By Dr. Robert R Seyda


CHAPTER FOUR (Lesson XCVI) 06/07/22

4:15 Anyone who believes and says that Jesus is God’s Son has God living in them, and they in Him.

John Stock (1817-1884) helps us see that what we say about our faith is empty unless we practice what we believe. He says that confessing the Anointed One as Savior and Redeemer upon the forgiveness of sin is firmly linked with salvation. The Apostle Paul makes it clear, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”[1] And here, in verse fifteen, John declares that those who make such a confession signify that God is in union with them; they with Him. Salvation needs such a connection to be real.

Secret confessions do not accomplish the same thing, says Stock. The mouth must unashamedly declare Jesus to be the Anointed One, the Son of God, and the Son of man; that others may hear, learn, and believe. Faith gives birth to faith, [2] even that God will do the right thing every time and any time. How the Lord counts us, ungodly sinners, right in His sight is on our faith in the Anointed One. So, says Stock, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.”[3] By a true confession, this faith increases in believers who already possess it, who are comforted by this faith of the brethren.[4] It takes only one spark to ignite a flame, but it takes many flames to create an ongoing fire.

Stock tells us there is a triangle for the elements of fire. It represents the ingredients needed for fire: oxygen, fuel and heat. Air contains about 21 percent oxygen, and most fires require at least 16 percent oxygen content to burn. Oxygen supports the chemical processes that occur during a fire. When fuel burns, it reacts with oxygen from the surrounding air, releasing heat and generating combustion products. This process is known as oxidation. A combustible source is necessary for igniting fire and maintaining the fire as it spreads. Fuel is any kind of combustible material. It’s characterized by its moisture content, size, shape, quantity, and arrangement in which it spreads over the landscape. The moisture content determines how easily it will burn. Heat allows a fire to spread by drying out, preheating nearby fuel, and warming the surrounding air. It is another form by which nature illustrates the inner workings of Trinity, says Stock.[5] After all, did not the Holy Spirit come upon the apostles in the Upper Room with flames of fire after God’s Son promised He would after He ascended back into heaven, where He received the approval of the Father. Just something to think about.

Brooke F. Westcott (1825-1901) says that in verses fourteen and fifteen, the Apostle John highlights the experience of the Christian assembly in that of its leaders. The apostle speaks of himself as representing the Church for which he had a particular ministry to do. Nevertheless, his experience [6] was, in another form, the experience of all his fellow brothers and sisters during that time.[7] The vision and witness of the immediate disciples correspond with the knowledge and belief of the disciples of all ages. Or, to express the same truth otherwise, that vision and witness remain an abiding endowment of the living Body.[8]

John James Lias (1834-1923) says that nothing could be more alien to the whole spirit of this Epistle than to imagine that the condition of abiding in the Anointed One could be the result of a “once for all great act introducing a believer into a state of confessed security.” Instead, the confession is one of life. Those who are willing to own Jesus publicly as their Lord and accept the shame and humiliation and the unchanging spirit of self-sacrifice that attaches to such a confession are a person in whom God is abiding and who abides in God. The action of the Divine Spirit produces confession, [9] and such a confession needs to involve living the same life of love which He, the Son of God, lived and must testify to the saving power which proceeds from Him. The point is the unity of essence, mind, and will between the Father and the Son so that the confession of God manifest in the flesh is a confession of God Himself.[10]

Lias expounds further on confession. There is our lip’s confession, our heart’s concession, and our life’s commission. These all go together. There cannot be one without the other. But it is possible to be mistaken about either. We can fancy we are confessing the Anointed One in the heart, when a glance at our lives would inform us whether it’s true or not. Let us examine our lives in every aspect and seek conformity to the image of the Anointed One. Then, again, it is possible to imagine that we are confessing the Anointed One with our lifestyle and yet to be deceived.

What if we have no inner love for Him, notes Lias; our hearts never light up with the flame of devotion; we have no pleasure in the sacraments, prayers, praises, or the study of His Word; we are fake believers. In addition, when we do our deeds of charity mechanically, without love and sympathy and brotherly kindness towards those for whom we do them, then we may suspect that something has gone wrong in our confession; that though we have “the form of godliness,” we are strangers to the power thereof.[11] The husk of godliness is there; the life which animates the kernel is dead or dying. Is there anyone who desires to know what is meant by confessing that Jesus is the Son of God? Let them ponder this: “God is agápē, and they that dwell in agápē dwell in God, and God in them.”[12]

Robert Cameron (1839-1904) mentions that in the previous chapter we saw God’s perfect agápē attain a flawless manifestation in humanity. It came from God as its fountain, through the Son as its channel, into the world as its sphere, and to us, under the curse because of sin, as its objects. It continues to come and finds its goal and perfection when we love as God loves. Although John does not present that such love came to us through the Holy Spirit, he steadily keeps to his central thought of life. He links us in everyday life to God as “we abide in Him and He in us.” This life, fostered by “the agápē of the Spirit,” goes out from us in its sympathy and activity, and in us, it is made perfect. It is agápē that came from God’s Son, and it continues to go through the many born-again “sons and daughters” exhibiting the same traits and lavishing its wealth upon the same objects in us as in Him.[13]

