Saturday, February 28, 2015

Abiding in God - 1 John 3:23-24

"This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us." (1 John 3:23-24)
Someone once asked Jesus what was the greatest of all the commandments of God. Jesus replied, "'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.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40) Here John repeats these words of Jesus substituting belief for love. Belief is often the starting point of love. If we believe Jesus and the things He spoke and promised, then we will begin finding ourselves loving Him for who He is and what He has done for us. When Jesus forgave the sinful woman at dinner, much to the displeasure of the Pharisees, He said, "For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." (Luke 7:47) Because of their unbelief, the Pharisees were unable to receive of His forgiveness or to find love in their hearts for Him for what He had to offer them. Their unbelief rendered their love for God dead.

The second part of the commandment of God is that we should love one another. This kind of love is a love of action. It is more than words or sentiment, but it is deeds and requires choosing for others rather than ourselves. It is a love that distracts us from our own selfish needs and wants to the needs and cares of other people. Some may ask, "How can you truly love God?" Jesus responded, "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me." (Matthew 25:45)

Furthermore, John says that we should be careful to keep these commandments of God. The Greek word for "keep" means to "guard" and has with it the connotation of a military deployment to keep a city or nation safe and secure. Our lives do not automatically tend towards keeping the commandments of God. It is something we must give effort to and be watchful over. We must ever be diligent to remain firm in our belief and constant in our love. The commandments of God take doing, not just hoping or assuming.

These commandments, believing in God and loving others, is the key to abiding in God. Some believe that we abide in God when we abide in prayer, worship, fasting, or some other individual form or spiritual devotion. However, John says that we abide in God when we love other people. There is a time for prayer but there is also a time for action. How can we expect to abide in God if we seek to withdraw ourselves away from the very people we were meant to love? I think this misconception was at the heart of what was wrong with the monastic movements in the centuries gone by. If we are to abide in Christ, then we must engage the world and those in it.

Finally, John reminds us that God abiding in us is not a mere concept or poetical wish. God abides in us through His very real and present Spirit. God's spirit is more than an impersonal force, more than a thought or idea, more than power or energy, it is the true and abiding presence of God in our lives. He abides in us by His person through the Spirit. In our abiding in God we must never forget nor neglect His abiding in us through His spirit.

David Robison

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Confidence with God - 1 John 3:19-22

"We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight." (1 John 3:19-22)
It is unclear, at least to me, whether John is looking back, when he says, "by this", to our loving our brothers and sisters in deed and truth, or if he is looking forward to our "doing the things" that please Him. Either way, John reveals to us the benefit of a confident heart. Confidence fuels our hope and emboldens our faith. When we are confident before God then we are confident in our faith and in the things we ask of Him. At times like these, we know He hears our prayers and we know He will answer them.

However, our confidence should not be the false light of presumption or an empty trust in ourselves. Our confidence should be based on the reality of our lives as demonstrated through our deeds and actions. We have confidence, not because we feel confident, but because our life gives us reason to be confident. When we live according to righteousness, and do always the things that please God, then our confidence is real and its benefits are tangible.

Jesus lived such a life. He said, speaking of His Father, "And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him." (John 8:29) Jesus's life was a life lived in consistency; consistently good, consistently loving, and consistently just. His life gave Him complete boldness and confidence in God. In what ever He asked, His Father heard Him and answered Him. It is, our ought to be, our goal to become like Jesus in this manner; that there should be nothing in our lives that would condemn our hearts before God. That our hearts and lives would be free and clear of all things that offend and grieve the heart of God.

However, while this is our goal, our lives often fall short. We are not perfect people and our lives are often far from being lives of consistency. What does one do when, because of their own failings, their heart finds things to condemn them before God? How does one move from condemnation back to confidence? Some propose to do this by hiding their sin or denying the sinfulness of their sin. However, this only compounds the problem. David said, "When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer." (Psalm 32:3-4) Concealing our sin is not the answer. God has a better way. God already knows what we have done. He knows our sin and the hidden things of our heart. If we will but confess them to the Lord He will forgive them and restore confidence to our heart. There is no sin within our heart that God is not great enough to conquer. David went on to say, "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) Confidence with God is but a prayer away!

