Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Test of Sonship (Part 10)

SERMON                  GM14-031

SERIES:              The Christian Life Viewed as Sonship

SETTING:          North Kelso Baptist Church

SERVICE:          Sunday AM

SUBTITLE:        The Test of Sonship     (Part 10)

SCRIPTURE:     1 John 4:4-6

SUBJ:                  Discernment

SUMMARY:       The children of God must practice spiritual discernment

SCHEME:           that Christians develop the disciple of discernment in order to distinguish between truth and error

Our theme is:  Genuine Christians test the Spirits

Proposition:  The Christian life is a life that demands constant discernment

Interrogatory Sentence:  Why should genuine believers live a life of constant discernment?

Transitional Sentence: John identifies three reasons why genuine Sonship must be a life of constant discernment. John makes it clear that discernment is essential for the children of God.


The Christian Life is Viewed as Son-ship

The Test of Sonship
1 John 4:4-6 * (Part 10)


A.   The Benefit of Confidence

The American painter, John Sargent, once painted a panel of roses that was highly praised by critics. It was a small picture, but it approached perfection. Although offered a high price for it on many occasions, Sargent refused to sell it. He considered it his best work and was very proud of it. Whenever he was deeply discouraged and doubtful of his           abilities as an artist, he would look at it and remind himself, "I painted that." Then his confidence and ability would come back to him. 

          Bits & Pieces, September 19, 1991, p. 9.    
B.    The Desire for Discernment

It is like that for us today. Because Christianity is a life of faith and lived by faith, confidence in who and what we believe in is of the utmost importance. We need a reminder now and then from God when we have those days of doubt and fear to have our confidence restored.       

C.   Today’s Text

Our passage continues to outline for us the necessity of exercising discernment. It is too easy to be deceived by the crafty evil spirits and/or false teachers. This deception can be devastating in many cases.

[But before we jump into our text, let’s take a minute and…]


We are currently examining the second major division in John’s letter. We are looking at…


          The Christian life is a life whereby we are considered to be  children of God.

           In order to prove his point, John maintains that there are a series of tests which prove one’s claim.

[The first test John gave was that…]

 1B     Sonship demands the practice of righteousness

 John made it clear that a genuine child of God habitually or consistently makes it a practice to do works that are both motivated by and in-line with the divine nature that was imparted to the believer at the moment of salvation.

[The second test John gave was that…       ]

 2B     Sonship Demands the practice of love (2:29-3:10a)         
John made it clear that a genuine child of God habitually or consistently makes it a practice to love fellow believers in Christ with a selfless and sacrificial love that is motivated by the love of God for us.
[The Third test John gave was that…]                    

  3B     Sonship Demands the practice of discernment (4:1-6)

 John now makes it clear that a genuine child of God habitually or consistently makes it a practice to utilize discernment when it comes to preachers, teachers, or prophets that purport to bring truth and to speak for God.

[We have determined that…]   

Our theme is:  Genuine Christians test the Spirits

Proposition:  The Christian life is a life that demands constant discernment

Interrogatory Sentence:  Why should genuine believers live a life of constant discernment?

Transitional Sentence: John identifies three reasons why genuine Sonship must be a life of constant discernment. John makes it clear that discernment is essential for the children of God.

[Two weeks we saw that the first reason for believers to live a life of constant discernment was found in…]
 1C     The Command given for discernment (4:1)

 The first thing we see in this passage is that under the inspiration of the HS, John gives a command for his readers to obey or to submit to.

Why do we practice discernment? First of all, we are commanded to be discerning. We cannot do anything less than to be discerning.

 [Last week, we saw that the second reason for believers to live a life of constant discernment is found in…]
 2C     The Contrast governed by discernment (4:2-3)

 With no fan-fare, introduction, or explanation John quickly states the fundamental test that is to be used in determining the true identity of preachers, teachers, or prophets. John contrasted the true teachers from God with the false teachers by what they believed and taught about Jesus Christ.

[So, now, let’s move to our...] 


 [The third reason for believers to live a life of constant discernment was found in…]

 3C     The Confidence generated by discernment (4:4-6)

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

 John wants to build up his readers confidence.     
 In verse 1 John made it clear that his readers were to test any and all teachers or prophets who claimed to be speaking for God. None were to be exempt – all were to     be tested.

In verses 2-3 John established the criteria for testing anyone who claimed to be a teacher or prophet from God. That test was did these who claimed to speak for God       acknowledge that Jesus was God in the flesh.

 Now, John is going to show his readers that by this test they will be able to discern the source or the origin of these teachers whom John says are false teachers.

John is providing the means for his readers to gain and maintain absolute confidence in the ability to discern true teachers from God and false teachers from the anti-christ.

[So, there are at least three (3) elements given by John to his readers that will help them develop their confidence in the truth.]

