Belief Forbidden

Do Not Believe! (1 Jno. 4:1-6)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. – 1 Jno. 4:1-6

Scripture consistently urges us to believe. But this “belief” is not generic, vague or open-ended. It is belief in God, belief in Jesus Christ and belief in what the Holy Spirit has revealed, including this passage in First John.

Here, readers are told NOT TO BELIEVE: “…do not believe.” This is like the wisdom we have heard frequently: Don’t believe everything you hear. In our modern age of digital media, it can actually be said – don’t believe everything you hear, read or see! (Photographs and video images can be manipulated!)

John is talking about false teachers. They do not wear name tags (Hello, my name is _____ I’m a false teacher.) No. We bear the responsibility to test or verify what we are taught or told, by be fluent in truth. If I know what the Bible says, and/or if I will check what the Bible says when I’m taught something, that is the safeguard; that is the test.

In John’s time, there were some who would not confess that Jesus came in the flesh. John said, in essence, “therefore you know they are not from God.” John said – about himself and the other apostles – “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us…”

We are accountable to “listen” to the apostles today by becoming students of the New Testament. One purpose is to “test the spirits” and know “the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

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Give Me An Example

If you don’t understand what others are saying, it is not only proper but also prudent for you to ask them to give you an example of the point. If they cannot do this to your satisfaction, it may be fair to suspect that they themselves do not fully understand what they are trying to say.

— Source: Mortimer J. Adler, HOW TO SPEAK, HOW TO LISTEN, p. #155.

Don’t Be Like Cain … Be Like Jesus

Don’t Be Like Cain!

 (1 Jno. 3:11-18)

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.  We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers,[a] that the world hates you.  We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever 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.By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. – 1 Jno. 3:11-18

Love has never been absent from God’s requirements. Love God. Love your neighbor. Love your family. Love your brethren. Love the truth. This is a constant throughout the dispensations of God’s revelation to man. And this passage contains what might be called “the language of obligation.” John wrote that “we should love one another,” and “we should not be like Cain.”

Cain had an internal problem before the external action. Jealousy and anger was nurtured in his heart and without penitent response, he acted, murdering his brother. John gives an example of what we must not do. Build into this what Jesus said about being angry with your brother (Matt. 5:21-29), and what Paul said: “Be angry and sin not,” (Eph. 4:26). Much good work is done toward the authentic practice of love when we keep our hearts clean and pure.

Love is defined here in these powerful words about the Lord, who “laid down his life for us.” I need to be like the Lord, not Cain, and make certain I’m engaged in love, not just in word but in deed and in truth.

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I am writing, 1 Jno. 2:12-14

I Am Writing (1 Jno. 2:12-14)

I am writing to you, little children,
    because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
I am writing to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
    because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children,
    because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
    because you are strong,
    and the word of God abides in you,
    and you have overcome the evil one.

The apostle John was writing to “little children,” “fathers,” “young men,” “children,” “fathers,” and “young men.” If this passage is judged or interpreted literally and critically, it may seem like John suffered a loss of clarity. Yet, the Holy Spirit gave this to John. We should not, therefore, quickly dismiss the paragraph or plead negatively against the writer or Source.

This is best understood as John writing to Christians at various levels of maturity, encouraging them and commending them for seeking forgiveness in the first place, knowing Christ, overcoming the evil one and receiving and using strength supplied by the Word of God. “He is indicating, not their physical ages, but the stages in their spiritual development. God’s family, like every human family, has members of differing maturity,” (Dan King, p. #62, Truth Commentaries – The Three Epistles of John).

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Justice

Justice

As God Is Just

Warren E. Berkley

There can be no question the world is overflowing with injustice. Our newsfeeds push out stories and accounts daily of people who are not being treated right. In every such case there are, of course, people who are guilty of that mistreatment. And there are victims that must never escape our notice.

The outcry comes from all ranges of modern society, “this just isn’t right!” There are headlines of economic injustice, racial injustice, political injustice, and the list of claims is supplemented by journalists, advocates and campaigners almost every day. So I am not in denial. And you see what I mean. The world is overflowing with injustice. But how we define the word, what we include and mean by “justice” is vital.

What is often not spoken or circulated is, what justice is as defined by the Creator. I believe that is where most of these public discussions fail. It is one thing to identify and claim an injustice. What is necessary is a clear concept of what justice is. I believe that question ought to take us to the Creator.

