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December 1, 2020 7:00 pm
BJU President Steve Pettit continues a discipleship series entitled “Truth and Love” from 1 John 1:1-4
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. The school was founded in 1927 by the evangelist Dr. Bob Jones Senior's intent was to make a school where Christ would be the center of everything, so he established daily chapel services today.
That tradition continues with fervent biblical preaching from the University Chapel platform today on The Daily Platform. Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University is continuing a study series entitled truth and love which is a study of the book of first John, let's listen to today's message where Steve will help us understand the reason for the book of first John, where the believers were experiencing doctrinal controversy and interpersonal strife. The message is titled knowledge that assures us of life. Would you please take your Bibles this morning in turn with me to first John first John chapter 1 today. Last week we began our series on truth and love is were going to be studying this semester.
First John chapter 4 and last week if you were here. We covered basically three things a little bit about John's life.
Why it is that we believe that he wrote this book and then what was the purpose. What was the motivation behind the writing of first John today. My goal or my desire is actually to be very simple and try to present to you the big picture of first John, next week will next time we meet. We will jump into the study of the verses themselves. But today I think it would be very helpful if we could look at the whole big idea of why did John write this letter as we read first John, if you've ever read at one of the things that you notice is that his style of writing is actually quite different than, for example, the apostle Paul. What's the difference in the style between like Paul and John well when you look at Paul's writing. It's a little bit like building a road it's it's it's it's a very logical case. So he builds one section to the next section to the next section with the purpose of arriving at a destination.
We call that linear or straight-line it be like somebody saying I'm going to travel today on a one-way trip and I'm going to drive today from Greenville to Columbia and when I get to Columbia I have arrived at my destination that's that's the way Paul writes so Eli lays out very logically. His doctrine in then from there he goes into the practice of power to live out our Christian faith.
But when you come to John and you read the way that he writes you notice that John's writing is quite different in some ways you're not quite sure where he's going and we would say that his writing is very circular and the easiest way for me to explain it would be the decision to take a trip up into the Smoky Mountain start here in Greenville. If you've ever driven to the Smokies you can see the mountains from here, you sort of get up big picture view and then you take a drive maybe about 25 or maybe a table rock State Park area are Caesar's head area and you drive up in the mountains and maybe go to the Blue Ridge Pkwy. maybe stop for barbecue lunch in Brevard maybe drive down the cashiers drive up to Asheville grandfather Mountain is so you sort of meander through the mountains in then you drive back down and when you get back down from the mountains and you look back up and you see the Smokies.
Now you have a better understanding you have a bigger picture of what's going on, and so when we look at John's letter. It's like taking a journey and John wants us to see something he wants us to see big picture. Or you could say big idea. So what is that big picture. Well, in order to understand the big picture. You have to understand the big problem and that is there was a huge problem going on in John's day really precipitated the writing of the letter and what was that problem. I mentioned it last week but I want to delve a little deeper into the problem. When John wrote this letter. He was a very old man.
He was probably in his late 80s and think about that was the last time you talk to somebody that was like 88 years old. He was an older man it'd been 30 years since he had last seen Christ because he saw Christ in his resurrection, and 30 A.D. this is almost 9080. He was the only living apostle all the others had died a martyr's death. He had been an elder in the church in Ephesus. We think that he had already written his gospel. The gospel of John, that was written for the purpose of evangelism and now we come here to first John, so what's the big problem in the church will met last week I said false teachers had had arisen from within the church and they were advocating a kind of Christianity that was actually different from what Johnny been teaching so what did these false teachers believe well actually it's a little complicated so I'm going to make it very very simple. Most commentators believe that the false teachers were what we call the Gnostics. The word Gnostic comes from the Greek word good notices, which means knowledge. So what is it that the Gnostics called well basically they had a fundamental belief into things. Number one that the spirit within you is good and that your body or the material or the physical things of life were evil. Okay the spirit is good. The body of the material is evil. We call that dualism. So there was a divide between what is spiritual and what is material and sense we as human beings live. That is our spirit lives inside a material body. Then, the Gnostics believed that the human spirit was trapped. The human spirit was good but it was trapped in a body and deliverance could only be experienced through a superior higher knowledge so deliverance our salvation was based on knowledge. Therefore, the Gnostics did not believe that we needed to be saved from our sins.
