Bahan Alkitab: 1 John
1 John – Knowing We Belong to Christ
The book of 1 John was written by John, son of Zebedee, a fisherman, whom Jesus called to be one of His disciples. Apostle John was one of Jesus’ inner circle (together with James and Peter).
It was written circa 85AD
– To expose false teachers
1 John 2:26 – I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you
– To give believers assurance of salvation
1 John 5:13 – I write these things to you who believe in the name of Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.
One of the most dangerous heresies of the first three centuries of the church was Gnosticism. Its central teaching was that spirit is entirely good and matter is entirely evil.
Apostle John fought against this false teaching in his old age. He emphasised on the genuine Word of God, obedience to the Word of God and having the fruit of faith, that is love.
Gnosticism has its root from the philosophy of Plato. It has mainly five main errors:
1. Man’s body, which is matter, is therefore evil. It is to be contrasted with God, who is wholly spirit and therefore good.
2. Christ’s true humanity was denied in two ways:
a. Christ only seemed to have a body, a view called Docetism, from the Greek dokeo (“to seem”)
b. The divine Christ joined the man Jesus at baptism and left Him when He was crucified, a view called Cerinthianism, after the most prominent spokesman, Cerinthus.
John corrected this unbiblical teaching that Jesus Christ who was baptised and crucified is the same being, and Jesus Christ did have a body, that he had seen, heard, touched, so not only “seemed” to have a body.
1 John 1:1 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.
1 John 2:22 – Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.
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. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
3. Salvation is the escape from the body, achieved not by faith in Christ but by special knowledge. The Greek word for “knowledge” is gnosis, hence Gnosticism. This special knowledge is deemed higher than the Scripture itself. No knowledge is higher than the Word of God as we learn in Sola Scriptura:
a. The Bible is the only perfect rule of faith and practice
b. All truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught in the Bible
4. Since the body was considered evil, it was to be treated harshly. This leads to asceticism.
5. Breaking God’s law with the body has no moral consequences and not related at all to the spirit. The reasoning was that since matter is considered evil anyway, so we can commit sins with our body and don’t need to worry about the consequences. This leads to people living ungodly life and believe that is acceptable.
Not only that Gnosticism denied Christ’s true humanity but also denied the complete work of Christ on the cross. Jesus Christ incarnated to be true human with flesh and blood, so that He can die and through His sacrifice and death:
· He destroyed satan who has the power of death
· free all those from sin slavery
· He presented His body as the holy sacrifice in the service of God to cleanse the sins of his people
· so that we can be reconciled to God, be “at one”, in harmony, with God. This is called atonement. The word “atonement” is from the Middle English attone or atoon (“agreed”, literally “at one”).
So, believers in Christ can be certain about having eternal life because Christ has reconciled us to God through his sacrifice on the cross.
1 John 5:11-12 – And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Now, after Christians have faith in God, how can they live out their faith? Christians show their faith by:
· having sound doctrine, that is believing the truth about Jesus Christ
· testimony of genuine faith is obeying God’s commands
John 14:15 – If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
1 John 2:3 – And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.
1 John 2:4 – Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him
· confirmation of genuine faith is demonstrating love for one another.
1 John 3:8-10 – No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
1 John 3:23 – And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
1 John 4:21 – And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Let me use a tree to illustrate faith and how people know we have faith in Christ.
A tree’s roots is faith. A tree’s roots extend deep into the soil and beyond the base of the trunk. When a tree’s root system is healthy and strong, the tree produces a larger harvest. Your faith is like a tree’s roots. In order to produce healthier (and more) spiritual fruit, your faith must be deep and wide. In order to have a deep and wide faith, you must have:
· the right teaching of the Word of God
· obey God’s commandments:
o apply God’s Word in your daily lives, put these teachings into practice
o when tested by God in some circumstances, obey God’s commandments
We don’t see a tree’s roots because they are underneath the soil, but we see a tree’s fruit. A tree’s fruit is love. Likewise, people don’t see our faith, but people will know our faith in Christ when they see us demonstrating love for one another. We can love because we have the source of love, we are attached to the source of love, God Himself. If we don’t show love, if we don’t channel God’s love to others, then it is questionable: do we truly have faith in God?
Reflection / application:
· Is your faith in Jesus Christ reflected in the way you treat other people around you?
· Do you care for your siblings, for your mother and father? How can you show that you care for them?
· How can you show that you love your parents?
· How can you channel God’s love to others?
1 John 5:11-12
And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.