"The vocation of the Church," says Wycliffe Hall professor Martin Davie, "is to be a community where as far as possible disagreement does not exist because truth is known, accepted and celebrated."
The church was never intended to be a debating society. Its vocation is, and always has been, to proclaim salvation and forgiveness of sins in and through the name of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Savior, the only name under heaven given among men by which anyone can be saved.
Period. End of story.
No, actually, it is only the beginning of the story.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. (1 John 1:1-4)
Salvation in Jesus Christ is the end of the old life of sin and condemnation under the law—and the beginning of a new life of fellowship with the Father, fellowship with Christ, and fellowship with one another through which is, indeed, made manifest that community where truth—life-giving, life-transforming truth—is known, accepted, and celebrated.
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10)
John’s message is really quite simple: God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
There is a world that is passing away and, along with it, all the temporal pleasures and desires that make it something less than the world God intended. The love of the Father for the world he created endures forever, and that love will abide throughout the world to come. It is the love that already abides in anyone who "walk[s] in the light, as he is in the light." To walk in the light is to have fellowship with God, and to have fellowship with God is to "have fellowship with one another," that is, everyone else who walks in the light and experiences the joy of knowing that "the blood of Jesus, [the Son of God], cleanses [them] from all sin."
By coming into the world, Jesus has shown the way of truth and, by his example of self-giving and self-sacrifice, he has demonstrated that truth cannot exist apart from love. There is no truth and there is no love abiding in anyone who claims to have no sin. In such a person, there is only falsehood and self-deception. Worse yet, to say you are not a sinner is to make God a liar. You cannot enter into the light unless you first acknowledge that you are lost in the darkness—and there is nothing you can do, of your own accord, to make yourself free.
The lame man at the temple gate (Acts 4:5-14) thought he was condemned to a lifetime of begging, until that day when Peter and John looked him in the eye and said, "In the name of Jesus Christ, rise up and walk!"
This was not a "faith healing." For all we know, this man had never even heard of Jesus. But the mere mention of his name brought the man to his feet—and brought many that day to faith in him whose name is the only name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2)
To abide in Christ is "to walk in the light, as he is in the light." It is not always an easy walk. It is fraught with difficulty. It is a walk of selfless, unconditional, sacrificial love.
"If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth," John warns us. "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin."
The light in which we abide is Christ himself.
Truth and love cannot abide apart from one another. Only in Christ are the two made one; and only in Christ may we find salvation and forgiveness of ours sins and walk in the glorious light of his truth and his love.