“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4
Scripture reading: 1 John 4:1-6
John wrote to address a special concern within the churches. As we study this letter, this underlying issue will stand out. It was a very dangerous heresy. It challenged the very heart of the gospel as it actively promoted the view that Christ hadn’t really become a man. So Jesus hadn’t physically ministered and suffered and died – a belief later known as Docetism.
Naturally the whole faith belief of Christ’s atoning death – our being made right with God – is denied. So then, where would we go for our salvation? Why, if God hasn’t done it, we must do it! Can you see what’s happening? Yes, another religion of salvation by works – a belief far from the gospel.
This is certainly a difficult pastoral situation to address. You see, a belief like this hasn’t just crept in overnight. For a while already it’s been subtly spreading its tentacles into Christ’s Body. Knowing this, John has to be careful how he writes. A short-fused reaction would attack the target, but likely not succeed. Instead, it would be better to start from what they shared together. Rejoice in the faith there is in God. Bring out its multi-faceted beauties. And from that point of union, tackle the difficulty as an interruption to their combined celebration of love.
Now that’s an approach we can learn from too!
Suggestions for prayer
Pray for unity in your local congregation and denomination, especially that it will be a unity in truth.
Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.