1 John 1: 1-6 (December 2015)
An Advent Meditation on Truth
Note: This is the first in a series of three Advent Meditations based on 1 John 4. The second will be based on verses 7-16 and focus on Love. The third will be based on verses 17-21 and will focus on Courage.
“How do you know?” Many curious and or troubled souls, young and old have asked their parents, pastors and Christian friends this question. How do you know the Bible is the Truth? How do you know that the God of the Bible is the only true God? How do you know that other religions might be just is valid if not more valid than Christianity? How do you know?
John says “Test the spirits.” The LORD said through Moses “Did the prophet’s words come true?” (Deuteronomy 18: 21-22). Jesus said to his Father the night before he died: “Sanctify them by your truth; your Word is Truth” (John 17: 17).
During John’s last few years of ministry the congregation around Asia Minor were plagued with an epidemic of false pastors who were only using the “traveling preacher” gig as a way of pan handling their way through life. The earliest congregations of the Christian Church were pressed to “test the spirits.”
In our Advent preparations is it healthy for us to reaffirm our knowledge and trust in the truth. How do you know? A Father was told his little boy, “Keep reading; keep studying; keep comparing it against the way the world speaks.” How do you know the Bible is the only absolute truth? The better we know the Word the better we know how to test what is false. The more we are in the Word the more the Spirit is working in hearts the faith to trust it as truth. No other book does that.
One true test is the reality that the Bible is the only book and message that cuts to our hearts with the honest truth about our natural condition of sin. “The Word is living and active. Sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to diving souls and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). The Word of God speaks and judges out very heart and soul. David said “You are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”
There is no argument with God and his Word when he convicts us of sin. Our sinful nature will not like it. People living in unbelief may not want to hear it. But no one can argue this point with God. His Word touches our hearts and convinces us of our guilt before him. “Test the spirits.” Current false messages and messengers avoid that issue. When you dilute the Word of the Law you also dilute it of the truth of the Gospel.
It is because of our sin that Christ was born in Bethlehem. “Test the Spirits.” John has the vital litmus test: “Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.” How do you know? The Bible places Jesus Christ at front and center. The historic, miraculous, human birth of God’s Son is vital to the Truth. Jesus really did come in the flesh born of the Virgin Mary. He is fully man to die for our sins. He is fully God, begotten of the Father from eternity.
He has redeemed me a lost and condemned creature, not with gold or silver, but with his holy precious blood and with his innocent sufferings and death (Luther’s Small Catechism Article 2).
How do you know? “Test the spirits.” Spend time with that Word of Truth, that Word of Christ Jesus who came in the flesh, this Advent season. Like federal agents who study real printed money so thoroughly, that they can identify the moment a counterfeit bill is on the table. Jesus says “These are the Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:29). Every season, Advent or otherwise is a time to meditate on the Truth of God’s Word and Christ. Go to the manger by going to the Word of Truth. Stand beneath the cross, by sitting at the feet of the Spirit and the Word. View the Empty Tomb, by fixing your eyes, ears, minds and hearts on the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, “He is the Word made flesh … who came from the Father full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).
Why lies he in such mean estate;
Where oxen now are feeding?
Good Christians, fear for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce him through;
The cross he’ll bear for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh, the babe, the Son of Mary (CW 67: 2) Amen.