1740.) 1 John 5

January 1, 2016

Another John!  John Wesley (1703-1791) was a pietist, preacher, and pioneer of Methodism who is known not only for his organizational skills, but also for his ability to convict believers of their need to live a sanctified Christian life.

1 John 5 (New Living Translation)

Faith in the Son of God

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God.

John has often mentioned being born of God (as in 1 John 2:29, 3:9, and 4:7). Here he tells us how one is born of God: whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ. This means believing that Jesus is my Messiah, not just the Messiah in the generic sense.

John’s great emphasis has been on love, but he never wants anyone to believe he earns salvation by loving others. We are born of God when we put our trust on Jesus and on His saving work in our lives.

We also understand that John was not talking about a mere intellectual assent to Jesus being Messiah (as even the demons might have, as described in James 2:19). Instead, he means a trust in and reliance on Jesus as Messiah.

Additionally, John makes it plain we must believe Jesus is the Christ. There are many, of a new-age sort of thinking, who believe Jesus had the “Christ-spirit” — as they claim also Confucius, Muhammad, Buddha and certain moderns did. But we would never say Jesus is one of several Christ figures — Jesus is the Christ.

–David Guzik

And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. 2 We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. 3 Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.

When I was small I used to think that, if I wanted very much to do a thing, that thing was probably wrong. And if I didn’t want to do it, it was probably right.

That is not quite fair to God, for “his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3), not heavy and burdensome.

–Amy Carmichael

4 For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. 5 And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

6 And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross—not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with his testimony. 7 So we have these three witnesses—8 the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and all three agree. 9 Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son. 10 All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son.

11 And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.

Genesis 2:7 tells us that when God had formed the first man from the dust of the earth, he breathed into him the breath of life, and the man lived.

The psalmist says, “For with you is the fountain of life” (Psalm 36:9).

John says of Jesus, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

Peter, in speaking to the Jews of Jerusalem in the temple says, “You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead” (Acts 3:15).

Jesus himself said, “I am the resurrection and the life . . . and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).

To his enemies, Jesus said, “You refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:40).

God is the source of life.  The alternative to communion with him is death.

–Dennis F. Kinlaw

Conclusion

13 I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.

John’s confidence is impressive. He wants us to know that we have eternal life. We can only know this if our salvation rests in Jesus and not in our own performance. If it depends on me, then on a good day I’m saved and on a bad day, I don’t really know. But if it depends on what Jesus has done for me, then I can know.

–David Guzik

14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. 15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.

16 If you see a Christian brother or sister sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life.

When we see a brother or sister in sin, John tells us the first thing to do is to pray for that person. All too often, prayer is the last thing we do, or the smallest thing we do in regard to that person having a difficult time. Surely, we love each other best when we pray for each other.


from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers

HEEDFULNESS V. HYPOCRISY IN OURSELVES

If we are not heedful of the way the Spirit of God works in us, we will become spiritual hypocrites.  We see where other folks are failing, and we turn our discernment into the gibe of criticism instead of into intercession on their behalf.  The revelation is made to us not through the acuteness of our minds, but by the direct penetration of the Spirit of God, and if we are not heedful of the source of the revelation, we will become criticizing centres and forget that God says — ‘. . . he shall ask, and He shall give him life for them that sin not unto death.”  Take care lest you play the hypocrite by spending all your time trying to get others right before you worship God yourself.

One of the subtlest burdens God ever puts on us as saints is this burden of discernment concerning other souls.  He reveals things in order that we may take the burden of these souls before Him and form the mind of Christ about them, and as we intercede on His line, God says He will give us “life for them that sin not unto death.”  It is not that we bring God into touch with our minds, but that we rouse ourselves until God is able to convey His mind to us about the one for whom we intercede.

Is Jesus Christ seeing the travail of his soul in us?  He cannot unless we are so identified with Himself that we are roused up to get His view about the people for whom we pray.  May we learn to intercede so whole-heartedly that Jesus Christ will be abundantly satisfied with us as intercessors.

But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it. 17 All wicked actions are sin, but not every sin leads to death.

18 We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. 19 We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.

20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God.  And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.

John 17:3

This is eternal life, to know thee, the only true God,
and him whom thou hast sent, Jesus Christ.

21 Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.

