This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:6–12
We have to remind ourselves that John is writing to a church which has suffered a terrible apostasy. A group of people has broken away from the Apostolic church; but instead of declaring that they weren’t Christians – they were saying that they have moved to a higher level of spirituality where they had deeper religious experiences and more profound spiritual insights. And, not surprisingly, they were tempting people who remained in the Apostolic church to come and join them. After all, who doesn’t want deeper religious experiences and more profound spiritual insights?
Let me add, this pattern has repeated itself – with quite a few variations – throughout church history. So, let me speak directly to the young people who are here this morning: You are not going to have nearly as many challenges in life from unbelievers who are openly not Christians as you are from all of the unbelievers who are still pretending to be Christians. The reason why those who still call themselves Christians can be so dangerous is that it can feel like you are not renouncing your faith if you join them. And, whatever truth of God that you are under pressure for believing, whether it is necessity of believing in Jesus to be saved, sexual ethics, or simply the fact that believing Christianity to be true necessarily involves believing that some aspects of all other religions are necessarily false – whatever it might be that you are being pushed on, there is a group of people calling themselves Christians who either deny that truth – or what God has revealed optional.
We are not speaking here about the differences between Orthodox Presbyterians, bible believing Anglicans, and Southern Baptists. We are talking about the difference between biblical Christianity and counterfeit Christianity.
What a dreadful thing it would be if any of you were to abandon the revealed truths of God to accept – even for a short time – such an empty, powerless, and evil religion. As the LORD said through Prophet Jeremiah:
Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the LORD,
for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.
What can you do to safeguard yourself against making this horrible exchange? Well, here are two really simple tests that you can apply to warn you against these false churches:
1. First and foremost, “What do they say about Jesus?” Do they believe that He was truly God come in the flesh? Do they believe that He rose bodily from the dead? And, as we are looking at in this morning’s passage – do they teach that Jesus died as your substitute to satisfy the wrath of God in your place?
2. Second, what do they say about – and how do they treat – the word of God? If they embrace the Bible, for what it is, the very word of God: They will treat it as absolutely authoritative in every area of life. If they don’t, run away.
Those two tests will stand you in good stead for the entire rest of your life.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 8
Q. 8. How doth God execute his decrees?
A. God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence.