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Rooted in Christ

Questioning our Faith

Only by the Spirit of God can we confess Christ.

“We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14, NKJV). 

One of the interrogation techniques of police is to interview a suspect a number of times. Will their story change? Will there be inconsistencies that can be followed up on, like pulling a loose thread to unravel it all? The suspect in such a scenario will protest, “But I’ve already told you what happened.” 

We see that approach in John’s first epistle. He repeats himself and hammers home themes again and again. Why is that? It’s because he wants to make sure that we fully grasp what he is teaching. There is one unchanging message. He also wants us to check and double check evidences of salvation in our own lives. After all, he writes his epistle so that we may know that we have eternal life. Look again. 

John has already spoken about what we believe and how we behave as symptoms of salvation. Here John moves from symptoms to source. “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit” (1 John 4:13). The root cause that bears fruit of faith in Christ and a life of love is God giving us His Spirit. 

Only by the Spirit of God can we confess Christ as our Savior and Lord. Only by the Spirit can we abide in Christ as He is in us through spiritual union. Only by the Spirit will we manifest the fruit of a changed life and have the ability of new life. 

John harkens back to the words with which he opened his epistle when he now says, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). Once again, John holds up God’s one and only provision for the salvation of the world, whether Jew or Gentile. 

It is this Jesus with whom the Spirit unites us for salvation. All who believe upon Him will be saved. John reinforces the inclusiveness of this exclusive invitation when he says, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God” (1 John 4:15). 

Earlier John pointed us to the Spirit of God when he said, “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God” (1 John 4:2). Now, a few verses later, John speaks of confessing Jesus as the Son of God. 

What are we to believe about Jesus? The regenerating work of the Spirit leads us to believe that Jesus is fully God and that He is fully human. He is eternal God, incarnate to save. God sent His Son into the world that might we live through Him. God sent His Son into the world that we might love through Him. Life and love are symptomatic of abiding in the triune God. 

What questions should we be asking of what we believe?

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and ten grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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