This Is What He Promised— Eternal Life
1 John 2:24-27
Key Verse 2:25
“And this is what he promised us— even eternal life.”
Read verses 24-25. “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us–even eternal life.” The beginning John is talking about here goes back to what he had been saying from the start of his letter. He begins his letter like this: “That which was from the beginning….. this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” (1 John 1:1) He’s talking about Jesus Christ— His Incarnation, his birth, his life, his Kingdom message, his declaration of who he is— the Way, the Truth and the Life— his death and resurrection, his ascension to the right side of the majesty in heaven, his second coming and the final judgment of God that is coming on this world. They had all heard this message from the beginning from the apostle himself. They had acknowledged their sins before God, repented of them and turned their hearts to faith in Christ, whose blood washed their sins away and sealed their hearts with the promised the Holy Spirit. They had heard the full and true gospel of our Lord Jesus and John encouraged to remain rooted and established in this truth. Deceivers were on the rise then teaching something other than what these Christians had heard from the beginning. False gospels taught of different ways of fellowshipping with God and of having a relationship with him. These Christians might have been concerned about what they had believed and even considered listening to these false teachings about the Christ because they sound good and reasonable. So John tells them clearly: “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you.”
He goes on to tell them the importance, even urgency of abiding in the truth they had heard from the beginning. He says: If you remain in what you have heard from the beginning, “you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.” In other words, you will continue to enjoy the fellowship you now have with the Father and the Son, through the Holy Spirit. It’s impossible for anyone to have a relationship with the Father and the Son apart from believing the gospel of our Lord Jesus. It’s equally impossible to continue in that relationship unless the believer holds firmly to the faith he or she confessed when they turned away from their sins to Christ. It’s essential, then to have a living faith which rests on the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only that, but we also need to grow in that faith so that our knowledge of Christ may mature and bring us closer to God. There was no doubt in John’s mind that these Christians’ faith was genuine, for they had been anointed by the Holy Spirit, and no one can receive the Holy Spirit unless their conviction of Christ and his gospel and their confession is heartfelt and genuine. He wanted them to remain rooted in the Christian faith so that they might receive what God has promised all who believe. Look at verse 25. “And this is what he promised us— even eternal life.” This is what Jesus had promised the moment he began preaching the gospel. This life is temporary. Yet so many people live for this life alone. Their desire and efforts all go into this life. They are so wrapped up in this life that they miss out on what Jesus offers. There is a judgment day coming from which God wants to save all people. That’s why he sent his Son to sacrifice his life that all who believe might not perish from the sins they had committed in this life, but be forgiven and receive eternal life. Eternal life is God’s promise to us who believe. We have a title right to it, not because of anything we had done, but because our Savior paid with his blood to secure this promise for us.
But why did John encourage Christians to so urgently remain rooted and established in what they had heard? The answer is simple. Read verse 26. “I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.” John wanted to warn them not to be deceived and led astray. Who are those who were trying to lead them astray? They are Satan’s disciples and work for him. They serve him in this world of ours and their main work is to lead Christians astray. They are deceivers because their master is the arch-deceiver. He had been a deceiver from the beginning and continues to lead people astray until the final judgment. What then is the means of Satan’s deception? He deceives people with his own version of the gospel— or what we may call Satan’s gospel. Let me start by telling you where the worst deception always begins and ends. The worst deception of all is this: everything that Satan says and does is said and done to undermine Christ and his gospel. “I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray” was John’s way of warning them about the devil’s deception. Jesus once told us a parable which sheds light on the way Satan works out his deception. Jesus said that the enemy sows his own weeds amongst the Lord’s field of wheat. The weed Satan sows so resembles the wheat that it is very difficult to distinguish the wheat from the weeds— until the harvest time. (Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43) In other words, Satan is the supreme counterfeiter or faker. As always, he is now still busy sowing his weeds among the wheat in the Lord’s field. In other words, his servants are busy mimicking the work of Christ in an effort to harm and incapacitate it. As I said, the Lord has a gospel, so also Satan has a gospel as well— one that is a counterfeit of the real gospel. And it is so similar to the real thing that many are deceived and led astray by it.
This fake gospel has been around ever since the real gospel began to be preached. We remember what Paul said to the Galatian Christians. “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-7) Paul goes on to say to them: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” Let’s then consider this false gospel so that we may uncover some of the deceptions through which Satan leads people astray.
We should know that the gospel of Satan is not, as some people might think, some radical philosophy or some revolutionary principle or some program of rebellion against governments. His gospel does not sponsor war or cause strife between people and nations. In fact it promotes peace and unity in many ways. Unlike the real gospel, it doesn’t turn a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, (Matthew 10:35) but it encourages a spirit of brotherhood among all human beings. Satan’s gospel does not seek to put to death the natural man within, but rather it promises to improve him and uplift him and to make him better. Satan’s gospel supports education and appeals to the best that is within all of us. His gospel aims to make this world such a comfortable and wonderful place that Christ’s absence from it will not even be felt, Where even God is no longer needed. His gospel wants to get people so involved in this world that they find no time or have no desire to even think about the next life and the world to come. His gospel even encourages things such as self sacrifice, love and goodwill and aims at teaching us how to live for the good of others, and to be kind and generous to all. Satan is clever enough and knows how such things appeal to the worldly mind and his gospel is ever so popular among the peoples of this world. Why is it so appealing? Because it totally ignores the fact that man, by nature is not noble but rather a fallen creature— one estranged from God and the life of God— one who is dead in his or her sins and that his only hope is in being born again— that is, in being made into a new creature through the work of Christ.
