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Monthly Archives: January 2015

Successful Christian Living Comes Through Fellowship

Clearly, faith is the means to salvation and the seven “by this we know” statements John makes in I John are the result of salvation. The non-Christian is incapable of truly living out God’s high standards. I will elaborate on each one later but we see clearly in I John the results of true faith in Christ.

  • I John 2:3 the true Christian keeps God’s commandments
  • I John 2:5 the true Christian keeps God’s word
  • I John 2:18 the true Christian is faithful to God and not the world
  • I John 3:24 the true Christian’s identity is in Christ
  • I John 4:6 the true Christian discerns truth and error
  • I John 4:13 the true Christian walks in the Spirit
  • I John 5:2 the true Christian loves the brethren

Does this mean that the true Christian will fulfill each one of these characteristics perfectly as a demonstration that he is a true Christian? No. Remember, John said, “I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” I do believe that the demonstration of true Christianity will be a life that consistently fulfills these characteristics. Keep in mind, these characteristics are not the means to salvation, faith is, they are the result of salvation.

When one accepts the atoning sacrifice of Christ he enters into a relationship with God. They now have fellowship with God. Remember , John said that he wants us to have fellowship with him because he has fellowship with the Father and with Jesus. (I John 1:3). What we see in this is that we not only have fellowship with God through our saving relationship, we have fellowship with all believers.

Apart from fellowship with God we cannot walk in the manner He desires us to walk. Through our fellowship with Him, He gives us that ability. Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” If we abide in Christ, have fellowship with Him, we will bear much fruit. If we do not abide in Christ, we can do nothing.

I John 1:5-6 says, “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” In other words, if we say we have fellowship with God yet we are walking in a way that is contrary to Him we are not practicing the truth. This is a demonstration that we do not have true fellowship with God. Then John said in I John 1:7,” but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” In other words, if we are walking in a way that is consistent with who He is we are demonstrating that we have fellowship with God. We walk in the Light only because God is Light and we are walking with Him. If we are not walking with Him, we cannot walk in the Light, for He the Light.

As we examine these seven characteristics of a true Christian, we need to keep in mind that we have these characteristics only because of our salvation in Christ. They are a demonstration that we have fellowship with God and are therefore walking in the Light. Apart from our fellowship with God we cannot, and will not have these characteristics. By faith we are saved and by faith we walk in the Light. By faith, we know that God is at work in our lives giving to us the ability to walk in Him. Please share!

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Posted by on January 30, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Salvation Comes Only Through Faith in Christ

             Before we begin looking at the seven “by this we know” statements John made to assure us of our salvation I need to make it abundantly clear that he is not stating these as a means to salvation, rather, these are results of our salvation. We cannot be saved from our sin by living in obedience to God, keeping His commandments, loving our brethren, or even by loving Him. We do these things because of our salvation. By this we know we are saved. In fact, the lost person who needs to be saved is incapable of fully living out these requirements of God. When we are saved, God empowers us to live them out, thus, by this we know.

As already stated, salvation comes only by placing your faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. For this reason, John’s heart is to introduce Jesus, the one in whom he has heard, seen, looked at, and touched. John said in verse two of I John,  “And the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us.” Jesus is the eternal life. In the Gospel of John he wrote “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) He then said in John 1:14, And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In I John 1:1 he declared Jesus as “The Word of Life.” In I John 1:5 he said, “God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” In the Gospel of John he declared that Jesus is the true light; the true light that the world has rejected. He stated that “the life was the Light of men” and “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:4-13). Clearly, Jesus is eternal life; He is the Word of Life.

