Test the Spirits"1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
4You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood." 1 John 4:1-6
"In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other”~Mark Twain
In other words, as one of my professors at Concordia Teacher's College in Seward Nebraska used to say, "don't take MY word for it- look it up!"
As I told you last time, there are people who are skeptical that I can be a follower of Jesus and subscribe to progressive political views as well. Well, there are also those who think it seems incongruent to be rational, skeptical, intellectually curious and religious or spiritual at the same time. On the contrary, God invites us to question what we believe. He wants us to think through, understand and know what we believe and why we believe it.
If you read back over my earlier posts on 1 John, you will remember that one of the reasons John was writing this letter to the early church is because there were a number of false prophets cropping up and he wanted Christian believers to have the critical thinking skills it took to filter out the hubris and hogwash from God's pure Word.
So, how do you know if a new teacher, a preacher, a TV evangelist, a Web site, a pundit, a book, a doctrine, a discovery, a sect, a movement, a cult, congregation or denomination is genuinely Christian?
Do they "acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God?"
If they put their focus on themselves or yourself or some gimmick or trick or ancient "hidden" teaching that they say that Christian leaders have suppressed for thousands of years... Bottom line, if they don't agree that only Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one, the promised messiah, the only begotten Son of God who died and rose again to save us from our sins- then they aren't Christian no matter how much they claim to be.
In Mark 8:27-29 Jesus asks His disciples who people thought He was- a prophet, a teacher, a social revolutionary, a political leader, Elijah, John the Baptist... And He asked them who they thought He was and Peter answered, "the Christ, the Son of God." That confession is what Christianity is built on.
We should be skeptical and not just swallow every baited hook thrown our way. We should ask questions. And we should be ready to answer when people question us.
Our savior is not ourselves, He is outside us. It's not our "divine inner-selves", nor is it any group of goals we must accomplish or a level of being we must aspire to, it is one person, Jesus. Anything or anyone that points away from Him as the Christ, that thing or person is an "antichrist."