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CHRIST IN THE FLESH –
THE VERSE MODERN BIBLES MISTRANSLATE!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, May 23, 2010

“Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God” (I John 4:2-3).


Modern translations of the Bible have stripped this text of its power. It was written by the Apostle John to combat the heresy of incipient Gnosticism – which rejected the fact that Christ “is” in the flesh. But the modern translations changed “is” to “has” – thus destroying the power of the text to answer false teachings of the cults and liberals today.

Dr. Norman Geisler quotes J. A. Schep as saying that “eleluthota” in I John 4:2 is a perfect participle, which means “not only that Jesus Christ came in the fulness of time clothed with flesh, but that he is thus still present…He is the Christ who is come, who came and who abides [remains] in the flesh” (J. A. Schep, The Nature of the Resurrection Body, Eerdmans, 1964, pp. 71-72; quoted in Norman L. Geisler, The Battle for the Resurrection, Wipf and Stock, 1992 edition, p. 222, note 17). Dr. Geisler said, “In this passage he uses the perfect tense, meaning, Jesus came in the flesh in the past and remains in the flesh, even though John wrote this well after the resurrection and ascension of Christ” (Geisler, ibid., p. 164). Dr. R. C. H. Lenski said that “eleluthota” means “once incarnate and remaining so [perfect participle]” (R. C. H. Lenski, D.D., The First Epistle of John, Augsburg Publishing House, 1966 edition, p. 488). The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown commentary (Eerdmans, 1976 edition, p. 640; note on I John 4:2) says, “He is come [eleluthota, perfect, not a mere past historical fact, but present, and continuing in its blessed effects] in the flesh.”

It is a shame that the modern translations in English obscure this important truth. The NIV puts it “has come.” So does the NASV.  Even the New King James wrongly translates it "has come."  But since the Greek word is a perfect participle, our King James Bible is the only popular English version that translates this profoundly important verse correctly,

“Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” (I John 4:2).

Why is that important? For one reason, it is important because the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the New Age cults deny that Jesus’ physical body rose from the grave. They have said, “Jesus was put to death in the flesh and was resurrected an invisible spirit creature” (Rutherford, “Let God Be True,” p. 122). To the Jehovah’s Witnesses, “Jesus was not raised in the body in which He died. He rose in another body, one that was immaterial” (Geisler, ibid., p. 83). Herbert W. Armstrong said, “Christ’s body disappeared. Christ was raised as a divine spirit being” (“If You Die, Will You Live Again,” p. 6). Eastern mysticism and the New Age cults usually maintain that Jesus’ resurrection body “is essentially invisible and immaterial” (Geisler, ibid., p. 86). In neo-orthodox Protestantism there is also a denial of Christ’s literal, physical resurrection. Dr. George Eldon Ladd, of Fuller Theological Seminary, said that Christ’s resurrection “was not a revivification of a dead corpse, returning to physical life” (Geisler, ibid., p. 94). Dr. Murray Harris of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School taught that Jesus’ body was “changed into a spiritual mode of being” (Geisler, ibid., p. 97). Thus, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Herbert W. Armstrong, Eastern mysticism, the New Age cults, and neo-orthodox Protestantism all have this in common – none of them believe that “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” (I John 4:2). All of them think that Jesus’ resurrection was that of a spirit, not the actual resurrection of Jesus’ corpse.

Now, our text tells us where this teaching originates, “try the spirits whether they are of God” (I John 4:1). Dr. Gaebelein’s commentary says, “The warning is not against those who ‘feign’ the Spirit’s presence, but against genuine evil spirits inspiring…the false prophets” (Frank E. Gaebelein, D.D., General Editor, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Zondervan Publishing House, 1981, volume 12, p. 340; note on I John 4:1). Thus, I conclude that the teaching that Jesus did not rise physically from the dead is one of the “doctrines of devils” spoken of in I Timothy 4:1.

“Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God” (I John 4:2-3).

Why does Satan hate the doctrine of Christ’s literal, physical resurrection? Why does Satan send evil spirits to pull men’s minds away from Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead? I will suggest several reasons.

I. First, Christ’s physical resurrection proves that He is the Son of God.

Romans 1:4 said that Jesus is,

“…declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).

Dr. Henry M. Morris said, “Christ’s bodily resurrection…is the crowning proof that He is, indeed the eternal and unique Son of God” (The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishing, 1995 edition, p. 1229; note on Romans 1:4). Dr. John R. Rice said,

Miracles did not prove the deity of Christ. Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, Peter, Paul, and others performed miracles by the power of God. None of the miracles of Jesus were intended to prove His deity…The sign of Christ’s deity is His resurrection from the dead…The proof of His deity is given… in Romans 1:3, 4… “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” Jesus Christ was “declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead.” Since the resurrection of Christ from the dead is the one miracle that proves His deity, we can understand why Romans 10:9 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” An acceptance of the deity of Christ is essential to saving faith, and the resurrection is the divine proof of His deity (John R. Rice, D.D., The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1974 edition, pp. 12-14).

Commenting on Romans 10:9, Dr. Geisler said, “Belief in the resurrection [of Christ] is laid down by Paul as a condition for salvation” (Geisler, ibid., pp. 172-173). The Bible teaches that Christ came in the flesh, and remains (perfect participle) in the flesh after His resurrection. No one can be saved who rejects Christ’s physical resurrection, for it is given as a condition of salvation in Romans 10:9.

