Soteriology 47, Jude 11
February 5, 2017
Father, we thank You for today, thank You for a new month, and I do pray You’ll be with us in our Sunday School class today as we try to continue to navigate our way through some difficult issues related to eternal security. And I do pray for Your hand of blessing on the worship service that follows, the communion table, fellowship after church and I just ask that Your hand would be in everything. And we lift these things up in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said… Amen.
If you can open your Bibles to the book of Jude, verse 11, we are in Sunday School class, this class anyway, continuing to look at the subject of eternal security, which is a big deal. Eternal security is the idea that the God that saves you is the God that’s going to keep you. And we’ve gone through a lot of arguments favoring eternal security and the reason this series is sort of stretching out is we’re responding to the passages that people use to deny security.
Here’s all the ground that we’ve covered in that left hand column, and I added a verse; the verse is Jude 11, I was planning on getting into 1 John today which we may have time to do a little bit but I wanted to just make a pit stop at Jude 11. It says, “Woe to them!” Jude, of course is speaking out against false teachers, “Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.”
So the word “perished” gives people the idea that these people were not… either they weren’t saved or if they had salvation they lost it. So you might remember from the Old Testament what the rebellion at Korah was, I think it’s recorded in Numbers 16 and it really has to do with that generation that came out of Egypt and they were in route to Canaan, and they had just failed at Kadesh-barnea because of giants in the land and they lapsed into unbelief. And they were a disgruntled people and so they all decided to rise up against their pastor, which happens to spiritual leaders sometimes. And God dealt with it pretty aggressively; I wish God would do this today sometimes in the life of the church, He just liked opened up the ground and all the dissenters disappeared into the earth. And then God said any other questions… I didn’t think so!
So Jude is making a reference to these false teachers that they emulate this pattern of rebellion against authority, referring back to Numbers 16. The troubling thing is it says these folks “perished in the rebellion of Korah.” So does “perished” mean they went to hell or lost their salvation? As we have talked about when we were going through the problem passages in Hebrews one of the things to understand is… and I’ve tried to make this point a number of times, is the folks that came out of Egypt were all believers so you shouldn’t get the idea that those that rebelled in Korah’s rebellion were some unbelievers in the mix. And I say that because that whole generation had placed the blood of the Passover lamb on their doorposts, and if they hadn’t have done that then all of their firstborn would have been killed in the land of Egypt in plague 10. Right? So they obviously exercised faith, that whole generation, just by virtue of their participation in Passover.
And so then the Red Sea parts and they come out of Egypt and they’re in route… about a two month voyage from where they came out on the other side of the Red Sea down to Sinai where they’re going to receive the Law. And this is what it says right after God closed the waters on the pursuing Egyptians. It says, as Israel was safely on the other side of the Red Sea it says, “…the people feared the LORD, and they” what? “believed in the LORD….” [Exodus 14:31, “When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses.]
And I’ve tried to make the point that that’s the same Hebrew construction, the only difference is the switch from singular to plural. That’s the exact same Hebrew construction you have in the famous Genesis 15:6 passage, which says Abraham believed God and it was” what? “credited to him for righteousness.” And when Paul defends the doctrine of salvation by faith alone that’s Paul’s favorite verse to quote. He quotes it in Galatians, he quotes in Romans a number of times.
So since that’s the exact same Hebrew construction here in Exodus 4:31 that we find in Genesis 15:6 my conclusion is that these people were all saved, in other words, they were justified before God. And Dr. Ronald Allen, who first alerted me to this Hebrew construction, one of my professors in seminary, he writes in a commentary, “when we read ‘so the people feared the LORD’ and the words that follow we are meant to understand the community had come to saving faith, and so were a reborn people. They believed in the Lord (the same wording used of Abraham’s saving faith in Genesis 15:6, and read Paul’s comments in Romans 4) the people were transformed spiritually as they were delivered physically.” And the reason I bring this up is because this is the same group, some of them anyway, that failed to trust God to enter Canaan and they also rebelled against God-ordained authority in the time of Korah.
And so what people like to do is they say well, those that rebelled were the unbelievers in the group. If I’m understanding this right there were no unbelievers in the group; these were all people that had come to saving faith, the best we understand it in the Old Testament. And these were people that had been justified before God but they were stumbling in which tense of their salvation? The middle tense, progressive sanctification.