We can only have a real relationship with the God who is really there! Idolatry, whether obvious (praying to a statue) or subtle (living for your career or someone other than God) will always choke out a real relationship with God, and damage our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Jesus. No wonder John ends with keep yourselves from idols; this is how we protect our relationship with God.

–David Guzik

The End of 1 John

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Music:

John Wesley’s brother, Charles, was a prolific hymn writer.  One of my favorites from the Wesley collection is sung  HERE  by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir — “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.”

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I hope you have enjoyed this week and the Scriptures that point over and over again to the LOVE of God that is so graciously given to us and that we can cheerfully share with others. If you have been particularly touched by anything from 1 John, please share it with us.  Just hit Reply/Comment below!  And next week we are back in the thick of the Old Testament, picking up with Hannah praying for a child in 1 Samuel.

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New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
John Wesley.    http://www.speakerscornertrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/John-Wesley2.jpg
little girl pouting.    http://gailbhyatt.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/pouting-little-girl-istock_000006840535xsmall5.jpg
First man Adam and Perfect man Christ.    http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/files/2012/09/creating_adam.jpeg
praying hands.     http://www.banah.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/praying-hands.jpg
Jesus and eternal life; artwork by Richard Judson Zolan.    http://art-canyon.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/eternal-life.jpg

 


1739. 1 John 4

December 31, 2015

Another John! John Milton (1608-1674) is generally regarded as one of the greatest thinkers and writers in the world. By his mid-twenties he had read everything published in English, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, and Italian! His most famous work is “Paradise Lost,” an epic poem with this assigned purpose:  to “justify the ways of God to man.” It was composed when Milton was blind.

1 John 4 (New Living Translation)

Discerning False Prophets

1 Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. 2 This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. 3 But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.

True prophecy, and true teaching, will present a true Jesus. In John’s day, the issue was about if Jesus had truly come in a real body of flesh and blood. Many Gnostic-influenced teachers said that Jesus, being God, could not have actually become a flesh and blood human being, because God could have no partnership with “impure” material stuff.

Today, some groups deny that Jesus is really God (such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Muslims). But way back in John’s day, in this time closest to the actual life and ministry of Jesus on this earth, people didn’t have a hard time believing Jesus was God. They had a hard time believing that he was a real man. This false teaching said Jesus was truly God (which is correct), but really a “make-believe” man.

We are passionate about saying, “Jesus is God,” and we should be. But it is no less important to say, “Jesus is a man,” because both the deity and humanity of Jesus are essential to our salvation.

–David Guzik

4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

Oh, read verse 4 again and take assurance! Take courage! Take peace!

5 Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. 6 But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.

He that has light within his own clear breast
May sit in the centre, and enjoy bright day:
But he that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts
Benighted walks under the mid-day sun;
Himself his own dungeon.

–John Milton

Loving One Another

7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

“God is love.”  This little sentence brought St. John more sweetness, even in the time he was writing it, than the whole world can bring.  God is often styled holy, righteous, wise; but not holiness, righteousness, or wisdom in the abstract, as he is said to be love; intimating that this is his darling, his reigning attribute, the attribute that sheds an amiable glory on all his other perfections.

–John Wesley

9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.


12
No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

The love John speaks of comes from the ancient Greek word agape; it is the concept of a self-giving love that gives without demanding or expecting re-payment. It is the God-kind of love.

13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. 14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

John has just given us a beautiful picture of the Trinity at work.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 19 We love each other because he loved us first.

20 If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21 And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.

Love regulated by the other person’s response is no love at all.

–Moishe Rosen, founder of Jews for Jesus

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Music:

HERE  is “The Love of God”  by Mercy Me.

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New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
John Milton.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/john-milton1.jpg
lemonade stand.    http://www.hrcoc.com/htm/desk/images/1john4_11.jpg
God is love.    http://churchfun.com/images/wp/God-is-love.jpg
God loves you this much.    http://www.gracebaptistsperry.org/images/God%27s%20Love.jpg

 


1738.) 1 John 3

December 30, 2015

Another John! Pope John XXIII (1881-1963) called the Second Vatican Council which brought sweeping reformation to the Catholic church — changes that, among other things, placed a stronger emphasis on ecumenism and fidelity to the Gospel.

1 John 3 (New Living Translation)

1 See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!

John 1:12   (NKJV)

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.

Who calls us the children of God?