David Robison

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Love in truth - 1 John 3:17-18

"But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." (1 John 3:17-18)
There will always be those in need. Jesus told us "you always have the poor with you." (Matthew 26:11) Even in the church, among our own brothers and sisters, there will be those in need; those towards whom we have the opportunity to practice our Christian charity. To some God has given extra, and to others He has given need, that together we might jointly care one for another. Paul says that, "God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another." (1 Corinthians 12:24-25) The term Paul uses here for "care" carries with it the connotation of distraction. God desires us to be distracted from our self-absorbed lives that we might become attentive to the needs of others.

However, God has not called some to be burdened so that others might be eased, but He has called us to equity; those who have sharing their extra with those who lack. We are not called to give away our own necessities so that others might become idle in regards to their necessities. Paul writes, "For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality —  at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality; as it is written, 'He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack.'" (2 Corinthians 8:12-15) As believers, we are called into a symbiotic relationship with each other; allowing our excess to supply their lack and receiving with thanksgiving the supply of others when we lack.

Our motivation for equity is not for the sake of social justice but for the sake of love. Justice does not care for inequity, but love does. What should motivate us is the love we have received from God. If God has so loved us and cared for us then ought we not to love and care for others? If we see the needs of others, and possess the means to meet those needs, ought we not to give of our excess to help them in their need? To withhold such help is to withhold love and to deny the love of God that fills our hearts. How can we abide in God's love and, at the same time, deny it to those around us?

The expression of our love also needs to be tangible. Those in need need the tangible expressions of love more than they need the emotions of love conveyed in words. To love only with words is to love with falsehood. It says of God that "He gave His Son;" (John 3:16) a tangible act to a genuine love. God did not just tell us He loves us, He demonstrated it by His actions and His gifts towards us. Let's be honest with ourselves; love that is in truth is a love that is expressed tangibly. Love is a verb!

David Robison

Monday, February 23, 2015

By this we know - 1 John 3:14-16

"We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." (1 John 3:14-16)
One of the saddest things to me is when we have to convince someone they're saved. Salvation comes with its own set of changes and conditions by which someone ought to know and discern that they have been converted, born again, and saved. While we all have doubts from time-to-time, there are poofs that point to the reality of the change and the salvation that God has wrought in our lives. One of these proofs is love; especially love for the brethren. Jesus told His disciples, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35) Love is the evidence for not only who we are but whose we are and whose life now lives inside us. If the life of the God who is love dwells in us then we ought to shine forth that life in love for other people. If we have been taught and discipled by Christ who loves us then we should become like Him in loving others the same way. Love is both His command and His evidence that we now dwell in the Kingdom of Light.

However, this love is not, or should not be, limited to our brethren. Among the early church it was noticed by the unbelievers of their time that they often gave aid, not only to their own, but to the pagan believers around them; something the pagans themselves were lax to due. In fact, after Rome had taken up Christianity, there was one emperor, Justin the Apostate, who sought a revival of paganism and even tried to infuse some of the christian morals into his pagan religions. "Julian the Apostate, who tried to check the progress of Christianity and to revive paganism by directing the high priest of Galatia, Arsacius, to establish in every town a Xenodochium to be supported by the state and also by private contributions; for, he said, it was a shame that the heathen should be left without support from their own, while 'among the Jews no beggar can be found, and the godless Galilaeans' (i.e. the Christians) 'nourish not only their own, but even our own poor.'" (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume II, Section 100) Even a hater of Christianity could not fail to take notice of their love for one another and for all mankind.

This kind of love that John is referring to is a love that has actions. One cannot lay down his life without taking up actions. It is also a love that is self denying while it looks to the interests of others. Contrary to the philosophy of Ayn Rand, selfishness is not a virtue in the economy of God. Self love is a love that dwells in darkness while love of others dwells in unapproachable light. Those who love God and who have been loved by God, ought to love others as well. This is His command and it is our proof that we are now children of God.

