Exploring 1 John Session 14 1 John 2:24

 

Exploring 1 John Session 14 1 John 2:24

 We are stepping into Session 14 of our exploration of the letter of 1 John.  I have an addendum to Session 13.  Gnosticism was not a homogenous religious thought, not confined by an informing doctrine. So we have a lot of ideas when it comes to Christian Gnosticism.  The particular idea that John is currently warning the congregation about is that brand of Gnosticism that denied the humanity of Jesus.  Jesus wasn’t really human, he was a hologram or some such thing, Jesus was not flesh and blood.  That’s part of the lie John is refuting.

The truth you will walk away with is stay with the basics.  Say it with me: “Stay with the basics.”  Many have tried to explain the mysteries of the faith.  Inquiring minds want to know.  Sometimes in our attempt to explicate the inexplicable we stray from the basics and can turn our salvation into no salvation at all. What you believe is as important as what you do.

 1 John 2:24-25 (MSG)

Stay with what you heard from the beginning, the original message. Let it sink into your life. If what you heard from the beginning lives deeply in you, you will live deeply in both Son and Father. This is exactly what Christ promised: eternal life, real life!

 Reviewing the original message takes us back to the Creation.  God created something that was very good.  The Garden in Eden represents the intimacy of relationships that humanity was destined to enjoy for all eternity.  Speculation suggests that for humans there was no death in the original design.  What is not speculation is that humanity was endowed by their creator with a certain unalienable right: the right to choose.  With that choice the representatives of humanity the Adam, the Eve, were given the privilege of loving God, loving each other, loving the creation and loving their self.  The four loves of righteousness, of all things being as intended, working together in intimacy is the Garden.

You know the truth.  “Stay with the basics.” Love for God is demonstrated in your joyful willing obedience to His commands.  Love for others is demonstrated in your respect for those who are created in the image of God and further, out of your abundance, meeting their needs as opportunity arises.  Love for the creation is demonstrated by your wise stewardship of all the natural resources humanity has been gifted.  This also extends to all your material goods being used under the direction of God.  Love for self brings us full circle for it is in our loving God, loving others, and loving the earth, that we ourselves find exactly what we need to live our lives to the full.

 You know the truth.  “Stay with the basics.” The Adam used his free will and chose other than what love required.   To use metaphorical poetic language, the heart of God was broken.  The Adam’s choice made the original intended intimate fellowship with God, with others, with the earth, within his very self-impossible.  Humanity became estranged from righteousness.  Humanity is banished from the Garden.

Even a broken heart can still greatly love.  In the gospel according to John we read:

John 1:1-2 & 14 (NIV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 “Stay with the basics.” The Word represents a mystery.  For the Word is God and yet becomes human while remaining divine.  Human language is too limited to describe how this is possible.  We begin to grasp an inkling of the Divine reality when we use the names Father and Son.  But comprehension is still like looking through a foggy windshield. Here is the original message:

John 3:16-18 (NIV)

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. 

 “Stay with the basics.” With and in great love, Jesus, 100% Divine, 100% Human, makes an atonement that ends humanity’s estrangement from God.  To enter into this atonement one believes the message of the Father and the message of the Son, that reconciliation is possible for those who acknowledge their estrangement from God, Others, the Earth and Self; then acknowledging, believe that Jesus invites you to enter into righteousness, in the way things were meant to be, into the light.  Acknowledging, believing you make a commitment to follow the Son who sets you free from sin and darkness and the misery that living estranged visits upon you.  Acknowledging, believing, committing you ask God to accept your faith. God responds to your faith and allows you to abide in Him.  You enter the light. I want you in the light.

 Is this your reality, God abiding in you, you abiding in God?  You can make it so right now.  Claim the atonement for your own and start living reconciled.  If that is your decision today, let me know.  I want to encourage you in your faith.

God’s abiding presence empowers you to fulfill the greatest commandments: Love God, Love others.  It is love that keeps the disciple of Jesus in the light.  It is in love that the follower of Jesus strives to live morally, ethically, dedicated to discipleship.  It is love that shines within the Christian that drives out the darkness.  Where the rule of God is ignored or defied, darkness thrives.  Light overcomes darkness.

 God empowered love is especially demonstrated in the way we treat one another in the congregation.  For love requires that we forgive, for love requires we bear one another’s burdens, for love requires we keep a sacred unity.  Together we are a sanctuary, a lighthouse, a hospital, a way station, a school for discipleship, a sending terminal into the wide world of using your gifts to further the kingdom of God.

