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ZADOK PUBLICATIONS MONTHLY NEWSLETTER
June 1, 2021
"Studies of the Spirit in the New Testament
I, II and III John"
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Exiled on the Isle of Patmos, this Disciple, who leaned on the bosom of Jesus, takes up the pen to write---fully twenty years after giving his Gospel account. He truly is a Father in the Faith and his words drip with love for Jesus and His church. He knows what it is to be, "in the Spirit on the Lord's Day." He knows what it is to sacrifice all for the sake of the Gospel. He understands the grace needed to carry out the will of the Lord. He addresses every level of society and every age group within it.
However, John tarries to the third chapter verse twenty-four before mentioning the Spirit by name. Up to this point, the Beloved is preparing the way which will usher in the manifest power of God--the Spirit.
1 John 3:21-24:
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
Living proof that a person has the indwelling Spirit is their love for Jesus and their brethren. Verse twenty-four clearly testifies about the indwelling Christ and the indwelling Spirit. Tenderly, John writes to the churches about the fundamental elements which must be found in their congregations in order to prove they are right before God. Alas, the Spirit's pronouncements to the seven churches in Revelation are an indicator of the need for John's words.
In just the next few verses, John touches the nerve center of the believer's life.
1 John 4:1-4:
4 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.
4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
Simple is the formula for testing spirits, an exercise which is much needed today! With the increase of mass media comes the invasion of religion by false and anti-Christ spirits. What is amazing is that most of the church is searching for evidence of the Anti-Christ in government, religion and organized groups as if it is a modern phenomenon, while it has been operating since the early church.
John produces one of the most quoted passages in Scripture in verse four. He is confident that believers are overcomers because of the indwelling Jesus and the indwelling Spirit. It is not our testimony, not our verbal assent, not our adherence to doctrine or our reliance on organized groups which is seminal, for the evidence is the indwelling!
Now listen, as John develops the power of the indwelling.
1 John 4:12-16:
12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
The love element is foundational for the indwelling. John stated this fact in chapter three verse twenty-three and throughout this epistle.
1 John 4:21-5:10:
And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
5 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
6 This is He who came by water and blood - Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.
9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself.
Notice the pivotal part the Spirit plays in both witnesses.
a. The Spirit is part of the witness of heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit.
b. The Spirit is part of the witness on earth: the Spirit, the water and the blood.
Acknowledging the tri-part witness in heaven and earth, John wrote the following treatise.
1 John 5:9-13:
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. 11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
Does the believer of today bear "the witness in himself" to display the testimony God has given? John's concern was plain, he wanted the reader to "know" he has eternal life through Jesus.
Just as the gospel of John yielded a different view from the other three gospel messages, so his epistle yields some of the most notable passages to be found in the New Testament. He re-defines terms like "fellowship" to show that all true comradery starts in a spiritual base. To the thousands who "tolerate" assembling with congregations that barely preach the Word in order to have "fellowship," John would not "tolerate" the ignominy of such a desire. John fellowshipped with those whose fellowship was with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He set the baseline for true "fellowship" among the saints.
1 John 1:3-4:
3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
John then opens the door to one of the most quoted passages in the new covenant. Simply put, it is the most profound method of handling sin in one's life.
1 John 1:9:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
John's epistles could be line marked solidly because he unfolds laudable truths on every page.
Definitive passages like the following are scattered throughout the epistle.
1 John 2:6:
He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
1 John 2:15-17:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
Almost every line in John's epistles burn through the camouflages of religion and bares the heart of spiritual matters. From the ravages of the anti-Christ spirit to the legalistic forays of the false pretenders, he ploughs through to the Light.
1 John 3:10:
In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.
1 John 4:15-16:
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
1 John 5:4-5:
4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
2 John 7-8:
For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.
Now, comes one of the most quoted passages in Scripture, and it is found in John's third epistle:
3 John 2-3:
2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
Truly, one could surmise that John was writing a "Preamble" to the book of Revelation when he penned these epistles. As we will see next month when we look into the end time prophecy which concludes the study of the Spirit series, the churches of the first chapters could have benefited greatly by taking to heart John's format.
Until Next Month,
Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.