The Incarnate Word of Life
June 26th, 2022

Authorship-The author of this epistle is John, the beloved Apostle, the author of the gospel of John, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John, as well as Revelation.  There is no surviving early copy of the epistle that does not attribute it to him in the title.  Unanimous attribution of the early church (including Ignatius in 110 AD, Polycarp, in A.D. 120)), and Papias. 

Recipients-The Christians of Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), where John spent his days in ministry (mostly at Ephesus), where he had served as both a pastor and an elder. Likely mostly gentile believers. 

Date-An exact date when 1st John was written is not known, but John is older (mid-seventies to mid-eighties), and evidence points to A.D. 80 or 90, after his Gospel, about the same time as his other epistles, and before Revelation. 

Purpose-Several, but were going to talk today about the fact that the Holy Spirit inspired him to write about a problem that had arisen in the church.  Much like the first part of Revelation, this letter is concerned with correction of the church.  He was the last of the original Twelve, and God was going to make sure and deliver these corrections through a messenger that He knew the Church would trust. 

Gnosticism–So what was this problem that John addresses in this book?  Gnosticism’s teachings blended Greek dualism with Eastern mysticism. It is based on the Greek dualistic concept put forward by Plato that matter, or the physical world is irredeemably evil and the spiritual world is 100% good. This form of dualism influenced their view of Jesus. Recognizing Jesus’ deity, they reasoned that Jesus could not have had a physical body, because everything physical, everything in the material world was “evil” and claimed that Jesus only appeared to have a physical body, but in reality was a spirit.  Some kind of Phantom.  Their biggest denial is that they believed that, since Jesus didn’t really have a physical body, then how could he suffer and die on the cross—so he must have only appeared to have done so.  That’s a big error in doctrine.  The Central belief in Christianity is Jesus’ atoning death on the cross!  Without that belief, you aren’t a Christian, no matter what you call yourself.  And of course, if Jesus didn’t die, then there’s no need for a resurrection.  The belief in the resurrection is central to the Christian faith.  In fact Paul, in 1 Cor 15:16-17 goes as far as to say 16 For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 

1 John !;1 In order to refute this teaching, John begins his first epistle with the Words   1 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—

What was from the beginning,–Just like in the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis 1:1, In the Beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.  Just like He did at the beginning of his Gospel, John is going to state right up front that God, Jesus was present at creation.  Jesus was from the beginning.  This attests both to the deity of Christ, as one who was from the beginning, and especially lets us know that John is going to refute these notions of Gnosticism.

what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands,–John personally experienced life with Jesus during His earthly ministry.  He followed Jesus around as His disciple for 3 years, learning from Him, eating with him, experiencing life together, often out in the wilderness.  And he states right up front that he was an eye-witness to Jesus having come in the flesh. And, along with Peter and James his brother, John is among those who knew Jesus the best.  Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter—John was there.  Jesus took Peter, James and John up onto a high mountain, where He was transfigured before them.  At Gethsemane, when Jesus went on a little further, He took these three disciples along with Him.  John was at the Cross with Jesus, when he was crucified as an eye-witness.  John was allowed to protect and care for Jesus’ mother until the end of her life. 

Why is it important that Jesus was fully Human, with a Human Body?–It’s important, because understanding Who Jesus is, is critical to understand Jesus’ role as Christ, in order to correctly understand our salvation.  Remember that Jesus is not only our Lord, He’s our Kinsman-Redeemer.  Eligible to Redeem–Jesus’ role as the Kinsman-Redeemer depends on Him being 100% human, because he had to be eligible to redeem.  People are always trying to get the cross and Jesus’ blood out of Christianity—the flesh always wants to do this (1 Co 1:18–24; Heb 9:22).   Able to Redeem–The one who was to be the redeemer had to be able to redeem—have the means to redeem.  Jesus is qualified to be called One “without blemish” because His life was completely free from sin Hebrews 4:15  15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.  And because God was His father through direct creation of the person Jesus within Mary’s womb, Jesus was qualified to be the redeemer because He was not born with original sin, as all of us were.  He was 100% God.  (1 Peter 1:18).   Willing to Redeem–The one who was to be the redeemer had to be willing to redeem—he could choose to redeem or not to redeem.  And Jesus chose to go to the cross.  In Hebrews 12:2, we are reminded to fix[ing] our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  (Also Titus 2:14).

