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Conditional Security – Philippians 1:3-11

Philippians 1:3-11

3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,

4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,

5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.

9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,

10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,

11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Recently I attended a Sunday School class that was decidedly of the “once saved always saved” persuasion and we were spending some time in the passage below.  Once we arrived at verse 6, the teacher mentioned how important this passage was and how he found comfort in it.  He was exulting in the good work of God, that is, to supply Christian security to believers based solely on initial faith at the moment of conversion.

But I had questions.

I don’t think Paul is addressing the eternal security of the believers in Philippi.

He is writing to one of his very favorite church groups.  The context is their fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.  Lets break this down a bit.

When Paul mentions fellowship, what is he talking about?  The word Paul uses for fellowship can also be translated as partnership, or participation.  The Philippians were partnering with Paul in the gospel.  Is it simply the fact that they were Christians like he was and therefore they had fellowship?

Possibly.

But why is he defining the time limits so precisely, why does he have the ending clause of “from the first day until now”.  I think when Paul uses “now”, he is referring to a very specific partnering, but is being incredibly delicate.

Out of all the churches planted by Paul, the Philippians had one (of many) qualities that made it stand out from the rest.

They loved Paul.

And he was reminded of this love on numerous occasions.

Consider what we know about the first day of Paul’s experience with this group of people.

Acts 16:15

And when she (Lydia) was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

Acts 16:33

And he (the Philippian jailer) took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, immediately. 34 And he brought them up into his house, and set meat before them, and rejoiced greatly, with all his house, having believed in God.

Also, the last time Paul visited with the fledgling church, after his release from the jail.

Acts 16:35-40

35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.
36 And the jailor reported the words to Paul, saying, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore come forth, and go in peace.
37 But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men that are Romans, and have cast us into prison; and do they now cast us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and bring us out.
38 And the serjeants reported these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans;
39 and they came and besought them; and when they had brought them out, they asked them to go away from the city.
40 And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.

These three passages teach us a number of important characteristics of the Philippian church.

They were an inviting church.  Both of the main characters of the church (Lydia and the jailer) invited this trouble maker into their homes.  I did a quick review of the book of Acts and could not find another church that was as inviting to the apostle.  As a matter of fact, I didn’t find any church that expressly accepted Paul into their lives as the Philippians did.

Verse 35 to 40 need a bit more background to understand what possibly happened during Paul’s final moments with the church.  You see, the Philippian church was a Roman colony and as such had the Caesar’s eye on it more so than some of the other churches in the area.  A government town.  Paul, I think, used the injustice of the beating and imprisonment to broker a deal with the leaders of the City.  I think it may have went something like this.

Paul “You realize I am a Roman citizen and the beating and imprisonment you subjected us to was highly illegal”

City Official “Please leave our City without tattling on us”

Paul “The law of the Romans strictly forbids the beating and imprisonment of a Roman citizen without trial”

City Official “Please leave our City without tattling on us”

Paul  ” I have friends in the City that I care deeply for”

City Official “?”

Paul “Do we understand each other?”

In the final moments of Paul’s time with the Philippians, he may (or may not have) mentioned that he had discussed some issues with the city officials,  He definitely encouraged the new believers, sharing the love of Jesus with them and saying their goodbyes.

But wait – remember in chapter 1, verse three, where the apostle state they have shared in the gospel from the first day?  It is obvious that the Philippians shared with Paul and his companions their homes, their lives and their goods.

Wow – Carl – there is nothing in the previous passage that says the Philippians gave of their goods to Paul.

Granted, that may be a stretch, but they loved him and I think they gave him some moolah, you know – cash.  Also, if you look at the end of the book, specifically verse 15 of the fourth chapter, you will find that this church was the only church that supported Paul when he left them behind.

Consider

Philippians 4:10-19

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.
15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.
16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.
17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

So lets get this straight.  The Philippians supported Paul at the following times
* When he left the Philippian church the first time
* Twice in Thessalonica
* At least one in Corinth
* At least once in prison (the reason for the writing of this epistle)

Wow – Carl – there is nothing in the previous passage that says the Philippians gave of their goods to Paul in Corinth.  (My my my –  nothing gets by you now, does it?)

Consider

2 Corinthians 11:9

and when I was present with you and was in want, I was not a burden on any man; for the brethren, when they came from Macedonia, supplied the measure of my want; and in everything I kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.

Paul could take gifts from the Philippians since they loved him.  (They were not questioning Paul’s motives or reluctant in supplying his needs as some others were.

So, lets get back to the original issue.

What is the good work that Paul is referring to in the beginning of the book?

I humbly submit that he is referring to the Philippian church actively partnering in the gospel through supplying the apostles physical needs.

The “once saved always saved” teaching simply isn’t there!

Guess we will have to look somewhere else for that teaching!

Maybe a commentary?


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Conditional Security – 1 John 2:19

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I was driving home from helping my son install some ceiling fans, and as I was listening to Free Bird, it occurred to me that some within the Christian faith claim the Bible teaches “perseverance of the saints”. I know – an errant thought, but stick with me for a minute.

But first, let’s look at the verse that stirred my thinking during the middle of Free Bird, and then we can delve into the dark crevices of my thoughts.

1 John 2:19

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 it might become plain that they all are not of us.

Perseverance of the saints is not a troubling teaching in my mind, but to be practical, we have to admit that it is a time dependent truth for each of us. Some believers will use this verse to claim that only true Christians remain faithful, and with that I have no argument. True believers continue to believe.

The time component is what sticks in my craw, when I hear that some believers that are living today, claim that they are in a contract with the God of the universe that is iron clad, and without conditions. That initial faith is their ticket to heaven. They will end up in heaven no matter what happens, no matter what they do, or no matter what occurs in their faith.

Let me try to explain it as I heard it in my head as I was conversing with myself on the way home – Don’t worry – I turned Free Bird off during my self conversation!! Carl – admit it – You were talking to yourself!

Carl – 1 John 2:19 teaches that true believers continue in the faith

Anti-Carl – Yes that is true, and those that left the faith were either never a believer, or that they abandoned the faith.

Carl – Oh I am sure the author intends the reader to see those who did not continue in the faith to have never been a believer

Anti-Carl – So you say, but lets get practical. Are you a believer?

Carl – Of course.

Anti-Carl – How do you know you will continue? Can you foresee the future?

Carl – Of course I cannot see into the future, but God will keep me. He has promised.

Anti-Carl – Many folks have claimed a promise from God and yet have walked away. What makes you better than them?

Carl – They were liars, even self deceived.

Anti-Carl – Again, the only assurance you have of eternal life is that you have faith at the point of death. Until that time, you cannot guarantee anyone of your continuance, since it is expressed in action (continuing with believers) as opposed to simply a feeling or a belief. It seems the security you boast in is highly time dependent and somewhat fragile until the end.

Carl – I refuse to hear you anymore!

Remember, dear reader, that the Lord’s promises are many times conditional on our heart response, our obedience, our listening and doing. Our faith is not to be based on head knowledge alone, but on a willing heart that seeks to follow Him.

Your thoughts?

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Conditional Security – 2 John 1:9

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This passage, in relation to conditional security is apparent when we realize the apostle is writing to believers, as is obvious in the opening verses, where he rejoices that some (vs 4) are walking according to truth, (implying some of the children are not walking in truth).  He goes on to speak of deceivers going out into the world, a separate group from the church it seems. (vs 7).

His warning to the believers are to watch, to hang on to the truth, do not lose what you have gained, but to win a full reward.

Then John writes vs 9, where he speaks of one who goes ahead of the true teaching, not abiding in the teaching that has both the Father and the Son. 

2 John 1:9

9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

The deceivers were against Christ, speaking of Him as only a man, or only as God, not the God-man.  (I understand two forms of Gnosticism were rising in the church at the time, either restricting the humanity of the Messiah, or the Deity of the Messiah.  

That bit of information was a freeby, since the issue in this post is the responsibility of the believer to maintain the true teaching of the Word, in relation to the Son of God.  

It seems John was giving the church a choice.  You can abandon the teaching of Christ, and not retain God, or you can abide in the truth and have both the Father and the Son.  

I can’t see how John would be addressing two different parties (lost and saved) in the same phrase, unless I was committed to a teaching that didn’t allow this consideration.

Your thoughts?

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Conditional Security – Joshua 1:9

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Joshua 1:9

9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Sunday school class was very good this weekend.  We started in the book of Joshua and reviewed the portion of Scripture above.  During our discussion, a lady made mention that verse 9 is a great promise that should give us courage.  I honestly tried to be quiet but I just couldn’t. So I broke my silence – something that happens too often I fear!

Is not the command “Be strong and of good courage” first in the passage?  Is not the last phrase – “for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” a result of obedience to the command to be strong and courageous?  Is not the context of the entire passage an exhortation to be courageous?  I suggested that if Joshua did not obey, God would not be with him.  That this verse actually contains a conditional promise.  I also reminded some that this is somewhat similar to Jeremiah’s situation in the first chapter of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 1 :17

Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.

Jeremiah was being warned – obey or be confounded (confused) in front of the enemy.

We chatted for a few minutes and one believer noticed that there was no “if” in Joshua 1:9, therefore it could not be conditional.  I admitted that that was an argument for their position and was willing to consider it.  A bit more chatting, but I became distracted by the passage again.  I always assumed the verse said …. for the LORD thy God  “WILL BLESS” thee whithersoever thou goest, – but it doesn’t strictly say that.  Just that God would be with Joshua/Israel.  I think that is possibly a different scenario.

Consider Joshua being afraid instead of being strong and courageous. God would not be with him. Not a comfortable situation!

I’m thinking the conditional/unconditional issue isn’t the central issue.  God promised to be with Joshua, and the command was to be strong and courageous.

Live with it!

The choice is ours and He will be with us!


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Conditional Security – 2 Corinthians 1:24

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It has been months since I have touched this subject and have numerous verses to offer my dear readers to consider in relation to the topic at hand.

Of course, I am not putting forward that thought that we can loose our confidence by a single sin, or even a prolonged backsliding (to a point), but there seems to be a preponderance of verses in the Word that provides the possibility of the believer walking away from the faith, and that this action has eternal consequences.

The verse under consideration today is 2 Corinthians 1:24

2 Corinthians 1:24

24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

Golly Carl, this very verse speak of our security in the Lord Jesus! Yes. That security is in the Lord Jesus, yet Paul does not say … “you stand firm in your Savior”, but you stand firm in your faith.

That faith which is yours.

My concern is for those who throw away their faith, their confidence in the Savior, the slow and imperceptible drifting away that is so common amongst the pulls and temptations of our modern life. (Consider Hebrews 2)

I will readily admit my fire is not burning hot as it was when I first believed, and with that I confess my weakness. Of course, I consider some of this diminishing of fire to be necessary in order for wisdom, understanding and patience to take hold of my life. That is an aspect of maturity and growth.

Yet I wonder…

The truth of the matter is that the lure of this materialistic life is a great danger and I fear that my faith may shrink at times.

My Savior is great and He is the One who rescues me, and yet I need to accept the responsibility of this relationship He has invited me into.

Consider your faith.

Are you standing, or drifting away?


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1 John – Testing to Know – Part 12 – Summary

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Summary Statements

At the beginning of this series, I made mention of the purpose John had in giving these tests for believers.  Was it to confirm fellowship or to confirm identity (i.e. whether you are a believer or not).

