June 2014

Desire and the Things of This World - 1 John 2:15-17

15 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. 16 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. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

At first, to not love the world may seem a strict command. There are people in the world, aren’t there? And good things God has made? In a sense it is a relative command, that our love for God the Father should be of such a quality that any attention we pay the world is hate by comparison.

There is another way to read this, though, and John gives us a clue. He summarizes “all that is in the world,” in verse 16 as, “the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and pride of life.” This has a significant similarity to the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate (Genesis 3:6).

Good for food, gratifying the flesh; delight to the eyes, desires of the eyes, and; to be desired to make one wise, the pride of life. The fruit was a simple piece of fruit. Had God offered it to Adam and Eve, it would have been delicious nourishment. When He commanded them not to eat it and they did anyway, it became the ruination of the race. Anything with the potential to thus alienate us from God and bring us to death is not worthy of our love.

Fri, 06/13/2014 - 10:43 -- john_hendryx

Darkness and Light and Hate and Love - 1 John 2:7-11

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 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.

There are a number of ideas here that deserve our attention, such as the continuity of Old and New Testaments, or the newness that comes with the Advent of Christ. Also familiar are the contrasts that John uses through his letters, and his gospel, too. What stands out here, though, is the complete incompatibility of the contrasts he presents.

Light and hate are incompatible. If someone claims to have the light of insight or understanding, but has hate in his heart, he is wrong. Love and darkness are likewise incompatible. If a person has love in their heart, they have light in their life.

Thu, 06/12/2014 - 10:59 -- john_hendryx

If regeneration precedes faith, how can we explain Ephesians 1:13?

Visitor: If regeneration precedes faith, how can we explain Ephesians 1:13? This verse lists hearing, believing and sealing with the Holy Spirit in that order. If being sealed with the Holy Spirit is the same thing as being indwelled by the Holy Spirit, or if this happens when the heart is changed (ie., with regeneration, as per Ezekiel 36:26-27), doesn't that mean that regeneration follows belief rather than precedes it?

Response: Hi and thank you for your question. Are you suggesting that because the Spirit comes to indwell the believer AFTER he believes and is justified, that the Spirit does no work whatsoever in people prior to and during his conversion? That the Spirit is dormant and is waiting for a natural, graceless person to take the first step to believe, before He will do anything? Consider that If we as regenerate believers need the Spirit daily to believe, obey and persevere in the faith, how much more does the unbeliever need Him to understand and believe the things of the Spirit (1 Cor 2:12,14). The Biblical evidence is so overwhelming that the Spirit also works prior to belief (1 Thess 1:4,5) that this should not even be a debate in the church. The sinner hears and comes to Christ only because the Holy Spirit opens his ears, eyes and understanding to the gospel (Deut 29:4, 30:6; John 6:63-65). As in creation, the Spirit broods over us, so to speak, before He gives the birth to us.  It is important that we do not limit the Spirit's work but understand that He has a full array of ministries:

 In fact, there are seven major distinct ministries of the Holy Spirit:

Tue, 06/10/2014 - 13:08 -- john_hendryx

Why We Need an Advocate - 1 John 2:1-6

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 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: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. - 1 John 2:1-6

What does it mean to have an advocate? It means we have someone on our side. But more than that, an advocate is an ally, but one who has more knowledge or authority than we do. They plead our case when we cannot. We don’t know the rules of the system. We don’t know the language or the protocols. We might not even know what is wrong with us that we need assistance.

Tue, 06/10/2014 - 10:37 -- john_hendryx

Alienation, Guilt and Confusion - 1 John 1:5-10

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 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. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

We live in a generation that suffers from alienation, guilt, and confusion. Through electronic communication and social media, we are in constant contact, but feel all alone. We are told there is no right or wrong, but doing anything and everything we please does not feel right and we either experience guilt or, worse, a deadness in our hearts. And while we are completely free and can choose any course or direction for our lives, we are often overwhelmed with options.

John presents here in his letter several contrasts: light and darkness, lies and truth. But there are also the contrasts of fellowship with alienation, forgiveness with guilt, and guidance with confusion.

The blood of Christ is what makes the difference. His blood cleanses us from sin. We could say we don’t have sin, or that there’s not even any such thing as sin. But we would be fooling ourselves (v. 8). But if we confess that sin, we are forgiven through Christ, cleansed, free from guilt (v. 9).

Sat, 06/07/2014 - 10:54 -- john_hendryx

That Our Joy May Be Complete - 1 John 1:1-4

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 1 John 1:1-4

There is a danger if we by disposition are more prone to be “thinkers” than “feelers,” or if we find ourselves in churches that are so oriented theologically or in practice, that our faith can become overly academic and intellectual. The Word of God is deep and vast and there is much intellectual fodder there to be mined and meditated upon, to be contemplated and memorized. But the truth of Scripture must never become merely a collection of facts. We must never let our faith reside only in our heads. It must reach to our hearts and move us. We should pursue truth, but we should equally be passionate about the truth!

As an example, the Apostle John has packed the introduction to his first letter with theological content. He addresses the eternality of Christ (“which was from the beginning,”), and the Divinity of Christ (“which was with the Father”; “his Son, Jesus Christ”). He also writes about the Incarnation, that Christ was “made manifest to us” (which he mentions twice), and Whom he has seen (mentioned twice), heard (also two times), and touched.

Fri, 06/06/2014 - 11:16 -- john_hendryx

Making the Best Use of the Time - Colossians 4:2-5

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

As Paul brings to a close his letter to the Colossian church, the center of his message remains the gospel. He uses the phrase in verse 3 of chapter 4, “the mystery of Christ,” asking that he may be granted an open door to declare it. But this is about more than his sharing the gospel, though it is certainly that. In verse two he also enjoins the Colossians to steadfastness in prayer, and thanksgiving. Prayers of thanksgiving for the revelation of the mystery of Christ were how Paul began Colossians 1. So, before he signs off, Paul brings the readers full circle to the beginning of his letter and his emphasis on the gospel, on the pre-eminence of Christ and our reconciliation with God through his death and resurrection.

So Paul’s emphasis remains Christ and his accomplished work of our redemption. As he gives his final instructions to the Colossians, then, they are not instructions that they must carry out in their own strength, but in the power the Christ provides.

Thu, 06/05/2014 - 12:58 -- john_hendryx


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