  • The Father does (“I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty,” 2 Corinthians 6:18)
  • The Son does (He is not ashamed to call them brethren, Hebrews 2:11)
  • The Spirit does (The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, Romans 8:16)

–David Guzik

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Music:

HERE  is “(We Are) The Children of God”  by Steven Curtis Chapman.

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But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. 2 Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.

What will we see when we see Jesus? John describes a vision he had of Jesus in heaven:

Revelation 1:13-16   (The Living Bible)

And standing among them was one who looked like Jesus, who called himself the Son of Man, wearing a long robe circled with a golden band across his chest. His hair was white as wool or snow, and his eyes penetrated like flames of fire. His feet gleamed like burnished bronze, and his voice thundered like the waves against the shore. He held seven stars in his right hand and a sharp, double-bladed sword in his mouth, and his face shone like the power of the sun in unclouded brilliance.

3 And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.

4 Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. 5 And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. 6 Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.

John is not speaking here of living a perfect, sinless life. He has already reminded earlier (1:8) that “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Here he means a continued lifestyle of habitual sin. In other words, we are not to make excuses for ourselves that we are weak in this one area or prone to that fault. Rather, we are to face our sins and call them sins, ask for forgiveness, and work to fight against it with the power Jesus will give.

7 Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous.

8 But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. 9 Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. 10 So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.

Believers can live lives characterized by righteousness, not sin, because we have been given the righteousness of Jesus.

Love One Another

11 This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”

–John Wesley

12 We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous. 13 So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.

14 If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. 15 Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.

16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?

I have looked into your eyes with my eyes. I have put my heart near your heart.

–Pope John XXIII, calling his listeners to show Christ-like mercy

18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

from Echoings from the Bible in Literature,
by J. Ruth Stenerson

“I like not only to be loved, but also to be told that I am loved.  I am not sure that you are of the same kind.  But the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave.  This is the world of light and speech, and I shall take leave to tell you that you are very dear.”

–George Eliot, “Letter to Mrs. Burnes-Jones,” May 11, 1875

Have you noticed how often truths are found in what seem to be almost opposite statements—in dichotomies? “That artificial rose is so beautiful it almost looks real,” we say, and then are surprised to hear someone else say, “The rose on that bush is so beautiful it almost looks artificial.” There is validity in both statements.

We sometimes pose the same kind of paradox in relation to aspects of our Christian faith. “Your actions speak so loudly I cannot hear what you way,” says one, only to hear another say in turn, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,” as someone else says, “If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’ . . .  you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

There is one side of another paradox that says “our love should be not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.” But George Eliot provides the “on the other hand” as she writes, “I like . . . to be told that I am loved . . . and I shall take leave to tell you that you are very dear.” As in the instances above, both sides of the paradox have something to tell us.

Most of us find few things so repulsive as the sentimental gush of insincere avowals of affection. But many of us offend more seriously by our reluctance to speak our love to those who need to hear that they are loved. It would be interesting to know how many of our acquaintances we know have never heard anyone say to them “I love you.” I think we would be shocked to know how large the number would be. Many of those people would be shocked into shyness if before the day is done we broke out of our inhibitions and said, “You know, I really love you.” How difficult that kind of loving openness is to us!

Yet how empty those words would be if they were not accompanied by acts which reinforce them. We would not long believe those words. But why can we not give both the words and the actions? We don’t need to worry about running out of the supply of love.  You yourselves have been taught by God how you should love one another,” Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers. “Do even more.”  ave we already been loving in word and deed? There is Paul’s daily assignment for us in the school of life:  DO EVEN MORE.

19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 20 Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

21 Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. 22 And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.

23 And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.

John makes it simple:  fellowship with God is based on believing in Jesus and loving our neighbor. And the Holy Spirit will help us with those things.

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New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Pope John.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/johnxxiii.jpg
Do the right thing.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/dotherightthing.gif
Good Samaritan.    https://janaburson.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/aaaagoodsam.jpg
I love you with leaf.    http://pixdaus.com/pics/12110675011ng696V.jpg

1737.) 1 John 2

December 29, 2015

Another John! John Newton (1725-1807) was an English slave-ship captain who was converted to faith during a severe storm at sea. He spent the remainder of his life as a clergyman, abolitionist, and hymn-writer. Due in part to writing the song “Amazing Grace,” Newton has been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame (headquartered in Detroit, MI).

