19 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 it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
There are antichrists within the church. That sounds scary, doesn't it? but, as we saw yesterday - everyone that is not a Christian is anti-Christ. And Satan loves to infiltrate the church with antichrists. That's what he did with Judas after all. For 3 years, Judas lived with Jesus and his disciples, and not once did any of them think he was against Christ. He clearly was against Christ, but that wasn't noticeable for 3 whole years of 24/7 study under Jesus Himself.
I've always had a problem with the "once saved, always saved" philosophy, but I'm beginning to think I'm wrong about that. Maybe it should be slightly changed to say "once truly saved, always saved". People can appear to be Christians, say all the right things, do all the right things - but their heart could be far from God. And you wouldn't know. You could be deceived. Some even deceive themselves! Some people think they're Christians when they're not. That is a scary thought indeed.
But I'm beginning to see that once you have truly accepted Christ, you would never ever walk away from that. So those that do walk away, show that they were never genuinely saved to begin with.
Now, there are cases where you stray, or backslide - but genuine Christians will come under conviction by the Holy Spirit and will return to the Lord.
That's what v19 is saying. The ones that left the church were not genuine believers and had never been genuine believers. I think we all know people that have walked away from the faith. And some of them were probably really shocking to you because they seemed like really solid Christians - maybe even pastors or missionaries. But if they abandoned Christ, if they walked away, then they were never genuinely Christians to begin with.
Mark Driscoll adds this...
This doesn’t mean that if you keep being a Christian, that you’ll be saved in the end. What it does mean is if you were really saved in the beginning, you will persevere to the end, that the person who loves Jesus and meets Jesus sticks with Jesus. It’s evidence that they love him. It’s evidence that they belong to him.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t rebel and sin, but it does mean you come back.
Those who are truly saved, will never abandon Christ. Never. They will be kept by His grace (Jude 24) through the power of His Spirit that we received when we became Christians. All Christians have been anointed by the Holy Spirit who helps to guard us from error and deception as we read and study the Word of God.
And, once again, John confirms that anyone who denies Jesus as the Christ is a liar and an antichrist.
Jesus is God, Jesus is the Son of God - a fact that only those of the Christian faith will proclaim to believe.
The stakes are huge. The stakes are eternal life. We will all live forever - it's a matter of where we're going to live - with Jesus in heaven, or without Him in hell, for eternity.
For Christians, eternal life begins the moment we become a Christian. It's both a quality of life and a duration of life. Our life with God starts the moment we accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour, and lasts forever.
There are only two types of people - Christians and non-Christians/antichrists. One receives eternal life, the other eternal death and suffering.
Those are huge stakes indeed.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: 1 John 2:24-27