Mutual Fellowship

SUGAR LAND BIBLE CHURCH
William Miller 8-2-15
Mutual Fellowship 1 John 2:19-21

Always a pleasure and a privilege to stand before you; it amazes me every time the Lord can use someone like little old me to preach His Word. You may be wondering, some of you all anyway, you know, where did this guy come from, where has he been, did he crawl out of a rock somewhere and here he is and he’s preaching again. I want to take a moment to provide you all with a brief update with what’s been going on and first of all I want to thank all of those who attended our garage sale yesterday, we had an extremely successful garage sale because we are in the midst of our moving week. This next coming Saturday my wife and I will finally be moving to Dallas together. So the last there last three months I have been actually staying in Fort Worth with a dear aunt of mine and cousin and then driving to Dallas which is about a 45 to an hour commute both ways every single day, and then driving to Houston, usually every week, if not every other week to visit my wife. She was able to join me for a couple of weeks anyways in Fort Worth and stayed there; her job is online so we were able to set up a mobile station that she can comfortably travel and work with, she needs a dual monitor set up and so we’re able to make that happen.

In fact, a big part of my job is traveling up to the seminary; I work for the Distance Education Department and we’re basically the administrative team that organizes, conducts, leads and executes all the various extension campus events. And so all the various DTS extension campuses, unlike the Houston campus, they don’t have a staff that is stationed there on a regular basis. So we go and provide sort of an opportunity for them to see some faces, shake some hands, have some questions answered outside of the professors that go and teach the classes. So anyways, my wife was able to participate with me in some of those trips and that was just an awesome opportunity for her to be able to travel with me. And this coming Saturday, as I mentioned, we’ll be moving; the subsequent three weekends thereafter I’ll be on the road, and then three weeks after that I will be completely on the road and so I ask that you pray for all of the traveling involved. Those of you who do travel for work you’ll understand the obstacles and things of that nature and the coordination that it takes to do those things. But I’m thankful that I took the advice of my wife because this coming fall she recommended that I take this one more semester off of school so to get well acquainted at the new home, well acquainted with the job and exercise some personal studies and edification and things of that nature.

So we just ask for your continued prayers; it’s been such a blessing despite the challenges and we also ask that you pray for our church transition. We’re in between churches right now, of course, and there are several that we have on a list to visit, several that we have visited and I’m so very thankful for the online resource that Sugar Land Bible Church provides for us in the in-between seasons and Sundays when for whatever reason, being on the road, we can’t make it to church. It’s an invaluable resource although new the videos that are provided and the awesome lighting that is now provided. I told the tech guys I hope those aren’t UV lights because my glasses are going to activate a transition. They seem to be okay so that’s good, I didn’t want to be up here wearing sunglasses or blind for that matter. But it’s an invaluable resource that I know that we wouldn’t reach other people that do watch the messages. In fact, I’ve even received encouragement from people that I don’t even know around the United States and whether I hear it from Andy that he received an e-mail or things like that, so it’s just an awesome opportunity to minister abroad via the internet.

So jumping into the message, I’ve had the awesome opportunity, this is the sixth message in 1 John that we’ve been looking into for over a year now and we’re in the stage in the passage that I’m referring to as Mutual Fellowship. We’re only going to hone in on three verses this morning, that’s verses 19-21 and this is the basic outline that we will follow. As has been customary I will begin with a review and overview of what we have discussed to help try to bring us up to speed within the epistle of 1 John and then we’ll look at these three verses and we’ll identify that within the mutual fellowship of the believers of that day John provides insight into what we can identify as a mutual authority in verse 19; there’s a mutual anointing in verse 20, and then a mutual truth within the people of God in verse 21.

Now in every message I try to provide this definition so that if you don’t take anything else out of these messages you’ll remember this definition, and that is a proper, if not easy, definition of fellowship. Fellowship is simply an ongoing exchange or a common sharing of God’s truth and love. Now up to this point, the previous five messages, we have been emphasizing the ongoing nature of the fellowship, the exchange of the fellowship, the sharing of the fellowship. But I’m going to begin this morning delving into the two components or elements that our fellowship consists of, the primary things, and that is God’s truth and God’s love.

Today specifically we’ll be honing in on what it means to share God’s truth. What is truth, exactly? That was a question raised by Pontius Pilate, and many people, no doubt, before him and definitely after him. So we’ll look at that this morning. One of the most important things in understanding the entire Bible but especially an epistle like the epistle of 1 John is to be able to understand and uncover the historical context because if you don’t know when or why or where these things were written you’re susceptible to misapplying, misinterpreting and misunderstanding the text altogether.

The three components that John is surrounded with in his immediate context are what we brought up before, in a previous message, and that is Gnosticism, Docetism and Cerinthianism. And The Bible Knowledge Commentary provides an insight for us as to what these three things are. It says that the readers of John’s epistle, they’ve been confronted with false teachers and John referred to these false teachers as antichrists. The exact character of these false teachers has been much discussed but many have thought that they were, first, the Gnostics who held a strict dualism in which spiritual and material things were sharply distinguished. Spiritual things were good; material things were bad. And this is exemplified in the verse, 1 John 2:27 where it says, “As for you, the anointing which you received form Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.”

Because the Gnostics believed also in a secret knowledge and that this knowledge was only able to be attained through the teaching of these Gnostic individuals. But John says no, you have an anointing and you have the Holy Spirit who teaches you of all things, you need not this secret knowledge offered to you by these false teachers. The second variation of these false teachers in John’s immediate context, others have seen the letters as directed against Docetism, and this is the belief that Jesus’ humanity was not real and that He only appeared to have a physical body; dokeō is the Greek word that means to seem, and so it only seemed as though Jesus had a physical body. And we see this taking place in1 John 4:2-3 where it says, “By this you know the Spirit of God,” this is how you can tell that somebody possesses the Spirit of God, “every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; [3] and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.”

Often too the letter is thought to the heresy of Cerinthus. According to church tradition, Cerinthus lived in [sounds like Roman Asia or Rome and Asia] and strongly opposed the Apostle John. Cerinthus taught that Jesus was only a man and that the divine Christ descended on Jesus at His baptism and left Him before His crucifixion. We see this reference in 1 John 2:22, where John says, “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.” And so this is our basic historical context that’s taking place and the knowledge that we need in order to understand how to understand the text and how to apply the text within our very own lives.

And we see this continuing to develop throughout the epistle. There’s a sharp distinction made and a contrast between the false teachers that John makes reference to, and then the church fellowship. And this is the grounds by which we begin debate on whether or not 1 John is referencing test of life or test of fellowship. Is John more so concerned with testing the life of the false teachers or is he more so concerned with testing the fellowship of the believers and their susceptibility to the false teachers? These are taken basically directly from our outlines from the previous messages and in the first part of the text we’re given a premise that’s geared toward the false teacher and that premise is found in verse number 5 of chapter 1, and John says, “This is the message that we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” He provides this premise, if you will, or statement, to contrast the darkness of the teaching of these false teachers. There is no darkness in God; He’s pure light.

And then he moves on and provides some tests based upon this premise and he provides the test of false fellowship in verses 6-7, exercised by these false teachers. They claim to be of God, they are in the midst of the people of God and they are teaching things contrary to God and are exercising a false fellowship. [1 John 1:6-7, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; [7] but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”]

And then there’s the test of false sanctity: their spiritual life is vain and empty, their teachings lead nowhere, they ultimately are works of the flesh, works of the mind, things that you think you know but you really don’t know because they are not of the Spirit of God. And then the test of false righteousness which is basically false religious practices; you are working for your salvation, it lies in your own… your fate is in your own hands, and you are the author of your own destiny.

And then John contrasts these tests and just gears with the second premise starting in chapter number 2 and verse number 1, and these verses read, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; [2] and he Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” And based upon those premises he provides subsequent tests that point and tie back to the previous test he offered. He’s saying if you’re following the false fellowship of these false teachers then you are exercising a false allegiance; your allegiance is not to the Spirit of God, not to the people and the church of God, your allegiance is to the false teaching of these Gnostics, of these Docetists, and of these Cerinthianists. And because of that you will have false behavior, your actions will begin speaking louder than your words and it will trickle into your very own lifestyle, and as a result it will result in a test of false spirituality; you will think you are saved, you think you are saved or safe and in all reality your spirituality is vain and empty and you basically have no real fellowship with God because you are exercising doctrines of devils and false teachers.

