Saturday, January 31, 2015

They are antichrist - 1 John 2:18-19

"Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us." (1 John 2:18-19)
John is remembering the works of his Lord, "And then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ'; or, 'Behold, He is there'; do not believe him; for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance." (Mark 13:21-23) Jesus warned us that, through out time, there will be those who claim to be Him, complete with their own prophets to give testimony to the false Christ. However, we are not to be dissuaded from our firm believe and faith in Christ, Christ has come, He had delivered His message, the message taught to us by His apostles, and he will return one day in a way that all will know and all will see. Christ has come, there is no need for us to look for or to expect another.

What I find interesting is that John is the only apostolic writer to use the term "antichrist" which means, "opposite of Christ" or to "oppose Christ".  Often we, or at least I, think of the antichrist as some end-time prophetic figure, and in truth he is. But John also reminds us that antichrist is a spirit that has already invaded the world and has already made itself know through those who have received this spirit. Specifically, John is speaking of those who, "do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh." (2 John 7) In John's day, several men had gone out with a message that struck at the heart of both the divinity and humanity of Jesus. Men like Marcion, Simon, and Valentinus. Many of them made a distinction between Jesus the man and Jesus being God, separating Christ into two distinct persons. Thus they either made Jesus a super human who was yet not quite divine or a super God who was in no way united with the humanity which He came to save. These men spoke a message that was opposite to that of Christ and they also opposed the will, purpose, and work of Christ upon the Earth.

Many of these heretics got their start in the church. For example, in the case of Simon, when the Apostles went to Samaria to lay hands on the disciples that they might receive the Holy Spirit, Simon was already there, observing what the Apostles were doing and saying. "Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, 'Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.'" (Acts 8:18-19) However, he was turned away by Peter, saying, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God." (Acts 8:20-21) This Simon would leave the church and become the leader of a destructive heresy know and the Simonites.

John is not saying that all who leave our churches are antichrist and that they are bringing upon themselves the destruction that they justly deserve. There are many reasons people leave the church and its not always the person who leaves who is in the wrong, if there is wrong to be had. However, he is saying that we should not be surprised when heresies arise and are apparently "birthed" out of the church, for even in the church the spirit of Antichrist can reside, for a time, until it is made manifest in the lives of those who embrace its error. There will be those who leave to appose the church and the message and work of Christ. However, we are not to be alarmed, confused, distracted, or deceived. Jesus has warned us that these things should happen but that we should continue in our devotion to Jesus and to His Church. We must remember the words of Jesus, "So if they say to you, 'Behold, He is in the wilderness,' do not go out, or, 'Behold, He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe them. For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be." (Matt 24:26-27) Let us remain steadfast and not be distracted by those who would seek to oppose Christ.

David Robison

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Loving the world - 1 John 2:15-17

"Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever." (1 John 2:15-17)
There are several words in the Greek language that are translated into English as "Love." Chief among them is the word agape and its verb form agapao. This word is used almost exclusively in the New Testament writings of God's love for us and our love for one another. So it is interesting that John would use the same word here when he speaks of those who agapao the world. While in the scriptures, this word is used for divine love, in other ancient Greek texts this word also speaks of devoted love between a husband and a wife, for general affection, and for a disposition of good will towards some by way of preference.

John is warning us against an unnatural attachment to the world. These qualities of agape (devotion, affection, and preference) belong solely to God. We are to "love [agapao] the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all thy mind." (Matthew 22:37) rather than the world. When we agapao the world rather than God, we steal the affections due to Him and give them to another who is unworthy of them and unable to reward them with eternal felicity and life. Our devotion, affections, and preference belong first to God, not to the world.

John speaks of three ways temptation enters our soul: the lust of the flesh, the list of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. It is interesting to note that all three of these were present in the garden when Adam and Eve sinned. "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate." (Genesis 3:6) She saw that it was good for food (the lust of the flesh), it was appealing to the behold (the lust of the eye), and it could make here wise (the pride of life). These three things combined to produce agape in her heart for the fruit and she reached out and took it to her shame and condemnation. As believers we must discipline our flesh, attractions, and pride so that we might withstand the allurements of this world and that our agape may remain intact and secure in God.