[The first element we see that will build their confidence is…]

                             1D     The Source of Origin (4-5)

umeis ek tou qeou este, tekna, kai nenikhkate autou

  “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them…”

 John is telling his readers that a prophet or any teacher’s spiritual source can be identified by determining who listens to the prophet or the                                            teacher.

John makes this very clear in verse 6. We will get o that verse shortly. If you look at this passage carefully you will see:

·        Those who are from God (4) and those who know God (6)

·        The World (5) and those who are not from God (6)

                                      You also see that there are two groups of teachers:

·        Teachers who are from the world (5)

·        Teachers who are from God (6)

 First thing we need to note is that John begins this section with what we call a double emphatic personal pronoun.

 In essence, John begins with “as for you.” The Greek word for “you” is the first word in verse four, not “little children.” 

What did John want to accomplish with the use of this pronoun?

This choice of pronoun and its placement is used to place John’s readers in strong contrast to those who false teachers who are under the influence of the anti-Christ.                        
 Along with this phrase, remember John calls his readers little children six times. We have noted that this word is a term of endearment. But more importantly it is a term that stresses the fact of birth. In other words, it demonstrates the reader’s source of origin, they are from God.

                                      This is designed to build their confidence.

[So, first John stresses their source of origin is from God; and then secondly, he states commends them.]

                                      “…and have overcome them…”

                                      Who are the “them?” The false prophets or false                                                                teachers that have been plaguing them with false                                                             doctrine.

                                      John’s use of the present tense verb shows that his                                                           readers had previously gained victory over these                                                               false teachers and were victorious when John                                                                   wrote this letter.

What does this phrase mean, “they have overcome them?”

                                      It does not mean that John’s readers, these                                                          believers who belonged to the churches John was                                               responsible for, had actually physically did battle                                               with these false teachers and had driven them out                                               of the area. But, something did happen that these                                          false teachers had left the churches, (2:19).

                                      John is saying that they had been “victorious” in                                                 the sense that they rejected the false teaching and                                                continued to belief what John and the other                                                         apostles had taught them.

                                      John is talking about a doctrinal victory not a                                           physical victory.
                                      oti meizwn estin o en umin h o en tw kosmw
                                      “…because greater is he who is in you tan he                                           who is in the world.”

                                      Our word because explains why John’s readers                                        were able to overcome or gain victory over these                                                 false teachers. John shows his readers, and us, that                                             the conflict is between God “He who is in you”                                               and the spirit of the antichrist “him who is in the                                              world.”

                                      The battle is between God and Satan. God dwells                                               in each believer by the HS is at war with Satan                                          who is in this earth now through his minions.

[Look at what John says about their origin…]

                                      autoi ek tou kosmou eisin

                                      “They are from the world…”

                                      The word “they” is also a double emphatic                                                          pronoun and it is used to indicates the false                                                        teachers.
                                       John is actually detailing or describing the                                                          character of these false teachers. They originate                                         from the world, therefore they are worldly in                                             thought, philosophy, doctrine, and etc.

                                      You have to understand this term “world.” John is                                             not saying these teachers are bad or have bad                                            character because they were born in this world,                                         grew up in it and live in it.

                                      It is not like John is saying Arizona, Illinois,                                             Washington is evil.

                                      He is emphasizing that in the ethical sense the                                           reference infers all of the evil that permeates the                                        thought process, the philosophy, the activities, the                                              attitudes, the value systems that comprise evil.
                                      dia touto ek tou kosmou lalousin kai o kosmos au twn

                                      “…therefore they speak as from the world, and                                         the world listens to them.”

                                      Because these false teachers are from the world the                                   world listens to them.

                                      This is important – these teachers and the false                                         teachers of today reflect the attitude and                                                    philosophies of the evil world in their teachings.

The world is full of lust, envy, materialism, selfishness, and much more.

So, this is why the overwhelming majority of false teachers are caught up in pride, sexual immorality, and money. 
                                                False teachers will teach what the world teaches.  
The world will listen to them. The majority of  people in these churches are not Christians. They are world lings and they are worldly.
 The reason they follow people like Kenneth  Copeland, Creflo Dollar, or Fred K Price, or Paul Crouch or any of them is because they are just as evil, they are just as greedy and lustful and envious as the false teachers.
So, we see the first element given by John to build the confidence of his readers and we identified that element as the source of their origin.
These false teachers have originated from the world. And not just from Ephesus or Collose but they originated from the evil, sinful, sphere of the antichrist.
Our theme is:  Genuine Christians test the Spirits

This is a good reminder for us all that the Christian life is a life that demands constant discernment.

[Let’s now look at the second element that John has given to his readers to bolster their confidence and that is…]
                             2D     The Sign of Operation (6a)
                                       hmeis ek tou qeou esmen o ginwskwn ton qeon akouei hmwn, os           ouk estin ek tou qeou ouk akouei hmwn

                                      “We are from God; he who knows God listens to                                                us; he who is not from God does not listen to us.”

