Tuesday, April 5
Reader: “Dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns,”
Response: “You will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame.”
Scripture: I John 2:18-28
Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared. From this we know that the last hour has come. These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.
But you are not like that, for the Holy One has given you his Spirit, and all of you know the truth. So I am writing to you not because you don’t know the truth but because you know the difference between truth and lies. And who is a liar? Anyone who says that Jesus is not the Christ. Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist. Anyone who denies the Son doesn’t have the Father, either. But anyone who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us.
I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.
And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame.
Human history moves along at a slow steady pace until a crisis occurs―then things adjust and a new era begins and people say, “It will never be the same again” or we need to adjust to “the new normal.” Sound familiar? Something like that is happening in our world right now. John wrote this epistle in a circumstance not unlike ours today. When he said, “the last hour is here,” in looking more closely at the Greek word “hour,” he is not saying it is the last hour but rather, ‘it is a last hour.’ The evidence is the fact that there are many antichrists, false teachers. Here John is not interested in identifying an individual person as the Antichrist. There are many apostate teachers in his situation. These antichrists were in the church teaching false doctrines leading people astray. The word antichrist simply means “instead of Christ.”
Around 70 A.D. Christians were driven out of Jerusalem due to Roman persecution and the destruction of the Temple. John migrated to the western part of present day Turkey. The writing of this letter occurred sometime after 90 A.D. and followed his writing of the Gospel of John. Here he addressed believers in general, rather than writing to a specific local group. His words were to be aware of false teachers within the infant church. The erroneous doctrine being taught by these teachers was that Jesus was not God in human flesh. In their view, if Jesus was a man with human flesh, he was not God. If he was God, his body was not made of human flesh. In other words, these false teachers were in various forms denouncing the Incarnation.
The truth of the Holy Spirit’s witness is that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), God in human flesh, the same kind of human flesh everyone has. The Holy Spirit is the purveyor of this truth to every believer and therefore the believer does not need to be dependent on a teacher to be enlightened with God’s truth. The false teachers put themselves in the place of the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit indwells all believers guiding them in the truth. They are not to become disciples of various teachers who give secret knowledge. (E.g. Gnostics)
So how does all this tie together for us? God had entered the world and society in human form. His person and teaching knocked everything off the established center. As people sorted through things and the challenges he presented, all sorts of voices entered the arena saying, “Follow me, I have the solution, I can explain it.” Our whole world is off center and we hear various voices vying for converts. There are those with great concerns for various causes and ideologies which are in fact their “religions.” Their leaders are the “apostles” for the “faith,” a “faith” that will solve problems and make life better for everyone, especially better for them! I’m sure you can name such sacred or secular “religions.” John’s words to us, “Remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning and you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. In these days, do not get pushed off course. With Jesus there is no establishing a “new normal.” He is “the same, yesterday, today, and forever.”
Music: “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” Simon Khorolskiy
O Lord and Master of my life, keep from me the spirit of indifference and discouragement,lust of power, and idle chatter. Instead, grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humble-mindedness, patience, and love. O Lord and King, grant me the grace to be aware of my sins and not to judge my brother and sister, for You are blessed, now and ever and forever. Amen. ―Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian, 4th century