This world is not eternal. It is growing old and passing away. Each day the world, and its present system, decays a bit more. The work of sin is in full force in this life, working its death and destruction, not only in the lives of people, but in the very creation around us. Speaking of this creation, Paul writes, "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now." (Romans 8:20-22

One day, all we see will be done away with; the end will come to all. This world and all that we lust for in it will one day be destroyed and replaced with a new heaven and a new earth. Why should we give our agape to that which is already passing away? Why should we give our love to that which is temporary? Why should we pursue what we cannot posses for eternity? Why live life for that which, in the end, does not really matter? It's time to turn our devotion and affections elsewhere. It's time to "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." (Colossians 3:2) It's time to love that which is truly worthy of being loved.

David Robison

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Our progression in God - 1 John 2:12-14

"I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name's sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one." (1 John 2:12-14)
I believe that John is describing our grow in God; growing form children, to young men and women, and finally to full grown fathers and mothers. John describes our starting point, our goal, and the intermediate step to reaching our goal. Here are the three stages of Christian life John describes.

Children. The state of being a child is characterized by our introduction to the Father. Through one means or another, we come to hear about the love of God and the forgiveness He offers us. In coming to God, we see Him as, not a demanding and exacting God, but a loving and forgiving Father. Our response in faith to Him secures for us our forgiveness and makes us children of God. "But 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 1:12) Though we were children of the world, we have now become born again as children of God.

Young Men and Women. As we continue to grow in God, the Word of God finds place and root in our lives. This is not only the Word of God who is Jesus but also the written word of God which records His words and deeds. The word of God strengthens us and teaches us to overcome the evil one. This is both our enemy in the world, the Devil, and also the passions and lusts that wage war within us. The Word of God empowers us and emboldens us to say "No!" to sin and "Yes" to God. We learn to live free from sin as slaves of righteousness. Our inner man becomes the master of our flesh rather than our flesh dictating to our inner man. Though we were once disciples of the world, we are now disciples of Christ.

Fathers and Mothers. In the end, the goal is to know and love God; not as some impersonal force or guiding idea, but as the one who always existed, the one who created us, and the one who will ever love us. As our love for God deepens, our obedience shifts from that which is born out of reason and instruction to that which is born out of love and obedience. We come to a place where we have been transformed through the knowledge of God in the renewing of our mind. We have come to understand a wisdom that is hidden from the world and the immature. We see the world through God's perspective and it colors all we do, think, and feel. Where we once loved the world and all it held for us, we now love God and are content with His will and portion for our lives.

There are two main errors we commit in regards to these stages of Christian growth. One is we fail to progress. We are content with salvation but indisposed to discipline our lives. Many are settled in churches where they hear a salvation message each week but never an appeal for discipleship. Many of these truly love the Father but have never come to know the Instructor. The second error is that we try and skip steps. We want to go from salvation to maturity without the process of maturity. Some proclaim an intimacy with God who have never experienced the discipline of the Word in their lives. They are content with emotions but disdain the hard work for maturation.

God has a plan for our lives from beginning to end. Let us rejoice in the journey as we progress step to step, stage to stage, and knowing to knowing.

David Robison

Monday, January 26, 2015

The darkness of hate - 1 John 2:7-11

"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. 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. The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes." (1 John 2:7-11)
We are never without the message of God. Even creation itself speaks forth His message. David reminds us, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." (Psalm 19:1-4 NIV) God's word is always around us, speaking to us, telling us of the greatness of God. Along with creation, we also have His written word contained in stories of long ago and prophesies of times to come. As we journey deeper and deeper into Jesus, we discover not newer revelations but rather clearer understanding of what has been said and shown before. As we live with Christ, we look not for something new but for an understanding of something old. God never changes, but our understanding and acknowledgement of Him grow as we grow in Him. Jesus' light has shined within us, and this light illuminates the word of God and gives life to us through a greater understanding of God, His will, and His word.

If light is understanding, then darkness is its opposite. If understanding brings life, then darkness only death. God is a god of love and love bring to us the light of understanding. However, darkness has nothing in common with God and it darkens our understanding and obscures our way. When we hate those around us, our hatred crowds our the love of God in our minds and displaces the light of God with the darkness of self-love. We cannot hate and claim enlightenment; we cannot hate and claim the knowledge of God nor the love of God perfected within us. We are either full of light and love or of darkness and hate.

Hatred is as a cloud that darkens our understanding. While we might still conciser ourselves keen and sharp, our hatred has blinded us and has deceived us; telling us we see and know when in reality we have become blind and ignorant. Hatred causes us to do and say things we would would normally not do. Hatred causes us to turn from our normal course of life to lead us down a path whose end we do not perceive. Hatred darkens our mind and our understanding and causes us to stumble in the way.

