Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Jesus Christ Has Come In The Flesh"

What does John mean in 1 John 4:2-3-- "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God"? Does John mean that if someone can simply quote those words, then we can know that they are of God; that by virtue of their being able to quote them, we can then know that the words they continue to speak are from God, and that we can trust what they say? Actually, that's not what John means. He means something much more wonderful than that!

In John's Gospel, in John 20:30-31, after recounting three of Jesus' appearances to various disciples in various places after his resurrection from the dead, John says this: "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." We become convinced that Jesus died and was raised back to life by this written testimony of his disciples, the apostles, that Jesus appeared to them after he rose. The confession of Jesus as "the Christ, the Son of God", is the Spirit-revealed knowledge that he died and came back to life, that he appeared to the apostles, alive, and that he still lives. It's the confession that all he claimed to be and all he claimed he would and will yet do, is true.

Such a confession, born of the faith of believing that the testimony of the apostles is true, is our life from the dead. John goes on to say of the apostolic testimony: "We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error" (1 John 4:6).

So, the "every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh" is the same person as "whoever knows God listens to us". A true teacher (for 1 John 4:2-3 is about true and false prophets and teachers) is one who confesses what the apostles confess, who listens to the apostle's teaching, agreeing with and submitting to it as the very word of God. That teacher's confession will agree with the whole testimony of the apostle's written, recorded testimony of the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, and with all that it means. That's what the confession of 1 John 4:2-3 is--more than rote words, it is simply shorthand for a radical, life-altering, supernaturally revealed and given faith!

No comments: