Sunday, 31 May 2009

Who are you going to believe?

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son.
– 1 John 5v9

Did you ever notice that we seem to never agree with the world? For example, in theme with yesterday’s thoughts, the world says that young people are going to have sex so let’s just keep them safe. God says that sex is for marriage. The world says that we ought to live for number one. God agrees, but He is Number One. The world says that all ‘religions’ are the same – God says that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. God and the world just never agree.

So who are we going to believe? The answer is simple; whichever one has the best witness. God knows everything – the world is limited to its flawed human logic. God is all powerful – the world is limited by its weaknesses and frailties. God is everywhere at all times – the world is limited by where and when we are.

Which witness are we going to believe? If we were in a courtroom as jurors and the two conflicting witnesses were God and man which one would be more reliable, credible, and trustworthy?

We have God’s witness in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Man’s witness is a history of conflicts, wars, slavery, and violence.

Who are we going to trust?

Saturday, 30 May 2009


For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? - 1 John 5v4-5

Yesterday I saw a fellow pastor and his son on a national television programme. The topic was teen sexuality and abstinence. Our friends were on because their sixteen year old triplets have all decided to obey the Lord and remain sexually pure until marriage.

Although mostly polite, the hosts and other members of the panel simply did not understand. One woman opposed the entire concept of sexual purity claiming that it might even be dangerous. Some may have felt that the pastor and his son ‘held their own’ at best. .

And yet, he and his son were overcomers. Their faith was clear and no one could argue that. By the time they were done they had not obviously swayed any opinions, but they had earned the panel’s respect. Their testimony for the Lord was clear and they honoured the Lord by their presence. That young man showed a whole nation that his desire to please God was more important than satisfying his fleshly desires. His dad showed a firm stand for the Lord in a gracious, loving, but uncompromising manner. A teen in our church was greatly encouraged by their faith and their stand as her friends and even family are encouraging her to let down these barriers.

Our faith is what overcomes even in challenging times like this. The on screen ‘battle’ might have seemed like a ‘draw’ to many viewers, but a dad and his son were the eternal overcomers. Praise God for them and their courage.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Keeping His commandments

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. - 1 John 5v2-3

Here we find another test of true love for the brethren. We prove our love for each other when we love God and keep His commandments. True love for God is proven by keeping His commandments, and these are not burdensome.

What connection do love and commandments have? They sound like they would exclude each other instead of complimenting each other.

But think about it this way. How hard is it to do what someone wants if we truly love them? When we truly love doing what to object of our love desires comes naturally. There is no burden in doing those things. Love, not fear, is our motivation.

This love for God, as proven by keeping His commandments, is part of loving the brethren. Now how does that make any sense? What does our obeying God have to do with loving the brethren?

A lot of our Christian life has to do with our testimony before others. Obeying God is not just for us, it is just as much for those around. If we set a pattern of ignoring God’s wishes for us, then others will watch and get the impression that serving and obeying God is not that big a deal.

For testimonies sake we set an example of following God that others can see and emulate. This is love because it helps other to show their own love for God.

Obeying God is not just about us, it is a mark of love for each other.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Because He first loved us

We love Him because He first loved us. - 1 John 4v19

We only love God because He first loved us. Without that there would be no love for Him. I realise these posts have been a little repetitive the last few days, but that’s because the same phrases are used over and over in 1 John. God is not going to waste words in the scriptures, so there must be a reason for the repetition.

‘We love Him because He first loved us’ is followed by –‘If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.’

Love for God and love for brethren are inextricable. We only love God because He loved us first. We claim that we love a God Who we cannot even see, and yet we have a hard time loving our brethren all around us who we see every day. How can that be?

It is easy to say “I love God’ because that is a kind of ethereal generic saying. Who can question us when we say ‘I love God’ when there is nothing to test the statement by?

So God sets a standard – ‘You say you love me? Prove it.’ Then He gives the test – ‘He who loves God must love His brother also.’ Just before are these very tough words – ‘If anyone says “I love God,’ and hates his brother he is a liar!’
This has been quite a segment on the importance of love for the brethren. When the final chapter of our course of human history is written, there will still be love. We might as well get used to it.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

No fear in love

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. - 1 John 4v18

Love and being afraid do not go hand in hand. When there is real love we are never afraid of the person because love involves total trust. We can’t be afraid of one we love.

