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Christian Persecution

Christian Persecution

Almost daily we here about Christians around the world being persecuted for their faith in Christ. Unfortunately, we are only hearing about a tiny portion of all of the world wide suffering of the saints. Is this proof that Christians are weak? Absolutely not! Any coward can get in a large group with massive weaponry and terrorize the defenseless. Nor, does it take much courage to cower down and hide. However, the Christian who stands in faith knowing they can be killed, tortured, or victimized in a number of ways for their faith in my opinion is extraordinarily courageous. They are the perfect picture of strength and faith. Their courage doesn’t come from their own strength. Rather, it comes from their love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Are Christians being persecuted because God has forsaken them? Of course not! The Word of God promises that God will never leave us nor forsake us. In fact, the bible tells us that Christians will be persecuted. Jesus told us that the world will hate us because it hates Him. (John 15:18). Paul told Timothy in II Timothy 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” At the same time the Word of God gives us assurance that God’s blessings come to those who are persecuted. Jesus said in Matthew 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Let us not forget that Jesus Himself suffered greatly at the hands of wicked men as did all of the Apostles. And, we should not forget that Jesus died to ultimately put an end to all of the suffering this world offers. Romans 8:18 gives a comforting promise reminding us that this world is only temporary, but there is an eternal reward to come, stating, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

Jesus foretold that persecution and violence would increase just before His return. (Matthew 24:9). He also said many would fall away as a result. (Matthew 24:10). Today, in almost every nation, Christian persecution is greatly increasing; some nations are obviously much worse than others. What can we do about it? 1st if you don’t know Jesus come to know Him for His return is imminent. 2nd, we need to stand firm regardless of what persecution we may face. Jesus is worthy and God can and will use it as a bold witness. 3rd, we need to pray for our fellow brothers and sisters who are suffering for their faith.

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

 

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We Know That we Have Passed Out of Death Into Life

“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.” I John 3:14 NASB

As we have already seen love is one of the “by this we know” evidences of genuine salvation. Love is not the means of passing out of life into death but an evidence of going from life to death. The one who does not love abides in death. We clearly see in our world today those who claim to act on behalf of God but act out of hate rather than love. Their domain is death, which is seen clearly in their lack of love and heart of hate. The one who is truly living for God has passed out of death into life and as a result has love.

The bible speaks of three types of death, spiritual death, physical death, and the second death which is eternal death. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,” and again in Colossians 2:13, “you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh.” Paul wasn’t talking to people who were physically dead, they were spiritually dead.

Sin separates us from God. God’s heart is to have a relationship with us. However, sin prevents us from having a relationship with Him. Separation from God is spiritual death. For this reason Jesus died for us so our sins can be forgiven and we would no longer be spiritual dead but alive in Christ and through Christ. Romans 6:23 not only tells us that the wages of sin is death but also says that the free gift of God is eternal life. Accepting the sacrificial atonement of Christ cleanses us from our sins and reconciles us into a right relationship with God.

The bible is clear-all have sinned. Isaiah 53:6, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way;” Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God;” I John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us;” I John 1:10, If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him (God) a liar and His word is not in us.”

Since all have sinned, all stand in need of salvation through the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross. Apart from salvation they abide in death. Because of the sacrifice Jesus paid the bible says 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.” As we see clearly that all have sinned we see just as clearly that the offer of salvation is for all. Romans 10:13 says, “For “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”

The sacrifice Jesus paid through the shedding of His blood made it possible for Christ to be our atoning sacrifice. Hebrews 9:22 says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no redemption of sins.” I peter 3:18 says, “Christ also died for sins once for all,” and Romans 6:10 says, “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all.” The moment we confess our sins and by faith accept Jesus work on the cross God saves us. As a sign and seal of our salvation God gives to us His Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 6:63 “the Spirit gives life.” When we are forgiven of our sin through the sacrifice of Christ we stand in right relationship with God. He then gives us His Spirit which gives us life. We then “have passed out of death into life.”

Romans 8:9-11 says of those who have passed out of death into life, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” The assurance of scripture to those who are truly saved is that they have, past tense, and at the moment of salvation, passed out of death into life.