1 John 2 (New Living Translation)

1 My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. 2 He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

Scales balance icon

“We have for our advocate, not a mean person; but him of whom it was said, “This is my beloved son.” Not a guilty person, who stands in need of pardon for himself; but Jesus Christ the righteous. Not a mere petitioner, who relies purely upon liberality; but one that has merited, fully merited, whatever he asks.”

–John Wesley

A human defense lawyer argues for the innocence of his client. But our Advocate, Jesus Christ, admits our guilt — and then enters His plea on our behalf, as the one who has made an atoning sacrifice for our sinful guilt.

–David Guzik

for the sins of all the world — “It is a patent fact that thou too are part of the whole world: so that thine heart cannot deceive itself and think, The Lord died for Peter and Paul, but not for me.”

–Martin Luther

3 And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. 4 If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. 5 But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. 6 Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

A simple, loving obedience is a natural result of fellowship with God.

A New Commandment

7 Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. 8 Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it.

It is new because Jesus displayed a new kind of love. The cross points in four directions to show that the love of Jesus is:

  • Wide enough to include every human being.
  • Long enough to last through all eternity.
  • Deep enough to reach the most guilty sinner.
  • High enough to take us to heaven.

This is a new love, a love the world had never really seen before the work of Jesus on the cross.

–David Guzik

For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.

Isaiah 2:5 (NIV)

Come, descendants of Jacob,
let us walk in the light of the LORD.

9 If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness. 10 Anyone who loves another brother or sister is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
–1 John 2:10

“What an emphasis gets on kindness as life goes on,” said Bishop Paget (the “architect of the Church in Central Africa” who lived from 1886 to 1971). Writing to someone in a Nursing Home, he said how he hoped the patient was “not too ill or weary to enjoy the happiness of feeling kindness all around you, and Goodness all above you.”

As we watch the lives of those who have hearts “at leisure from themselves” and live for others, we cannot help seeing that there is “none occasion of stumbling” in them. They don’t stumble people, they help them. They clear hindrances out of the path and make it much easier for those who do not know Him to find their Savior.

Let us more and more earnestly ask for this kindness of heart that shows itself in loving thoughts and deeds. Let us begin with ourselves. The Lord make us sensitive to the merest whisper of unlove in our hearts. “He that loveth . . . abideth.”

11 But anyone who hates another brother or sister is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.

12 I am writing to you who are God’s children
because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus.
13 I am writing to you who are mature in the faith
because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning.
I am writing to you who are young in the faith
because you have won your battle with the evil one.
14 I have written to you who are God’s children
because you know the Father.
I have written to you who are mature in the faith
because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning.
I have written to you who are young in the faith
because you are strong.
God’s word lives in your hearts,
and you have won your battle with the evil one.

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Music:

“You are God’s children . . . your sins are forgiven . . . you know the Father . . . you know Christ . . . ” — such grace to us from the Lord!

Il Divo is a group of four male singers:  Spanish baritone Carlos Marin, Swiss tenor Urs Buhler, American tenor David Miller, and French pop singer Sebastien Izambard.  HERE  they sing (oh, so beautifully!) John Newton’s hymn “Amazing Grace.”

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Do Not Love This World

15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

“One sees clearly only with the heart.  Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”

–Antoine deSaint-Exupery, in The Little Prince

Warning about Antichrists

18 Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared.

The name Antichrist is important to understand. The prefix anti can mean “the opposite of” or “instead of.” The Antichrist is the “opposite Jesus”; he is the “instead of” Jesus. Most people have focused on the idea of the “opposite Jesus.” This has made them think that the Antichrist will appear as a supremely evil person. They think that as much as Jesus went around doing good, the Antichrist will go around doing bad. As much as Jesus’ character and personality was beautiful and attractive, the Antichrist’s character and personality will be ugly and repulsive. As much as Jesus spoke only truth, the Antichrist will speak only lies. This emphasizes the idea of the “opposite Jesus” too much. The Antichrist will instead be more of an “instead of Jesus.” He will look wonderful, be charming and successful. He will be the ultimate winner, and appear as an angel of light.

–David Guzik

From this we know that the last hour has come. 19 These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.

