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It Matters What You Believe - Part 3

Tom Pennington • 1 John 2:18-27

  • 2022-03-20 AM
  • 1 John
  • Sermons

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It's sad, I think, the abysmal ignorance of Americans about Jesus Christ. There was a survey by Lifeway reported in the December of 2020, Christianity Today, the results of the Lifeway survey of Americans about Jesus Christ. The only encouraging piece was that 72% say that Jesus was born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. Of course, they have to say that because we celebrate Christmas pretty much as a nation. 80% agree that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Now on the surface, that might sound encouraging, but wait, the news is not good. Because while 80% say that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, only 41% say that He existed as God's Son before He was born in Bethlehem. Among those who are unaffiliated with the Christian church, those who are secular and don't attach to any bit of Christianity, 48% believe Jesus is the Son of God, but only 15% believe He existed as the Son of God before He was born. But the really bad news is among professing Christians, those who said they attend church four times or more a month. Only 63% of them agree that Jesus existed as the Son of God before He was born in Bethlehem. Think about what that means–that means 40%, almost 40% of professing Christians in America who attend church regularly deny both Jesus's deity and the doctrine of the Trinity!

In another survey taken by Ligonier, "The 2020 State of Theology Survey," they surveyed 3000 U.S. adults, and they were asked to respond to the correctness of this statement. "Jesus was a great teacher, but He was not God," that was the statement. 52% of U.S. adults agreed with that statement. But the really tragic part, now we're not talking about just professing Christians, we're talking, in this survey, about those who profess to be evangelical Christians. 30% of them agreed with the statement, "Jesus was a great teacher, but He was not God." Shocking! Even among professing Christians, there is an abysmal ignorance of who Jesus is. I think you understand that what we believe about Jesus is not peripheral.

In fact, it's at the very center of the Christian faith, and John the Apostle, in the passage we come to in 1 John this morning, wants us to understand that there are certain fundamental truths that you must believe about Jesus in order to be a true Christian and to pass the doctrinal test of eternal life.

Again, just to remind you, this book is about the tests of eternal life to encourage true believers that they are, in fact, believers and to sort out those who aren't. We've looked so far at the moral test, "Obedience to Jesus Christ and His Word;" we've looked at the social test, "Love for God and His People;" and we're considering the doctrinal test, "Faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel." The theme then of 1 John 2, verses 18 to 27, is that "A True Christian Always Knows, Believes, and Perseveres in The Biblically Orthodox Teaching about Both Jesus Christ and His Person and His Gospel."

Just as there are vital signs that show the presence of physical life, there are also doctrinal vital signs that show the presence of spiritual life; we've begun to look at them in this passage. The first vital sign we considered that's part of this doctrinal test, to see whether or not you're a Christian is, "Do You Belong to a Biblical Church?" That's the point of verses 18 and 19. John makes the point in those verses that a true Christian doesn't abandon a biblically Orthodox church to go to a false church.

Last Sunday, we began considering a second doctrinal sign of spiritual life. It's "Do You Believe the Essential Gospel?" That's the message of verses 20 to 25. The main point of these verses is that because of what John calls 'the anointing,' it's something every single believer received at the moment of salvation, and that anointing, as we discovered last week, is simply the Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus Himself was anointed with the Spirit at His baptism, every believer is anointed with the Holy Spirit at his conversion, that is, the Holy Spirit comes to take up residence within him. And because of that anointing, because if you're in Christ, you have been changed, you have the Holy Spirit. Because of that, "A True Christian Knows, Believes, and Perseveres in the Essential Elements of Saving Truth." We looked at that last week in verses 20 and 21. That's sort of a general statement, the essential elements of saving truth.

The next few verses get more specific about exactly what those essential elements of saving truth are. In fact, John goes on to explain in these next few verses what the essential elements of saving truth that every true Christian embraces–what those elements are. In verses 22 and 23, they're about the person of Jesus Christ. In verses 24 and 25, they're about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Those are the essential elements that every true Christian is taught by the Spirit and continues to believe–the person of Jesus Christ and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now, as we prepare for the Lord's table this morning, I want us to examine just verses 22 and 23. Let's read them together, verses 22 and 23:

Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.

