Mark 2 – Biblical Theology – Part 2
18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.
In this passage the Apostle John clearly warns us that in the last hour, i.e. the time between the Cross and the Lord’s return, that there would be many Antichrists. These Antichrists are John’s description for the opponents of Christ and their false teaching, which is in opposition to the apostolic eyewitness testimony about who Jesus is (cf. 1:1–4). The greater context indicates that they abandoned the true gospel because they departed from the fellowship, having denied the faith (God’s truth regarding Christ) and that their goal is to confuse the faithful.
In contrast to the antichrists are the Anointed, those who have been chosen by God and indwelled with the Holy Spirit. As the anointed we are His possession and thus, because we are His children, we are christ’s in this world. Not only are we uniquely set apart, but we have all been given unique knowledge which He wants us to lean on and live by.
It is to this body of “knowledge” about the Godhead (Father, Son & Holy Spirit) that we now turn: Who He is, What He has done, How He has done it and What He expects of us.
The Need for Biblical Theology
The question we must ask at the beginning of this discussion is this: “How do we distinguish ourselves from the cults, false teachers and anemic Christians?” How are we different from…Mormons, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Bahai, Unitarians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindu’s, etc.
As we seek to answer that question please understand that it isn’t what we have in common that marks who we are but rather it is where we are different. Think about it this way:
- How would all those different groups describe God?
- How would they describe Jesus Christ?
- How would they describe the plight of man?
- How would they describe the solution to man’s fallen condition?
- How would they say we should live to please God?
Would you not agree with me that the answers to those questions would be far different?
Next however, many of those groups would say something like this: “Well, we may disagree on some points, but we are all Bible based in our beliefs.” But friends, it is not enough to simply say, “We are Bible Based believers”! Listen to the wisdom of Martin Lloyd-Jones on this topic…
Most of the cults which are so prominent in the world today claim that they are based upon the Bible. ‘Of course,’ they say, ‘we believe everything that the Bible says; our teaching is based upon it.’ Indeed, you will find that some of these people appear to know their Bibles very well. So it is no use just saying to them that you do not believe as they do because you believe the Bible. We must know how doctrine is to be found in the Bible if we hope to deliver these people in any way at all, if we are anxious to make them true Christians and to bring them to a real knowledge of God. We must be in a position to explain to them where they go wrong and where they are not biblical, and to help them to understand the source of their error. (Martin Lloyd-Jones, pg. 35)
Mark Dever also shares some helpful insights here…
“Today people believe to be true simply what they desire to be true.” Dever
“Long-held Christian beliefs about everything from the nature of God to morality have been reshaped and have been jettisoned in the name of making Christianity more relevant, more palatable, more acceptable to today’s hearer.” Dever pg. 58
Now friends, I think that Lloyd-Jones and Dever are absolutely right in their assessment. Our view of God, our understanding of Biblical themes and doctrines is critical to our growth in Christ and to how we live our lives for His glory.
So, I ask the question again…”What makes us stand apart from all these different religions?” The answer is rather simple, but extremely important…
- “We take Theology seriously.”
Now, that answer is dependent on our seriousness and our willingness to be diligent in pursuing theology as an ongoing activity of our daily walk with God. Sadly, however, there is apathy among believers today regarding “theology” as if “theology” is a discipline held exclusively for Pastors and experts. But, that kind of thinking runs contrary to the teaching of Scripture.
Listen, If I ask you to tell me about Jesus and your answer is, “Jesus is Love! He is the great example for us to follow. He inspires us to live our lives using our gifts to do good to others and to leave a legacy for others to follow,” here is what I would say. “Regardless of whether that sentence is biblically true or not, you have just given me a theology. You have formulated a doctrine of understanding about Who Jesus is.” Friends, that is doctrine…that is theology. Everybody has a theology, right wrong or confused!
I am encouraged again by Martin Lloyd-Jones’ words…
How are these doctrines to be found in the Bible? How is one to discover them? Now that is no idle question, as I think I can show you very easily. But it is never enough to say, ‘I am not interested in doctrines. I’m a Bible person. Let these clever people argue about doctrines if they like; you give me the Bible and I am satisfied.’ That is a very foolish (ouch), indeed, a ridiculous (yikes), statement to make, because people who come to the Bible must believe something as the result of reading it. The question is: Are they believing what they ought to believe? (parenthetical commentary is mine) (Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (1996). God the Father, God the Son (p 35). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.)
So, let’s first define the word “Theology”. It comes from two Greek words – “theos” & “logos” which together mean “The Study of God.” We can broaden the topic by saying that everything contained in the Bible is “about God”, so as we study the Bible we are studying God. That study is also called “teaching” or “doctrine”.
Listen to what the Apostle Paul says to both Titus and Timothy in his Pastoral Epistles about the word “sound” as it complements the words, “doctrine, teaching, faith, etc. The word “Sound” means reliable, accurate or faithful. At its root it is an image from the medical world meaning “to be whole or healthy”.
the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, ” (1 Timothy 1:10, ESV)
If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, ” (1 Timothy 6:3, ESV)
Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. ” (2 Timothy 1:13, ESV)
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, ” (2 Timothy 4:3, ESV)
He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. ” (Titus 1:9, ESV)
This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, ” (Titus 1:13, ESV)
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. ” (Titus 2:1–2, ESV)
So, Paul is all about theology being present in the church in teaching, in living and as the basis for church and family life.
More to come…