20 But you are not like that, for the Holy One has given you his Spirit, and all of you know the truth. 21 So I am writing to you not because you don’t know the truth but because you know the difference between truth and lies. 22 And who is a liar? Anyone who says that Jesus is not the Christ.  Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist. 23 Anyone who denies the Son doesn’t have the Father, either. But anyone who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

Often times it is said, “We all worship the same God. You have one name for Him and I have another. But that doesn’t matter. We are just talking about different roads to the same God because we all have the same God.” Here is the question to ask in response: “Was your God perfectly revealed in Jesus Christ?” If your God was, then you have the same God. If your God wasn’t perfectly revealed in Jesus, then you do not have the same God as in the Bible.

–David Guzik

24 So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. 25 And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us.

“This is faith: a renouncing of everything we are apt to call our own and relying wholly upon the blood, righteousness and intercession of Jesus.”

–John Newton

26 I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. 27 But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.

Living as Children of God

28 And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame.

29 Since we know that Christ is righteous, we also know that all who do what is right are God’s children.

I find in this chapter three petitions for daily prayer: Help me, Lord, that I know Him (1 John 2:4), I abide in Him (1 John 2:6), and I am in the light (1 John 2:9). Let my relationships with others show that you, Jesus, are living your life in me.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
John Newton.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/John%20Newton/cens_1/Quotes/JohnNewton1copy.jpg
scales of justice.    http://cache1.asset-cache.net/xc/466165299.jpg?v=2&c=IWSAsset&k=2&d=XYqnSFYmIRQinYDvov_SmgfLE9CucpfiIPK2RbZQ_BU1
heart-shaped candle.    http://www.zastavki.com/pictures/1280×800/2008/Love_Heart_-_candle_011183_.jpg
kitten and Aesop quote.    http://img.pandawhale.com/post-3281-No-act-of-kindness-no-matter-h-7GMT.jpeg
The Little Prince.     http://images.easyart.com/i/prints/rw/lg/3/8/Antoine-de-Saint-Exupery-The-Little-Prince-Dreaming–Le-Reve–380603.jpg
face of Jesus.   http://cleanclipart.com/clipart-2606/

1736.) 1 John 1

December 28, 2015

Another John! Portrait by Thomas Sadler, 1684. John Bunyan (1628-1688) was an English preacher and writer, most famous for writing “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” a book which has been translated into over 200 languages. In the story, the protagonist, Christian, journeys from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City, while facing many trials and difficulties.

1 John 1 (New Living Translation)

Introduction

Most people understand that the important things in life are not things at all; they are the relationships we have. God has put a desire for relationship in every one of us, a desire He intended to be met with relationships with other people, but most of all, to be met by a relationship with Him. In this remarkable letter, John tells us the truth about relationships, and shows us how to have relationships that are real, for both now and eternity.

–David Guzik

This week we are doing the five chapters of 1 John. Because they are so short, I encourage you to do something more:  read all five chapters of 1 John every day this week. Let the words of this epistle sink down deep into your heart and mind. Let these ideas change the way you think and act. Let Christ make you more and more like himself. And may the Lord bless you as you seek to follow the True Word of Life!

1 We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life.

John was one of the original twelve disciples; at the time of this letter, he is an older man and perhaps the last remaining apostle. He writes with authority to his “dear children” to assure them of the truth of their faith in Jesus Christ. Can you hear the resonance between this opening and the Gospel of John chapter 1?  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.” And beyond that, to Genesis 1? “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

2 This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

How is it possible for one to identify with God in such a way that one can share in the fellowship of the Trinity without actually becoming God? How is this closeness compatible with the incredible otherness between human beings and God? On Islam there is no possibility of such friendship; God is completely other and cannot have close interaction with human beings. On the other hand, in Eastern religions such as Hinduism and in New Age philosophies, human beings can so completely identify with God that they become part of the “divine soul.” The distinction between humans and God blurs until humanity is lost in divinity. Neither of these approaches is consistent with biblical thought about humanity’s relationship to God, which allows for both fellowship and distinction.

In Christianity a person can be in God but can never be God. Otherness of being is never lost. God can become human, and at one moment of history he did become human, but the process can never take place in the other direction. The basis of this is the Trinity, in which three persons maintain their total distinctiveness and yet have complete unity. It is a unity with otherness. It is a mingling without the formation of a compound.  The fellowship and unity between members of the Godhead is ontological—it is part of their essence. The fellowship between human persons is psychological and ethical.  The fellowship between human persons and the Trinity is conditional. We can have fellowship with God while he retains his otherness and we retain our personal identity. Our fellowship with God makes us more truly human than we have ever been before. It heals our humanity and completes our personhood.

