Friday, November 27, 2020

Friday – Jude - Time to Fight

 

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HIS book is devoted almost entirely to the description of apostates. Remember, an apostate is someone who, knowing the gospel & having followed from afar, is yet guilty of rejecting Christ (vs. 4). An apostate is an unbeliever. Yet not all unbelievers are apostates. Hebrews indicates that apostates are in a hopeless condition (Hebrews 6:4 - 6 & 10:26 - 27). Certainly, there is hope for lost souls in general (which is indicated here in vs. 22 - 23). Still, in our fellowship with God & in our service to Him, there are battles that must be fought. In other words, as we work to bring sheep into the fold (evangelism), there are wolves that we must be willing to ward off.  Jude calls this "contending for the faith" (vs. 3).

 

Jude defines “saints” clearly. We are the ones who are sanctified & preserved (vs. 1). We hold to a "common salvation" - a single faith (vs. 3). We are the recipients of God's grace & the acceptors of the Lord Christ (vs. 4).  We have the Spirit, love, & mercy of God; & eternal life (vs. 19 - 21). We are emissaries of mercy; evangelists bearing the gospel (vs. 22 - 23). To put it simply, we have been saved from our sin (Jude 1:23 - 24). The ungodly apostates (who Jude would have us fight against) have none of these things.

 

An apostate turns from the truth. Jude gives many examples of apostates (& of apostasy in general). Think of the Jews who came out of Egypt, (vs. 5) & the angels who fell with Lucifer (vs. 6). How about the sodomites (vs. 7 & 10). Cain, Balaam & Korah are also examples of men who were guilty of apostasy (Jude 1:11). In every case we can say categorically that they knew better and had opportunities to commit themselves to the truth. EACH ONE chose error instead.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thursday – 3rd John - Diotrephes & Demetrius

 

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OHN wrote his 3rd  letter to a man named Gaius. John said that he had a prosperous soul (3rd John 1:2). This is because he had the truth in him (vs. 3). And the presence of truth in him was evidenced by the fact that he was known for his hospitality to other Christians (vs. 5-6). So, there was plenty to compliment in this man's spiritual life. But that wasn't the main thrust of John's letter.

 

It appears that John simply wanted to encourage Gaius not to let his hospitable tendencies eclipse his spiritual judgment. So, John mentions a couple of men as case examples, so to speak, in order to clarify that some men simply can't be trusted. The 2 men John mentions are Diotrephes & Demetrius (vs. 9 & 12). Diotrephes was evidently a man with much selfish ambition & no hospitality. Demetrius was just the opposite. So, John exhorted Gaius to follow good things, & to accept godly men. He was supposed to be very cautious with religious rebels though (vs. 9 - 11). Gaius had to be on guard.

 

I suppose the dilemma here is not so much the need to be able to tell good men from evil men, but to be able to differentiate between evil men who are our mission field & evil men who are our opponents. They are to be treated differently you know. Jesus interacted regularly & kindly  with  "publicans & sinners" – so much so that he was accused of being like them; of being one of them. On the other hand, Jesus treated the religious leaders of His day with strong & hostile language.  And there was actually a third group too: a group of loyal disciples. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Wednesday – 2nd John - Truth

 

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LL truth is God's truth. In fact, Jesus even called Himself, "The Truth" (John 15:6). But some truths are more impactful than other truths. When it comes to truth, surely there is no truth more important to us than the gospel (Luke 9:25 & Mark 8:36). The eternal destiny of souls is dependent upon the purity of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, in this brief book, John the apostle wisely elevates (to the highest level possible) the importance of the accuracy of the doctrine of Jesus Christ.

 

It was the truth about Jesus Christ that drove John to write this letter.  It was THAT truth that John had in common with the "elect lady" to whom he was writing. And it was the truth of Christ that John wanted to promote continually in the life of every believer. Now, as born-again believers, brotherly love is the most important expression of the gospel in us. In fact, we love God by loving each other (Matthew 25:40 1st John 3:23). It's just another angle on "The Greatest Commandments" presentation of Matthew 22:36-40. Out of His love for humanity, Jesus Christ (the eternal Son of God) became a man. If through faith in Him we have been made His disciples, then His love is in us. If His love is in us, then it will be seen in our interactions with one another (John 13:34-35 & 15:12).

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Tuesday – 1st John 5 - Spiritual Confidence


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 know that I'm saved. I have a "know-so" salvation. Now, this spiritual confidence is not the same thing as self-confidence. Self-confidence tells me that I am able. That is intensely evil & dangerous. But a person with spiritual confidence is persuaded fully that God is able.  So, when I say that I know that I know without a doubt that I have eternal life (or even that I know that God has called me to preach the gospel) my statement is NOT about me. My statement is about God. God has made some unequivocally clear promises concerning salvation, & the gift of His Spirit. All we are doing when we latch on to these words is admitting that God is God & that He is good. And be assured, God wants to develop spiritual confidence in all of His children.

 

John clearly wrote this letter to exalt Christ, but in so doing, he was also lifting the confidence of his believing readers to a very high plateau indeed. You should take note of the word "know" in 1st John (it occurs 27 times). We know who Jesus is. We know that we are His. We know that faith is the key to God's heart, & to our victory in Christ. We know that He has given us His Spirit. We know that the Father, His Son & His Spirit are one & the same; all three eternally divine & unified. We know that God's word is always true. We know that life in Christ is eternal. We know that without Christ, a man has no hope. We know that God hears & answers our humble prayers. We know that God is willing to forgive. We know that our new nature is sinless.  We know that that world is doomed.  And we know that due to all of these spiritual truths (which we know), we have some very real & serious responsibilities. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Monday – 1st John 4 - God's Only Begotten Son

 

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ESPITE the time designation of Psalm 2:7, Acts 13:33, Hebrews 1:5 & 5:5, the word "begotten" (in reference to Jesus Christ) is a word of relationship, not a word of origination (John 3:16). The "day" designated in those passages is the day of Jesus' resurrection. Of course, even if He had a point of origin – which, He does not – the day of His resurrection couldn't possibly be that day. HE is the originator of all things. Jesus is the one & only eternal Son of the God (Isaiah 9:6). His relationship with His heavenly Father is an eternal relationship. There was a point in time when the Son of God became a human baby (1st Timothy 3:16), & there was a point in time when He became our perfect intermediary (Hebrews 9:11), but He has always been God's Son. There has never been a time when the Trinity did not exist. God is immutable. He is who He is, & He has always been the same (Malachi 3:6). Jesus is the Creator, not the created (John 1:1 & 17:5). This is a key factor in the true gospel. In fact, the Apostle John makes this theological doctrine the one most important litmus test for determining spiritual orthodoxy (1st John 4:2-3 & 14-15). It is true that God wants to have many sons (Hebrews 2:10); many human sons (John 1:12). He is working to make many creatures – creations in His own image. But He only has one eternal Son who was, & is, & is to come (John 8:56 & 58). On August 13, 1985, at the age of 10, I became an everlasting son of God (1st John 3:2). But Jesus alone has always been God's eternal Son.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Friday – 1st John 3 - When He Appears

  

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ERSE 2 is key in understanding the point John is making in chapter. Notice the timing element in John's statement. We are already the children of God, now; presently! But there is also something that we aren't yet.  We aren't yet perfectly holy like Jesus is. We will be someday. When we see Jesus at His coming (in the rapture), we will be changed (1st Corinthians 15:51 & 52)! We will become completely godly; no longer susceptible to temptations and failures. But for right now, we still lack some things.

 

Verse 3 is almost as important as the previous verse in this context. Everyone who is looking sincerely for Christ to return will be in the process of self-purification (1st John 3:2). We wouldn't need to purify ourselves if we were already pure and somehow incapable of transgressions. The point of both of these verses is to admit that we are still works-in-progress. This is the foundation for the great calls to sanctification that fill the remainder of this chapter. Without 1st John 3:2 & 3, this chapter would be a bit harder to swallow. But let's not yank the teeth out of the shark here.

 

The salient point here is that saints cannot continually revel in sin and get away with it. If sin dominates a man professing to be a saint, one of two things should be expected. 1. The saint is actually an ain't or 2. retribution and/or revival is just around the corner. If we are God's children, then God will deal with us like family. If we are imposters or pretenders, then no wonder we can't quite fit in. Saints just can't hang happily and continually with the devil (vs. 6). Like it or not, on the authority of God's Word we must admit that salvation either has a real impact on behavior, or it isn't salvation at all (vs. 3:7, 8 & 10). 

Thursday – 1st John 2 - Light & Darkness

 

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HERE has been some confusion in Christendom throughout the centuries about which perspective is correct concerning the sanctification of the saints. There are basically two views that seem at first to be mutually exclusive. 1. True believers demonstrate the authenticity of their conversion by doing right things. 2. True believers should do right things, but too often we fail to do so. Actually, both views are true. And John addresses both & from multiple angles. Right from the start he instructs us not to sin, but he admits immediately that he we will sin (vs. 1). He gives us a solution for when we do (1st John 1:9 & 2:1-2). But he turns right around & lists obedience as a basic proof of our conversion (vs. 3). So again, one might ask, "Which one is it? Is obedience a sure thing in the life of every Christian, or isn't it?" To this, we answer, "Yes!"

 

It is part of the plague of having two very different natures existing within one body. Our human nature (inherited from Adam) is absolutely incapable of victoriously holy living (Romans 7:18). On the other hand, our spiritual nature (inherited from Jesus Christ our Savior - see 2nd Peter 1:4) is absolutely incapable of defeat (1st John 3:9). Morally, I'm schizophrenic and so am I. As I allow myself to be filled by the Spirit, I can do no wrong. On the other hand, as I fail to yield to the Spirit, I can do nothing right.  This is the awful conflict of which Paul wrote in Romans 7:25. It is the struggle that Peter had in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:38). It is the frustrating dilemma that every honest believer has had since time immemorial.