David Robison

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hated for good works - 1 John 3:11-13

"For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. (1 John 3:11-13)
The kind of love that John is calling us to have for one another is the kind that is expressed in deeds. John is not talking about affection or a warm fuzzy feeling but rather love that expresses itself in good towards another. The kind of love that acts not just feels. In speaking of Cain who was evil (or wicked) John uses a particular Greek word that indicates someone's hurtful and grievous acts rather than the character or nature of their heart. It is a wickedness that expressed outwardly rather than merely being born inwardly. Similarly, in contrast, our love ought to be outwardly not merely felt internally in our hearts. This is the kind of love that we, as children of the One who is love, are called to have.

This command is nothing new. The Law taught us, "If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks." (Deuteronomy 15:7-8) Singularly, Paul encourages us, "So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith." (Galatians 6:10) While we are saved without works of the law, we are not meant to live without works of faith. As children of God we are called to good works; to doing good to those around us; to sharing God's love through everyday actions and deeds done in faith and motivated by love. After all, as John will later put it, "But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?" (1 John 3:17)

However, though we are called to love one another, we must not presume or expect to be universally loved by all. Jesus has called us to love everyone not to be loved by everyone. No one minds a Christian who keeps their faith as private and personal. However, the world recoils at a believer who dares to live the faith they profess. When we live Godly lives and show forth the love of God through our deeds then we set a standard for the world, a standard of righteousness that the world is incapable of apart from union with Christ. For some, this contrast will be a beacon of hope drawing them into relationship with God's Christ, but for others, it will convict them of their own wickedness they wish to keep hidden. For these, their hate will be directed at that which exposes their own need and failures. Jesus said, "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. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God." (John 3:19-21)

It is natural to want to be loved by everyone but it is a trap and a snare to expect it. We must live our lives in the light of God's love, sharing that love with the world around us, and not be surprised if some might take offense. Their offense is their portion but the love of God is ours.

David Robison

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Children of the devil - 1 John 3:10

"By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother." (1 John 3:10)
We cannot know what is in another person's heart, but we can see the outward effluence of it that gives evidence to what is inside. Jesus, speaking of false prophets, said, "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit." (Matthew 7:16-18) The proof of  a person's life is demonstrated by the fruit they produce. A good life will produce good fruit and a bad life bad fruit. To be able to distinguish between the children of God and the children of the devil we need only to look at the fruit of their lives.

In particular, John draws our attention to two specific fruits that all believers should bear. First, while before we practiced sin, as a child of God we now practices righteousness. Those who have not yet come to Christ, while they may desire to practice righteousness, are incapable of it for they are slaves of sin. This does not mean that they will not occasionally stumble and fall into righteousness just as the children of God occasionally stumble and fall into sin, but it does mean that they will never sustain a life built upon the consistent and willful practice of what is right. Righteousness is born of God and is a result of the seed of God being birthed within is. Furthermore, righteousness is more than simple deeds done in conformance to the law. It is the good works that are born out of a purified heart, conceived in love, and performed in faith. Paul reminds us that, "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love." (Galatians 5:6) Righteousness is more than doing what's right, its doing what's right for the right reasons. Its not obedience to the law but actions of faith working through love.

Secondly, John reminds us that our love for God can never be separated from our love for one another. God created us all and we are all made in His image. Furthermore, God loves all He created and we are all individually loved by God. How them, can those who love God hate those whom He loves? When we hate those whom have been created in the image of God, we hate from something within us that is foreign to God. Our hate is birthed from the seed of Satan and not the seed that is from God. In our relationships with each other we may experience a wide range of emotions, from joy, pride, comfort, and even longing to anger, frustration, impatience, and even disappointment. However, our emotions should never lead us into hate. Hate blinds our eyes and darkens our lives to the point where we no longer see clearly to guide our own lives let alone someone else's. Our emotions do not define us but rather the determination of our heart and our actions towards one another define who we are. Those who are born of God have the very God of love living in their hearts. How can they but help to bring forth the fruits of love towards their brothers, their sisters, and all of God's creations?