The Word of Life–2 and the life was revealed, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was revealed to us  Why is it important to us?  Because Jesus not only redeemed us on the cross, but shows us a new way to live!  John describes Jesus as the Word of Life in the Gospel of John chapter 1 vs. 1-4 saying  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  Both of these introductory verses focus on the origin of Jesus being from the beginning, and being the Word of God, the Word of Life.  It speaks both of His origin from God and as God, and also describes His mission is showing us the Way to Life through the example of His life.  He said in John 14:6 6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.  Since the Gnostics thought that everything spiritual was good, and everything physical was evil, they separated their physical lives from their spiritual, rationalizing that their physical lives had no impact on their spiritual lives.  And so, they thought that “ethical behavior was of no consequence for the Christian life” basically, that they could live any old way that they wanted to, as long as they had a belief in Jesus.  We see John railing against this view, when he says things like claim to be without sin in John 1:8-10  8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.  They were saying that they were sinless because of their false-belief in this “Phantom-Jesus” they’d made up in their minds, not the REAL Jesus.  And of course that means that they were deceiving themselves.  Col 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 

Eternal life in Christ, experienced through oneness with the person of Christ through a healthy relationship with Him is the focus of this epistle.  Jesus said in John 11:25-26, 25 (Jesus said to her), “I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” Well, John is trying to convince us that our eternal life springs from the Person of Christ, and our fellowship with Him is the source of our life in Him, and the Joy, Peace, Love that we can experience flows in the person of the Holy Spirit, from Him to us, as believers.  And so, John’s central purpose is to promote oneness with God in Christ through righteous obedience and to promote fellowship within the congregation (1:3), both with God, in unity with Him, and with each other.  His purpose is to encourage them in their faith and walk with God (2:12–17). His corrections to false doctrines that were appearing and threatening the faith of the church are important (2:26). But his concern is over how this deception affects the individuals walk in unity with God, made possible through God’s love for us, and how these lies ultimately degrade unity.  The lesson for us, and for the recipients of this letter, is not to let false teachers and false doctrines disrupt our unity and fellowship.  And as we look at how John handles these false teaching in verses like 2:18, 19, and 26, and addresses this threat to the church, his stand for the truth necessitates confrontation of deceitful doctrines, but John’s focus remains the pastoral care of his flock, pointing them toward unity with Jesus, and fellowship with God and one another.  Jesus said in John 10:10b that he (I) came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly.  John is going to show us how to have this more abundant life in Christ.

Be A Godly Father
June 19th, 2022

All human fathers are imperfect. That’s why we need a Heavenly Father. To be a Godly father, we  emulate our Heavenly Father.  Genesis 18:19 tells us that God chose Abraham because of his fatherhood, even before he was a father to Isaac.  Genesis 18:19  19 For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.”  Abraham was chosen because he had the wisdom to make sure and pass on his faith.

A Godly Father has Faith in God

And so, The beginning of Biblical fatherhood is having a relationship with God ourselves—we have Jesus as our Foundation, so we can pass this on to our children. 

When John writes to the Church in his old age, we read that he singles out Fathers as those who can be counted on to lead from a place of solid relationship with God, saying in 1 John 2:13 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning.  He’s writing to fathers as persons of maturity.  Why did father Abraham stand on God’s promise, even though, reproductively speaking, he and his wife Sarah were as good as dead?  Why did he believe God that they would still have children, even though it was impossible?  Because He was fully convinced that His God was bigger than His problem.  Romans 4:20-21 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.  In His first epistle, John emphasizes twice to fathers that He is writing to them because “You have known the One who is from the beginning.” This is a knowledge born of experience, that the important thing in life is to know and abide in the One True God. 

A Godly Father Teaches

Jesus said that the Greatest Command was to – “love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”(Deuteronomy 6:5).  But the command does not stop there. It continues –“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).  God is telling the fathers that they have a responsibility to teach the child to love Him with all their hearts. And He tells them how to do it. He tells them how to impress his commands on the children. He says, talk about them when you sit down or walk along the road; when you lie down to sleep and when you get up first thing in the morning. The teaching continues all day. Fathers teach your children to love God.  The proverbs says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”

A Godly father is a Leader

The Scripture we started with is our Heavenly Father explaining that one of our forefathers (Abraham) is to Lead or direct his children. It even tells what he is to lead them to do – to keep the way of the Lord. What way is that? By doing what is just and right.  If we are the priests of our household, then we must do what is right ourselves, and also let our family know what is right.  In Joshua 24:15, he gives an example of leadership of his home:  “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” As Husbands and fathers, we need to understand that the responsibility is ours.  We will give an account to God over the way that we are leading our family.

A Godly father Fights for his family, and Fights for the Kingdom.