Sir Robert Anderson (1841-1918) says that the Anointed One’s “coming forth from God[14] does not point to the manger in Bethlehem, and the date of the Nativity, but to a past Eternity and the Father’s throne. This is the truth on which the faith of the Christian rests – that “overcomes the world.” It is not an inference from the Virgin birth but a revelation from the Father in heaven. If His title of “Son of God” does not depend on the Virgin birth – and it is a vital moment that the word “begotten” is used of Him only in relation to His resurrection from the dead[15] — what can be its significance? The meaning can be that conveyed to those who heard His teaching, those among whom He lived and died. Just as by “Son of man,” He claimed to be human in the highest and most absolute sense, so by “Son of God,” He laid claim to Deity. His disciples understood it that way, and they worshipped Him as divine, and those who refused to believe in Him misunderstood and crucified Him as a blasphemer.[16]

James B. Morgan (1850-1942) points to the Apostle John’s statement in verse fifteen, “God dwells in them, and they in God,” indicates that John often uses such terms to express the communion that arises out of faith in the Anointed One, between the believer and God who dwells in them by His Spirit. He fills their minds with His light, life, love, and purity. The believer “dwells in God” by faith. They look to Him, only, to Him always. They say and act upon, “The LORD has a reputation for providing a strong fortress; that’s why the godly run to Him for safety.”[17] While they contemplate the Anointed One as the connection for their fellowship with God, they may say, “We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.[18]

According to Morgan, this supposes an enjoyment of the divine favor. It assumes confidence in the divine strength. It expects an earnest effort after the divine holiness. Likewise, it presumes unreserved devotion to the sanctified service. It imagines a burning zeal for heavenly glory. It infers that we inquire at our hearts whether the truth of the text has found lodging there. Have we yielded our consent to the divine testimony? Have we embraced the reality testified to in the Gospels? So, have we confessed the Anointed One in the glory of His person, offices, and work? Do we enjoy the communion of the Father, He “dwelling in us, and we in Him?” Can we honestly say of the Anointed One, “through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit?”[19] We should never be satisfied with lower attainments.[20]

Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951) says that after all the Gospel preaching we have listened to, following all the Christians we have known throughout the years, are we among those who have never yet definitely received the Lord Jesus the Anointed One into our heart? Ironside begs everyone not to delay settling this question for even one hour. He urges them to lift their heart to God and confess being the sinner for whom the Anointed One died. Kindly let Him know you are coming to Him for the salvation of your soul, which He provides through His blessed Son, and are trusting Him, the Lord Jesus the Anointed One, as your personal Savior. Then go out and confess Him before the world, for, “Whosoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in Him, and God abides in them – yes, God is in them!”[21]

Amos N. Wilder (1895-1993) says that another proof to the Christian that God abides in them, and they in Him, is their confession. The required insight can come only from God. To recognize the Father and His working certifies true sonship. But this proof is closely related to the Spirit’s witness.[22] By God’s Spirit, we testify that the Father sent His Son to those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God.[23] John’s witness is that “This is what God told us: He told us the truth about His Son.[24] [25]

[1] Romans 10:9

[2] See James 2:22

[3] Romans 1:17

[4] Ibid. 1:12

[5] Stock, John: Exposition of First Epistle of John, op. cit., pp. 364-365

[6] John 1:14

[7] Ibid. 1:16

[8] Westcott, Brooke F., The Epistles of St. John, op. cit., p. 153

[9] See 1 John 4:2

[10] The First Epistle of St. John with Exposition, op. cit., pp. 327-328

[11] 2 Timothy 3:5

[12] The First Epistle of St. John with Homiletical Treatment, op. cit., pp. 332-333

[13] Cameron, Robert: First Epistle of John, op. cit., loc. cit.

[14] John 16:28

[15] See Psalm 2:7; Acts of the Apostles 13:33

[16] Anderson, Sir Robert: The Lord from Heaven, Ch. 4, op. cit., p. 28

[17] See Proverbs 18:10

[18] John 1:14

[19] Ephesians 2:18

[20] Morgan, James B., An Exposition of the First Epistle of John, op. cit., Lecture XXXIV, p. 342

[21] Ironside, Harry A., The Epistles of John and Jude, op. cit., p. 160

[22] See 1 John 4:13

[23] Cf. 1 Corinthians 12:3

[24] 1 John 5:9

[25] Wilder, Amos N., The Interpreter’s Bible, op. cit., 1 John, Exposition, p. 283

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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