Sunday, October 13, 2013

Don't Be Ashamed

And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.   1 John  2:28-29  NKJV
Have you ever been ashamed or embarrassed of something you have done or not done?  Do you remember that feeling of wanting to just disappear or somehow turn back the clock so you could have another chance to do it all over again?  I’m sure most of us have, and it is not a very pleasant experience to go through. I’m also sure that most of us have probably wished that someone would have warned us of what we were or were not doing right so that we could avoid the embarrassment we felt when it was all said and done.

We have been looking for a few weeks at the concerns of Peter as he understood that his time on this earth was about to conclude.  This week I decided, just out of curiosity, to look at the words of John the Apostle as he too was in much the same situation as Peter.  To my surprise, (and embarrassment for I should have known this), just as Peter had done, John gives believers a warning about what to expect in the Church, especially just preceding the return of Christ.  Along with the warning, however, John also admonishes believers in the hope that we will not be ashamed when we stand before our Lord.  What exactly are we to be watching for?  Again, just as Peter warned, we must be watching for false teachers within the Church.
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. 1 John 2:18-19  NKJV

The word antichrist is probably familiar to most everyone, believer or not, simply because of how much it has been used.  The vast majority would probably recognize it as a noun, as it is used as the name of the world ruler who will come in the last days.  The word itself, however, is used in this passage to describe both the individual and those who would share his mission by adopting his false gospel.  The Greek word for antichrist is “antichristos” which simply means an adversary of the Messiah.  In the context of this passage, what John is warning us about is that in the last days there will appear many “within the Church” who will deny that Jesus was the Messiah or that He is the only way of salvation.
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.      1 John 2:20-23  NKJV

If you follow the news from around the world at all, I’m sure you are aware of the fact that the belief in Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation is under attack from many sides.  The most recent and surprising challenge to the Gospel, however, has come from Pope Francis who stated in an interview that salvation by works is possible, and that attempts to convert unbelievers to Christianity is “nonsense”.  There is a word that describes what is going on here and we find it in Peter’s second letter where he warns the Church of “heresy”.
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.   2 Peter 2:1  NKJV
Heresy can be defined as an opinion or doctrine that is different or at odds with the original accepted teaching of the Gospel.  This is why John tells us in this passage that we need to remember what we have been taught by the inspired Word of God and listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit who lives inside of all who believe.
Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life. These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.   1 John 2:24-27  NKJV
The word for abide in the Greek is meno which means to sojourn, not depart, to remain, to remain as one and not become another.  You recall at the beginning of this article I asked the question about being ashamed?  How many will stand before our Father in Heaven and be very ashamed because they have strayed from the truth of the Gospel?  John tells us that in order to avoid this embarrassment we must abide in the Gospel we have been given, and not to be led astray by those who would teach a different gospel than the truth we find in the Word of God.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.  1 John 1:1-4  NKJV
When Peter preached on that very first Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit had come upon the disciples, this is what he said;

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  Acts 4:12  NKJV

If you are reading this today and have never made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I urge you to do it right now. Simply admit to God that you need His forgiveness because you are a sinner,  be willing to turn away from your sins, believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and invite Him to come in and control  your life through the Holy Spirit by praying a simple prayer like this;
Jesus I know I am a sinner in need of salvation. I believe you sent your Son Jesus to die on the cross for my sin, and I ask you now to forgive me of my sins. I want to receive your gift of salvation so please come into my heart and help me to live and follow you as my Lord and Savior. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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