When we put the Lord first, we have confidence that He will protect us.  Psalm 91:1-7 One who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, Will lodge in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!”…As one missionary martyr, Jim Elliot, said, God’s promise in Psalm 91 means that we are indestructible until our work on earth is done.

They have learned that God is their strength, and to lean on Him.  Ephesians 6:13-17 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God…We’re only able to stand, because we stand In CHRIST.  In Him we have strength to stand as we go about the Father’s business.  1 Cor 15:58 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be firm, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.  We have work to do, and as men, this requires us to stand firm and be steadfast in what the Lord has for us to do.  As 1 Cor 16:13 tells us:  13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 

Godly Fathers Discipline

Thirdly, godly fathers disciplines. Listen to the Scripture.

Heb 12 v5 5 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are punished by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He punishes every son whom He accepts.”  All of us are disciplined by the Lord from time-to-time, as He sees fit.  And when this happens, we must stop and consider WHY He is disciplining us—not to be terrified, or to whine about it, but to consider that our behavior needs an attitude adjustment.  God presents discipline as evidence that He loves us.   And that means that if we love our children, then we discipline them. 

Godly Fathers have Compassion The Psalmist said,  For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:13-14 Sometimes a child doesn’t need teaching or discipline or even leadership. He or She needs a compassionate father. Since this is how God treats us, maybe this should be the way that we treat our children. 

Godly Fathers are Available. A godly father is  not an absentee father.   In John 14, when Jesus was telling the disciples that he would have to leave them for a little while, He lets them know that He, God would still be with them.  He says in John 14:16-18:  16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, so that He may be with you forever; 17 the Helper is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him; but you know Him because He remains with you and will be in you.  18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.   God has made sure that we are never alone.  But, you know, no matter how much we want to be there, there’s always going to be times when we can’t.  That’s why we have to introduce them to our Heavenly Father. We can’t always be there for our children and grandchildren, but we have a Heavenly Father who can be there – always and forever.

A Godly Father Provides. He may not provide their wants or all they desire – but He provides their needs. The Bible says,“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8.  We have an obligation to provide for the needs of our families.

A Godly Father Loves “And the greatest of these is love”. A father needs to love his children. How do you do that? The Bible tells us.  “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

A Father needs to love. We do this by being willing to give of ourselves, and by lifting our family up to the Lord in prayer, bringing them to Church, If they’re little, then send them to Vacation Bible School or Church Camp, complete Bible studies and devotions with them, but above all introduce them to your Heavenly Father.

Matthew 7:26-29 Don’t Build Your House on the Sand
June 12th, 2022

And everyone who hears these words of Mine

In Luke Luke 6:46, He says everyone who comes to me. Everyone who hears or reads Jesus’ words is responsible for activing on them.  Although many at least intend to act on them, not everyone does. 

This week we’re looking at the false Christian, the pseudo-Christian, the carnal Christian, the one who just hears the word, and deceives himself into thinking that this is enough.  If someone hasn’t truly trusted Jesus with their life, their eternity, then they don’t really have saving faith in Jesus.

and does not act on them

Jesus says that the difference between the wise and the foolish builder is that the wise builder acts on the words of Jesus, incorporating Him into the life he is building as the foundation, and the foolish one does not. Jesus wants us to have lasting fruit, and the only way that this is going to happen is if we serve Him, abide in Him.  We are the branches, He is the vine.  Without Him we can do nothing. (John 15:1-17)

will be like a foolish man

So, What does it mean to be a “foolish builder”?  The wise man dug deep and laid a foundation for his house, whereas the foolish man did not dig at all, and did not take time nor trouble to lay a foundation, he just started building upon the sand. Foolish people are always in a hurry; they have no time to wait for what God wants them to do. Psalm 127:1  Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.  It’s foolishness to build without the Lord as the foundation, and being in control of the finished structure.  (Proverbs 19:2).  No time for a true relationship with Jesus, but just wants the RESULTS of a relationship with Jesus.

