(1/18) Does anyone read Newsweek magazine? Back at Christmas, just a few weeks ago, Newsweek had a cover story called, The Bible, So Misunderstood, it is a Sin. Todd Starnes from Fox News writes this about the article:
Newsweek’s 16-page diatribe portrays Evangelical Christians as homophobic, right-wing fundamentalist hypocrites who believe an unbelievable Bible. And just in case the reader misses the writer’s subtle nuance, the essay was illustrated with images of snake handlers, Pat Robertson and the Westboro Baptist Church…. (Next, Starnes quotes the author)
"They wave their Bibles at passersby, screaming their condemnation of homosexuals," Eichenwald wrote. "They fall on their knees, worshipping at the base of granite monuments to the Ten Commandments while demanding prayer in school. They appeal to God to save America from their political opponents, mostly Democrats. They gather in football stadiums by
the thousands to pray for the country’s salvation."
"These are God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians who pick and choose which Bible verses they heed with less care than they exercise in selecting side orders for lunch," Newsweek’s writer blathered. "They are joined by religious rationalizers – fundamentalists who, unable to find Scripture supporting their biases and beliefs, twist phrase and modify
translations to prove they are honoring the Bible’s words."
Mr. Starnes closes his response to Newsweek’s article with these words:
"The news magazines do this all the time – attacking Christians during the Christmas and Easter seasons. It’s a free country. We have a free press. They can write whatever they choose. But the national news magazines never seem to target Islam. When was the last time Newsweek or Time published an attack piece on Muhammad during Ramadan?
I wonder if Newsweek would have the courage to publish "The Koran: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin"? I wonder if Newsweek would allow a feminist to weigh in on what the Islamic holy book says about women? Perhaps Newsweek could illustrate their story with cartoons of Muhammad – or maybe photographs of jihadists beheading Christians in the name of Allah?
But we all know that won’t happen, right Newsweek?"
Southern Seminary President Al Mohler, said, "Newsweek’s cover story is exactly what happens when a writer fueled by open antipathy to evangelical Christianity tries to throw every argument he can think of against the Bible and its authority. To put the matter plainly, no honest historian would recognize the portrait of Christian history presented in
this essay as accurate and no credible journalist would recognize this screed as balanced."
I begin with this because it fits with where we pick up in our study of 1 John. Remember, that one of the reasons John the Apostle writes this letter at the close of the first century is because a Christian cult was teaching false doctrine about God and the Bible. It was called Gnosticism. By the way, let’s not candy coat it. False doctrine is lies.
Look at what he says in verse 26, "These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you." Wherever you have truth you will have lies to lead you away from the truth. And wherever you have Christ you will have Antichrists. This is the devil’s work. It is as simple as that.
I. Realize That Deception Abounds (vv. 18-22). Notice several things:
A. It is the last hour. What does this mean? The last hour could mean one of two things:
1. It is the time immediately preceding the return of Jesus. Perhaps the time period that we refer to as the Great Tribulation that consumes the majority of the book of Revelation. Or, more likely;
2. It is the entire time period between the first and second coming of Jesus Christ. An undefined time period referred to by the New Covenant. Let me briefly explain. God does not change. But God has changed the way He works with people. In the Old Testament. He worked one way with Adam and Eve, until they sinned, then He worked another way from Adam
and Eve to Noah. Man only had the oral traditions of God passed on by Godly people. Man lived without government. From Noah to Moses God instituted government to encourage holy and godly living and to punish unholy people, yet without a written code. From Moses to Jesus, God instituted a conditional covenant, and put His words in a book. The Old Testament is basically about
God agreeing to bless people who honor and keep His laws, and His promise to discipline those who do not. His blessings are dependent upon man’s obedience.
But in the New Testament or New Covenant, God’s blessings are entirely a matter of grace. God is calling all people of all nations to receive His gift of grace and be saved. In the Old Testament God dwelt among His people and came upon them to enable them to do great things, but in the New Testament He comes to live in His people to enable them to do
great things. This time period will last until Jesus returns. When He returns, He is going to judge the world.
John and Paul believed that Jesus could come back in their lifetime. I believe He could come back in ours. Somewhere between 2025 and 2030, will be the 2000th anniversary of our Lord’s death and resurrection. No, I am not setting a date. I just you to be conscious that His coming may be very close. But know this as well:
B. The Antichrist is Coming.
While there have always been Anti Christians and Anti-Christ people. There is coming, just prior to our Lord’s return, one man who will hailed by the world as a hero, a savior, a leader. He will secure peace in the Middle East. He will solve the world economic crisis. Think about it. What would happen this very day, if a world figure could get Jew and
Muslim to sit down together and shake hands and put an end to the terrorism and the fighting in Israel and Palestine? The world will rejoice and hail Him as a hero. That is going to happen. He will bring a brief period of peace to the world. He will make a way for the Israelis’ to rebuild their temple. But this man will be the incarnation of Satan himself and he will plot and
plan to destroy all Jews and Christians alike. John calls Him the Beast in the Revelation. Paul refers to Him as the Man of Sin in 2 Thess. 2:3-4, "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is
worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
Turn to and read Rev. 13:1-8. He is spoken of throughout Isaiah and Daniel and other Old Testament books. But also know:
C. Antichrists are here. I say again, wherever you have truth you will have
lies. And, wherever you have Christians, you will have anti-Christians. I remind you again of the words of our Lord Jesus in John 8:44, "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks
from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it." He showed up in the Garden of Eden after His expulsion from heaven and deceived Adam and Eve and has been attacking and spreading lies ever since, so much so that many people like Pilate ask, "What is Truth?"
