We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.(I John 5:18-21)
The Apostle John wrote his epistles to address a specific problem in the churches, one which is very relevant to our current situation in todays church. The problem? False teachers were distorting the meaning of the knowledge of God.
This was not merely an academic question, for salvation itself is the believing reception of the knowledge of God, according to Jesus.
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.(John 17:3)
Notice in the opening scripture from I John 5 , how many times John talks about knowledge, truth, and understanding ? Who truly knows “him that is true”? ‘We do’, says John. Why does the Lord’s apostle emphasize this?
This emphasis is because pseudo spiritual teachers had come and were redefining Christianity, just as they are seeking to do today. They demeaned the Apostolic version of knowing God as unspiritual , offering a more mystical, sensual ‘knowledge of God” in its place.
What is the christian teaching on knowing God that the heretics undermined ?
First of all that it is only possible by the revelation of Jesus Christ and what he did to save us. All is of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those who know God, do so by believing in the gospel of Jesus.
But the knowledge of God is by faith, we have not seen Jesus but we love him, we walk by faith (in the Word) and not by sight.The faith has been delivered “once and for all” by the apostles. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ.
Also that we are to love one another, and that Love is not lawlessness, rather it is the fulfillment of all of the Law of God. This love is to be concrete, in word and deed, for Jesus became a real man to love us.
Furthermore we hate sin, and have repented of it and been delivered of its dominion, although it is still possible to sin. We who know God constantly confess our sin to God, repenting and seeking the forgiveness and cleansing from His Son.
Finally, we are waiting for Jesus to come from heaven, to judge the world in righteousness.
In the meantime we pray, evangelize, worship God, intercede for others, in a fallen world ruled temporarily by the devil. Only by submission to God do we hope to overcome the devil and the world.
Along came the “knowing Ones”, who would come to be known as gnostics.
Through the mystical, experience based spirituality of the new apostles and prophets, the knowledge of God now became a matter of higher revelation, visions, dreams, spiritual elitism,(ie Outer court, inner court and holy of holies christians), encounters with Angels, Demons, trances, ecstasies, prophetic directions from exalted men.
As a result, the old-fashioned “garden variety” christian was tempted to question his own spirituality. His experience of repenting of sin, waiting for Jesus, believing the Bible, yet not feeling anything most of the time, didn’t match up to the “new and improved version”.
We find ourselves at the same place today,don’t we? The boldness and mysticism of false apostles and prophets such as Rick Joyner, Todd Bentley, Bill Johnson, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, etc, has undermined the faith of many.
The Apostle John is taking us back to the beginning, for he writes to restore our torn faith, to clear up our blurred and distorted vision. We don’t need a “new Word”, in fact that has been our problem, lusting for novelty,
Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.( I John 2:7)
How does John take us back to the beginning to restore our faith again ? In stating three simple theological propositions, we find our way back…
God is Light…
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
(I John 1:5)
God is Love…
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
(I John 4:8)
Jesus Christ has come(and remains) in the flesh…
Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
(I John 4:2)