Judas Iscariot, the foolish builder

Judas Iscariot had all the tools and resources handed to him to construct a house on a solid foundation, and yet chose to build his house on the sand.  Judas never believed Jesus to be God.  Judas is never recorded as calling Jesus “Lord,”–just “Rabbi,” Do you see why making Jesus truly the Lord of your life from the outset of your relationship with Him is so important?  The other disciples, at times, made great professions of faith and loyalty to Jesus: Simon Peter in John 6:68, Nathaniael in John 1:49 Tomans in John 11:16 and John 20:28.  But Judas made no such profession, he was a skeptic.  He seems to have had little or no personal relationship with Jesus–when the disciples are listed in in Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19 and Luke 6:14-16, the order is believed to indicate the relative closeness of their personal relationship with Jesus and Judas is always listed last.  Judas was concerned about what he could get from Jesus materially—the benefits of a suppose-ed relationship with Jesus.  He was consumed with greed to the point of betraying the trust of not only Jesus, but also his fellow disciples as well.  In John 12:5-6 we see that Judas cared nothing for serving the poor, as Jesus did, but instead stole from the money bag—which was the money that Jesus and the disciples lived on.  Judas may have followed Jesus physically, and even paid some lip-service to him, calling him rabbi, but his heart was far from Jesus.  Like many false-Christians, Judas thought that he could pick and choose, receiving and obeying only those of Jesus’ words that appealed to him. 

We have to truly have a personal relationship with Jesus, and make Him Lord of our lives, acknowledging that He is the Son of God, and has died for our sins, and was raised again, so that we would have the hope of a relationship with God, and eternal life!     

But, have you ever thought of the self-centerdness and stubborness it took for Judas to sit with Jesus day after day for three years, and not get that Jesus was the Son of God, and was offering him Eternal Life?  It’s the same kind of self-centerness and bull-headedness that it takes to sit in a bible-believing and bible-teaching church for years, and still not understand the need for a personal relationship with Jesus.  A person with this foolish mentality does not trouble to listen to instruction.  He thinks his ideas about God are best, not God’s ideas about God, or anyone else ideas about God, but only his own—this is the very essence of “every man doing what is right in his own eyes” that we see as such a bad example in the book of Judges. 

The Christian and the Carnal Christian

The true Christian and the false generally both go to church, although the attendance of the true Christian might be a bit better!  They sit and listen to precisely the same gospel; they may even like hearing the sermon some weeks.  They have a desire for forgiveness, but the false has an insistence that it’s on his terms, and not with true humility, submission and repentance before God.  They may come to church of peace, and a break from all the noise and hustle and bustle outside the church.  They desire comfort and consolation—and there’s nothing wrong with that, but they musnt stop there!   They must find the source of this comfort and rest and peace in the person and Lordship of Jesus over their lives. 

Who built his house on the sand

When the house is built it’t a little bit too late to examine the foundation.  The time to get your foundation right is at the beginning of building a house.  If the foundation is wrong, everything else is wrong. 

The Foolish Man Does Not Dig Deeply

One of the great problems of the foolish man is that he does not dig deeply.  We see a similar example in Matthew 13:20-21, of this lack of a serious and deeply heartfelt commitment to Jesus when Jesus is explaining the meaning of the parable of the sower   20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.  It’s not God’s word, the seed, that is different, but the heart here is different.  This heart is rocky, with little soil, a heart with a lack of personal depth or maturity.  Notice all of the time-words.  Immediately receive it, only temporary, immediately fall away.  Notice the short period of effectiveness of the Word in this type of heart.  This is a man in a hurry, who’s careless in his building, without a serious commitment to Jesus.  There is a cost to discipleship, and it takes the deepest commitment.  As Jesus reminds us in Luke 14:27-28 27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? 

27 And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and its collapse was great.”

And Pseudo-Christians, false-Christians are the very sort of people that fall for the prosperity gospel’s message of God as only a God of love, who would never hold anyone accountable.  And when the rain begins to fall, the lies of the prosperity gospel make them bitter toward God.  It leaves them unprepared for the storms of life.  And, so what happens when when affliction or persecution comes, as it surely will? This person falls away.  We don’t want to put all our efforst into building our little house on the sand, only to find that it is washed away in a flood. 

28 When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

The sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ great lesson to the disciples, in His authority as the Son of God about the Way to live our lives as Citizens of Heaven.  Jesus shows that righteousness through works is impossible to achieve, because life as a Citizen of Heaven depends on an inner righteousness unachievable by human effort.  It’s not about outer works, but the inner attitude of the heart, based on the foundation of Jesus Himself, and what He has done on the cross, and motivated by love for Him, inspired by the Holy Spirit to overflowing outward acts of righteousness, which help others and also provide real evidence to ourselves that we’ve been saved from our sins.  A great lesson on what it means to be a true disciple of Christ.  It’s only when we make Him the center of our lives, that we find love for God and then love for others because He loves them.  We find the Joy of God, because in Him is Joy, and live everlasting.  We find Peace of God that surpasses all understanding, because He is the prince of Peace.  Build your life on Him. He will never let you down.  And you will find contentment, despite any circumstances, storms, wind and rain that life brings your way.