Tag Archives: philosophy

The Church and Salvation: The Teaching of God’s People

Today’s message summary of October 22, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

After the book of Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, there was a period of 400 years where there was no prophet from God on the scene, and man was left to himself as to how he would practice his faith.  During this 400 years, you would see different things occur, but the pursuit of religion was left to man’s own accord.

The Sadducees relied upon natural law and not upon any teachings or writings.  Even today, the issue is the lack of good, sound teaching of God’s Word.  We are in a society that receives very little education, especially in reasoning and understanding.

The church originally started schools for the purpose of teaching people how to read and write.  It was to help people be able to read and understand what they were reading, and it was to be able to gain something from God’s Word.

Hosea 4:6 KJV

My people perish from a lack of knowledge.

How well are we being taught?  Do we believe what we are being taught?

Teaching should not be just a repetition of what the teacher has said, but to go further into seeking the information that has been presented.

Acts 17:11

The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Many people will sit in church and hear the Word, but if it is not taught and the people decide it is not to be believed or understood, then it is just a waste of time.

One of the obvious things that one can observe in a believer’s life is a lack of progression.  It is from a lack of faith.  It comes down to trusting God more than just trusting yourself.  The Word of God is to be taught to help to develop you more into the type of person that God wants you to be.

Acts 20:27

…for I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole plan of God.

Why would one go to a doctor for advice and leave without taking it?  Paul was not holding back in any way his knowledge of God.  It is important that the people of God may grow and mature with the proper instruction of God’s Word.

What happened during those 400 years?  There were groups that emerged:

The Essenes followed Greek philosophies that existed two centuries before Christ emerged.  They were a Jewish sect.  Note that their belief in how souls were transported was void of God’s teaching.

The Scribes emerged as a continuation of the group that existed during David and Solomon’s time.  They were known for recording words and also for accounting.  They set forth and maintain order when it came to how things were to be accomplished, and yet there was no prophet that provided additional inspiration.

The Sadducees did not believe in death and resurrection of the dead, nor angels or spirits.  They only believed in the present life they were living.  (Much like those who lack belief are today.  There are many who believe that there is nothing after this life.)

Acts 23:8

For the Sadducees say there is no resurrection, and no angel or spirit, but the Pharisees affirm them all.

The Pharisees are believed to have emerged from the Maccabeans, and they kept up with the writings of Moses, but they also infused a number of new rules within their way of living that ultimately became much more important than that of God’s Word.

Matthew 15:7-9

Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said: These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.

Luke 11:42

“But woe to you Pharisees! You give a tenth of mint, rue, and every kind of herb, and you bypass justice and love for God. These things you should have done without neglecting the others.

Luke 11:52

“Woe to you experts in the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge! You didn’t go in yourselves, and you hindered those who were going in.”

God desires for sincere worship and praise before Him.

There is something wrong with the number of churches that are existence today in that there is hardly any teaching.  Even worse, we are teaching the precepts of man rather than those from God.

The ministry of Jesus began with teaching.  Questions and answers follow this instruction.  There is learning that is taking place.

Luke 2:46

After three days, they found Him (Jesus at age 12) in the temple complex sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

Matthew 4:17

From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!”

Luke 4:14-15

Then Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread throughout the entire vicinity. He was teaching in their synagogues, being acclaimed by everyone.

A good teacher must also be a good listener.  He or she will always listen to the students in order to know what needs to be imparted.

Note that there was a 400-year gap before Jesus was teaching the people.  Many people were hungry for His words of instruction.

The church, as a whole, must return to teaching.  Teaching will either draw your nearer to Jesus, or it will chase you away.  Either way, the truth of Jesus Christ and His Word must be shared.

Our churches should be overflowing–not because of preachers who entertain, but because God’s Word is being proclaimed.

If a person comes to church to do anything other than hear God’s Word, it becomes idolatry.

The Spirit must be present in order that the teacher can be used to advance the will of the Father.  A teacher must recognize the evidence of God’s presence in order to teach well.  Jesus’s own ministry was not independent of the Father and of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 3:16-17

After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!

John 4:34

“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work,” Jesus told them.

John 5:19-20

Then Jesus replied, “I assure you: The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him everything He is doing, and He will show Him greater works that these so that you will be amazed.