We are told elsewhere to not have a ‘spirit of fear’ because God has given us a spirit of love and of a sound mind. It is not God’s plan for us to be afraid.

It is so easy to be afraid over even the silliest things. There is a situation right not where I am battling a little bit of fear of the unknown. That is really the silliest kind of fear, isn’t it? First, it does no good to be afraid because that doesn’t change anything. Second, when I am afraid it proves that I really don’t accept that God loves me. He is in control. Instead of being afraid I need to trust His love

There is not greater comfort for a child who is afraid than an parent’s love. Dad or Mum saying, ‘It’s going to be okay, I’m here’ chases away the greatest fears. We have a heavenly Father who loves us even more than earthly parents love their children.

God is love, He loves us. He proved His love. With His track record how can we ever be afraid?

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

God is love

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 1 John 4v16

This is love...God is love. This two really make sense when taken together. God is love – He is the essence of love. If one truly has God living in him then he will love. If we abide in God and He abides in us and He is love then we will abide in love.

I think this is the essence of 1 John. The book was written to battle the Gnostic heresy sweeping the young church. The focus in Gnosticism was some kind of 'higher plane' Christianity. It split the spirit and the flesh. In response John rights of the true test of being spiritual – do you love?
Love is the ultimate test - 'love the Lord your God and love your neighbour as yourself...he who does love His brother abides in death...above all these things put on love...above all these things have fervent love one for another...'

Why is that? Because God, the One Who is love lives, in true believes and therefore they will reflect His nature.

God is love. Those who have God will therefore love. It seems almost too simple to be real, doesn't it.

My issue comes with the rarity of love shown in some places, mostly in my own heart. This section began with a challenge to not believe every spirit but to test them to see if they really are of God. One of those tests is love. How do we do when our lives are scrutinised on the light of God's love. That love sent His Son to the cross for us. What does our love do?

Monday, 25 May 2009

This is love

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4v9-11

How do we measure love? Usually we measure it by our own human standard. But no man’s love can define what love really is. True love is not that we love God – that is easy. The lesser can always love the greater but the inverse is not always true.

True love is the greater loving the lesser, the clean loving the dirty, the spotless loving the defiled, the mighty loving the weak, the master loving the servant, and the wise loving the foolish.

This love is seen in God sending His Son to die for us and to be the satisfaction for our sins. The is the ultimate example of love because real love is sacrifice and this is the ultimate sacrifice. God giving His perfect Son to die for a sinful world is the ultimate sacrifice and that is what love is all about!

He sent His Son to the propitiation, the appeasement, the treaty sealer, for our sins. What a measure of love when the offended one provides the propitiation!

And this is the love that He wants us to show to each other – a perfect, selfless, self-sacrificing love. This is love, how are we doing when it comes to showing it to others?

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Greater is He that is in you

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. - 1 John 4v4

A few verses ago we read that God was greater than our own hearts – He knows stuff about us that even we don’t know. He knows all things. That truth can be a bit convicting and conviction is always helpful.

But God’s greatness is not only seen in conviction, it is also seen in comfort. There are plenty of false teachings and false teachings out there. The world hears them and listens to them. Their forces seem to be getting stronger and stronger all the time. Their tide seems irreversible. It seems like we have no hope against them. It looks like they are winning.

The truth however is that we have already overcome them. They have no power over us. We don’t have to quit, surrender, give up, abdicate, resign, roll over, play dead, or stop trying. The Overcomer dwells in us and He is greater than all of the opposition!.
We have already won! Its time for us to start acting like it

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Try the spirits

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, - 1 John 4v1-2

1 John has a lot of information about how to know the difference between true believers and false confessors. Up until know it has mostly been about how we can examine our own lives the see whether or not we are really ‘of God.’ The test we applied to ourselves is whether or not we love God, keep His commandments, and love each other.