Recently there was an article published in what’s referred to as BibSac and we’ll look into this article and it provides further historical context of what’s taking place in this epistle of John. But what we can do is we can look at these two purpose statements or we can propose these two things as purpose statements if we want to make the epistle solely emphasize the test of life and the test of false teachers that we might draw out the passage and in verse 26 it says, “These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you.” He’s concerned about the life and the message of the false teachers.

Or, we might look at verse 3 of chapter 1, which he provides right at the beginning of the epistle, and he says, “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.”

And this BibSac article displays some of the tension between these false teachers and the early believers taking heed to these doctrines. And the following quote is provided by one of my Professors, Dr. James Allman, and it can be found in an article by him in the latest edition of the BibSac. In the BibSac, this is actually interesting, it’s a theological journal published by DTS but it is also the longest running and earliest theological journal in the United States. It started in 1843 at a different seminary and eventually found its way to DTS. But Dr. Allman’s article provides great insight into the historical context of 1 John, while emphasizing the tension of the false teachers in the early believers.

He says: “The purpose of 1 John, though widely discussed, it appears to reassure believers whose faith is wavering because of the departure of some who had turned out to be false teachers. They had been trusted [can’t understand word] the humanity of Jesus and the proper role of love and obedience in the Christian life. The people who remained, that is the believers, were now confused about this spiritual condition; trusted members of the community are shown to be false. Where does that leave the people who formerly trusted those false teachers? The false teachers have renounced the apostolic teaching about Christ, for they were not of God but the readers, the implied audience of
1 John, are of God and can be certain that any flaws in their lives are dealt with by Jesus’ work. For believers the penalty is paid, a reference to expiation and the wrath of God is averted.

And that builds our basic review and overview, and the historical context that we need to approach the passages at hand. This first verse in particular of mutual fellowship addressed by the Apostle John is that in order to have mutual fellowship you must be under a mutual authority. Follow along with me as I read from verse 19 of chapter 2, “”They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they are not of us.” Now before you can rightly understand and interpret, let alone apply this verse to your own personal life you must be able to answer the question, who are the “they” and the “us” in this verse. In fact, it can be argued that this is among the most detrimental hermeneutical errors of our day and that is to say that not understanding the audience of the text and consequently misappropriating it to your Christian life, it is my estimation that this is precisely why books like 1 John are so grossly misunderstood and misinterpreted.

The way we remedy this problem is by paying close attention to the personal pronouns used in the epistles. Starting in chapter 1, verse 1; turn over to chapter 1 and verse 1, and I’ll try to highlight and point out these personal pronouns to you as we review this Scripture very quickly. Verse 1, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard,” immediately John uses the personal pronoun and he is referencing the apostolic authority; he’s representing the apostles themselves. And he’s providing all the credentials it takes to be an apostle at this same time. He is saying “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—[2] and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you,” there’s another personal pronoun, “the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—[3] what we have seen and heard and we proclaim to you also….”

Skip down to verse 5, “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you….” And he goes on, verse 6, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in darkness,” immediately he’s dealing with the apostolic authority, he’s saying if there’s any among us in our ranks and in our leadership, if we say we have fellowship with God and yet we are walking in darkness, mark it down, that is a false teacher, according to John here in this passage and in his immediate context.

And he goes on to say, “but if we walk in the Light as he Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship one with another,” the apostolic authority are on the same page, their message is mutual, they’re preaching the same gospel, they are of the same Spirit, and “we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” And he continues, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. [9] If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [10] If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His truth not in us.”

And in chapter 2 the tide turns a little bit, and he says, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we” that “we” suddenly changes, that “we” is a reference to the collective hope, that “we” is a reference to the church and the believers of that day. And this continues, look at verse 3, “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” And then he gives an example, [4] “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

So it’s very important that we identify who the they’s are, who the we’s are, who the you’s are, who the “I am” is and know what John is pointing to. And so if you, after we identify the target audience then we can begin drawing conclusions on what verse 19 is saying, and then what verse 19 is not saying. And again, verse 19, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us,” so who are the “they” and the “us” here? The “they” are the false teachers; the “us” is a reference to the apostolic authority. “…for if they had been of us, they would have” no doubt “remained with us,” in our teaching, “but they went out, so that it would be shown,” basically to you, “that they are not of us.”

