As I was reading over chapters 3-5 of 1 John this evening I realized that he makes some rather useful points from an apologetic standpoint. Usually when I think of this book of the Bible I think about how we are to love one another and how that love identifies us as children of God. True enough, this is a book that is laden with admonitions to love one another and abide in the love of Christ. Then there is chapter 4. In the particular edition of the Bible that I am using this chapter is sub-headed "Testing the Spirits."
First of all, John tells us flat out that if a spirit does not confess Christ then it is simply and categorically, not from God. It's as easy as that. Then he lays this bombshell in verse 5, They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world and the world listens to them. How many of those who supposedly confess Christ in our society "speak as from the world"? This may be most true of hardcore "emergent" Christians. In fact, I was just watching a seminar by Bobby Conway of Life Fellowship called "A Conversation about the Emergent Church." It seems that in an effort to be relevant, many Christians have blurred the lines between the world and Christianity to such a degree that they are unrecognizable. Postmodernism has so infiltrated some pastors, theologians, and laity that they are "speaking as from the world" and in many cases, "the world listens to them."
The next tidbit that I would like to point out comes in chapter 5. That is not to downplay the rest of chapter 4 but I want to move briskly as this is not a survey course in 1 John. Listen to verse 1, Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. Let me ask you this; have you ever heard someone say, "There are many ways to get to God," or "All paths lead to the same goal," or "I believe in God but just not this Christianity business"? Most Christians, and rightly so, will trot out John 14:6 when faced with similar statements to the ones above. This verse seems to hit with the same force and message and since it is from the same author that is fitting. The point is, if you say you love God and you don't confess that Jesus is the Christ, guess what? You don't love God. It may seem simplistic to say this but it is worth being very clear about. Christianity is the ONLY faith that confesses that Jesus is the Christ, God's Son, the Messiah. If I am wrong on this please correct me. There are plenty of other faiths that concede that Jesus lived and, at best, was a prophet but none give Him the high standing that Christianity does.
Another great thing that John does in this chapter is head off the worldly swill that says, "If you're a good person and try hard and treat people right you get to go to heaven." In verse 2 he says, By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. Some would twist this as evidence that you just "have to be a good person" to get to Heaven because God's commandments are all about us loving our neighbor. Fair enough, however look back to 1 John 3:23 which says, This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. The bottom line is this, you cannot keep God's commandments or do anything that is pleasing in His eyes unless you believe in Christ. That leaves Christianity as the only viable route to eternal life with God.