By: Martin Cisneros
Have you ever picked up on the flow of 1John, enough to realize that it is a "martyrs' manual" that might explain how Christians for a few centuries RAN for the chopping blocks? Hopefully each of you have enough of a general familiarity with 1John to where I don't have to list Scripture references. I want to give you a brief sense of the overall flow of the epistle.
There isn't going to be any particular kind of logical progressing to my presentation, therefore consider this a creud study guide for 1John that absolutely demands your familiarity with the whole epistle. Grab your Bible and read the epistle a couple of times if it's been a while since you've read it in it's entirety. Then read the rest of what follows here:
Those who claim to abide in Him ought to be walking in the same manner as He did. (and no, this isn't an anti-automobile verse!)
Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life went out from us that it might be manifest that they were not of us. After all, we're walking in the light as He's in the light and His Blood is cleansing us from all unrighteousness.
Many spirits of antichrist are present these days, in the sense of persecutors.
Those begotten of God have the seed of God in them and can't sin by denying the Lord Who bought them. It wasn't talking about inability to talk out of turn or to say an unkind word to your neighbor or family member. It was addressing a particular kind of sin when it said that a genuinely maturing believer CAN'T sin. Putting/Adding the word "practice" as some translations do into the 1John 3 text is a really ridiculous thing to insert into the text when you read the whole book carefully. Those begotten of God don't practice denying the testimony of the Lord? We not only don't practice, we DON'T DO IT!! Though we're all fully capable of stupidity in other areas of life, where our spirits aren't well fed by the Word of God in those areas and/or where we lacked an understanding of the Word of God as teaching that there was ever anything wrong with a certain behaviour pattern, action, or habit. Simple "memory verses" are about as nurturing, nourishing, and spiritually wholesome as the memory of food is nurturing, nourishing, and wholesome to your physical body! You need the actual Book in front of you, daily, in the same way that you generally try to keep a filled refrigerator and regular physical feeding habits.
He laid down His life for us, therefore we OUGHT TO lay down our lives for the brethren. Those who hate their brethren, including the persecutors, don't have the anointing working in them, aside from instances of our intercessions in their behalf, as explained in the last chapter of this epistle.
We can have confidence in the day of "judgment," or the punishment by the civil authorities because "as He is, so are we in this world."
Those persecutors who commit a sin against Christians can have life given to them by God because God will grant to "us" anything that we ask Him. Even if they commit a sin against believers that leads to their death, John is saying, I shouldn't even have to say to you to pray for it; think back to the cross where the Spirit, the water, and the blood gave their testimony of salvation to the enemies of God.
Our deaths are in testimony of Jesus as the unqualified Saviour of the world, etc., etc. We have an understanding from the Holy One...
All of 1John is a martyrs' manual. It would apply to those who are literally about to be snuffed out and to those who are literally stepping to the forefront for a form of martyrdom as ministers; living epistles of the Gospel. It's a call to faithfulness and to a genuine family environment among Christians in very difficult times when you might not know who was next on getting picked up by the authorities. It's a book written to Christians who are "fathers," "youth," and "children" who are suffering various levels of persecution and uncertainty about the times, their callings, and their sacrifices for the Lord. It's a minister's manual as well as a how to get your head wacked off relatively painlessly kinda book, as you testify to Jesus as being Lord of Rome and of your executioners! And as chapter 1 says, it's written so that your joy would maintain fullness. Chapter 2 verse 1 says that it's written to shield you against sin.
I'm totally convinced that, in this epistle of 1John, that the particular kind of age-lasting, or age-abiding life, as your more literal translations will render the phrase "eternal life," wasn't talking about the general life of the covenant ages through which God's working out His purpose for mankind through a first fruits company of believers. It wasn't the new birth experience that John was pointing people back to in his short epistle of 1John. While it would include that, he was refering to the particular Spirit-life of the age they were in, or the anointing, for facing their persecutors that they were facing.
I personally heard a tear in 1John 2:12-14 where John is saying that he's writing to the fathers, youth, and children of the Church. I can't read the text any more without hearing a kleenex moment, like he was anticipating his own separation from those believers by his own death. Perhaps he wrote this immediately before the account that some have given of him having been boiled in oil. It may have even been the writing of this epistle, with many tears (as Paul would say) that John won the spiritual victory over the persecutors that he, himself, immediately faced. This epistle may be the victory over the world coming from the Holy Spirit within him that he needed to defeat death when they tried to make "Apostle soup" a few days later.
The way the Lord was unfolding every single line of the book to me, a while back, I was getting NERVOUS. The Lord knew where my mind was going and told me to relax, that it wasn't in the plan for my life for Him to get me killed! He just wanted to show me some things about how to maintain joy, purity, and sobriety of living in my attitude towards the Word, my faith, my testimony, the heathen, and more spiritual babies than I could shake a stick at in an increasingly stressful world.
My New American Standard Bible has in 1John 3:3: "And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." If that's a faithful rendering of the text, then I believe that it's possible to have an equally uncapitalized "Him" in the verse, indicating that it would be an expectation fixed on us as believers. The book of Ephesians would call this the expectancy of His calling you. If He works all things according to the counsel of His will, and it's His grace that teaches us to deny ungodliness and to confess Him as Lord, then it would be a sense of anticipation, or an expectancy on us. It wouldn't be an expectancy given to us of any sense of inherent potential within us, but it would be an expectancy that wasn't a matter of works, but of His free grace operating in our lives: the gift of hope!
It says in that chapter that when we see Him, or perceive Him, we'll be like Him because we'll see Him, or perceive Him, as He is. How does 1John say that He is, as far as the bottomline of His purposes and character? He's the Saviour of the whole world!
It's a strong Word to call our persecutors "Cain," isn't it? Why do they kill us and speak ill of otherwise Godly characters? Because their deeds are evil and ours are righteous. They want to do what they want and complain that we're the ones - instead of them - who have the smile of the Lord.
Everything about answered prayer in this epistle is in the context with praying for persecutors who hate our message of the Lordship of Jesus Christ over absolutely all of the world. It's the perfect will of God for God to make our persecutors the ones who carry the baton of our message after our demise, or instead of it, that they would carry it alongside of us. That's why brotherhood is so carefully and specifically applied to all of mankind. There is a sense where only those who are saved are our genuine brothers. But in an act of calling things which be not as though they were (Mark 11:22-26; Romans 4:16-25), in obedience to the Lord's higher purposes, we're to consider the heathen dearly loved brothers!
If you're in pending danger of dying for this message of Jesus as the Saviour of the whole world, then grab your enemy in a big bear hug and kiss their cheek as they're thrusting their bowie knife right through you! Never let them forget the testimony for which you died! Make it haunt them for the rest of their lives until they fall on
their knees asking the God they don't even know if there's genuinely anything tangible to this message that He'd corroborate with them, or were those people just a bunch of religious fanatics! SHOW THEM A REAL SON OR DAUGHTER OF THE MOST HIGH GOD THAT LOVES THEM AND GIVES UP THEIR LIFE FOR THEIR ENEMIES!!
TELL THEM, "JESUS CHRIST GAVE HIS LIFE FOR YOU!! YOU CAN'T TAKE MY LIFE, I GIVE IT UP FOR YOU TOO!!! I'VE RECEIVED POWER FROM CHRIST TO LAY MY LIFE DOWN AND TO TAKE IT UP AGAIN!!!! YOU CAN'T TAKE IT!!! IT'S A GIFT!!!"
Again, carefully look at the nature of the age-abiding life spoken of in this epistle. Meditate on the context of each of the references throughout this epistle. Don't get into a pseudo-Messianic thing of claiming to be back in 3 days, because God hasn't promised that to you. But I believe that you can sow your life by faith when persecution of that type is unavoidable. The "sermon on the mount" seems to indicate it.
Ever wonder why you didn't immediately die the moment that you embraced the Lordship of Jesus, when the Scriptures say that "on paper" in heaven, you've been translated from the authority of darkness and translated into the Kingdom of God's dear Son; your life is hid with Christ in God, etc.? You have a New Covenant legal right to heaven, from the perspective of where the Bible says that your citizenship lies in Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. But God's asked you to stay here and to take the promised land of each person's heart, to be a witness to the principalities and the powers in the heavenlies that are effecting this world, and to raise up a Godly Spiritual seed of other believers that are as strong in the Word of God as you are, or stronger. He's left you here to become a dramatic example of His grace, in order to shake people out of their apathy; to become an everlasting symbol of righteousness. Truth and transparency are powerful weapons for acheiving His purposes. The people of this planet can be a great people. They wish to be. For this reason, more than any other, God has given them "you." Yes, YOU! Christ is seated at the right hand of God and isn't coming back until the Body of Christ is a corporate, actual tangible identical twin of His. What are we to do with the people of this world who haven't embraced Christ yet? Just let them burn in Hell until we've got it all together, and then we all go and fish them out one by one?
No, you're supposed to be sharing your story of how Christ saved you. Beautify the cross that each of these people have to personally get on, to follow the Master everywhere. Let Christ break the bread of your life and feed the whole world! What has He ever done for you? Don't tell me. Tell them! When is the last time that you passed out a few Gospel tracts and offered to pray with people about anything that they were going through, without trying to win them to the Lord right then. Make sure that they have the information that they need, yes. But start caring. You might be surprised at how rich the life of a Christian martyr can be!!
When He Who spared not His only Son but gave Him up freely for us all is able to likewise freely give you up for them all, dividing you as He did the loaves of bread, because you're transfering the same Spirit as His, then what would He withhold from you?
The purpose of the commandment of love is to bring out your greatness and to bring glory to your Father God through Jesus Christ your Lord. The more powerful that you are in Christ, the more gifts of the Holy Spirit that you are gaining proficiency in, and the more you're able to command the Hand of God through the Melchizedec priesthood that you've been grafted into, then the more you ought to do for those who can't repay you. The deeper that you've entered into God's rest, then the more you've ceased from your own works and have become the servant of others.
Though God has given your flesh for the life of the world, the same as He's given Christ's within you, this doesn't mean you are obligated to vacillate between opinions on purity, generocity, forgiveness, repentance, prayer, the true nature and reflection of light, covenant sonship, and what others would seek to demand of you. Though you are the servant of all, you are only required to obey the Lord. This is how you avoid over-extending yourself, maintain your sense of perspective, and continually rise from the dead more and more in Christ.
You are not obligated to other people's definitions of generocity, servanthood, sanctification, self-sacrifice, newness of life in Christ, and Christian evangelism. You are obligated to the written Word of God, following after the pattern of your King and Priest after the order of Melchizedec, Christ Jesus, to Christian fellowship, and to quality time with your heavenly Father. You know it's quality time when you hear Him as clearly and as often as He hears you.
You are seated with Christ far above all things so that together with Him, and in Him, you fill all things. You are the fullness of Him that filleth all in all from the precise moment that you embraced His Lordship and laid claim to the fullness of His Spirit's baptism. You reign with Him when you're at rest in every detail of what He's done in your behalf, in you, and for the whole world. When you can freely say that it is no longer you who live, but Christ Who lives in you and others can see Him in your eyes, then you know you've passed from death to life and that you have overcome the world. It's not a matter of how much of your time that you devote to religious observance that separates you from all of the rest, but it's a matter of how firmly you've clung to His Words until they've become your very own.
(You must reclaim His Words as your very own!)
When you can say from a pure conscience that the enemy has nothing in you, nothing in common with you, and that as Christ is, so are you in this world from an unconscious reliance upon the fact that you were bought by God from your past with the infinite price of His Blood, then you know that whatever you ask the Father in Jesus' Name is yours and that you are ready to give your life as a ransom for your world every moment of every day.
It's not hard to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. Christ never gave any of us anything to do that is either a heavy burden or a hard yoke. The New Testament is your script and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week you are on stage. Show the world what your flesh and blood, transformed by Christ, really tastes like!