Today’s selected reading continues in and concludes the first epistle written by the apostle John unto the saints which were at Ephesus. More specifically today passage is found in the fifth chapter of this New Testament book. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is bgreater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of His Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath t he witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:1-12).
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth. Not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked on toucheth him not. And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (1 John 5:13-21).
When you come to the fifth and final chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle John you will find him continuing on with the language of believing on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you have truly taken the time to read the words which are found in this epistle you will find at the very heart and center of it is believing in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is absolutely impossible to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not find as the very foundation of it believing on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The more you read the words which are found in this epistle the more you will be brought face to face with the truly wonderful and beautiful reality that we have indeed been called to be those who believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ—and not only believe on His name but also receive Him. These are the words which are found in the first and opening chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John when he spoke of those who were given power to become the sons of God. Those who were given power to become the sons of God were indeed those who not only received Him but also those who believed on His name. These who were given power to become the sons of God were born not of flesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of man but of the Spirit and of the Father that they might be to the praise of the glory of the living God.
As we approach the final chapter of this epistle written by the apostle John we find him emphatically declaring that whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God and how every one that loves him that begat loves also those who are begotten of him. If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading this epistle is that the apostle John doesn’t merely speak of believing in the name of the Lord Jesus but believing even more than this. The words which we find here in this passage of Scripture call and invite us into the place where we not only believe in the name of the Lord Jesus but also that we believe that Jesus is the Christ and that Jesus is the Son of God. When we speak of this concept of belief—it is indeed true that we speak of believing on the name of the Lord Jesus, however, there is so much more to this belief than merely believing on His name. We know that those who believe on His name and receive Him are given power to become sons of God who are born not of the will of man nor of the things of this earth but are born from above and born of God. With this being said there is a great need to recognize and understand that this belief must needs extend all the more to who Jesus Christ truly is. It is indeed necessary that we believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, however, if we want to truly be children of the living God we must needs believe that the Jesus is indeed the Christ. What’s more is that we must needs believe that Jesus is the Son of God who was sent down from heaven above in the form of human flesh.
The more you read the words contained within this epistle the more you will be brought face to face with the tremendous need within our hearts and lives to be those who believe on the name of the Lord Jesus but also those who believe that He is who He said He was. This was what was so incredibly difficult for the Jews during the days in which the Lord Jesus walked upon the earth for they could not believe that He was indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God. If you read the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will find time and time again the Jews contending and struggling with being able to accept the truth that this Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the long awaited Messiah whom they and their fathers had been waiting for for centuries and millennia. You cannot read the words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John and not encounter time after time when the Jews argued, strove and contended with Jesus over His claims that God was His Father and that He came down from heaven and from the Father. The Jews continually disregarded Jesus’ claims that He was the Son of God and that the words which He spoke were not His own and proceeded forth from the heart and mouth of the Father. Oh this is something we must needs recognize when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture written by the apostle John for within it we are brought face to face with the tremendous need to not only believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and in His name but also believe that He is indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God.
It is with this in mind I would like to first and foremost invite you to consider the following words which are found in the first and second chapters of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews. If you take the time to read the words which are found in these two chapters you will not only find the reality that the Father hath indeed spoken to us in these Last Days by His Son but also that His Son is indeed eternal and divine in His nature. His Son was given a name and an inheritance far greater and far above any of the angels in heaven as He was made greater and superior to the angels which were in heaven. What’s more is that while we do in fact read of the Lord Jesus being given a name and an inheritance which was far greater than any of the angels in heaven we also find Him abasing and making Himself lower than the angels for the purpose of suffering. This would indeed be done—not only by Him taking upon Himself the form of flesh and blood but also by his taking upon Himself the seed of Abraham. Thus within the first and second chapters of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews we find the Lord Jesus being given a name and inheritance far greater than the angels in heaven and yet being made lower than the angels for the purposes of suffering and death as the eternal and only begotten Son of the Father. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words found in these opening chapters of this New Testament epistle:
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brighteness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou arty my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands; they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:1-14).
