Have you ever found yourself in the company of Christians whose commitment to God is so great, and whose good deeds are so innumerable, that you feel reduced to a carnal dirt clod just by being in proximity to them? How do you feel when you’re sitting in a prayer group, waiting for your turn to speak, and some spiritual superstar speaks out a prayer that is far more eloquent than anything you could ever come up with? Makes you want to pass when it’s your turn to pray, doesn’t it? Continue reading
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
The same John who wrote the Gospel of John and Revelation also wrote the three epistles known as 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John. While 2 and 3 John don’t get out much, 1 John has several famous one liners in it, including this frequently quoted statement about salvation being obtained through the confession of sin. But is this really accurate? Is merely listing off our sins enough to grant us salvation and cause use to be blameless in the sight of God? No, it’s really not. In fact, salvation doesn’t have anything to do with God considering us to be “blameless.” We just think it does because, like the New Testament apostles, we’re focusing on the wrong things (see Jesus vs. the NT Jews: What it Means to Please God). Continue reading
We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. (1 Jn. 5:19)
Who is in control of this world—God or Satan? The apostle John says that Satan is in control. But is John correct? How can any creature of God ever really be in control when such a creature can’t even sustain his own existence? Can Satan prevent God from uncreating him? Not hardly. Well, if Satan can’t protect himself from total annihilation, he is hardly in a position to control anything. Continue reading
In 1 John 4, we find the apostle John giving us a no fail test for how we can discern between good and bad spirits. Interestingly, John isn’t telling us how to discern between demons and God Himself, but rather between various spirit messengers. And just who are “good spirits” in John’s mind? Keep in mind that Jews in New Testament times had an idolatrous obsession with angelic beings, so John is probably talking about discerning between demons and angels. The fact that he begins his discussion with a mention of false prophets indicates that he is thinking about spirits speaking through other people, not just spirits showing up in your bedroom at night. Let’s now see what kind of instruction John offers us. Continue reading
Suppose you go to the library and borrow two books. In Jane’s Guide to Antique Dolls, a woman named Jane offers tips to doll collectors. In Bob’s Big Sports Book, a man named Bob talks about great moments in sports history.
Now as you pick up Jane’s book, the first sentence of her introduction says: “Reading this book is going to save you a ton of money.” You read a few chapters of her book, then you set it down and pick up Bob’s book. A while later your friend comes over and is annoyed that you are too engrossed in your book to pay any attention to her.
“Why are you so into some guy’s guide to sports?” she asks. “You don’t even like sports.”
“Because reading this book is going to save me money,” you reply. Continue reading
Have you been taught that the Bible is Divinely inspired, inerrant, infallible, and that you should believe every word that it says? If you believe this, you’re going to be totally led astray by one well-meaning yet most unhelpful theologian: the disciple John. John was one of the Twelve and a member of Jesus’ special inner circle of three favorites: Peter, John and James. At least it’s commonly assumed these three were His favorites, because they were the only ones He invited to come and witness the Transfiguration. When you see a man receiving such special favor from God, you naturally figure he really knows his stuff. And this is where you figure wrong, for God’s pleasure with us has nothing to do with how well we understand Him, but with the depth of our desire for Him.
We can be totally confused about everything, yet if our souls earnestly desire to please God, then He is going to be quite pleased with us. So just because you see God blessing someone with special insights, you shouldn’t assume that person is responding to those insights well, nor should you assume that they are a trustworthy teacher. John is not a trustworthy teacher. One minute he’s telling us solid truths, the next minute he’s making statements that are absolutely wrong. Some of the things that John says are so obviously wrong that we have to wonder how he didn’t see the error of his own logic. Yet we don’t wonder this because we’ve all been taught to trust in the man’s social connections instead asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom. It’s time to stop following the herd down the road of spiritual foolishness. Continue reading