So before you can rightly understand and interpret it you must know who the referents are in the passage. And so let’s first deal with the negative aspect of this verse and discuss what this verse is not saying, what this verse is not providing us.

First of all, it is not a test for us to determine the salvation of others, because if you believe that all of a sudden you think the epistle of 1 John is not a test of fellowship but a test of life. I’ve all too often heard Christians say well, if he had been of us he would have continued with us, and that’s Scripture being ripped out of context, ignorantly, not realizing that that is not a test.

Just because somebody may leave the flock temporarily, somebody may depart the faith and enter in a season of sin it is not our place to judge them; it is not our place to determine whether they are saved, it is our place to pray for that individual, to reach out to that individual, to lift that person up and encourage them, to give them an example to follow, and to show them that Jesus Christ is real, the message is real, the authority is real, the opportunity to serve Jesus Christ is real, and what they are doing is exercising false fellowship, false allegiances, false sanctity, false spirituality, taking heed to the world, taking heed to the antichrist, forsaking the faith altogether. We need to reach out to them and not judge them by ripping Scripture out of context.

And I’ve heard it before, well, the Bible says that they went out from us because they were not of us. So since John Doe left the church and is living out in sin he must not be saved because the Bible says “if you would have been of us,” you would have indeed continued with us. But there’s something else that the verse is not; it is not an excuse for denominationalism or varying belief system. The fact of the matter is, is that somebody is wrong; you can’t have valid varying belief systems. Somebody is right and somebody is wrong. Not everyone can be right, there’s not enough room within Truth (with a capital T) for every religion to be true, or even every Christian denomination or system of theology and interpretation to be true.

The cry of the day today is to coexist and to tolerate and my answer to that crowd right now is that I basically have no choice but to coexist with you and to tolerate your message. I live in a world of a million different beliefs. The issue is not with me or anyone else having to come to terms with this reality, the issue is that we are all faced with having to coexist and tolerate with the reality of a sovereign God whose only lifeline and avenue of truth exists in the person of Jesus Christ. That’s the truth you have to coexist with; that’s the truth you have to tolerate. We’re faced with many beliefs of our day and we basically can’t do anything about it but live among it and pray and reach these people with our lives and with our ministry.

But I do have a blessed hope that the One who called Himself zoē, that the One who called Himself the Truth, and the One who called Himself the Life, is going to return and He’s going to bring an inevitable end to false religion; He’s going to bring an end to sin and He’s going to bring an end to death. Truth will be recognized by all and demonstrated for what it really is whether or not you want to coexist with it or desire to tolerate it. Jesus Christ is coming and every knee will bow, [Philippians 2:10]. “Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,” [Philippians 2:11]. “Behold, the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.” [John 1:29] Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life [John 14:6], and no man, no woman, no child, can get to the Father in heaven but through Him.

Another thing this verse is not an excuse for, it’s not an excuse to not fellowship with other believers. In other words, we’re moving away from a theological and spiritual concept that we just got done discussing and we’re stepping into the realm of culture, stepping into the realm of class type, of demographic differences. This verse is not an excuse to not fellowship with other believers; those who apply this interpretation seek to distance themselves from people who, despite being believers and even members within their own church, they choose not to fellowship with others due to differences in their demographics. In other words, they are biblically and theologically on the same page but because they refuse to step out of their own cultural and class designation they are socially speaking worlds apart.

I’m glad Jesus saw fit to step outside His demographic. He stepped outside of glory and came down to this wormhole. He stepped out of heaven and came down and made Himself lower than the angels. He gave an example for us to step out of our comfort zone, our demographic, our place of living in life and to reach the down and out dirty and filthy people that know not Christ, that disregard Jesus and the truth of Scripture, that have no desire to even hear about it, and God sent His only Son, sent Him out of the house too come knocking on our door and reached down to our lonely lives, who really don’t deserve anything from a righteous sovereign God. I’m glad Jesus saw fit to do that.

Romans 12:1 tells us to present our bodies a living sacrifice, which a holy, acceptable, reasonable service and follow the example of Jesus Christ. [Romans 12:1, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present yore bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”]

Now let’s quit being so negative and let’s talk about what this verse is intending to mean to its audience. First off, and we touched on this a bit already, it is an apostolic warning to believers in the early church. Consider what Acts 1:21-25 gives to us concerning apostleship. It says, “Therefore, it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us—[22] beginning with the baptism of John,” the Baptist, “until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of Jesus’ resurrection. [23] So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. [24] And they prayed and said, ‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two you have chosen [25] to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas [Iscariot] turned aside to go to his own place.’”

But then we’re given a unique situation with the Apostle Paul in Acts 9:10-19, it says, “In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, Ananias.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ [11] And the Lord said to him, ‘Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, [12] and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.’ [13] But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; [14] and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.’ [15] But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instruments of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; [16] for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake. [17] So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. [18] And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; [19] and he took food and was strengthened.”

And then Paul is referencing Galatians 1:1 and he provides this bit of information, “Paul, an apostle, not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead).” Then Ephesians 2:19-20 he says, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, [20] having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.”

I want to submit to you today that we need to be aware of what is being called post-ascension apostleship. Post-ascension apostleship is a movement of people who use the anointing of the apostleship of Paul as an excuse for the ability and capability to exercise the apostolic office today. And yet we know from Scripture and from Scripture reference that Paul did see Jesus Christ with his own eyes, that Paul meets the qualifications, although he was a peculiar apostle because he was sent specifically to reach out to the Gentiles.

But guess what, the Gentiles have been reached, the Word has been written and we have it in our hands today and the foundation has been laid by the prophets and the apostles and Paul tells us it is now our turn in time to build upon it. He even says that there’s no other cornerstone but Jesus Christ and if the cornerstone is laid logic would follow that the foundation is laid and that there’s no other apostles outside the apostles that laid the foundation. So we need to be leery of the so-called apostles and prophets of today who seek to gain authority, gain privilege and exercise authority they don’t have over people of God potentially, or over false flocks altogether. Something else in light of these things that it is, it is an example of the purging of the early church. To some degree we can consider this verse descriptive more than it is prescriptive. In other words, John explained to the early church believers that the reason why the false teachers parted ways with the apostles was to illustrate to the early believers on whom truth rested. So God orchestrated this event in the life of the early church to demonstrate who the true apostolic authority was.

You say well, what about today, it seems like there’s more false teachers than there are true teachers. That’s because the church is much older and at least ought to be more mature than it was when these words were penned. So why are there false teachers within Christendom today? Because the difference is us; the false teachers didn’t have a leg to stand on if they didn’t have a flock in the early church; they departed ways with the early church. But false teachers of today have an ear, ears waiting to be tickled, people wanting to live something different than the Christian life of the Bible.

Consider this illustration: the same reason why parents warn their children of strangers and play a significant role, or at least they should, in the lives of their children in their learning and early development stages, as well as even choosing the children that their child hangs out with and spends time with, going over to their houses, monitoring their association, but a large part of the child maturing into an adult is that he or she receives more freedom on what and how they learn, and who they choose to befriend and associate with.

Therefore, this line of reason begs the question, if the church has been successfully infiltrated by false teachers who are not departing, like the ones in the early church, what does that say about the choices being made by believers within the modern church. Paul put it this way, in 2 Timothy 4:1-14, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His Kingdom: [2] preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. [3] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, [4] and they will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”

So all this being considered and said and realized, how should we apply these verses within our modern context. What do these verses mean to us? First of all, they’re here for us to realize the reality of false teachers within the church; it’s as simple as that. They’re given to us as a warning, as a declaration that false teachers have been around and false teachers are around. And it is up to us as a body and as individuals to be leery, to be able to identify what true biblical leadership looks like within our own modern concepts, to be able to identify those false teachers in our modern context.

And the second thing that I want to discuss is that it helps us to understand the difficulty in forsaking previous false teaching. Paul says something interesting in the Scripture that I just read, he said “with great patience and instruction” that we are to “reprove and rebuke and exhort” those who are following the false teachers; “with great patience and instruction.” How patient are you towards stubborn childish Christians that you know no doubt deal with [it can be on Facebook, maybe it’s in your work place, how patient are you? How loving are you? How willing are you to extend the truth to people, despite getting some feathers ruffled? We’re charged to do so.

So John demonstrates patience and encouragement in the epistle. It is not easy to have your beliefs and have it corrected and changed, but there is wisdom and a spirit that is willing to receive instruction. I would venture to say that the majority of us in here have at one time or another were under some false teachings of some kind. It didn’t have to be within a church or a denominational setting but there was some kind of authority over us, some figurehead that was teaching us or leading us in a false direction. And as we began to mature and grow up and having to make decisions for ourselves, perhaps we made the wrong decisions, perhaps we attended the wrong church, perhaps we got affiliated with the wrong denomination.

Perhaps we spent many years doing these things, and then after the truth has become alive to us, whether it’s because we are maturing in our faith or whether it’s because we have believed in Jesus Christ for the first time, all of a sudden the scales become dropped from our eyes, just as they did with Paul, and we begin seeing truth in a different way and a different light than we did before. And how difficult it is to confess where we were wrong, on a public level especially, and tell people that have known us for years what you now do and who you now follow and what you now believe.

Proverbs 19:20-27, this is some of the Scripture that I memorized early on in my Christian walk, as a new believer I was a Catholic, and then I got saved out of Catholicism, but even after I got saved my mind was still very much drowned in Catholicism. And then I began learning what the Bible says I should do about this matter.

Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days. [21] Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the LORD will stand. [22] What is desirable in man is his kindness, and it is better to be a poor man than a liar. [23] The fear of the LORD leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil. [24] The sluggard buries his hand in the dish, but will not even bring it back to his mouth. [25] Strike a scoffer and the naïve may become shrewd, but reprove one who has understanding and he will gain knowledge. [26] He who assaults his father and drives his mother away is a shameful and disgraceful son. [27] Cease listening, my son, to discipline, and you will stray from words of knowledge.”

These verses hit close to home because of my past, and after being saved and receiving an insatiable hunger for the Word of God, I was a new creature but my mind was still very much Catholic, until I started reading the Bible. Verses like Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good, and acceptable and perfect.”

Verses like Ephesians 4: 17-24, “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, [18] being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; [19] and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. [20] But you did not learn Christ in this way, [21] if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, [22] that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, [23] and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, [24] and put on the new self, which is in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth.”

I know I am not the only one in this church that was previously a part of a church, religion or system of beliefs, that I now find false. Many of us in here have had to undergo, or maybe are currently experiencing a time when you thought what you knew, it has been questioned, or is being questioned. Therefore, if this is you, if you need clarity of what the truth is, on any particular issue, I want to encourage you to pick up the Word of God, to put aside your commentary, to put aside your book, to quit listening to that eloquent speaker that is causing you concern and prayerfully read the Word of God for what it is. And it will renew your mind.

Now trust me, I love a good theological books, just as much if not more than the next person; I love listening to good preaching, shouting “amen” while I’m driving down the street. I love all of those great resources that we now have at our fingertips. I wish I knew how to manipulate the Logos software more than I do so much. However, there’s nothing like getting in the Word of God, especially in times of stress, especially in times of questioning the very foundation and doctrines of your faith and getting in there and allowing the Word of God to exercise its cleansing and renewing power and experiencing that firsthand in your own life. Those times in our lives, when we’re solely dependent upon the Word, those are the times you are going to remember in regards to your Christian life, when you laid everything else aside, all the other distractions, all the other voices, and open up the pages, or turn on the electronic device of God’s Word.

We’ve looked at our review and overview and we’ve discussed the reality and the need of a mutual authority to partake of a mutual God-ordained fellowship. The next component of our mutual fellowship is what John revealed (to me at least) as a mutual anointing. Let’s read verse 20, follow along with me if you will; “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know,” let’s read that again, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know,” so who is John referring to when he says “you” in this verse? Well, I’m afraid that this is another one of those words, in regards to this word “anointing” and the reference involved in this passage and it gets carelessly tossed around without a definitive and biblical understanding.

