Sunday June 7, 2020 Worship Service
Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid;
cleanse the thoughts of our heart by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit;
that we may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your holy name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Scripture Reading - 1 John 4:1-6
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God,
because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God:
Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.
This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them,
because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world,
and the world listens to them.
We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.
This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
A Spiritually Discerning Church
1 John 4:1-6
Considering many deceptive tactics by the enemy today, I believe John’s words to us in our text are vital for the preservation of God’s truth.
1 Timothy 4:1 (NIV84)
1The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
We need to be very aware and pay close attention to John’s words here.
Our focus this morning is that as a church we must be discerning in spiritual matters.
Three parts; The Reason, The Basis, The Evidence
1) The reason to be a discerning church (1 John 4:1)
The Bible clearly teaches that God really exists and the He spoke the heavens and earth into existence.
The Bible clearly teaches of the actual existence of Satan.
When John speaks about false prophets, we need to realize that these false prophets didn’t blatantly encourage Satanic worship.
Matthew 7:15 (NIV84)
15“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
True faith isn’t a blind leap into the dark, it examines it’s object carefully before putting trust in it.
We need spiritual discernment because Satan and his forces are alive and well, promoting error at every opportunity.
2) The basis for being a discerning church (1 John 4:2-3)
The basis for being a discerning church is on the confession regarding the person and work of Jesus Christ.
What does it mean when John writes, “acknowledge” or “confess”?
There is the implication that we believe in a way that includes submitting our lift to Him as Lord.
Romans 10:9–10 (NIV84)
9That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
What does it mean when John writes, “has come”?
There is the implication that we believe Jesus’ preexistence as the eternal Son of God.
John refers to not only Jesus’ true deity, but also Jesus’ true humanity.
John 1:1 (NIV84)
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 8:58 (NIV84)
58“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
The content of our theology matters, and that is what John is getting at here.
Have you ever considered that the difference between a person in a false cult and a true believer in Jesus Christ is largely one of theology?
Let us be a church that studies sound doctrine, especially about the person and work of Jesus Christ.
3) The evidence of a discerning church (1John 4:4-6)
The evidence is how we respond to the apostolic witness.
3a) Response #1 – You who overcome the false teaching are from God (1 John 4:4)
Christianity is a matter of being born of God so that you receive new life from Him and become His child.
The Spirit preserves us from error through God’s Word.
Let us diligently study God’s Word in dependence on the Holy Spirit for understanding.
Then we will overcome the false teachers.
3b) Response #2 – They who follow the false teaching are from the world (1 John 4:5)
The world system is built around the principle of taking glory away from God and transferring it to the proud self-willed individual.
We need to be careful not to judge the success of a ministry by its size, we need to judge it by its faithfulness to the truth of the gospel as revealed in the Bible.
3c) Response #3 – We who respond to the Apostolic Witness (1 John 4:6)
The one who knows God listens to the Apostles, and the one that is not from God will not listen to the Apostles.
We have the apostolic teaching preserved in the New Testament.
A. W. Tozer posed seven tests to apply to any teaching:
How does the teaching affect my relationship with God? Is He magnified and glorified, or diminished?
How does the teaching affect my attitude toward the Lord Jesus Christ? Does it magnify Him and give Him first place? Or, does it subtly shift my focus onto myself or some experience?
How does the teaching affect my attitude toward Scripture? Did the teaching come from and agree with the Word? Does it increase my love for the Word?
How does the teaching affect my self-life? Does it feed self or crucify it? Does it feed pride or humility?
How does the teaching affect my relationships to other Christians? Does it cause me to withdraw, find fault, and exalt myself in superiority? Or, does it lead me to genuine love for all that truly know Christ?
How does the teaching affect my relationship to the world system? Does it lead me to pursue the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life? Does it lead me to pursue worldly riches, reputation, and pleasures? Or, does it crucify the world to me?
How does the teaching affect my attitude toward sin? Does it cause me to tolerate sin in my life or to turn from it and grow in holiness? Any teaching that makes holiness more acceptable and sin more intolerable is genuine.
Questions for Discussion
How can I make sure that I am discerning biblically and not just being judgmental?
What are some steps I can take to develop discernment?
How would you elaborate on this following statement? “Every Christian is a theologian, the problem is, some are sloppy theologians.”