John continued to make bold and profound statements about the person of Jesus. He said in I John 2:1, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” He told us that Jesus is our Advocate. An advocate is one who stands up for and speaks on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. John said if we have sinned Jesus will be an advocate for us to the Father. Clearly we have all sinned. John himself stated in I John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Since we have all sinned, we cannot come to the Father on our own. We need an advocate. Apart from Jesus we have no hope. Praise God He has given us an advocate-His only begotten Son. I Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

            What qualifies Jesus as our advocate? John continued in I John 2:2 saying, “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” The bible tells us that the wages of sin is death and that we are dead in our transgressions and sins. While in our sins we are totally separated from God. If we die physically in our sins we will be eternally separated from God in Hell. This is not the will of God. God’s will is that we are all saved. For this reason Jesus became the “propitiation” for our sins. Propitiation means “atoning sacrifice.” In other words, one the cross, through the shedding of His blood, Jesus paid the wages of our sins for the purpose of atoning for our sins and redeeming us from our sins. Because of this truth, John boldly stated in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When we confess our sins we receive the propitiation of Christ’s work on the cross which then allows Jesus as well to be our advocate. Jesus then carries our case to the Father once our sins are forgiven.

How do we receive this gift of propitiation and obtain Christ as our Advocate? John is very clear; it is by faith. In I John 5:1-12, John makes it abundantly clear that we are saved by faith in Christ and only faith in Christ. I John 5:1 says, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.” Then he says in I John 5:4, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

John clearly stated the purpose of I John when he said, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” If his intent was to give us assurance of salvation he certainly would have given to us every means of salvation. He never mentioned baptism, church attendance, keeping sacraments, or any other religious means to salvation. Only faith in Christ. If anything else was necessary, surly he would have mentioned it; but, he didn’t, nor does any other scripture. For this reason, we know when John gives us the seven cases of “by this we know” he is not presenting the means to salvation he is declaring the result of salvation. The Bible is abundantly and redundantly clear that the only means to salvation is faith in Christ. Please share this with others.

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Posted by on January 29, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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The Purpose of I John

            As already stated, the major purpose in John writing I John is that we may know. He wants us to have assurance of our salvation that we may know what true fellowship with God is and that we may know the gifts God has for His Children. Due to the structure of the book some believe I John wasn’t written as an epistle. Rather, they believe this was a written sermon the apostle preached. Whether it was an epistle or a sermon His purpose is clear. His purpose was to be both evangelistic and encouraging.

This is clearly an evangelistic letter since John stated in the second verse of the first chapter that his purpose is to, “proclaim to you the eternal life.” He then said in the next verse, “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” In other words, John was stating that he was letting us know these things because he has fellowship with the Father and Jesus and he wants us to have fellowship with them as well. This should be the heart of every believer toward the non-believer. John’s heart was that we know what true salvation is. Thus, he states seven times throughout I John “by this we know.”

John clearly had a deep love for the recipients of this word. Multiple times he affectionately called them “My little Children.” Not in a demining way. Rather, in a way that a loving father would call on his children. He also frequently called them “beloved.” John loved the church and wanted the best for them. The best for them was that they truly knew Jesus. John apparently assumed that they were true Christians. He spoke this evangelistic word to them as though they were all Christians. He said in I John 1:3, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.” However, he also knew that some may have believed in vain as Paul stated in I Corinthians 15: 2. Because he loved them, he wanted them to know.

Clearly, he was speaking to Christians and non-Christians. To the non-Christian he was evangelistic. To the Christian he was encouraging. The gospel isn’t only intended to bring the lost to salvation. This of course is its main purpose. The gospel is also intended to be encouraging to those who are saved. It is encouraging to have the assurance of your salvation reinforced and know that you know. For those who were saved John proclaimed seven more “we knows” to encourage the Christian in his position in the Lord. If you know that you know Christ as Lord and Savior I pray that this study will be encouraging to you. If you are unsure of your position in Christ or you know that you do not know Him, I pray this study will be evangelistic leading you to the saving knowledge of Christ-so you will know.

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Posted by on January 28, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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John’s Authority

As we begin the journey of examining I John we must ask ourselves, by what authority does John write this epistle? This may be an issue you have never taken into consideration. However, it is a very important issue to ponder considering we are discussing the matters of life or death, salvation or condemnation, and Heaven or Hell. If John has no authority to write these words we have no reason to rest our life on them. If John does have the authority to write these words we then have every reason to rest our life on them.