So the issue with Korah’s rebellion is not a loss of salvation; when God opened the ground up and swallowed the dissenters it’s not getting into the issue of salvation at all. What was happening is divine discipline because “whom the Lord loves the Lord” what? “chastens.” Hebrews 12:5-11; Revelation 3:19.
[Hebrews 12:5-11, “And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,  because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.’  Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?  If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.  Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!  They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Revelation 3:19, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”]
And so what I would call Korah’s rebellion and God’s response to it is maximum divine discipline. In other words sometimes the divine discipline of the Lord can be so severe that God can actually take someone’s life and take them home early (so to speak) even though that person happens to be a believer. And that’s exactly what happens four times in the New Testament. I don’t know if I’ll rehearse all those verses to you because we’ve been down this road before, but you’ll see that in 1 Corinthians 11:30, people were… by the way, we’re celebrating communion today so this might be a good time to bring this up, people were drunk and disorderly at the Lord’s supper and they were turning communion into a common meal where it was like, in Corinth it was like a day to play thing that they had going on there. And the poor were excluded and it was dividing the body of Christ.
So Paul says because of this… he doesn’t say you’re going to hell or you’re not saved, he says because of this some of you are sick and have fallen asleep. [1 Corinthians 11:30, “For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.”] He’s talking there to believers and he’s talking about chastisement against the believer in the maximum sense, which is ending someone’s earthly life prematurely.
I think John alludes to it in 1 John 5:16, we’ll be going over to that passage probably next week, and you’ll see Jesus alluding to the same thing in Revelation 2:22-23 as He is speaking to the church at Thyatira. He’s speaking of maximum divine discipline. [1 John 5:16, “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.” Revelation 2:22-23, “Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.  And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.”]
And of course the most famous case of it in the whole Bible is Ananias and Sapphira who were slain in the Holy Spirit. Now a lot of people think being “slain in the Spirit” is something you should seek. I’m not personally interested in being slain in the Spirit. There is very little doubt in my mind that Ananias and Sapphira were believers because Acts 5:11 says when this happened, because they lied to the Holy Spirit, and God took them home early, the whole church was afraid. So would the church be afraid if an unbeliever was struck dead? I kind of doubt it. The church was afraid because God dealt very severely with His own people and it had a purifying effect on the infant church. Now maximum divine discipline is common in the Old Testament. You might recall we went through many, many passages where this happens. You might remember Nadab and Abihu, Leviticus 10:1-2, [“Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them.  And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.”]
So that’s what I think is happening with Korah’s rebellion; I don’t think it’s a loss of salvation issue or you never had salvation; it’s speaking of the fact that God came into this rebellion that was happening and He took saved people and He took them home early. Now that’s not out of character for the book of Numbers at all because we know that God allowed that whole generation to wander around forty years until they were all dead and these were all believers. And you say well how do you know that? Because Moses was in that group, right? Moses himself didn’t enter Canaan and so what God was doing is He was bringing discipline upon a rebellious nation even though those people, I believe, died and went to heaven. And that’s why a lot of the songs we sing we equate Canaan or the Promised Land with heaven, you know those kind of songs? That’s not very good theology when we sing songs like that because Canaan is not heaven or else you have to argue that Moses Himself didn’t go to heaven, which wouldn’t make a lot of sense. I mean, why would Canaan be heaven if you enter heaven and you’ve got to fight giants once you’re there. Is that a description of heaven?
And by the way, the nation of Israel 800 years later was evicted from Canaan. So is that what happens when I get to heaven, I’ve got to fight giants once I’m there and I’m there for 800 years and God’s going to kick me out? So Canaan really doesn’t represent heaven; Canaan represents a temporal blessing that the nation could have had above and beyond heaven. That’s what that generation lost. And of course those at Korah’s rebellion went further and they actually rebelled against God-ordained authority and so God, just as He was allowing that generation to wander around in the wilderness and die, 1.5 million of them, God expedited the proves with Korah’s rebellion and intervened right there on the spot with maximum divine discipline.
So discipline from God is not the same thing as a loss of salvation; that’s a mistake that’s being made with Korah’s rebellion, people think… they want to read into it they weren’t saved or they lost their salvation but that’s not the point. Discipline from God is not the same thing as a loss of salvation. And when you go through Jude and it’s only one chapter, as I read it there’s no commentary at all on a loss of salvation. There’s commentary on unbelieving false teachers coming in but I don’t think that’s really what it’s talking about here. Jude 11 is really not talking about a loss of salvation; it’s warning about false teachers coming in from the outside but also false teaching emerging from amongst God’s people. And as false teaching emerges amongst God’s people God can deal very dramatically, can’t He, and aggressively with that false teaching, even when it comes from the mouth of a believer.