We must break free from our deception; that we can hate and still successfully navigate through life. Hatred will lead to death and only the love of God can restore us to the right way. We must proceed no further towards destruction. Rather we must stop and repent that the darkness may be taken away and that we might see the path of light clearly and to rejoin Christ along His way.

David Robison

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The proof of knowledge - 1 John 2:3-6

"By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 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; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked." (1 John 2:3-6)
The is a vast difference between what one professes and what one truly possesses. A man's value and the quality of his life is not calculated based on what he professes to be but rather by what his life demonstrates him to be in reality. If a man professes to be a Christian yet lives like the condemned, his profession is worthless and serves only to deceive himself for his life shows forth who he truly is indeed. To possess truth is to possess it in a way that makes a difference in our lives; to possess it in a way that makes a tangible, qualitative, and demonstrable difference in the way we act, speak, and relate to others. If we say that we have the truth of God living within us then we must be able, in some way, to demonstrate the reality of that truth through our life. To say you have the truth of God yet fail to show any change or conformance to the truth is a lie and contrary to the very truth you claim to have.

John is challenging us to judge our words by our lives. God spoke to Israel saying, "Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me?" (Jeremiah 22:15-16) God asks, "Is this not what it means to know Me?" The evidence of the knowledge of God He is speaking of is the imitation of God. Their testimony to their knowledge of God was that they did the things that God did. They cared for the afflicted and needy and worked justice and righteousness; all things that God did and is still doing. Their knowledge of God made them godlike and converted their former behavior to be in conformance with the behavior and nature of God. To claim the knowledge of God and yet to resist its transformative powers to be conformed into His image is to lie against the truth and to deny our need to know Him in a real and vital way.

The love of God has a mission in our life.The Greek word for "perfected" means to mature, perfect, or to reach one's goal. It contains the same root word as we use for our word "telescope." It refers to a distant goal or mark that one aims for, and then reaches or obtains. The love of God has a goal in our life and its aim is that we should obtain that goal. To be perfected in love is to obtain the goal for which it was sent, and the goal of love is our conformance to the nature and behavior of God. Paul wrote, "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified." (Romans 8:29-30) The love of God predestined us to be conformed to His image and likeness, and then the love of God worked in our lives to accomplish that goal with the hope that, when perfected, we should be like Him in every way. The love of God did not come to give us a warm feeling but to change us into something new. It is not enough to feel loved but we must allow ourselves to be loved, to the point where that love actually changes us into something lovely, into the very image of God's Son.

David Robison

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The goal of sinlessness - 1 John 2:1-2

"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; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world." (1 John 2:1-2)
Sinlessness is within our grasp! Prior to Jesus, sin had dominion over us and we were slaves to its will. We were given to sin in obedience to it and, by it, handed over to death. Jesus came to set us free from our bondage to sin, to give us the power to say "No!" to sin, and by our freedom from sin to find new life with God in Christ Jesus. Paul put it this way, "You are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." (Romans 6:16-18) Previously, we couldn't help but sin, now we have the freedom to chose righteousness. Previously, righteousness was impossible, now sinlessness is possible. For those struggling in sin, this is great news!.

However, achieving sinlessness is a process and it doesn't happen in a day. Along the way we will all stumble and fall many times, but, by the grace and power of God, we will learn to stumble less and to rise up after falling in a shorter period of time. Through all this, we have Jesus to help us. The Greek word for "advocate" can also mean a layer; one who pleads the case of one before another. When we do sin, Jesus advocates for us before the Father, securing our forgiveness and continued acceptance and right standing before God. He can do this because He alone is righteous and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins. The word "propitiation" simply means to atone, appease, or to satisfy the requirements of judgment. Jesus paid the price for our sins so He is worthy and able to plead our forgiveness before the Father. His life was the full payment for the full penalty of our sins and His propitiation leaves us righteous before God. His righteous life and sacrificial death covers all sin and guilt in our lives.

In the Jewish Tabernacle there was the Arc of the Covenant and above it, where the glory of God rested, was what was called the "Mercy Seat". The writer of Hebrews describes it as, "the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron's rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat." (Hebrews 9:3-5) The term "Mercy Seat" could as easily be translated as "the place of propitiation." Jesus is our mercy seat, the place where the glory of God rests and where His mercy triumphs over judgment. Inside the arc is, among other things, the law contained in ten commandments, but over the arc is the mercy seat where mercy and forgiveness reign. The law stands to judge us but Jesus sits to show us mercy and forgiveness.

