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March 31, 2016, 11:51 AM

First John



Every book of the bible should be studied by Christians, but each for its own unique reasons. So, why should we study the book of 1 John? What insights will we gain into the Christian life? How can we expect God to speak to us during this study? Knowing some background on the book will provide some useful knowledge as we begin this study. 

Who wrote 1 John?

The traditional and most accepted author of 1 John is that John the disciple wrote the letter. He is also the author of the Gospel of John. Some argue that a different John who was a leader in the second generation church wrote the book. But, this is not a popular opinion. The letter bears too many similarities to the Gospel of John in style, characteristics, and views of Jesus. The letter also begins with a claim of the author to have been an eyewitness to the life of Jesus. 

It should be noted that the traditional view comes from the writings of the early church, none of whom suggested any other author than John the disciple. This is most notably the result of the work of Irenaeus, bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, and who lived from a.d. 130–200. Irenaeus knew Polycarp, an early church leader who knew John the disciple. Therefore, Irenaeus's testimony is seen as very reliable.

When and Where was 1 John wrote?

It is generally thought that 1, 2, and 3 John are written in Ephesus after John's time of exile on Patmos. Therefore, a date of authorship in the late first century is most likely.

Why was 1 John written?

John wrote this letter to combat heresy that was trying to make its way into the church. From the very beginning of the book, there is a large emphasis on the connection between right beliefs about Jesus and true fellowship with Jesus and other believers. For John, these heresies were no small matter. They disqualified someone from being a true follower of Christ. 

Today, we face the same dangers. People wish to believe in God as they want to imagine Him. But, like John, we must stand for the truth of the One True God. Belief in a Jesus that is different from scripture is no belief in Jesus at all.




March 12, 2016, 8:23 PM

The Power in Jesus' Answers


One thing that has always puzzled me when reading the words of Jesus is how often he opts out of the most straight forward answer. Take for instance our passage today. John the Baptist sends his disciples with what could have been a simple yes or no question. Jesus' response is far from a simple yes or no.  It is a somewhat complicated reference Old Testament passages being brought to life. 

Jesus' answers are often soaked in scripture. In the desert while under temptation, Jesus used scripture to answer Satan.  Jesus uses scripture here in Luke 7. On the cross, Jesus references Psalm 22. We call it Psalm 22, but they would have called it “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

In John 8:13-19, Jesus has a unique confrontation that I think will shed some light on why He often opts out of the easier answer. In this passage some Pharisees try to discredit Jesus' ministry by saying that He is the only one that bear witness about Himself. The Law says that in order for a testimony to be considered true, there had to be at least two agreeing witnesses. Jesus was making proclamations about himself, therefore His testimony could not be taken as true. Jesus answered them by saying that He testified about Himself, and that His Father testified about Him also. 

This interaction in John 8, along with Jesus' consistent use of scripture does two things for us. First, it elevates the importance of scripture; especially that of the Old Testament. The Old Testament scriptures are where we find God the Father's testimony about Jesus. In revealing Himself to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, God the Father also prepared them for the coming of Jesus. A correct view of Old Testament salvation would be that they believed God when He said that He was going to send Jesus. 

The second thing that Jesus' consistent use of scripture should do is give us confidence. Had Jesus just been another enlightened man who had a new twist on timeless teachings, then one could easily write Him off as having nothing significant to add to the already crowded religious conversation. But, Jesus lived and taught in light of Old Testament prophecies that were meant to reveal His true identity. 

So, when John asks Jesus if he is the coming one, Jesus could have simply said yes. But, Jesus opts for a better answer. Jesus says look, all the things that scripture says will happen when the coming one comes are happening. 

Jesus' answer puts God the Father's words together with God the Son's actions. It was not the simplest answer, but it was the most powerful answer.




March 5, 2016, 8:05 PM

Jonah Pt. 4



Jonah 3:10-4:1 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.

Have you ever gotten mad because God he was merciful to the wrong person?  Of course the answer to that question is a big fat NO!!  Of course we don't get mad at God for being merciful to the wrong person.  What kind of Christian would we be if we did that? Unfortunately, we would be a normal one. 

Perhaps there is a better way to ask that question.  Lets suppose that when we all get to heaven, on the first day God calls a for an assembly.  The kind of assembly that schools usually have on the first day.  He is going to go over the rules, letting you know where the nurse's station is, and make sure you know about important times and such.  Now in that meeting, God apologizes because he had miscalculated and Heaven has turned out to be a little over populated.  It turns out that there is not enough space to give every one their own room.  But, never fear because God always has a plan.  God has already had the angles install bunk beds in every room.  Now, everyone has a place to stay and nobody has to leave.  To make sure everyone is happy, God is going to let everyone make a list of 3 people that they do not want to room with. 

Now, let's ask the question this way: Who are your 3 people?   Who are the three people that you would hate to room with in heaven? May I suggest that those three people are your Nineveh. 

This is a goofy way to get to the point, but don't think any of us would have a problem filling out that list.  We all have people about whom we think: “If people really knew that person, they wouldn't think they were so Christian.”  But isn't that true for us as well?  If all your mistakes and all your thoughts were displayed for everyone to see, would their opinions change about you?

Paul was right when he called himself the chief of sinners.  We are all the chief of sinners.  The mind blowing thought is that it took just as much of Jesus's blood to save you as it did your three.  And, you are just as undeserving of it as they are too. 

The fact that God has treated us with His grace and mercy does in turn demand that we treat everyone else with the same grace and mercy. 




February 25, 2016, 11:03 AM

God's Message to Us



Today we tackle the third chapter of Jonah. It is not a very exciting chapter as far as content goes. There are no cool plot twists. There are not a lot of extravagant details. Nobody gets swallowed by a fish. If this were a movie, chapter three would be the slow scene that follows an intense action scene that is only there to fulfill the plot line.

While chapter three is not as exciting as the first half of the book, it is the entire point of the book of Jonah. Chapter three is why God called Jonah to go to Nineveh. Chapter three is why Jonah ran from God. Not only is chapter three the whole point of the book of Jonah, chapter three is the whole point of the whole Bible. 

Chapter three reveals God's message to all of God's creation. God's message is that we are sinners that need to repent and worship Him. Without repentance, our sin will lead to our destruction. 

We should not over look chapter three because it contains the message that is the key to our hope. Just think if all of our country repented and turned to Jesus. It would not look like what the Republican Party wants it to look like, because the Republican Party is full of sinners that need to repent and turn to Jesus. It would not look like what the Democratic Party wants it to look like, because the Democratic Party is full of sinners that need to repent and turn to Jesus. We would be a nation that looked like Jesus, treated people the way Jesus treated people, and loved people the way Jesus loved people. That would truly be the greatest nation on earth.  

When we think about that, we will typically have one of two responses. They first is that of the cynic who believes that while it is a good thought, it will never happen.  The second is that of the pessimist who believes that while it could happen in theory, there is no practical way to begin that movement.

To both of those responses, Jonah chapter three stands as proof that when God moves and people listen then nations can be changed. Perhaps our response should be to pray harder, obey sooner, and believe bigger. Maybe then, our nation would be ready to give its heart to Jesus. 




February 18, 2016, 1:42 PM

My Worst Enemy



Romans 6:19-21
I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.…

One phrase that has become annoyingly popular in our politically correct word is: “what's right for me”. It is like saying that while I may not know what is best for everyone, I am the foremost authority on what is best for me. I really only have two problems objections to that statement, but they are pretty big objections. The first is rather simple. Nobody really believes that what they best for them isn't best for everyone else too. How many times have you fell in love with a product and tried to talk someone else out of getting because while it was best for you, it may not be best for them. The truth is, we draw validation when someone else chooses the same product or path that we chose.

My second objection is a little more layered. I object to the idea that I can be the foremost authority on what is best for me. Think about it this way: “If you know what is best for you, why is it so hard to do it?”  Good habits are hard to make and easy to break. Bad habits are just the opposite. I cannot count how many times I have killed a month of dieting with a Craving...that turned into just one small indulgence...that turned into a cheat meal, that turned into a cheat day...that turned into I'll start back next week...that turned into I'll start back next month...that ultimately turned into making the same New Year's Resolution as last year “but for real this time”. 

The truth is, that when it comes to what is best for me, I am my own worst enemy. That is exactly the point Paul drives home when he said that we are slaves to sin. How can I know what is best for me, when I am a slave to something that brings death and destruction?  

In Romans 6, Paul writes so well the lesson we learn from Jonah. Following God may not be the future that we envisioned for ourselves, but running from God never gets us where we wanted to go either. How can I know what is best for me, when I cannot even stop myself from sabotaging something as simple as a diet? We must come to understand that the only one who can know what is best for us is the one who knows what is ahead of us, and that is the LORD.


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