2 John 1:9

Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it, does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son.

God is a teacher.  It is the very character and nature of God.

Deuteronomy 4:12-14

Then the Lord spoke to you from the fire. You kept hearing the sound of the words, but didn’t see a form; there was only a voice. He declared His covenant to you. He commanded you to follow the Ten Commandments, which He wrote on two stone tablets. At that time the Lord commanded me to teach you statutes and ordinances for you to follow in the land you are about to cross into and possess.

Isaiah 48:17

This is what the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says: I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go.

Jeremiah 32:33

They have turned their backs to Me and not their faces. Though I taught them time and time again, they do not listen and receive discipline.

The instruction that we receive is to help us in obedience and to follow and live according to His will.  That, ultimately, is what is best for us.

Jesus’s teaching is to help us to see something far greater from His instruction than just mere words.

John 7:46

The police answered, “No man ever spoke like this!”

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Church and Salvation and Church and the Saints

Today’s message summary of June 25, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

If you are in a church, you should be able to see if God is doing something.  Do you hear from Him?  Do you attend church with the desire to seek Him and understand Him?

You should be able to see God, hear Him, and receive from Him something of value.  When you leave church, you should feel fulfillment and blessings.

God has a plan for each one of us.  Your church experience should not be one where you are just moving along with others.

Church and salvation, and church and the saints.  They represent the same thing.  To be a saint in the church because you have been saved and redeemed by Jesus Christ.

Saints are called to serve in the body of Christ.  It’s more than just “walking with Jesus.”  Being called means that you have a purpose to do something in the body of Christ.  You are to be a participant in the body, and not just a spectator.

The church is the meeting place for those who desire to grow in relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is not just for those who are saved.  It is for those who are looking for Christ and who are willing to, eventually, make a decision to follow Him in a relationship with Christ.  It began with someone speaking to the person and sharing about Christ.

The church is a group of people who have been drawn together by God to do the will of Jesus on earth, the work of Jesus Christ on earth, and to be His witnesses on earth.

John 6:44-45

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets. And they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to Me.

Your work will testify about the presence of Jesus Christ:

John 5:36

But I have a greater testimony than John’s because of the works that the Father has given Me to accomplish. These very works I am doing testify about Me that the Father has sent me.

You will do great things in Christ:

John 14:12

I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.

You will be a witness for Jesus Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit:

Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

You can be a witness for God in your flesh, and it can become a matter of pridefulness.  Your true witness for Him will be when the Spirit is in control.  If you are going to function well within the church and be a witness for Jesus Christ, you will need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Every approach within the church should be to constantly evaluate whether or not the endeavors of the church are glorifying Jesus Christ.

The greatest organization on earth is the Church.  A lot of people do not know this, because sometimes the church doesn’t get it right; however, it is the place where God takes the least of us, and raises them up to do great things in His name.

You may have heard these remarks:

“I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.”

“I don’t want to go to church.”

“The church isn’t doing anything for my spiritual life.”

The counter to these thoughts is that your Christian life is meant to provide works that are worth more than wood, hay or stubble.  To avoid church is to avoid functioning within the body of Christ. To not fellowship with other believers is more of a fleshly love than that of an agape love that Jesus desires for you to have.  Jesus wants you to have the heart of a servant and the desire to serve others, especially in this world where people feel that they are entitled to receive things.

When you come to church, everything won’t always be “nice.” Sometimes, you will need to be exposed to “iron sharpening iron.”  God’s Word is meant to convict and compel you to develop a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.

Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the United States Senate:

“In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centered on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece, where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome, where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe, where it became a culture. And finally, it moved to America, where it became an enterprise.”

The church may indeed be a philosophy, an institution, a culture and an enterprise, but it does not mean that people see it as a place where they desire to seek and follow Jesus Christ.  That was what the original intent of the church, and that is what God desires for His people to see in today’s church.

A church has to function in today’s society in much the same way as a business.  The church is dealing with spiritual matters, but it also takes on a business venture, where its members are willing to undertake new and risky projects and have active participation in projects.

We are created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).  The church in action is a church that does good works in His name.

You can be a witness of the many things that only God can do if you are a participant in the church.


