Foundational Discernment through Biblical Education

 

 

 

What if? Testing the spirit or accepted truths.

Today let us use our imaginations and take our mind down the road to the idea of “testing the spirits” from 1 John 4:1...

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God. In recent news a biblical historian who is a professor at Harvard Divinity University by the name of Karen King who specializes in the field of the history of Christianity either found or was given an interesting piece of papyrus. Tsentenceshis papyrus was the size of a credit card and written on this manuscript were fragmented Greek . The papyrus was said to be from the 4th century AD. In authenticating ancient manuscripts size doesn’t matter, there is an authenticated piece of 2nd century manuscript from the book of Philemon that is the size of a thumb nail.

 This new find will go through the same scrutiny as any other ancient manuscript and eventually these educated people will determine its legitimacy.  What makes this an interesting find is a short six-word phrase written on it. Remember this is a fragment. The phrase reads, Jesus said to them, my wife….” WOW! What do we do with this? There are some others (…she will be able to be my disciple…/ Mary is worthy of it…) What if this manuscript turns out to be authentic? Let’s say it was validated, would this matter, would this blow what we understand out of the water? Just to give you a perspective, something written in the 4th century doesn’t always mean that the statement is true. It is just like the internet, who here believes everything written on the internet? But some people are going to take this as proof that Jesus had a wife. This would be what I am going to call “accepted truth”.     So let’s still assume this manuscript is from the 4th century, what do we as Christians have to think? Some of you might just say it is not true just because the bible never said Jesus was married to any woman. OK but the scriptures never state angels sing either yet we portray them as singing in hymns or stories and have no problem with that, even though it is not supported by the written word of God. We also have as one of the Christian dogmas, the trinity, but the word does not appear in any of the scriptures. So we must ask ourselves, does the idea of Jesus being married to a woman agree with His teachings?
 
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Here is the lesson that I want to present today. Look at 1 John 4:1-3 I want to show you how John teaches on this very subject.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know 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 anti-christ, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. NASB

Now maybe when you first read this you might have pictured in your mind Christians sitting around a table praying and somehow they are asking these spirits “do you believe in Christ?” and if they answer correctly then they are from God and if not they are from Satan. And then maybe God would say to you, “well done young grasshopper” or he might say “that’ll do pig, that’ll do”. But this is not at all what John is teaching! Testing the spirits is not a séance or calling the spirits, it is using God’s written word (sword) and His guidance through the Holy Spirit to determine or discern God’s truth compared to the accepted truths. So let’s dissect John’s words.

First of all, in 1 John 4 the Greek word for spirit in all six times in this verse is the word nooma and one of the definitions of this word nooma that seems to fit this context is “
a vital principle”.   Another synonym for principle are the words belief, standard or truth.  I believe the word truth fits. Now in Webster’s dictionary, truth is defined as “a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true”. I am going to focus on this one definition called accepted as true 
as the replacement phrase for spirits. Accepted as true can be seen as in this example, “those who believe evolution believe this is how this universe was created”. They have decided in their minds this is true. Just like those who believe the Steelers are a good football team, that is your accepted truth. We as Christians believe in one truth and that it is God’s truth spelled out in His word which is true reality. Although at times we tend to fall back to our own understandings. Gee I wonder where we heard that before.

So now let’s start to interpret this verse by taking the word “spirit” out of this scripture and replace it with the definition of spirit; accepted truth. 

 
Beloved, do not believe every accepted truth, but test these accepted truths to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By these two ways you will know the Truth of God: every accepted truth that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every accepted truth that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this last one is the accepted truth of the anti-christ, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.
 
Does this start to help you understand 1 John 4 a little better? Now the next step is what does John mean when he says “ 
every accepted truth that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh”?  Are these truths to verbally confess Jesus? Obviously not because these are concepts or ideas, or worldly reasoning and not a person! John is saying these false prophets are proclaiming an accepted truth. The word “confess” also means “agrees with or expose”. And what is being agreed upon or seeing if it lines up with scripture is not the literal phrase Jesus Christ has come in the flesh 
but checking to see if these accepted truths acknowledge or affirm the foundational beliefs of all of Christ teachings, and in our time it means the Old and New Testament. So we now can add “agrees or lines up with” to this interpretation.

Beloved, do not believe every accepted truth, but test these accepted truths to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By these two measures you will know the Truth of God: every accepted truth that agrees or lines up with all that Jesus is and taught is from God, 3 and every accepted truth that does not agree or line up with all that Jesus is and taught is not from God; this last one is the accepted truth of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

Is this now making more sense? So let’s look at the ancient manuscript that I spoke about earlier and apply good interpretation and discernment to this accepted truth of Ms. King. Is this true that Jesus was married? There are a few scriptures that set this accepted truth straight but I will use just one.

Ephesians 5:31

For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”

We can rightly judge this through what we know about the character of God through just this one scripture. Was or is Jesus married? YES, to whom, the church. Jesus and the church are one flesh. Jesus said in scripture that He was God. Can Christ commit adultery? NO. So based on just this scripture alone we can see that Christ is married to the church and because we know the character of God that God cannot sin, we can recognize that this statement of accepted truth from this professor as being false.

 
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Now to those who want to argue that this “so called” marriage was before Jesus’ marriage to the church. Let me remind you that Christ was predestined before the creation of the world through the foreknowledge of God to be the husband of the bride the church, a betrothal that is honored from eternity past to eternity future. John 3:16, for God so loved the world that he gave His Son…..God promised Jesus to His bride and this truth was before time began. A betrothal has the same standards as the marriage covenant so Jesus could not have married since He was betrothed in eternity past.

    Why should we be so thorough with the spirits or as we defined as accepted worldly truths? Because through this process it teaches and sharpens our sword of discernment and we now can give good reasonable truth to our children instead of just saying “well I just know it is” or your opinion. We instill in our children real truth and not just opinion based on an average understanding of God’s word or good intentions. When they go into the world, parent’s opinions do not stand up to the accepted truth that is out there and that is why some leave and follow the world because the world can present enticing acceptable truths. AND, if you do not know how to find truth in His word, parents, Christ has put into the body leaders who do and we are to feel free to ask and receive good Godly knowledge that will help grow the body. I know that the leadership here at Shiloh has an open door policy and a heart to teach and instruct all who believe, whether a new or mature follower.

By the way did you catch what John said at the end of this scripture? “…
this is the spirit of the anti-christ, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world”  
What is John acknowledging? These accepted truths of the anti-christ are already in this world! Why? If the anti-christ incorporates his teachings throughout history before he actually comes then it would be like telling a lie long enough till it becomes accepted truth. His field then would be ripe and ready to harvest.

Test everything that comes into your life through the written word of God and acquire good interpretation so that you can apply it in a righteous (good judgment) way that gives glory to God.

May God grow in your understandings

Erich Ferg



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In late May, I'll begin posting my blog posts.  Until then, I wish you a blessed day.