Now we are told that we can’t just simply believer everything we hear. We must test the spirits to see if they are really of God. This next section deals with testing teachers and others around us who profess to be of to see if they really are before we just accept what they believe. Teachers give tests to see what their students know. We have tests to see if we can trust others who claim to be of Christ.

The first test is one that should go without saying. If one does not teach that Jesus has actually come in the flesh they are not of God. That would should be obvious, but there are other tests coming that we need to keep in mind when we encaounter those who claim they are of God.

Friday, 22 May 2009

God is greater than our hearts

And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. - 1 John 3v19-21

This is a great little passage, though I have to say it is packed with conviction. The context of course is our mandate to love the brethren and our actions in response to the mandate.

We can be assured of our walk with God if we truly love the brethren. Our hearts give us the every day assurance that we are His.

But what if our hearts condemn us in this? What if we consider the situation and wonder deep down if we really love the brethren? What if we are just not sure?

If this verse is any indication we have reason to be concerned. If our own hearts, which are wicked and deceitful, condemn us for our lack of love there is something wrong because God is greater than our hearts and He knows all things. He knows everything; every bad feeling, every hypocrisy, and every evil thought. He knows the things that we may not even admit to ourselves. If our own hearts make us aware of a lack of love and give us a lack of assurance we had better check things out because God knows even more than we want to admit.

On the other hand, if we can examine our hearts and actions and see that we do love the brethren we can have confidence and assurance that we are His. Our love should be so pure and so sure that we don’t even have to think about it in our own hearts. We should never even have to wonder whether or not we love the brethren.

God’s kind of love for the brethren will give us the wonderfully calm assurance that we really do belong to Him.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Actions speak louder than words

Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. - 1 John 3v15-18 

We have a clear cut mandate above – whoever does not love the brethren does not abide in God. I mentioned actions at the very end of yesterday’s thoughts. Here we have the Bible example of what kind of love we are talking about. 

Here is how we know what love really is – Jesus laid down His life for the brethren. Pretty basic isn’t it? That might be nice if we could leave it there. But it doesn’t end there. Since Jesus laying down His life for us is the pattern we ought also be ready to lay down our lives for the brethren. 

Even that might be okay. We can say in our minds, ‘Bless God, if it came down to it I would give my life for the brethren!’ Chances are we will never have to do that so it is easy enough to say it. 

Well, we don’t get away that easy. Here is where the rubber meets the road – ‘Whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, how does the love of God abide in Him?’ 

We may never be called upon to gives our lives for each other. Maybe we will. No matter what our proof of love is meeting the needs of others. It is easy to say, ‘I love you’ but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. When it comes to love actions do indeed speak louder than words. 

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The love mandate

In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,  - 1 John 3v10-11 

Wow! Look what attribute pops up yet again. ‘Whoever does not love his brother is not of God…you should love one another…whoever hates his brother abides in death…’ 

Jesus tells us that the greatest test of our discipleship is that we have love for each other. Here we are told that if we do not love each other we are not abiding in God. On this five year journey through the word of God the love mandate has been one thing that has really stuck out. If there is no love there is nothing, no hope, no faith, no abiding. 

Since those who are saved will love each other – it is not something we ‘have to’ do, it is part of being saved – why is it that we so often don’t act like we love each other? Why do our words so often contradict our love? Why do our actions contradict our love? 

Shouldn’t true love be obvious? Since we as believers do love each other should not every one see it? Sadly, too often the world sees division and conflict among us instead of love. If we must differ and discuss at times it is vital that we keep that ‘in house’ and don’t wreck our testimony by our words and our actions. 

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Does not sin

Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. - 1 John 3v4-7

There are some challenges in this passage. It is a tough one to understand. Phrases like “whoever abides in Him does not sin,’ and Whoever sins has neither seen Him or know Him’ make it sound like Christians are never going to sin.

We know that can’t be the case because we read back in chapter one that claiming that we never sin is a lie and a self-deception. So what does this mean?

From the context I think we see that the truth is. We have seen in the previous verses that God’s children behave like God’s children. We are purifying ourselves. We continue to abide in Him.

