Damariscotta Baptist Church
Monday, May 21, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

09/17/17 Sermon - Testing 1...2...3...

“Testing 1...2...3…”

1 John 4:1-6


Today’s Scripture lesson begins with the statement….

“My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear.”

Many of us grew up with our parents, teachers and adults saying something like this, “Don’t believe everything you hear. Or Don’t believe everything you read.” We were taught as young children to listen but to also discern, to consider the source, to double check things when we had questions.

The author of 1 John is suggesting the same to those in the newly established Christian church. He goes on to say,

“Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.”

If that isn’t an understatement! Today there are a lot more lying preachers loose in the world. And carefully weighing and examining what they tell us is paramount. Because if we remember, Satan doesn’t go around the world acting like himself. No, he goes around masquerading himself as an angel of light, 2 Corinthians 11:14. Satan knows that if he can share enough of the truth to make you believe in him, he has you. The author saw it happening in the first century, and we still have it happening today. I was talking with a fellow Christian, this week, who was introduced to a family that professes to be members of the Unification Church. She said they were the nicest family and declared their devotion to Jesus Christ, however, in the back of her mind she knew there was something different about their belief, so she decided to research the history of the Unification Church. Here is some of what she discovered….

Introduction

Anyone talking with a Unification Church (UC) member will probably be impressed with his or her devotion to “Jesus.” UC members (more familiarly known as “Moonies”) will say that they believe in Jesus, they love Jesus and they pray to Jesus. They work all day for Jesus. They would even die for Jesus. Unfortunately, they do not refer to the biblical Jesus Christ but rather to Sun Myung Moon, who is the Lord of the Second Advent, the symbolic return of Jesus Christ.

The Unification Church teaches that, for all practical purposes, the historical Jesus is of little, if any, relevance for today because he has been replaced by Moon. The 120 Day Training Manual emphasizes that Moon has completely superseded Jesus, since Jesus failed his mis­sion. In effect, Jesus is not much more important than millions of other spirits now living in the spirit world, although in the spirit world he is conceded to be a messiah of sorts.

https://www.jashow.org/articles/guests-and-authors/dr-john-ankerberg/what-are-unification-church-members-moonies-taught-about-jesus/

I am constantly in conversation with my father in regards to the relevance of Jesus for the Jehovah Witnesses that visit him on a regular basis. He contends that the woman that visits him is the nicest lady, she brings him literature to read, and believes in Jesus. But my father failed to ask them if they believed Jesus was God Incarnate, part of the Trinity. What exactly do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe?

Here is what I found on their internet site:


What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we strive to adhere to the form of Christianity that Jesus taught and that his apostles practiced. This article summarizes our basic beliefs.

There were quite a few, basic beliefs listed, I am going to share the top 4 -

  1. God. We worship the one true and Almighty God, the Creator, whose name is Jehovah. (Psalm 83:18; Revelation 4:11) He is the God of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.—Exodus 3:6; 32:11; John 20:17.

  2. Bible. We recognize the Bible as God’s inspired message to humans. (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16) We base our beliefs on all 66 of its books, which include both the “Old Testament” and the “New Testament.” Professor Jason D. BeDuhn aptly described it when he wrote that Jehovah’s Witnesses built “their system of belief and practice from the raw material of the Bible without predetermining what was to be found there.” *

  3. While we accept the entire Bible, we are not fundamentalists. We recognize that parts of the Bible are written in figurative or symbolic language and are not to be understood literally.—Revelation 1:1.

  4. Jesus. We follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ and honor him as our Savior and as the Son of God. (Matthew 20:28;Acts 5:31) Thus, we are Christians. (Acts 11:26) However, we have learned from the Bible that Jesus is not Almighty God and that there is no Scriptural basis for the Trinity doctrine.—John 14:28.

https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/jehovah-witness-beliefs/

The author of 1 John was correct,

“Not everyone who talks about God comes from God.”

Because of this fact, the author suggested some questions for us to administer to test for the genuine Spirit of God.

> Does the person confess openly their faith in Jesus Christ, as the Son of God?

> Does the person believe that Jesus came as an actual flesh-and-blood person?

> Does the person believe that Jesus came from God and belongs to God, and is one third of the Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit?

If the answer to any one of these questions is “no”, then they have nothing in common with the God from the Bible. They are otherwise known as the “antichrist.”

One of my first questions is,

“Why on earth would anyone in their right mind believe that Sun Myung Moon, was the Messiah, who had returned?”

When in fact, for many people, when they come into contact with the spiritual world for the first time, they are so amazed and enamored by it they forget to ask questions.

They are easily deceived because they have not been forewarned. Thus the reason for our author’s warning to those members of the first Church. But the idea of testing the spirits had been part of the first church since it began. Paul wrote to the churches in Corinth and Thessalonica telling them to test what the prophets said.

 

1 Corinthians 14:29New International Version (NIV)

29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.

1 Thessalonians 5:20-21New International Version (NIV)

20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good,

The testing should be done with the gift of discernment that God has given in some degree to all Christians and should be especially utilized by those in leadership within the Church. The judging of what is said and of the person who said it, should be judged by Scriptural standards.

We shouldn’t be judging by our personal perception, or opinion. The judgement should be based on what the Bible has to say.

That is why it is important to know what it says in God’s Word. Because we trust the principle that God will never contradict Himself. 2 Peter 1:20-21 tells us what true prophecy is….

2 Peter 1:20-21New International Version (NIV)

20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Christians, those that are part of the body of Christ, should all agree or confirm what is stated, based on what is written in God’s Word, the Bible.

