The True Test
“ Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” ( 1 John 4: 1 KJV)
How can a person know for sure that a piece of jewelry they own is gold, or if a diamond is truly a diamond? One can be ensured that gold is indeed gold, or a diamond is indeed a diamond by testing it.
There are tools that can be used to test the metal in gold to ensure it is true gold, and tools that will test a diamond to ensure it is a diamond. Sometimes people have purchased jewelry that was advertised as gold or diamonds and may have them tested at a later time only to find out that what they thought was true was not. As John is writing a letter to ensure the reader of their salvation, he writes of a true test that can be given to ensure that what one thinks is actual and true. In the fourth chapter of 1 John, we read of the true test that can be given to ensure one of salvation.
There is a true test that can be given to ensure our salvation. The first six verses of chapter four give the warning to test the spirits. The spirits listed in verse one are the false prophets/false teachers (Gnostics in particular) that spread their religious error. There are many passages that warn of false teachers and it appears that error and false doctrine were as much a problem during the first century as they are in this present century. John has already mentioned those that are considered “antichrist” (1 John 2:18, 22) and now he warns that those that are teaching falsely must be tested. The false teachers could be and still can be tested and proved to be false. In verse two, John states that the true test of knowing if someone is a false teacher is based on the confession that Jesus is come in the flesh. Once again this is a clear reference to the Gnostics of John's time that denied that Jesus had
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‘Minute with the Minister’
Jeremy Thornton JEREMY THORNTON (cont.)
come in fleshly form, only that He appeared in the flesh. There is a test that can be given to identify false teachers. When one begins to search the Scriptures and examine what God has given to us (2 Tim. 3:16-17) and hold His Word above our preconceived notions, opinions, or traditions, doing as the Bible commands, we can be assured of our salvation.
There is another test that can be given to prove if are saved (v.7-16). One is able to test if they know God by testing the love they have for others. We are to love one another just as God so loved us. God's love was made manifest to the world by the sending of His only begotten Son to be the propitiation for our sins. What greater love can be put on display than the love that God has shown to mankind through the offering of Jesus? Jesus was sent into this world to be offered in order that we be able to live eternally in heaven.
Jesus was sent to this earth in order that He be the offering/sacrifice/ payment (“propitiation”) for the sins that we committed and instead of holding us accountable for our sins, the Father sent His Son to endure the cross on our behalf. The type of sacrificial love that has been displayed before us through the Father and Son, is the same type of sacrificial love that should be enacted in the lives of those that belong to Him.
Because of the love that was given to us through Jesus, and the love that is a part of the lives of those that follow Jesus, there is assurance of salvation (v.17-21). Some may look to the Day of Judgment with a certain amount of fear, and those that are outside of the body of Christ can rightful do so as there is no hope (Eph. 2:12), but those that belong to Christ, who's love has been made perfect, can have boldness/ assurance of their salvation. Those that claim to love God but fail to love others are failing the test of salvation, but those that love God and love others can be assured that he is known of God.
The greatest command given to man was to love God and others (Matt.
22:37ff.). As we are to test ourselves, examine the type of love that you have. God sent His Son because of the love He has for us in order that we may be able to live (v.9). Those that love prove themselves to be born of God (v.7) passing the test of salvation. Can you pass the test?
Jeremy Thornton is Minister of Highway 77