Christian Conviction by John Stapleton

John Stapleton

Christian Conviction by John Stapleton

Basic Christianity / Apologetics; Incarnation / 1 John 4:1–6

This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a
person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus
Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of
God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not
acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not
from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist,
which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is
already here.

1 John 4:2-3 NLT

1) False Teachers

As we have seen the last 2 times we were together, John really is going toe-to-toe with the lies that were taught in his day. You might wonder why it is so important to stand for truth. After all, doesn’t discussing doctrine divide people?

Yes, it does. That’s precisely why we need to preach and teach doctrine! The only thing we have to lose are people who are not genuinely following Jesus.

Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the
Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists
have appeared. From this we know that the last hour has
come. These people left our churches, but they never really
belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with
us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.

1 John 2:18-19 NLT

People that leave are antichrists. These are false prophets who claim that they’re authority to speak is from God, when they are merely heretics. They are also subversive as they are taking the trust of people who rely on them to point them to God, when in reality they are guiding people away from him.

These people are opposed to Christ. Some people are opposed to him by denying his incarnation.

…If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that
Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit
of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does
not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not
from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist…

1 John 4:2-3 NLT

Some people were claiming that Jesus never took on flesh. Today, people who promulgate this are the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons. This has serious implications if it is true Jesus isn’t who the Bible shows he is. That means Jesus never died on the cross or rose from the dead. That leaves us hopeless and still in our sins. There would be no assurance of God’s kindness to us.

2) The True Spirit

But you belong to God, 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.
Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the
world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. 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.

1 John 4:4-6 NLT

John is trying to encourage his listeners. Again, it is a very confusing time in the church with all these lies circulating, but we have “already won a victory over those people” because the Holy Spirit lives inside of us and is the best teacher who is not going to steer us wrong.

Not only that, but John gives us a clear system by which to filter out these frauds. He tells us that they have a different perspective or worldview. The ESV renders the Greek as “they speak from the world” (4:5). The world preaches to us too, you know.

Music, TV shows, social media, books and blogs – they are all sermons packaged neatly as “entertainment.” This is an easy concept: if we wrap some ham around the pill, the dog will easily accept the medicine, maybe. Most people don’t realize that the world (as the Bible calls it) is actively preaching that we should be rebellious, ungrateful, sexual deviant and promiscuous, and I could keep the list going.

The World Hates Every Way That God Has Commanded Us To Live.

But John then draws the attention back to where it belongs. What the world is doing and saying isn’t the point. The point is what is true and how God is acting through his church. The point is that these heretics aren’t submitting to apostolic authority, so it doesn’t matter what they say.

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.

1 John 4:6 NLT

Prayer

Lord, thank you that you have given us a way to spot false
teachers and lies. Not everyone is a heretic but some people
are and it is amazing how some of the same lies are still part
of the conversation today. Thank you that you have given us
the Holy Spirit who always teaches what is true. Amen.

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Christian Community with John Stapleton

John Stapleton

Christian Community With John Stapleton: Basic Christianity- Love- 1 John 2:26-27

I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to
lead you astray. But you have received the Holy Spirit,* and he
lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is
true. For the Spirit* teaches you everything you need to know,
and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has
taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.

1 John 2:26-27 NLT

1). Some People Are Lying To You

Like last time, John is addressing a serious heresy in the church that tried to claim the allegiance of an entirely new generation of Christians. The heresy taught that you can believe in Jesus and never change. You can fellowship with God while still living in your sin. John later reveals that these people are antichrists who have left the church.

Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the
Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have
appeared. From this we know that the last hour has come.
These people left our churches, but they never really belonged
with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they
left, it proved that they did not belong with us.

1 John 2:18-19 NLT

Not only that, these people were also teaching erroneous things about Christ, saying that he wasn’t God and he didn’t take on a physical body.

Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by
the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have
comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the
world. This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a
person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus
Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God.
But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not
acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from
God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you
heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.

1 John 4:1-3 NLT

2) But You Have The Holy Spirit

John reflects back on Jesus’ teaching about the Holy Spirit.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,
who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into
all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking
for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because
he lives with you now and later will be in you.

John 14:16-17 NLT

John is echoing Jesus here and he wants the church to remember two things:

1). The Holy Spirit lives in you
2). “the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know” (2:27).

This is important because of the rise of the Gnostics. They were a group of people who believed in secret knowledge that wasn’t available to the average layperson in church. John’s heart here is similar to fathers of the reformation. If everyone has the Spirit who is also a teacher, nobody has the corner on truth.

These people were operating out of a deep sense of pride that elevated them above those dumb people. But as Paul would point out, knowledge without love just makes a bunch of smug Christians (1 Corinthians 8:1). In the end, it is not about developing fat heads, but huge hearts. It’s not about being the smartest people, but about loving each other like we already have been told.

Prayer

Lord, help us remain with you as individuals and as the church.
Safeguard us from lies both new and old, and continue to remind
us that love is the outward expression of what it is to show Christ
to the world. Amen.

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A DESOLATE DESERT by Robert M. Hinnen

Robert Hinnen

A Desolate Desert by Robert M. Hinnen

How can I not show the way for those who are lost
That our sins are forgiven by His death on the Cross
His boundless grace shining down like rays of the sun
The bleak darkness by this holy Light is overcome

In the desolate desert that was my heart
Christ Jesus came His love to impart
No longer there does an arid wind blow
But the righteous blood of my Savior flows

Ahead of me the oasis my life has been longing for
From deep wells of Living Water my hope does pour
Worthy only by His sacrifice I am held in His hand
Rejoicing forever in His mercies like hills of sand

In the desolate desert that was my heart
Christ Jesus came His love to impart
No longer there does an arid wind blow
But the righteous blood of my Savior flows

“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'””
John 7:37-38 ESV

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Through Every Ascent And Decline (To Dad from Isle Royale)

Robert Hinnen

Through Every Ascent And Decline by Robert M. Hinnen

This wilderness path traverses steep inclines and deep descents
With rambling roots and stumbling rocks hobbling our journey
Oh, but to overcome our sin and pride and willful disobedience
See the sacrifice of the supreme Sojourner on Mount Calvary

Faith alone in Christ Jesus is the Way, the Truth and abundant Life
Give Him your burdens for He has already born all that truly matters
He never leaves behind even one redeemed by His grace and Light
Guiding us through every dark valley and beside peaceful waters

Joy comes in the morn when these temporal tribulations we endure
The straight and narrow road ahead leads to our heavenly home
Hear the angels rejoicing as we finish this arduous adventure
Finding the rest we seek in the loving embrace of Christ alone!

“So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it,”
Proverbs 2:20-21 ESV

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No Longer The Same by Robert M. Hinnen

Robert Hinnen

No Longer The Same by Robert M. Hinnen

So now what am I to do with this matchless mercy that freed me
I did not even know I was a sinner, so unworthy, without redeemable merit
Until the Holy Spirit removed the clouds before my eyes so that I could see
The matter of blood, forgiveness and righteousness, the poured-out Gift

How can I not be transformed by this Love so great
That I tried so hard to ignore, living like it did not matter
But I cannot escape the depths of this unfathomable grace
My long-parched heart satisfied only by this Living Water

Compelled by faith to share this Good News that has changed me
No longer content to live in darkness, but willing to count it all loss
For the bold light of truth and the joy of salvation are my living testimony
To the only One who cared so much to suffer and die for me on the Cross

Come now, Lord Jesus!

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”
2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV

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How To Be Used For The Glory Of God (Part 7)

Author Gina Valdez shares part 7 of her series, How To Be Used For The Glory Of God

Training classes: How to be used for the Glory of God (Part 7)

In this lesson of How To Be Used For The Glory Of God, I will teach on the Holy Spirit. Here is the scriptures’ reference. Acts 1:2-5, Acts 2:1-4, Acts 2:5-6, Acts 2:13-18, Acts 2:36-41, Acts 19:1-6, Luke 3:16.

Verses Provided:

(U)ntil the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:2-5)

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4)

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. (Acts 2:5-6)

Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

 “‘In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy. (Acts 2:13-18)

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (Acts 2:36-41)

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:1-6)

John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  (Luke 3:16)

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The Wholeness Of God by Michael Furlonger

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With this coronavirus outbreak, most churches have been closed down. Fortunately, thanks to technology, we are still able to chat and share scripture. Last Sunday, I had the privilege of sharing with my small church group. The topic that I chose to share on, which I feel is very neglected, is the wholeness of God.

The reason this topic is so important is that we don’t know God. And what’s worse, I fear that we don’t want God. So I shared how there is one God of three persons- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And when we make little of one, often the (angry) Father God of the Old Testament, we make little of all.

First off, Who Is God?

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. (Deut. 6:4-6)

“I (Jesus Christ) and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you…” (John 14:26)

I’ve just connected the three persons of the God-head. God says, “I am one God” in Deuteronomy (Law). Jesus says, “I and the Father are one” in the gospels. And the Holy Spirit is a promise, Jesus says, that cannot work apart from God the Father or God the Son.

Early on, my faith was wrong.
Growing up, I was given this very inaccurate view of God. The mean God of the Old Testament with all of his rules and punishment. Jesus Christ says, “NO!!” and comes to earth to satisfy this big meany. And the Holy Spirit is kind of this random guy who helps us do party tricks.

For nearly a decade, I went to a church where your “spirituality” was all about emotions. People standing up to say, “I felt God say to me…” or “I felt the Holy Spirit…” And it left me as a spiritual orphan because I didn’t get these great emotional reactions.

If you have spiritual gifts, such as tongues or prophetics, I’m not criticizing. What I am saying is that if your “gifts” are contrary to the Word of God, you are in error.

If I pray, “God, I really want to cheat on my wife with my hair dresser,” I am in error. Imagine the next day, my wife gets informed that she has to leave for work for a month. Should I take this as a sign from above that God approves? No. This IS NOT God giving me permission. God’s Word is sovereign over all. God’s Word says, “You shall not commit adultery.” It’s confirmed.

The Father

Now, we are called to love God with all our hearts, minds, soul and strength. So I must mention another part of the wholeness of God. That is that God is Just. As opposed to modern day’s perversion of justice in our courts and politics who show favouritism as they deem worthy, God does not. So, we too, must love justice.

Deuteronomy 16:19-20 says, “Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you.”

Psalm 50:6 reads, “And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for he is a God of justice.”

This, my friend, is very good news. God will not change his rules in the middle of the game. So if God told the Israelites in the desert not to murder, not to commit adultery, not to covet and not to steal then…

Than we are commanded not to do such things now.

As God is leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, Moses warns them in Deuteronomy 9:4, “After the Lord your God has driven the people out before you, do not say to yourself, ‘The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.’ No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you.”

So, we are seeing how God is calling on the people Israel, through the law, to be different than the other nations. And we are called to be different as well. Let us not be deceived by saying, “This doesn’t apply to us under the new covenant.” When tempted by Satan in the desert, Jesus quoted law.

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:143-16)

I’m sharing all of this with you because I want us to know God. I asked a men’s group a couple weeks ago that if we didn’t have God to answer our prayers, would we want him at all? What I meant was that, so often, we fill our prayers with petitions and supplications: “Lord, I need this job, this car, this house, strengthen my marriage, strengthen my friendship, health, wealth, happiness, etc.” But if we only had God as our righteousness and eternal life, for which we were created, would we want him at all? Sadly, I fear the answer for far too many is no.

I feel like this question went right over people’s heads. So let me tell you a story.

You know, my dad wasn’t around very much growing up. It’s wasn’t like he was an absent father, it’s just that he would leave for work early in the morning and get home from work after I was asleep. I would try to stay awake to see him, but I couldn’t.

We didn’t have a whole lot of “extra” things. One year, he bought my brother, sister and I suitcases. No vacation. Just used suitcases from a swap-meet in town. Now, albeit, the small green suitcase was perfect for taking my Super Nintendo to friends’ houses. But that was by chance, not design.

Do you think that my dad didn’t love me? Of course, he did. We always had a roof over our heads, food on the table and clothes on our back.

This is what I meant. If God didn’t give you every whim and desire, would you still want him. Psalm 19:7 says, “The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul…”

The fact is that we are imperfect, and we do sin. In God’s holiness, he cannot allow us in his presence as we are. God’s holy law demanded a sacrifice. However, the Israelites thought it was them making the sacrifice, when, in fact, it was God making the sacrifice. Ever since the Garden of Eden, it has been a holy and loving God making the sacrifice to cover our shame and forgiving us our sins.

The Son

Hebrews 1:3 reads, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

As we know, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ as the propitiation for our sins. His death on the cross satisfied the law, the justice of God. However, sadly, I fear that the grace shown to us on the cross has been used as a liberty to sin. My friends, until we know the true freedom from sin, we may never know the true beauty of God.

Jesus is the “Exact representation of his being.” 

John 1:1 & 14 says that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

I’m trying to point out that God loves us. He always has loved us, always will love us but remember that God is also filled with justice. And he gave us law. Imagine if there were no speed limits on the side of the road, and everyday a police officer pulled you over for speeding. You would say, “This is unfair.”

  • First John 2:1 reads, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”
  • First John 3:4 reads, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”
  • Apostle Paul says in Romans 7:7, “I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law.”

Jude 1:4 reads that there are “ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”

Remember that Jesus Christ brings us back to union with God the Father. Perhaps the greatest sermon of all time, The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5-7, covers the entirety of the law in 21 minutes. And, in John 17:3, while Jesus is praying says, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

The Holy Spirit

Now, the Holy Spirit, I believe has been completely disrepected. A lot of people want and do express external gifts of the Spirit, which I’m not discrediting. What I want to discuss is what Jesus warned about false prophets in Matthew 7:15-16, he says, “By their fruits you will recognize them.”

In John 16:8-11 Jesus said, “When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”

Galatians 5:22-25 gives a further understanding of the “fruits” of the Holy Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galations 5:22-25)

Galatians 5:23 says, “Against such things there is no law.”

Do you see what Apostle Paul just did? He took us back to Moses in Deuteronomy. He is saying that there is no law telling us not to be loving, not to be joyful, not to be kind, to be good, gentle and so on. People love to say that they are filled with the Holy Spirit, but if you are purposefully living in sin, you are living in contradiction to the Spirit.

When King David was confronted by Nathan the prophet for sleeping with Bathsheba and killing her husband to hide his disgrace, he wrote Psalm 51. In verse 11, “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” He recognizes that something was missing because he didn’t recognize his sin. He was missing the discernment of the Holy Spirit.

In Romans 14:17, it says, “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…”

I’m not trying to disregard any of the spiritual gifts that people have. I just want to encourage us to seek out the holiness of God. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…” They will testify to the great things they have done in the name of Jesus, but in the end, Jesus will say, “I never knew you.”

Be encouraged

I encourage us to seek out God through His Word. Let’s not feel condemned because we lack a constant emotional reaction. Let’s pray for a filling of the Holy Spirit to give us knowledge to read the law.

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