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Biblical Studies Journal Volume 4, Number 2
July 25, 2000
Grounded In Reason: The Christian Faith
David Mayes provides this introduction to the first letter of the Apostle John.
It illustrates the power of Christian faith over death.
How confident can the Christian be of the message of Jesus Christ? The ultimate questions, "Why am I here?" and "Where will I go when I die?"
are answered by Christ. If that answer is not acceptable or not grounded in reason then honest
and deep thinkers are forced into the path of mad absurdities
or the path to oblivion via suicide. --ed.
An Introduction To I John
The Best of Times, The Worst of Times
Written in the late first century, I John could have been
a very negative book. Consider the things that a Christian could have been
negative about. John declared that "many antichrists have arisen" (2:18),
and "many false prophets have gone out into the world" (4:1). Christians
also had to deal with the hatred of the world around them. In this atmosphere,
it would be easy to become discouraged. It would be easy to begin doubting.
It would be easy to succomb to the deception of false teachers. Amidst
the confusion, John's letter was a beacon of encouragement and assurance.
A Quality Message: With Witnesses
Key words in I John are "know," "confidence," "seen," and
"heard." John assures his readers that they know the truth (2:21). He reminds
them of the message they "heard from the beginning" (2:24), and he affirms
the trustworthiness of that message.
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we
have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled . . . (1:1)
The good news about Jesus was vouchsafed by eyewitnesses,
by men who knew Him intimately. They not only saw, heard and touched Him
during His ministry, but were convicted of the truth of His resurrection
by the same means. And it was from such men that the message had been given.
Here is reason for confidence.
The Unimpeachable Witness
Yet, even better than John's own witness is the witness of
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater;
for the witness of God is this, that He has borne witness concerning His
Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself;
the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not
believed in the witness God has borne concerning His Son. And the witness
is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does
not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the
name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal
Isn't that a blessed assurance? God confirmed His
message with powerful signs and wonders. God compelled John and the other
writers of Scripture to set quill to parchment, and provided the words
that He wished to be conveyed. God has preserved His Word through the ages.
God has taken great care to ensure that His people have available His untainted
False Messages Identified
Already in John's day, much competition had arisen against
God's message. Some stood in direct opposition, while others offered their
own version of or additions to the good news. False teachers were trying
to persuade John's readers that they had more to learn, that their knowledge
was lacking. But John told them that ". .. the anointing which
you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to
teach you" (2:27). Further, John assured his readers that those who taught
untruth were easily recognizable.
By this the children of God and the children of the devil
are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God,
nor the one who does not love his brother. (3:10)
Many who claimed to be wise and set themselves up
as teachers had unpure motives of jealousy and selfish ambition. The love
and obedience to God that is the hallmark of the Christian was not in them,
regardless of how good their teaching sounded.
Quintessential Faith is Tested
"Test everything; hold fast what is good", Paul wrote the Thessalonians (I Thess 5:21).
That means testing what we hold on to, Christianity will pass the test.
When we begin to have doubts because of the conflicting words
of the world around us, we must turn with confidence and trust to the original
message preserved in the Bible. We may guage the veracity of what we are
told by those who claim knowledge and wisdom by applying the tests of love,
obedience, and God's Word.
- David Mayes
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