The Christian “Jihad”

Today’s message summary of January 17, 2016 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

When you hear the word, “terrorist,” what comes to mind? Does it make you stop and think, or have we become desensitized to it?

Islamic terrorists, such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram, are prepared to wage war against anyone they oppose. Over the past year, there have been numerous attacks over many parts of the world, but we need to know that these attacks also have an impact on us in the United States. There have been recent attacks in Paris, San Bernardino and in Philadelphia. The attacker in Philadelphia admitted an allegiance to ISIS.

How should we respond to these attacks? How should we respond to these crimes to humanity? How are we to respond to such evil?

We will explore the meaning of “jihad.” We will look at what it means from the terrorist perspective, and we will apply it to the Christian perspective.

Jihad has a negative connotation indeed. It is used often in the media; however, the clearest definition to the word is that jihad is an “inner struggle.” For the Muslim, this inner struggle takes on different forms. For some, it may be struggling against those who may dismiss Islam, and it means using words or even weapons to defend their faith. Going further, even Muslims who follow ISIS or Boko Haram will attack other Muslims because of internal disagreements. Within the Koran, there are texts that justify their actions.

Many have carried this jihad to be a worldwide struggle against those who oppose Islam. The Koran says in Chapter 9 to kill the unbelievers, ambush them and seize them. In the same way that the Bible has its own reference to the end times, there is also something similar in the Koran that refers to the elimination of all Jews.

Radical Islamic terrorism, or jihad, is to eliminate anyone who opposes them or fails to believe in them. It is a philosophy of convert or die.

During the Crusades, there was a very similar situation. There was a pledge by the Pope that anyone who participated in the battles that their sins would be forgiven. They fought against those who were Muslim as well as anyone that did not follow Christ.

The Crusaders’ Holy War was wrong just as the current jihadists are wrong.

Christians, today, are the ones who should expect to face opposition and persecution.

Romans 8:35

Who can separate us from the love of Christ?

Can affliction or anguish or persecution

or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

 

2 Timothy 3:12-13

In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Evil people and impostors will become worse, deceiving and being deceived.

How are we to overcome this evil? It can be done, and it has been done before?

Revelation 12:11-12

They conquered him

by the blood of the Lamb

and by the word of their testimony,

for they did not love their lives

in the face of death.

Therefore rejoice, you heavens,

and you who dwell in them!

Woe to the earth and the sea,

for the Devil has come down to you

with great fury,

because he knows he has a short time.

 

One of the fastest growing churches in the world is in China. There are many house churches and underground churches for Jesus that are flourishing even though the government there provides opposition.

Everywhere that the church has been persecuted, it continues to flourish because God has provided the increase. Those who stand in the face of persecution, and even witnessing their own family members being persecuted, believe in proclaiming the name of Jesus. It is an amazing faith that drives these people.

How do we respond to these tragedies?

The best way to respond to these attacks is with prayer.

Ephesians 6:12, 18

For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.

Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.

 

Our enemy is not Muslims. Our enemy is not those who desire to persecute us. This is God’s battle, and we pray for His intercession in our lives. He intercedes on our behalf as we pray to Him.

With this in mind, what do you think the Christian jihad is? The word “jihad” is not found in the Bible, but using the word “struggle,” we can determine its proper application to us.

People have an inner struggle with sin. We struggle with our own sin, with our neighbors’ sin, and the sins of the world.

Romans 7:15-25

For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this principle: When I want to do what is good, evil is with me. For in my inner self I joyfully agree with Gods law. But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.

Our jihad, the inner struggle, is not with other people, but in fact it is with Satan and sin.

The other aspect that we struggle with is love. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, highlights love as an important aspect of His character.

We are to love others, and even to bless those who persecute you.

Romans 12:14

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

It is impossible for us to love people in the way that Christ loves them. It is the love of Christ, through the Holy Spirit, that enables us to love our enemies.

I submit to you that the greatest commandment is found in Matthew:

Matthew 22:37-40

He said to him, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. .The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.

 

This vertical and horizontal love is what transcends culture and combats the evil in the world. It overcomes everything. This is love that sweeps across the globe.

We are far from perfect, but if we strive for this love in our lives and love others, many of our problems will cease.