4 We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.

The result of fellowship is fullness of joy. This joy is an abiding sense of optimism and cheerfulness based on God, as opposed to happiness, which is a sense of optimism and cheerfulness based on circumstances.

John clearly echoed an idea Jesus brought before His disciples the night before His crucifixion. He wanted fullness of joy for them – even knowing that the cross was directly in front of them.

  • These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:11).
  • Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full (John 16:24).
  • But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves (John 17:13).

–David Guzik

Living in the Light

5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.

_________________________

Music:

Written in 1987 by Graham Kendrick:  “Shine, Jesus, Shine.”  HERE.

_________________________

6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

“Let us gaze at the blood of Christ and recognize how precious it is to His Father, because, poured out for our salvation, it brought the grace of repentance to all the world.”

–Clement, early Church Father

8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

“If you have sinned, do not lie down without repentance; for the want of repentance after one has sinned makes the heart yet harder and harder.”

–John Bunyan

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
John Bunyan.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f9/John_Bunyan_by_Thomas_Sadler_1684.jpg
symbol of the Trinity.    http://threes.com/cms/images/stories/food/pretzel/trinitysymbol.jpg
the blood of Jesus.   http://images2.fanpop.com/images/photos/6900000/Blood-of-Christ-the-bible-6970135-500-375.jpg

1362.) 1 John 1

July 22, 2014

Another John!  Portrait by Thomas Sadler, 1684.  John Bunyan (1628-1688) was an English preacher and writer, most famous for writing “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” a book which has been translated into over 200 languages.  In the story, the protagonist, Christian, journeys from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City, while facing many trials and difficulties.

1 John 1 (New Living Translation)

This week is a collection of some of my favorite Bible passages.

Introduction

1 We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life.

John was one of the original twelve disciples; at the time of this letter, he is an older man and perhaps the last remaining apostle.  He writes with authority to his “dear children” to assure them of the truth of their faith in Jesus Christ.  Can you hear the resonance between this opening and the Gospel of John chapter 1?  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.”

2 This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

How is it possible for one to identify with God in such a way that one can share in the fellowship of the Trinity without actually becoming God?  How is this closeness compatible with the incredible otherness between human beings and God?  In Islam there is no possibility of such friendship; God is completely other and cannot have close interaction with human beings.  On the other hand, in Eastern religions such as Hinduism and in New Age philosophies, human beings can so completely identify with God that they become part of the “divine soul.”  The distinction between humans and God blurs until humanity is lost in divinity.  Neither of these approaches is consistent with biblical thought about humanity’s relationship to God, which allows for both fellowship and distinction.

In Christianity a person can be in God but can never be God.  Otherness of being is never lost.  God can become human, and at one moment of history he did become human, but the process can never take place in the other direction.  The basis of this is the Trinity, in which three persons maintain their total distinctiveness and yet have complete unity.  It is a unity with otherness.  It is a mingling without the formation of a compound.  The fellowship and unity between members of the Godhead is ontological—it is part of their essence.  The fellowship between human persons is psychological and ethical.  The fellowship between human persons and the Trinity is conditional.    We can have fellowship with God while he retains his otherness and we retain our personal identity.  Our fellowship with God makes us more truly human than we have ever been before.  It heals our humanity and completes our personhood.

4 We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.

Living in the Light

5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.

_________________________

Music:

Written in 1987 by Graham Kendrick — “Shine, Jesus, Shine.”

_________________________

6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

“Let us gaze at the blood of Christ and recognize how precious it is to His Father, because, poured out for our salvation, it brought the grace of repentance to all the world.”

–Clement, early Church Father

8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

“If you have sinned, do not lie down without repentance; for the want of repentance after one has sinned makes the heart yet harder and harder.”

–John Bunyan

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
John Bunyan.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f9/John_Bunyan_by_Thomas_Sadler_1684.jpg
symbol of the Trinity.    http://threes.com/cms/images/stories/food/pretzel/trinitysymbol.jpg
the blood of Jesus.   https://afruitinseason.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/the-blood-of-jesus-takes-my-sins-away.jpg

1225.) 1 John 5

January 10, 2014

Another John!  John Wesley (1703-1791) was a pietist, preacher, and pioneer of Methodism who is known not only for his organizational skills, but also for his ability to convict believers of their need to live a sanctified Christian life.

1 John 5 (New Living Translation)

Faith in the Son of God

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. 2 We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. 3 Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.

