As a pastor, one of the matters which grieves me is to see someone who has professed Christ only to later leave the faith. I remember in particular one young man I had the opportunity in discipling. When he first professed his faith he was excited to learn more about God’s Word. After a time, though, he stopped attending church and he ignored my e-mails and text messages. I am sure I am not the only one who has been through this sad occurrence. The question springs from it, “What happened to them?” Some may say the person lost their salvation. Others would state the person was never saved to begin with. While books have been written on this subject, it is important for us to hear what the testimony of Scripture says. Throughout 1 John, the point is to assure those who are in Christ that they are indeed Christians. We should not be surprised, then, John does bring up this particular issue in the discussion. What is his reply? “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” (2:19). As one who is writing between the first and second comings of Christ, John is declaring those who leave the faith ultimately were never a part of the faith. They were false believers, not truly for God but against Him. Backing up to verse 18, that is why John declares, “as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come”. Often times, the term antichrist is rightly limited to one particular person, the man of lawlessness (see 2 Thessalonians 2:3). The Apostle John broadens the definition a few verses later: “This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son” (2:22b). In other words, anyone who is against God the Father and Jesus Christ is an antichrist. It is true there is the Antichrist. These antichrists, in a sense, are a forerunner to the one Antichrist. These antichrists are deceivers around the church community. They are masked as if they are in the body of Christ. Scripture reveals the only ones truly in the body of Christ are those anointed by God in a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ (2:20). John writes to reassure these Christians of the truth. People who have repented of their sins and trusted in Jesus Christ are those who know truth and the one who is Truth (John 14:6). Those who reject Christ are those buying into a lie. Simply put, the most important question to ask is “Who is Jesus?” If someone tries to say they believe in God the Father but not in Jesus Christ, they are lost and they are against the God of the Bible. Our God is a triune God. Those who are saved by God are those who trust in the God who has revealed Himself in Scripture. He has given us promises that find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. When we place our faith in Christ, we are found to abide in Him. The result is we receive the promise of God, eternal life (2:25). So, as those who are anointed by God, who know the truth, and who abide in Christ, we must be aware of those who are trying to deceive. We need to be on guard against those who claim to be a part of Christianity while they are against the essentials of the faith. Do not be deceived! Be the one who abides in Christ by knowing His Word!
- How does 1 John 2:19 and 22 help you understand the doctrine of salvation? How does it contribute to your assurance of salvation?
- Why is “Who is Jesus” the most important question you can ask of your life?
- How do we evaluate what is true and know when there is deception?