Friday, July 21, 2006

Do you have a problem?
Copyright by Phillip L. Simpson

The meaning of the John's first epistle has been fairly uniformly understood throughout the centuries. However, this epistle presents a problem for the "free grace" theologian. The problem is this:

John appears to be stating plainly throughout the book that there are tests which reveal whether one is a child of God or not. Some of these tests include:

  • Whether we love the brothers (2:10, 3:10, 3:14, 4:7),
  • Walk in the light (1:7),
  • Keep His commandments (2:3-4),
  • Walk in the same way in which he walked (2:6),
  • Continue on in fellowship with other believers (2:19),
  • Confess the Son (2:23),
  • Practice righteousness (2:29; 3:10),
  • Confess that Jesus has come in the flesh (4:2),
  • Listen to the apostolic teaching (4:6),
  • Receive the Spirit (4:13),
  • Confess that Jesus is the Son of God (4:15),
  • Believe that Jesus is the Christ (5:1),
  • Overcome the world (5:4).

Notice how some of these tests are doctrinal, and others are behavioral.

Remember that the tests given by John are both behavioral and doctrinal. While "free grace" teachers insist the behavioral tests are indicators of our fellowship status with God (rather than tests of possession of eternal life), what about the doctrinal tests? Does John give these to determine our fellowship status? Is believing that Jesus has come in the flesh (1 John 4:2) only a sign of a mature Christian who is in fellowship with God? Can a believer deny this truth and still be a believer--albeit "out of fellowship"? No; rather, John was refuting Gnostic heresy in 1 John; therefore, a doctrinal affirmation was critical if his readers were to know if they believed in Christ savingly or not.


At 6:50 PM, Blogger Maria del Carmen said...

I wish I had you around for those moments when we discuss religion and philosophy. It's tough to defend any religion based on faith, but that's mostly what it is.

At 9:54 PM, Blogger jazzycat said...

Saw your comment over at Bluecollar.

The free grace theology is built on the warning we get in Jude 4. The free grace advocates are really good at twisting clear Biblical teachings. One example is the James 2:14-26 passage where they claim that the 'dead faith' that James is speaking of is still a saving faith. The book of 1 John, as you point out, is also very clear on the fruit that results from a true faith.


At 1:44 AM, Blogger Gina said...

I love that God gave us a choice so we can offer up our faith as a kind of worship to Him. Thank you for your lessons. I have so much to learn!

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Joe said...

I have always thought of those verses as less than tests and more than evidences.

Nevertheless, the point of the epistle is not us, but Him.

After giving a couple of evidences (in verses 5 - 7) John goes on to affirm Jesus as the defender (2:1) and the atoner (2:2)

At 7:50 AM, Blogger Joe said...

Where you at?

At 11:58 AM, Blogger bluecollar said...

Where, oh where has little Dougy gone? Where, Oh where can he be?


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home