When I was small I used to think that, if I wanted very much to do a thing, that thing was probably wrong.  And if I didn’t want to do it, it was probably right.

That is not quite fair to God, for “his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3), not heavy and burdensome.

–Amy Carmichael

When I was a (willful) child and missionaries came to speak to our church, I would sit on my hands so that when they asked us, “Who wants to go to Africa and tell the children about Jesus?” — I would be safe and not raise my hand and risk all future happiness.   Then this summer when I did go to Africa (well, to Madagascar) to tell children about Jesus — it was absolute JOY.  John is right — “his commandments are not burdensome.”

4 For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. 5 And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

6 And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross—not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with his testimony. 7 So we have these three witnesses—8 the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and all three agree. 9 Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son. 10 All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son.

11 And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.

Genesis 2:7 tells us that when God had formed the first man from the dust of the earth, he breathed into him the breath of life, and the man lived.

The psalmist says, “For with you is the fountain of life” (Psalm 36:9).

John says of Jesus, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

Peter, in speaking to the Jews of Jerusalem in the temple says, “You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead” (Acts 3:15).

Jesus himself said, “I am the resurrection and the life . . . and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).

To his enemies, Jesus said, “You refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:40).

God is the source of life.  The alternative to communion with him is death.

–Dennis F. Kinlaw

Conclusion

13 I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. 14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. 15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.

16 If you see a Christian brother or sister sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life.


from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers

HEEDFULNESS V. HYPOCRISY IN OURSELVES

If we are not heedful of the way the Spirit of God works in us, we will become spiritual hypocrites.  We see where other folks are failing, and we turn our discernment into the gibe of criticism instead of into intercession on their behalf.  The revelation is made to us not through the acuteness of our minds, but by the direct penetration of the Spirit of God, and if we are not heedful of the source of the revelation, we will become criticizing centres and forget that God says — ‘. . . he shall ask, and He shall give him life for them that sin not unto death.”  Take care lest you play the hypocrite by spending all your time trying to get others right before you worship God yourself.

One of the subtlest burdens God ever puts on us as saints is this burden of discernment concerning other souls.  He reveals things in order that we may take the burden of these souls before Him and form the mind of Christ about them, and as we intercede on His line, God says He will give us “life for them that sin not unto death.”  It is not that we bring God into touch with our minds, but that we rouse ourselves until God is able to convey His mind to us about the one for whom we intercede.

Is Jesus Christ seeing the travail of his soul in us?  He cannot unless we are so identified with Himself that we are roused up to get His view about the people for whom we pray.  May we learn to intercede so whole-heartedly that Jesus Christ will be abundantly satisfied with us as intercessors.

But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it. 17 All wicked actions are sin, but not every sin leads to death.

18 We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. 19 We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.

20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God.  And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.

John 17:3

This is eternal life, to know thee, the only true God,
and him whom thou hast sent, Jesus Christ.

21 Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.

The End of 1 John

_________________________

Music:

John Wesley’s brother, Charles, was a prolific hymn writer.  One of my favorites from the Wesley collection is sung  HERE  by Keswick Praise, out of England — “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.”

For three years I played the organ for a British Anglican church in Naples, Italy.  Often I was surprised when I thought I knew a hymn, but found the tune was something different.  Here is such an example.  I discovered that singing a familiar hymn to a different tune opened my eyes to read the words more carefully; perhaps you will find that, too.

_________________________

I hope you have enjoyed this week and the Scriptures that point over and over again to the LOVE of God that is so graciously given to us and that we can cheerfully share with others. If you have been particularly touched by anything from 1 John, please share it with us.  Just hit Reply/Comment below!  And next week we are back in the thick of the Old Testament — the twelve chapters of Daniel.  Some great stories ahead!

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
John Wesley.    http://www.speakerscornertrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/John-Wesley2.jpg
little girl pouting.    http://gailbhyatt.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/pouting-little-girl-istock_000006840535xsmall5.jpg
First man Adam and Perfect man Christ.    http://heavenlytours.us/images/creating_adam.jpg
-praying hands.     http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_brH7VFZzQR4/TA2wZ24cesI/AAAAAAAAAQo/yCRFe5AOgOk/s1600/praying_hands.jpg
Jesus and eternal life; artwork by Richard Judson Zolan.    http://art-canyon.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/eternal-life.jpg