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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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Giving God the Glory in 2015

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I Corinthians 2:31 NASB

As Christians we often think of things within our lives as sacred or secular. The sacred would include going to church, reading our bibles, praying, or serving God. We then think of the secular as being anything that isn’t directly connected to God such as our jobs and hobbies. Unfortunately, our families more often fall into the category of secular than sacred. Unfortunately, this is unbiblical. The bible teaches that Christians have been bought with the blood of Christ. Since we have been bought with the blood of Christ we belong to God. I Corinthians 6:20 says, “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” Since we belong to God, everything we do should bring glory to Him. Since we have been bought with a price, and have been saved from the eternal pits of hell, giving glory to God is a act of love, devotion, and the utmost appreciation.

If we were children of the world everything within our lives would be secular. Since we are children of God everything within our lives is sacred; they belong to Him. Our jobs, our hobbies, our families, our everything. Since all of who we are belongs to God, all of what we do should bring Him glory, even the simplest things of life such as eating and drinking. Even the tiniest most insignificant of creatures on earth has to eat and drink. It is a mundane necessity for all creatures. As Christians, this mundane necessity of life should bring glory to God. As Christians, all that we do from the mundane to the monumental should bring glory to God. If what we are doing doesn’t bring glory to God, we shouldn’t be participating in it.

As this next year is fast approaching make a commitment to God that your life will be and instrument for His glory. You may not be the most popular person and may endure persecution as a result of this radical decision. But remember, the things of this earth are extraordinarily temporary. The one who created you, gives you breath, sustains you, and purchased for you eternity is eternal. He deserves all glory does He not?

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Posted by on December 30, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Day 28: The Gift of Himself

28 Days of Christmas Devotions: The Greatest Gift-The Gift of Christ

“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 NASB

We have spent the past 28 days taking a surface level look at many of the gifts God has richly bestowed upon us. Paul said in Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” It would take volumes of books to record all of the wonderful gifts God richly blesses us with. However, none of the gifts is comparable to the gift of Himself.

When God sent us the gift of His Son that first Christmas morning He sent us the Son of God, God in the flesh. John records the coming of Christ by simply saying, “The Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14). The word “dwelt” that John used is the exact same word as “tabernacle” This verse could be translated “The word tabernacled among us.” The bible teaches us that the Old Testament Tabernacle is an earthly shadow of what is in heaven. (Hebrews 8:5). In fact, every aspect of the Tabernacle points to the person of Christ. The Tabernacle was God’s dwelling place among His people. God dwelt in the innermost part of the tabernacle.

Now through Christ, we have access to the heavenly Tabernacle. The one not made with human hands but crafted by God Himself. Through Christ, we have access to the inner most part of the Tabernacle. There is a single gate to the entrance of the Tabernacle. Jesus is the gate and we must inter through Him. (John 10:9). Once we enter the gate we see the altar. At the altar a blood sacrifice is required. Jesus made that sacrifice for us once and for all. (Hebrews 7:27). Through the blood we can now approach the bronze laver where every crimson stain has been removed and we are washed whiter than snow. Now we can enter into the sanctuary where we see the table of showbread representing our communion with Christ, the golden lamp stand representing our walk in His light, and the alter of incense where we lift up our petitions and praises. Just beyond the sanctuary is the Holy of Holies, the very presence of God. This is a representation of the throne room of God; the very throne that we can draw near with confidence, because of the grace of God and the sacrifice of Christ. The gift of Christ made God’s presence available to us all. All who would call on His name and be saved.

God sent us His Son as an invitation to come into His presence. He knows us and loves us and wants us to know Him and love Him back. For this reason, He gave us Himself as the greatest gift anyone can ever receive. A gift of long ago, a gift of today, and a gift of eternity. Truly, we have received the greatest gift the world has ever seen.

This is part 28 of 28 devotions that will go through Christmas Eve. If you would like to subscribe to my daily devotions please PM me your email. Also, please share. To see all of the devotions visit rustykuhn.com

Merry Christ-Mass

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Posted by on December 24, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Day 27: The Gift of Recreation

28 Days of Christmas Devotions: The Greatest Gift-The Gift of Christ

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” II Corinthians 5:17 NASB

After God completed His work of creation He looked at His brand new world with its inhabitants and declared it to be very good. (Genesis 1:31). It doesn’t take long to figure out that the world today isn’t very good. It isn’t even a little good. It is filled with every sort of wickedness. As a result of that wickedness we all suffer. What changed the world from being very good to very bad? The heart of man.

The unredeemed man’s heart is full of wickedness. His wicked heart influences every aspect of who he is and what he does. Jesus told us that prior to His return wickedness would increase. Jesus also told us that as a result of the rise of wickedness peoples love would grow cold towards one another. (Matthew 24:12). This is why we live in such a cruel world today. This is also the reason why every Christian should proclaim the gospel that has the power to transform the heart of man.

Mankind doesn’t need a change of philosophical views. Mankind needs a change of heart. A new heart will automatically change mans philosophical views. The very good creation God created has been corrupted by sin. Sin is a deadly viruses that destroys every aspect of man. Sin has corrupted all of God’s creation. Because of this, man has been totally ruined by sin. Since we are totally ruined we don’t need patch work. Jesus Himself said that you don’t put a new patch on an old garment. It will shrink and both will be ruined. He also said that you don’t put new wine in an old wineskin. If you do, the wineskin will burst and all will be lost. (Luke 5:36-37).

If we are in Christ, we aren’t pieced and patched together, we are brand new creatures. Nor, has God poured His new wine, the Holy Spirit, into an old wineskin. He recreated us. We are new creatures with a new heart, a heart to love, serve, and worship God. The old heart has been done away with, therefore our old thoughts, ideas, ways, and goals have been done away with. We are new creatures in Christ.

If we are in Christ we have already been given a new heart. One day, we will also be given a new body. An incorruptible body that cannot be corrupted by sin. A resurrected body. Along with our new resurrected bodies there will also be a new heaven and a new earth. The new heaven will be the eternal home of those who are in Christ and there we shall be with the Lord forever. Truly, we have received the greatest gift the world has ever seen.

This is part 27 of 28 devotions that will go through Christmas Eve. If you would like to subscribe to my daily devotions please PM me your email. Also, please share. To see all of the devotions visit rustykuhn.com

Merry Christ-Mass

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Posted by on December 23, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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