April 18, 2015
1 John 2:18-19
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
What do you think of as the greatest threat to the Church of Jesus Christ? Hypocrisy? Apathy? Bad preaching? Sexual immorality? Weak faith? My take? Thanks for asking. I think it’s immature faith. John is especially concerned with those who lack maturity in faith.
Allow me a brief sidebar about Christian maturity. In terms of faith, maturity, has little or nothing to do with how long a person has considered themselves a Christian. Many times, people who have ardently followed Jesus a short time are more mature than those who have sat around in church all their life. Maturity is the fruit of a life consistently immersed in the Word of God and the Spirit of God. It is not signaled by a certain level of knowledge but by a growing discernment. The metric for Christian maturity is not competent skills or great gifts but humility and holy love. The secret to maturing in Christ comes not in the quantity of Christian activity but in the quality of one’s trusting abandonment to him.
John is speaking to “children,” (not kids) but people who are not yet mature in their faith. Immature faith works like a magnet to attract false teaching. It can be like a chink in the armor or a weak immune system. False teaching shipwrecks faith. The trouble with false teaching is it often has an air of plausibility to it. Persons not steeped in the Scripture and the Spirit are most susceptible to buying into false teaching or following after false teachers. John calls them “antichrists” because of their false teaching about Jesus Christ.
I want you to read this familiar passage of Scripture through these lenses of maturity and false teaching. This is Paul writing to the Church at Ephesus.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love,as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:11-16.
Now take a quick look at how Paul addresses this issue with the Christians at Colossae.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:6-8.
The greatest threat to the twenty first century church is the same as it was for the first century church. Immature faith. Immature faith opens the door to false teaching. False teaching leads to false faith. It desecrates community. It destroys unity. It was a massive issue in the first century. It’s going to be a major issue for the twenty-first century church. The Apostles knew what was at stake and they would not abide it. We can’t either.
There’s a very deadly way to combat false teaching. It’s called compromise. Because false teaching destroys unity, people will often seek a compromise in order to recover unity. It never works. In our attempts to salvage unity in our church structures we do grave damage to the Body of Christ. There’s only one way to deal with false teaching. Maturity. We must grow in maturity.
J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get the Daily Text delivered to your inbox fresh every morning. Subscribe HERE.