An Either/Or Matter

Taking a hard and fast position isn’t all that popular these days . . . unless it’s a hard and fast position that asserts there shouldn’t be any hard and fast positions. Our world seems bent on replacing “either this or that” with “both this and that.” If something works for someone, it should be accepted by everyone. But I’m reminded this morning that, while not everything is a black-and-white issue, some things are. Some things are an either/or matter.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. (1John 4:1-3 ESV)

John writes of that which is either from God or not from God. Of those who are either “from the world” (4:5a), or those who are “from God” (4:6a). Of that which is either “the Spirit of truth,” or that which is “the spirit of error” (4:6b). And it hinges on a non-negotiable, you gotta take a stance, question. Who is Jesus Christ?

Those who confess, . . . those who believe and thus freely and openly declare, that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh are of God. Those who do not confess Jesus are not from God. It’s an either/or matter.

Those who confess, confess that He is Jesus. That the one given the name “Jehovah is Salvation” by His virgin mother did so under the direction of an angel sent of God. He was to be called Jesus because “He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Those who confess Him as Jesus affirm that He came into the world in order to redeem men and women through His death on the cross.

They also confess that He is Jesus the Christ. That He is the promised Messiah. The One spoken of in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms. That He is God’s blessed Servant, the one Isaiah said would allow Himself to be led like a lamb to the slaughter . . . that the Lord might lay on Him the iniquity of us all . . . that, by His wounds, we could be healed. That He is Branch of the vine of David, rightful heir to the throne. That throne established today in His invisible kingdom, the kingdom residing in the hearts of those who own Him as Lord of their lives. That throne which will one day be visibly established on earth as He returns in His majesty and glory. He is the Christ.

And, they confess that He is . . . not that He was. Their confession is more than some mental ascent to the historical reality of a carpenter from Nazareth who made some outlandish claims. But it is an ardent belief that Jesus the Christ has come into the world. He appeared in flesh . . . died on the cross . . . rose from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures . . . ascended into heaven . . . and has sent His Spirit into the world.  His Spirit today calling men and women to faith and into relationship with the risen Christ.  His Spirit sealing and indwelling those who respond by faith that He might ever be with them. Oh, and that’s another either/or . . .

. . . for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1John 4:4 ESV)

The Spirit of Christ in us trumps the spirit of all that is antichrist in the world.

It comes down to an either/or matter. Who is Jesus? “By this,” writes John, “we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

O’ that the Father would continue to reveal His Son by the Spirit of truth . . . through His people . . . according to His abundant grace . . . for His eternal glory.



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