There is a sense of continuity here. It is a matter of a way of life. Those who abide in Christ and know Him don’t practice a life of sin. Our lives are different. Those who are truly righteous live righteous lives. Those who do not live righteous lives are not righteous.

We won’t be totally perfect till we see Him. But it is important that we are living in the righteousness that is ours. If we are indeed truly made righteous in Christ, we are going to live like it. Simple enough.

Does not sin

Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. - 1 John 3v4-7

There are some challenges in this passage. It is a tough one to understand. Phrases like “whoever abides in Him does not sin,’ and Whoever sins has neither seen Him or know Him’ make it sound like Christians are never going to sin.

We know that can’t be the case because we read back in chapter one that claiming that we never sin is a lie and a self-deception. So what does this mean?

From the context I think we see that the truth is. We have seen in the previous verses that God’s children behave like God’s children. We are purifying ourselves. We continue to abide in Him.

There is a sense of continuity here. It is a matter of a way of life. Those who abide in Christ and know Him don’t practice a life of sin. Our lives are different. Those who are truly righteous live righteous lives. Those who do not live righteous lives are not righteous.

We won’t be totally perfect till we see Him. But it is important that we are living in the righteousness that is ours. If we are indeed truly made righteous in Christ, we are going to live like it. Simple enough.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Purifying hope

And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.- 1 John 2v28; 3v3 

Jesus is coming to earth again. We can argue, fight, and speculate on the specifics all we want, but the key is that He is coming back again. Nothing can be surer than that. We look forward to it. John wrote, ‘Even so come Lord Jesus.’ In the 5th century Patrick of Ireland wrote, ‘We look for the soon advent of our Lord and Saviour.’ Christians have always looked for Jesus to return at any moment. 

So what impact does the imminent return of Christ have on our lives? Paul wrote clearly to Titus on the topic – ‘teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.’


The Second Coming is much more than just a matter of reading the news and setting possible dates. It is more than just a topic for eschatology scholars to refine their skills. It should be a motivation for living for Him as we await his return so that we will not find ourselves ashamed at His coming. 

The context here is that of true children of God versus mere claimants. True children of God know Him and do not wan to be ashamed at His coming. Those who truly have this hope in them and are looking forward to being made like him purify themselves in the meantime. Our purity is the proof of our looking and the proof of Who our Father is. 

If our hope of His return is genuine we will be purifying ourselves. Yes, He has already purified us at salvation, positionally, but there must be a constant practical purifying going on in our lives as we await His return. 

Everyone who truly has this hope in them purifies themselves, even as He is pure. Everyone. 

Sunday, 17 May 2009

What manner of love

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. - 1 John 3v1

Indeed, behold what manner of love. What kind of love would move a holy and just God to give up His Son so that we can be called His children? What kind of love would motivate an act for those who turn against Him? We were born sinners, into Satan’s family. We were children of disobedience, walking according to the course of this world. Despite that, God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for us on the cross of Calvary to make us His children.

It is the love that can only come from the God Who is love. He is holy. He is pure. He is just. He is righteous. But He is also love.

What manner of love does the Father bestow on us that we might be called sons of God? The manner of love is God love - that perfect, spotless, incorruptible, and pure love that only He can give and that he wants us to show to those around us.

Since we are His children we should reflect Him in the world. When we do the world is going to no more know us than it did Him. As His children we can’t expect the world to know us, our way of life, or why we do what we do.

We should be content, and so much more, that while the world does not know us, our Father does!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

You will abide

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us... If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us eternal life. - 1 John 2v19-25

The question of the permanency of our salvation is one that has been the topic of many discussions, more than one of them heated. For me however it is one of those questions that I have never been able to see the point of view that differs from where I stand.

As I look at this passage a couple of things stick out. ‘If they were of us they would not have gone out from us’ and ‘If what you have heard from the beginning abides in you, you will also abide in the Son and in the Father.’ These are both used in the context of – ‘This is the promise that He has promised us eternal life.’

To me the key phrase is this – ‘If what you heard from the beginning abides in you will abide.’ Looking at the entire context it seems obvious that God is saying that if the truth of the gospel truly abides in us we will continue to abide in Him. The abiding is based on His great promise of eternal life.