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Posted by on February 13, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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We Know we will be Like Christ

“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” I John 3:2 NASB

Through the first coming of Christ many of the mysteries of God were revealed. They have been revealed to those who are now in the light. When the true light came, Jesus, His light drove away the shadows of the Old Testament unveiling Himself for all those who choose to walk in Him. Although He has revealed Himself, allowing us to become Children of God, there are still things we do not know. As Christians, we walk by faith and not by sight allowing the Word of God to be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. By faith, we walk in the light knowing God will make straight our paths and lead us down the paths of righteousness.

Referring to the second coming of Christ, “when He appears,” John states, “It has not appeared as yet what we will be.” In the midst of Paul correcting the Church of Corinth over misuses of spiritual gifts he said in I Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” In verse 9-10 he said, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.”

What is the “perfect” that is to come that will make us know just as we are fully known? Some would suggest that the “perfect” is the completion of the New Testament. I agree that through the Word of God we now know everything God wants us to know. But, I have one question. When is Jesus coming back? We don’t know do we. Obviously, we do not yet know just as we are full known. I believe the “perfect” can only be the person of Jesus Christ. When we stand face to face with Christ, we will know just as we are fully known.

John said, “when He appears, we will be like Him.” Wow, what an amazing promise. How is Jesus? He is perfect. He is perfect in every way and so shall we. He isn’t just perfect in spirit and character, He is also perfect in body. When He rose from the grave He rose with a resurrected and glorified body that would never know death, pain, sickness, nor decay. He is the first fruits of the resurrection and just as He is, so shall we be. Remember though, Jesus is Lord and is coming back as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Then, will be submissive to His Lordship just as we are today. Nevertheless, we will be like Him. He is perfect, and because of Him, we will be spotless, unblemished, and perfect in every way with a resurrected and glorified body.

John has shared this promise to those who know that they know Jesus to remind them that eternal life is not something to be feared. In fact, we should long for it. Even so Lord come! Please share.

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Posted by on February 12, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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The Assuring Promises to the One Who Knows

I John is all about assurance. We have looked at seven statements from John that assures the believer of what true Christianity looks like. In each of these statements John said, “by this we know.” By this we know that we truly walk in the light if the by this we know statements are evident in our lives. They are assuring evidences that we are in Christ and He is in us. Again, these are not the means to salvation, but the evidence of salvation.

As John’s heart was to assure the believer of their salvation that they may know they have eternal life, he was also assuring them of the promises and gifts we have as Children of God who walk in the light; those who know. All seven “by this we know” statements were to assure the hearer of their salvation. Seven other times in I John he simply declared “we know.” Each “we know” statement was to assure the hearer, who knows he has eternal life, of the rewards and promises we have because of our faith in Christ who is the atoning sacrifice of our sin and our advocate before the Father. Some of these promises are immediately received at the moment of salvation while others will be received in the future.

These seven assuring gifts and promises to the believer are:

  • We know we will be like Christ. I John 3:2
  • We know that we have passed out of death into life. I John 3:14
  • We know we are of the truth. I John 3:19-21
  • We know God hears us and will answer us. I John 5:14-15
  • We know we have overcome sin. I John 5:18
  • We know that we are of God. I John 5:19
  • We know that we have eternal life. I John 5:20

We now will change our focus from looking at the assurance of salvation to looking at the assuring promises of those who know they have salvation. If you know that you truly are a Christian these promises are for you.

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Posted by on February 11, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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The True Christian Discerns Truth and Error

The True Christian Discerns Truth and Error

“We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” I John 4:6 NASB

            John started the fourth chapter of I John with a warning. He said in I John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” How are we to test the spirits? John stated “We are from God; he who knows God listens to us.” As established earlier, John was an apostle who taught with authority. We see in Acts 2:42 that the New Testament church among other things was devoted to the apostles teaching. What did they teach? Jesus spent forty days after His resurrection opening their eyes to the Scriptures. The Scriptures He opened their eyes to was the Old Testament, thus the taught the Old Testament. We also know that one of qualifications for a book to be included into the New Test was that it had to be written by an apostle or someone directly associated with an apostle. When John stated, “We are from God,” I believe he was talking about all of the apostles. I also firmly believe the teachings of the apostles that the New Testament church was devoted to was the whole of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments.

