What an incredible blessing of assurance – we HAVE the Holy Spirit at work within us, fighting for us, keeping us from temptation, helping us understand God’s word and helping us to discern truth from evil.
I have been reading I John 4:1-6 this week. At the beginning of the week I was concentrating more on how we can see false prophets by testing the spirits to see whether they were confessing that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh and is from God. But I had a problem with that because in James 2 it say, “You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” So if it is just stating the words it wasn’t enough. So I realized the implied part is that this is GENUINE, heart-convicting and changing confession, not just saying the words.
I had some time today so I listened to John Piper’s message on Test the Spirits to See Whether They are of God, and I received some great insights into this passage that I want to share. http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/test-the-spirits-to-see-whether-they-are-of-god
This isn’t just about discerning false prophets, but seeing who is a true believer/child of God. Verse 2 says we must hear them genuinely confess with their mouths and in their hearts, that Jesus Christ is LORD. Verse 6 encourages us to test people by seeing how receptive they are to allow sincere and truthful words to go into their heart.
Not one of us will hear the message of Christ’s salvation unless the Holy Spirit softens our heart and opens our ears to hear. Not one of us will confess – sincerely and genuinely – from the heart that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh unless the Holy Spirit prepares our hearts and humbles us to accept the free gift of God’s grace through Jesus Christ, our LORD.
What a blessing to know that God loves us so much He calls us to Him. He gifts us with the Holy Spirit to work in us so that we can hear God’s call and receive His grace. I like how Piper concluded, “If this type of listening and confessing could be explained any other way, they would not be sure signs of the Spirit’s presence and power at work in us.”
Thinking of all this reminds me of the song – I’m Forever Grateful © 1985 Mark Altrogge.
You did not wait for me, to drawn near to You,
but You clothed Yourself with frail humanity.
You did not wait for me to cry out to You,
but You let me hear Your voice calling me.
And I’m forever grateful to You.
I’m forever grateful for the cross.
I’m forever grateful to You,
that You came to seek and save the lost.
What a wonderful blessing to know that God is at work in us so we can hear His invitation to come and worship Him, believe in Jesus Christ our Savior. What a great reminder of a way to pray for those who haven’t heard – that God will soften their hearts and open their ears to hear the words of TRUTH.
Enjoying the wonderful truth of the Holy Spirit’s continuing work in me and you 😉
God’s abundant blessings ~ Faye
I was working on my Bible study from 1 John 4:1-6 where John speaks of being aware of false prophets. Christians need to know and test what they hear to make sure it is from God. 1 John 4:2 states, “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.” John speaks often of former Christians who have once belonged, but have left the faith and now share a distorted view of God looking at half-truths.
I was blessed by how the New Living Translation phrases verses 4-6:
4 But you belong to God, [emphasis mine] my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. 5 Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. 6 But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.
I grew up in a Christian home and was taught from early on the assurance found in Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1:
Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own,
body and soul,
in life and in death–
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven:
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.
Because I belong to Him,
Christ, by His Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for Him.
Thinking about belonging to God, made me decide to Google “belonging to God” to see what others thought of the blessings of belonging. What a surprise that the first website that came back was someone who had belonged to God growing up in the Christian faith but somehow became disenchanted with God. This person IS one of the people John is warning about. He talks very intelligently about the Christian faith and other religious beliefs and backgrounds. Even as he quotes God’s Holy Word, he claims that he fully believes the sayings of “God’s Prophet.” Careful reading shows that he fully believes in Muhammad. He believes “God is the Olive Tree…” It’s no wonder John WARNS us to watch out for false prophets. This person quotes from the Qur’an and many of the verses are minor twists to God’s Word. If we don’t stay in God’s word, we can’t compare one with the other. Does part of the responsibility in belonging to God come with being in a close and growing relationship with Him? Most definitely.
Belonging has a sense of being enveloped in someone’s arms. What a wonderful picture to be held tightly in God’s grip of grace. I only have that sense of belonging because I believe in my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. God’s only Son, our Lord. Conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. Died and Rose again!
So what started out as a look at belonging because of the words of 1 John 4:4-6, ended up with the reality of the importance of staying true to God’s Word and being filled with the Spirit of God to be able to discern the false teachings and prophets. I think I came away from this study with two meanings for belonging – 1) the blessing of belonging to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, as God’s dearly loved child and 2) the blessings of belonging in God’s Word.
Praying you enjoy fully the blessing of BELONGING TO JESUS CHRIST, OUR SAVIOR ~ Faye