The goal is sinlessness and the process is towards sinlessness, but along the way we will all stumble and fall. In times like these we must not be discouraged nor fear the face of God. Rather we must see Him sitting on His Mercy Seat, ready to forgo judgment in favor of mercy and forgiveness. For all who chose to draw near to Him, they shall find Him full of mercy, lovingkindness , and acceptance.

David Robison

Thursday, January 22, 2015

New commentary on the book of James

I have compiled my posts on the letter of James to the dispersion, edited it, and made it available in a downloadable format on the Commentary tab on my blog. I hope you enjoy this commentary.

David Robison

All have sinned - 1 John 1:8-10

"If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us." (1 John 1:8-10)
The Gospel is not about ferreting out who has sinned and who has not, for all have sinned. Jesus did not come to "check us out," or to give us a "sin test" to see who was naughty and who was nice. He already knew and the verdict is that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) The Gospel came not to judge us but to provide a way to forgive us.

The one malady common to the whole human race is sin. We may be rich or we may be poor, we may be great or we may be base, either way, not matter who or what we are, we are all sinners. Sin unites us all in common brotherhood and a common need for forgiveness and salvation. We are all sinners.

This understanding, and the acknowledgment of its truth, are the first steps towards reconciliation with God. Until we acknowledge our sin, we cannot even begin our journey towards salvation. Jesus often ran into the religious elite of His day who, although knowing the law, still believed themselves to be righteous according to the law. They refused to believe that they too were sinners like the rest, but Jesus told them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, 'We see,' your sin remains." (John 9:41) Their inability, or unwillingness, to acknowledge their sin disqualified them from the grace and forgiveness Jesus had come to bring. We cannot side step the issue of sin, we cannot wink at it and ignore it as if it isn't all that bad. We must face it head on and acknowledge it and our need for help in expunging ourselves from its stain. Only then are we ready to face our maker and our savior.

When our first ancestors sinned, God asked them this question, "What is this you have done?" (Genesis 3:13) He did not ask them to shame them or to condemn them, but He was offering them an opportunity to be forgiven. He is ever standing ready to forgive us of our sin if we will but confess it to Him. David knew this and said, "I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord'; and You forgave the guilt of my sin." (Psalm 32:5) Jesus is not only faithful to forgive us of our sins, but He is also just in forgiving us of our sins. Paul says, "This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:25-26) Jesus is both the just and the justifier of our sins.

Moreover, He not only forgives us but also cleanses us from our sins. There was forgiveness in the Old Testament, but it was a forgiveness that still left a stain. "'Although you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your iniquity is before Me,' declares the Lord God" (Jeremiah 2:22) They were forgiven but the filth of their hearts remained. However, when we are forgiven by Jesus, He proceeds to cleanse the filth from our hearts and from our souls. He not only remits our sins, but begins a process of removing them from our lives. This process is called sanctification and is one that continually brings us closer in agreement to His nature and image. What glorious news that, not only can we now be forgiven, but our sin and the evil that lurks with in us can be washed away by the precious blood of the Lamb.

David Robison

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

God is light - 1 John 1:5-7

"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; 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." (1 John 1:5-7)
This was a profound statement for his day, that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. This was not true of the Greek and Roman gods. In there gods there was a lot of darkness. They were not adverse to immorality, outbursts of anger, jealousy, pettiness, and revenge. Their gods committed incest, rape, and lewdness of all kinds. They were moody and easily offended. They also contended one with another for power, position, and erotic affection. To say that they were light would be to slander all that is understood to be good about light. To these people, John was proclaiming a god that was so much higher, in every way, than the gods they knew. Our God is not to be compared to their myriad of gods. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9)

Ours is the one true and good God who is kind and beneficial to all. The people of John's day sought to appease their gods so that they might not act in a malevolent way towards them. You never knew what mood they would be in and when they would bless and when they would curse. However, our God bent low to tell us of His love for us. He is always light, He is always love, and He is always good. We need not fear our God in the same way the Greeks and Romans feared their gods for the nature and character of our God is always the same; it is always light. We have no need to appease our God for He is already gracious towards us. It is merely left for us to receive His love and goodness into our lives.