Clearly, John had the full authority to write these words. The first reason he had the authority to write was the fact that he was an Apostle of Christ. The credentials of an Apostle are found in Acts 1:21-22, stating, “Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”  Clearly, John met these credentials. As an apostle his calling was to be a witness of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. A major part of John writing this epistle is his personal witness of what he has seen heard and touched, Jesus, and to proclaim to you eternal life. He said in the first two verses, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us.” As an Apostle, John had the authority through his personal witness.

The second reason John had the authority to proclaim to us eternal life through the written word was his fellowship with the Father and Jesus. I John 1:3 says, “indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” Every Christian has this fellowship. I will further elaborate on this fellowship with God latter. John’s fellowship with God allowed him to hear from God, thus conveying the message God desired for him to deliver. Through John’s fellowship with God, he had authority from God.

Since all Christians have fellowship with God all Christians can hear directly from Him. However, God has not given all Christians the authority to write His authoritative word. I write daily. However, the purpose of my writing is to point to the authoritative word God has already given-the Bible with ultimately points to Him. I know that I am called and led of God. For this reason I preach, teach, and write just as many others do. However, my calling, just as John’s was, as well as every Christian, is confined to the authority of God. It cannot exceed God’s authority. God in His authority released authority to write the authoritative Word of God. God’s Word today is sealed. It is finalized with the 66 books we now have that make up our Bible, including I John. Therefore, all Christians today are confined to the authority of God’s written word, the Bible. Anyone who exceeds, discounts, or rejects the Word of God stands in rebellion against God and His authority.

This leads us to the final point of John’s authority to write I John. II Peter 1:20-21 says, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” As already stated the Bible consist of 66 books. This is the Scripture Peter is referencing. I John is one of those 66 books. Therefore, John isn’t actually the author of I John, the Holy Spirit is. John was simply the tool God chose to use to write His authoritative word.

Why is this important to know? It is important because of the topic in which we are discussing-by this we know. By this authoritative word, we know what true Christianity is and is not. Since I John, as well as all of the bible is authoritative, this is what we hold and value as truth and apply to our lives. If any man, church, denomination, or movement disagrees with this authoritative word, they are wrong. Unfortunately, they are dead wrong. As we begin this journey of digging into I John, I encourage you to go ahead and read through it a few times to become more familiar with it.  Also, please share this with others.

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Posted by on January 27, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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By This We Know

            How can I truly know whether or not I am saved? What does a true Christian look like and act like? Over the years I have been asked these questions over and over. They are simple yet complex. The only means to becoming a Christian is placing your faith in the person and works of Jesus. Salvation is believing that the person of Jesus Christ is the virgin born Son of God who lived a sinless life fulfilling all righteousness leading Him to laying down His life as the one and only atoning sacrifice for sin. Salvation is believing that Jesus death, burial, and resurrection is sufficient for washing away our sins, justifying us before God, reconciling us into a right relationship, sanctifying us, resulting in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit giving us eternal life and empowering us to live for Him. I’m not saying that we have to know all of these truths in order to be saved. I am saying that we must believe in the person and works of Jesus in order to be saved.

Although Satan knows all of these truths he probably won’t admit them. And, he certainly isn’t saved. The Word of God is clear, we must repent of our sins, and by faith trust in Jesus as the Lord of our lives. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Jesus said this is non-optional; He said “you must.” Satan isn’t willing to do this. Those who aren’t truly saved are not willing either. If we are going to be a true disciple of Jesus, Jesus said “you must.” A couple other freighting truths we find in scripture is 1st Jesus said those who truly follow Him will be few and 2nd, according to Jesus, there will be “many” who think that they are saved but are not. (Matthew 7:13-14, 21-23).

