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Q & A with Pastor John - Why Do I Need to Study Scripture?

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Notes from a Series of Sermons in 1 John
 
Who do you say Jesus is?
What does Christ do for you?
How are we recognized as followers of God?
Why do I need to study Scripture?
1 John 4:1-6
 
“Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”
There have already been many false teachers or prophets who have gone out into the world and lead people astray.
 
In this passage we see there are two tests John gave his church, and those reading his words, to discern whether or not the message they were getting came from God.
 
The word testing used in Vs 1 is Dokimazo - this is the only time in the Johannine writing it shows up. Yet is used 21 other times in the NT - Pauls uses this word in 1 Thess 5:21, & 1 Tim 3:10
 
The first test we see in verses 2-3
John tells his church they will know if there is belief & confession that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;” - 1 John 1, God came in incarnate form fully man.
So they would know the message was from God if the bearers confess this truth.
 
John saw confession as a key component to faith in Christ, not an understanding or a knowledge of who He was or a following of a creed, but holding to a truth, obedience to a person. John calls for allegiance to this man, Jesus Christ.
 
Mk 1:24, 3:11 tells us demons knew Him but did not embrace this truth through confession of His Lordship. John also tells his church that if they do not profess this truth then they are not sent from God.
  
Remember the difficulties from false teaching John was battling, Gnostic/Docetic, so this was likely the context He meant this in.John calls this the Spirit of the antichrist who is already in the world.
 
The second test John give to his congregation we find in verses 3-6
John explains that as believers we will also be able to test the spirit by the response of the audience. Who celebrates the teaching?  Where is this teaching finding a ready audience?
We as children of God have overcome them, the world, because “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” We are reminded by John that these false teachers are from this world, speak from the world, and as such the world listens to them.
 
Vs. 6, “We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us.  By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
 
That was then, today is now and does it still fit?
Yes, even more it fits that we must heed John’s warning to test, Dokimazo, the Spirit in which the message is given, received, and where it originates from.
 
There are so many competing claims to religious correctness today, movements are everywhere.
Cults, sects, even house gatherings where the teaching given is more emotionally based than standing on Scripture.
 
Today we are bombarded by a broad belief in our culture that this “Testing” of the spirit is actually an overly critical, narrow minded, judgmental attitude on our part. To test the spirits today takes much discernment and, in reality, courage.
 
If we were to simply use John’s tests today we would find that many doctrinal errors might pass those tests. To identify them would focus us on the wrong thing.
Every generation must write new questions to address the constant theological challenges that we face.
 
Scripture tells us how to stand before this difficulty facing us.
Seek God, learn what the Father says, and study the Bible.Scripture is full of passages that speak of the need to learn, or study, or seek an understanding of scripture.
 
2 Tim 3:14-17 
Psalm 119:105  
2 Pet 3:18 
 
The discernment John is speaking of then is just as important today; you cannot simply depend on your Pastor to give you the answer, direction, the discernment required to live today.
Why?
 
First, the church is called to be the custodian of the Truth. It is vital the church weighs what is being taught within it, from the pulpit, to the SS classes to the studies held in it.
 
This makes many uncomfortable because the church should be accepting, loving and not critical. Yes we should - without disqualifying every different point of view, but they all must be weighed. We must do this without becoming judgmental, critical, and closed to the reality that it goes both ways.  
This is why there must be accountability for members, leaders, pastors. The church, not the individual, and without humility we cannot do this well.
 
Second, John presses hard on the reality that our faith must be Christo-centric.  He was fully human, and fully divine, John did not compromise this truth in his teaching.
 
We are called to guard those in the church, and the best way to do this is to seek what the Bible says, the Word. We must be equipped to combat all forms of evil for it is around us.  And we will not be well received when we do. 
 
Are you ready to stand firm, as Ephesians 6 tells us?
Join a study - Study the Bible - Seek God’s teaching
We will then begin to discern how to identify the false, from the righteous.
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