The biblical principle of justice isn’t just something in a list of rules, attributes or points of law. Justice in the Bible is inseparably linked to who God is. In reading the Bible, concepts like truth, love, mercy and justice are connected to who God is. Justice is not something God just wrote on tablets and expressed on parchment. God is just, thus those who seek His favor “do justice,” (Micah 6:8). God is merciful, thus those who seek His favor are merciful (Lk. 6:36). God is love, thus those who seek His favor imitate His love (1 Jno. 4:7). God is the “God of all grace,” so those who are recipients of His grace exhibit grace in their lives (Col. 4:6).

Therefore, any claim or personal participation in justice – for Christians – must be in keeping with who God is and what His Word has revealed about justice. That means, for example, since God’s justice is His love for righteousness and His hatred for evil – we should “abhor what is evil” and “hold fast to what is good,” (Rom. 12:9). Further, since God is perfect, merciful and fair in His treatment of people – we should “honor everyone,” and do “no wrong” to our neighbor (1 Pet. 2:17, Rom. 13:10). God “shows no partiality,” therefore His people are not to be respecters of persons (Jas. 2:1-13 and Acts 10:34,35). Justice for Christians finds practical expression when we understand who God is and we think, speak and act in keeping with His model of justice.

Ideas have consequences. True ideas, like biblical justice, are essential building blocks for free, prosperous, and flourishing nations. Bad ideas, like ideological social justice, are terribly destructive, rending the social fabric, exacerbating hostility, and ultimately destroying relationships. It is imperative that Christ-followers, who are called to be ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17–20), carefully discern the difference between biblical justice and the ideology of social justice. Both use the word “justice” but mean vastly different things by it. SOURCE — Allen, Scott D. Why Social Justice Is Not Biblical Justice: An Urgent Appeal to Fellow Christians in a Time of Social Crisis (p. 20). Credo House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

This leads me to this.

IT ISN’T JUSTICE ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE…

          IF private property is stolen or destroyed. Matt. 7:12; Eph. 4:28

          IF marriage is “redefined.” Matt. 19:4-9

          IF gender reality is dismissed. Matt. 19:4

          IF innocent people are found guilty. Prov. 17:26

          IF fathers are assumed guilty because of the sins of their sons. Ezek. 18

          IF sons are considered guilty because of the sins of their fathers. Ezek. 18

          IF truthful terms are “sanitized.” Isa. 5:20

          IF “situation ethics” is applied. Rev. 21:8

          IF killing babies is tolerated and celebrated. Psa. 139:13-16

          IF oppression is practiced and promoted. Psa. 103:6

          IF modern socialism is said to be the biblical model. Matt. 7:12; Eph. 4:28

            IF anything is practiced or advocated contrary to the Creator’s will.

Legitimate justice not only acknowledges the Creator, but practices what is seen in Him and written in His revelation.

“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4).

We All Live On Campus

THINK ABOUT THIS, from a book I’m reading. Source below with the author’s quote sourced.

Ideological social justice has poured forth from the universities and into the broader culture with such speed and force over the past thirty years that all of us have been affected to one degree or another. Today it is the dominant worldview shaping vast swaths of the culture. Ten years ago, it was largely confined to university humanities programs.

Now it is the reigning worldview throughout nearly every aspect of education, both K-12 and higher education. It dominates big business, the media, entertainment, high tech, and much of our government, including our systems of justice. In the words of essayist and cultural critic Andrew Sullivan, “we all live on campus now.”*

Christians are certainly not immune to such powerful ideas, which shape the institutions we all share. Many Christians have largely absorbed the assumptions of ideological social justice unawares. After all, it uses biblical words and concepts such as justice, oppression, antiracism, and equality — yet it stealthily redefines them all.

SOURCE Allen, Scott D.. Why Social Justice Is Not Biblical Justice: An Urgent Appeal to Fellow Christians in a Time of Social Crisis (p. 12). Credo House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

*Andrew Sullivan, “We All Live on Campus Now,” New York Intelligencer, February 9, 2018, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/02/we-all-live-on-campus-now.html.

Broadminded?

Broadminded?

(See source below)

The preacher is sometimes accused of being narrow-minded because he insists upon Christians forsaking all, to follow Christ (Philippians 3:7-8; cf. Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18). But when we think about it, isn’t all of life narrow — success being found only by passing through the narrow gate and down the straight way? (Matthew 7:13-14).

For example, there is no room for broad-mindedness in the chemical laboratory. Water is composed of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. The slightest deviation from that formula is forbidden. There is no room for broad-mindedness in the area of music. There can be only eight notes in an octave. The skilled orchestra leader will not permit his first violin to play even so much as one-half of a note off the written note, chord, and key in the score.