The word that bothers everybody is the word “perish.” So notice again Jude 11, it says, “Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and” what? “perished in the rebellion of Korah.” Now when people see that word “perish” what verse do they think of? They usually think of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not” what? “perish, but have eternal life.” Well, there “perish” refers to hell, doesn’t it? I mean, clearly, and so what people do is they read that understanding of the word “perish” back into Jude 11. And one of the key things to understand about Bible study is words can have multiple meanings. You take the word apple; how many meanings can you generate from the word apple? Well it could be talking about a piece of fruit, I could be talking about a computer, I could be talking about New York City, The Big Apple, I could be talking about the pupil of someone’s eye, the “apple of their eye.”
So you look up the word apple in a dictionary and you’re going to see all these different meanings. So how do I know which meaning to supply? What tells me? Context. The three rules of real estate are location, location, location. The three rules of Bible study are context, context, context. Context is what gives words meaning and there’s an error that people make when they study the Bible, it’s called the lexical fallacy where they see a word and then they go to a dictionary and define what that word means regardless of whether the context supports that word.
James Barr, who wrote a book called The Semantics of Biblical Language, coined a phrase for this called illegitimate totality transfer. And you have to watch theologians carefully because they do this all the time; what they’ll do is they’ll see a word, like for example in the Calvinist debate there are those that believe Christ did not die for the whole world, that He only died for the elect. And you say well what do you do with this, “For God so loved the world,” doesn’t that mean everybody? And they’ll say oh no, no, no, what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to go over to John 12:19 where it says the whole world has gone after Him, Jesus on Palm Sunday. [John 12:19, “So the Pharisees said to one another, ‘You see that you are not doing any good; look, the world has gone after Him.’”] That’s not the whole world, they say, that’s just the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And that’s the same Greek word, cosmos, world, so they take a meaning from John 12:19, the same word, and they read it over into John 3:16. See that? Once they go down that road they’ve just committed the error called illegitimate totality transfer because they’re not defining the word from its context, they’re defining the word from what? A foreign context. Do you see that?
And so that’s kind of what happens with this word “perish.” People look at this word “perish” and they say it means hell elsewhere, which clearly it does, so that’s got to be it’s meaning in Jude 11. See that? Now the word “perish” is apollymi, and it clearly can refer to hell in some contexts, like John 3:16. But it also can refer to something temporary, for example, notice Matthew 9:17, the same word “perish,” apollymi. Notice how Matthew uses this word, it says there in Matthew 9:17, “Nor do people” Jesus is speaking “put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are” what? what does it say? “ruined,” now that’s the same word apollymi, perish, and there it’s not referring to hell, is it; it’s referring to the temporary destruction of a wineskin.
And beyond that apollymi can also refer, not to hell but just to death. So notice Matthew 2:13, “Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to” what? “destroy Him.’” You look that up in the Greek text and that’s the same word “perish,” apollymi. Now there it’s not talking about Herod throwing Jesus into hell, how could Herod do that, he doesn’t have the authority to do that. It’s talking about Herod’s desire to do what to the baby Jesus? Kill him. So it’s just talking about common death.
So there are times that this word does refer to hell, which we call the second death, John calls it the second death, but there are other times the word just refers to common death. And when you put all the pieces together I think that’s how Jude 11 is talking about Korah’s rebellion. It’s not making a statement that these people went to hell; he’s not getting into the subject of maybe they weren’t saved. See, we read all this stuff into it because we’re interested in that but we have to figure out what was Judah interested in? He’s referring to an Old Testament story and I’ve tried to put the pieces together to show you that this was a saved audience that did this rebellion, and it’s talking about, I believe, the maximum divine discipline of God, which as we have seen is a prerogative that God sometimes opts for throughout Biblical history.
So “perish” in Jude 11 is not the same use of the word “perish” in John 3;16, same word, different meanings. And whether you agree with what I’m doing with the word “perish” here or not is probably less important to me than if you understand the method that I’m using. I’m allowing the context, each specific context to define the word “perish” because I know by looking at a dictionary that the word “perish” can mean many, many different things. So I have to be very careful about contextual Bible study when I develop the meaning of this word “perish.”
