1 John 4:1-6.
In the final verse of the preceding chapter John assured his readers that they could know that God lives in them by the Spirit that he has given to them. The early church was very aware of something to which contemporary Christian society pays little attention, and that is the world of spirits, angelic and demonic, in which we live. Such suggestions are acknowledged today, but usually with a certain embarrassed reticence. John continues his letter distinguishing between the false prophets that deny the incarnate Christ (v. 2) and the local believers who have correctly understand the truth as they received it. John writes that they have overcome these false teachers because the Spirit that dwells in them is greater than the spirit of antichrist that has led others away from the truth.
John goes on to point out that the believers have come out victorious because “the one who is in them is greater than the one who is in the world” (v. 4). This sets the stage for an important distinction between the world and the children of God. Assumptions are crucial. Where one begins determines to a great extent where one ends. The false prophets “speak from the standpoint of the world (v. 5) and the believers speak from a new perspective (v. 6). That is why the “world listens to them” while believers “listen to us” (vv. 5, 6). It is still the same: the secular mind relies on what others like themselves think and say, while the believer accepts the world-view of scripture.
Assumptions are where we start in our desire to understand the crucial issues of life. For example, the scientific method begins with the assumption that in the natural world, what is was not the result of something outside of nature. Simply put, God cannot exist because that would bring an unknowable into the equation. Everything has a simple this world explanation. Note however, that the absence of something from without is an assumption, an act of faith that escapes logic. By contrast the believer holds that God exists outside our material universe and has a causal relationship to everything that is. It too is an assumption, so the question is which assumption leads to a coherent argument for truth. Dr. Carnel, former theologian at Fuller Seminary, used to say that you evaluate your assumptions on (1) inner coherence, and (2) how well they answer to life as you experience it.
Francis Collins is a physician geneticist who was in charge of the famous Human Geonome Project. In a public lecture I heard this remarkable man tell of his work in science and his turn to faith in God. In his earlier days he simply assumed God was not a necessary part of reality as he experienced it. One day he realized to his surprise that while he had always studied the data before coming to a conclusion (the scientific method), he had not done that with religion. So he began looking into the basis for faith in God as revealed through Jesus Christ and before long became an evangelical Christian. A remarkably honest man applied the scientific method to the Christian faith and came to believe. I mention this as an example of the importance of due consideration to the initial assumptions with which every person begins to structure their understanding of life. You will remember that in verse 5 and 6 false prophets and believers begin at two different points, the mind-set of the world and the new perspective that includes the supernatural. Where one begins largely defines where a person will end. Faith includes the supernatural and turns out to be a better review of life in all its possible dimensions.