It is with these words we find and encounter the tremendous truth that the Lord Jesus Christ was indeed given a name and an inheritance that was far greater than the angels which were in heaven. The first and opening chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews was designed and intended on bringing us face to face with the beautiful reality of the Lord Jesus Christ being entirely and altogether divine in His nature as the eternal and only begotten Son of the living God. What’s more is that this Jesus was and still is the brightness of His glory and the express image of his person and upholds all things by the word of his power when he had by himself purged our sins and sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. This Jesus was made so much better than the angels as He by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. With this in mind, however, it is absolutely necessary to understand that while in the first chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews we were brought face to face with the divinity and eternal nature of the Lord Jesus Christ it is in the second chapter we are brought face to face with the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of that which is found in the second chapter for it is within the second chapter we encounter the beautiful truth that although the Lord Jesus was made far greater and far better than the angels in heaven He allowed Himself to be made lower than the angels themselves for the purpose of suffering and death. Oh consider if you will the following words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews beginning to read with and from the fifth verse:
“For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou viitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crowndest him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:5-18).
There is a great need to recognize and understand the words presented in the opening chapters of the epistle written unto the Hebrews for within them we are brought face to face with both the divinity and humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is this marriage and unity of divinity and humanity which the Jews themselves had an incredibly difficult time understanding and accepting. In all reality the more I read the words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle John the more I can’t help but think about whether or not he had the Jews in mind when he was writing this epistle. We know that there were indeed false brethren which not only crept in among the saints and brethren of the Lord Jesus Christ—those who would teach destructive heresies, teachings and doctrines of men and of demons. There is not a doubt in my mind that part of those whom the apostle John was writing and referencing in this passage of Scripture were those unbelieving Gentiles who would creep in unaware among them who not only denied that Jesus was the Christ but also denied that Jesus was indeed the Son of the living God. Having said this, however, I believe that what we find in this epistle can in fact directly point to the unbelieving Jews which were present during the days of the Lord Jesus—those days when the apostle John did indeed walk with and follow the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that you cannot read the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John and not encounter this resistance and opposition of the Jews toward the Lord Jesus—not only resistance to His being eternal and divine, and not only resistance to His being the Messiah but also resistance to his being the eternal and only begotten Son of the Father. Oh is it possible that these antichrists which the apostle John wrote of and referenced in this passage of Scripture could have also included those Jews who were not only unbelieving but also who resisted and rejected Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of the living God?
It is when I read the words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle John I can’t help but be brought face to face with the incredible truth surrounding the need to believe on the name of the Lord Jesus—and not only believe on His name but also believe in His identity and person. If you read the words found in this epistle you will find that it isn’t enough to simply believe on His name—although the apostle John would write in his gospel narrative that those who received Him and believed on His name were given power to become the sons of the living God—for we must also believe that He is indeed both the Christ and the Son of the living God. As you read the words presented by the apostle in this epistle you will find him writing and speaking of antichrists which went out from among them and yet although they went out from among them they were not of them. What’s more is the apostle John goes on to describe the nature and characteristics of these antichrists—namely how they deny that Jesus is indeed the Son of the living God and that He is the Christ. Moreover these antichrists would also go so far as to declare that Jesus did not indeed come in the flesh as the Scripture states and therefore cast doubt on both His humanity and His divinity. There is great importance within our hearts and minds when reading this epistle to recognize and understand the nature and characteristics of these antichrists for they can best be understood as those who deny the eternal nature of Jesus. These antichrists which are fueled and operated by the spirit of antichrist itself walk through this life denying the divine and eternal nature of Jesus the Christ—much like the unbelieving Jews which were present during the days of Jesus.
