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1 John is mostly for tribulation Jews (Ray Comfort and Paul Washer’s Favorite Books)

The book of 1 John is used by lordship salvationists such as Ray Comfort and Paul Washer. 1 John shows what a saved Christian will do. If one doesn’t do all these things, then one is not really saved. That’s what Ray Comfort and Paul Washer teach, but it’s not the truth. It is a heresy promoted by influential “leaders” who don’t know how to rightly divide and interpret Scripture. 

Let’s look at the Scriptures they love to use the most and debunk their arguments with their own chosen Scriptures. 

1 John 2:4: “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

1 John 2:9-11: “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.”

1 John 2:28-29: “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.”

1 John 3:6-7: “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.”

1 John 3:10: “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”

1 John 3:14-15: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”

All of these verses are showing what a saved person would do. This type of mindset makes people very fearful of whether they are saved or not. Instead of relying on the assurance of their salvation through the atoning work of Jesus, they start to obsess over every sin in their life and wondering if it has cost them their salvation. This is not the kind of life we have been called to live!

Ray Comfort uses verses like these to make people question and doubt their salvation. It might sound from these verses that it’s possible to lose one’s salvation. But that’s not true! When these verses are presented in this way and not rightly divided, these kinds of heretical teachings are what results. 

These influential but misguided teachers take these verses out of context by making the people they influence to believe that these verses relate to them. But that’s not true. These verses are not written for church-age Christians: they are written for the Christians of the tribulation era. 

1 John 5 talks a lot about believing but continues with works. In 1 John, it’s impossible to separate faith from works. We teach dispensational salvation which is as the following:

  • The Old Testament is all about faith and works. 
  • The church age is all about faith alone without works. 
  • The Tribulation era is all about faith and works. 
  • The millennium is works only. 

1 John is a tribulation epistle: it talks about faith AND works. 1 John 2:18 says, “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” Note, he says the LAST time. This is a phrase used as a tribulation reference. He also specifically mentions the Anti-Christ, who will be present at the tribulation. John is trying to make very clear the context in which he is writing, which is the end times.

Galatians 2:9: “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” 

1 John 2 and Galatians 2 both show that 1 John has both Jewish and tribulation application.

1 John also applies to Christians.

1 John 5:11-13: “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

Here, John is also making clear that this passage is referring to those who proclaim Jesus as Lord. This is not the only place John clearly distinguishes his audience.

1 John 2:1-2: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

This may sound contradictory to what he was writing in previous chapters, but it’s not: his audience has merely changed. That is all.

John goes on to write how God looks at our spiritual nature, not our flesh. 

1 John 3:9: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” 

This is obviously a message for church age Christians. 

One verse can also be split into two different time periods as in the following example.

Isaiah 61:1-2: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.”

Compare to Luke 4 where Jesus reads this passage from Isaiah 61. One is split to the first advent of Christ, the other to the second advent. Jesus divided and stopped in the middle of verse two, believing that that part was talking to His time period while the rest of the verse was speaking to another. That kind of system is how the Bible is built. This is why we believe so strongly in dispensationalism

Why would John write like that? His ministry was to Jews, and he was talking to them about the tribulation. He learned that doctrine from Jesus’ ministry before He died on the cross. Jesus’ preaching was a lot about the tribulation to a Jewish audience. That’s why John taught a lot of tribulation and Jewish things. But was John only ministering to Jews? No, he was also ministering to Gentile churches. That’s why he has a double application in his teachings. 

The double application is to tribulation Jews and Christians.