 “Stay with the basics.” If you forsake the congregation you are not abiding deeply.  If you hate a brother or sister you are not abiding deeply.  If you are continually disobeying a command of God you are not abiding deeply.  You are not abiding deeply, if at all. Reject the truth and your blinded to the fact that you are living in the darkness.

 John’s teaching is “stick with the original message.”  The original message is the foundation which every other practice is built upon.  The original message is the authority that determines if we are building well or not.  Most likely not everything to say of God has been said. We question, we wonder, we challenge doctrine and methodology, all this is good if we stay with the original message.  The original message creates the boundaries for our inquiries.  “Stay with the basics.”

 There great proclamations of the Church testify to the original message. Those Creeds are the Nicene adopted in 325, the Apostle’s Creed circulating around 390, and the Athanasian Creed from around 500.  We are going to read that part of the Athanasian Creed that particularly pertains to the Gnostic heresy John is refuting.

    That we believe and confess

    that our Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son,

    is both God and human, equally.

 

     He is God from the essence of the Father,

    begotten before time;

    and he is human from the essence of his mother,

    born in time;

    completely God, completely human,

    with a rational soul and human flesh;

    equal to the Father as regards divinity,

    less than the Father as regards humanity.

 

    Although he is God and human,

    yet Christ is not two, but one.

    He is one, however,

    not by his divinity being turned into flesh,

    but by God's taking humanity to himself.

    He is one,

    certainly not by the blending of his essence,

    but by the unity of his person.

    For just as one human is both rational soul and flesh,

    so too the one Christ is both God and human.

 

Synthesizing the original message into a simple statement of the basics we can say:  “Jesus, fully God, fully human, made the atonement for humanity that everyone may be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus.” The response to the original message is to believe and to love God love people.

 Right belief and right action allows the original message to sink in.  If we go back to the beginning that original message is symbolized in the Garden, enjoying a right relationship with God, Self, Earth and Self. If we consider the gospel as the original message that John has in mind then right belief and right action makes it possible for God to dwell in you and you to dwell in God.  Dwelling simply means you are experiencing a right relationship with God; right belief and right action results in knowing God which is described as eternal life.

 Jesus has prayed for those who believe

John 17: 21 (NIV)

“…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me?

 Stay with the original message, “stay with the basics.” Right belief in Jesus, right action as a disciple, and you will live the abundant life and graduate into life eternal, this is the secret of knowing God.

 In recent weeks as I watch people trying to rewrite if not fully destroy history; I wondered where such a movement will lead us as a nation.  The trigger of course was a grave injustice.  What happened to George Floyd was wrong.  But instead of addressing this problem, we are swept up in a great social movement to erase the past, demonizing all of our history as Aryan rule.  Slavery is a great evil.  In these United States we fought a great civil war to end it.  Segregation is a great evil.  Martin Luther King Jr showed us the path to end it.  We were progressing down that path.  Bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, and oppression against Americans have no place in America.  This evil persists in the hearts of those who hate, we know that those that hate are living in darkness, ruled by an enemy intent on stealing, killing, and destroying.  It seems to me that civil equality The Dream of America is one in which the diverse become one people united.  Yes, our history chronicles the shameful and the atrocious, but also the monumental and the glorious.  If we erase history, where are the lessons that guide us into the future?  Our history informs us as to what it means to be Americans.  The original message of these United States is enshrined in a Declaration of Independence.  The original message of these United States is preserved in The Constitution of the United States of America.  The original message of these United States is recited in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Deviate from that original message and we fall into error that will lead to increased injustice and oppression, more hate, more pain, and greater suffering than we have thus far endured.  A great heritage has been given to us, one bought with sacrifice and blood.  It is our responsibility to turn the Dream of America into a reality for every American.  

 We have a greater responsibility.  We have a greater heritage, bought with an unfathomable sacrifice with for more precious blood than that of patriots.  For our citizenship is not of this earth.  We are ambassadors of God in Christ.  God makes His appeal through believers, through you, to those is darkness, to become reconciled.   Part of the basics is testifying to your faith, right belief, right action, right words is a testimony.  When you testify you shine.  You lift Christ up and the Holy Spirit draws those in darkness into the light.  “Stay with the basics.”


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