I read the words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle John and I can’t help but think about those unbelieving Jews who not only rejected and opposed the claims Jesus made that He came from God and that God was His Father but also those Jews who proceeded to persecute and even seek to kill Him. In fact beginning with the fifth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will find the Jews persecuting Jesus of Nazareth—initially because He healed a man on the sabbath but furthermore because He made the claim that God was His Father thus making Himself equal with God. It would be in the fifth chapter of this gospel narrative we begin seeing this opposition, resistance and rejection of the Jews toward the Lord Jesus, however, this rejection would continue throughout the remainder of the gospel until eventually they would cry out before Pontius Pilate calling for Jesus to be crucified and put to death. If you want to truly understand the spirit of antichrist at work as mentioned in this epistle written by the apostle John it is necessary to first read the specific passages found in this epistle concerning the antichrists which went out from among the brethren and the spirit of the antichrist that is in operation within and which animates them. I invite you to first and foremost consider the words and passages found within this epistle which highlight and speak to this particular reality of antichrists among the brethren:
“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledeth the Son hath the Father also” (1 John 2:17-23).
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:1-6).
HE THAT DENIETH THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST! DENIETH THE FATHER AND THE SONS! DENIETH THE SON! EVERY SPIRIT THAT CONFESSETH NOT THAT JESUS CHRIST IS COME IN THE FLESH! There is a great need to recognize the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for what we find therein is a powerful picture of what the characteristics of these antichrists truly are. It’s important to note that the apostle John is the only author in the New Testament who uses the word “antichrist” and not only used it to refer to specific individuals but also to one overall individual whom students and scholars of the Scripture know and understand to be the actual person of the Antichrist. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how important it us for if you read the words found in the epistle written by the apostle John you will find that these antichrists not only deny that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh but they also deny that Jesus is the Christ. Moreover they deny both the Father and the Son thus adding to their folly, their iniquity and their transgression in the sight of the living God. It is this particular truth which is manifested and demonstrated in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the same author. It is in the New Testament gospel we find examples of the Jews and their targeted opposition and resistance to the Lord Jesus. This resistance and opposition would initially be because of His works in that He healed on the sabbath, however, it would eventually transition to the words which He spoke—and not only the words He spoke but also the claims He made concerning Himself and His origin.
If you read the words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John you can and will encounter a tremendous pictures of the resistance and opposition of the Jews toward the person of Jesus. Perhaps one of the biggest stumbling blocks the Jews had a hard time getting over was that He was the son of Mary and Joseph and they knew His brothers and sisters. When in Galilee and speaking unto them of His being the bread which came down from heaven they were offended in and by Him simply because they were familiar with Him. Those in Galilee could not get past their own familiarity with and knowledge of Jesus and who He was and it was for this very reason many of them grew offended in Him. It should be mentioned that the two greatest reasons the Jews grew offended with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ was because of His words and His works. If we truly want to understand this resistance we must needs view chapters five through ten through this lens and see how this resistance and opposition was fueled by their own belief and the hardness of their hearts. The Jews could not get past who they knew Jesus to be and as a direct result they could not see Jesus for who He was. Pause for a moment and consider how part of the resistance and rejection of the Jews was directly linked to the fact that they believed they knew who He was and where He came from so when He began speaking of Himself as being sent and come from God and suggested God as being His Father they could not handle it. There is not a doubt in my mind that the spirit of religion which includes legalism and hypocrisy captivated, ensnared and bound the religious system and leaders of that day, however, I would dare say the spirit of antichrist captivated the hearts and minds of many of the Jews—a spirit that is one of unbelief and hardness of heart.
Having said and written all of this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to some of the passages which we find in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John concerning the resistance and opposition of the Jews toward the person of Jesus of Nazareth. I am absolutely and completely convinced that we must needs consider each of these passages for it is when we do we truly recognize and understand that which the apostle John wrote in the first epistle concerning believing on the name of the Lord Jesus as well as believing that Jesus is not only the Christ but also the Son of the living God. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John beginning within the fifth chapter:
“And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what thing soever he doeth these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will” (John 5:16-21).
