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Intercession and Apostasy - 1 John 5:16-17

16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. 1 John 5:16-17

John has taught his readers to imitate Jesus by obeying the Father, as He has obeyed (2:6, 3:6), and by showing love to our brothers as Christ has shown love to us (3:16). Here he calls on them to intercede with God for those who are sinning. This is an indirect call to imitate Jesus as He is an intercessor, He pleads with God on our behalf. As the Apostle Paul says, “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us (Romans 8:34).” It is not our intercession that gives life. It is God that gives life (v. 16), and His righteous anger is only turned aside by Christ’s propitiation (2:2). But John is talking about brothers, those who are already followers of Christ. So, in a sense, their sin is already forgiven in Christ, and God is pleased to hear our requests because of Him.

John warns that there is an exception, though, in the “sin that leads to death.” This must be spiritual death, of the type Jesus talks about in the Gospel of Mark:

Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter,  but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin (Mark 3:28-29).”

Wed, 07/09/2014 - 10:49 -- john_hendryx

Gospel Assurances - 1 John 5:13-15

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. 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him (1 John 5:13-15).

John has taught his readers about many things, like sin and righteousness and light and darkness and truth and lies, the dangers of loving the world and the threat of antichrists. He has also assured them of the the joy they can have as believers, the assurance that Christ is their advocate, and that they are God’s children. He has called them to love one another, following Christ’s example. He warned them that they must discern between good and evil spirits. And he has encouraged them that Christ has overcome the world, its threats and temptations.

John offers powerful encouragements and dire warnings. But as he begins to conclude his letter, he wants to make clear to his readers why he has written them. The promises and the dangers are real, but he also wants to give a big picture perspective. So he says directly that he is writing to Christians, so that they may know that they have eternal life (v. 13).

John similarly who wrote at the end of his gospel that he has

. . . written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:30-31).

So, whether John is writing a gospel telling the good news of who Jesus is, hoping his readers might believe and come to have life, or if he is writing to those who are already believers, his emphasis is on eternal life.

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 10:53 -- john_hendryx

Overcoming - 1 John 5:1-4

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

There are various things we must overcome in life: hardships or trials, difficulties or troubles. All of these have negative connotations. So what does John mean when he says that “those who have been born of God have overcome the world”? Most of us have overcome something, like illness or negative attitudes. But to overcome the world either seems wildly ambitious, or paints the world in a pretty negative light.

In fact, John does paint the world in a negative light. But the world he is referring to is the fallen world, characterized by sin and corruption. It is the world governed by the devil, and is opposed to the love of the Father (2:15). It is the world that is the source of the lust of the flesh, eyes, pride of life (2:16), and which is passing away (2:17). This world does not know God (3:1), and hates those who do (3:13). It is filled with false prophets (4:1) and antichrists (4:3). Nevertheless, Christians can take heart, because He who is in us is greater than him who is in the world (4:4). In fact, Jesus was sent and came into the world (4:9) precisely to be the savior of the world (4:14).

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 09:51 -- john_hendryx

Choice Quotes from the Book "None But Jesus" by John Flavel

Here are some choice selections from Banner’s newest book in the Pocket Puritans series: None But Jesus. These quotes from John Flavel will give the reader a good taste of the riches found within this small volume.

Redeemed souls must expect no rest or satisfaction on this side of heaven, and the full enjoyment of God. The life of a believer in this world is a life of motion and expectation: they are now coming to God (1 Pet. 2:4). God, you see, is the centre and rest of their souls (Heb. 4:9).

As the rivers cannot rest till they pour themselves into the bosom of the sea, so neither can renewed souls find rest till they come into the bosom of God.

Christ’s bringing home of all believers unto God, will be matter of unspeakable joy to themselves. For whatever knowledge and acquaintance they had with God here, whatever sights of faith they had of heaven and the glory to come in this world, yet the sight of God and Christ the Redeemer will be an unspeakable surprise to them in that day. This will be the day of relieving all their wants, the day of satisfaction to all their desires: for now they are come where they would be, arrived at the very desire of their souls.

Herein the admirable grace of this heavenly suitor appears, that Jesus Christ passed by millions of creatures of more excellent gifts and temperaments, and never makes them one offer of himself; never turneth aside to give one knock at their door: but comes to thee, the vilest and basest of creatures, and will not be gone from thy door without his errand’s end.

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 12:40 -- john_hendryx

Top 10 Books on Theology and Piety

Top 10 Books on Theology

Institutes of the Christian Religion, by John Calvin
The book was written as an introductory textbook on the Protestant faith for those with some learning already and covered a broad range of theological topics from the doctrines of church and sacraments to justification by faith alone. It vigorously attacked the teachings of those Calvin considered unorthodox, particularly Roman Catholicism, to which Calvin says he had been "strongly devoted" before his conversion to Protestantism. The over-arching theme of the book--and Calvin's greatest theological legacy--is the idea of God's total sovereignty, particularly in salvation and election.

The Economy of the Covenants, by Herman Witsius

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 14:58 -- john_hendryx

True Love - 1 John 4:7-13


Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

Any parent—or at least those recognized as good parents—knows that to love their children does not mean we give them whatever they want. Sometimes we give them things they don’t want, like the nutritious food instead of the snack. Or, worse yet, medicine. We don’t do whatever they want, but we do what’s best for them in a given situation, because we love them.

The same is true of God’s love for us. And it should be true of our love for others.

Wed, 06/25/2014 - 12:24 -- john_hendryx

Definition of Regeneration


Regeneration. a word used to describe the radical and permanent change in a person's whole outlook achieved by the Holy Spirit. The word itself is used only twice in the NT, in Mt. 19:28 ('new world', RSV) to refer to the future restoration of everything and in Tit. 3:5 to refer to the change in an individual. Other terms, which relate to it are 'new birth' (Jn. 3:3; 7:1, Pet 1:3,23), describing the continuous application and expression of regeneration. It was prefigured in the OT by such passages as Je. 31:31ff., which sees God's law written on human hearts and Ezk. 37:1ff., Ezekiel's vision of dry bones brought to life by God's breath.

The NT regards the effects of sin to be so serious that without regeneration a person cannot enter the kingdom of God. The initiative is God's, whose decisive act of regenerating someone is once and for all (Jn. 1:13, 3:3ff.) As a result, the individual actively repents, believes in Jesus, and then lives in newness of life (cf. 1 Jn 3:9, 4:7; 5:1). There is no change to the personality itself, but the person is controlled differently; instead of being ruled by the law of sin, he or she is directed by the Holy Spirit towards God. However, the regenerate person is not yet perfect, but has to grow (1 Pet 2:2) and be continually filled with the Spirit (Rom 8:4, 9, 14; Eph 5:18).

The means by which regeneration is ministered to a person have been disputed. 1 Pet 1:23 and Jas. 1:18 refer to God's Word as a means of new birth, Tit 3:5 relates it to baptism. But as John distinguishes between regeneration and the faith that results  (Jn. 1:12f.), Peter and James are referring to the whole process, not the means. Also regeneration is possible before baptism (Acts 10:33f.; 16:14f.). Therefore regeneration comes to people directly from the Holy Spirit; God's word brings it to expression in faith and repentance; and baptism bears witness to it.

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 19:37 -- john_hendryx

Test the Spirits - 1 John 4:1-6


4:1 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.

We live in an age that has a very high level of credibility regarding things spiritual, but a very low level of discernment. Part of this is because of the widespread belief that truth is relative and any and all claims to spiritual insight are equally valid. This often stems from or is at least assisted by an intellectual laziness; rather than investigating varying truth claims it is easier to simply say they are all true, even if they are mutually exclusive. In the same way, many don’t even evaluate truth claims to see if they even square with the world they live in.

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 12:48 -- john_hendryx

Love, Compassion and Reassurance - 1 John 3:11-24


11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 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? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Fri, 06/20/2014 - 11:05 -- john_hendryx

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