They needed they we need to be saved from spiritual ignorance and this ignorance could this ignorance could only be dispelled by the good notices, or by the knowledge that came from the Gnostics, so where did they get their knowledge well. The knowledge was brawl by a messenger of light in the main messenger that they believed was Jesus Christ and Jesus came to bring the word. The Greek word for word is law God to bring the word of the true God. Therefore, the Gnostics did not believe that Jesus came to save us from our sins. They believe that Jesus came to reveal to us the knowledge of truth and sense deliverance was through spiritual knowledge than what would they have rejected about Jesus.
If the body is evil in the spirit of it is good. Then they would've rejected the virgin birth of Christ. Because the whole point of the virgin birth is that God's spirit became a man human to live inside the human body and not only would they have rejected the incarnation of Christ, but they would've rejected the crucifixion of Christ as the atonement for our sins because Jesus bodily died.
He suffered, he suffered in his body to deliver us from our sins. And because this knowledge was received by a select number of Gnostics. In other words, not everybody got the message. Then they had an attitude of pride of elitism of intellectualism and they would hold the unenlightened members of the church of the members of the church that didn't believe that they would hold them in contempt. And this brings us back to what I said last week with the false teachers denied the fundamental truths of the gospel in three areas. Doctrinally, they deny the deity of Christ and the necessity for sacrifice for sins number two. They rejected the inherent sinful nature of man, sin was not the issue.
It was ignorance in the number three because they separated from the believers. They did not practice love towards genuine creature of genuine Christians. So, one writer said the false teachers were perverted in their Christology and they were deficient woefully in their morality. So here's the big problem they they were believing this. This teaching, and so they left the church, we would say that a church split. They went out and they started their own ministries. However, they stayed in contact with the former church members. They continued their connection and by doing so, what did it do for the believers in the church well began to shake them up. They became unstable and they were uncertain. You can imagine the questions that were rolling around in their mind like are are are they right. Are they the truth or we in the truth do they know really know God because they speak with such intellectual, spiritual, language, who is Jesus, were we wrong about Jesus. Was he really the son of God in human flesh and then you can imagine. Did we really experience eternal life. Did we really become a believer. Did we really get saved.
So why does John write this letter to help those Christians. He wrote to combat the error I will II want to lay this out because this is something I'm going to deal with in the next couple of sessions that we had together that it is very very important today that are preaching and teaching exposes error because the vast percentage of New Testament letters were written to deal with problems and false teaching.
We need to have the true knowledge of Jesus Christ. So was written to combat air and secondly it was written to reassure or to comfort the believers that they really were, say so. One is John's approach in writing.
Well, we call that the big picture and it starts with what John writes in first John chapter 1 and let's go and look at that this morning we we call this the introduction or the prologue and for those of you that remember John's Gospel has 21 chapters in chapter 1 verses one through 18. We call that the introduction the prologue.
Well John and his epistle has a prologue and I want to read this in as I read this I want you to note how it is that John is combating the Gnostics from the very start. Let's begin reading in verse one. That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we've seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon in our hands have handled, of the word of life for the life was manifested in.
We have seen it, and bear witness and show unto you that eternal life which was with the father and was manifested under us that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you may also have fellowship with us and truly our fellowship is with the father and with his son Jesus Christ, and these things right.
We unto you, that your joy may be full of an issue? Did you see anything in there where John was combating the idea of Gnosticism where the spirit is good and the material is evil.