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).

“Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God” (I John 4:2-3).

II. Second, Christ’s physical resurrection is an essential part of the Gospel.

The Apostle Paul laid out “the gospel” in I Corinthians 15:1-4. He said we “are saved” by believing the Gospel (v. 2). Then he laid out the points of the Gospel,

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3-4).

Liberal theologian Rudolf Bultmann believed that Christ died, but he called Christ’s resurrection “a myth” (Geisler, ibid., p. 90). Thus, Bultmann denied half of the Gospel!

I believe that Richard Nixon was a far better President than the left-wing media made him appear. I have always admired his fortitude and tenacity, and I still do. His biographer, Jonathan Aitken, called Nixon “America’s finest foreign policy president of the twentieth century” (Jonathan Aitken, Nixon: A Life, Regnery, 1993, p. 577). I completely agree, and I respected him greatly. A photograph of the President hangs in my office. But I do not think Billy Graham was right when he spoke of Nixon as a born again Christian at his funeral. Why do I say that? Because President Nixon did not believe in the resurrection of Christ. He wrote about rejecting Christ’s resurrection in a college paper, and he never changed his opinion (see Aitken, ibid., p. 57). In 1978, in his book RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon (Grosset and Dunlap, p. 16) Nixon said, “…the resurrection story is a myth, but symbolically it teaches the great lesson that men who achieve the highest values in their lives may gain immortality.” Not only does that statement teach salvation by works, it also denies the physical resurrection of Christ, calling it “a myth.” No, Nixon was not a born again Christian, and Billy Graham was wrong to proclaim him as one. Like Rudolf Bultmann, Nixon rejected half of the Gospel,

“…and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:4).

The Apostle Paul made clear the condition of those who reject Christ’s physical resurrection,

“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (I Corinthians 15:17).

Christ came in the flesh, and remains (perfect participle) in the flesh. No one can be a real Christian who rejects the resurrection of Christ’s flesh!

“Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God” (I John 4:2-3).

III. Third, Christ’s physical resurrection is essential for our justification.

Dr. Geisler said, “Without Christ’s bodily resurrection there is no salvation…For He ‘was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification’ – Romans 4:25” (Geisler, ibid., p. 30). Dr. Rice said,

Christ’s resurrection from the dead was essential to our justification. The [Christian] is justified, by which we mean that legally he is counted innocent and just…One who believes in Christ is counted just…Romans 4:25 says,

“Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification”…

Christ died to pay for our sins…He was raised from the dead for our justification. Christ, having died and risen again, is the perpetual witness that sin has been paid for…and that the believing sinner has a right to be classed as just before God, for Christ’s sake. The justification of a sinner depends upon Christ’s resurrection” (Rice, ibid., pp. 27-28).

“Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God” (I John 4:2-3).

The perfect participle of “eleluthota” is translated correctly by the word “is” in the King James Bible. I am glad it does not say “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.” If it was in the past tense, as the modern translations have it, He might be dead now! Thank God He “is” risen! I am glad that is so! If it were not so, we might have a dead Christ. I am glad He is not dead!

“He is risen, as he said” (Matthew 28:6).

I am glad that He is alive, because only a living Saviour could save us and keep us saved! Hebrews 7:25 says it all!

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

I am glad that He “is come in the flesh!” Because He “is come” He is alive, at the right hand of God, interceding for us, praying for us, saving us “to the uttermost!” And our ever-resurrected Saviour says to us,

“Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:17-18).

But I must bring out one more point this morning.

IV. Fourth, Christ’s physical resurrection is essential to His Second Coming.

“This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him”
       (Revelation 1:7).

That is the consummation of our salvation! That is our blessed hope! That is the Second Coming of Christ!

He is coming again, He is coming again,
   The very same Jesus, rejected of men;
He is coming again, He is coming again,
   With power and great glory, He is coming again!
(“He Is Coming Again” by Mabel Johnston Camp, 1871-1937).

“The very same Jesus” is coming again – back from Heaven, back to this earth, back to set up His Kingdom for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1-6)! He is coming again! The very same Jesus rejected of men! With power and great glory, He is coming again!

“Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God” (I John 4:2-3).

Jesus is alive in His resurrected flesh and bone body right now! The risen Christ said, “Handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).

He has shed His precious Blood to cleanse us from all sin. He has died on the Cross to make a full payment for our sins. He has risen from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of God, up in Paradise! (Luke 23:43). Come to Jesus and He will pardon your sins and give you eternal life! Confess “that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.” Come to Him! He loves you! He will pardon your sins and give you life!

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.comcom. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: I John 4:1-3.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Lift Up, Lift Up Your Voices Now” (by John M. Neale, 1818-1866).


THE OUTLINE OF

CHRIST IN THE FLESH –
THE VERSE MODERN BIBLES MISTRANSLATE!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God” (I John 4:2-3).

(I John 4:1; I Timothy 4:1)

I.   First, Christ’s physical resurrection proves that He is the Son of God,
Romans 1:4; 10:9.

II.  Second, Christ’s physical resurrection is an essential part of the Gospel,
I Corinthians 15:1-4, 17.

III. Third, Christ’s physical resurrection is essential for our justification,
Romans 4:25; Matthew 28:6; Hebrews 7:25; Revelation 1:17-18.

IV. Fourth, Christ’s physical resurrection is essential to His Second Coming,
Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7; Luke 24:39.