The Great Unknown or Great Revelation?
So here I am riding into the great unknown. D.C. is the header on the front of the bus. What will I do here? I don't know. One thing is certain I am on a mission from God. That said the Gospel must be in the center.
I have been learning the depths of the fear of the Lord this year. I am learning not only to keep my mouth shut, I must learn to limit my contact with people. When you allow yourself to become engaged in contact with others fruitlessly, you risk losing the anointing of the Lord. The glory must go to Him. At the same time, you must engage people; you cannot hide the Gospel. It is a fearful thing to be in the hands of a living God. This fine line that is in front of the preacher can only be stayed by the joy of the Lord. Odd, to realize that the joy of the Lord is the solution to the fear of the Lord. Perfect love casts out fear, and when you have humbled yourself you will find the honor of joy.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things unseen. I have no idea what to expect of tomorrow or the coming month for that matter. Still, I have been enveloped with the presence of God in such a way that I have expectation. This also brings joy.
Too long have I pushed through life gripped with fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of loss, and fear of the unknown. To know God personally is to know true courage.
The anointing allows you to see past failure and success, in Christ there is only growth. This is sanctification, and for the sake of this writing, I will define it as learning to yield to God. We often quote the scripture, Obedience is better than sacrifice, but seldom stop to ponder just what it means. Perhaps, the Gospel's answer to fear of failure is tied with this scripture, for if we obey God we cannot fail. If we learn to speak God's word, patiently, according to the unction of the Holy Ghost, we know that our words will not return void. Jesus said abide in me and my word will abide in you and you shall ask and you shall receive.
In the Gospel are the words of redemption and reconciliation, and at some point you will overcome rejection by the blood of Jesus. How long it takes seems to be different for different people. The key is knowing the truth the spirit of rejection is a spirit of darkness. Many believers go on shallowly unaware of the works of darkness. This ignorance is sinful, in light of the truth. Jesus said come as you are, this is the very essence of acceptance. Godly sorrow will make sure that you will not stay as you are and grace will accomplish every test. In the life of Christ, the only thing to be rejected is sin. Since sin is a deadly poison freedom from sin brings joy, which brings up the next point; the fear of loss.
What do you really possess? Is there anything more important than your soul? What is it that we fear we might lose? Paul said, to die is to gain but Christ to live. What life can be truly enjoyed other than a life which exalts Jesus? We are not our own, we are bought with a price. I was reading Aristotle earlier today and he acknowledged the place of servitude that is characteristic of humanity. Though he understood it, it was calculated and cold logic which brought him to that understanding. How much joy would have filled his writings had he known that this was the purpose to which God created mankind; that is to serve Him. What have you got to lose? Will you not serve one or the other? Will it be God or this cruel world?
Finally, knowing God and being His child, what of the final fear spoken of? Is there a such thing as the 'unknown'? If we have expectations in ourselves and still have our heart set on things below there certainly is. Yet, for those who learn to cut down the thorns that is let go of the cares of this world, there comes a childlike wonder. A child doesn't know where his meal will come from but trusts his father to provide. Seek first the kingdom and His righteousness and all things will be added to you, what are you afraid of?
*This was written January 18th on the bus to Washington D,C.
The Most Abused Verse in the Bible?
So have you used it yourself? Did you really think it was a sound argument? Or did you just want to end the conversation before the conviction you were feeling might work it's course?
So here's the scenario a preacher is preaching outdoors or some thing like this, maybe it is a group discussion in a smaller setting. The sinful people, as they always do, challenge holiness, the one defending God, speaks for righteous living. At which time, the question is pointed at them, Have you no sin?
If the answer is yes then the conversation would be over, but if the preacher speaks of his sins being forgiven and claims obedience to God, then comes the imaginary 'cannon'. One of the first thing that a convicted Christian professor will say is...
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”-I John 1:8
After this loud proclamation of the verse, the sinful person will look proudly, expecting to stop the conversation. Many times it may, if the minister is not seasoned enough to see this coming. The pride in the tone is enough to tell a person that this is not spoken in the Spirit of God. That aside, consider this carefully; is this intention of the writer of the verse? If not, the person using the verse wrongfully is committing a grave sin. The Bible proclaims a curse on anyone who would add or take away from it's pages¹.
When would you ever read one sentence and declare what a book is about?
