The Doctrine of Christ
Occupation with the Person and work of our Lord fills our hearts with joy and leads to gratitude and worship. But if aspects of His Person and work, as revealed in Scripture, are doubted, this is a dishonour to Him. In this connection it is the privilege of every believer to acknowledge that the Lord Jesus is eternally God and yet has become Man. He did no sin and sin was not in Him. Although He did not know sin, He was judged for the sins of others during the three hours of darkness on the cross at Calvary and, as the wages of sin, He endured death for us. But He did not remain in death. He rose again and went up into heaven to sit at the right hand of God until God makes His enemies the footstool of His feet. If a believer denies one of these important facts concerning His Person and work (for example, His eternal Sonship), then he dishonours God and the Lord Jesus and moves away from the foundation of his faith (cf. for example 1 Cor. 15). It is sad that we are not always sufficiently discerning to discover the roots of such developments, and as a consequence they develop further and become established. Let us always remember that the Holy Spirit indwells the believer and can preserve us by the Word of God.
It becomes especially dangerous if someone teaches in a spirit which is not of God; if someone calling himself a servant preaches something which is fundamentally wrong. We live in a time when many teach what suits them. Because of this we are in danger of being drawn away from the sound teaching of the Word of God. The teaching of John in particular gives us divine guidelines in this respect. In the fourth chapter of his epistle he shows that Satan has sent out many prophets in order to attack the Person and work of Christ and lead believers astray. In this connection he mentions three points by which to test the erroneous teaching and expose the false servants who bring it.
1) The personification of the doctrine of Christ is jesus Christ.
Only the Spirit which confesses Jesus Christ come in the flesh, is of God (v. 3).
2) The origin of the doctrine of Christ is heaven.
The spirit which is of the world, i.e., which speaks according to the principles of the world, is not of God (vs. 4-5).
3) The standard of the doctrine of Christ is the truth of the Word of God.
The spirit which teaches according to the apostles' doctrine, is of God (v. 6).
These three points are so simple that every believer can use them and identify false teachers. They correspond exactly with the three fundamental tasks of the Comforter, the Spirit of God, referred to in John's Gospel chapters 14 to 16.
1) He will testify of the Lord Jesus (John 15:26) and glorify Him (John 16:14). This glorification consists in His making the Person and work of Christ increasingly great in our eyes. We may realise that the eternal Son became Man in order that, as Man, He might glorify God perfectly. Only a man can die for men, and only God Himself can reveal the love which is in the heart of God. Because the Lord Jesus is both god and Man, He can make every facet of the character of God visible and comprehensible for men. As Man, He experienced the two parts of-typically human-life, namely, birth and death. But because He is infinitely more, no less than God blessed forever, He is in both of these very different from other men. God Himself overshadowed the virgin to beget Him (Luke 1:35). And no mere man is capable of giving up his life, but this is what the Lord Jesus did (John 10:17). He became a Man and will remain a Man forever.
When someone testifies of these wonderful facts, the hearts of believers are made glad and bow in worship before the Lord of glory. But where these things are not confessed and taught, we have to do with the spirit of antichrist which is already in the world and wants to dishonour the Lord Jesus Christ. It is important to turn away at once from someone bringing false doctrine concerning Christ; to judge the teaching and have no fellowship with him (2