“Word for Today” – 1 John 4 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

November 11, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

Casablanca 1“Beam me up, Scotty.” “It’s elementary, my dear Watson.”  “Let them eat cake.”  “Play it again, Sam.”  Who said each of these quotes?  If you guessed James Kirk, Sherlock Holmes, Marie Antoinette, and Ingrid Bergman, you are incorrect.  These are famous misquotes that, because they have been so often repeated, have become more well known than the real quotes which they parody!  Captain Kirk didn’t say “Beam me up, Scotty,” but “Beam me up, Mr. Scott.”  The quote “It’s elementary, my dear Watson” is found not in a Sherlock Holmes novel, but in a 1929 New York Times film review.  Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat bread,” not cake.  And that oh so famous line uttered by Bergman to Dooley Wilson from Casablanca is, “Play it, Sam.  Play ‘As Time Goes By.’”  She never said, “Play it again, Sam.”

Accurately quoting someone is very important.  That’s why books and articles have footnotes, endnotes, and in-text citations.  Indeed, the value of accurate quotation is what John extols in our reading for today from 1 John 4:

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. (verses 1-3)

John reminds us that to acknowledge Jesus Christ and correct doctrine about him is paramount to the Christian faith.  The Greek word for “acknowledge” is homologeo, meaning, “to speak the same thing as.”  Thus, John is exhorting us to “speak the same thing as” Jesus.  He is exhorting us to faithfully and accurately quote Jesus in all he teaches.

There are three main ways in which Jesus is not homologeo-d in our world.  It is useful to briefly examine each of these.

People speak against what Jesus says.

The first failure to homologeo Jesus constitutes a crass and belligerent rejection of what Jesus has said and done.  For example, when Jesus foretells his suffering and death to his disciples, one of his disciples, named Peter, responds, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22).  Peter is speaking against Jesus’ mission of the cross.  And Jesus’ response is fierce and frank: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23).  We are never to speak against what Jesus says.

People speak part of what Jesus says.

Some people, who are not nearly so bold as to crassly dismiss Jesus’ words, instead subtly undermine his teaching by taking into account only the parts of Jesus’ teaching which comport with an already preconceived world view.  For example, some people may proudly quote Jesus saying, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1), but never read on to see that judgment of sin is allowed, albeit only after a Christian has carefully considered and judged his own sin (cf. Matthew 7:3-5).  What is prohibited in Matthew 7 is rash and hypocritical judgment, not all judgment of sin.  In order to quote Jesus correctly, a person must take all of what Jesus says, not just some of what he says.

People speak arrogantly what Jesus says.

Some people, although they may speak the words of Jesus, refuse to speak them in the spirit which Jesus sepaks them.  In other words, rather than saying the same thing as Jesus from a position of humility and compassion, they say the same thing as Jesus from a position of arrogance and self-righteousness.  As the apostle Peter, himself familiar with the dangers of arrogance, reminds us, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).  We are not only to say what Jesus says, but we are to say it in the way which Jesus says it.

Homologeo-ing Jesus is a sobering mantle.  For it is imperative that we speak Jesus’ words accurately and appropriately.  But speaking Jesus’ words is also a joyous privilege.  For his words bring hope to the hurting, joy to the pained, and even life to the spiritually dead.  With whom can you homologeo Jesus’ words today?

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – 1 John 3 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – 1 John 5 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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