John begins by stating that the word of life in the word. There is the word law, God's, and it's the opening word in John one verse one says in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. And then John 114 and the Word became flesh and dwelt among John is saying that the true knowledge of God and what life is all about is found in a human being is found in a person and that person is Jesus Christ. And this human was the eternal God, who became a human being just like us. John says this is a person that we saw is a person that we spoke to is a person that we physically touched and the word of life is become a real human body made a flash in a bones in a blood and John says that it is this one through whom we have eternal life is through this one that we experience what life is all about. Where is life. Life is in Jesus. Where is eternal life. It is in Jesus. Where is the purpose and the meaning of life and the joy of life. John is saying it's all in Jesus.
That's how he starts a suggestion is been made that verse John is written like an upside down pyramid with the apex or the high point being in the very beginning the very prologue and the rest of the letter sort of goes up like a funnel or so or a widening spiral going up and what John is doing is the rest of the letter is explaining what it looks like when a person has a relationship with Jesus and the whole big picture is these driving to the fact that we as believers have the true knowledge of God that wants to look at first John chapter 5 in verse 13 because this is the theme of the book. This is the culmination of the book. This is that the ending of it. There's a word he uses here 37 times in this letter is the word no. Look at first John chapter 5 and note verse 13. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the son of God.
Why that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the son of God.
The word no. There is the word good. No scope.
It's the word that what they use for Gnostics can you not see what John's doing. He's punching them in the nose. He's slapping them in the head. He's saying they were trying to teach you the true knowledge, but it was not true knowledge. It was false teaching. I'm giving you the true knowledge here to true knowledge is Jesus. And I've written this blog that you might know that you have eternal life that were no there. That word for knowledge is the word that we talk about experiential knowledge I married to my wife Terry and many of you know my wife but you don't really know her as a miser. Do you know the president's right well yeah many I know are obscene or shake your hand, she's she's really really nice but you don't know or but I know are you married 36 years to her on the first time I met her. The first, to my sorrow was in church is a great place to meet your wife. She was like stunningly beautiful. My first thought is I like to get to know her first time I ever dated her was right here on the campus of Bob Jones University.
The most romantic spot on campus alumni Stadium and we began our relationship at that time that is continued on to this day a relationship of getting to know one another. I know what my wife is like I know what she likes.
I definitely know what she doesn't like I know what makes her happy. I know it makes her sad and I really know what makes her mad. I know her. Here's what John is saying I have written this book that you might experientially know in your heart that you really are a child of God. So here's my question to you and this is what the whole big picture is all about. Do you really know that you're safe.
Do I mean I mean experientially. Have you experienced that fullness of knowledge that you really are a child of God by limiting let me share with you my experience and how God gave me. I would say this knowledge.
Or you could say this assurance or confidence.
I grew up in church.
My dad was a deacon in the Sunday school teacher actually in a church in Columbia South Carolina where I grew up. But as I was growing up.
I have no recollection or any knowledge of ever being confronted with my need of salvation. I did believe in Jesus, deftly believe in his existence, but I didn't know my need of salvation because no one ever confronted me about my sinfulness, my junior year of high school are sitting out in front of my public school and a friend of mine asked me since Steve do you know if you died today you go to heaven's name was Bill Canales going while Bill because he was really crazy was a wild but he got converted in a camp basically went to camp up your North Carolina became a believer and he came back in the at-bat began to share the gospel and he talked to me and I told him I didn't know I was saved and so for the first time in my life that somebody clearly explain the gospel and in the explanation of the gospel.
He explained my sinfulness. The condemnation for my sin.
That is my judgment. I was going to go to hell, and the what Jesus did when he died on the cross. He took my sin so I could be say he made a personable and I had to accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior. That was my junior high school. He asked me that day. Steve you want to be saved. I said no I'm not ready to get religious.
What I really meant was, hey I'm 17 years old I would live my life my life right now and salvation are not going the same way so the age of 17 years old. I didn't turn to God a turn from God and for the next two years of my life.
I live for myself. I went off to college at the Citadel in Charleston South Carolina tried out for the varsity soccer team. I made the team.