Now in these verses, as I said, we get more specific, and here we learn the first essential element of saving truth. And it means this, it means that "A True Christian Knows, Believes, and Perseveres in The Biblical Truth about Jesus Christ." Now as these verses unfold, verses 22, and 23, following the pattern that we've come to expect from John so far in this letter, John first contrasts, he contrasts what false Christians believe about Jesus with what then true Christians believe about Him. So, let's look at this contrast he draws for us.

First of all, he explains that "A False Christian Denies the Biblical Teaching about Jesus of Nazareth." A false Christian, just to remind you or for those of you who are guests, a false Christian, in John's terms, is someone who says, "I'm a Christian, I'm a follower of Jesus Christ," but, in fact, is not from God's perspective. They may be from theirs; they may be resolute that they are, but from God's perspective, He says, "No! You're not." A false Christian denies the biblical teaching about Jesus of Nazareth.

Now, in verse 22, he begins with the content of that denial. What exactly is it that a false Christian denies? Verse 22, "Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?" The way the question is worded is like this, "If this one is not a liar, then who in the world is?" John here identifies the heresy that characterized those who left the churches in Asia Minor. Remember back in verse 19, "They went out from us because they were not of us." He's going to tell us exactly what it was that they embraced. He begins verse 22, "Who is," notice the definite article. This is true in Greek as well as in English, "Who is the liar?" He means the quintessential liar; this is the liar par excellence. Why? Because this lie strikes at the very heart of the gospel.

You know, in this postmodern age where two conflicting ideas can both be right, it's refreshing for John to say, "There's truth and there's error; there's a lie, and there's what isn't a lie." As John Stott writes, "John's black and white contrasts are helpfully clear-sided; opposing views are not to him, complementary insights, but truth and error."

Now the Greek text makes it clear that what comes next in verse 22, is actually a direct quote of what the false teachers were saying. Here's, literally, what the text says, "Jesus is not the Messiah," that's what they were saying, "Jesus is not the Messiah."

Now, they weren't simply denying that Jesus was the Messiah promised in the Old Testament; there's more involved than that because there were those who believed in the human Messiah. No! They were denying more than that. Notice the end of verse 22, and notice verse 23, and in both cases, you find the expression, "the Son, the Son." These false teachers denied that Jesus of Nazareth, the the human who was born in Bethlehem, who grew up in Nazareth, that the human being Jesus of Nazareth is the divine Messiah, the eternal Son of God.

That is exactly, by the way, what one false teacher, who lived in Ephesus at the very time John wrote this, taught. When I introduced this book to you, I mentioned his name to you; I'm sure you don't remember but it's a man by the name of Cerinthus. Cerinthus was a Jewish false teacher from Egypt who was a contemporary of John the Apostle. And Cerinthus taught a form of pre-Gnosticism; and at the heart of it, it was this, matter is evil, and spirit is good. So, everything that's matter is bad, and spirit is good. And the way that worked out is to protect the purity of God as Spirit, Cerinthus hypothesized and taught that a human person, with a human body like Jesus of Nazareth had, could never have been divine because matter is evil, and spirit is good. And so, Jesus couldn't have been divine. Therefore, he taught that the divine spirit of Messiah descended on the human Jesus at His baptism and left just before His crucifixion. You see more about it in a precise way about this error over in chapter 4. Look at chapter 4, verse 2. When it comes back to the doctrinal test, he gets just a little clearer about what was taught.

By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses (That is, the spirit in man, and ultimately, the things that he teaches.), every spirit that confesses that (Notice Jesus, that's the human name; Christ, that's 'Christos,' that's the anointed one.) that Jesus (the divine Messiah) …has come in the flesh…(Everyone who confesses that is from God, and) every spirit that does not confess that Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. (Paraphrase.)

This is the error that John's addressing; it's a denial that the human person, Jesus of Nazareth, is the divine Messiah come in the flesh. These false teachers taught, as the later Gnostics taught, that Jesus think about this now, they taught that Jesus was born and died as a mere human being. He was a mere man, who for the three years of his ministry, was given divine powers, perhaps, some of them taught, even adopted into the Godhead, which makes no sense, but that's what they taught. The divine Spirit of Messiah, they said, descended on the human person, Jesus, at His baptism and left Him before the cross.