The Christian inner struggle is indeed Jesus’ greatest commandment. Jesus Christ understood this Himself on the day before He was crucified; yet He remained obedient to God:

Luke 22:41-42

Then He withdrew from them about a stones throw, knelt down, and began to pray, Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Menevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.

 

He had to pray to God, the Father, for that inner struggle bothered Him greatly, but Christ gave His life on the cross was God’s eternal love–His atonement for our sins. He did it because He loved us.

John 3:16

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

 

Our struggle is not against other people–it is against sin. Jesus Christ is the answer to all of this. It is within His greatest commandment, and He is the reason that we can overcome sin and our enemies.

We are to look at our enemies as broken people who need the redemption of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is love. We are able to love others because He loved us.

1 John 4:7-12

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. Gods love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.


Socrates and Godly Wisdom

Today’s message text from Melvin Gaines:

One of the subjects required in my Master’s track is the study of philosophy. Philosophy is something that I was not looking forward to, but I knew that it would most certainly stretch my thinking about the subject as it relates to matters of faith.

What is philosophy? Well, defining philosophy is not a slam-dunk. Wikipedia took a crack at it by defining it as the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. In other words, philosophy is the study of everything. The word itself comes from the Greek word philosophia, which means, “love of wisdom.”

When I think of the early philosophers, my imagination paints a picture of a bunch of guys hanging out on a street corner and talking all day long about whatever comes to mind. Then my imagination takes me to today’s barber shop, where guys are talking what has to be all day long while maybe two heads of hair have been cut or trimmed over the course of five hours, or sitting at McDonald’s listening to guys get together over coffee and Egg McMuffin talking, or loudly discussing, or even cussing about current events and politics. The conversation mercifully ends when I learn my car is ready to be picked up and I make a fast exit to the door.

To be clear, philosophy is not just a bunch of guys getting together talking smack or playing the dozens. Back in the day, specifically around 500 B.C., there were very serious discussions that took place about life, water, earth, air, atoms, the sun, moon and stars. Of the class of philosophical all-stars, one of the greatest was Socrates. Socrates (470-399 B.C.) lived in Athens, Greece, the hotbed of all activity when it came to progressive thought, for all of his life. If you ever get the opportunity, you will want to read about Socrates. Of all of the historical philosophers, Socrates never recorded his thoughts or findings. He felt that his written words would diminish his spoken words. If it weren’t for Plato, a student of Socrates, we wouldn’t even know who he was. Plato was fascinated with Socrates, and he wrote down everything meaningful about him. He even noted that Socrates was married, and there were many occasions where his wife would send him out for errands only to learn that he was hanging out on the street corner talking with guys for all hours of the day. It got to the point that Socrates was so occupied with these ongoing discussions that his wife would hide his clothes to keep him from going outside. Undeterred, Socrates would run outside naked through the streets to his meeting place with the guys, who got tired of seeing him naked and kept robes handy to hand off to Socrates to cover himself. After learning about this, I then found this quote attributed to Socrates about marriage:

“My advice to you is get married: if you find a good wife, you will be happy; if not, you will become a philosopher.” — Socrates

I can’t say that Socrates didn’t ask for trouble with his wife, but I suspect that his home could have been a little happier.

Socrates never claimed that he was a teacher. He was a thinker. That was his specialty. In his thinking, he came up with very wise sayings. He was also quite controversial in his ongoing dialogue with others; so much so that he ticked a lot of people off and was arrested for subversion, incivility and corruption of minors. In his famous defense before a jury of 501 peers, Plato attributed Socrates with a couple of quotes that really stood out to me. First:

“For each time those present think I am wise in these things in which I refute others; but the fact is, men, in reality God is wise, and in this oracle it is saying, ‘Human wisdom is worth little or nothing.”  

This statement was indeed part of his “Defense”, but it is profound beyond what Socrates probably realized or even intended. It was a common belief, according to the pre-Socratic practice of Homeric religion that all men, whether good or evil, would reside in Hades after death in a state of consciousness and not in punishment. [2] Socrates implied that he did not know for sure what to expect after death, but he reasoned “he would ask the shades in Hades if they had any knowledge.” [3] Perhaps without even realizing it, he referred to the only true Source of wisdom that would have answered a number of his questions pertaining to knowledge:

Proverbs 2:6-7 (ESV)

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity.