David Robison

Monday, February 16, 2015

No more to sin - 1 John 3:6-9

"No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." (1 John 3:6-9)
This verse has always terrified me and, at the same time, confused me. James reminds us that, "we all stumble in many ways" (James 3:2) and John promises us, "if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1) and yet here John seems to be indicating that, if you sin. you are not of God. So which is it? Is the standard of the Christian life total sinlessness and any sin an indication that we are not born of God or is there something else John is driving at here? The key to understanding this verse is the seed of God and the works of the devil.

When we come to Christ, we are not merely converted to a new belief in God, we are transformed into His children through a new birth from above. We are born of God's seed. The old manner of life has been crucified with Christ and we have received a new life, one born from above and not of this world. It is not just that we now believe differently, it is that we are in reality different! We have been born again to a new life, one vastly different from our previously life, one that shares the seed of God rather than the seed of man. Sometimes this transformation is hard to comprehend or express, since, on the outside, we look the same, but on the inside, we are a new creation.

Having been born of His seed, we share in His nature, and its not in His nature to sin. Previously, having been born of the seed of this world, we brought forth the fruit of that seed in sin and all unrighteousness, but now we have been born again of a different seed that we might bear its fruit; the fruit of righteousness. As new born children of God, when we sin, we sin in response to our old lives for there is nothing in our new life that would lead us to sin. It is when we leave our abiding in God to return to our old life and patterns that we find ourselves committing once again the sins we have left behind. For those who have been born again, sin is no longer natural, and an aberration from the new life that is ours.

Because of the new life we have in God, it is impossible for someone who has been born again of God's seed to willfully and persistently continue to practice sin. Such sinning is more than stumbling and falling, it is a willful persistence and continuance in what is contrary to the nature and image of God. Those who practice such sin do not know God and have never been converted or born anew into His image. It is incongruous to be a child of God yet to willfully continue to live as a child of the world.

So where does stumbling and falling come in? John says that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. This particular Greek word for destroy means to "loosen" rather than to "break." The picture is of one who loosens our chains of bondage rather than smashing them all at once. The goal of God is our sinlessness yet He approaches it one sine at a time. We have embarked on a life time journey of being taught and instructed by the Lord. Day by day He teaches us how to expunge the remaining vestiges of our old life; to transform our habits and our ways of thinking as our very life has already been transformed by His seed. Each day we find ourselves a little bit more "loosed" from the chains of the devil and the chains of sin; a little more free to be who we are in reality: sons and daughters of God. Each day we find new freedom and new strength to resist sin and experience the blessedness of sinlessness in our lives. We no longer practice sin and the sins of our stumbling and falling become fewer and farther in between. Daily we are on the path to true sinlessness.

David Robison

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What is sin? 1 John 3:4

"Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin." (1 John 3:4-5)
What is sin? For most people, sin is like art, they cannot define it but they know it when they see it. As funny as that might be, the question as to what is sin is an important one given the place sin has played in the history of mankind. It was because of sin that man and woman were kicked out of the garden, it as because of sin that God destroyed the world with a flood, it was because of sin that death came to the human race, and it is because of sin that we still experience pain, loss, destruction, and death in our own lives and in the world around us. Finally, it is for sin that Jesus will once more return, bringing judgment with Him, to finish its destruction.

So what is sin? Most people define sin as some transgression of the law. For example, Adam and Eve sinned against God when they transgressed His command, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:16-17) Such a definition is a legal definition of sin; sin as it relates to law. However, sin is more than mere transgression, it is a condition of the heart. Consider what Paul says regarding our salvation. "When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." (Colossians 2:13-14) Notice that we were doubly dead; dead in our transgressions and dead in the uncircumcision of our heart. Sin is more than the transgressions we commit, it is the condition of the heart out of which we commit those transgressions.