John directly contradicts this over in chapter 5. Go to 1 John 5, verse 5:

Who is the one who overcomes the world, (Remember in John's mindset, an overcomer is any true believer. Who is a true believer?) but he who believes that Jesus (the human person) is the Son of God? (It's not a mere human; He's the Son of God.) This is the One (Now watch how he answers Cerinthus.) This is the One who came by water and blood.

Have you ever wondered what that meant? What he's saying is:

Jesus, the human Jesus, is the Son of God. And he not only was the Son of God when He was baptized at the beginning of His ministry, He's the very same person who died and shed His blood on the cross. (He goes on to say,) His name is Jesus, the Messiah, the divine Messiah; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood, both baptism, He was Jesus, the Son of God, at His baptism; He was Jesus, the Son of God at His death; it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. (Paraphrase.)

What Cerinthus and the pre-Gnostics taught was the first of many heresies about Jesus. Some of them deny His humanity, some deny His deity, some say he only had one nature, some confuse the natures, there are all kinds of heresies about Jesus, and they've just been duplicated through the years.

Scripture teaches, instead, that the man, Jesus, was and continues to be the eternal Son of God. In fact, let's say it differently, "The eternal Son of God took on full humanity in the womb of the Virgin Mary; He now possesses two perfect natures. He is fully human, and He is fully divine." John 20, verse 31, you remember after John lays out all of those things about Christ and His gospel, he comes to the end of his gospel, and he says:

Listen, there are so many things I could have told you about Jesus, that I didn't tell you. But these are written, (What? Listen to this.) these have been written, so that (Here was my purpose.) you may believe that; that tells you there has to be content to your faith, so that you may believe that Jesus, the human Jesus, is the 'Christos,' the Messiah, the Anointed One, the divine Messiah, the Son of God. And that believing, you may have life in his name. (Paraphrase.)

So, here's "The Content of the Denial." It's a denial that the human person, Jesus of Nazareth, is the divine Messiah, the eternal Son of God, who's taken on flesh. That's what it's denying, but what I want you to see is that this matters because it's really not simply a rejection of the eternal Sonship of Christ; it is a rejection of the nature of God as Trinity. It is a rejection of the Incarnation. It is a rejection of the nature of Jesus as the God-Man; it's a rejection even of the work of Christ. I mean, if the human Jesus is the one who died on the cross, and not the Son of God, there is no forgiveness for your sins, and you will perish. Only the eternal Son of God could take upon Himself the sins of the world. So, it's really a rejection of the heart of the Christian message that God has revealed Himself in Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, to die for sins. It matters!

In fact, John, next, lays out for us here in our text, "The Consequences of This Denial." We've seen the content of it; but what are the consequences? There are four disastrous consequences of denying that Jesus is the divine Messiah. First of all, "It Makes You a Liar." Notice verse 22, "Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the (divine Messiah)?"

Now, don't misunderstand, when we say someone lies, normally we use that word to mean that they know the truth, and they're intentionally misrepresenting that truth. That's not what he's saying the false teachers and their followers were doing. It doesn't mean this person knows in his heart that Jesus is, in fact, the divine Messiah, but knowingly lies about it. He means he's a liar in the sense that what he has come to believe doesn't match the facts. Remember, John began this letter by saying, "Listen, we saw, we touched, we experienced, we heard, we know who He is. And so, the person who takes this position is a liar in that sense. Also, his confession of Jesus is a lie. You know, this person who says, "Yeah, I'm a follower of Jesus." Well, yeah, you're a follower of Jesus, just not the biblical one; it's a different Jesus.