This leads us to the conclusion that there are three types of “Christians” in this world. Two types are not truly Christians, they are deceived. The first type of deceived non Christian is the one who never had a desire to live for Jesus or surrender their life to Him. They don’t love Him and only view Him as a get out of hell free insurance policy. The second type of deceived non Christian is the one who thought his own righteousness and own works was sufficient to save him. Their faith is not in Jesus but in self. They may look, act, and talk righteous but it is a self-righteousness. The third type of Christian is in the minority. He is the true Christian. He is the one who has placed his faith in Christ alone and has surrendered his life totally into Him.

I am not writing this to frighten you. I am writing this so you will know. Do you know? Can you know? If so, how can you know? We can know. The Apostle John wrote in I John 5:13 saying, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” This was John’s purpose in writing I John; so you will know. In fact, the apostle uses the phrase, “by this we know” seven times through I John indicating, by this we know if we are truly a Christian. (I John 2:3, 2:5, 2:18, 3:24, 4:6, 4:13, 5:2). Seven more times he uses the phrase, “we know” by itself assuring us of the promises God has made to those who believe in His Son Jesus. (I John 3:2, 3:14, 5:15, twice, 5:18, 5:19, 5:20).

I want to invite you to walk with me over the course of the next several weeks as we unfold the truths of I John so we can know what true, biblical, salvation is all about; so we will know. Invite others and feel free to share. By this we know!

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Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Receiving the Hand of God’s Favor

“Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the Lord with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your hearts to the Lord and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” So the sons of Israel removed the Baals and the Ashtaroth and served the Lord alone.” I Samuel 7:3-4 NASB

A repetitive theme we see in the Old Testament time and time again is Israel forsaking their God for the false god’s of this world. Each time this occurred the hand of God’s blessings would be removed allowing the enemy to come in bringing them into bondage. Once they repented by seeking God again and removing the false god’s from their midst the one true God would drive out the enemy and restore His hand of favor upon them.

We don’t live in a pagan culture today with false idles to worship. Yet at the same time, how often do we allow the things of this world to become priority in our lives above and beyond God? How often do we allow the very things God calls sinful and wicked to be a part of our daily lives? Clearly, we have made our choice; the choice to forsake God for the things of the world. One would only expect that life to be one of bondage. This one should certainly not expect the hand of God’s favor upon their life.

If we are to expect the hand of God’s favor upon us we must return to the Lord with all of our heart, we must remove everything foreign to Him that dishonors Him, we must direct our hearts to Him and we must serve Him alone. We mustn’t do this only to gain His favor but to honor Him-for He is worthy. He alone is worthy. If this is your direction and your heart you should then fully expect God’s hand of favor. You have now placed yourself in a position of being for Him and not against Him.

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Posted by on January 22, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Humility Before an Exalting God

“God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

When holding this text of scripture into context we see a few very important truths. First, we read James declaration that if we are friends with the world we have made ourselves an enemy of God. (James 4:4). Being a friend of the world is choosing it’s ways and values over God’s. You declare, whether by word or action, that the world’s ways are better than God’s. This is an attitude of arrogance and pride toward God.

Secondly, we see the heart God has for us in James 4:5 where James says, “He (God) jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?” In other words, God wants us all for Himself. When we give our affection to another, we are playing the harlot towards God stirring in Him great jealousy. Just as a loving husband would be furiously jealous in seeing his wife in the arms of another man, God is jealous when we arrogantly turn our backs on Him for another.

The third truth we find in this text is God calling us to submission. James 4:7 says, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” God has grace and He gives grace to the humble. By submitting to Him we are acting in humility towards Him. Even if we have turned against Him and rebelled against Him greatly we know that when we submit to Him we receive grace instead of condemnation. For He loves us and jealously desirers our fellowship, love, and affection. He calls for total allegiance, and He is worthy.  When we submit to Him by giving Him our total allegiance, we are humble before Him. James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” When we are full of pride, we should expect a fall.

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Posted by on January 20, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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