Here John warned of the false prophets who have gone out into the world. We test those who claim that they are of God with the authority of God’s word. If they fail to line up with God’s word they are false prophets. Let’s be clear though. We can have doctrinal differences with other Christians who are truly Christians. We simply disagree on certain subjects. One can believe in a pre-tribulation rapture while the other believes in a mid or post-tribulation rapture and another doesn’t believe there will even. I am a very solid pre-tribulationist. I personally believe that the pre-tribulation rapture is abundantly clear in scripture. Does this mean that I should view anyone who believes otherwise as a false prophet? Of course not. Christians can and will disagree on a variety of issues. However, a false prophet is one who denies the fundamentals of the faith such as the person and the work of Christ, along with the means and method of salvation. John said in I John 4:2-3, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.”

In Revelation Jesus told John to write to the seven churches in Asia. The first of those churches was the church of Ephesus. (Revelation 2:1-7).  Jesus praised this church for putting to the test those who called themselves apostles and were not. By proving that they were not apostles and indeed false prophets they protected the integrity and true teaching of the church. We also find Paul in II Timothy 6:20 instructing Timothy to “guard what has been entrusted to you.”  What was Timothy entrusted to? What did he need to guard? The church. Timothy was the pastor of the church of Ephesus. Guarding and protecting the church from false teachers was planted in Ephesus DNA from its very beginning. For this reason, Jesus praised the church.

The Bible warns that in the last days false prophets will be in abundance. II Timothy 4:3 warns, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.” I have no doubt that we are now living in that day.

While the world is easily led astray Jesus assured us that His sheep know His voice. (John 10:4). John has declared that the evidence of the one who know God is that he listens to them, thus listens to the true teachings of the Word of God. The one who doesn’t know God may hear the Word of God and know the Word of God but refuse to listen to the Word of God. For this reason he has not discerned what is good and evil. He thinks he knows best and is therefore in rebellion against God. But the one who knows God will test the spirits through the power of the Holy Spirit, of which we will discuss latter, and the truth of the Word of God. Since he listens to God, he will obey God accepting His truth and rejecting evil.

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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The True Christian Keeps God’s Word

“But whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him.” I John 2:5 NASB

The second by this we know statement from John is about keeping God’s word. John states here that “Whoever keeps God’s word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected.” When we keep God’s word it is a sign that the love of God has been perfected in us. It is not God’s love that has been perfected, it is ours. John stated in I John 4:8 that “God is love,” therefore, His love is perfect. Man’s love, however, is in great need of being perfected.

Prior to entering into fellowship with God through the atoning sacrifice of Christ we were enemy’s of God. Our choice of the world and sin above God proved that we had no love towards God. Jesus said in John 3:19, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” The proof of who you love is who you choose to walk with. Jesus also said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” He didn’t say “If you keep My commandments you will prove your love for me.” Rather, He said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” If we love Jesus, we will obey Him, if we don’t love Jesus we will care less about His commandments and will not obey Him.

Be reminded that John said in the first chapter that “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.” ( I John 1:5). He continued to explain that if we say we are walking in the light yet we are walking in the darkness we are liars. In other words, if we are walking in sin we are not walking with God. I John 2:2 says, “The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” Then he explained in I John 1:7 that if we are walking in the Light, as God is in the Light, we have fellowship with Him. Oil and water doesn’t mix; nor does God and sin.

The key word in I John 1 is walk. Walking portrays the pattern and consistency of one’s life. If the walk is consistently in darkness it is not in the light. If the walk is consistently in the Light, his fellowship is with God. Paul said in I Corinthians 6:9-10, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” The drunkard is not one who has been drunk a time or two in his life, rather, drunkenness is the defining factor of his life; he is a drunkard. The people Paul lists are people whose lives are identified by sin. They walk in darkness therefore they are a drunkard. Paul said they would not inherit the kingdom of God therefore, they clearly are not saved. They are unsaved by their own choice. Their choice was that they loved darkness rather than light. They have chosen the lusts of their own flesh over the love and grace of God.