So how do you know when a false prophet speaks?

 

At the time the author was writing this, the Christian Church was dealing with false prophets who were going around stating that Jesus did not come in a real flesh and blood body. Docetism, the view that Christ was a spirit who only seemed to be a true man, was widely believed in first century society. The belief was that if Jesus was God, there would be no way He could have become real flesh and blood because God could have not partnership with “impure” human, material stuff. Back in the first century, people didn’t have difficulty believing Jesus was God, the Greeks had lots of god-figures.  It was believing that Jesus was a real man that was difficult. So false preaching of the first century was that Jesus was indeed God, but was a make-believe man.

Today, it is the opposite, we have religious groups that believe Jesus was a good man, but deny that Jesus was really God. For Christians, both the deity and the humanity of Jesus is vitally important to our salvation.

At the time the author was writing this message, there was not Bible, or Holy Scriptures. But today we have the Bible to use as our authority. Unfortunately, there are many scholars and academics that question the validity of the Bible’s view of Jesus. They believe the “true Jesus” is not the Jesus of the Bible, because they believe that the Bible is comprised of a collaboration of ancient myths. Therefore, they believe that the “Jesus” character is make-believe.

Those modern day sceptics, fit into the category of being an “antichrist.” The person who takes the position that the historical validity of the New Testament is false does not take into account the historical evidence of the New Testament and other reliable ancient writings. They must then resort on their own personal opinions as being scholarly facts. This is the very thing,  the author is warning us about.

This is the spirit of the antichrist. The spirit that opposes the true Jesus and replaces it with a substitute Jesus.

This is the master plan of Satan. He presents Jesus in a myriad of ways, any way that keeps people from knowing and accepting the “real Jesus.” The Jesus that is presented in the New Testament, as part of the God-Head and the Savior of humanity.

Next, in verse 4, the author reminds us that as a child of God, we are protected from the antichrists, and false teachers of the world. As children of God, we do not have to fear the spirit of the antichrist, we are just being asked to be aware of its presence. He reminds us that the Holy Spirit, dwells within us, and is greater than any false spirit that exists. We are again reminded, that greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world.

The Christian believer has a resource for victory!

God in us, is the hope of Glory!

The question is, will we rely on He that lives in us? Or will be rely on the world, or worse yet, will we rely on ourselves?

So often we get so caught up in the world that we forget Who is in us. We forget that the battles that are going on are really spiritual battles. Satan has his evil spirits out and about reeking havoc whenever and wherever he can. We need to remember, for those of us that are walking in the truth of Jesus Christ as victor over sin and death, we have already won! We have the ability to claim victory and overcome the evil in this world. This means Christians have no need to fear. It doesn’t mean we won’t have many spiritual enemies. This world is rampant with them. But it reminds us that not one spiritual enemy is greater than the Spirit that lives within us. Back in chapter 2 the author presented the world as a community of sinful humanity completely set upon a rebellion against God.

In the next two verses of chapter 4 the author contrasts those spirits that are in the world and those who are of God. He also gives us another test we can use to determine if someone is part of the Spirit of Truth or part of the spirit of deception.

The people who belong to the world, talk the world’s language and the world completely understands what they are saying. The message given does not conflict with what is going on in the world and the world doesn’t argue. The same test is given for those who come from God and belong to God. When they speak, those who know God, understand and listen.

The test comes, when the two different groups talk with each other. The author tells us, that not only will the person who has nothing to do with God, not understand what the Godly person is saying, they won’t even attempt to listen! The world doesn’t even want to hear what God has to say. This has become so prevalent in regards to the adaptation of the meaning of the word, “tolerance.” Traditionally a person was seen as tolerant when

“they were able to handle the fact that there were other opinions or behaviors that existed that one did not necessarily agree with.” The tolerance was for the idea, a person was upholding, it was not attaching the person with the idea.

For example, two people might disagree about whether or not the minimum wage should be raised without claiming the other either hates the poor or wants to promote laziness. But today disagreements quickly move from evaluation of ideas to labels of the opponent. People who disagree on an issue are now labeled as bigots, intolerant, narrow-minded, judgmental, etc. How one stands on a particular position can be conveniently ignored, since the person who espouses the view is seen as unloving or intolerant. The world has stopped listening to what Christians have to say, and quickly labels the Christian as “intolerant.”

When Christians are discerning whether someone is of the world, or of God, we often forget that what occurs here on earth has a spiritual realm. Those who do not hear the Christians, have what the author would call a “spirit of error.”

Whereas the person who understands what the Christian says, has a “spirit of truth.” There is a spiritual dynamic to this understanding. People who are very educated and very smart can still be influenced by the spirit of error and will not able to listen to the spirit of truth.

That is where the power that is within us becomes alive and important. The Spirit of God lives in us, gives us discernment and allows us to have victory over the spirit of error. This same Spirit can be used to conquer the spirit of error that lives in others. Instead of getting angry and fighting, which is what the world does, the author has been telling us that the only thing that conquers the worldly spirit, is love, peace, joy, the fruit of the Spirit.

Definitely not like the world,

but then again,

definitely what is needed to make a difference.

Let’s rely on the Holy Spirit that lives within us to help us to discern what we hear and what we read.

As we step out of church today, into the world, let’s remember, the Holy Spirit goes with us, and is mightier than any other spirit out there. And by our actions and response to the circumstances around us, may others see Jesus.

Let’s pray.