 

James 1:5 (HCSB)

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.

 

Socrates was correct in his assessment that “human wisdom is worth little or nothing.” This conclusion was based upon his statement that God’s wisdom is superior to man’s wisdom.

 

1 Corinthians 1:25 (ESV)

For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

1 Corinthians 3:19-20 (HCSB)

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, since it is written: He catches the wise in their craftiness; and again, The Lord knows that the reasonings of the wise are meaningless.

 

When you think you know something, you really don’t know anything.

True wisdom comes from God.

As I learn more and more from my own personal studies in business, corporate communications, and especially in pursuit of my Master’s in Christian Studies, I readily see that I didn’t really know as much as I thought when I was asked to bring a Sunday morning message to my church back in 2003. I now know that I have more knowledge about Christ and the things of Christ when compared to that time in my life, but I’m also smart enough to know that I am just beginning to learn more, and that is only because of God’s graciousness in providing greater understanding of His Word and His truth in my life.

Socrates’ other philosophical statement also was profound to me:

“…the greatest good for humanity to make arguments every day about virtue and examine myself and others, the unexamined life not being livable for a person.” [4]

This brought to mind the slogan for the United Negro College Fund advertisements approximately forty years ago: “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste.” While this was coined by the advertising agency Young and Rubicam for the purpose of promoting UNCF’s scholarship fund [5], that phrase has taken on an iconic status for its boldness and profound truth, and not just for black students, but for all students and all of mankind.

On a personal note, I believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and my personal Savior, but even with this knowledge, I cannot, in my own flesh, maintain a relationship with Jesus Christ without self-examination. Self-examination of my life in the flesh and sinful behaviors will always show my need for repentance and forgiveness under the blood of Christ. My act of humbling myself helps me to see my need for Jesus, and it also helps me to see others the way that Jesus sees them, as well. All of this requires self-examination. How would life be for a person that does not see the need to examine oneself? According to Socrates, this is a wasted life…a wasted mind. In order to live a virtuous life, there must be an internal reasoning and recognition of the need for a close relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and in that realization, you will see how Christ can be projected to others in how you live a meaningful, purpose-filled life.

Socrates was constantly seeking answers to truth and wisdom when he had those answers right in front of him. It’s sad to think that people live their entire lives without making a choice to live a purpose-filled life for Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:5-7 (HCSB)

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

 

  1. Document – Vernon Caston. The Defense of Socrates by Plato, Week 1 Lectures – Introduction and PreSocratics, Logic; Topics in Philosophy CST5225, Crown College, St. Bonifacius MN., pg. 54
  1. Gordon H. Clark (1957). Thales to Dewey, A History of Philosophy, Fourth Edition. Copyright © 1957 Lois A. Zeller and Elizabeth Clark George.   Copyright © 2000 John W. Robbins, The Trinity Foundation, Unicoi TN, page 30.
  1. Donald Palmer (2014). Does The Center Hold? An Introduction to Western Philosophy, Sixth Edition. Copyright © 2014 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., New York NY, pg. 33.
  1. Document – Vernon Caston. The Defense of Socrates by Plato, Week 1 Lectures – Introduction and PreSocratics, Logic; Topics in Philosophy CST5225, Crown College, St. Bonifacius MN., pg. 63
  1. Article – Gene Denby (2013). New Ads Still Warn A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste. Code Switch. Retrieved September 11, 2014 from http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/06/14/191796469/a-mind-is-a-terrible-thing-to

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


Sunday School Today: Faith

“The just shall live by faith.” This declaration of the Christian principle of life is noted in Scripture:
Habakkuk 2:1-5
Romans 1:17
Galatians 3:10-11
Hebrews 10:38-39

In Habakkuk 2:1-5, we see the difference between the lives of the unjust and the just. The unjust are puffed up and live by their own self-sufficiency. The just, in contrast, live by faith– their confidence is in God. To them, faith is more than a philosophy of life; it is the very principle of life (v. 4).

The righteous man lives by faith. He is saved by faith (Acts 16:31), is kept by faith (1 Peter 1:5), and, as noted before, lives by faith (Galatians 2:20). Though his faith will be tried many times and in many ways (1 Peter 1:7), faith will always be vindicated, because it is more sufficient than any other situation or circumstance. Faith knows how to wait on the Lord (Isaiah 40:31), and it is always victorious (1 John 5:4).

