It’s important for us to consider that the gospel of John was written so that people might believe, while the letters (epistles) of John were written that believers might know. The word believe is used about 50 times in John’s gospel (about twice per chapter). The word know is used 29 times in 1 John alone.
1 John is about the Christian life. John is telling them (and us) that to live the Christian life is to experience a deep and intimate fellowship with the Triune God.
18 Children [Grandpa Pastor John], it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.
25 This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.
26 These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. 27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. [See also John 15. John is repeating themes from his gospel account…]
Our passage today generates (at least) 6 questions:
- V. 18: What is the last hour?
- V. 18: Is there one antichrist or many?
- Vs 22-23: What is the essence of the antichrist spirit?
- Vs 20, 27: What is the anointing that we have from the Holy One?
- Vs. 20-21: How can we know? (The gospel of John was written that they might believe, this letter was written that they might know.)
- Vs. 24, 27: What does it mean to abide (used 5 times in 4 verses)? (More on this next week.)
Let’s go back through them…
1. V. 18: The last hour begins with the Christ Event (the “cross” is short-hand).
- Acts 2:16–17, “This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.'”
- 1 Corinthians 10:11, “[The Old Testament narratives] were written down for our instruction upon whom the end of the ages has come.”
- Hebrews 1:1–2, “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.”
- Hebrews 9:26, “He has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
- 1 Peter 1:20, “[Christ] was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake.”
2. V. 18: Is there one antichrist or many? John’s view seems to be that there is a singular antichrist coming but that the spirit of antichrist is already in the world and that it produces many preliminary lesser forms of the antichrist.
3. Vs. 22-23: The essence of the antichrist spirit is:
- To deny that Jesus was the Christ
- To deny that the Christ was fully incarnate in Jesus.
- The spirit of antichrist does whatever it can to diminish Christ and substitute other views (including legalism/moralism) or other persons for the true incarnate Son of God (intermediaries).
- John makes it clear that there are certain false teachers who are disturbing the congregations to whom he is originally writing.
- (And) these false teachers see themselves as super-Christians; illuminati, people who have (special or secret) knowledge (Gnosticism) that the rest of us mere mortals don’t have.
- Grandpa Pastor John, in large measure, writes this letter in order to make it clear that not only are those false teachers not super-Christians, they’re not Christians at all.
- Matt 7:22-23 — Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’
- Barna survey: 40% of those in Evangelical Churches are not born again.
4. Vs. 20, 27: What is the anointing that we have from the Holy One?
- The grace capacity to know. (The gospel of John was written that they might believe, this letter was written that they might know.)
- The grace capacity to abide (used 5 times in 4 verses)?
- These concepts in 1 John 2 are synonymous (vs. 2-3, 24-25).
- The phrases “to know” and “to abide in Christ” picture an intimate, close relationship — not just a superficial acquaintance. In John’s gospel (15:4-7), Jesus describes salvation using the picture of branches united to a vine.
- Without that vital union with Christ which salvation provides, there can be no life and no productivity. In Colossians 1:18, the Bible likens this same union to that of a head and a body.
As we move toward a conclusion, I’d look to go back and spend a few minutes considering this grace capacity to know – and to abide. (And again, we will talk about abiding next week as well – how do we stay connected?)
The theological term, or construct, for these terms to know and to abide is called assurance of salvation. What does it take to truly know that I am saved? As we learn to abide in Christ, there will be a confrontation with fear.
One of the dominant fears (for most of us) is that we will arrive at judgment day and hear those terrifying words: “Depart from Me, I never knew you…” (Mat 7:22-23).
I would like to close today by providing 10 “Principles of Full Assurance” that will help us to “activate our knower”:
1. FULL ASSURANCE IS GOD’S WILL FOR YOU. “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end.” Hebrews 6:11
2. FULL ASSURANCE EMBRACES THE PAINFUL WORK OF SELF-EXAMINATION. “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail the test?” 2 Corinthians 13:5
3. FULL ASSURANCE EMBRACES GOD’S DISPLEASURE AND DISCIPLINE. “I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me out to the light, and I will see His righteousness.” Micah 7:8-9
4. FULL ASSURANCE EMBRACES PATIENCE. “I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.” Psalm 40:1-3
5. FULL ASSURANCE WILL DIMINISH IN THE PRESENCE OF CONCEALED SIN. “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.” Psalm 32:3
6. FULL ASSURANCE ARISES FROM HEARING THE WORD OF CHRIST.
- “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17
- “These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31
7. FULL ASSURANCE ARISES OUT OF A STRONG FOCUS ON THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE CROSS OF CHRIST. “Since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.” Hebrews 10:21-22
8. FULL ASSURANCE ARISES FROM PRAYER. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” Ephesians 1:18-19
9. FULL ASSURANCE IS NOT EASILY DISCERNED IN ISOLATION. “And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you.'” 1 Corinthians 12:21
10. FULL ASSURANCE (AFTER ALL IS SAID AND DONE) IS A GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:16