Now you say well, are there any other places in the New Testament where the word perish does not refer to hell? And I’m glad you asked. 1 Corinthians 8:11, “And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother” what? “perish, for whom Christ died?” That’s the same exact word, apollymi. And in this context it’s not talking about people going to hell; it’s talking about people stumbling in Christ because the whole context of 1 Corinthians 8 is the stronger brother/weaker brother setting where you have people that have come to Christ that are not necessarily Jewish, they are Gentile, and they don’t have any problems with eating food sacrificed to idols but you’ve got other people in the flock that have just come out of… perhaps Judaism and they’re now Christians and they’ve been taught for 1500 years, going back to the Law of Moses that eating food sacrificed to idols is a sin.
So what do you do in that kind of circumstance? Even though the stronger brother has the right arguments, I mean you could make the biblical case that eating food sacrificed to idols is not a sin because we’re not under the Law of Moses any more, we’re in the age of the church. Well, the stronger brother is to do what with his freedoms? Curtail them for the benefit of who? The weaker brother so that you’re violating his conscience, so that he has time to mature and grow. See that?
And if the stronger brother rejects this principle of servanthood and just openly flaunts their freedom in the presence of the weaker brother, then what are you doing to the weaker brother? You’re causing that weaker brother to perish, the same Greek word; now there it’s not talking about you’re sending the weaker brother into hell, right? Because I, as a human being, can’t do anything to send people into hell. Mere human beings can’t send other human beings into hell. What you’re doing is you’re creating an obstruction or a roadblock in that new believer’s growth. And that’s how the word “perish” is used there.
The scenario everybody likes to talk about is social drinking. To be honest with you I can’t find a verse in the church age that says thus saith the Lord you shall never ever consume alcohol under any circumstances. And I don’t think what Jesus did by turning the water into wine He created grape juice; I get some Baptists mad at me for saying that but the steward says you brought out the good stuff for the end, remember, so it was real alcohol. So there’s a freedom in Christ to consume alcohol beverages but what do you do when you’re in a situation like I was in where I had a roommate and this was before I was married obviously and he was a recovering alcoholic. I mean do I just while we’re hanging out in the apartment do I just go into the frig and open up an alcoholic beverage because I’m right on a theological issue. No, I don’t do that because if I did that I would be putting him back in a state of bondage. He’s a new Christian, he’s struggled with substance issues, and if I openly flaunt my freedom in Christ I’m putting him back into incarceration or bondage, a soul for whom Christ died. So I am causing him, Paul says, to “perish.” I’m not sending him to hell but I’m putting on him a temporal problem.
The only point I’m trying to make is this word “perish” doesn’t mean hell every time it’s used. It can refer to some kind of temporal setback, it can refer to a premature death, although I’m not arguing the fact that it does mean hell other places.
Robert Gromacki, of 1 Corinthians 8:11 in his New Testament Commentary on the book of 1 Corinthians, of 1 Corinthians 8:11 makes this statement. “The weak Christian perished” quote, “in that he suffered loss, a sense of sin that affected his fellowship with God. The reckless use of liberty actually violates the purposes for which Christ died.” So here he’s acknowledging that “perish” isn’t hell, at least not here, it’s putting a spiritual growth roadblock in front of somebody.
And so what I’m trying to explain is when you see this word “perish” in Jude 11 we always want to rush in there and read into it they lost their salvation or they didn’t have their salvation and I’ve tried to make the case and I think it’s consistent with how the word “perish” is used many times in the Bible, that contextually when you study Jude 11 it’s not talking about hell, it’s not talking about loss of salvation, it’s talking about maximum divine discipline. And that’s my best shot at that. Some of you might have questions on that which we’ll open up to a little bit later.
Now let’s go into 1 John, 1 John 2:3. 1 John, of all of the books of the Bible that are misused today I’d have to put 1 John right at the top of the list. 1 John 2:3, and I’ve got 1 John 2:3, 1 John 3:9, 15, and 5:16. Those are passage that are appealed to perpetually to argue you can lose your salvation. So 1 John 2:3 says, “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we” what? “keep His commandments.” Well what if I today am not keeping His commandments? What if I had an argument with my spouse on the way into the church and said something I shouldn’t have said? What then? Well, people read this verse and they say well, if you’re not keeping His commandments then maybe you don’t know Him at all. Calvinism, because you’re not what? Persevering in the faith, because in the Calvinist system you always have to persevere in good works to prove you’re one of the elect. Or an Arminian comes along and says, “By this we know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commandments,” and they’ll say well, you know, if you didn’t keep His commandments then maybe you did what? You lost your salvation.