In contradiction to the gospel of our Lord, Satan’s gospel teaches salvation by works. It teaches that God accepts you for what you do rather than what Christ has done for you. This kind of teaching says to people: “Just be good and do good” is all you need. But, this teaching fails to tell you what the Bible really says, the truth that “there is no good thing in us at all”, that “there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:12) His gospel teaches that you can be saved from the condemnation of God by improving your character, which is the total opposite of what the word of God teaches, which is, that your character can only be improved as the fruit of your conversion to Christ. And that’s not all! By this fake gospel, so many organizations have emerged that promise reform and ethics, integrity morality and peace. All these have become promoters of the gospel of Satan because they very much appeal to the pride of men. What else? By this same false gospel, even church attendance, church activities, church service, and such have all become more important than Christ himself and knowing Christ. Even godliness and purity are part of the agenda of Satan’s gospel. Working on yourself to make yourself a better person becomes more important than— what the Bible teaches— that you need to be reborn and remade on the inside and become a new person through the cross of Christ. What’s deceptive also, is that campaigns about peace and world peace have replaced the real hope of the return of the Prince of peace himself who alone is our peace and can give true peace.
The irony is that most times, the servants of Satan are not all makers of pornography and sex slave traffickers, but for the most part they pose as servants of God— especially in the congregations of believers. These who pretend to serve the Christ are clever fakers, like weeds among the wheat— where its hard to tell the difference. They do not teach the fundamentals of the Christian faith, but have wandered form the truth to myths and fables. And here’s how they do that. Instead of really trying to show the seriousness of sin and its eternal and horrible consequences, they make sin out to be no more than just a matter of human ignorance. With the proper education a person can turn away from it. So we have all kinds of programs to rehabilitate people, from AA programs that talk about a universal God to prison programs that work on taming sin in those who offend— when the Bible clearly teaches us that sin is lawlessness, that is, sin is rebellion against God and transgression of his laws— and nothing can remove it except the blood of Christ. Many, instead of warning their hearers to flee to Christ from the coming wrath of God, (1 Thess 1:10) they make God out to be a liar by saying that God is too loving and too merciful to send anyone to Hell. Instead of teaching about the blood of Christ which alone can cleanse us from sin, they eagerly present Christ only as a model to follow. Their message may sound good and reasonable and their purpose may seem noble on the surface, but here’s what Paul says of them: “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
The sad reality is that today as always hundreds of congregations, some even most successful in a worldly sense, boasting thousands of members, yet have no clear gospel message, who do not hear the will of God, nor the true gospel and way of salvation. What is even sadder is that these people are very unlikely to hear the true gospel because they don’t even know the Bible for themselves— but they entrust themselves to those who are clever in mimicking the true gospel and twisting it to fit their own agendas. There used to be a time when families gathered together to read Scripture and study the Bible together. You couldn’t fool these people because they read the Scripture for themselves as a part of their daily lives. For years now the Ukeka family still raises an altar for Scripture reading and study every Saturday, where everyone takes turns to lead. But these days such families are rare. Today, the demands of this fast pace world is so enormous that people, even Christians have no time to give to God. They are so wrapped up in their electronic entertainments that life is just fading away to destruction. They prefer to pay people to examine the Bible for them and to preach to them something, as long as its nice, cozy and inoffensive to their comfortable lives. These are ever at the mercy of Satan’s gospel which slowly filters poison into their minds and hearts until they cannot tell the good from the bad, the lie from the truth.
Proverbs 14:12 tells us: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” How appropriate is this truth to what we are talking about. This “way” which leads to death, is the devil’s deception, his delusion, his gospel, his way of salvation especially by human achievements— that is by working out your own salvation in a way that best suits you! Working out some salvation by your imaginations rather than by what Christ has done. It is also a way that seems “right” to a man. In other words, it seems to be a reasonable way that appeals to the intelligence of the worldly minded. Sometimes, it even uses the Bible itself to make its nefarious point, and so many are deceived by it. Usually the success of one who counterfeits depends on how much the counterfeit looks like the real thing. This is Satan’s gospel— so effective on those who’s minds are on this world that it just seems to be the “right way” for life and salvation for them. So here’s an example of how this works! When Satan’s servant speaks, he does not flatly deny the true gospel. He is too clever to do that. He may speak it but then turn around and give a wrong interpretation. We see that all the time in the popular health and wealth gospels where people are thoroughly deceived into thinking that what they are hearing is the gospel of Christ, when all the time it is none other than the gospel of Satan. Then there is the gospel of baptism and the gospel of good works, the social gospel and that of the spirit and gifts and more. These all preach Christ but rob Christ of his true glory. As I said before, Satan’s work is this: Whatever he does and says, he does and says to undermine the Christ and his gospel in any and every way possible.
