Monthly Archives: November 2011

1 John 5:13-21 – Life and Death; November 16, 2011

1 John 5:13-21 – Life and Death

 

The essence of John’s message to us as believers is a seemingly simple one.  It’s one that is easy for us to regurgitate.  It’s one that we put in our worship songs, coffee cups, and t-shirts.  It’s a message that we can all get on board with, cling to, and quote with fervor and resolve.  It is not one that we enjoy walking in.

John’s message is that when Jesus becomes our all we have life – when we chase anything else we don’t.  John points out that if Jesus is not real to us we will be more easily distracted by the things of this world.  John tells us that if we never fully realize our adoption as children of God we will never stop trying to find our worth in simply serving Him.  John challenges us to examine our lives to see if the love that Jesus has poured out on us is then being poured out on those around us because if that love is being hoarded, we are not truly living.  No one likes to find out that their not really as alive as they thought they were.

Have you ever tried to tell someone whose heart is beating that they’re dead?  It’s not exactly an easy concept to grasp.  Most people, in fact, refuse to see that their lives are being lived outside of Christ.  They believe as long as things are going relatively well, God must be happy with them.  John tries to give us measuring lines to help us see whether our lives line up with what Christ has commanded us to do, but most people will never use them.  Most people in church today will never see the need for such accountability in their daily lives.  They are simply content to wander in the dark until they stub their tow or fall into a ditch.  It may sound drastic or over-dramatic, but the simple truth is that when we refuse to allow the Spirit to examine us we are choosing to walk in death and not in life.

John warns against the desires of this world.  John tells us that if we believe that we are above the Law we have chosen to walk in what Christ came to destroy.  John tells us that if we continue to walk from day to day as if there is no real sin in our lives we call God a liar and have no part with the truth that we most likely profess.  We get things so mixed up.  We are so ready to say things with our mouths that are not consistent with what is really in our hearts.  I’ve never met the person who says that they never sin, but I’ve met hundreds who refuse to address that sin in their lives because that’s just “the way they are” – they believe they can’t change nor do they really want to change.  So when the Spirit comes and sheds light on the sin in their lives and offers them a New, Everlasting Life, they stare Him straight in the face and say, “You are a liar” and then go right back to church.  John is trying to draw us away from the death that we choose to walk in and into the Life that Jesus died to give us.  But we do not enter into that Life until we first step into the Light and believe what that Light reveals.  We are far more content with playing with our idols in the dark than enjoying Christ in the Light.

It is my prayer that the Spirit would open our eyes to where we are choosing to continue in the dark.  I pray He teaches us to abide.  I pray we would stop choosing the death we prefer over the Life He has given.

As the holidays approach, beware the distractions that accompany celebrations and gifts.  Be watchful for the idols that will be available to you.  Enjoy family and fellowship, enjoy giving and receiving, but do not forget whose you are.  For those mothers and fathers who will read this, give your children Christ this year.  Not by simply taking them to church or reading a story, but living the love of Christ for your children.  I love y’all more than you know.  Grace and peace,

 

JOT

1 John 5:6-12; John 1:31-34, 16:7-15, 19:33-37 – Testify; November 2, 2011

1 John 5:6-12; John 1:31-34, 16:7-15, 19:33-37 – Testify; November 2, 2011

 

Through all the arguments I’ve heard about Christianity, there is always one that stands out to me as being counter-intuitive – the idea that Christians believe in things they cannot see.  In essence, out faith is in something that we cannot experience and have no evidence to support.  This is simply not the case.  I believe that I’ve said this over and over again as we’ve discussed John’s letter, but the Bible over and over again will point us to actual, historical accounts verified by a number of named eye-witnesses as to what God did in working salvation or destruction.  Whether it is Moses pressing the people of Israel to tell their children and grandchildren about the miracles God did to free them from the Egyptians or Peter and John telling about how they touched and heard Jesus before and after his death, burial and resurrection – the Bible points us to evidence.

John in this part of his letter is again quoting his evidence for Christ being fully man and fully God, and how this Son of God died a physical, real death and was raised again.  John’s discourse is directed specifically at a group who would teach contrary to this, but his argument speaks volumes even beyond the historical setting in which he was writing.  Lest we forget that John was there for the raising of Lazarus.  John was there when Christ pleaded with God in Gethsemane.  John was watched as Christ breathed His last upon the cross.  John was the first of the disciples to see the empty tomb.  John was in the locked room when Jesus appeared to His disciples.  John ate breakfast with the risen Christ at the Sea of Galilee.  All of these things John testifies to as an eye-witness.  Christ was not a nice children’s story to John, He was a friend, a Teacher, a risen Lord.  And what we believe has been passed down by multiple eye-witnesses and has been confirmed through history.

It is essential that our faith, which is given to us by God, be as the apostles faith was – real and accessible.  There is a reason why the disciples were willing to suffer and die for the sake of Christ.  They had “looked upon” the risen Christ, “touched” Him with their hands.  And for that they were willing to die.  They were not indoctrinated as children to believe in Christ.  They were not promised paradise if they died for His name.  Rather, their hope was that paradise would be extended to those who had not seen and heard.  And as their Savior died that people might be drawn to the Father, so His disciples died that many would be drawn to Him.

This reality must be firmly established in our hearts.  God must become real to us.  Not as we perceive Him, but as He has revealed Himself to us.  We study the Scriptures so that we may know Him more intimately.  As if we were knowing him face to face.  Any other pursuit of the Scriptures is vanity.  It is with humility that we come to Him.  It is in poverty of Spirit and contrition that we come seeking truth, and too often we do not get to those points without first tasting the lies of this world and our own wickedness.  We cannot understand the Truth until we can see ourselves for who we truly are, see Him for who He truly is, and see each other as He has chosen to see us.  Truth is not an act of the will or an accomplishment of the intellect.  It is a gift of the Spirit.  May our hearts be receptive to the Spirit’s work.  I love y’all more than you know.  Grace and peace,

 

JOT