1 John 4
TEST THE SPIRITS: "Why is it that every church claiming
to have the Holy Spirit puts forward un-Biblical teaching of some kind or
another? If the Holy Spirit were truly at work in these churches, would not
complete harmony exist between that church's teaching and the Bible? It is
difficult to believe that gifts of the Spirit would be given by the Lord to give
added power to teaching that is false. Yet, over and over again, Pentecostal
churches are found, on investigation, to differ markedly from the basic truth of
the Word of God.
"This is the kind of test the apostle John requires us to
apply: 'Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see
whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus
Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess
Jesus is not of God' (1Jo 4:1-3).
"Although it gives one no pleasure to write it, the fact has
to be faced, that careful investigation of one Pentecostal church after another
has revealed the sad fact that their claims of Holy Spirit guidance are made by
people whose religious beliefs are very different from the teaching of the
Bible. This, at the very least, should teach us to be cautious"
FALSE PROPHETS: // 1Jo 2:18; Mat 24:5,23-26; Mar 13:21;
Luk 21:8; Act 19:13; 20:29; 1Ti 4:1; 2Th 2:2-7; 2Ti 3:13; 2Pe 2:1; 2Jo
LOVE COMES FROM GOD: "If we do not have love, we are
nothing -- just an empty shell, a rattling skeleton: love of God, love of
Christ, love of the Brotherhood, love of mankind, love of every vital, living
blade of grass in God's glorious Creation, so full of endless marvels of beauty
and design. And love of Truth, of Beauty, of Holiness, Purity, Goodness,
Nobility, Unselfishness: love of the bottomless richness of the treasures of the
Word. Love scorns to descend to petty criticism and shallow victories, even in
the cause of Truth. Love grieves at sin, strives for good, yearns for universal
happiness and blessing. Love is life. Love is always busy, always building,
always working and praying for good. Love is compassionate, and patient, and
understanding of weakness. But it does not condone, or belittle, or pamper sin
and error, any more than a sensible doctor belittles or pampers corruption and
infection. He fights it vigorously, though an ignorant bystander might think him
extreme and harsh. Love discharges its unpleasant duty toward sin and error
faithfully and resolutely, though very carefully and self-searchingly and
prayerfully -- ever conscious of its own weakness and limitation and need"
"In those grand old ages, which are the heroic period of the
Christian religion, this double mark was clearly to be seen in all believers in
Jesus; they were men who knew the love of Christ, and rested upon it as a man
leaneth upon a staff whose trustiness he has tried. The love which they felt
towards the Lord was not a quiet emotion which they hid within themselves in the
secret chamber of their souls, and which they only spake of in their private
assemblies when they met on the first day of the week, and sang hymns in honour
of Christ Jesus the crucified, but it was a passion with them of such a vehement
and all-consuming energy, that it was visible in all their actions, spoke in
their common talk, and looked out of their eyes even in their commonest glances.
Love to Jesus was a flame which fed upon the core and heart of their being; and,
therefore, from its own force burned its way into the outer man, and shone
there. Zeal for the glory of King Jesus was the seal and mark of all genuine
Christians. Because of their dependence upon Christ's love they dared much, and
because of their love to Christ they did much, and it is the same now. The
children of God are ruled in their inmost powers by love -- the love of Christ
constraineth them [2Co 5:14]; they rejoice that divine love is set upon them...
and then by force of gratitude they love the Saviour with a pure heart,
"To love God and to be loved of God is the only peace, joy,
happiness and satisfaction in this life. Secure that, and you have everything.
And it must not just be first in our lives. It must be everything. It does not
eliminate many other loves. Rather it totally absorbs and directs and empowers
them: unites and fortifies them in every darkness and disappointment: sustaining
when every human aspect fails" (GVG).
'Live your life in the Truth with love as your dominant motive
and rationale. Where true love is, there cannot be fear. So dismiss fear from
your life by truly loving... God, and your brethren. And you will find that a
life lived in love will look to the mercy of God, and be centered on that
mercy... but -- sadly -- a life lived in fear will look to punishment. Be
positive, not negative. And don't forget, my dear children, that God loves you;
you have nothing to fear!'
PERFECT LOVE DRIVES OUT FEAR: "Pray to God with all
your heart and strength for perfect love. Absolute perfection is not a quality
associated with the present dark time of weakness and struggle and probation;
but He may endow you with something very close to perfect love if you seek and
desire it enough: seek and desire it all the time with all your being. The
question of whether perfection in anything in this weak day -- the question of
how close to perfection we can, and are required, to come -- is not a profitable
or practical question. What is preeminently practical is how hard we must
strive, and how earnestly we must desire. How close we get is not our present
concern. God will measure us in the scale of what He has given us, and what He
has laid upon us. For each, the scale is different, and known only to Him. How
close we try and desire to get to perfection -- in the irresistible and burning
compulsion of love -- is supremely important. It is all-important. In our
striving toward the attainment and fulfillment of perfect love, how repeatedly
we in weakness stumble and fail is not of great seriousness (though it can never
be shrugged off as unimportant). Perfect love is perfect oneness with God in all
we do and in all we are. It is an ultimate attainment. It is the divine promise
of the Memorial Name. All life, and hope and peace and joy lie within the
boundaries of total, single-minded dedication to it. Outside it, all is the
blackness of eternal night. In anything you do, keep continuously in mind the
need for Divine guidance and help in prayer: or else -- no matter how sincere
the effort or 'sanctified' the deed -- the result will be of the flesh. Without
God held constantly in mind, and without His constant help and direction, no
activity will rise above the flesh" (GVG).
WE LOVE: Not, as KJV, "we love HIM".
Vv 20,21: But how can we love our brother, or sister... since
he or she is very little like God? We can love God because we can recognize
something of His perfect character, and something of the awesome gifts which He
has given us. But why should we love this little, snivelling, whiny, demanding,
selfish, bothersome pest who is our brother or sister -- who, with all his
shortcomings and inadequacies, is probably proud and egotistical as well?
Well, let's see...
Most of us parents love our children, and love them pretty
much unconditionally. The baby comes into the world bawling, and for the first
year or two doesn't do much but cry, and demand to be fed, and demand to be
changed, and changed again, and again. And then he needs to be fed again, and
then bathed, and then changed, and then fed. Always demanding and selfish and
bothersome, and plainly thinking only of himself! Even when he smiles at us,
it's probably only gas. Or maybe he's just amused at how readily we respond to
his every desire!
Why do we bother? Three reasons, at least:
So we are all God's children... and -- sure! -- we are all
whiny, selfish little bundles of ego. But God seemingly loves us! Why? Because
He is our Father, because -- spiritually -- we are a part of him, made in His
image... and because we have an unlimited potential, to truly reflect His glory
- Somebody, probably our parents, did all these things for us... and now it's
"payback" time... no, not really! But we do love the rascally little infant
because we were loved by our parents. And now we begin to understand, on a
higher level, what love has been bestowed on us.
- That child is part of me:
how can I not love my own self?
- And, also, we love that baby for the
potential it has -- one day he or she might actually turn into a human being,
something of worth! And every one of those little scraps of life is precious,
because he or she is made in the image of God.
Are these the reasons why we should love our brothers and
sisters? Because, with the eye of faith, we may see them -- not just for what
they are, now, with all their warts and blemishes -- but for what they are in
process of becoming. And because God loves you and me -- not for what we are,
now -- but for what we are becoming, under His loving care.