It is in this passage of Scripture we encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the Jews who not only sought to persecute the Lord Jesus because He had healed a man on the sabbath but they also sought the more to kill Him—both because they felt he had violated and broken the sabbath and because He said that God was His Father thus making himself equal with God. The words found in this passage of Scripture must be carefully considered and understood when seeking to understand that which is found in the first epistle written by the apostle John for the apostle John wrote concerning those who not only rejected the truth that Jesus came in the flesh but they also rejected and opposed the idea that Jesus was indeed the Son of the living God. What we find here in this passage of Scripture is the Jews being unable to accept the truth that the Lord Jesus was indeed the Son of God and that God was His Father—this in addition to the fact that He had healed on the sabbath. What we must needs recognize when reading the words found in the fifth chapter is that as you continue reading in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will not only find the Jews rejecting the Lord Jesus—those who did and could not receive and believe on the Lord Jesus—but you will also find those Jews who did believe turning back and walking no more with Him. What’s more is that as you continue in chapters seven, eight, nine and ten of this gospel you will find the Jews and the religious leaders present among them raising themselves up against the Lord Jesus and vehemently opposing and rejecting Him. Ultimately this rejection and opposition would lead them to cry out for Him to be crucified before Pontius Pilate.
Having said and written this I find it absolutely necessary for you to consider the following words which are present in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John and how those Jews and disciples who even believed on His name would eventually turn back and walk no more with Him. Remember the words which the apostle John wrote concerning antichrists who went out from among the brethren and through their going out they demonstrated that they were not truly of them. It is with this concept and reality of going out from among them I would like you to consider when reading the words found in the sixth chapter of this gospel narrative written by the same author of the epistle. With this in mind I invite you to consider if you will the following words which are found in the sixth chapter beginning with the thirty-fifth verse of the chapter:
“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thrist. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. NO man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this. Man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth. Me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat mann, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum” (John 6:35-59).
“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth noting: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man came come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” (John 6:60-65).
“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve” (John 6:66-70).
Please don’t miss the words which are found in these verses within the sixth chapter for the words which we read present us with a powerful picture of the Jews who not only murmured and strove within themselves at the words and sayings of the Lord Jesus but many of His disciples who perhaps did believe on His name and had received Him to a certain degree and measure turned back and walked no more with Him. What began with murmuring and striving within themselves would eventually transition to many of His disciples turning back and walking no more with Him. This is the picture I would like you to consider—not only when you consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote concerning the great falling away, but also the words which the Lord Jesus spoke concerning the love of many growing cold in His Olivet discourse concerning the last days as well as the words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle John. The words which we find here within this epistle call and draw our attention to the words which are found in Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seed when He speaks of those who are offended because they experienced persecution, affliction and suffering in this life. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the words which are found in the second epistle written unto the Thessalonian saints:
“…But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended” (Matthew 13:20-21).
“…Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:4-14).
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there be a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken away. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).
It is at this particular juncture I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the fourth and fifth chapters of the first epistle written by the apostle John. In the final chapters of this particular epistle we are brought face to face with the apostle John instructing his readers and audience to not believe every spirit but to try the spirits whether they are of God. The apostle John would then go on to write and declare that many false prophets are gone out into the world. This reality of many false prophets is incredibly interesting to think about and consider when reading the epistle written by the apostle John for within it we not only encounter the truth regarding false prophets having gone out into the world but the apostle John also spoke of antichrists which went out from them. What we must recognize and understand concerning this is that for those antichrists who went out from among the brethren—not only did they manifest themselves as having not been true brothers and sisters but also that they deny the Lord Jesus Christ, deny His existence as the Christ and even deny His existence as the Son of the living God. The reality concerning false prophets is that they are those who actually go out into the world and spread these same realities. This was what the apostle Paul, the apostle Peter and even Jude wrote concerning the false prophets, the false teachers and the false apostles who were present in the world who would spread a gospel that is not the true gospel and would preach a Jesus that is not the true Jesus—the Jesus who is indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God.
The more you continue reading in the first epistle written by the apostle John the more you will be brought face to face with the incredible reality of Christian life—and not only Christian life but what is at the very heart and center of Christian life. As you read this epistle you will encounter time and time again this reality of how we know we are children of the living God and how we know we are sons and daughters of the living God. You cannot read the words which are found in this epistle and not encounter the truly incredible truth surrounding these various tests if you will which demonstrate that we are indeed sons of the living God. What’s more is that as you read the words which are presented in this epistle you will encounter the word “know” used by the apostle John a number of times. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the wonderful reality concerning these litmus tests of how we can indeed know that we are the sons of God, how we can know that we are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ and how we can know that we truly are those who please the living God. In all reality I would dare say that this epistle is essentially a contrast between those who are the sons of God—those whom the love of God was bestowed upon them that they should be called the sons of God and those who are antichrist. The first epistle written by the apostle John cannot truly be read and understood without and apart from this particular truth for it calls and draws our attention to the truly amazing truth surrounding this stark contrast between those who profess themselves to be brethren and those who profess themselves to be the sons of God and yet who are nothing but imposters and frauds.