First let us consider who John has in mind here. Who are the anointed in this verse? “You” is a reference to John’s audience, but this verse may be providing a bit more insight into who John’s audience actually is. The Bible Knowledge Commentary says: “That the initial readers were indeed Christians is clear from the introductory verses of the epistle, but the reference to the anointing which they possessed, that is, the Holy Spirit, might also suggest that the addressees were principally the leaders of the church, or churches, to which John wrote. In the Old Testament the leaders of Israel, the prophets, the priests and the kings were often anointed to their offices. While it is conceivable that 1 John 2:20 as well as verse 27 are referring to an anointing, which is true of all Christians, this kind of idea is rare in the New Testament. Even 2 Corinthians 1:21 may refer to Paul’s apostolic office. Possibly, therefore, in 1 John 20 and 27 the writer sought to affirm the competency of the church leaders in the area of spiritual understanding, and thus to shore up their authority as over against the false teachers. The leaders did not need to be taught by any human teachers since they were taught by their anointing, that is, by the Holy Spirit. It is impossible to be dogmatic on this point, however. No doubt John knew the addressees when he wrote the epistle. Even if the leaders were primarily in view the letter would naturally have been read to the entire congregation by the leaders since only in this way could it perform its purpose of supporting the established teacher’s authority. The larger audience could then receive the instruction which the letter contained while at the same time being encouraged to rely upon the guidance offered by their Spirit taught leadership.” So you’ve heard me reference verse 27 and verse 27 reiterates what John is saying in verse 20; he said in verse 20, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know,” but he reiterates and he even expounds a little bit more on this idea and he says in verse 27, “As for you, the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.”

But I can’t help but think about another verse when I read that one, and it sounds an awful lot like something Jesus Christ told His disciples in the Gospel of John, chapter 14, verses 23-26. “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. [24] He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Fathers who sent Me. [25] These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. [26] But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” Of course the primary difference between this verse and the gospel of John, versus the verse in the epistle of John is that John makes mention of an anointing in the epistle, which currently abides on his audience, while Jesus informs His disciples of a future indwelling of the Holy Spirit, both of which John says will teach us “all things.”

So there’s a close correlation here and even down into the Greek the words are distinguished, spirit in the gospel and the word for anointing in the epistle. So let’s take a closer look at these words here. We’ve already established the “you” is from the Holy One and “you all know” is a reference to John’s audience, possibly the leadership of that day, not the apostolic leadership but the leadership under the apostles. And this is the word given to us in the Greek, it’s the word chrisma, and the BDAG translates it mostly oil for anointing, taken to mean anointing with the Holy Spirit. And then the Thayer Greek Lexicon says, “of God consecrating Jesus to Messianic office and furnishing Him with power necessary for His administration.” So we have this idea of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we have this idea of appointment to a purpose, and to a leadership capacity.

But there’s another word that’s more common in the Bible, Old and New Testament, and the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) for anointing and that is the word aleipho, and aleipho is a close synonym to the word charisma, and aleipho means to anoint by applying a liquid, such as oil or perfume. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance just simply says “to oil with perfume.”
And so it seems pretty clear to me that there’s some similarities, some synonymous spiritual realities taking place in regards to anointing, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and even being sent by God, by God’s authority on God’s people to be given a purpose.
But before we move on to the next point I want us to consider what John 12:1-8, this is the Gospel, “Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. [2] So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. [3] Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. [4] But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, [5] “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?”[6] Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. [7] Therefore Jesus said, ‘Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. [8] For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.”

Then there’s another verse I want to bring up in 1 Corinthians 12:13 and it reads: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” So what I see happening in this anointing that John refers to in this epistle is that beyond whatever Mary did to Jesus by pouring the oil on His head, by pouring it on His feet, by wiping it with her hair, and that with tears of joy and adoration whatever may have been taking place in that worshipful observance between her and Jesus Christ, flesh to flesh, what God has extended to us is far beyond measure what He has anointed us with. He has lavished us with His Holy Spirit. In fact, I think a better word than anointing is the word baptize, which is what 1 Corinthians says, [12:13] “…we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we are all made to drink of one spirit.” We’re baptized in but not only that, we drink it in. So we’re consumed with the Spirit of God as his children.

