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Warning Against Antichrists February 12, 2014

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on 1 John 2:18-27.

Summary: John begins by telling his readers that they are living in the time in which Christ will appear for the redemption of the world. Now they had been warned from the beginning about the disorder of the church during this time; some sects have already arisen that are forerunners of a future Antichrist. The members of these sects had been counted among the number of the godly – yet they had never been members of the church, as their faith was not genuine.

John then reminds his readers that they are made wise by the illumination of the Spirit. To strengthen them against the fallacies of the above-mentioned sect members, he presents the following rule:

  • anyone who denies that the Son of God has appeared in the flesh is a liar, as he also denies the Father
  • anyone who acknowledges the Father in the Son rightly confesses God.

John now exhorts his readers – in light of the fact that they have been rightly taught the pure Gospel of Christ – to continue in it. Indeed, God will dwell – through His Son – in those who persevere.

John then notes that he is warning his readers about the above-mentioned sect members so that they will ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in driving them away. John concludes by stating that the Holy Spirit has already suggested these teachings to them, as He is a seal by which the truth of God is testified to them; thus, they should remain in the revelation that He has made to them.

Thoughts: In this passage, John exhorts believers to persevere in the midst of a rash of defections from their ranks, as this is a necessary aspect of the end times. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point in his commentary on verse 22:

I readily agree with the ancient writers who thought that the reference here is to Cerinthus and Carpocrates. But the denial of Christ extends much wider…The two I have named gave the title of Christ to the Son of God but imagined him to be only human. Others followed them, such as Arius, who, while giving him the name of God, robbed him of his eternal deity. Marcion dreamed that Christ was a mere phantom. Sabellius imagined that he did not differ from the Father in any way.

Many cults are distinguished by their incorrect doctrines regarding the Trinity. Some cults deny the existence of the Trinity and assert that God is a single Person. Other cults acknowledge the deity of Jesus Christ while denying his humanity, while some cults acknowledge His humanity while denying His deity. Now it should be noted that even members of orthodox churches have great difficulties comprehending the truth of the person and work of Jesus Christ; thus, it is not surprising that cults would develop their own interpretations in this regard. It should also be noted that some cults actually espouse the correct doctrine regarding the Trinity; their errors in terms of theology and practice are quite subtle.

In verses 26 and 27, John states that believers have already been instructed by the Holy Spirit in terms of how they can identify genuine and counterfeit believers. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point in his commentary on verse 27:

In short, he had no other aim but to strengthen their faith as he recalled them to the examination of the Spirit, who is the only fit corrector and approver of doctrine and who seals it on our hearts, so that we may certainly know that God is speaking…When he adds not counterfeit, he is pointing out another function of the Spirit, and that is that he gives us judgment and discernment, so that we are not deceived by lies or should hesitate and be perplexed or vacillate in doubtful things.

Here, Calvin focuses on the intellectual aspect of the Christian life; I believe that I have made great strides in this area over the last few years. In particular, I believe that the Holy Spirit has enabled me to gain a deeper understanding of a slew of Biblical passages and theological concepts. I wonder if it is a stretch to claim that the Holy Spirit resides in my brain – guiding its processing of information that it gleans from the Bible, sermons, videos from the Veritas Forum, etc. Now I should note that I rarely sense the work of the Holy Spirit in terms of shaping my feelings and emotions. Perhaps the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer is guided by their personality type…

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