Today’s reading: 1 John 1
Today we begin the first letter of John. There are two apologetic points in the first chapter.
First, note that John says that fellowship with the Apostles is important:
… we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3
Thus, John is not teaching a “me and Jesus” gospel. Often there is a false binary choice set up. Protestants argue that if you have a relationship with Jesus you don’t need anything else, least of all a Church. John rejects this. He’s telling his readers that by being in a relationship with the Apostles they enter into a relationship with the Father and the Son. As always, things like this are in scripture for a reason. I think it’s doesn’t make sense to suggest that this is in scripture just as a historical footnote into how things were when the Apostles were alive. For this to be applicable in our lives now it implies that there must be people whose work/role is similar to the Apostles. That suggests Apostolic Succession and confirms our understanding of the role of the bishops.
Next, John mentions confession:
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10
This passage calls into question many Protestant talking points. First, John is writing to Christians. These people are already saved. However, John is warning them against the idea that because they are Christians it does not mean they no longer have sins. John is sayings that even a Christian can have new serious sins on their conscience. This opposes the Protestant ideas of “once saved, always saved” and that Jesus sacrifice automatically forgives all sins, “past, present, and future”.
Second, the verse says, “IF”. Thus, why salvation is a free gift from God, it’s clear that forgiveness of sins is conditioned on repentance. Again, refuting the idea that there is nothing we need to do for our salvation except faith.
Third, it is required that we “confess” our sins. While this passage doesn’t explicitly require confession to a priest, it is consistent with it. The passage also implies that if we do not confess our sins, then we will not be forgiven. This again is directly opposed to the idea of “once saved, always saved”.
Tomorrow: 1 John 2