It is not a matter of eternal security meaning that a person can do whatever he wants because he is saved anyway. The great truth is that true Christians are not going to wander away from the truth. That sounds tough, but I just can’t see any other explanation for this passage. “If they were of us they would not have gone out from us…if what you heard abides in you, you will abide.’
From the rest of 1 John it is obvious that this does not mean that Christians are never going to sin. That is a constant battle. I think the idea is that true Christians are not going to quit the battle. When one quits the battle and gives in to the sin it evidences the fact that the Truth was never abiding in the first place. It proves that the person never was ‘of us’ in the first place.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Passing away

And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. - 1 John 2v17

What do you think would happen if you offered a 4 year old a choice between 100 bright shiny cent coins and a single 2 euro coin? Unless the child was pretty sharp we all know they would grab the pile of cent coins. They look like so much and are a LOT more then the 2 euro coin.

In the same light my wife tells the story about growing up and tricking the youngest brother with a nickel (5 cent piece) and a dime (10 cent piece). Since the nickel was bigger it had to be worth more in his mind!

We can chuckle over these things. They are cute anecdotes about little children. But I think we have an illustration here about us and how we view the worth of things around us.

The world and it’s ‘stuff’ had such a draw. Even when we know the emptiness of the worth and eternal uselessness we still grab at it because it looks so good. All of the shiny baubles of this world are nothing compared to the eternity that God has to offer. The sufferings of this world are nothing compared to the glories that are going to be revealed.

In fact, this present world and all the associated lusts are already in the process of passing away. Since it is passing away it does not even deserve a passing glance. After all, those of us who abide in the will of God are going to live forever. Why then, are we so often distracted by the shiny junk?

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Not of the Father

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. - 1 John 2v16

We saw the instruction yesterday to ‘love not the world, or the things in the world.’ Today we can see the reason why. It is simple enough, we are to love God with every aspect of our being and the things of the world are not of God. Therefore, we cannot love them.

What are the things of the world that we are not to love? They are the same things that troubled Eve in the very beginning – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. How did Eve encounter these? When Satan tempted her with the fruit from the tree she saw that it was:

Good for food – the lust of the flesh
Pleasant to the eyes – the lust of the eyes
Would make her wise – the pride of life

Even after all these years we still face the same battles. We encounter things that appeal to our fleshly gratification. We encounter things that just look so good and draw our eyes away from the things of God. Then of course we always deal with situations that appeal to our pride.

The problem is that these are things we encounter all the time. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t have to deal with the things of the world. Admittedly I don’t always do well with them because there is that lingering world love that is a part of my flesh.

When we encounter these things we need to remind ourselves that these things are not of our Father, they are of the world and its system. We choose what we love no matter what the appeal. My love must be reserved for the things of God and never given to the stuff that the world offers.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Don’t love the world

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. - 1 John 2v15 

World love can be more than just a theoretical statement. It can be a real, down to earth problem. Paul wrote of a one time co-worker – ‘For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.’ World love was more important to Demas than serving alongside Paul. 

This is the key issue with world love. It has very real repercussions.  World love draws us away from God love. We can’t love both God and the things of the world. Love for them is mutually exclusive. We can’t have them both. 

John takes it a step further and lays it on the line, ‘If anyone loves the world he love of the Father is not in him.’ 

It is easy to get caught in the trap of world love. It is always there right in front of us. It is appealing. Its calls out to us to love it. ‘Everyone else’ loves it. It is hard to us to draw the line and not love something so obvious and so appealing. 

Still, we cannot afford to love the world or its stuff. Our minds need to always be not on the temporal visible things we see around us, but on the invisible, eternal things that we cannot see. 

Beware of world love. The only way to fight it is to deepen our love for God. 

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The danger of hate

Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. - 1 John 2v7-11

There are a few clear tests whether or not we are walking in the light. One of them is spelled out here.

It is impossible to have hate for the brethren while walking in the light. The two are totally incompatible. They just don’t work together. The same truth is repeated over and over in this passage. It could not be any clearer. ‘If you say you love your brother and hate your brother you are in darkness…anyone who hates his brother is in darkness, walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going because he is blinded by the darkness.