This approach shows that a person was not sincerely reading, but rather, scouting for verses to use in defense. Was it the Apostle John's intention in writing this letter to defend someone's 'right' to sin? Let us start by looking at the verse above the passage quoted, and follow with the verse below it.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”(v.7)
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”(v.9)
Upon examining these verses, we see the preacher who stands for righteousness is correct in saying that Jesus cleanses us from all sin and all unrighteousness. If you have used I John 1:8 as an excuse maybe you should rethink this. The preaching of the Gospel is not a shield but rather a double-edged sword. It is a savour of life to those who are saved but a savour of death to the lost². When you quote one verse you are in a sense taking responsibility for the whole section. You will be accountable to the whole of the letter and on the day of judgment you will be without excuse.
Having established this, what was the intent of the Apostle John in writing this letter?
Well there are a few themes in this letter, but to stay on point with this discussion we will look at discipleship and sanctification. Warren Wiersbe in his commentary puts it another way, fellowship and sonship, noting that, “...the emphasis [of the letter] is on being born of God³.”
“The letter is a series of “tests” that the Christian may use to examine his fellowship and his sonship.”
and a little further down:
“...fellowship is a matter of light and darkness; and sonship a matter of life and death³.”
Let us look at the beginning of the letter, verse 1:3 goes as follows;
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”
So here we have an eyewitness account of the fellowship spoken of by John. The same John that walked with Jesus while He was on earth is inviting his reader to join in fellowship with God through the Holy Spirit. “If we walk in the light” so the requirement for this fellowship is that we confess our sin and stand in forgiveness. This is the true purpose of the verse in question to break down pride upon initially coming to Jesus, that we would make that confession. It does not imply a perpetual state of sin, we are washed in the blood of Jesus. If we sin, we have an advocate...
Look to the next chapter to see the theme expanded, verse 4 says;
“He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
What does that say to you? Will you still use 1:8 as a defense?
It is my humble hope that this article will cause some to see the error of their ways. Self examination is tough, but it is necessary. We can be deceived, this is the reason true ministers stand for righteousness though it is seldom the popular stance. This true love to allow the light God has given us to shine brightly. Let it expose any worldly pleasure, there is wisdom in realizing “...the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (2:17)
Now that we see the requirement of fellowship, what of sonship?
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.”(3:1)
This is sanctification to be continually washed in the blood this takes place through the fellowship of which we have been speaking. When a believer is young in the faith they need milk. but it is through this fellowship that they can begin to eat the meat of the word. This verse will continue to shed light on the walk of the faithful, taking on greater and greater meaning with each victory won.
In the beginning, one may have little confidence in the new heart that God has given us, yet as we walk this heart becomes enlarged.
Many of the disciples, that is the 70, left and followed Jesus no more⁴. As disciples we may do this, as well. We learn a little of Jesus, or a lot for that matter, yet still refuse to surrender. These are those having a form of godliness who foolishly deny the power thereof. Discipleship is good, that means you're learning of Jesus. Jesus said if you continue to learn of him you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. Those that are sanctified though are sealed for the day of redemption⁵, this is what is meant as 'sonship'.
“For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” (3:20,21)
It is here we can learn wisdom to discern spirits as is described in chapter 4. We also learn to walk in love without fear. We will finally come to understand why so few people in the world understand us. We will begin to see just a glimpse of what God has begun in us. This is an amazing thing and yet “eye hath not seen...⁶”.
The final point I would like to draw from this letter is this: guaranteed victory. We don't have to lose we can follow God. In every temptation we face, God provides a way of escape. It is up to us to look for that way. If you are a son of God, you are slated to overcome the world (5:5).
It is part of the new covenant God has made with you the faithful. As the Father testifies of the Son and the Son testifies of the Holy Spirit, so the Spirit bears witness hear on earth with the water and the blood. The blood of Jesus has sealed the covenant allowing the justice of God to be satisfied. That is in heaven Jesus makes intercession for you and on earth the Holy Spirit bears witness in you.
“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.”(5:9)
What more could you ask for? Why would you settle for less?
When you settle, you deny in deed that Jesus came to set the captives free. Would you rather go on captivated by sin? Many do, many hear the Gospel yet refuse to taste and see that the Lord is good. Willing for anything else to be true, but, to be convicted of sin. Consider your ways, God's anger lasts but a moment but his love is eternal. Many have devised well thought-out systems all to get around the truth of pending destruction but it doesn't have to be so. Will you come to Jesus?
If so, take heed to the last verse;
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”(5:21)
I am only a brother...
Can I tell you about my elder brother Jesus?