His lies come from various sources, like:
1. The Philosophies of the World. Humanism, feminism, communism, materialism, evolution, and more are a direct attack on God and His Word. Last year for example we spoke on 8 great lies that America has embraced.
2. Other Religions claiming to be the truth, like Islam, Hinduism, and others who believe that it doesn’t matter what you believe because there are many paths to the same God. I saw a re-run of NCIS where my man Leroy Jethro Gibbs said to a Navy Chaplain about his son who left Christianity and embraced Islam, "It’s the same God."
3. From People Who Claim to be Followers of Jesus Christ. That’s who John addresses here. Our Lord Jesus warned us that there would be tares among the wheat. And just about every New Testament Book warns of false prophets and the schemes and lies of Satan. These may have grown up in church, or may have been caught up in emotions in a church or may
wanted to have more than the church offers, or may have wanted to have the best of both worlds; that is, to be focused on self, pleasure, health and wealth with God’s approval. Jim Bakker the former leader of the PTL club confesses to that. There are many out there like Kenneth Copeland, and Joel Osteen, and others, who try to teach that you can have it all and God wants you
to have to all, despite what verses like, I Timothy 6; Matthew 6:19ff; and 1 John 2:15-17 say. Look at 4:4-5.
Did you know for example that Charles Russell grew up in a congregational church in Pennsylvania? But he so despised the teachings of pre-destination and the doctrine of hell that he devised his own interpretation of the scriptures that denies practically every fundamental doctrine that we embrace. His bible study grew and became the Watchtower Bible
and Tract Society or what we know today as the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Joseph Smith attended church and Bible classes and was reportedly in a Methodist church during the great revival known as the Second Great Awakening, when he reported having visions and said God gave him a New Gospel that we now call Mormonism.
John was writing in response to Gnosticism, which claimed that only those who are initiated could receive the Holy Spirit and can know real truth; that the body can sin and the soul still be pure; that Jesus could not be in the flesh because matter is evil, He had to be spirit because the Spirit is good; and other false doctrine.
4. The goal of Anti-Christ’s is to keep you from following the truth. Discourage you from obeying the truth. To keep you from modeling Jesus. To cause you to trust in something besides grace. To rob you of your reward.
II. Recognize The Lies. (vv. 22-23)
Because the New Testament places such a great emphasis on being careful not to believe these lies or liars, we need to know some basic characteristics of false teachers. I will give you just five though there are more.
A. A departure from traditional or orthodox teachings. That’s what orthodox means, the accepted belief, doctrine, or practice. False teachers claim a new understanding of scripture, or a new belief. Please forgive me, but Mr. Osteen, Mr. Copeland, and others cannot preach their prosperity gospel anywhere but in western cultures. Try telling the poor in
China, India, Russia, Mexico, or Africa that God wants them to be healthy and wealthy. You can’t. But they can preach it here because people want to believe it and will give lots of money to these guys to hear what tickles their ears.
Mr. Russell, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Moon and thousands of others have all departed from the accepted beliefs and doctrines of Orthodox Christianity.
B. A New Gospel, that is, another way, different than salvation by grace through faith in the person and finished work of Jesus Christ. It is always a works related salvation. You must do something to be saved.
C. Often, but not always, a new book or revelation. The Moonies have, The Divine Principle, The Mormons have 3 books including The Book of Mormon, and the Jehovah’s witnesses have the writings of Mr. Russell and his successors.
D. A Charismatic leader, who is not to be challenged or questioned. The leader is the man and voice of God. To question him is to question God.
E. Usually always, a denial of the person and work of Jesus Christ. They say things like; Jesus was just a prophet, Jesus was no different than you and I; He was just a good man. Jesus failed His mission, and Jesus is not God in the flesh. Jesus was just a legend. The JW’s try to say that Jesus is a lesser god, a little g created by big G. Even though
Isaiah says there is no other God but me, not created or otherwise. (Isa. 44:6). Muslims will tell you that they believe in Jesus but that Jesus was just a prophet and not on the same high level as Muhammad.
Now listen carefully, to all those who say they believe in God but not in Jesus, or who say that all religions worship the same God. John (vv. 22-23) says, if you don’t embrace the true Jesus, you do not embrace the Father. It is a package deal. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, 3 in one, are in this together. He will say it again in 5:10-12. I am sorry
for my Jewish Friends, and for the Muslims, the Mormons, the Jehovah’s witnesses, the sincere Buddhists, and the Hindus and others. They believe and follow lies. They believe sincerely, but they are sincerely wrong.