So what is sin? To best understand this, let's read the end of this verse according to Darby, "sin is lawlessness." Sin is when we chose our own way over God's way. Sin is when we refuse to submit to Him and His Word and chose rather to live by our own reason and will. It is as those in the parable that Jesus told who said, "We will not have this man to reign over us." (Luke 19:14 NKJV) Whenever we choose our own way over God's way we sin and when we live our lives on our own without regard to God we are sinners. This is what the prophet meant when he said, "All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way." (Isaiah 53:6) We are sinners because we have gone astray. We have followed our own way not God's way.

If sin were just transgressions, then there would be no need for Jesus to come to save us. Even under the Old Covenant there was provision for the forgiveness of sins. "All its fat he shall offer up in smoke on the altar as in the case of the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him in regard to his sin, and he will be forgiven." (Leviticus 4:26) However, while such scarifies could forgive sin, they could not remove sin from our heart. "For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time," (Hebrews 10:1, 11-12)

Jesus came to remove sin from our lives, not just by forgiving us, but also by circumcising sin from our hearts. We are not just forgiven, we are cleansed and are no longer sinners by nature. This is what John meant when he said, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) Not just forgiveness but cleansing also; cleansing us to live our lives for Him and for His Kingdom.

David Robison

Sunday, February 08, 2015

We shall be like Him - 1 John 3:1-3

"See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 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. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." (1 John 3:1-3)
Becoming a Christian is more than just adopting a belief. When we come to Christ, something real changes within us; we are transformed at some fundamental level in our inner man or woman. While we may look like the same person on the outside, on the inside, we are made new. Paul put it this way, "Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5:16-17) The Greek word Paul uses for "creature" means an "original formation." We have been made something new and original by the Lord. We are not like we were before, we have been made new.

Part of this new creation is our adoption as sons and daughters of God. The world no longer knows what to do with us; we now longer fit into their system or their world. We no longer want the same things they do and we no longer are heading in the same direction they are. Peter, writing of our old friends before our conversion says, "In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you." (1 Peter 4:4) There is nothing sadder than a Christian who continues to try and live according to their old life; live as they have before they became a son or daughter of God. That life is behind us, we are called to a new life in Christ.

This adoption as sons and daughters of Christ comes with a living hope that, one day, we shall be like Him. We currently live in an in-between state, part of us has been saved and part of us is being saved. We have become children of God but now we must grow up to become full grown sons and daughters of God. In that day, when Jesus returns, He will transformer what remains in our lives to be like Him. However, in the mean time, there is that which we must transform. There remains yet a preparation that we must undertake to be ready and prepared for that day.

Our adoption as children of God brings with it a hope for the future and a responsibility for today. If it is our hope that He will return to take us to be with Him forever, then it is incumbent upon us to live today in preparation for tomorrow. In preparation for that day we are called to purify ourselves even as He is pure. We are called to take command of our lives and to eradicate from it every vestige of our former life until only His life remains. We are to live and conduct ourselves in a way that we grow more like Him and increase daily into conformance to His image and likeness. Then, on that day, we shall have joy as we stand before Him and He completes His work within us and we are made fully like Him and appear even as He is. Blessed be that day!

David Robison

Saturday, February 07, 2015

No need for shame - 1 John 2:28-29

"Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him." (1 John 2:28-29)
The good new is that Jesus is coming again to take us home to be with Him forever. The bad new is that we don't know when that will be. Jesus warned us, "You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect." (Luke 12:40) For some, there will be joy on that day, but for others, their will be repentance for the life they had lived and weeping for the life they could have lived. John contrasts the two emotions of that day in the words "confidence" and "shame". The Greek word for "confidence" means to be "blunt, out-spoken, and frank". It implies that one is free from all worry of rebuke, censure, and judgment and therefore can use boldness and frankness in their speech and behavior. On the contrary, the word for "shame" comes from a word that means "disfigurement" and implies one who is ashamed of how they look and of who they are. This verse also implies a shrinking away from the one before whose gaze we are ashamed to stand. On that day, some will have boldness, not fearing any examination of their lives, while others will shrink back knowing the darkness that they carried and nurtured inside, darkness they refused to extricate and surrender to the Lord while they still had time.