As you begin reading with and from the first verse of the fifth chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle John emphatically declaring and professing that whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. Not only this but the apostle John also goes on to write and declare that every one that loves him that begat loves him also that is begotten of him. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for perhaps one of the greatest tests of whether or not we are indeed sons of the living God is not only whether or not we do indeed love Him whom we do not see but loving those whom we do see. You cannot read the words which are found within this epistle and not be brought face to face with the truth surrounding the truth that we are the children of God when we love His commandments. It was the Lord Jesus who declared that we are His friends if we obey and keep His commandments as well as declared that men will know that we are His disciples according to the degree and measure of the love we have for others. If you want to truly know and understand whether or not you are indeed one who is a child of the living God you must needs recognize and understand that one of the greatest tests surrounding this relationship is indeed how we love our brother, how we love our neighbor and even how we love our enemies. It is at this juncture I find it necessary and imperative to call and draw your attention to the parable Jesus told that one who came to him asking who his neighbor truly was. I am absolutely convinced that if we want to truly understand the words which are found in this epistle we must needs consider the parable of the Good Samaritan for it is this parable that truly helps us understand how and what it means to love our neighbor—and not only love our neighbor but also to give of ourselves for those who are in need:
“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? How readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:25-37).
The parable which the Lord Jesus spoke concerning loving our neighbour must needs be carefully understood for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding what it truly does look like for us to have the world’s good and to be willing to take of it that we might help and minister unto those who are in need. That which makes the parable of the Good Samaritan so incredibly unique when you take the time to think about it is when you consider that this wasn’t someone whom the Samaritan met in the market, or in the streets, or even along the way as they were both journeying and travelling. What makes this parable so incredibly unique when you think about and consider it is when you realize that Jesus deliberately and intentionally mentioned this man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho fell among thieves. Not only did Jesus speak of and declare this man fell among thieves but He also declared how they stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him—and not only this but they also departed leaving him half dead. Jesus was very clear and intentional when delivering this parable for he purposely brought this traveling man into a place of need. Jesus deliberately presented this man as having been wounded, bruised, beaten and left half dead by those in the world.
I am convinced we must needs realize and understand the words which are found in this parable for loving our neighbors not only extends to those who are living their lives in comfort, in quietness, in rest and are seemingly in a good place. Loving our neighbor and loving our brother also means a willingness to love those who are poor, those who are destitute, those who are in need of strength, help and support. What makes this particular parable so incredibly unique when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that both a priest and a Levite came upon the place where this man was. Not only did they come upon the place where the man was but undoubtedly they looked upon him and saw that he was in dire need. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth that these were both Jews by birth and by heritage—and not only Jews by lineage and birth but they were also those who were anointed and ordained by the living God. These were those who would have ministered in the Temple of the living God and before and around the altar. What a tremendous indictment—not only against the Jews but also against those who are religious—when Jesus spoke of both a priest and a Levite coming to the place where this man was and seeing the condition he was in chose to continue along their journey. Scripture does not reveal whether or not the priest and the Levite were traveling from Jericho unto Jerusalem and came upon this man along their journey. In all reality it would indeed be interesting and add a whole different level of meaning to this particular parable if they were traveling from Jericho to Jerusalem or perhaps from some other place between Jericho and where this man was left half dead.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but think about the significance of the priest and the Levite who were not only Jews by birth and heritage but who were also ordained and appointed for the work and service of the living God. Jesus described how these men—while they were traveling along the same road as this man—came upon the place where he had been left half dead not entirely knowing what happened but seeing the aftermath of something that had taken place. It’s truly quite interesting that both the priest and the Levite came upon the place where this man was lying half dead and they clearly understood and recognized that something had happened to him. Stop for a moment and think about what type of person would come upon someone who was lying half dead on the side of the street not fully knowing what happened and what their story was but knowing that something had indeed happened. Imagine what type of heart and soul must be within someone to not only see someone in need but see someone who was in a desperate place in their life having clearly been wounded, bruised, beaten and left in an incredibly dire condition. Both the priest and the Levite were found traveling along this road and I can’t help but wonder if these two men were traveling in the opposite direction—traveling from Jericho to Jerusalem. This man whom Jesus described as falling among the thieves was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho and it was while traveling along this road he would fall among thieves who would beat and wound him, strip him and leave him half dead. The priest and the Levite might very well have been traveling from Jericho to Jerusalem—perhaps dressed in their priestly garments and outfits and did in fact come to the place where this man was lying half dead.