So 1 John, you see this all the time, people going to 1 John to prove the perseverance in good works or to prove you can lose your salvation and the reason people do that is they really don’t understand the complete picture in 1 John. They’re being given one viewpoint on 1 John. Now I want to give you what I think is the right view on 1 John which if you understand it, it will rescue you from all of these misuses of 1 John. And it’s hard for me to do that unless I document to you who 1 John was written to.
1 John, as you study it, was not written to people that maybe they’re saved, maybe they’re not. In the 21st century you can have people that come into a church that aren’t saved. That happens all of the time in the 21st century; we’re talking about the 1st century here where if you publicly identified with Christianity you were a candidate for execution under Rome. So people really didn’t name the name of Christ unless they really believed it. And that’s how all of these New Testament books are written. So these New Testament, by and large, with probably the exception of the Gospel of John, are written to believers. And it becomes obvious when you just stop for a minute and look at some key verses in 1 John which reveal the audience.
For example, notice what John is worried about in 1 John 1:4. What is he concerned about? “These things we write, so that our” what? “joy may be made complete.” John, as you probably know, wrote five New Testament books, The Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and which other book? The book of Revelation. So John is writing 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, right around the same time to the same group. In 2 John, only one chapter in 2 John and 3 John, verse 12 he says, “Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that your” what “may be made full.” “Joy” he’s not worried about man you guys need to receive the gospel so you don’t go to hell; he’s worried about their walk of joy.
If you look at 1 John 1:8 he says, “If” who? “we say,” when he says “we” John is identifying with the spiritual state of his audience. Was John saved? I think so, I hope so, he wrote five New Testament books. So when he says “we” he’s saying I’m saved and you’re saved.
In 1 John 2:1 he says, “My little children,” that’s not a description of an unbeliever; that’s a description of a child of God and these people have been spiritually birthed through John’s ministry so John calls them his spiritual children as well, kind of like Paul calling Timothy “my son in the faith,” not just physical son but spiritual son. And you’ll find John referring to them as children in 1 John 2:1, 18 and 28, John 3:2, 7 and 18 and 1 John 5:21.
[1 John 2:1, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin…”
1 John 2:18, “Children, it is the last hour;….”
1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God….”
1 John 3:7, “Little children, make sure no one deceives you….
1 John 3:18, “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” 1 John 5:21, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”]
Now take a look at 1 John 2:12-14, this is to me very telling because he makes 8 descriptive phrases here which could only apply to a believer. “I am writing to you,” what? “little children, because your sins have been” what? “forgiven you for His name’s sake.”  “I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.  I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”
Look at these descriptive phrases here: “your sins have been forgiven,” doesn’t that sound like a believer to you? “You know Him who has been from the beginning… you have overcome the evil one… you know the Father.” “you know Him who has been from the beginning.” You are strong, the Word of God abides where? In you. You have overcome the evil one. I mean very clearly you’re dealing with a regenerated audience here.
If you look at 1 John 2:27 he tells them that they have the Holy Spirit’s anointing, he says, “As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you….” If you back up to verse 20 you’ll see that this anointing is the Holy Spirit, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One,” so they have the Holy Spirit, they have the Holy Spirit’s illuminating ministry, there’s only one way to get the Holy Spirit and that’s to believe in Christ, right.
He is worried about them because of a loss of reward; that’s what he’s worried about; he’s not worried about them going to hell, he’s worried about a loss of reward. He’s worried about them, 1 John 2:28 of being ashamed at his coming. [1 John 2:28, “Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.” And then if you look at 2 John 8 he says, “Watch yourselves so you don’t lose what we have worked for, but that you may receive” what? “a full” what? “reward.” There’s no fear in John that these people aren’t going to arrive in heaven. He’s worried about them arriving in heaven in an unrewarded state. 1 John really starts to develop the doctrine of rewards.