We have everything that we need as children of God to identify spiritual authority, to identify the purpose that God has for us, the mission that He has called us to, the direction He wants us to go. With the Spirit of God indwelling within us and with the apostolic message being given to us we have all that we need to fulfill His purposes for our lives.

And then we move on to our final point here and that is to have mutual fellowship we must have a mutual truth. And keep in mind our definition, “an ongoing exchange or a common sharing of God’s truth and love,” and I want to attempt to hone in on this word truth. What does it mean to have a mutual truth? Can’t truth mean different things to different people? Consider the following quotes: “It is no truth that makes man great, but man who makes truth great.” Do you agree with that? It’s offered to us by Confucius. I think it’s the Word of God and the truth of the Word of God that has the opportunity and possibility of making us great. Consider what Adolf Hitler said: “The victor will never be asked if he holds the truth; all that matters is being the victor and being on top and having that authority.” Consider what Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “No man thoroughly understands the truth until he has contended against it.”

But I want to encourage us to submit to the truth that is before us, without kicking against the pricks. Submit to what God is willingly extending our way without challenging it and knowing that it’s what’s going to ultimately change us and renew our minds and our spirit. And this was all given to me by Professor Shockley and he put this understanding and identification of truth from a real life message that he had early in his ministry. He was preaching in a chapel service one time and talking about the truth of God and the truth of the Bible throughout and then afterwards an unbelieving gentleman and a very skeptic person walked up to him and said do you even know how to define truth? And at that moment in Shockley’s life he had never considered a definition of truth and what that meant or how he should communicate that to somebody else. Are you able to communicate what truth is to somebody else or are you stuck like Pontius Pilate is?
We’ve got further quotes here: What is truth? Mark Twain: “Why shouldn’t truth be stranger than fiction; fiction, after all, has to make sense.” And Thomas Cooper: “Fraud and falsehood only dread examination but truth invites examination.” If objective truth is impossible then all reasoning becomes impossible. Objective truth undercuts knowledge and all beliefs of any kind. Objective truth makes it pointless to give a reason for the faith that is in you. Objective truth, it leads ultimately to intellectual superficiality, sensate decadence abuse of power, cynicism and scorn and marketing manipulation.

What does objective truth mean? Objective truth is independent of the knower and his or her consciousness. Just because you don’t believe the Word of God does not mean it is not true. It is telling it like it is, it is factual. Objective truth corresponds to reality or actuality.
And then here’s the definition that Shockley was able to eventually boil down and come up with and we stand on today: truth is that which corresponds to reality; it identifies things as they actually are, can never fail, diminish, change, or be extinguished, must be able to be expressed in logical proposition and is sourced in the God of the Bible who is the author of all truth.

And if you cannot, or do not subscribe to this reality and definition of truth then you cannot know what truth is and you will find yourself in a whole lot of trouble because if these signs are relative to you, you are going to fall into a pit of despair. Danger: mine. That can only mean one thing. Danger, alligator. That can only mean one thing. Danger, high voltage, the voltage might be relative to some and to others but it can only mean one thing. And that’s what’s taking place in the false teachers of the day; they have their own relative knowledge, they have their own secret knowledge. You needed to know what they knew in order to be saved. And the Apostle John is saying beware of these cynics and false teachers.

So we got through our message and we realize that there’s a mutual authority rooted in the foundation of the cornerstone and the foundation of the apostles and prophets of which we are now building upon. But there’s a mutual anointing given to us by way of the Holy Spirit who indwells believers, who is wanting to direct believers in the direction that God has established for them. And then He has given us all a mutual truth whereby we can hang everything on. God’s truth is eternal, all things will pass away and all things will diminish but the Word of God lives and abides forever, and it is that truth that we stand on.

Join with me, if you will, as we go to the Lord in prayer. Father, we come before you this morning again, so very thankful and humbled by Your Word, and we ask Lord God that the feeble attempt to open your Word this morning, Lord God, that You provide the increase, Father, that the message that was necessary for the hour gets across, and that Your Holy Spirit at this time has free reign, free liberty, in each of our lives and hearts and minds. Father, I pray for any decisions being made and I just ask, Lord God, that you have Your way in this congregation this morning. We pray these things in Jesus name, Amen.