Let’s read the following passage afresh and consider the message John is giving us.

1 John 5:10
Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.

1 John 5:11
And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

1 John 5:12
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

1 John 5:13
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.

1 John 5:14
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

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John, in his summary statement, seems to make it clear.

Lets follow his logic…

  1. God has supplied a message – a testimony.
  2. This message is that He gave believers eternal life.
  3. This life is in His Son.
  4. Have life as defined in the epistle? You have the Son.
  5. Don’t have the Son, as evidenced by the tests supplied? John says you do not have life.

It all hinges on the relationship, if any, with the Son.

His is the only One who has the life of God resident in Him.  We do not have the life resident in us, other than through Him.

Then John supplies the summary statement

1 John 5:13
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.

1 John 5 12But John, you just taught of who had life and who didn’t and now you are addressing believers?

Is this simply a reminder of where believers come from, i.e. that at one time we did not have the Son and therefore had no life?

Is John providing tests in order that some believers may experientially know of their relationship before God?  Does this imply that some believers do not have that experience?

Or is John’s purpose a call to faithfulness in passing the tests?

Does the message of John challenge you to greater love and faithfulness, or does it simply define the life you are living currently?

Let me know of how you understand this book, reasons for thinking the way you do and how this entices you to follow Him.  Let me know if our journey together in the book of 1 John has challenged you in a specific area.

Although this series of posts is complete, I intend to chase down a word study in the book of 1 John, looking at the term “know”.  If this is of interest to you, please come join me in looking at 1 John – Knowledge to Know

I hope you found a truth that was helpful in your life within this post.  Drop me a line, or send this post to a friend that you thought of recently.


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1 John – Testing to Know – Test 11

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Test # 11 Relationship with Spirits

1 John 4:1 – 7

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for 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 from God,

and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them.

We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

Our last test dealt with loving our brother.  This test also finds its result in loving our brother, but the source of this love is defined by the spirit we know according to John.  Our last test dealt with giving to our brother in need.

This test is defining the spirit we listen to.

Let’s consider John’s claim in verse 6.  He is from God.  The apostles are from God, but of course not in the same manner that Jesus claims He is from God.  Jesus taught that He came from God.

John 8:42

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.

Note that John is also describing believers as being from God, in verse 4.  The family of God has their beginning and ending in the Triune God.

John is setting a stage, defining that he and the apostles are true prophets and teachers as opposed to those who are described as false prophets in verse 1.

John is also defining two spirits that are preaching and teaching in his day.  The apostles of Jesus have a message to be trusted and the false prophets that are in the world have a message, even during John’s time.  How much more today!

John has confidence in his message, and the message of the apostles.  John is telling believers to test all messages that you lend an ear to.  He includes all messages, even his own.  He has no fear of failing the test.  (Only those who know they are preaching a false message fear the test!)

Test the Spirits.

Check out the source of the message.  The spirit that confesses Jesus Christ as having come in the flesh is from God.  This is a test for believers to continually perform on those they hear.

Let me tell you a story that comes to mind.

I love attending home Bible studies and during series of studies, that I was a new comer to, the believers exhibited denominational differences that I thought I might learn something from.  Was I uncomfortable?  Yes.

In my previous teaching, I had taught against the very thing I was witnessing, but I sought to learn and give these folk an opportunity to provide answers to my questions.

I still remember the room we were in when the key message, in my opinion, became crystal clear.

The teacher was addressing the crucifixion and claimed that the “Christ spirit” left Jesus when He hung on the cross.

Pardon me?

god-in-the-flesh.jpgI sought clarification, and eventually found out they considered Jesus to have the “Christ spirit” during His ministry years only, that is from the baptism up to but not including the crucifixion.

I closed my Bible, stood up, and declared that I cannot accept that teaching.  I turned around and left the meeting.

There are multitudinous teachers out there.  John is supplying a test for the message we are to adhere to.  If you are listening to a message that is not openly teaching the humanity of Christ, run.

Run far away from that spirit and return to the spirit that is from God.

I hope you found a truth that was helpful in your life within this post.  Drop me a line, or send this post to a friend that you thought of recently.


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1 John – Testing to Know – Test 10

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Test # 10 Love of the Brethren

1 John 3:14 – 18
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.

Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Sometimes I think if I study the Word more and more, it is proof of my passing from death into life.  Or if I seek out the lost, or pursue a holy life or provide for my family, or….  All these things God calls us to, and more, but this particular test John gives is simple.

Love for the brethren, our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

It is so easy, at least for me, to cry and whine about the believers I know, but that is such a sinful attitude.  I need to serve them, love them, seek their good above my own.

And there is the rub.

If I were to give all my money or time to a brother, in need, would that be loving him?

I have come to realize that giving can be a complex problem, where supplying funds, or efforts, or counsel can just as likely backfire as do well.  How can we know when a gift initially considered, will not simply enable a sinful decision.

Is this our place to discern?  We are called to love the brethren, and love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

nice

To truly love the brethren is not to simply be polite, or nice.  Note that the Word defines love as kind. (see 1 Corinthians 13:4)  Nice is not in the definition!  It is in France.  (Sorry bout that – couldn’t resit a dad joke!)

To be kind in a difficult situation is to speak truth gently, to find the best method to address a wrong attitude or action in a brother.  To be nice is to pat him on the back, give him a hug and tell him everything will be alright.  We are not called to be nice.  That is a false caricature of the true believer.

To love a brother is to “not insist on your own way”.  (again check out 1 Corinthians 13:5) Oh no…. how can I know I helped a brother if I am to allow for alternate ways for a brother.

This is too much for me.

OK, so to help a brother must result in my brother accepting my counsel. Not so fast Carl!

Humility 1I need humility to truly love a brother, and this humility comes from Him.  If I am to love a brother, I need to exercise humility in our discussion, or in my gifting, directing the brother to Him.  If my brother finds assistance in knowing Him, I am truly loving my brother.  If I am seeking only to make another Carl – golly – that is just a waste of time!

Like I said at the beginning – this test is simple.  I did not say it was easy.

To love a brother is to get out of the way, but I just don’t want to sometimes.  But alas – that is what is needed!

And that is the test John is speaking of here.

I hope you found a truth that was helpful in your life within this post.  Drop me a line, or send this post to a friend that you thought of recently.


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1 John – Testing to Know – Test 9

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Test #9 Continuation of Sinning

1 John 3:4 – 7
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.

No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.

Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

Why did Jesus come to earth?

To save us from hell?

Umm – not to sure John is discussing that here.  Don’t get me wrong – that is definitely a huge benefit for us, but this passage doesn’t seem to teach us that

Why did He come to earth?  John tells us that He appeared in order to “take away sins”.

Now did John mean the guilt of sin?  Or maybe the penalty of a sinful life.  Both of those teachings are available in the Word, but  I am not understanding this particular passage that way.

John 1 29He came to take away sin, and if we abide in Him, we will not continue in sin.

Will we find sinless perfection in this life?

Dare I say that there may be fleeting moments in this life where the only thing I think of is how to please the Father.  In those rare moments, I am free of sin.

Oh, but the weakness of my flesh, where distractions, desires and deceptions are the hook I choose to bite, taking me away from this peace.

But enough of my failings.  His purpose is to take away sin from our lives, and that we are to live (practice) righteousness in our lives.

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May I be so bold as to say that if you do not struggle to practice righteousness, fight to gain the wisdom of God, seek the strength only He can provide, you may not be experiencing the reason He came.

Only when I resist the sin in me, do I realize the enormity of the foe.  I need Him to save me from this body of death, and He can supply peace and joy in the midst of the battle.

But the battle is real – Practice righteousness consistently, and seek His strength.

I hope you found a truth that was helpful in your life within this post.  Drop me a line, or send this post to a friend that you thought of recently.


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1 John – Testing to Know – Test 8

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Test #8 Continuation in Truth

1 John 2:24 – 25
Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.

And this is the promise that he made to us–eternal life.

You know I can’t honestly agree with John in this first phrase.  Whoa – hold on before I am labeled a heretic.

These that John were writing to had heard the gospel from the apostles (who walked with the Lord) or teachers (that had walked with the Apostles).  Most, if not all the hearers had been given a gospel message that was original, correct and sourced from those who walked with the Messiah.

Nowadays, I think you may agree, the gospel message is somewhat modified, and the message can be mangled.  For a Bible teacher to simply refer to this passage to justify staying in the particular church affiliation that he heard the gospel in the beginning, may be a stretch.

Unless of course, John is speaking of the message abiding in us as the Spirit of God, the presence of Jesus.  Not just some doctrine, which may be disfigured when we first heard it, but in hearing it, somehow we grasp Jesus by faith, (or He grasps us first, depending on your soteriology.)

denominationsNo matter.

In John’s world I think I am understanding that the person of Jesus is that which John may be referring to when he speaks of “what you heard from the beginning”.

Jesus call to salvation may come from an Armenian or Calvinist body, an Amillennial or Premillennial church, a Pentecostal or an Anglican fellowship.  Jesus can shine through, and as He does, we need to grasp onto Him.

I have often defined a believer by the minor doctrines he believes, and yet many, I look back on, truly had the Spirit of God alive in them.   I judged these dear folk to be “non-pure”.  How ironic!  As I judge, I am rightly to be judged.

The test here is the test of continuation in the truth.

Are you seeking the truth, even if it rubs you the wrong way.  Are there passages in the Word that you “skip” because considering them might topple your doctrinal apple cart?

My of my – the apostles had their Jewish thought process tore up when they met the Jewish Messiah. Why should we consider ourselves to be without error.  Our life in the Son is an experience of growth and learning.  If you are not challenged in your thinking, think again.  He wants us to be renewed in our thinking. (I think that is in the Bible somewhere – haha!)

My point is that if you confessed Christ as Lord and Savior in a fundamental Baptist church, considering the teaching of Pentecostals or Mennonites may help you at least understand their faith.  They may have a way of looking at the Word that may enlighten you in ways that are not possible in your own “crowd”.

Study

The fundamentals of the gospel are non-negotiable. Those secondary items that cause you concern when other believers speak of them need to be studied from the Bible, honestly considered in your faith.  There have been a number of topics that I have had to face in my walk with the Lord that have scared me.  Some I refused to consider for many years due to my ignorance of the topic.

May I suggest that considering other Christian faiths may assist in our own walk of faith in the following ways

  • Love of the brethren will be enhanced since we can at least understand their position.  True believers, though they may think differently concerning some Bible passages, are not the enemy.  They may challenge your beliefs in ways that are cleansing and beneficial to your life.  Your own belief system may be strengthened based on your discussion, or – heaven forbid – you may find their belief system to make more sense from the Word.  (This I have experienced!)
  • CartoonA broader understanding of the Word of God will allow for the mystery of the Word to become apart of your life.  If you feel you fully understand the Word, repent of this arrogance.  Remember that this ancient book is not a cartoon comic that we can pick up for 2 mins and understand.  That is way too shallow!
  • A pursuit of truth in the believers life does not require settling for the first set of doctrines provided.  It is a starting point, upon which your faith is to be challenged and changed, if need be.
  • us-vs-themDiscussion with believers of other denominations and understanding of their faith systems within the Christian church may possibly break down some of the “us verses them” attitude in the Body of Christ.   I am pretty sure Paul would applaud this.  I need to add that this discussion, if it is to be fruitful, has to be based on the shared understanding that the Word is the authority, and not tradition, logic or emotional bias.

My friends, allow the Word to be the judge of your belief system.  Letting Him rule through the Word will challenge you in your thinking and therefore in your life choices.

Continue to abide in the Son, and in doing so grow in your faith!  (By the way, if’n you ain’t growin (in some manner), you ain’t in the Son!)

I hope you found a truth that was helpful in your life within this post.  Drop me a line, or send this post to a friend that you thought of recently.


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1 John – Testing to Know – Test 7

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Test # 7 Denial of the Son

1 John 2:22 – 23
Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.

No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.

In our last post, we looked at each verse within John’s epistles where he mentioned antichrist.  1 John 4:3 speaks of

…every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. We have seen where antichrist

Antichrist does not confess.  This set of verses describes antichrist as one who denies the Son.  Is there any difference between denying and not confessing?  I wonder.  Why is John changing terms, and switching from one concept (not confessing) to another concept (denying).  This might be very interesting to find shades of meaning that may give us a clearer understanding of the Word.

splitting hares - bugsy

Whoa Carl – You are splitting hares again!

Consider the Bible in John 1:20, where John (the Apostle) records what John the Baptist tells that brood of snakes when they question him

John 1:20

He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”

No deep stuff here.  To deny and to confess are two sides of the same coin!  John again combines confession and denial in the 23rd verse.

I must say that I feel confession is related to verbal communication, and denial may include both verbal communication and actions done in the body.  I have nothing to base this on, other than my own thoughts.  Let us leave that behind then, and simply be thankful for the clear statement that John gives us in his gospel.

So let us proceed with the test that a Christian will not deny the Son.

To begin with I often have thought that denial of the Son only happens at the point of death, right?  Usually in relation to martyrdom.  This is simply an incorrect way of thinking about denial.  Was Peter at death’s door when he denied the Lord?  How about Demas, when he walked away from the  Apostle Paul.

Peter DenialJesus even predicted Peter’s denial.  The Word describes our lives as endless opportunities to deny Him.  I am afraid denial is a current and dangerous condition for believers and non-believers.

Before I go any further, I think it is imperative to remind the reader of Proverbs 24:16

for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.

It is also good to remember that, although Peter denied the Master, Jesus restored Him.  In this story of Peter’s denial, I see hints of a progression to a full denial.  Peter stumbled into the denial, and although warned by the Lord, committed the act.  His denial was dealt with later on, but Peter’s response to his denial speaks volumes to me.  He immediately knew he had sinned, in that when he understood his actions, he broke down and wept.

Mark 14:38 The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that full and complete denial is not necessarily a one time decision, but a culmination of decisions regarding the Lordship of Christ.

It is obvious for all who have walked with the Messiah for more than a few weeks, that we are weak and He is strong.  We are (at least I am) continually fighting temptations, and at times I fail.  Upon confession, I claim His promise and seek to walk uprightly again.

The denial that John speaks of in this set of verses speaks of a final denial sometime before death, a denial that is intentional, decided on by the person with a positive will towards the denial.  An active, forward pushing denial that reveals a hardened heart and resolute spirit.

Whether you are a believer (or a non-believer) – Denial is the death of you.  Confess Him as the One who is Lord!

I hope you found a truth that was helpful in your life within this post.  Drop me a line, or send this post to a friend that you thought of recently.


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1 John – Testing to Know – Test 6 Part B

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Test #6 Becoming an Anti-Christ – Continued

oneanother.jpgIn our last post, I settled on the topic of church life through a computer monitor, and how this may be a trap.  In the post, I challenged the reader to fulfill the “one another” commands, while attending a virtual church meeting that is becoming so acceptable in this society.

As I researched this list, it shocked me as to the volume of verses that contain the phrase “one another”  This list does not contain passages that define brotherly love other than with the term “one another”  This list only includes that one specific term.

Although lengthy, take your time and consider the consistency of this command throughout the New Testament.

Romans 12:10
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 12:16
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Romans 14:13
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

Romans 15:5
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,

Romans 15:7
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Romans 15:14
I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

Romans 16:16
Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

1 Corinthians 7:5
Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

1 Corinthians 11:33
So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another–

1 Corinthians 12:25
that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

1 Corinthians 16:20
All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

2 Corinthians 13:11
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

2 Corinthians 13:12
Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Galatians 5:13
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Ephesians 4:2
with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 5:19
addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,

Ephesians 5:21
submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Colossians 3:9
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices

Colossians 3:13
bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Colossians 3:16
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

1 Thessalonians 3:12
and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,

1 Thessalonians 4:9
Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,

1 Thessalonians 4:18
Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:15
See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

2 Thessalonians 1:3
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.

Hebrews 3:13
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Hebrews 10:24
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

Hebrews 10:25
not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

James 5:16
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

1 Peter 1:22
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,

1 Peter 4:8
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:9
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

1 Peter 4:10
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

1 Peter 5:5
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

1 Peter 5:14
Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

1 John 1:7
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 3:11
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

1 John 3:23
And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.

1 John 4:7
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:11
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:12
No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

2 John 1:5
And now I ask you, dear lady–not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning–that we love one another.

Enjoy fellowship with the saints.  Love one another.  Turn the one eyed bandit off!  Be with the saints!

I hope you found a truth that was helpful in your life within this post.  Drop me a line, or send this post to a friend that you thought of recently.


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1 John – Testing to Know – Test 6 Part A

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Test #6 Becoming an Anti-Christ

1 John 2:18 – 19
Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

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 it might become plain that they all are not of us.

Wow – When I first read this verse, I couldn’t understand it.  Why wasn’t antichrist capitalized?  And why is John saying that there are many antichrists?  And that antichrists have already arrived in the first century?

Didn’t he know the Bible taught of the one coming Anti-Christ who would rule the world, work with Satan and have a false prophet as a side kick?

Let’s consider what the Bible says about  antichrist.  As a matter of fact, lets consider what 1st and 2nd John says about the antichrist, since this topic is restricted to these two books.

Four verses in all the Bible speak of antichrist.  Let’s see what they can teach us.

1 John 2:18
Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

This verse, which we are currently looking at, simply defines the occurrence and timing of the coming of antichrist.

  • They are coming.
  • They are present, that is, in the first century at the time of John’s writing.
  • And they signify it is the last hour.

1 John 2:22
Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.

This verse actually gives us a definition of antichrist.  A deceiver and denier of both the Father and the Son

1 John 4:3
and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

A bit more definition of antichrist – one that does not confess Jesus (as Lord).  Also that there is a spirit associated with antichrist.

2 John 1:7
For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.

John’s second epistle describes antichrist as a deceiver and denier of the humanity of Christ.  This is 1 John 2:22 retold!

So, as a test for believers, 1 & 2 John is instructive regarding antichrist.  Defining antichrist gives guidance for believers.

Our particular set of verses in 1 John 2:18-19 speak of consistency of faith.  Perseverance in following the Jesus described in the Bible, who has been raised from the dead, ascended bodily into heaven, and reigning from above.

In summary, these verses speak of antichrist not continuing with the family of God. This verse is often called upon to defend an Augustinian theology, but that is not my goal with this blog.  I would like to be practical for once.

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A living faith in the Son and the Father requires a living relationship with His people.  Continue with His people, or it may appear that in pulling away from a fellowship of believers, the actions of antichrist are being replicated.

Dear reader, do not fall for the teaching that is popular nowadays, that church can be virtual, that Christianity can be lived through a monitor.  A monitor does not have a beating heart for God, a sense of belonging with one another.  The television monitor becomes a barrier in fulfilling these exhortations.  The family of God is a one another community.  We need each other.

I will publish a list on “one another” commands found within the New Testament in our next installment.

I hope you found a truth that was helpful in your life within this post.  Drop me a line, or send this post to a friend that you thought of recently.


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1 John – Testing to Know – Test 5 Part B

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Test #5 – Don’t Love the World – Continued

In our last post we considered John’s teaching of loving the world, what it meant and our responsibility to not do it.  In this post, lets consider the second portion of the verse, not loving the things in the world!  Let’s read the passage once more, prior to digging in.

1 John 2:15 – 17
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.

For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life–is not from the Father but is from the world.

And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Things in the World

Initially, when I read this phrase, I automatically think of my Prius. Or my computer.  Or my phancy phone.

You know, material “things” of the world.  But as I read the 16th verse, it doesn’t say … all that is of the world…

John declares that three things are in the world, that is according to verse 15, which believers are not to love.

Those three things are as follows

  • the lust of the flesh
  • the lust of the eyes
  • the pride of life

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Now of course I could see that my racing Prius appeals to my lust of the flesh.  (What?)

But buying a Prius doesn’t mean I have loved a thing of the world, unless it was purchased to consume upon my own desires (lusts) and pride.

By the way, the stripes were a gift from my awesome daughter, but that is another story!  You can read of it at the post Let Me Tell You a Story – A Racing Prius

What is my point?

The things of the world are not to be relegated to material things.  The things of the world are those characteristics, attributes, desires and traits that pull us away from the Father and His Messiah.   A Prius, on it’s own, can not pull me away from the Father!  But watch out – if it appeals to the lust of my eyes, then yes I have a problem.

77's pride of lifeThese three “things” of the world make us seek independence from God (pride of life), drives us to satisfy sexual desires outside the confines of a loving marital relationship (lust of the flesh), and propels us to accumulate possessions, power or people (lust of the eyes).

I freely admit my struggle with succumbing to loving my lust and pride, but I can honestly tell you that owning a racing Prius isn’t the result obeying the lust of my eyes!

Where is your struggle?  The desires of the believer are addressed here and the message is that we can decide on what our desires are to be.

Feelings follow faith.  A life of seeking the will of God (even when desire may be weak to non existent) will produce long term desire for the will of God to be realized.

Seek the will of God.  It’s got a brighter future!

I hope you found a truth that was helpful in your life within this post.  Drop me a line, or send this post to a friend that you thought of recently.


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1 John – Testing to Know – Test 5 Part A

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Test #5 – Don’t Love the World

1 John 2:15 – 17
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.

For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life–is not from the Father but is from the world.

And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Ok – John brings to our attention two topics that believers are not to love!  This has always been a confusing set of verses for me, especially since a brother once compared John 3:16 with them

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Same Greek word used in both sets of verses.  We are told not to love the world, and yet God so loved the world.
This is difficult!
Or is it?
The Greek word is kosmos and has the following definitions (BLB Strongs Dictionary)
  • an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government

  • ornament, decoration, adornment, i.e. the arrangement of the stars, ‘the heavenly hosts’, as the ornament of the heavens. 1 Pet. 3:3

  • the world, the universe

  • the circle of the earth, the earth

  • the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human family

  • the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ

  • world affairs, the aggregate of things earthly, the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ

  • any aggregate or general collection of particulars of any sort                                            the Gentiles as contrasted to the Jews (Rom. 11:12 etc)

kosmos.pngThe World
Kosmos is used to describe multiple ideas, ranging from the commonly thought of “world” as in the universe, or the physical earth, all the way to describing an arrangement or order.
Within this varied word usage, as in John 3:16, kosmos describes the totality of lost humanity, those for whom Christ died.
1 John 2:15 depends on an alternate available meaning, that is, the order or system of the world. This is what I call the “ways of the world”.
We all would recognize it when this “system” is used against us.  When a lie is uttered to defame our reputation, we realize someone is using deceit (a “way of the world”) to attain power over us (a goal of those using the ways of the world).
When a boast is made to puff us up, we can (and should) recognize this is a method used to influence us for someone else’s priorities.
When an advertiser uses a scantily clad woman to entice us to buy 12 widgets, we need to recognize this “way of the world” is depending on our fallen nature to lure us into providing funds for their bottom line.
These “ways of the world” are systems that we must not depend on, and need to recognize as being temporary, fleeting and trending to destruction.
And if you love this system, the love of the Father is not in you.

I hope you found a truth that was helpful in your life within this post.  Drop me a line, or send this post to a friend that you thought of recently.


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1 John – Testing to Know – Test 4

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Test #4 Loving my Brother

1 John 2:9 – 11
Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.

Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.

But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

In the last post, we dealt with three concepts that John addresses in this epistle.  Justice, love and faithfulness.

John starts out with the believers claim of abiding in the light and yet hating his brother.  It is, John warns us, a false claim.  Hating a brother in antithetical to Christian life.  Golly, the Master has told us to love our enemies.  Love, in its proper understanding is the very heart of God, and is to be the heart of the believer.

But lets consider this issue of stumbling.  If we love our Brother, there is no cause for stumbling.  I assume John is saying that hating my brother is the cause of stumbling, at least in this context.

Quite a while ago, I came over another verse that made a similar claim.

Psalm 119:165

Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.

Let’s consider what it means “to stumble”.  John uses the greek term σκάνδαλον skandalon when he speaks of stumbing in this verse.

The term refers to a trap or a snare, an impediment to cause tripping.  Occasionally the term refers to the Master Himself, in relation to those who were blind and unwilling to repent.

Life is full of these traps, and by the deception of the enemy, these traps may appear to be justifiable in the believers thinking.

Let me give you an example.

A neighbor once became antagonistic to our family, and his hatred centered on my sweet little wifey.  He drug us into court over crazy claims and personally sought to intimidate us.  This went on for a number of years and we had friends that counselled us to retaliate in one way or the other.

Thinking without the guidance of the Word, we could have retaliated justly in our thinking.  He started it.  He was the one who spread lies about us, and the neighbors we were close to.  He deserved to be opposed!

david-spares-sauls-lifeIt just so happened (providentially don’t you know) that we were reading through the story of David and Saul, and how David would not retaliate on Saul.  Vengeance is mine saith the Lord, was a phrase that kept coming up.  Love your enemy.

Can I say we never fell into a hatred of our neighbor.  Not!  Absolutely I was weak.   But as the Lord supplied strength, we came out of this period seeing the Lord deliver us from this neighbor, and heard many stories of His justice being enacted on this poor man.

But I want to confess something.

Our effort to love this neighbor during this time was a bit weak.  We didn’t retaliate in any way, other than sometimes slipping into vile gossip, but we were not very proactive either.  Being friendly when seeing him on the sidewalk, offering a meal or giving a gift (like a big ol apple pie?) may have been a good start.

Let us not think that the demands of the Master are of no impact on our lives.  I often considered the offer of grace to be a relief from the burden of the ten commandments.  In some ways, the burden is greater, since the requirement is to obey the spirit of the law and not simply the letter of the law.  With the same breath, I also want to remind us to learn of Him.

Matthew 11:29 – 30

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

He is the One to look to for all things.  Help me O Lord in making Your will my focus.

I hope you found a truth that was helpful in your life within this post.  Drop me a line, or send this post to a friend that you thought of recently.


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1 John – Testing to Know – Test 3

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Test #3 Keeping His Commandments

1 John 2:3 – 5
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.

Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,

but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:

This is the test that caught my attention when I was studying for the “Commandments for Christians” posts.

The issue in this verse is the identification of the commandments being referred to .  Is this referring to the Ten Commandments?

Yes and no.  My understanding of the new covenant that Jesus initiated for believers in the upper room, and sealed with His death and resurrection, is that He has authority over all.  He has authority over the prophets, the law giver (Moses), the interpretation of the Old Testament, the moral standards for the believer, the interpretation of the Old Testament, the …..

Get my point?  He is Lord.  And by sitting in this position, He has elevated the commandments to a much higher level, and the proper understanding and application of them in the believers life is the challenge for us.

So Carl, what is John defining when he refers to commandments in this book?

Three overarching topics rise to the surface in this study.

Truth (Righteousness)

A believer is responsible for seeking the truth and acting on it.  I have published a series “Judge Judge Judge” in the past, looking at the teaching of righteousness / justice. The reader may want to take a few moments to review.

The Master wants His people to live in the truth and make life decisions based on the truth.  This is critical and we will find this thread of thought throughout this letter from John.

Love (Mercy & Grace)

When I read this epistle, the command to  love is everywhere.  Love the brethren, love the Father, love the Son, love the lost.

Oooops – Does John bring this last topic up?

This epistle is all about family.  Although the command to evangelize runs through the New Testament, John’s purpose in this epistle is to define the status of the believer based on a number of tests.  Some may find evangelism when John refers to loving the brethren, and that may be true.  I am not convinced.  It is a minor point, since love is to permeate every aspect of our lives.  We cannot love God and not love the lost.  This is a natural outgrowth of living in the light.

As we venture through this letter, we will find that loving God is to be an all consuming motivation for the believer.

Faithfulness 

The third point that I find in this letter is faithfulness to the Father and the Son.  Denial of the Son is the lynch pin of Christianity.  I am looking forward to studying this topic most.

As I surveyed over the epistle, and the test’s John supplies, it became evident that this list looked familiar.  I think the Master supplied a similar list when confronting the Scribes in Matthew 23:23

Matthew 23:23

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

The Word is consistent, and John is delivering this truth to his brothers and sisters in a manner that suits their needs.

As I have been in this fascinating book, it has definitely challenged me, clearing out some wrong thinking, and realigning priorities to live by.  I hope, as my readers follow along, you will also find a challenge to follow Him closer, and to enjoy His loving nature in your life.

I hope you found a truth that was helpful in your life within this post.  Drop me a line, or send this post to a friend that you thought of recently.


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1 John – Testing to Know – Test 2 Part C

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Test # 2 – Relationship with Sin – Continued

In our last post we considered verse 9 under the topic of our relationship with sin.  Let’s continue with verse 10.

1 John 1:8 – 10
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Living in Denial

Take note that this denial is different than the first condition.  The first dealt with a denial of the nature of the believer.  No sin existed in the believer.  The result was the loss of truth experienced in the life of the believer – no small issue!!!

This denial is regarding individual acts of sin in the believers life.  This is the condition I fear I fall into far too often.

I feel a story would be best to illustrate this point.

My wife and I were seeking to witness to Don and his girlfriend and were developing a great relationship with them.  We would get together on Friday nights and play cards, or some board game, and have a hoot of a time.

One night, as the competition rose around the table, I made a critical mistake in laying down a wrong card, losing the game.

foul wordOut came a foul word.  Don had never heard me swear before and he instantly picked up on it!

I denied it.  We argued about it. This is where things fell apart.

I needed to confess this sin in front of them, admitting I did wrong.  But I didn’t – My self righteous attitude clung to a lie, and because of that, I lost an opportunity to share the Master with Don. If I had confessed immediately, I could have shared of the mercy of God in providing this solution, but I preferred to defend my hypocrisy instead of exalt my Master.  What is wrong with me?

We remained friends, and I believe I eventually admitted to my sin to Don.  But I learned that my old man was very much alive and kicking, even in the effort to serve our Risen Savior.

Keep short accounts with the Lord.  Do not deny the sin, but seek a humble spirit to always be ready to admit to a sinful act.

I hope you found a truth that was helpful in your life within this post.  Drop me a line, or send this post to a friend that you thought of recently.


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1 John – Testing to Know – Test 2 Part B

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Test # 2 – Relationship with Sin – Continued

In our last post we considered verse 8 under the topic of our relationship with sin.  Let’s continue with one of the first Bible verses a believer memorizes, and see what John can teach us.

1 John 1:8 – 10
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Living in Confession

Condition

ConfessionIf we confess our sin.  This statement provides a condition of reality.  John mentions a plurality of sins the believer may become entangled in.  It is an act of sin that John transitions to in this verse, as opposed to the state of sinless perfection described above. Given the gracious nature of our God, this willingness to walk in the truth of our fallen condition supplies a remedy to our soul.

But does our confession stir the grace and love of the Father to forgive us?   Lets look to the result of our confession of sin.

Result

The result of our confession of sin is that

“He is faithful and compassionate to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Did I write that verse correctly?  Read it again, since I have corrupted the text with my own thoughts!

Did replacing the word “just” with compassionate make a difference?  Did I write it the way I understood it, or should I read it again?  I hope this caught your attention.  Since I noticed it, it made a difference in my understanding of a walk with the Master.

Our confession of some act of sin to the Father initiates the Father’s justice!

The Greek word “just” in this verse is dikaios, and is defined as righteous, without prejudice or partiality.

So where is the love?

This forgiveness is a result of the New Covenant in the Blood of Jesus, being shed for us, and providing propitiation (satisfaction) to the righteous requirements of the Law.  His blood shed on the cross created a covenant (like a last will of a dying person) that is binding on all participants.

As a participant (or should I say a recipient) of the terms of the New Covenant, God the Father is just (righteous) in providing forgiveness to this ol’ sinner, if I come to Him on His terms.  Humbly, and without pretense, in confessing my sins, He is just in forgiving me.

Does He love me – Of course.  He suffered and died for me when I was an enemy.

But in this context, justice is the reason forgiveness is provided!

I hope you found a truth that was helpful in your life within this post.  Drop me a line, or send this post to a friend that you thought of recently.


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1 John – Testing to Know – Test 2 Part A

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Test # 2 – Relationship with Sin

1 John 1:8 – 10
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

John is establishing our relationship the Father and the Son in relation to sin in these verses.  Each of these verses begins with a condition we at times will find ourselves in.  If we live in this condition, John supplies the result of the agreement with the condition supplied

Living in Denial

Let’s start off with verse 8.

Condition

If we say we have no sin.  Notice this is denying the existence of sin in the believers life.  His audience must have understood the sin problem prior to their salvation, since to become a believer, sin must be confessed and repented of.  (Somewhat ironic that they were in a better position as lost souls than they are now!)

John is addressing a group of believers, who after coming to know the righteous Savior, considered themselves to be “practically” righteous.  I say practically, since the Word does describe believers as positionally righteous.  This is not John’s point.  John is speaking to believers who, according to verse 9, are capable of sinning, and will need a relief of this burden.

Result

Self DeceptionOne result comes out of being in this condition.  Self deception.  How dangerous this condition is.   How very dangerous.

This condition’s fulfilled results in the believer existing in a state of falsehood.  A self imposed delusion of being incapable of committing sin.  A sinful state in reality!

No-one other than self is to blame for this darkness of existence.   This is not the result of satanic attacks – it is simply the result of loving your life.

When I have considered my own standing before God, and found it “worthy” of acceptance, I always tend toward pride.  But didn’t the Scriptures state that we are to boast in the Lord Jesus only?

Declaring “no sin” in my life produces a proud heart, dangerously close to declaring an independence from God’s provisions, and creating a state of separation from all others.  Who wants to be around Mr Perfection?

Jesus Himself, the only One who could state this claim of “no sin” and defend the truth of it, described Himself as lowly and humble.  A believer, living in this darkness will justify this bogus claim.

Follow Him who is humble.

I hope you found a truth that was helpful in your life within this post.  Drop me a line, or send this post to a friend that you thought of recently.


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