Satan would not be foolish to boldly deny God’s existence. He takes his existence for granted and then turns around and gives a false description of God’s character. He says that God is the spiritual father of all people, when the Bible clearly and emphatically teaches us this: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:26) and no other way. And “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12) and no other way! Satan also declares that God is far too merciful and loving to ever send any one of the human race to hell, when God himself has declared that: “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15) This is serious stuff! Satan isn’t foolish enough either to ignore Jesus, who is the central figure of human history. On the contrary, Satan’s gospel acknowledges Jesus to be the best man who ever lived. He draws attention to Jesus’ deeds of mercy and compassion; he draws attention to the depth of Jesus’ character and teaching; He praises Jesus’ life! But he will not say anything about Jesus sacrificial and atoning death on the cross— this he ignores! And why does he ignore Jesus’ blood shed on the cross? Because the blood of Jesus draws men to search their souls, to discover that they are sinful, and worthy of condemnation. Because Jesus’ blood requires of us genuine repentance and faith in Jesus; because the blood is the only way out of this miserable life and dying world and into the kingdom of God and eternal life. In most writings or preaching or teaching, the cross of Jesus and his blood seems to be omitted entirely. The resurrection may be preached by Satan’s servants, and spoken of as a victory over death, but when the gospel is blood-less and cross-less, it is a false gospel offering fake hope for the unwary. It encourages unrepentant sinners to feel good and to wait up for a false resurrection that will come but to people’s own demise.
In 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 tells us how Satan works to bring about his false gospel to people. It says: “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4) God has given the gospel to all people. The gospel is heard by many during their lifetime who have a chance to believe it. When they hear it and harden their hearts, Satan blinds them to the truth and the glory of the true gospel is hidden from their eyes. Satan works hard to blind people to the truth, which all the time planting his own fake gospel into their hearts. He is appropriately called the Devil, Satan, who deceives the whole world and leads them astray. (Revelation 12:9) He appeals to the best that is within people, and encourages them to be noble and to fight for their freedom of thought and life. In this way, he has really united many religions and philosophies and lifestyles together under this wicked banner of the “noble” deception. Man cannot be noble unless he first dies to himself, and he cannot die to himself unless he acknowledges and repents of his sinfulness, and comes to the cross for the washing of his sins in his blood of the Savior. Only then can he rise again a new person, ennobled through the redeeming work of Christ and the sanctifying work of the Spirit.
Indeed, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Usually, the way to destruction is often paved with good intentions. People with good intentions, encourage others not take the fear God and hell so seriously. Those with good intentions never speak of sin and condemnation, always promoting the love of God. Those with good intentions never want to offend or to correct or to advise those who despise the cross. Those with good intentions would rather not rock the boat, nor make waves; they rather tolerate sin than to speak up against it. Many are good intentioned! But good intentions never got anyone into heaven. Noble aspirations can’t get anyone to heaven. God promised eternal life for those who believe— not to those with good hearts nor those of good works, nor to those who work hard to feed their families, not to those who don’t offend people, not to those who work to save the environment or those who work for worldly peace. Satan’s gospel twists the truth and makes men believe that God is good fellow who wants us to be good and do good things in this world. But God is a righteous God who absolute in what he says. If he says the way of salvation is in repentance and faith, through grace alone— then we must listen and believe over and above our good feelings and good intentions. John said: “I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.” There are countless ways one can be led astray, and only one way to God— through Jesus Christ. Where do you stand on this? It’s important to often examine our hearts and to cast out any deception that has found its way in, unawares.
Read verse 27. “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit— just as it has taught you, remain in him.” John warned them against deceivers, those who were at work leading people astray from the truth and into a deadly gospel. But he was not worried for them. He was sure they would remain in what they heard from the beginning. He was also sure that the “anointing they received” which is the mark of the Holy Spirit in their hearts was not counterfeit but real and would keep them from all harm— as they listen to his teaching and grow in it. Before leaving his disciple to go to heaven, Jesus told them: “But the Counselor, 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) John was sure that the Holy Spirit would remind them of all that they had learned so that they might grow in the truth planted in their hearts. This is also a fulfillment of God’s new covenant promise to us: In Jeremiah 31:33-34, God promised those who would believe in his Son: “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” God has anointed his people with the Holy Spirit that they might have a personal relationship and knowledge of the Lord and his gospel. He has anointed us who believe so that we might know the truth deeply and grow in it, not that we might be content and lazy but that we might fight against the lie and use the truth for his own glory to bless many.
We have a responsibility then to study the Scriptures with conviction and faith. If we do not study the Scripture from the heart and remain in what we hear, it will be increasingly difficult to tell the truth from the lie. God does not want us deceived by the lie which mimics the truth. He wants us full of confidence that the Holy Spirit will continue to impress truth upon our hearts until we can be a blessing on those who are lost. God has called us in his love to be shepherds and Bible teachers for a reason— to bring truth to those who are now blinded by the deceptions of the devil. May God renew our sense of mission to bring the true gospel to our generation of young people and old alike.