That which adds even more weight and significance to this particular parable is if you think about the possibility that both the priest and the Levite were dressed in the garments which were used in the service of the living God. Scripture suggests this might not have been the case for traveling in such garments might have run the risk of them being polluted and defiled along the way from the dirt and dust that was on the road. It is very likely the priest and the Levite were not dressed in their garments for the Old Testament in the Law speaks of those who are engaged in the service of the living God putting on their garments in the Tabernacle and Temple of the living God. Both the priests and the Levites were to wash themselves and then enter into the chambers and put off the garments they were wearing that they might put on the priestly and Levitical garments for the work and service of the Lord. It is true that neither the priest nor the Levite might not have been dressed in their garments used in the service of the Lord and yet I am convinced that is not entirely important. I am convinced that was is important is that it is very possible the priest and the Levite were traveling along this road—perhaps from Jericho unto Jerusalem or from another city, town or village along this road—and it was on their way they came upon the place where this man lie half dead having clearly suffered tremendous evil and wrong in this world.
Pause for a moment and consider how incredibly disturbing this would have been if both the priest and the Levite were traveling along the way unto Jerusalem to enter into the work and service of the ministry in the Lord’s house and were unwilling to stop along the way and care for and tend after this man. Imagine this priest and Levite thinking and perhaps even feeling within their heart that they could not afford to stop and offer any type of help, compassion and charity to this man because getting to Jerusalem and getting to the house of the LORD was of greater importance. Imagine the priest and the Levite being more concerned with sacrifice and offering than they were with being vessels of compassion and charity to those in the world who desperately needed it. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it brings us face to face—not only with the fact these were two religious individuals who deliberately and intentionally chose to pass by on the other side of the road without stopping to help this man but also the fact that they were Jews by nature. The fact they were a priest and Levite not only spoke of their being involved in the work and ministry of the house of the Lord but also that they were Jewish by nature for only those who were Jews by heritage and birth and of the tribe of Levi could serve in the work and ministry of the house of the Lord. Oh this is something we must needs recognize and realize when reading the first epistle written by the apostle John for it is when reading this epistle we encounter one of the greatest demonstrations and witnesses of being a child of the living God as being those who are willing to love others as the Lord Jesus loved us.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw our attention to the incredibly beautiful and captivating truth that we as the saints of God—if we truly desire to be those who are the sons of the living God—must not only believe that Jesus came in the flesh but must also believe that He is indeed both the Christ and the Son of the living God. What’s more is that we as the saints of God and those who profess to be the sons of the living God must needs be those who don’t simply love in word and in tongue but those who love in deed—those whose faith is truly demonstrated and manifested by and through works. This particular epistle calls and draws our attention to the wonderful truth and reality of how we can indeed know that we are children of the living God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and there is a clear and present contrast which exists between the children of the devil and the children of the living God—much like the words which were spoken by the Lord Jesus in the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the same author. In fact I would like to leave you with the words which are found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John for it calls and draws our attention to this stark contrast between those who are children of the Father which is in heaven and those who are children of their father the devil. I leave you now with the following words which are found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by this same apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ:
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abrham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abrham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a. man keep my saying, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, I f a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? And the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet ye have not known him; but I. know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:31-59).