Abide in Christ – August 5, 2022

I came across an article a couple of years ago about Aaron Rogers, the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. I had passed over the article with no intention of reading it until I came across it a second time. However, this time it was attached to the name of a former preacher who abandoned the faith, Rob Bell. So, I took the time to peruse it. What I read was tragic. Aaron Rogers was raised in a pretty solid Christian home. He grew up espousing Christianity. However, he had some questions about it. After winning the Super Bowl six years ago, he still felt empty and unsatisfied. It was at that time that he met Rob Bell. This man began funneling books to Rogers, which undermined his faith. The article detailed Bell’s journey to denying the Christian faith and espousing a blend of modern self-help and eastern mysticism. Sadly, because Aaron Rogers did not abide in Christ, he also appears to have departed the faith.

Why does this happen, and how can we avoid it? This is the message that John next tackles in the book of 1 John 2:18-29. It would be best to start this next section towards the end. Sometimes, to understand the context of the passage and the purpose, you have to look at how it concludes. This text is an example. 1 John 2:28 – And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.

But how do we do that? How do we abide in Christ? With all that is happening around us, how do we avoid the same fate as Rogers and shipwrecked our faith? John gives us two ways we can Abide in Christ. These reasons appear in the subsequent two tests of life to see if we are a true church and a genuine believer.

The first way we can abide in Christ is by valuing Biblical beliefs. We must make sure that what we believe is right. We find this test in verses 18-26. Through this passage, we learn that, to value Biblical beliefs, we must beware those who depart from those beliefs because many false teachers exist.

John states that many anti-Christs have appeared. Now John is not referring Prophetically to the one he identifies in Revelation as The Anti-Christ (the one who seeks to replace Christ). Instead, he refers to false teachers who speak against what Christ taught. They do not follow the correct orthodox doctrine of Scripture. Sadly, many of these men exist. And many of these men pose as preachers of the Word of God.

Just because someone with the title of Pastor, Preacher, or Reverend says something does not make it right. You ought to judge your Pastor. And you ought to Judge any man who claims the title or Pastor or the privilege of preaching. We will see in Chapter 4, verse 1, that we are to test the spirits. That verse says that we are to test the teaching and lifestyle of these people to see if what they are saying aligns with the Word of God. If it does not, you run.

Why is this important, because numerous false teachers exist who mangle and misuse the Word of God for their gain. Too many preachers exist who are unwilling to put in the hard work to study and prepare a sound biblical feast for their flock. Beware false teachers.

While some of these false teachers start as false teachers, many come from within the church. So what happened? John gives a powerful statement about them in verse 19:  They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

These false teachers departed from the true Christian faith. They went out because they were never really in the faith. When someone leaves the faith and begins to teach false doctrine actively, it is a sign that they were never a child of God in the first place. How can this be true? How can John make such a strong judgmental statement? Because this is supported by passages throughout the Word of God like Matthew 13:13, John 10:27-30, Philippians 1:6, Colossians 1:21-23, 2 Timothy 2:19, and Hebrews 3:6-14.

What these verses are referring to is something we call the perseverance of the Saints. Here is what they are saying: you cannot lose your salvation when you are saved. And the evidence that you are saved is your living out your salvation (James 2:17). And since you cannot lose your salvation and proof of salvation is living it out, those whose lives are marked by that which is anti-God, by continual unrepentant sin, and the teaching of false doctrine are giving evidence that they were never really a child of God.

We are not claiming that Christians do not sin. We saw that Christians do indeed sin back in 1 John 1. But we are saying that when one has the Spirit of God in his life, he will grow in the Spirit, even if only minutely. The Holy Spirit will evidence His presence in the believer’s life either through distinct spiritual growth or through the Spirit’s chastening. There is no category of Christian who knowingly, continually, and unrepentantly waves the white flag and submits himself to a life characterized and dominated by sin.

So, beware false teachers who come as angels of light. Beware the preacher who presents himself as the all-knowing authority. Beware the preacher who refuses to be questioned. Beware the preacher who is unwilling to back up what he is saying with the Word of God. And beware the preacher who is unwilling to do the hard work to do their own study and prepare a sound biblical feast for their flock.