If you look at 1 John 3:2, he says, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like” who? “like Him,” speaking of their glorification, it’s a done deal. 1 John 3:2 he calls them “Beloved.” And then in verse 21 and then three times in chapter 4, verse 1, verse 7, verse 11 he calls them Beloved ones in the faith. [1 John 3:21, “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;” 1 John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit….” 1 John 4:7, “Beloved, let us love one another.… 1 John 4:11, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”]
1 John 3:13 he says, “Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.” 1 John 4:4 he says they’re born of God. 1 John 4:4 says, “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”
So he uses this expression born of God, overcomers. Now when you go to 1 John 5:4-5 he tells you who an overcomer is. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world… [5, “Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”] So you are overcomers, 1 John 4:4 because you’re born again, 1 John 5:4-5. As a Christian you’re automatically an overcomer. Did you know that? Because the One who overcame now lives where? Inside of you. In 1 John 4:13 he makes reference to the fact that these folks have the Holy Spirit. [1 John 4:13, “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.”]
And I’m going to explain to you really fast why all this is relevant. It says at the end of verse 13, “He has given us” see how he keeps saying “us”? “His Spirit.” So just like the book of Hebrews the right way to understand these troubling passages is to try to figure out who is he writing to. And I tried to lay out the case in both Hebrews and in 1 John that he’s writing to believers. Now why is this relevant? It’s relevant because 1 John poses seven tests. 1 John 1:6 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie [and do not practice the truth];” that’s a test of false fellowship, test number 1. 1 John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” That’s a test of false sanctity, test number 2. 1 John 1:10 says, “If we say that we have not sinned we make Him a liar and His Word is not in us,” that’s a test of false righteousness. 1 John 2:14, “He that saith I know Him and keepeth not His commandments is a liar.” That’s a test of false allegiance. 1 John 2:6, “He that saith he abideth in Him ought to walk even as He walked,” that’s a test of false behavior. 1 John 2:9, “He that saith he is in the light yet hateth his brother is in the darkness.” That’s a test of false spirituality. 1 John 4:20, “If a man says I love God and hates his brother he is a liar,” that’s a test of false love.
Now most people are aware of these tests because they’re somewhat scary aren’t they? And here’s the definitive issue with 1 John. What happens if I flunk one of the tests? What happens if I flunk all of the tests? What does that mean? And what you’re going to discover is there’s not one view on this; you’re only getting one view. I don’t know why the first view has the dominant market share today but it does. The first view is so dominant that’s the only view I ever knew for years and years and years as a Christian. But if I was teaching this study a hundred years ago the dominant view would be number 2.
So the key issue is in these seven tests what is being tested. In other words, if you flunk one or more or all of these tests what does that mean? The first view is called the test of life view, that’s the dominant view today. And what people will say is that’s a test to determine if you’re saved at all. That is a test to determine if you are in union with God at all. It’s a test to determine your what? Justification. But lo and behold there’s a whole different view to approaching 1 John, I have it at the bottom of the screen, where John is not testing life, he’s testing fellowship. So this second view says, it’s a test not to determine if you’re saved but if you as a saved person are actually walking in fellowship with God. It’s a test not to determine your initial union with God but your communion with God. It’s a test not to determine your justification but your progressive sanctification.
Now we’ve gone over, haven’t we, ad infinitum, the three tenses of salvation? Justification, the past tense of salvation that I receive at the point of faith in Christ. Then comes progressive sanctification, my growth in Christ. And then comes either death or the rapture where I’m perfectly glorified. So I have been saved, I am being saved, I will be saved. And most of the time when you hear expositors teach on 1 John and they teach on the seven tests they are applying these seven tests to your justification. And what they’re doing is they’re giving you a singular view on this, one view.
Just to give you an example, one of the biggest proponents of this today is John MacArthur and he writes in his book, “Saved without a doubt, how to be sure of your salvation,” which to my mind is probably the most misnamed book in Christianity because people that come under this doctrine what they start to do and it becomes obvious when you counsel people, is they second guess whether they’re saved. Why? Because in daily experience we flunk some of these tests, don’t we?
So John MacArthur claims that John wrote his epistle to provide eleven tests, now he’s got a eleven tests, I just had seven, tests of genuine saving faith. These include subjective questions such as do you obey God’s Word? Do you reject this world? Do you eagerly await Christ’s return? Do you see a decreasing pattern of sin in your life? Now notice the notion of the subjectivity of these questions. How do you determine if you really are eagerly awaiting God’s return? I mean, I remember watching a college basketball game that went into double overtime and I wanted to see how it was going to end and I remember saying in my mind I hope the Lord doesn’t come back before the game’s over because I’ve invested two and a half hours, I mean, my armpits were sweaty, I was yelling at the refs through the television set, so I wasn’t eagerly awaiting for the Lord’s return at that second.