I remember when I was the managing director at "Grace to You" in California; I interacted with the leaders of some other Christian ministries at some radio get-togethers and things. And there was one man, I believe he was a real brother in Christ, but he headed a ministry that represented a nationally known charismatic speaker, not one of the worst, way out there ones, but a relatively conservative one. And I remember a conversation I had with him in the car one day, we were talking about church discipline, and he was, you know, not really excited about that concept. And I said, "Well, you know, there are obviously doctrinal things that you would address in someone's life." I mean, I said, "You'd have to say that someone who doesn't believe the biblical gospel and doesn't believe the biblical Jesus is not a Christian." He said, "Well, what do you mean by that?" And I thought" Well, this is not hard, but let me illustrate it." I said, "Let's say for example, there is a Mormon who says to you, 'I believe in Jesus.' What would you say to that person?" He said, "Well, you know, if they say they believe in Jesus. . ." I said, "Gary, it's a different Jesus. It's not the biblical Jesus, it's someone entirely different!"

And if that's your confession of the Jesus who wasn't the biblical Jesus, your confession is a lie. It makes you a liar, not only because of your confession of Jesus is a lie, but your claim to know God is a lie. You say, "I know God." Well, you can only know God through the biblical Jesus. And this person's theology is part of Satan's great lie.

There's a second consequence, and that is that "It Identifies You as an Antichrist." Verse 22 says, "This is the Antichrist." Now, that doesn't mean that the person who denies the deity of Jesus Christ is 'The Antichrist,'the one who's coming at the end of time to lead and mislead the world. What he means instead is that this person's belief about Jesus is not merely wrong; it's from the devil who is the father of lies who will energize the antichrist who is to come. In their denial of who Jesus is, they are the embodiment of the spirit of antichrist.

Look at 2 John, verse 7; 2 John, verse 7, "For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ (as the Messiah) as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist." Jackman in his commentary writes:

Everything depends on what a person believes about Jesus Christ. If an individual does not believe that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the Christ, God's own Son, sent from the Father, then he is literally against Christ; he is an antichrist.

Thirdly, a third consequence is "It Means You Are Also Denying the True God." Verse 22, "…This is the antichrist, the one who denies (And here he uses 'denies' in a different sense; it means rejects, the one who rejects.) the Father and the Son." Now, don't misunderstand. He's not accusing the heretics and their followers of directly denying the Father. All of them said, "We know the Father, we know God." But he's saying, "Implicit in their denial of the deity of Jesus is a denial of the Father; to deny Jesus's deity is at the same time to deny the Father. It's a denial of the Father as part of the Trinity. God's nature is Trinity. If you deny that God has an eternal Son, you have redefined the nature of God, and, therefore, you are worshipping a different god, and you're rejecting the biblical God.

My mind often goes to a visit years ago that Sheila and I were able to have to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. And inside that Muslim structure there is an inscription taken from the Quran that says this, "It is not befitting to the Majesty of Allah that he should take to himself a son." Or, to put it as it's often expressed in the vernacular, there is one God, Allah, and he has no son. That is a clear denial, not only of Jesus's deity, but also of the biblical God; it's a different God. And the same is true for all who deny Jesus's deity. To deny that Jesus of Nazareth is the divine Messiah is a denial of the nature of God. It is also a denial of God's explicit statements about Jesus. You remember at His baptism, in Matthew 3, verse 17, "A voice out of heaven said, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.,'" Later, at the Transfiguration in Matthew 17:5, "While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, 'This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to him!'"

Look over in chapter 5; 1 John 5, verse 9:

If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony (that) God (has given about His Son) is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning (Notice!) His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God (That is, doesn't believe that God has come in the person of His Son) has made (God) a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son.

Listen, if you deny that Jesus is the eternal Son of God come in the flesh, you might as well just own up to the fact that you have looked in the face of God your Creator and said, "You are a liar!" That's what the scripture says. So, a false Christian denies these realities.

There's a fourth consequence of this denial. "It Means You Don't Know God," you don't know God. Not only do you deny the true God, but you don't even know Him. Verse 23, "Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father." Literally, "Everyone denying the Son is not having the Father." This is universally true of every single person who denies the Son. John means that every single person who denies the Son doesn't have the Father as his or her Father. That's the idea; that's what it means to have the Father. You don't have them as yours.

Look at chapter 4, verse 15, "Whoever confesses that (the human) Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God." Chapter 5, verse 20, "…we know that the Son of God has come, and (He) has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ (the divine Messiah). This is the true God and eternal life."