Only God knows the heart. Only He knows if the words we speak are motivated by true hate, an angry spirit, or just an angry moment.

Either way, showing what appears to be hatred toward a brother is a poor testimony at best. At worst, it is evidence of an even more serious problem.

Monday, 11 May 2009

How do we know?

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. - 1 John 2v3-5

How do we know if we know Him? How do we deal with wondering whether or not we really are saved? How is the love of God perfected in us?

True, we are saved by grace through faith alone – no doubt about that. There can also no doubt that genuine salvation is going to produce a change. 1 John has a lot to say about a supposed Christians living in and walking in regular sin. Being in the light and living in darkness simply don’t match up. Claiming to know God and not keeping His commandments are also incompatible. We can’t have both. We can’t claim to know Him and act like we know the world even more.

So how do we know that we know Him? We know by our lives. If our lifestyle is one of keeping His word we can know that we know Him. If not, we had better do a spiritual check-up!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Our propitiation

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. - 1 John 2v1-2

A propitiation is simply a conciliation, a rejoining, a satisfaction. Homer and others used the Greek word here to describe a way to appease the pagan gods through sacrifice. When a mortal angered these false gods a sacrifice was needed to propitiate them.

Sin is still serious. We should not sin. That is God’s desire for us as expressed in John’s letter here. “I am writing to you so that you will not sin.’ It is never God’s will that we continue in sin. The truth is that we will, and when we do we have an advocate with the Father. His advocacy is based on the fact that He is the propitiation for our sins. He provided the sacrifice to reconcile us the Father. At the cross He propitiated our sins, both past and future.

There is no excuse when we sin. We can’t blame any one or any thing. If we had to go to court we would be found guilty, because we are. Our sentence would be severe. God’s righteousness and our sin are totally incompatible. But because He is our propitiation He can be our advocate. He argues on our behalf. Even when we sin, for which there is no excuse, we can rely on the truth that it was propitiated at the cross.

Rather than giving us some kind of idea of liberty or licentiousness this thought should humble us and bring us into line. When I sin I need I should be reminded of the terrible price that was paid to propitiate it. The Righteous has to be sacrificed because of my sin.

What a humbling and thought provoking truth.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

If we confess our sin

If we say that 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 that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. - 1 John 1v8-10

There can be no doubt here that even believers still have to deal with their sin. If we say we have no problems with sin we only deceive ourselves. If we say that we have not sinned we make God out to a liar. God’s truth is not in us if we make these claims and His word is not really in us.

Even though we were made righteous in Christ at salvation and our sins were forgiven we still need to deal with the fact that we continue to sin. This sin affects the fellowship with God and with each other that was discussed in the pervious section. Though made righteous in Christ we still have to deal with our daily acts of unrighteousness.

Yet if we confess our sins, if we have the same mind as God and say the same thing about our sin as God does, Christ is faithful and just and will forgive those acts and cleanse us from all the unrighteousness we have committed.

Confession is more than just saying, ‘Oh I am sorry.’ True confession is a change of our minds and hearts. When we truly confess our actions are going to change.

We have a loving and faithful God who not only forgave us at salvation, but will continue to forgive we are confess and deal with our acts of sin.

Friday, 8 May 2009

No darkness at all

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and 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 Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. - 1 John 1v5-7

I guess there can not be a greater contrast than light and darkness. They simply both cannot exist in the same place at the same time. Even in the darkest darkness light will diffuse and it and give a bit of light. Light and darkness are incompatible.

In physical terms there are times when light will not totally wipe out the darkness though. If the light is dim there will still be a dullness and there may be dark corners where the light does very little to dispel it.

God however is pure light. He defines light. When God’s light shines there is no darkness at all. It dispels the darkness in even the farthest corner because His light source is omnipresent. Those who claim to walk in His light have no business walking in darkness. In fact, if we are in His light we cannot walk in darkness. Our lifestyle cannot be one of walking in the darkness of the world. From the following verses we can see that this does not mean we are sinless. The point is that we cannot continue to walk in darkness if we are walking in His light. Our walking in His light gives us the opportunity to have real fellowship with each other and is the proof that we have been cleansed in Jesus; blood.

