opponents claim, they know what is true.

Second, if we believe that Jesus is the Christ…then we have been anointed by the Holy One.

This contrasts the fact that those who deny that Jesus is the Christ have the spirit of the antichrist (there is a word-play in the original Greek).  Look at verse 20a.  To what does this refer?  John seems to be talking about the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  It is the Spirit that leads us into truth, particularly the truth about Christ.  He guards us from error.  John goes on to talk of this in verses 26-27.  Look at those with me.  The opponents have not just left quietly.  No, they are trying to deceive others in the community.  Yet, John reminds them that they know the truth about Christ and have been anointed with the Spirit so that they do not need to listen to what the opponents are teaching.  This does not mean that we do not need teaching in our churches.  Rather, in context, it means that we do not need ‘new light’ or ‘new revelations about Christ’ that contradict what we have heard from the beginning.  The Spirit does not guide us into new truth but into greater understanding of the truth revealed in the Bible.  Those who believe that Jesus is the Christ do not have the spirit of the antichrist, but the Holy Spirit given by the Holy One.

Third, if we believe that Jesus is the Christ…then we have both Father and Son.

If we deny the Son, then we do not have the Father.  But if we confess the Son, then we have both Father and Son.  This is what John declares in verses 23b-24.  Look at those with me.  By believing in the truth of Christ and His sacrifice for our sins we can be reconciled to the Father.  We can have a relationship with Almighty God because of what Christ has done.  Do not miss the glory of this truth.  We had all gone astray.  We had all rebelled.  We were all enemies of God.  Yet, the Father sent us His Son to live a perfect life and to die on a cross in our place so that we might be forgiven of our sins and reconciled to Him.  The glorious invitation of the gospel is this: come and know God.  By repenting and trusting in Christ we can have both the Father and the Son.

Fourth, if we believe that Jesus is the Christ…then we have eternal life.

John is writing that we can know that we have eternal life.  He has already stated in this text that since the opponents left the community and are denying that Jesus is the Christ, they have revealed that they never really belonged to Christ.  They never were true followers of Him and they never had eternal life.  Yet, for those who continue to believe what they have heard from the beginning, namely that Jesus is the Christ come in the flesh, then John says that they do have eternal life.  Look at verse 25.  In one sense, this is simply another way of explaining the relationship that we have with the Father and the Son.  Because of what Christ has done, because we have been reconciled to the Father by His death and resurrection, John says that we have His promise of eternal life.

So then, the doctrinal test is a Christological test, namely do you believe that Jesus is the Christ who came in the flesh?  If you do not, then John says what is true of you.  If you do, then he says what is true of you as well.  His exhortation to us all is to abide in Him.  Some of us may face days when the truth of Christ is denied.  Yet, John makes it clear that when those challenges come, we are to remain in the Spirit (the anointing) and in the truth (that we heard from the beginning).  We cannot lose sight of what we know to be true and what the Spirit has taught us to be true.  One of my commentators notes: “It is not enough merely to have heard and assented to the message in time past.  The message must continue to be present and active in the lives of those who have heard it.  They must continually call it to mind and let it affect their lives.”1  May this be true of us.  May we hold fast to what we have heard from the beginning.  May we be numbered among those who truly and continually believe that Jesus is the Christ.  Amen.

1 I. Howard Marshall, The Epistles of John, NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978), p. 161.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 01 December 2009 )

User Comments


Page 1 of 0 ( 0 User Comments )
©2006 MosCom

Add comments to this article: 1 John 2:18-27: Christology Matters ...

Enter your comment below.

Name (required)

E-Mail (required)
Your email will not be displayed on the site - only to our administrator
Homepage

Comment (supported) [BBcode]

Newsflash

We invite you to visit our new Facebook page

Read more...

Click below for the Advent Daily Devotional written by our pastor

Read more...

Download or read our new church covenant

Read more...

Don't Waste Your Cancer

Read more...
ESV Search

 
(e.g., John 1 or God's love)

Polls
Who's Online
We have 29 guests online
Visitors: 8388128