In light of this truth, Peter asks us, "Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!" (2 Peter 3:11-12) What sort of people ought we to be? Or to put it another way, how should live our lives now in light of the coming end of all things? Jesus told many parables to teach us to be ready and prepared for that day, including the parable of the Ten Virgins. Jesus says that "five of them were foolish, and five were prudent" (Matthew 25:2) in that five were prepared for the case that the bridegroom might delay, in case he might come when they did not expect him. In the end, only five were ready for his coming and five were not and the five foolish ones were turned out. "Later the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open up for us.' But he answered, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you'." (Matthew 25:11-12)

The key to being ready for that day is in abiding in Christ today. This idea of abiding in Christ is unique to the Apostle John and he mentions it in his Gospel and his letters. But what does it mean to abide in Him? Jesus taught us, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me... If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you... If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." (John 15:4, 7, 10) To abide in Christ is to live a life that in no way offends Him or leads to separation between us and Him. John will later say, "The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him." (1 John 3:24) To abide in Christ is to let He word abide in us and to let it transform us into His image. He is Righteous, therefore those who abide in Him will should also, over time. express that same righteousness though their lives.

Our confidence on that day will be the knowledge that we have lived the life He has called us to live. That, leading up to that day, we have shared in His image and likeness and that there remains no darkness by which we might be ashamed before His all searching light. The way we live our lives day by day are preparing us for His return , whether it be soon or delayed. May we be found ready and so say with all the saints, "Come, Lord Jesus." (Revelation 22:20)

David Robison

Thursday, February 05, 2015

No need to be taught - 1 John 2:26-27

"These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him." (1 John 2:26-27)
The original Greek tends to indicate that the goal of these heretics is more nefarious than simple deception. The Greek word means to seduce or to lead astray. There is an attempt not only to deceive us in regards to the truth, but also to seduce us from the good and right way; to cause us to wander from the truth in our behavior and the conversation of our life. The goal is not deception but alienation from God and His Kingdom.

One of the common hallmarks of heresy is its private revelation and the need for initiation into their company and belief. This often means the study and adoption of teaching from their founder or someone they claim to be enlightened with special revelation. It comes from the belief that, apart from them, there is no real spirituality or salvation of any kind or measure. To be truly spiritual you must be one of them and you must be taught by them. However, the scriptures has promised, "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. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them." (Jeremiah 31:33-34)

The knowledge of God is not limited to a select elite or to those who have reached some special level of spirituality. All may know the Lord, all may know His Christ. We are not dependent on someone teaching us the knowledge of God for He Himself will teach us of Himself. Speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, "These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." (John 14:25-26) The Holy Spirit Himself teaches us the knowledge of God and to know God. Why, then, is there a need for another?

Whenever anyone places their knowledge or their revelation between us and the knowledge of God, we should run! Their teachings are not that of Christ and their motives are not for our best interests. We must not be quick to abandon what we have learned, to leave the truth that has been taught us by the Holy Spirit. If we abide in His word and hold fast to His teachings then we will also abide in Him and not be seduced into error. Jesus reminded us, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:31-32) Don't let anyone take you captive through their special or private revelations. Let us remain free in the truth of Christ.

David Robison

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

His promise to us - 1 John 2:25

"This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life." (1 John 2:25)
The promises of God are greater than the promises of the Law. The Law promises us only temporal blessings. "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you." (Exodus 20:12) However, God promises us eternal blessings, including eternal life. The difference could not be greater. The Law promises long life while Christ promises eternal life.

There is not much to be said about such a clear and unequivocal statement, except to cause us to pause and reflect on our present life in light of the life we have yet to possess. There is a real since that we presently have eternal life and that that life started when we first believed. Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life." (John 6:47) He did not say "will have," but "has." We who believes already have eternal life. However, there is still something of that eternal life that has yet to be possessed; something promised that still lies ahead of us. "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." (Revelation 21:3-4)

This scripture calls us to consider our present life in light of the life that has been promised to us. Knowing the eternal life that is to be ours, how can we spend our lives here living for worldly possessions and pleasures? How can we give our lives to temporal things when we have been destined for eternity? How can we allow the cares of this world to distract us from our pursuit of heavenly riches? How can we live as dead when we shall forever be alive?