So, you have to come this way if you're going to have eternal life, and if you're going to know the true God. And if you don't come this way, you don't know the true God. I love the way Jackman puts it. He said:

Verse 23 can hardly be more categorical. You cannot have God without believing in Jesus. Christ Himself said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." If that route is rejected, there is no other. Simply to believe in one God is not saving faith at all. The God of the Bible is a trinity. There is only one true God, and He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Without the Son, we cannot know the Father. Those who deny this may use the word 'God,' but they cannot know Him.

I mean, Jesus himself said this in John, chapter 5, verse 23. He said, "…He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him." John 8:19, "You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also." So, John, very clearly, teaches us that a false Christian, someone who says they're a Christian, but really isn't, denies the biblical teaching about Jesus of Nazareth.

But the end of verse 23, John goes on to say the positive. Notice, the true Christian confesses that Jesus of Nazareth is the divine Messiah, the Son of God. Look at what he writes at verse 23, "…the one who confesses the Son has the Father (as his Father) also." 'The one,' that means this confession is not a group confession; it's an individual confession, it's one you have to make. And the word that's translated 'confesses' in Greek implies a public confession, in this context, a public confession of certain truths about Jesus. And it's in the present tense, meaning this is the true Christian's continual confession. The true Christian believes in and openly confesses and continues to confess the truth that has been revealed in Scripture about God the Son, who became man, in order to die for us. Notice John says, "The one who makes such a confession, has the Father also." He or she can be confident that he has God as his Father.

Now, careful, remember that this is part of the doctrinal test, we're going to look at the other part next week, Lord willing, and this doctrinal test is one of three tests. However, let me back up. Many of you have been with me through all of 1 John. If you passed the test of obedience, if there is a pattern of obedience to Jesus Christ in your life; and if you passed the test of love, if there is a pattern of love for God and love for others in your life; and if you believe what the Scripture teaches about Jesus and His gospel, you are a Christian. I love that! This isn't pretend assurance. This isn't the kind of assurance you try to work up by looking at the date in the front of your Bible; this is God's assurance to you–pass these tests and you belong to Him. I find such comfort, such joy in that.

So, what are the lessons? Let me give them to you very quickly, "Four Important Lessons from These Verses," four important lessons. Number one, why is this so important? Jesus had to be the God-Man, that is fully God and fully man, to save us from our sins. We're going to get to chapter 4, verse 10, where we read that God's love was expressed in this that "He…sent His Son (Notice His Son existed prior to Bethlehem.). He sent His Son (to become a man in order) to be the propitiation for our sins (to satisfy God's justice for our sins)."

You see, He had to be fully man in order to qualify to live in our place, and to die in our place as our substitute. But He had to be fully God for His death to be of sufficient value to atone for all the sins of all of His people. It's crucial! If a mere human Jesus died on the cross, "We are of all men most to be pitied," not only because of the resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15, but because the death of a human Jesus wouldn't atone for all of us. But He wasn't merely a human Jesus; he was fully human, but He was also fully God. This is the heart of our faith.

Number two, no one who rejects the biblical teaching about the person of Jesus Christ is a true Christian. Nobody who rejects what I've taught you this morning is a true Christian. That's what we've learned in this passage. You cannot have God as your Father unless you believe the right things, these things, about Jesus. So let me be pointed; I don't mean this in a harsh way, but I just want to be straightforward with you. That means that those in liberal Protestant Churches like United Methodist Churches and United Presbyterian Churches and others, who say that Jesus was only a good teacher and a moral example, they are not true Christians, they are antichrists, they are against Christ. Unitarians, who reject the deity of Jesus and the Trinity, they're not Christians. The Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses who show up at your door, who may appear to live good lives, but who reject the full deity of Jesus Christ and the Trinity; they are not Christians, they are antichrists. The oneness Pentecostals, the theological term is modalist, they deny that there is one God eternally existing in three persons. They are not Christians. The Word of Faith teachers who routinely teach heresy about Jesus, they're not Christians. And all of those people in those surveys and around us who say they're Christians but say that the Son of God didn't exist prior to Bethlehem, they're not Christians. In an age of tolerance, I know it sounds very harsh for me to say that. But listen, better for us to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ than tolerant in a false sense.

