The theme for 2018 is, “Remain in Christ and His Basic Message,” which is chosen from 1 John 2:24-25:
See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25And this is what he promised us — even eternal life (1 John 2:24-25, NIV).
The letter of 1 John is very relevant for our purpose since it was written by the aged Apostle John to all “born ones,” from the Greek term teknia. In other words the letter was written to all Christians—children, young men and elderly people. By the time John wrote the letter, almost all the twelve apostles had died, new generations of second and third believers and leaders had grown in the church, people who did not see our Lord Jesus. Unlike some of the epistles, John did not show that the believers were facing persecutions. Rather the trouble they were encountering was from people who thought they were improving the Christian faith. They thought they were very spiritual and knowledgeable. They claimed to have special knowledge more than the ordinary Christians. Out of that had come many false prophets and false teachers, who were going out, taking advantage of the Christian hospitality and deceiving people. This trend, later on in Church history, developed into a group which were called Gnostics. The beliefs of the Gnostics are reflected in the book.
The Gnostic believed in a dualistic view of the world. That the spiritual world was regarded as good, while the material world was regarded as evil. The material world included the body of human beings. They held that sparks of divinity from the spiritual world were imprisoned in the bodies of certain spiritual individuals. As God saw their plight, He sent a redeemer to provide special knowledge concerning the origin of these sparks and enable them to escape the imprisonment in their bodies. The knowledge they had received would help them leave the planets to return to their original state without harm and reunite with God. There were two ways of allowing these sparks of divinity imprisoned in the bodies come out. Either you resort to an ascetic life, that is, punishing your body or you live a very pleasurable life.
Since these people believe the material world is evil, they did not believe Jesus came in the human form. They deny the humanity of Jesus. They claimed Jesus appeared to have come only in human form (Docetism). The Christ spirit came upon him during the baptism and departed during the crucifixion. It was impossible for Christ as a spiritual being to suffer (Cerinthianism). These people claimed they were the people who had the knowledge to teach the Christians about these spiritual things. They claimed to know these more than the apostles and their successors. John wrote the letter to refute those teachings and to tell them to hold on to the basic message they heard from the beginning.
These false teachers, which the apostle John addressed, denied that Jesus was the Christ. He writes, “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist — he denies the Father and the Son” (2:22, NIV).
They denied that Jesus had come in the flesh as the Christ (1 John 4:2). John writes:
This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world (4:2-3, NIV).
Their spiritual pride deceived them into believing that they were not obligated to obey the commandments of God. This is reflected in John 2:3-4, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (NIV). They claimed that they were not under sin, and thus did not need any forgiveness. John had to admonish the believers as follows:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives (1:7-10, NIV).
Because of the belief of not being under sin, these people lived in worldly pleasure, enjoying themselves with all the pleasures of the world. John exhorted the Christians:
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever (2:15-17, NIV).
Meanwhile these false teachers also claimed to be anointed and knew better than the Christians, so they needed to teach the Christians. John had to remind the Christians that:
I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit — just as it has taught you, remain in him (2:26-27, NIV).
The apostle John therefore wrote to them for them to know that they had eternal life (5:13). The word know appears in the King James Version thirty-five times from two Greek words, ginosko (to know or be aware of), and eido (to see or to know). Apostle John lays emphasis in 1 John 2:20, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth” (NIV).
John wanted the Christians to know that the word that they had preached to them was the real word of God full of eternal life. Read the passion of the old apostle:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched — this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4We write this to make our joy complete (John 1:1-4, NIV).
John wanted to assure them that indeed Jesus was God who came down to the world here. He came as a human being, he saw him, touched him and fellowshipped with him. He died and was resurrected. Believing in Him offers one eternal life. They had received the Holy Spirit (anointing), and did not need any other person, claiming to have superior knowledge to teach them.
John’s message is similar to what is going on in the world now. The gospel message is simple, but people still want something bigger, stricter, complicated and mysterious than the gospel we preach. There is nothing apart from this basic message.
I believe that the tenets of The Church of Pentecost carry this simple message of the gospel. It is my desire that as we digest it and pray on it, we will touch the spirit of the ‘letter’ so that we will minister life to our people. Teaching it alone is not enough. We must eat the word and let it grow in us to become part of us, so that we will be able to minister life to people. Many people can minister the word of God at its lowest level. That is preaching for people to understand. We must preach for the preaching to lead to repentance and action that will lead to others glorifying God with their bodies and substances.
We do not need any special knowledge beside what the word of God has provided for you