The thesis of this letter is that our common justification through faith in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only means by which we are unified and partake of the Body of Christ together.
There is a great problem that we have been facing and which mankind has been facing since the first disciples were anointed with the Holy Spirit. This problem is the presence of numerous false gospels which are present both inside and outside of Bible believing churches. There is another spirit in the world: the spirit of the antichrist. Though the antichrist himself is yet to be displayed out-rightly to the world, his spirit is already in the world. The spirit of the antichrist proclaims that Jesus has not come in the flesh. He proclaims that Jesus is not God and that He is not Lord. This spirit preaches a false gospel that mankind can be saved by some other means than the work of Christ as our Savior. May we not so easily consider ourselves safe from the influence of this spirit. For we must understanding the meaning of the word "Gospel" and determine whether we have truly believed in the saving Gospel. The Greek word for Gospel means "Good News". When we ask ourselves the question, "Which Gospel have I believed in?", we must ask ourselves what we consider to be Good News. The following items are false "good news" that the people of the world consider to be their saving gospel:
1. the lusts of the eyes: desires for material possessions and earthly beauty
2. the lusts of the flesh: emotional, physical, mental satisfaction apart from Christ, sensuality, the "drunkenness of the heart and body" with the temporary things of the world
3. the boasting of what one has or does: wealth, honor, fame, respect, the satisfaction of our self righteousness
Though we have called ourselves as disciples of Christ, could it be that we are deceived into thinking that we have believed in the true Gospel, when indeed the motives and desires of our hearts worship the spirit of the antichrist through our secret belief in these false gospels? Some of these false gospels can take a religious form. These are forms of godliness that deny the power over sin granted to us through the sanctifying work of Christ. For example, is our desire to call ourselves believers stemmed from desires to feel that we are righteous, to follow the traditions of our past, to satisfy someone else, to enjoy the
Christ's parable of the sower (Mark 4) shows us the outcome of those among us who had not held fast to the true saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. When persecutions come, these false believes cannot hold firmly to their faith. For they had worshiped their own health, earthly comfort, and earthly relationships more than Christ. When trials and troubles come, they cease to praise and thank God, and no longer find delight in following Him. These people had perhaps worshiped a false image of the true God. This false god was a god who would give them all of the earthly things that they wanted apart from Christ Himself. When the pleasures of the world, talent, beauty, wealth, fame, sensuality, came their way, their inner heart's delight in these things rather than Christ would cause them to turn away from the faith. Dear beloved, what earthly persecution would be so great that you would deny Him at the threat of it? What earthly pleasure would be so great that you would deny Him if it were promised to you? Day after day, so many professing believers fall prey to the enemy, to the spirit of the antichrist who works ambitiously against the work of God and the advancement of His Kingdom. Do you believe in the true God of the Bible or in your false idea of God? Does the God that you believe in hate sin? Is He working to refine and discipline you to make you more like Christ? Is your God allowing you to be persecuted so that your faith will come forth as pure gold? Many have believed in a false god who delivers "love", happiness, and earthly comfort, and who tolerates sin, and does nothing to purge the wickedness that remains in the character of His children. Is this your God? Then perhaps you are an illegitimate child (Heb 12).
The True Gospel is this: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God Himself, has been sent into the world by His Father as a sinless man. Jesus, the Word, has come to the world in the flesh. He has been tempted in every way as we are and yet He did not sin. He submitted to His Father in everything. He came not to do His own will, but the will of His Father. On the cross, all of our past, present, and future sin was placed on Him, the sinless Lamb of God. He became sin for our sake. On the cross, the Father showed His Son the anger that ought to have been shown to us because of our rebellion and hatred against God. For we had been conceived into a zealous hatred and rebellion against God. All of our inclinations had been only evil all the time until the Spirit chose to grant us faith. Jesus drank the cup of God's wrath that should justly have been given to us. Because Jesus is in very nature God, He is the Resurrection and the Life, and death could have no hold on Him. He rose to life on the third day and is now seated at the right Hand of God. All of the people whom the Father has chosen are granted faith as a gift through the Spirit. These people are granted the Spirit of God to live inside of them as a Teacher, Counselor, and One who convicts.
Someone who has truly been born again has undergone a baptism of the Spirit, a new birth, a regeneration...an inner change of the desires of the heart by the Spirit. A new heart is given to them which is capable of loving, worshiping, and obeying God. A new hatred towards the sinful deeds of the old self is implanted into this new Christian. The sinful things that he once loved, he now hates. He no longer lives to please Himself and to reach a certain earthly status that he had striven for before. He now lives as a slave to Christ. Though he may temporarily fall into sin and still contain some weaknesses of the flesh, the Trinity works to sanctify, that is, to set apart, this person in holiness. With time, the character of this person is refined and his hatred towards the sin that God hates and his love for the things of God increases. The heart that was once dead to the things of God now comes alive to the things of God. There is a new and growing comprehension of the Father's love and grace.