Number three, you can only know the true God if you confess the biblical Jesus as Lord. John 14:6, "Jesus said… 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one (no single person) comes to the Father but through Me.'" 1 Timothy 2:5, "…there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."

You must confess Jesus! What must you confess about Jesus? Let me give you three things you have to confess. First of all, you have to confess the truth about Jesus's person; that Jesus historically existed and continues to exist as a human person, that He is the divine Messiah promised in the Hebrew scriptures, that He is the eternal Son of God who took on flesh, that He is coequal with the Father and a member of the eternal Trinity. You must confess the truth about Jesus's person.

You must also confess, secondly, the truth about Jesus's work. 1 Corinthians 15:3,

I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ (the divine Messiah, Jesus) died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that then he appeared… (to many).

You must confess the truth about Jesus's work; that is your only hope; it's my only hope of being reconciled to God our Creator.

And thirdly, there's something else you have to confess. It's not enough to confess those factual truths; you must confess, personally, Jesus as your Lord. Romans 10:9-10, here's how Paul put the response to the gospel:

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (You'll be rescued from the penalty your sin deserves.); for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Listen, if you're here this morning, and you don't know Jesus Christ, maybe you don't affirm the truths about Him and His work, or maybe you do affirm the truths, you confess that, "Yes, Jesus is who He claimed, and yes, He did what He said He did, you must confess Him as your Lord. You must repent of your sins and put your trust in Him as Savior and Lord in order for His work to become applied to you, and I plead with you this morning to do that.

Number four, if you deny the truth about Jesus now, when He returns, you will see Him as He really is, and you will discover that He is everything the Scripture says He is, the God-Man. And at that moment, you will be ashamed and eternally ashamed.

Look down at verse 28 of chapter 2, "Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming." Now, don't misunderstand that; those are not true believers, shrinking away at His coming; those are false believers who don't remain in the truth about and their confession of Jesus. They will shrink away at His coming. They will be ashamed, eternally ashamed. And if that describes you, you will be eternally ashamed, separated from God forever. You'll be like those in Revelation, chapter 6:16-17:

And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"

Recognize who He is now, or recognize Him then, but recognize Him you will. For most of us in this room, we have come to confess those things about Jesus; we've confessed His person, we've confessed His work, and we've confessed Him as Lord. And here's what's wonderful, The Lord's Table for us is a way for us to reaffirm our confession of Jesus as Lord.

Take a moment now, bow your head, prepare your heart before we take of The Lord's Table; confess your sin; of course, we've already done that to some extent, but confess and reaffirm your commitment to Jesus as your Savior and Lord, to follow Him, to obey Him, to live in obedience to His Word,

Our Father, for many of us in this room, we say "Amen!" to all that we studied this morning. This is what you, by your grace, have brought us to believe, to confess openly, gladly, joyfully, the person of Jesus, the work of Jesus on our behalf, and to confess Him personally and individually as Lord. Lord, we thank you for your grace; we recognize that we would never have come to truly know you except through Him, that He is the only truth, He is the only way, the only life, that no one comes to you, Father, except through Him. Thank you that, in your grace, you've helped us to see that, and you've brought us through Him to you. And now we own you as Father, we have you as Father.

As we prepare our hearts to take of The Lord's Table, I pray again, Lord, that you would forgive our sins. Help us to freely confess those things that dishonor our Lord. He died to purchase our forgiveness and to take away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Don't let us continue to live in it wantonly, without repentance. Father, forgive and cleanse so that we can remember Him, confess Him afresh as Savior and Lord.

We thank you for the joy of assurance. Lord, we confess that we don't pass these tests perfectly, but by your grace, we can look at our lives and say we do pass them. We do obey our Lord and His Word, we do love you and your people, and we do believe in the biblical Jesus and the biblical gospel. And therefore, we have your assurance that we belong to you.

Lord, thank you, and now, as we take The Lord's Table, receive it as an act of our worship, and as a reaffirmation, oh, God, of our confession of your Son! We pray in His name, Amen.

1 John