However, for those who realize the error of their way and repent of their sin God offers forgiveness. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” After Paul declared, the unrighteous would not inherit the kingdom of God in I Corinthians 6:9-10, he said in the next verse, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” These chose God over sin. They loved God more than sin. Therefore, they repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus.

God loves us perfectly. For this reason He sent His Son to become an atoning sacrifice for our sin. When we come to the point where we realize our sin is at odds with God and choose God over sin we ask Him by faith to forgive us of our sin knowing that by the authority of His Word and the power of the blood of Jesus He can and will. God then gives us His Holy Spirit that writes His Word on our heart to perfect our love for Him.

Keeping His word, living in obedience, and walking in the Light is not the means to salvation, it is the proof of salvation. It is the evidence that God is at work in our lives perfecting us in Him and for Him. When we turn to Jesus and trust in Him by faith, we are saying to Him that we love Him more than self and sin and are willing to surrender ourselves unto Him. When we take this step of faith, we give God permission to work His perfection into our lives. Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” If God is not at work in you, you will have no will to work for His good pleasure.” In fact, working or living for His pleasure would be utter foolishness to you. However, if we love God enough to keep His word, “by this we know that we are in Him” for, His work of perfect love has been enacted.

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Posted by on February 3, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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The True Christian Keeps God’s Commandments

“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” I John 2:3 NASB

The first test John gives as to whether or not one has fellowship with God is keeping His commandments. If we have come to know Him John says we will keep His commandments. Now the question is, what are the commandments of God? A few verses down in I John 2:7 John writes, “Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.” John said this is a commandment you have had from the beginning.  In the first verse of I John the apostle writes, “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.” Jesus is the one from the beginning. Then John writes in I John 1:8, “On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.” In other words, this commandment is new since it can only be kept through fellowship with the one from the beginning-Jesus.

Jesus was asked in Matthew 22:36 what was the greatest commandment. He responded in the next two verses saying, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus then concluded this statement in verse 40 saying, “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”  According to Jesus, the whole of the Word of God rests upon loving God with all of who we are and loving your neighbor as yourself. According to John, the true test of whether or not we have come to know God is whether or not we are keeping His commandments; loving God and loving our neighbor.

Remember, keeping God’s commandments isn’t a means to salvation, it is proof or evidence of salvation. Faith in Jesus is the only means. If keeping God’s commandments is then a result of salvation it should be something that comes natural. Yes, we work and strive towards it by disciplining ourselves unto Godliness but we have been given by God the ability to live it. If one doesn’t have fellowship with God he does not have the ability to live it. In the same way I can strive to be the greatest quarterback the world has ever seen and work at it every day of my life. Unfortunately, I was not born with natural athletic abilities, therefore, that will never happen. Those who do have the natural abilities continue to discipline themselves to strengthen their abilities God has given.

Jesus made an interesting statement in John 14:21 when He said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” Jesus said, “He who has My commandments.” The one who is in fellowship with God has the commandments of God. How? God has written them on their heart. The prophet Jeremiah prophesied of a new covenant saying, “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Paul wrote in II Corinthians 3:3, “being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” If we have true fellowship with God, the Spirit of God has written His commandments on our heart. Jesus also said in John 14:21 that He will disclose, or reveal, Himself, to the one who has His commandments.

If we know God we will keep the commandments that have been written on our heart. Not as a means of religiosity trying to appease God with lists of do’s and don’ts, or rights and wrongs, but because we love Him. Apart from God’s grace we can never appease Him. As Christians we have freely received God’s grace. As Christians, we know that the grace God freely gave us came at a great cost to Him. Since we know our sin was paid for at a great cost to the one who loved us first we willingly and lovingly live in obedience to Him allowing His commandments to be the navigator of our lives empowered by the Spirit of God within us. Those who don’t love God have no problem trampling on His grace while those who truly love the Lord find trampling on His grace shameful and appalling and will therefore keep His commandments.

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Posted by on February 2, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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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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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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