I’m attending a study group that’s reading The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. We’re having some lively discussions that often take us down “rabbit trails” but make us dig into the Word. I love this kind of debate, the kind which is focused on God and His truths.
This group is made up of believers and although we don’t agree on everything, we do agree on the basics.
Jesus was God.
He came to earth to die for our sins.
He rose from the dead.
We have to believe in Him to be saved.
According to this passage, the basic truth that matters is that Jesus Christ came in a real body. John was arguing against the people who claimed Jesus was a spirit and he just appeared to have a body. When you think about what this means, you realize that the whole gospel hinges on Jesus being fully God and fully man. Otherwise he couldn’t have redeemed us.
John warned his readers to beware of false prophets. It must have been hard back then to know who was speaking the truth. When the gospel started spreading, there were probably lots of people claiming to know the truth about Jesus. Believers didn’t have the New Testament to check for truth and they didn’t have instant communication to check with trusted leaders. So John’s letters (and Paul’s and Peter’s and others) had to focus on the important matters.
In spite of our advantages, I think it’s just as important to beware now as it was then. You can’t know what a church teaches by its denomination anymore, even the evangelical ones. Even churches that have a clear statement of faith don’t necessarily teach it. And there are so many exciting new movements or ideas. What are their foundations?
I can think of three people I love who are involved in a Christian organization that doesn’t have any ties to tradition. That is good in a lot of ways, but it also scares me because I don’t know what they are really being taught. In fact, in all three cases I looked them up on the internet. By God’s grace, I knew what to look for.
Do they teach that Jesus came in a real body?
The rest is important, but not a matter of salvation. Knowing they are not being misled on the things that matter, I can relax and pray that they will grow under leaders that teach the truth about Jesus Christ.
And while I’m at it, I thank God for my pastor (and former pastor) who teach the truth.