From the Beginning
“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” (1 John 2:24).- 1 John 2:24–25
Earlier this month we noted that one of the benefits of studying several different New Testament books this year is that we are able to see clearly the unified apostolic message. Today’s passage is a good example of this as we will see how John’s understanding of perseverance agrees with that found in the epistles of James and Peter.
When we speak of perseverance, we teach that all those who have been born again will persevere in faith and good works until their deaths. Consequently, and equally important, only those who persevere in faith and good works have been born again (1 John 2:19). The Christian life is not passive or solitary; it is a life lived before others and before the face of God. Our good works never merit a right standing before God, but they inevitably and necessarily demonstrate that this right standing has been imputed to us.
First John 2:24–25 emphasizes the active role that we are to take in our perseverance. Verse 24 tells us we must let what we have heard from the beginning abide in us. It would be easy for us to become passive in our sanctification because of the words of assurance given by the apostle (2:12–14, 21). Being a faithful pastor, John knew true assurance must result in the passionate pursuit of truth and holiness.
We have already seen this teaching in places like James 2:14–26 and 3:13 as well as 1 Peter 1:13–16 and 2 Peter 1:3–11. John emphasizes the importance of right doctrine today while these other passages focus more on right living. However, all students of the Bible know that while we may distinguish these things for the purpose of instruction, true doctrine and right living are inseparable.
And so, as John tells us, we must let what we have heard from the beginning abide in us. This refers to basic apostolic truths like justification by faith alone and the doing of good works that demonstrate this faith. If we want to persevere, if we want to be assured of our right standing before God, then we must tenaciously cling to these truths. We must guard ourselves against anything that would deny these doctrines and hold fast to the word of the prophets and the apostles.
As Christians we must ever be aware of the old, fleshly nature that is always trying to draw us away from life in the Spirit. One of the ways this happens is through doubts about Jesus and the authority of the Word of God. Perseverance requires that we hold fast to these truths with all of our might, knowing we are only able to do so as Jesus enables us. Ask the Lord to make you hold onto His truth, and find a friend who will encourage you to do so.
Passages for Further Study
3 John 3–4