We live in a dark, dark world. We have no business walking in that darkness.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Doctrine, fellowship, and joy

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. - 1 John 1v1-4

It is important to remember that doctrine is not just for preachers and Bible college students. It not just a course we take or something that we add to our knowledge data bank.

John gives us a great example here at the start of 1 John. The doctrine is the deity, the humanity, and the eternality of Christ. Jesus, Who was from the very beginning with the Father, was made flesh and dwelt among mankind. He was seen and handled by regular people. Jesus, as God, was manifested in the flesh to provide eternal life for all who will accept that message.

Now that is a lot of doctrine packed into one little paragraph. We could take days of Bible college lectures to discuss it. But there is more to it than just classroom instruction. John closes with the reason for the teaching – ‘that you may have fellowship with those of us who have fellowship with the Father and the Son so that you might have fullness of joy.’

When God became man and dwelt among us He provided all that was needed for sinful man to have fellowship with sinless God. He bridged the gap. Not only does it make possible fellowship with God, it also makes possible fellowship with each other. The end result of all this should be fullness of joy.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. - 2 Peter 3v18

When our children were young I used to tease them about how fast they were growing up. I used to tease them about tying a brick to their heads so they wouldn’t grow so fast. It is hard in some ways to watch our children grow to adulthood and move on with their lives. In reality that is not clear thinking. Nothing could be sadder than never seeing our children grow physically or mentally. When that happens it is a tragic and difficult situation.

Just as tragic is a Christian who never grows out of spiritual infancy. They get some basics down, show a little fruit, go to church, and have a basic faith, but just kind of spend their whole lives like a spiritual baby.

It is no more natural for a Christian to stay a spiritual baby than it is when a child does not grow up. We are challenged here to grow in two things, grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Growing in grace comes as we see His grace work in our live. All we have is because of the grace of God. We need to learn that our lives our not about us and what we can do, but about allowing His grace to work in us.

We are also to grow in the knowledge of Christ. He is our Lord and our Saviour. We grow in knowledge of Him as we watch Him work and get to know Him better. We also grow in knowledge of Him as we study His word and learn more about Him.

We never get to old to stop growing in grace and knowledge. Lets make sure that we don’t get satisfied with where we are.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

In the meantime

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; - 2 Peter 3v13-14

The Bible is clear that Jesus is coming back again. Peter focuses on the fact that eventual result of His return is going to be the destruction of all that we know now and the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. Pretty heavy stuff. Heavy enough that we need some instructions about what we are to be doing in the meantime. The passage makes it clear that we are to be looking for the new heavens and the new earth. Good enough, but what do we do while we are looking?

While we are looking we are to ‘be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.’ While we are looking we cannot afford to just hang around coasting alone with the idea that it will all be ‘grand on the day.’

Note first that there is to be a diligence about our looking. This reminds me of Paul’s words to Timothy when he talked a zeal for good works. Peter’s three goals are for peace, spotlessness, and blamelessness.

Peace is not going to come by itself. Peace runs contrary to our nature. What we want often comes before what brings peace. The same is true for being spotless and blameless. If we are going to achieve peace, in our own lives and with others, it is going to require our diligent effort. If we are going to be spotless and blameless it is going to require our diligent effort.

We can’t afford to forget the need for diligence while looking.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Since it’s all going to burn up anyway

Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, - 2 Peter 3v11

One day all of this is going to be gone. All the fancy houses and big cars and modern technology and everything else is simply going to be gone. All the stuff that we work so hard for and are so proud of is going to be burned up and gone. All of the visible things of this world that we think are so great will come to an end.

Since it’s all going to burn up one day anyway, there must be something better we can do with our lives. Fortunately God tells us what we can do. We ought to be conducting ourselves in holy conduct and godliness. Our pursuit, as we await his return, is to be Christ’s own peculiar people, burning up with a zeal to do good works that honour Him, to conduct ourselves in a holy manner, and walk in godliness. Why focus on the visible things of this world that are temporary when we can focus on the invisible things that are eternal?

Since it is all going to burn up anyway, let’s choose to spend our time in better pursuits that trying to get all we can. Lets be honest, it really doesn’t give much satisfaction even now, does it?

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Not willing that any should perish

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. - 2 Peter 3v8-9

One are of discussion that I rarely enter is that of Calvinism. I see a lot of fights and hear a lot of arguments where men fight and attack each other and question their faith and salvation. The reason I don’t enter the fray is that I really don’t have it all figured out. I believe in God’s sovereignty and I believe in man’s free will. I believe they work together somehow. I just haven’t figured it all out.

But if I believe the word of God I do know one thing. God is patient, He is not willing that anyone should perish, and He wants all men to come to repentance. Laying the above argument aside we can note something very special. Not ‘all men’ love Him. Some declare themselves His enemies. Some mock and revile Him. Some curse Him. Any yet God is not willing that any should perish. His desire is that all men come to repentance. He is patient and longsuffering as He sees His creation rebel against Him.

I think there is a hint here about how we should treat those around us. There is a whole world around us that has nothing to do with God. There is a wicked generation that lives anyway they want to. They do things that we disagree with and that we may even hate. If we are not careful we begin to hate them instead of their actions and their sin.

Then I look at God’s attitude towards mankind; longsuffering, not willing that any should perish, desiring all to come to repentance. What would happen to our words and behaviour if we saw men the same way? What would happen if our desire was to be longsuffering with all men and to desire their repentance? Might we begin to show them love instead of contempt? Might we become more efficient tools in God’s will that no man would perish?

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Be mindful of the words

Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Saviour, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." - 2 Peter 3v1-4

Peter didn’t mince his words. This Christian thing was not always going to go well; it was going to get tough. The last days would be marked by people who walk according to their own fleshly lusts. They are not going to be content with that. They are also going to scoff and mock our beliefs.

We need to ask ourselves how we are going to deal with this situation. Fortunately we are not left hopeless and helpless in this present age. Peter sends a reminder to his readers about how to deal with the scoffers, ‘be mindful of the words…’ The words he is talking about are the words spoken by the prophets and those commandments which were then being spoken by the apostles. In other words, under the Holy Spirit’s direction, we are being told to be mindful of the scriptures.

We are not going to be able to deal with the scoffers and the licentious with our own wisdom. It is easy to be mindful of the news and current events. In these days of the information superhighway we have all the facts and figures we could possible want right at our fingertips. In some ways it is a great time to be alive. At the same time we cannot afford to neglect our primary responsibility to pay heed to the scriptures. Nothing else can sustain us in the face of scoffing, mockery, and world controlled by lusts and desires.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Slaves of corruption

While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. - 2 Peter 2v19

Just like in Peter’s day we live in a day where the world offers great promises of liberty. They look at us like we are crazy because we don’t choose their lifestyle. They see our choices as a matter of what we can’t do. They claim that we are slaves to our religion.

Peter had a different perspective here. Those without Christ, especially the false teachers he is referring to here, are the ones in bondage. They are slaves of corruption. I think of drug addicts who are seemingly totally carefree and life wild licentious lives. Many of them know deep down, but their habits are killing them.

There is an Irish film called ‘Adam and Paul.’ It tells the story of a day in lives of two Irish drug addicts who wake up in Dublin harbour where someone has glued one of them to a mattress. I don’t know if the director intended it, but this start is symbolic of the story of their entrapment to their drug habit. The whole day is spent trying to find drugs. They lie, steal, and cheat to get their fix. No one is safe from their efforts to ‘score.’ At the same time they are being pursued by others with the same problem. It is a dark and ugly story. Nothing matters to them but satisfying their master. They finally get their drugs toward the end. The closing scene shows their utter depravity. The next morning both of them are back in Dublin harbour. One of them has died during the night, and the response of the other is to take the drugs out of his pocket and walk away.

While this might be an extreme example, it does show the reality of being trapped in sin. Corruption is a terrible master. It cares nothing for its servants. There is no real and lasting liberty.

Be careful that we do not believe the lies of the cruel master who cares nothing for us. Only in Christ can we find lasting freedom from that bondage.