Friday, July 31, 2015

Musings on First John (5: 21)

Wordle: Musings

21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.
And that, folks, is the end of our 6 month “musings” on First John.

There’s actually quite a bit to this one verse. First of all, the term John uses here that is translated as “children” is actually a term of affection used by Hebrew teachers (2000 years ago) to their disciples.

The advice he gives in his closing is to keep ourselves from “idols.” That could mean images of heathen gods or anything that keeps us from putting Jesus first. Is there anything that keeps you from putting Jesus first? 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Musings on First John (5: 18-20)

Wordle: Musings

18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. 19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

The Apostle John has almost finished his first epistle and I’ve taken about six months on this blog to reflect on it bit by bit. Here John tells us 10 things that we (should) know. Because sometimes we read scripture and miss all the treasure that is in a short passage I’m going to list it out and let you fill in the blanks (yeah, I was a schoolteacher).

1. If you’re born of God you won’t continue to ________.
2.   ____________ will keep you safe from sin.
3.    ____________ cannot harm you.
4.  We are _________________ of God.
5. The whole ______________ is under the control of Satan.
6. The __________ of God has come.
7.   ______________ has given us understanding.
8. We can know Jesus, who is ______________.
9. We are in _________________.
10. Jesus is the true ________________ and eternal life.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Musings on First John (5: 16-17)

Wordle: Musings

16 If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.
Wait! What?! There are sins that can lead to death? Really? Well, of course. In the book of Acts we see that Ananias and Sapphira were instantly judged and killed for the sin they committed against God. I started to do quite a bit of scholarly research on these verses to get it clear in my head what the Apostle John means here. He doesn’t explain what a “sin unto death” is, so we can assume that the people he was writing to already had some understanding of this. I found that scholars were divided on the subject and there was quite a bit of varying commentary on this.

When I get confused by the professionals I look to Scriptures. The best place to look for the answer is in the Bible. In Matthew 12: 31 Jesus said,
 “I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”

Aha! There’s your unforgivable sin. Don’t blaspheme against the Holy Spirit. Now don’t be scared to death (as I was as a teenager) that you might accidentally commit this sin and damn yourself for all eternity. To blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is the willful rejection of Jesus and attributing His works to Satan. That’s what was happening in Matthew 12 when Jesus warned against it.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Musings on First John (5: 13-15)

Wordle: Musings

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
In this part of John’s concluding remarks he reminds us of why he is writing this letter: to assure us believers in Christ that we have eternal life. He speaks also of the confidence we can have in asking God for anything and being assured that he will provide it. But wait, is that really what it says? Look again. Ask anything “according to his will.” Well, that changes things. If I ask God to let me have a winning lottery ticket, um, that most likely is not in his will for me. But good health, a great job, and a wonderful spouse are in his will for me.

One Bible commentator has put forth that this phrase “according to his will” means “that which he has promised in his word.” Search the word for God’s promises and then pray for them. Here are a few:

Love (John 3:16)
Forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7)
Salvation (Hebrews 7:25)
Peace (John 14:27)
Joy (1st Peter 1:8)

There are many more promises for freedom, growth, health, family, strength, blessing, finances, forgiveness, guidance, marriage, and even deliverance from addictions, fears, or depression. You can find those here:

Friday, July 3, 2015

Musings on First John (5:9-12)

Wordle: Musings

9 We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
The apostle John has given his own testimony many times, but here he tells us that while we (most of us) accept a person’s eye witness account, we have a greater testimony available to us. Lots of people say they have to “see it to believe it.” Those are the ones who would doubt John’s testimony regardless. However God gives us His testimony (that Christ is our only Savior) by placing it right in our hearts. This is why it’s impossible to argue with Christians about these truths: we know the Truth in our hearts. Those "see it to believe it" people change their tune when their hearts are changed. It's amazing to witness.

John finishes this passage by explaining exactly what that testimony is: God has given us eternal life through His Son Jesus. Know Jesus, know life. No Jesus, no life.