What to watch for…In this installment of connecting with our Calvary Bible family and friends please find below: an opening greeting and prayer from Kevin, Bethany and kids; worship songs; a video message; a closing prayer and a related sermon in text. God bless you as you continue to persevere in faith by relying on God’s strength and grace to get you beyond this pandemic. Amen?
Remaining in the Truth
This message is related to the video message for today, but focusing more on remaining in the truth. The video message brought forward the importance of God’s grace, truth and His love. As you read, may Jesus Christ bless you and reveal to you His Words to His beloved servant John through the leading and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Text: 1 John 2:18-28 All Scripture passages are…
Two explorers were on a jungle safari when suddenly a ferocious lion jumped in front of them. “Keep calm,” the first explorer whispered. “Remember what we read in that book on wild animals? If you stand perfectly still and look the lion in the eye, he will turn and run.” “Sure,” replied his companion. “You’ve read the book, and I’ve read the book. But has the lion read the book?”
During a summer vacation, years ago, our family went through a drive-thru zoo called the “African Lion’s Safari.” From the safety of a bus, we looked at these lazy lions lounging upon man-made rocky structures. The lions seemed almost oblivious to the attention they were receiving, as vehicles lined up to take pictures. Wardens were not far away, in their pick-up trucks, ready to intervene if a lion should happen to go WILD! We had no worries of this happening because the lions seemed well fed and their prowess seemed dormant.
In our lives, there will be a time when we will have to face our lions or should I say, “fearful opponents.” We might have the ability to avoid the things that scare us like heights, spiders, water, darkness etc, but how do we face something that we might not necessarily see? How do we face something that can creep into our lives and before we know it to be wrong – we are caught in its deception?
In the preceding chapter and scripture passages from the first letter of John, the Apostle John gives the believers encouragement (to grow in faith), and a warning (not to get caught up in the desires of the world). Today, John writes about being on guard in a time of deception. John gives us signs to identify the last hour of the world before Jesus’ return and how to be protected in it. John and the Early Church believed Christ’s return was imminent because of the oppression (and the one world order) of the Roman Empire. Almost two thousand years later God’s redemptive plan for mankind includes us today. He desires for us to know Him and love Him, but the time is coming when Jesus will return and we need to be watchful.
Take a moment and read today’s passage from 1 John 2:18-28…
“Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
20But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24 See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—even eternal life. 26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.”
Identifying The Last Hour
John gives us two signs we can identify this last hour or time of deception:
1. Many Antichrists Have Come
In verse 18, “even now many antichrists have come.” In John’s day, it was a cult of knowledge (precursor to the Gnostics) who were teaching a false doctrine of Jesus. They spoke contrary to the gospel taught by Jesus so John goes as far as calling them “antichrists.”
These antichrists or false teachers would precede the coming of the antichrist. The Bible tells us that a powerful world leader is still coming. The apostle Paul says in, 2 Thessalonians 2:3, “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.” Jesus said in Matthew 24:4,5, “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”
We are living in a time of deception where many antichrists have come and many more are waiting in the wings. If we think about antichrists, we can think of past world leaders such Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Sadam Hussein; or cultic leaders such as Charles Manson, Jim Jones, and David Koresh. These men were deceived and deceived others. Yet more are coming who will deceive the world.
In Canada alone, we are seeing the rapid dismantling of our country’s Judeo-Christian foundation. As world governments throw out the truths of God’s Word (The Holy Bible) from directing laws and policy, a one-world government and one world economy are emerging. Political scientists are casting their opinions about the COVID-19 pandemic halting globalization. However, I believe in order to fight this enemy and survive global economic collapse the nations of the world will need to work closer together then ever before. We are getting closer to the last hour where anti-christs will try to solve the world’s problems preparing the way for the Anti-Christ or “lawless one” (read 2 Thessalonians chapter 2) to appear. If you follow Jesus as your Saviour and LORD, He commands us to be watchful and ready for His return which will bring an end to the rule of the lawless one (Matthew 24:42).
2. They Went Out From Us
Secondly, what John points out next is disconcerting. These antichrists or false teachers in verse 19, “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” They went out from us. These antichrists or false teachers were once a part of the Christian community, but did not remain in the Truth. They were people going through the motions until they found something better to promote their own agendas. They are people who give Christianity lip service, but not heart service. These men and women are not believers. They pose as Christians.
John gives us a quick test to help us recognize a false teacher or a person who is influenced by the spirit of the antichrist.
True or False Test
You know a false teacher when he:
1) Denies Jesus is the Christ – verse 22a, “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ.” Read these verses that are connected from 1 John 4:2,3 – “2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” Have you come across this dreadful spirit?
2) Denies Jesus is the Son of God – in verses 22b-23, “Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”
These are direct attacks John throws at this knowledge cult because they did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. They believed that the Spirit came upon Jesus at His baptism, but departed from Him before he faced the cross. They did not believe that God would suffer in the flesh since the flesh is evil and of no value.
Let’s imagine you are back at your favourite coffee shop (nice thoughts eh?) and you have the opportunity to bring up the subject of Jesus with a local coffee drinker. As the Lord leads, you may ask the person, “Who is Jesus to you?” They may say, “He is a good man of the past.” Another may say, “He is just a made up story.”
I remember speaking to university students (during my days as a student) who said he was a “prophet.” They did not believe He was the Christ or the Son of God. These coffee drinkers and students don’t believe Jesus is the Son of God or the Christ because their eyes have not been opened to the Truth.
The Apostle John continues in our passage with two foundational guides (or tracks) that reveal Jesus’ true identity and guard us in Truth. This is the most important part of the message.
