Abide in the Gospel
By Sara Stoner
“Let that therefore abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father” (I John 2:24). That which was heard from the beginning was the gospel Christ delivered to the apostles to proclaim. We also have heard this same gospel and we also had a beginning in Christ.
What was it that you heard from the beginning? Was it the good news of the gospel that Christ died for your sins according to the scriptures, that He was buried and rose again the third day according to the scriptures, that your sins are taken away, removed from you as far as the east is from the west, and that they are blotted out from God’s remembrance? Did you hear that we have a High Priest, eternal in the heavens that continually intercedes for us by His blood? Or that Jesus came not to destroy men’s lives, but to save them and has delivered us from the wrath to come? Or that He has made peace with God and there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh. Maybe you heard in the beginning that there is a King over the citizens of His kingdom who once were servants to sin and the law, but have been set free from that bondage. Now they are regarded as sons, with all the privileges of sons, even to becoming heirs of that said King. Perhaps at the first you heard that the Father of lights has given the Holy Spirit to all who believe in the Son, and that Spirit dwells within them. If you have heard these things, and more, let them abide in you. Allow them to remain in you. Do not stop these truths from living in you, for they are sure.
Let them remain stable within you; let them anchor your soul. Let them dwell with you as places to live in. Keep them close and dear to you.
Why is it important to do this? John says, “If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father” (I John 2:24 ESV). Keeping the truth alive and well within you assures that you will abide in the Son and in the Father. Abiding in the Son and the Father is necessary to eternal life.
The abiding assures your heart that when Christ comes, you will be ready to receive Him. Others will shrink back from Him and be subject to the wrath of the Lamb. Those abiding in the truth will not shrink back to perdition, but will enter in to the kingdom prepared for those that love Him.
It is important to keep what you have heard from the beginning within you because there are many things in this world and even within us that would distract us from doing this. To keep the truth requires effort and diligence. Like the men working on the wall of Jerusalem in Ezra’s day, we work and watch. We keep our faith built up and watch for our own souls. The nature of this earthly environment requires as much. So does the nature of our vessels, which tend to leak. The apostle wrote to the Hebrews of the greatness of the Son of God, and building on this, warns them: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard lest at any time we should let them slip” (Heb. 2:1). To let slip is to lose one’s grasp on something. Another rendering is for these things to drift away, much as a small boat that is not firmly anchored to the shore. The drifting may be imperceptible at the first, and if not checked has dire consequences. Paul says, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” (Heb. 2:3). Slipping, drifting and neglecting begin in the heart. Therefore, “keep thine heart with all diligence”!
Not only do we have to guard what is within, but also we must be diligent about what we hear from without. If what we hear does not comport with the gospel that was delivered by Lord and the apostles at the beginning, we must not receive it. During John’s time there were already many antichrist’s in the world. Even today, there are many deceivers, emissaries of Satan, who would turn believers away from the simplicity in Christ Jesus. Satan has deceived the whole world and we were once in that number. God forbid that we should return to that state. Christ has given us to not be ignorant of Satan’s devices. Truth, as it is in Christ Jesus and as the scriptures declare, is the measuring rod to be put up against all doctrine and all thinking, whether it comes from within us or outside of us. The apostle John assures us: “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (I John 5:20).
A word about beginnings: beginnings are not to be despised. Each of us had a beginning in Christ that is precious to us. The gospel we heard in the beginning was pure and clear. Knowledge, faith and love must increase from there as more and more of the gospel is understood and received. In the beginning, we may not have understood more than our sins were washed away. We were like the man born blind who could not tell to the satisfaction of the Pharisees exactly how Jesus opened his eyes. But one thing he knew, “that whereas I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25). How precious it was when that first ray of light shone into our darkness and we could see Jesus. How beautiful were the feet of him who proclaimed the gospel of peace to us! That is the gospel we are to keep.