1 John 4:1, “1 Beloved, 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.”
In Part 1 we examined the position, “Jesus is just one of many ways to consider.” We saw in 1 John the Apostle John is teaching us “do not believe every spirit” and “test the spirits” therefore, we examined the fruit that is produced when we consider “Jesus is just one of many ways.”
In Part 2 we will examine the other position, “Jesus is God in the flesh.”
1 John 4:2, “2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;”
Is Jesus God in the flesh
Spoiler alert: I am bias. I believe Jesus is God in the flesh. Jesus has changed my life, and I am completely dedicated to Jesus. But, I think there are some interesting observations we can make about this position from a historical perspective to “test the spirit of the age.”
Just look at the life of Jesus. Almost every historian from every walk of life will conclude there was someone named Jesus who existed in human history. When Jesus enters human history it is at a point in history when the Roman Empire was the leading culture in the western hemisphere.
At that time, the Roman Empire was incredibly diverse in cultures, ethnicities, socio-economic, education, and belief systems around the world. Not really that different than today.
Everybody in Rome had a belief system, and in the Roman culture every belief system was valid. The Greek gods were given Roman names so there were statues of Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Mars, Diana, and they even had statues of “unknown gods” just in case. It was a picture of a pluralistic society.
But, then one day Jesus shows up and says, “I am God in the flesh, believe in Me., and only Me and you will have everlasting life.” Again, this is just historical observations where many historians will agree. There was someone named Jesus, who showed up at this point in history, and made these claims.
At the time the claims would have been considered radical. Jesus was claiming to be God in the flesh. And people understood what Jesus was claiming because eventually Jesus was put to death on a cross.
Then, the followers of Jesus took these claims to a whole new level. The followers of Jesus claimed three days after Jesus’ death on the cross that Jesus resurrected from the dead, walked around for 40 days so that over 500 people would see him, and then Jesus ascends into the heavens and says, “I’ll be back!” Those are fantastic claims!
Honestly, at first glance you would think such fantastic claims would have just been a blip on the radar of humanity. This story of Jesus should be another David Koresh, Jim Jones kind of story, but instead 1,000’s of men, women and children in all walks of life started to believe in the claims of Jesus, and as a result the early church becomes one of the most miraculous events recorded in human history.
You would think 1000’s of men, women and children professing and claiming “Jesus is God in the flesh” in the diverse culture of the Roman Empire would create these Christians that are self-righteous, destructive, zealous, violent people, but instead we see something miraculous. We see something just the opposite expressed in the local church.
In the Roman Empire the rich didn’t interact with the poor, Jews didn’t interact with pagans, Romans didn’t interact with non-Romans, races didn’t mix, women and children had very little influence, and yet in these little local churches throughout the Roman Empire we see something incredibly miraculous.
We see the poor and rich serving one another, Jew and Gentile sitting down with one another, educated and barbarian speaking to one another, men and women worshipping with one another, and yes, it was messy, just read the New Testament, but somehow, and it is the mystery of the gospel, the most radically exclusive statements about Jesus began to produce the most inclusive, peace-loving, humble people we have ever seen recorded in human history.
This is the mystery of the gospel. If your belief system is “just one of many belief systems” then you are automatically on the defense. You have to claw, fight, defend, argue, push, oppress, and keep your belief system near the surface.
But, when the creator of heavens and earth has drawn near to you and calls you eternally His, and it isn’t because of your morality, your sex, finances, ethnicity, education, but because of His grace upon your life, then it changes everything and empowers you to engage other men, women, and children who are completely different than you.