John’s emphasis had always been on truth and light. Knowledge, for the proto-gnostics, was seen as the way to truth and light. They crowned Jesus as a savior through the knowledge and enlightenment he brings, rather than the outworking of his love as the creator God. As John wraps up his first letter, he has tackled numerous points of contention stemming from these heresies. Now he rests his case on the issue of salvation. Jesus is salvation. The difference between that and those invoking the name of Christ may be subtle, but the truth is massive. It is not the knowledge that Christ enables that frees us. That is merely a benefit. Instead, it is Christ actively working in your life that saves you from your sins. Submission to that active participation in your life by the God of all creation has a real-world effect and material benefit. Our very love is dependent upon it. For those taken with gnostic heresies, this idea was monumental. A relationship with Jesus brought life, not merely an opportunity for life. Moreover, it is this relationship that brings actual knowledge or gnosis. There is no illumination without Jesus. There is no Jesus without all of himself. His truth cannot be piecemealed into what we want of him. Otherwise, we make him into a reflection of the very self that needs so-called “enlightenment.” We must accept the whole Jesus, then our enlightenment and our life will be sure. Too many Christians, lack surety of their salvation and love in their relationships precisely because they have chosen to only take part in some of the gospel. We must be bold in claiming the whole truth.
This post first appeared at JoshMcGary.com