This scripture is not only a promise, but also an exhortation; to live life as if we are already living in eternity. One day our physical life will come to an end, but that will only be a beginning, a beginning of a life with no end, a life spent in eternity with God.

David Robison

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

You already know - 1 John 2:20-24

"But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father." (1 John 2:20-24)
There are two interesting words in this passage. First is the word "lie". This Greek word is the same word which we render as "pseudo" which means false or pretended. Pseudo often refers to something that, on the surface looks like the real thing, but in actuality is not. In this case, a lie is something we purport to be true, and may even look like the truth, but in actuality is a sham, a deception, and a falsehood. The second word is "anointing" and it means to smear or rub. It is a reference to how the priests of old were anointed for ministry. "Then you shall take some of the blood that is on the altar and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and on his garments and on his sons and on his sons' garments with him; so he and his garments shall be consecrated, as well as his sons and his sons' garments with him." (Exodus 29:21) In a real since, we have been smeared with the Holy Spirit and the smell of His sweet fragrance is (or should be) evident through our lives to all around us.

John provides us three clues in identifying heresy and falsehood: if they preach another anointing, if they preach another truth, and if the preach another Christ. In the first century, most of the early heresies sought to redefine Christ. Some denied His divinity saying He was merely a man, He may have been anointed by God but He definitely was not God. Others denied His humanity saying he only appeared to come in human flesh and to suffer and die as a man might. Most of these heresies died out long ago yet, from time to time, they surface again to challenge the Christian faith. While there are still some differences among various Christian faiths as to the exact nature of Christ, our faith still holds to Christ as being fully man and fully God. While this may be beyond our comprehension, it should not be beyond our faith.

When it comes to new revelation and new truth, we ought to give preference to antiquity. When some new idea appears that has no root in the Biblical or Apostolic record, both written and as evidenced by the church, then we ought to be weary and caution as to its adoption. Jude writes of  "the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints." (Jude 3) This faith was delivered complete and requires no revision of innovation. Most of the teachings that divide the church today are those which have no apostolic foundation but are rather the innovations of their teachers. Tertullian reminds us, concerning heresy, that we "ought to be refuted even without a consideration of their doctrines, on the ground that they are heretical by reason of the novelty of their opinions." (Tertullian, Book 1, Chapter 1, Against Marcion)

Finally, John reminds us that we already have an anointing that teaches us all things, therefore, there is no need for another. Just before Jesus' ascension, He told the disciples, "do not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised." (Acts 1:4) However, a few days later, having received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, they went forth as witnesses to the whole world. Peter preached, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38) Beyond this there remains for us no other anointing, no other initiation, and no other experience necessary for our life in Christ. All who seek to add conditions or new steps that are required for us to know and grow in God are preaching another way; a way contrary to that which Jesus and His apostles taught. We have the Son, we have the Father, and we have the Holy Spirit. What more do we need?

David Robison

Monday, February 02, 2015

New comentary on 2nd Peter

I have compiled my blog posts on 2nd Peter into a new commentary on the commentary tab of my blog. Peter writes to us to continue in Christ and to be diligent in our faith. He also warns us again of false prophets and false teachers that will come to distract us and lead us from the truth. In the end, Peter asks us this question. Knowing the end is near, what sort of people ought we to be? This is a question we all need to answer for ourselves. Fortunately, Peter gives us some good ideas on how to answer this question.

David Robison

Sunday, February 01, 2015

New commentary on 1st Peter

I've added a new commentary on 1st Peter. You can read and download it from my commentary tab on my blog. Peter wrote "I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God." But what is the "true grace of God?" In this commentary we examine the first letter of Peter to find and understand what is true grace. We will also learn about the kind of suffering God calls us to". So what is true grace? Lets read it together.

David Robison