Faith defies reason; it can move mountains (Matthew 17:14-21). It does not always face the facts, and it never gives up (Hebrews 11:32-39). Faith says, “God is working out His perfect will in my life, and I can wait, endure and even suffer.” Faith does not make things easier, but it does make all things possible.


1 John: Why People Don’t Believe

John (in the book of 1 John) is writing to people who have endured false teaching and false doctrine from within the church. It had not been that long after Christ’s appearance on earth, but there already was discussion and individual interpretation as to how Jesus presented Himself. The people had come to a place where their life experiences were greater than the Scriptures themselves. John was addressing the prevailing thought that Jesus was a mere man, and that Christ had descended to earth and used Jesus as a medium for His revelation. This was the main thought process of Gnosticism, a combination of Hellenistic and Oriental philosophies. Gnostics also declared that the spoken words were that of Jesus but not of Christ, for no one could hear Christ speak, and that one could not see or touch Christ (1 John 1:1-2; 5:6). In addition, they also believed that Christ ascended to heaven before Jesus died on the cross, which meant that the crucifixion had nothing to do with Christ. These were just a few of several prevailing thoughts of the day. People called themselves Christians, while denying the basic teachings of Scripture. This is prevalent in the church even today. There are many different denominations that refer to themselves as Christians, yet different philosophies have crept in where the focus in less on Christ and more on those things that distract us from Him or flat out don’t matter when it has to do with truly following Jesus Christ.

John was warning the people about the following teachings:
1. People were denying the incarnation.
2. God being so good could that he could not have anything to do with evil men.
3. The behavior of man didn’t matter, because that was of his body and had nothing to do with God. (There was a time when people were excommunicated from church membership because they would not change their behavior. While Billy Graham used to say that people should come to the church “as they were,” there was an expectation of a change of their behavior as they grew in the faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ.)
4. Both the incarnation and righteous living were denied by people who professed to be Christian. To the Gnostics, sin was not an issue–it was treated as more of a life learning experience.

When looking at The Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is erroneous to make the following assumptions:
1. The assumption that historical facts and moral precepts of the Scriptures were to be taken literally.
2. The assumption that the Scriptures contain all that was necessary for man’s spiritual well-being.

John presents his information and instruction with a positive approach. He taught the following:
1. Jesus did come in the flesh.
2. You can have fellowship with God. He loves us and cares for us.
3. You can know and have knowledge of eternal life.
4. He gives us assurance of our faith in Jesus.
5. God is light and God is love.

John’s intent was to guide and correct the conduct of the Christian. God’s children are to live up to the highest moral standard, and it is stressed consistently throughout Scripture (1 John 2:1, 6; 3:3, 6, 9). We are to walk like Jesus, who knew no sin, in the anticipation of His return. Emulating the life of Christ helps us to keep the focus to live pure and healthy lives. We are different spiritually in our life with Christ, and He will continue to help you to grow and conform to Christ as you mature in your faith. The change that God makes in our lives not only affects us in a positive way but can also have the same impact on others.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent also loves his child. This is how we know that we love God’s children when we love God and obey His commands. For this is what love for God is: to keep His commands” (1 John 5:1-3). When we understand how much God loves us, with everything accomplished through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can easily love others and have a heart for others. We should never allow things that do not matter to keep us from fellowship with both believers and non-believers. The only thing that should ever be a deal-breaker is when Christ is not being taught in the church as the Messiah and the Son of God.

John speaks from personal experience and knowledge in 1 John 1:1. The Gnostics stated that you have to have knowledge and experience–John stated that he had both. John stated that Jesus existed from the beginning (Genesis 1:1) and that He was God (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58). John also noted that he was involved with Jesus because he had a relationship with Jesus. We, as a people, can worship what we do not know (John 4:22), but John declared that we worship who we do know, and that is Jesus Christ! John also proclaimed that Jesus would have everything from the Father and that whoever accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will have a relationship with Him (John 6:37). Without being touched by God or understanding the grace of God, one cannot know Jesus Christ as their Savior. To know Christ means that we have been called to Him by God the Father.