Dear friends, 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. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. – 1 John 4:1-6
All of human history comes to a point at the Cross. It is both the end and the beginning. What ultimately matters is what we do with Jesus. If we grasp that Christ came from the Father and walked the earth as God in the flesh, we cannot help being transformed. It may take years and struggle; we may never be able to fully articulate why it has such a powerful effect, but this truth will give us eternal life.
People don’t stumble over Jesus, the compassionate teacher. They stumble over God in the flesh because the concept is simply impossible. The more we know about the universe the more impossible it appears. The greater the scope and expanse of science, the more incomprehensible God becomes. The view from the summit of Olympus would seem to make nonsense of gods in human form. How in the vastness of a billion galaxies, flung across distances beyond calculation, how could there be a Creator? And how, if there is, could He possibly be contained in human form? And if He were, why would He appear and live among an oppressed people in a backwater of civilization? Why would He have a brief ministry of teaching a few rejects of questionable character then allow Himself to be arrested and put to death in agony?
These are not modern questions whatever the sophisticates of our day try to claim. You can hear them in the who-do-you-think-you-are taunts of the enemies of ancient Israel. They are the barbs in the sarcastic questions the religious leaders hurled at Jesus, in the mocking that He endured from the soldiers and the crowd. Even in the early days of the Church, there were those who wanted to temper the truth, make it a little more flexible, a little more palatable by backing off the most outrageous assertions. A softened blade may bend more easily, but it bends in the wrong places. It doesn’t hold the same edge, the edge needed to separate joint from marrow, soul from spirit.
No, the truth must cut and it must cut clean. Anything that takes the edge off and makes it easier to accept is not from God. We are the edge of the sword. The spirit of antichrist was on the loose in John’s day, and it runs rampant throughout the world today. The Kingdom has grown, but the anti-kingdom has grown as well. Antichrist holds sway in politics, art, academia, and pop culture. The truth in us is assailed daily from every side. It is easy to believe, as Elijah, that we are the only ones left. Even the churches seem to be under the spell of marketing and manipulation.
Yet, there is a remnant. The Lord told Elijah He still had seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal. There remain those who have faced the questions and answered still, “Jesus is Lord.” Not everyone will hear us, but we know one another when we meet, and we are all known of God.