My freshman year, there was one of the fellow on the team who was a freshman and his name was Maxie Birch Maxey was a born-again Christian got saved to senior high school, and he began to share the gospel with me as we walked to the stadium for practice during the afternoon, he would say to me, Pettit. You need to get saved and I said yeah I know I know but I kept putting it off kept putting it off and I could feel in my heart. Both conviction and hardness, but God work in my life by his own providence and just the sovereign working of God, of drawing a sinner to himself. Jesus said, no man can come to me except the father would send me draw him. God's got a word to work in your heart and so during my freshman year through a lot of different circumstances and hearing the word of God I came in a conviction that I needed to be say and on Easter Sunday 1975. Driving home from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I turned on the radio and I listen to a preacher on the radio.
He preached the crucifixion and the resurrection and the need of salvation. And honestly I felt like I was the only person he was preaching to, because I felt like he was talking to me and all that day. Driving down the highway coming home.
I asked Jesus to be my Savior.
So when I look back at my salvation experience I can say definitively.
That's when I accepted Christ as my Savior.
But to be honest for the next five or six months I thought okay. Did I not have enough faith. You may want to vent that I really mean it did. I mean it enough. I mean there were times like Lord, if I didn't mean it. Then I really mean it now, so I prayed more than one time to be say bodily harm.
If you've ever prayed more than one time. He said yes some of you prayed last hour to get saved in here here. Here's what I and I recognize I I knew that I I knew that I accepted Christ but I didn't really know if you accepted me. That makes sense. And I know you love me.
I know he died on the cross but experientially in my heart I did. I just wasn't totally sure my sophomore year of college I was invited to go to Bible study. A member exactly where was it wasn't Jenkins Hall at the Citadel. That's where all the military officers had their offices and we called it the toolshed so went to the toolshed and there's a Bible study going on in the Bible study was about the evidences of salvation in it was from first John, and here's what the teacher did. He made it really simple. He walked through all the verses in first John that dealt with the knowledge that somebody say, for example, when we read a couple of them to you. First John chapter 2 verse three hereby, do we know that we know him.
If we keep his commandments. He that saith unknowingly keeping God's commandments is a liar and the truth is not any but whosoever keep his word, in him verily's love of God perfected. Hereby know we that we are in him. So how do you know your Christian because you keep his commandments. First John chapter 4 verse seven beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God in everyone that loveth is born of God, and know with God.
A real believer loves.
He loves people and particularly he loves God's people. Okay, here's what happened. He went down the list of the seven different test in first John, so it would word were not things he made up. He just basically taught the Scriptures, and here's what happened. As he went down that list of what the Bible says every point my heart amen to amen to what was going on I could say this way. My heart did not condemn me my own heart, that is God working in my heart to the word confirmed that what happens in the life of a person who's a genuine Christian had happened in my heart. I remember that day like it was right now when the Bible study was over with. There was no invitation.
We just went through the Scriptures. I remember very clearly as I was walking back to my room in the darkness of the night.
I had this in Colorado. Bold Julie that I knew that I was saved. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life experientially in your heart you know that that's the big picture. That's why John was written to give those who are professing Christians the confidence that they really are children of God.
So I ask you my friend. Do you know that is your heart. Amen. He yes I know him.
If not, then this entire semester. We are going to go over and over and over and over because that's John's big picture that's his message to us and that's how we come to know truth and to know love that we pray together. Father, we thank you for your confirming word. Thank you that you have given it to us in inspiration you have tempted by preservation. We have it today and through your word. We come to know eternal life. Thank you Lord that is not in just higher knowledge, but it's in the person of Jesus Christ and we praise you for that. God give grace I pray for every student here that they would know in their heart with a fullness of joy that they are your children in Jesus name, amen.
You been listening to a sermon by Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University. If you're looking for a regionally accredited Christian liberal arts university. I invite you to consider beating you which is purposely designed to inspire a lifelong pursuit of learning loving and leading. For more information about Bob Jones University visit BJ you.edu or call 800-252-6363. Thanks for listening and join us again tomorrow as we continue the study in first John here on The Daily Platform