If God is light, and we are children of our God, then we ought to also be children of light. To call upon God as our Father necessitates us to expel every residue of darkness that remains in our lives. We cannot claim light and walk in darkness at the same time. Those who do lie against the truth and show forth a contradictory message to the world; a message of light in Christ yet darkness in action. To the degree that darkness remains withing us, to the same degree we have not yet been conformed to the truth. To claim otherwise is a lie and a self deception that darkens our whole heart. Jesus said, "If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" (Matthew 6:23)

The key to walking in fellowship with God and with each other is to walk in the light. This does not mean that we must be perfect or must have already been made complete and whole, but we must be honest about who and what we are and we must be willing to bring our "stuff" into the light and to let the light of God shine in the dark areas of our lives. It's like having a cluttered garage whose doors we keep shut because we are ashamed at what is inside. We need to open wide the doors and let the sun shine in. We must become honest about our need to clean our garage and not be ashamed about our need or worry about what God will think because he knows already. Those who walk in darkness, who try to hide their sin and their need, separate themselves from God and others, from the very people who love them and are willing to help them. When facing our sin we often think, "I can do this myself." yet that is the wrong tack to take. Bring it to the light and let God and those who love us help us to walk in the truth so that we might be set free. Sin hidden is death to us. As David said, "When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long." (Psalms 32:3) Yet sin brought into the light is forgiveness, healing, and life.

David Robison

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The manifestation of life - 1 John 1:1-4

"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 —  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. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete." (1 John 1:1-4)
Some have asked how we can trust and believe in a book that is almost two thousand years old, yet its not the book we trust in but its message; it is its message that gives hope to our lives and in which we trust and believe. It is a message of the Christ who came and lived among us and it is related to us, not secondhandedly, but by those who actually heard Christ and lived with Him and walked with Him. Their message is their first hand experience with Jesus and their message is the things He taught them personally and expressly. Our faith rests not in some ancient text or manuscript but in the words of those Apostles, chosen by God, to personally witness and report what they heard, saw, and learned. They are the apostles of our faith; they are the ones God entrusted with His message; they are the ones who heard and knew Jesus as He lived among us. Our faith is solid because we count them and their testimony true and reliable. Among these apostles was John.

John's message was a message of life, not ordinary life, but life eternal, full of grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness. This life, and its knowledge, was hidden with the Father yet, at the proper time, was revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not come to communicate to us some new religion or to impart some new philosophy, rather He came to impart to us life and to show us the path to eternal life with the Father. At the heart of the teaching of Christ is the teaching of life. What we believe and what we teach are judged by the measure to which they reveal eternal life with God. By this I do not mean just the message of salvation. Rather, does our life and teaching reflect the true nature of this eternal life or does it obscure the message of Christ and lead us back into death and the bondages of this life? When people watch what we do and hear what we say, do they see and hear a message of life or a message of decay and death? John lived this life and his teachings reveal this life to us.

There is no fellowship in doctrine but there is fellowship in revelation. John had a revelation of life and this revelation brought him into fellowship with the Father and His Son. John's goal in his teaching was that others might understand the revelation and that together, John with those who had likewise received the revelation, might together have fellowship with the Father and with Christ. Some Christians find fellowship in identity, they all belong to the same denomination and their identity and fellowship is bound by their common association. Others find fellowship in common beliefs or in their common affinity to certain teachers or christian persuasions. And others find fellowship in their common fear, fear of punishment should they in anyway depart or stay from the tenants and demands of their religion. However, these are all week bonds that are easily broken by offense, persecution, and time itself. The bond that joins us all as believers and that makes us brothers and sisters is our common revelation of the life Jesus came to bring us. This commonality, that we are all partakers of a common life in Christ, is strong enough to bind us together in fellowship and to preserve our fellowship through whatever may come.

John's joy was in seeing others come to the same revelation he had and to see them enter with him into the same fellowship with the Father and the Son. Love always seeks to expand, to increase its circle of communion, to continually bring more and varying ones into fellowship with itself. John's teachings were not for his own benefit but that others might benefit and come to know the life Jesus came to reveal. His joy was not found in some satisfaction this life could provide but in seeing others find satisfaction, peace, and Joy in God. John does not speak of "my joy" or "your joy" but "our joy." The joy we have in God is communal and increases, not only as more individuals find joy in God, but as we together grow together and find joy together in God. God's joy is a joy that is not meant to be loved alone but in communion and fellowship with others. Only then can your joy and my joy "be made complete."

David Robison