There is no room for broad-mindedness in the mathematics classroom. Neither geometry, calculus, or trigonometry allows any variation from total accuracy. The solution of the problem is either right or wrong — there’s no variation or tolerance there. There is no room for broad-mindedness on the athletic field, for the game is played according to the rules in the rule book, with no favors being shown for charity’s sake.

There is no room for broad-mindedness in the garage. The mechanic tells the customer that the piston rings must fit the cylinder walls within one-thousandth part of an inch, or the engine will not function properly. Even between friends, there cannot be any variation, if the engine is to run smoothly.

The question then arises, “If narrow-mindedness rules in the secular realm, how then, can we expect that broad-mindedness rules in the realm of Christianity and morals?
Source — Found at this site: Mike Riley, Gospel Snippets

Get This Book

Book Recommendation by Warren E. Berkley

MINING FOR GOD’S GOLD

In Life’s Dark Valleys

by Margaret E. Head

I write book reviews regularly for Pressing On Magazine. When I know and respect the author, objectivity is so hard to maintain, I just need to admit my favoritism and tell you about the book from my perspective of acquaintance.

In the 1970’s when I moved my family to Kansas for an almost ten-year stint, Margaret Head was one of our beloved people. Pure, responsible, knowledgeable and with a powerful heart of a servant, she came to our comfort and aid on many specific occasions. But more than specific acts of kindness, knowing her and observing her influence was a blessing to us and our kids will never forget this godly lady.

Now all that I’ve said here comes through to the readers of her latest book, MINING FOR GOD’S GOLD in Life’s Dark Valleys (available from OneStone and Amazon). While she doesn’t hold back in narrating some of the dark valleys typical of our earthly sojourn, she deals with those hardships from a Biblical perspective. She calls upon her readers with wisdom like, “Don’t aim to get over it, work to get through it.”

The book communicates care, humility and patience, based on faith in Christ. She never claims to be the source of life’s wisdom, just a traveler with us, using Scripture to help us and equip us to help others. She says in the opening pages: “Reading this book is not meant to replace or to satisfy the need to read the Bible, but only to give an easy path to scriptures that address escaping from these dark valleys.” She has been there. She has learned from each of her hardships and comes across in these pages as a learner who wants to share, not a hardhearted lecturer.

You will be moved by her poetry, captivated by her personal stories, informed by the sources she quotes and through all this, taken to Scripture to develop discipline and endurance. Her specific list of basic needs for those grieving the death of a loved one – in chapter four – worth the price of the book.

I recommend Margaret Head’s book.

Don’t Sin !

Don’t Sin – “You can’t do that!” (1 Jno. 3:4-10)

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

-1 Jno. 3:4-10, ESV

I read some passages in the Bible and when I try to identify the main idea, it sometimes seems to be the simple message that shouts to the reader: Don’t sin!

And our first response might be, “well I know that!” Then a deeper dive into the text will put on urgent display reasons to not sin. It seems to me that is true of this paragraph. If sin is lawlessness and Jesus appeared to take it away; if I sin and keep on sinning, I no longer abide in Christ; if sin is “of the devil,” and righteousness is made possible by Christ; if I am really a child of God – when sin approaches my attitude will be: “I can’t do that!”

Then John gives one example, that transitions into the next section. “Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

Note also, “cannot keep on sinning” doesn’t mean we are incapable of sinning, it means our aim/purpose is to not sin. Again, when sin approaches my attitude should be, “I can’t do that!”

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Behold

Behold! (1 Jno. 3:1-3)

 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

-1 Jno. 3:1-3, ESV

In the King James the passage opens with “Behold.” “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” That word “behold” is about focus and grateful concentration. It is like saying, “just stop and think of about this! How great is this!” We are loved by the Creator and through Christ, we have become His children: “And so we are … we are God’s children now.”

As God’s beloved children, we don’t seek the world’s recognition and the world isn’t inclined to give us any. That’s the way it is. We are recognized and loved by God. That’s what matters, even though we do not have an absolutely detailed picture of what the end of earthly time will be like, and the world doesn’t recognize us – “we are God’s children now.”

Where does that truth lead us? God’s love and the hope of seeing Christ at His coming motivates purity. “And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself just as He is pure.”  Beholding God’s love, dismissing the world’s disapproval and knowing Christ will come again – becomes a magnificent motivation to live godly, pure and consistently obedient lives.

As another writer said, “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought to you be in holy conduct and godliness?” (2 Pet. 3:11).

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