It is so hard to imagine life in the early church, and probably even harder to imagine life in a gentile city. As a gentile, you were not raised with the hope of a coming Messiah. You likely worshipped a Greek god or goddess at the local temple. All of a sudden, a disciple, or maybe even the Apostle John himself, comes to town and proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ to you. From that moment, you receive the free gift of salvation. You are radically changed and are ready to take the next steps. You sit under John’s teaching for as long as he is in town, but the time comes for him to leave.
What is next? You try to spread the Gospel yourself, and it does not go as smoothly as you hoped. You just do not have the words right, as John did. The questions are confusing, and you do not know how to answer them. You cannot hop online and find out, you cannot get John on the telephone over in Ephesus, and unless you have one of the few, if not the only, hard copies of the Book of John in town, there is no obvious way to figure out what is what. False teaching, Gnosticism (knowledge-seeking), and other heresies are attempting to chip away at the foundations of your faith.
This is what John is writing about in 1 John 2:24-29, “Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life. I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.”
Who has been teaching you lately? Who are you letting speak into your life? Often times, we look for the answers we want to hear or the answers that make sense to us at the time. We will try to fix things on our own, in our own power. If we develop this mindset, we can so easily deceive ourselves into thinking that, on our own, we can earn or maintain our salvation. We must always remember that it is a “free gift” (Romans 6:23). Eternal life is the promise of God that John points out in these verses. Paul also stated this in Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
When you first heard the Gospel, and you responded to it, you then received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9). John says that we abide in the Spirit so “that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.” Have the confidence that only comes when you abide in the Holy Spirit today!