III. Rely on the Resources God has given us (vv. 20-21, 24-27). Three things John emphasizes here. To help you know truth, God has given us;
A. The Holy Spirit. The Gnostics were teaching that only those who went through a special initiation received the Holy Spirit and could understand the truths of God. I don’t want to open a can of worms, but back during the Jesus revolution of the 60’s and 70’s our charismatic and Pentecostal friends taught that only those who spoke in tongues, as they
practice it, were baptized with the Holy Spirit, and were Spirit filled.
But John wants his readers to know that both the Gnostics and those Pentecostals are wrong. Every born again believer in Jesus Christ receives the Holy Spirit at the moment of belief. Notice that John speaks of the unction, or anointing or the chrisma which is a reference to the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised to give us in John 14-16. John the Baptist
preached that all who follow Jesus would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. The Apostle John records this in John 7:37-39, "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." 39 But this He
spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthian church and reminded them of this truth. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:13)
One of the reasons Jesus gave Him to us is to help us to know and to understand the truth. 6 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:16) However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for
He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you
Paul reminds us of this very thing in (1 Cor. 2:9-16).
What John is telling us here (v. 27) is that we don’t have to be initiated with special teachings to receive the Holy Spirit and know God or His truth. We have the Holy Spirit and we have truth. He will say this again in 4:4, "He who is you is greater than he who is in the world." Without the Holy Spirit we cannot understand the things of God, but with
Him God’s word and will make sense. And God wants everyone of His children to know Him and His truth. Plus, the Holy Spirit is the one who makes us uncomfortable when we hear things that are not what we have believed or heard to be true.
Notice that verse 27 does not mean that you don’t need pastors or teachers, for they are a gift to the church. It means that you don’t need someone to initiate you with hidden secrets. Pastors and Teachers help you to see what you can see for yourself with time and study. We don’t try to lay some secret truth on you that you could never discover on
Now, notice that John is addressing little children. The word for children is different than the one he has used earlier in the book. Teknia is used in the earlier verses and refers to small children. Paidia, used here, refers to infants. We get the word Pediatrician from it. People who have not learned or grown in God’s word are more susceptible to
these false teachers regardless of their age. But when you hear some of this stuff and your mind says, this doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t and that is the Holy Spirit telling you so. Paul says in Ephesians 4:14, "That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of
B. You have the Truth of God in the Book you hold, the Bible. It is a book that honest teachers and preachers will encourage you to study. You do not another Holy book. You have everything you need to know God and grow in His grace. Listen to Peter (2 Pet. 1:3-4) His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through
the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Listen, false teachers do not want you to question their teachings. Honest teachers, want you to question and to be like
the Bereans in Acts 17:11 and search the scriptures to see if these things are so.
C. You have the promises of God (v. 25). Eternal Life. You may be healthy and wealthy but most of us will not be. You certainly can have love, joy and peace and more, but our hope is not in this life but in the life God has promised for our forever future. Paul would tell the Corinthians, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men
the most pitiable." (1 Cor. 15:9). But this is also true, all who believe in Jesus have this life now. Eternal life is not just what is tacked on when you die. It is the life that begins the instant when you believe and the Spirit joins Himself to you. You have already passed from death to life Jesus says in John 5:24. He came to give us abundant life now John 10:10.
IV. Responding to the Warning (vv. 24-29)
A. Remain steadfast in what you have been taught – The word Abide, means to continue, remain, to continue, to dwell; or to live. The idea is to embrace and hang on tight to the message of the Gospel and the doctrine that Christ has taught us. The idea of verse 24-25 is that this is the key to enjoying communion with the Father and the Son. This is the
action you must take. I will rest in and believe what I have heard when I came to faith in Jesus. These are the basic and fundamental doctrines of Scripture. Know what you believe and why you believe it. We may do this after Easter as a series.
This also means that you intentionally continue to follow and obey the teachings of Jesus. Especially the New Commandment (John 13:34-35). This is your mark of identification, not some secret initiation or tongues talk. Jesus said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you
free." (John 8:31-32)
B. Focus on the finish Line – Jesus is coming back, or you are going to Him, either way, you will cross the finish line. The word Confidence has the idea of meeting and embracing a friend. It means we look at His coming or our own deaths as the time when we will embrace and be embraced by the friend we have in Jesus. We want to hear Him say, "Well
done." The opposite of this is shame or to be ashamed, or embarrassed. Salvation is not the issue here, it is the sorrow of unfaithfulness, being caught in infidelity. It is the feeling of shame because we have not been true to Him and His love and grace.
Chasing the things of the world as in vv.15-17 or trying to find a secret shortcut to spirituality will result in shame.
Remaining true to Jesus and His word will result in meeting Him one day as a friend you have waited for a long time to see. I don’t know about you but there are days when I am anxious for that day.
Let’s Pray about it
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman