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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

For the Lord and Not for Men - Colosians 3:18 - 24

 

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

Our society entertains a notion of equality in which all social and familial roles should be leveled, without any gradiation.  So Paul’s instructions in Colossians 3 will run against the grain of this present age, in particular that wives submit to their husbands, and that servants obey to their masters, which might correspond to today’s relationship between workers and management.  But Paul’s appeal is not to the hierarchy of the social order of his day;he indicates that submission is “fitting in the Lord,” and we ought to obey as “fearing the Lord.”Lest we miss the point that all of the relationships discussed are to be pursued with an eye toward our relationship with the Him, the Lord is mentioned by name six times in these nine short verses.

Fri, 05/30/2014 - 10:58 -- john_hendryx

Set Your Mind on Things Above - Colossians 3


If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

The world the Lord has created is one that requires that we be discriminating.  The laws of logic by nature mean that, if we choose one thing, we reject another.  If we affirm one thing, we deny its opposite.

This principle applies to our sanctification, also.  To pursue godliness, we must renounce sin.  In the terms Paul uses in Colossians 3, we are to “put off the old self with its practices and . . . put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator (vv. 9-10).”  We must put away, put to death what is earthly and idolatrous (v. 5), on account of which God’s wrath is coming (v. 6).  Paul gives a representative, but not exhaustive list of what these sins and practices are in verses 5-9.

In verses 12-16 Paul also gives a list of Christian virtues, things we must put on.  We must be thoughtful, intentional, and discriminating in our actions, practices and attitudes.  We bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit as we reflect Christ in His forgiveness (v. 13), love (v. 14) and peace (v. 15), for all of which we are to be thankful (v. 15).  And nourished by the Word of God dwelling in us (v. 16), we encourage and uplift one another.  And all we do is not for our own glory, but in His name (v. 17).

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 11:13 -- john_hendryx

Shadows and Substance - Colossians 2:16-23


Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

We are created with a spiritual nature. It is part of who we are. It is unavoidable. That is why G.K. Chesterton said, “When we cease to worship God, we do not worship nothing, we worship anything.” It is also the root and source of all false religion.

But human complexity means we do not always face discreet, easily identifiable categories of “in” or “out,” but rather a continuum with orthodox Christian faith at one end and passing through Theological mistake, systemic error and even heresy before arriving at absolute heterodoxy.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 11:25 -- john_hendryx

Praying for God to Save the Lost

Appendix B from Chosen for Life: The Case for Divine Election by C. Samuel Storms

by Sam Storms

I want to introduce this article by taking us back some forty-one years to the initial publication of what soon became an evangelical classic: J. I. Packer's Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (IVP, 1961). The book was an expansion of the address Packer delivered to The London Inter-Faculty Christian Union (LIFCU) on October 24, 1959, at Westminster Chapel. What makes Packer's book so instructive for us today is the utter incredulity on his part, in 1961, regarding a theological perspective that today, in 2002, is widespread and pervasive in its influence.

            Packer begins his defense of divine sovereignty in salvation by appealing to what he believes is, or at least should be, an evangelical consensus on the practice of prayer. He appears to assume that no one who embraces a high view of Scripture could possibly think otherwise. It is more than simply that we pray, but also how and what we specifically ask God to do that Packer believes supports his understanding of the activity of God in saving a human soul. Here is what he says:

Tue, 05/27/2014 - 14:23 -- john_hendryx

Christ Wins - Colossians 2:6-15


 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Paul here encourages the church in Colossae to continue to live according to a sound and solid understanding of the gospel, as they have been taught. “Walk in Christ Jesus the Lord,” he says. That is the gospel that they received, that made them firm and solid and caused them to grow.

Thu, 05/22/2014 - 09:01 -- john_hendryx

Suffering for Love - Colossians 2: 1-5


For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

As Paul mentioned in the previous passage, he has suffered, toiled and struggled as he has ministered to the church. He is likely writing this letter while under house arrest in Rome, and his trip there as recounted in Acts was fraught with trials. And Paul begins this passage by referring again to his struggles. But he does not do so to draw attention to himself. He is highlighting his love for his readers, though not in an insincere, emotionally manipulative way. He really means it.

And Paul’s love is key here because he is comparing himself to others who may try to influence the church at Colassae. There are those who will try to delude them with plausible arguments, and for their own ends. He, however, is motivated by love, so his teachings are reliable.

Wed, 05/21/2014 - 08:50 -- john_hendryx

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