Two Foundational Guides That Will Guard Us in Truth
1. Anointing From The Holy One
In verse 20 John writes, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.” Moses, when he consecrated his brother Aaron and his sons into the priesthood, anointed them with oil (Exodus 29:1-9). The High Priest and Judge Samuel anointed Saul (1 Samuel 10:1) to be King over Israel and then later anointed his successor David (1 Samuel 16:13). All these anointings were holy rituals commanded of God to set up these men into high positions were they would intercede and rule over men and women before their living God. However, they were more then just markings of leadership they also brought the empowering of the Holy Spirit to these men so that they God fulfill God’s will.
I believe John is telling us that we have a greater anointing then any past or present false teacher or Gnostic. We have an anointing that is even more personal then what it was to Aaron, Saul or David. Jesus promised in John 14:16,17, – “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” The Holy Spirit came to the disciples in the Upper Room on Pentecost and they were transformed from lowly men to confident preachers of the good news. The apostle Paul writes on this anointing or presence of the Holy Spirit in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” Paul is saying we are set apart for God and given His presence and power in the Holy Spirit not only to accomplish good works now on earth, but we are sealed for in Christ for Heaven.
Speaking to a large audience, D.L. Moody held up a glass and asked, “How can I get the air out of this glass?” One man shouted, “Suck it out with a pump!” Moody replied, “That would create a vacuum and shatter the glass.” After numerous other suggestions Moody smiled, picked up a pitcher of water, and filled the glass. “There,” he said, “all the air is now removed.” He then went on to explain that victory in the Christian life is not accomplished by “sucking out a sin here and there,” but by being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Are you filled by the Holy Spirit? Does He live inside of You as promised by Jesus when we follow Him? Accept God’s grace by faith and you will be anointed (set apart, favoured without merit and cared for) by His Holy Spirit unto salvation and His service.
2. Remain in His truth
John says another way to guard you in the truth is to remain in it. Again verse 24 and 27, “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father…27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.”
The word “remain” repeats many times here. Do you get the message? You can’t save yourself from your sin, but by faith remaining in Jesus and His Truth (what He has done for you on the cross) and His Spirit you will be taught all you need to know about having a love relationship with God. Your identity will change because on remaining in Jesus, God will live through you as you abide or remain or rest in Him. When we abide (remain) in Him we die to self and live through Jesus and He through us.
Jesus gives us the wonderful example of the Vine and the Branches in John 15. In John 15:7,8, Jesus said, “7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
There might be a time where you will have to defend your faith in Jesus from the knowledge of the antichrists. I encourage you to do it in love realizing that the person you are speaking with needs their eyes opened by God’s grace, love and truth.
This is a story of an incident that happened a number of years ago at USC [University of Southern California]. Please note: I have not verified this story to be true. It was passed on to me. It does make an interesting encounter and this story, with many others like it, has inspired the movie “God’s Not Dead.” https://youtu.be/bMjo5f9eiX8
There was a professor of philosophy at USC who was a deeply committed atheist. His primary goal for one required class was to spend the entire semester attempting to prove that God couldn’t exist. His students were always afraid to argue with him because of his impeccable logic. For twenty years, he had taught this class and no one had ever had the courage to go against him. Sure, some had argued in class at times, but no one had ever really gone against him (you’ll see what I mean later). Nobody would go against him because he had a reputation.
At the end of every semester, on the last day, he would say to his class of 300 students, “If there anyone here who still believes in Jesus, stand up!” In twenty years, no one had ever stood up. They knew what he was going to do next. He would say, “Because anyone who does believe in God is a fool. If God existed, he could stop this piece of chalk from hitting the ground and breaking. Such a simple task to prove that he is God, and yet he can’t do it.” And every year, he would drop the chalk onto the tile floor of the classroom and it would shatter into a hundred pieces. All of the students could do nothing but stop and stare. Most of the students were convinced that God couldn’t exist. Certainly, a number of Christians had slipped through, but for 20 years, they had been too afraid to stand up.
Well, a few years ago, there was a freshman who happened to get enrolled in the class. He was a Christian, and had heard the stories about this professor. He had to take the class because it was one of the required classes for his major. And he was afraid. But for 3 months that semester, he prayed every morning that he would have the courage to stand up no matter what the professor said or what the class thought. Nothing they said or did could ever shatter his faith, he hoped. Finally the day came. The professor said, “If there is anyone here who still believes in God, stand up!” The professor and the class of 300 people looked at him, shocked, as he stood up at the back of the classroom. The professor shouted, “You FOOL!! If God existed, he could keep this piece of chalk from breaking when it hit the ground!” He proceeded to drop the chalk, but as he did, it slipped out of his fingers, off his shirt cuff, onto the pleats of his pants, down his leg, and off his shoe. As it hit the ground, it simply rolled away, unbroken. The professor’s jaw dropped as he stared at the chalk. He looked up at the young man and then walked out of the lecture hall. The young man who had stood up proceeded to walk to the front of the room and share his faith in Jesus for the next half hour. 300 students stayed and listened as he told of God’s love for them and of his power through Jesus.
“Yet to all who received HIM, to those who believed in HIS name, HE gave the right to become children of God, “children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of GOD.”
“But HE knows the way that I take. When HE has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10
The encouragement I want to leave you is this: as a believer you are anointed in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in your life. Daily ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with a newness making sure that all sin he brings to your mind is confessed. Remain in the Lord Jesus and His word and you will bear fruit in the Spirit and finally from 1 John 4:4, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
Have you accepted Jesus as the Christ (Messiah) and as God’s Son? God’s grace is available to you right now for your eyes to be opened to who Jesus really is? By faith say in your heart, “Jesus I accept You as my Messiah (my LORD) and my Saviour. You are the Son of God!” Praise God if this is your heart’s cry and welcome to the family of God! You are now ready to face the last hour with confidence in Jesus’ glorious return. AMEN!