And it’s these questions that people are given that are very subjective and so it’s never exactly quantified how you meet each test. And so people walk around with these big question marks as to whether they’re saved.
Here is a scholar, Christopher D. Bass and his commentary on 1 John, published in 2008. He writes this: “We must remember that the first letter of John is laden with various sets of criteria or ‘tests’ by which its readers are to evaluate their religious claims in light of the way they conduct their lives. The believers life style therefore serves as either a vital support to his or her” what? “assurance or is evidence that he has never really passed over from death to life.” [That You May Know: Assurance of Salvation in 1 John (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 2008), 182-83.]
See what he’s saying there? You flunk one of these tests or more of these tests, maybe not just incidentally but regularly then you have grounds to ask yourself am I even a Christian to begin with. And you see how the Calvinist and the Armenian will camp on the test of life view to support their position. I do not believe that John is giving tests for justification. Why would I say that? Because we went through multiple passages, didn’t we, in 1 John, 2 John, and even some in 3 John which to me very clearly indicate that the audience is regenerated. So if the audience is regenerated and Jesus has told us in John 10, remember John wrote the Gospel of John also, that once we are in the Father’s hand nothing can take us out.
I can’t look at these tests and say well these are tests to figure out if you’re saved or not; maybe you never were saved or maybe you lost your salvation. I think this is a test, not to determine justification but these are tests to determine your growth in what? Progressive sanctification. Now I get that conclusion by audience analysis. That’s why you have to spend time figuring out who was this book written to because that will determine where you come down on this particular topic. So what I want you to see is there are two views of 1 John 2, not one but two.
There is the test of life view and then there is the test of fellowship view. The test of life view says if you have righteous conduct, love and truth then you know you were saved. The test of fellowship view comes along and says if you have righteous conduct, love in truth then you know that you’re in what? Fellowship with God because I as a Christian can be out of fellowship with God and still be a Christian, just like I can get out of fellowship with my wife and still be married, because of sin.
The purpose statement of the test of life view is 1 John 5:13 “so that you may know that you have eternal life.” [I John 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”]
I’ll be explaining to you in this series why I don’t think that is the purpose statement of 1 John. I think the purpose statement of 1 John is found in 1 John 1:3, “…so that you also may have fellowship with us and … with the Father and with His Son.” Both views take the same words and define them differently. When you see the word “fellowship” and “abiding” the test of life view says this is being saved, being in union with God or Christ. The test of fellowship view says no, this is being in communion with God, walking in His Spirit, knowing God. Both views take the same words and define them differently. The test of life view says knowing God means you possess eternal life. The test of fellowship view says no, knowing God means you’re enjoying fellowship with God. Eternal life—the test of life view says that means salvation. The test of fellowship view says no, that refers to quality of life in the Holy Spirit.
Light or darkness, are you in the light or are you in the darkness. The test of life view says if you’re “in the light” you’re saved, if you are “in the darkness” you’re what? Unsaved. The test of fellowship view says no, if you’re “in the light” you’re walking in fellowship with God; if you are “in the darkness” you are kind of like David who was still going to heaven but after he committed adultery and murder he was out of fellowship with God, he was walking in darkness that whole time period until he confessed his sin.
Here’s a larger chart, as if you guys wanted a larger chart. Test of life view says the tests figure out if you’re saved, the test of fellowship view says the tests figure out if you’re in fellowship with God. The purpose statement of the book is 1 John 5:13 according to the test of life view. I’ll be showing you later why I don’t think that’s the purpose statement of the book. I think the purpose statement of the is found in 1 John 1:3-4. [1 John 1:3, “what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.  These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.”]
Fellowship and abiding under test of life view says that determines union. Test of fellowship view says no, that determines communion. Now notice I have there John 15:5 in parenthesis. That’s the Upper Room Discourse where Jesus is talking to eleven saved people. And Judas, the only unbeliever had left the building, left the Upper Room. So by the time Jesus gives the vine and the branches discourse He’s talking to eleven saved people, and He talks about a branch in the vine and a branch out of the vine. Remember that? The branch in the vine is not just a saved person but it’s a saved person walking in fellowship with God. The branch out of the vine is not an unsaved person but a saved person who has fallen out of fellowship with God. That’s the point of the vine and branch discourse.