The story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. He complained that no one really paid any attention to what was said. One day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. To each person who passed down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, "I murdered my grandmother this morning." The guests responded with phrases like, "Marvelous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless you, sir." It was not till the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. Nonplussed, the ambassador leaned over and whispered, "I'm sure she had it coming."

Who actually listens? Who are they listening to? John makes a very emphatic point.

                                      Once more the pronoun we is first and it is                                                          emphatic. It set the apostolic teachers in direct                                           contrast with the false teachers. It was used to                                           convey force. John used it to make sure there was                                        no doubt. We, the apostles are from God – the                                          false teachers are not.

                                      Therefore, since John and the other apostles are                                        from God anyone who knows God, has a                                                   relationship with God, or claims to be a child of                                        God, or claims Sonship will listen to the apostles                                         and not to the false teachers.

                                      Once again John is emphasizing that the Christian                                              is viewed as a life of Sonship, we are sons or                                             children of God.

                                      The opposite is true! If you are not born of God or                                             from God, if you are not a child of God or a son of                                             God then you will not listen to the apostle John or                                              the other apostles.

                                      A child of the antichrist or a child of this worldly                                                system will not listen to the truth.

So, a sign of who is a child of God and who is not is who they are listening to. If they listen to the apostles teaching it is a sign they are from God and if they refuse to listen to the teaching of the apostles then that is a sign that they are not children of God.

For the record, the concept of listen in this letter entails more than just the physical act of listening. Listening leads to obeying and doing.
The second element given by John is a sign of who is who, or who belongs to who.

Our theme is:  Genuine Christians test the Spirits

This is a good reminder for us all that the Christian life is a life that demands constant discernment.
The third and final element given by John to build up his reader’s confidence is seen in…

3D     The Summary of Opinion (6b)

     ek toutou giwskomen to pneuma ths alhqeias kai to pneuma t hs planhs

 “By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit  of error.”

 What would happen if a few mistakes or errors crept into various things in our life that we take for granted:
                                      No phone service for 15 minutes each day

                                      1.7 million pieces of first class mail lost each day.

                                      35,000 newborn babies dropped by doctors or nurses each year

                                      200,000 people getting the wrong drug prescriptions each year

                                      Unsafe drinking water three days a year.

                                      Three misspelled words on the average page of type.

                                      2 million people would die from food poisoning each                                    year.

 Error or mistakes can range from inconvenient to fatal.

 John makes a concluding summary of the importance of listening and the critical test of listening.

Determining who is a spirit of God and a spirit of the antichrist is determined by watching and observing who listens to a person’s message.

If the people of God are listening, the message and speaker are from God and if the world or world lings are listening to the message and the speaker then they are not from God but from the spirit of the antichrist.

                                      There are only two spirits – truth or error.

Any teacher’s doctrine can be identified by analyzing what kind of people listen to him.

 The first and most important test of what he is teaching centers on what he believes about the incarnate Christ. Did Jesus come as God in the flesh?

Is this test and information relevant to us today?

Liberal Theology – all of the various forms of liberal theology historically have denied the full deity of Jesus Christ. They may not deny his humanity by they deny his deity.

Neo-orthodoxy – they disagree on the facts and nature of the incarnation. Some teach Jesus was divine in the sense of morally or religiously. Some see the incarnation as representing nothing more than essential manhood.

So it is relevant today that we understand what John is saying. John’s test is still relevant to evaluate what people are teaching

Cults – As we saw last week most if not all deny the divinity of Jesus
So, this third element then is a summary of John’s teaching in this entire section.

Basically, John is said to his readers and he is saying to us stop listening with gullibility to every teacher, preacher, prophet, author, or spokesman that comes along. Make it a practice to test what these people are saying. We must be cautious and careful because so many false teachers and prophets have gone out into the world.
You can have confidence because the HS who lives in you is greater than any spirit that comes from the antichrist. The false prophets have their origin in the world and you have your origin in God.

Our theme is:  Genuine Christians test the Spirits

This is to be a good reminder to each one of us that the Christian life is a life that demands constant discernment.                          

 [What do you say we wrap this up? So, in…]

 “If we have no desire to be discerning, we won't be discerning. If we are driven by a yearning to be happy, healthy, affluent, prosperous, comfortable, and self-satisfied, we will never be discerning people. If our feelings determine what we believe, we cannot be discerning. If we subjugate our minds to some earthly ecclesiastical authority and blindly believe what we are told, we undermine discernment. Unless we are willing to examine all things carefully, we cannot hope to have any defense against reckless faith.” 

Exhortation:  I exhort you to exercise spiritual discernment with every ounce of your energy and with no limits test every person who claims to speak for God and determine from scripture whether they are from God or the antichrist since so many false prophets and teachers are in the world today.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:20 (ESV)

“Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.”

Let’s pray! J

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

WOW Gregg you certainly know how to put a sermon over, If I lived nearer you would be at your church.