18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.
19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.
21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.
22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.
23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.
25 And this is the promise that he made to us – eternal life. 1 John 2:18-25
1 John 2:23 We move past the notion of confessing or denying the Son, to the idea of possession and abiding. First, this is all an equal opportunity equation. NO ONE, king or peasant, rich or poor, virtuous or scalawag, who denies the Son “has” the Father. Not the Dalai Lama, not the president of the USA, not activist rock stars or celebrities, not the soup kitchen director, not the fiery “spirit-led” preacher, no one. The delineation is not between what you do or don’t do, or what your awesome title is, but rather who you CONFESS. Do you deny the Son, do you confess yourself?
What does it mean to confess something? It means more than to assent to it. It means that, even though you may conceal it, when you are put under pressure, the real truth comes out. When you are put under threat, what do you confess or deny? What is REALLY in there, in you, living there, and really animating your thoughts and actions? In truth, when pressed, do you confess the Son or deny the Son? Are you really convinced? Do you have nothing to cling to except Christ and Him crucified? Are you, in the deepest seat of your mind, at rest with the kind of God which Christianity espouses?
If we “have” the Son, we “have” the Father. If we do not “have” the Son, we do not “have” the Father. It is the confession, not the appearance, which grants possession. Our inward thoughts about the Son really are what mediate our standing with the Father. He highly honors the Son, and it does not do to think we have the right idea or relation to God without having the right confession concerning the Son.
It is an amazing thought that it is possible that we could “have” God! It is the humility of God that He would allow such language! Who would say that we hold God the Father as a property or attribute? Clearly we do not possess Him in a controlling way, and yet there is a case to be made that as we pray and make request, He is moved to do things that He otherwise would not have deigned to do.
So, we “have” God, and He abides in us. Put in another way, He indwells us as we own Him. What is given as a gift becomes our true possession.
1 John 2:24-25 Notice the power of words here! The message we have heard is to abide in us. This is what leads to or produces or perhaps sets the stage for us to abide in the Son and in the Father. What does he mean, “from the beginning?” Perhaps it means, from the first time we heard the simple gospel of Christ and were saved. From the time we heard that Jesus had died for our sins, that we were freed from approaching God on the basis of the judgment of our behavior and now approached God by grace. Grace comes through Christ and Him crucified, He is the door.
Notice how simple and doable this is. The MESSAGE of Christ, what we have HEARD, abides in us. We have it, we received it, we believed it, we rejoiced in it. It does not require tongues of fire or unknown languages, or dramatic miracles. It is based upon hearing the gospel. Pure and simple. This is most crucial. If we doctor up the purity of hearing a message with calls to behavioral reform, striving, or whatever, we obscure the supernatural power of the message. As Martin Luther wrote, one little word shall fell him (Satan). That little word is “gospel”. We speak it, we hear it, and something very real and powerful is transferred.
“Abide” denotes a comfortable dwelling, a belonging, a real sense of place. It suggests a familiarity, and a returning again and again. It suggests a place of rest, and a place where one keeps one’s things. It suggests the wanderlust is gone, that there is a sense of having arrived home. Nothing applies these ideas more than the thought of eternal life. It means we have arrived at a comfort and a dwelling which we will never want to move on from. We have found the house we will move into forever. We have entered a relationship that will never need a transition. We are completely home, completely at rest.
Notice that we are to “LET what we have heard from the beginning abide in us.” The language is such that, it is seeking to abide in us, and it will abide in us, if we only passively permit it to do so. We LET it. It will abide if we permit it to be so. Also, we have choice in the matter – upon hearing it, we can either let it abide or prevent it from abiding. Its natural bent is to abide.
Notice that if the word abides in us, we also will abide in the Son and in the Father. The bar is so low for belonging to this amazing community! We must simply NOT be antichrists! What does it mean for the word to abide in us, and for us to abide in the Son and in the Father? The word of the gospel, “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” 1 John 1:7, has entered our mind, and we have believed it to be true. With Christ therefore, we have agreed that our sin should be condemned, and that it has been condemned. We have confessed that our sin is true. We have sought His cleansing. This is the word we have heard from the beginning. I don’t know exactly what He means that we abide in the Son and in the Father. It is like we are in His belly ready to be born or something. Perhaps it means that the things the Father and Son are about doing, we become a part of those efforts. It is kind of like being “in” the army.
This is the promise made to us – eternal life.