1 John 2:21-24
I have not written to you because you know not the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.…
These Words strike at the root of a prevailing error. They warn us of the peril which we run by disparaging any of the central truths of the Christian Gospel — the loss which we incur if we surrender them. Deny that Christ is the eternal Son of God, and we lose hold of God Himself as our Father. Before looking at this startling sentence a little more closely, it is worth while to consider the fact that only where the Divine Sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ has been believed, have men thought of God with the joy and trust of children. We may dismiss the great pagan religions. But take the two great monotheistic religions — Judaism and Mohammedanism — and compare them with the Christian faith. Judaism, of course, knew nothing of the incarnation. There are certain elements in the Jewish faith which, as we see, prepared the life of the race for this consummate glory; but that God could ever actually become man could hardly, even in moments of clearest vision, have been made real to Jewish prophets or saints. And hence, wonderful and varied as is the religious life expressed in the Psalms and prophecies, it is not a religious life which has its roots in the belief that God is in any true and deep sense the Father of men. Take Mohammedanism; this great faith which still exerts authority over a hundred or a hundred and fifty millions of men, and which still appears to have the power to inspire that heroic courage which a thousand years ago made the Saracens masters of some of the fairest regions of Europe, Africa, and Asia — Mohammedanism denies the Incarnation, and therefore denies the eternal Sonship of Christ, and affirms the perfect simplicity of the Divine nature. As I have said, it is a great faith. It exalts the majesty of God; God is supreme; His will is irresistible; neither earth nor hell can stay His hand. The God of Mohammedanism is a God to fear; a God to obey; a God to live for; a God to die for; but He is not a Father; and the devout Mohammedan is a servant of God — a slave, not a child. And in the history of the Christian Church I find that wherever faith in the Divine Sonship of Christ declines, there soon declines with it, as a rule, the joy and exultation that come from the vision of the infinite love of God, and from the consciousness of our own kinship with Him. A flower severed from its root will retain its colour and its perfume for a time; but it must perish sooner or later. A real faith in the Divine Fatherhood may survive for a time after faith in the Divine Sonship of Christ has died; but sooner or later, whosoever denieth the San, discovers that in losing the Son he has lost the Father also. We may find fresh light on this subject if we look at the words which immediately precede the text — words which carry us back to speculations about the Lord Jesus Christ which have long vanished. Among the earliest forms of heresy was one which maintained that Jesus — Jesus, the son of Mary — was a man and nothing more; but that before His public ministry began, a great and mighty emanation from the Eternal descended upon Him. This emanation was called "The Christ." It was in the power of the Divine Christ, according to this theory, that Jesus did all His wonderful works; and it was the illumination of the Divine Christ that enabled Him to speak all His wonderful words. "The Christ" took possession of Jesus when Jesus had reached manhood; but Jesus Himself, according to this doctrine, was not Divine. "Who is the liar?" asks John, "but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?" — that is who, being asked to confess it, refuses. John meant by a liar a man whose whole conception of God, and the world, and the human race was false; whose whole theory of life therefore rested on a false foundation, was rooted in falsehood. It was not merely the man's words that were untrue to his thought, but his thought was untrue to the fact, did not correspond to the reality of things. The falsehood was a grave one. It did not touch the mere details of the order of the world, but the fundamental relations of man and of the whole world to God. The heresy which denied that Jesus was the Christ was therefore fatal to all truth. The ancient Gnostic heresy has passed away, but the false conception of God and the world, which was the root of it, still survives. The distance between the Eternal and man seems so immense that it seems impossible that the Eternal Son of God ever became man, and that He remains man. In other words, human unbelief severs the human from the Divine. But when once we recognise in Christ the Divine glory, we see that God, instead of being remote from us, is near, that the great glories of the Divine nature are not onmipotence and omniscience, but righteousness, love, pity, grace. These glories we may share with the Eternal. In our own moral freedom we discover that which corresponds to the Divine sovereignty over nature; in our moral perfection that which may be the expression of the ethical life of God. We listen to Christ, we watch Him, we discover that He is God, and yet Son of God. He was eternally with the Father; He has come to share the conditions of our earthly life. This is a new discovery concerning God Himself, and not merely concerning our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a discovery that God has always been the Father; that the Eternal Son, sharing His life, sharing His glory, is eternally one with Him, and yet eternally separate from Him, and has eternally rejoiced in His love. This Eternal Son has shared our life that we may share His life, and might be really and truly sons of God. For this we were made, and only as this is achieved in us do we fulfil the thought and purpose of God. And now, dismissing these high discussions, and returning to the practical aspects of this subject, let me say something to those of you who, while you speak of the Divine Fatherhood, are very conscious, when you come to think of it, and to deal with yourselves fairly, that it gives you little peace, little courage, little joy, little power; that it is no great restraint on sin, no powerful support to righteousness; that it is a thing to argue about rather than to live upon. You do not exactly deny — but the Sonship of Christ, His eternal Sonship, is not real to you; the wonder and the glory of it do not possess and awe you. Is that the reason you have never entered fully into the consciousness of sonship? Try to dwell on the great fact that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Word, the eternal Son of God, became flesh. Remember that through sixty Christian generations that truth, with the correlative truths, has been the substance of the very life of Christian people; that in the power of it they have trusted God, and have done the will of God.
(R. W. Dale, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.