Remain with the Gospel
None of the people who would read John's letter had ever met Jesus. Like us, they relied on the ministry of the apostles who had met the risen Jesus and been instructed by Him. Their message brought eternal life to everyone who confessed their sins and trusted that the blood of Jesus Christ purified them from all sin (1 John 1:7-9). The apostles learned it from Jesus and the Holy Spirit taught them how to explain it to others; in turn, they taught this gospel and many were born again, and churches formed to worship Jesus Christ, through whom they knew Father God.
But then false teachers who were anti-Christ, slandered the Saviour – saying that He was not God and that salvation required so much more than repentance and faith in Jesus. Their suggestions were enticing. But John urged them to remain with the gospel message alone; neither to forsake it nor to modify it, lest they jeopardised their relationship with God. To remain trusting the gospel meant that they would remain united to God the Son and God the Father.
John was reminding them of the words of Jesus, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." (John 15:6-7). The consequences of holding firm to the gospel are wonderful; but to let go of Jesus and His words is eternally disastrous.
The challenge to Christians, at every point in history, is to hold onto Christ and His gospel alone. Remain true to the words of Jesus if you want to stay with Jesus, and be at home with Father God (John 14:23). And yet we are prone to wander. The lure of temptation is always within reach of our old sinful nature (James 1:14-15) but external pressures come from attractive or coercive false teaching. John's counsel is to stay with Jesus; remain true to His teaching alone. Embrace nothing which would prejudice your family relationship with God. Teach nothing which would stumble others and teach believers to refute anything which is anti-Christ.
© Dr Paul Adams