Now one of these eleven was sitting there sixty years earlier in the Upper Room and heard Jesus say the whole thing. And one of those guys was who? John. And Jesus said when the Spirit comes He will guide you into all truth, He will bring all things that I have spoken to you to your remembrance. So John, same guy, sixty years earlier, that heard Jesus talk about this is getting close to his death and the Holy Spirit has him write 1 John, 2 John and 3 John, not to contradict what Jesus said in the Upper Room but to amplify it. And people look at 1 John and they say you know, except for a few occasions John really doesn’t refer in 1 John to the Old Testament a lot. There’s one reference to Cain who murdered his brother, other than that there’s no Old Testament references. And there’s a reason for that. John is building his case, not from the Old Testament but from what he heard Jesus talk about 60 years earlier. And so that’s the right way to look at 1 John, it’s a greater amplification or treatment of the truths that Jesus disclosed to His handpicked disciples, eleven saved people, sixty years earlier.
Knowing God and the test of life view refers to eternal life; knowing God and the test of fellowship view refers to fellowship with God. Eternal life test of life view says eternal life is defined from John 17:3, if you believe in Christ you have His life. [John 17:3, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”]
The test of fellowship view says no, sometimes eternal life can refer to the quality of life. Didn’t Jesus in John 10:10 say “…I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” So I can be experiencing eternal life in the maximum sense or just possessing it. And that’s why Galatians 6:8 says you ought to support doctrinally correct churches because you reap what you sow. [Galatians 6:8, “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”]
Do you want a high quality of spiritual life, then you need to financially get behind churches that are teaching you this way. Galatians 6:8 says, “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” That’s talking about financial provision for doctrinally based teachers so that they keep teaching you the Word of God, not because he’s doubting whether they’re saved, he wants them to experience a maximum quality of spiritual life. That’s how eternal life is being used in 1 John, according to the test of fellowship view. Light, darkness, you’re either saved or not saved. Test of fellowship view, you’re either in fellowship or out of fellowship with God.
Now what about judgment and fear? The test of life view when John mentions in 1 John judgment and fear they think it’s talking about hell. The test of fellowship view says no, judgment and fear is talking about fear of divine discipline and fear of an unfavorable ruling at the Bema Seat. Same words, different definitions.
What about the Spirit? Test of life view says when John mentions the Spirit it’s talking about possession. Unsaved people don’t have the Spirit, saved people do. The test of fellowship view comes along and says no, when it talks about the Spirit in 1 John it’s talking about the influence of the Spirit because I, as a Bible believing Christian have the ability to do what with the Spirit? Quench the Spirit, don’t I? That’s why it says, 1 Thessalonians 5:19, don’t put out the Spirit’s fire. Ephesians 4:30 to a believer, don’t what the Spirit? Grieve the Spirit.
Satan, because there’s references here to children of Satan, test of life view says that’s referring to unbelievers. May I just say to you that that’s not the only way Satan is understood. The test of fellowship view indicates that Satan can have influence over a believer. Didn’t Peter make a statement in Matthew 16 for Jesus to stay away from the cross? And didn’t Jesus say to Peter… was Peter saved… I think so! Didn’t He say to Peter “get behind me Satan”? Weren’t Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:3, filled with Satan. [Acts 5:3, “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?”] Doesn’t Paul in Ephesians 4:26-27 say do not give who a foothold, the devil. [Ephesians 4:26, “BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger,  and do not give the devil an opportunity.”]
So when you see Satan in 1 John, the test of life view says well if you’re under Satan’s influence you obviously never were saved or you lost your salvation. The test of fellowship view comes along and says no, that’s not what’s being said here at all, it’s talking about your out of fellowship with God and Satan is having influence over you as a Christian, although a Christian can never be possessed by Satan he can be influenced by Satan.
So anyway, we haven’t even gotten to 1 John 2:3 yet but I want you to see that how you handle 1 John, any issue in 1 John, is contingent upon which view you hold. I did a lot of talking, I’m just going to stop talking and no doubt you guys have some questions and we may be answering your questions next week so be patient with me. Walk in fellowship with God, don’t get mad at me. [tape ends]