The true believer's life is characterized by ongoing confession and repentance. Outwardly, the life of the Christian may seem tumultuous and troublesome, but inwardly these people are renewed by the Spirit and their faith is refined.
Dear beloved, there is something we must understand: if we have not believed the true Gospel, we do not have the Spirit of Christ. And if we do not have the Spirit of Christ, we do not belong to Christ (Rom 8:9). If we do not have the Spirit, we lack the discernment that allows us to understand the Word of God. We lack the understanding to discern a false gospel or a false prophet when they come our way. And there are many false gospel and prophets that are coming at us full force. If we did not believe the true Gospel, the false prophet will speak to us according to the desires of our sinful hearts, and we would certainly give into him. Often people are not so much victims of the false prophet as partners with him in heart. For their following of the teaching of these false prophets is in accordance with the desires of their heart. They follow the preachers of the false gospels because their hearts had already desired the earthly prosperity that he promises them through his false Gospel.
Only when a person has been born again through the Spirit so that he has tasted forgiveness and grace, and beheld the love of the Father through the Son by the Spirit, is he able to discern the falsehood of a false teaching. There is a necessary daily abiding in the Word and in prayer through the Spirit that enables a person to remain firm in the belief of the True Gospel. If we have not tasted the true Gospel, we will fall sway to any voices of the spirit of the antichrist through false prophets, secular media, demonic oppression...
DEAR SAINTS, THE FALSE PROPHETS ARE COMING WITH THEIR FALSE GOSPELS of EARTHLY PROSPERITY AND SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS, and IF WE HAVE NOT BEEN ANOINTED BY THE SPIRIT AND ARE NOT ABIDING IN HIS WORD, IF WE HAVE NOT BELIEVED IN THE SAVING GOSPEL, OR IF WE WORSHIPED A FALSE VERSION OF THE TRUE GOD, WE WILL SURELY BE DECEIVED VERY SOON.
But He will keep His own for eternal Life.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God:every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.5 They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. I John 4
If we have understood and believed in the true Gospel, we know that the Spirit lives in us. He is our seal and deposit guaranteeing that we are God's children and are granted eternal Life through Christ. If we watch, pray, and read the Word daily in the Spirit, we will discern the attacks of the spirit of the anti-Christ. But if we neglect the Word and our PERSONAL relationship with Christ, we will not be able to stand in the day of evil. We are in the days of wickedness: the last hour that I John 4 describes.
Now let us think back to the unity of the believers. Unity between us as His children is only possible when we partake of the Body of Christ together.
16 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?17 Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. I Cor 10
Only when we have been justified through the Spirit's granting of faith in the true Gospel will we be able to have true unity and fellowship with the believers. Nothing else will unify us except having Christ as our common Lord, God, Savior, and satisfier of our souls. His goodness alone must satisfy us. The eloquence and Godliness of our leaders does not unify us apart from Christ. Christ Himself is our Teacher and Shepherd and He alone unified His people as they drink of the New Covenant of His blood poured out for them and eat of His Body broken for them. No individual person is to be adored or emphasized. There are many men and women who are used mightily by Him in the furtherance of His work in the hearts of His people, but they are never to be idolized or focused on. Christ alone must be exalted in our hearts. Only then we will be able to fellowship with one another. We ought to fear Him and throw off our idolatry or disdain of men. God rather than any human should be praised, exalted, preached, and discussed in our midst.
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. Eph 4
As we begin this letter series on unity, let us examine 7 truths about our unity presented in the Scriptures.
1. In our unity, we are set apart with Christ and apart from the world by His Truth [the Word of God, the Gospel].
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.John 17
2. The definition of unity is comprised of the following:
3. A main purpose for our unification is so that the world may know that the Father has sent Christ and has loved us just as He has loved His Son.
22 The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. John 17
4. Christ's intention is for us to be where He is and to see His glory that the Father had given Him because of the Father's love for the Son from before the foundation of the world.
24 Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.John 17
5. We are unified as His own because we are convinced that the Father has sent the Son.
25 “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; John 17
6. Christ has made the Father's Name known to us and will continue to make It known so that the love with which the Father loved the Son will be in us and so that Christ Himself will be in us.
26 and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”John 17
7. The unity between believers as partakers and heirs of the promise in Christ through the Gospel, specifically between the Jews and Gentiles, was not made known until the time of Christ and afterwards when this mystery was revealed to the apostles and prophets in the Spirit.
4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; 6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, 7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. Eph 3