You yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a midnight robber. . . . But as for you, my dear family — you are not in darkness. That day won’t surprise you like a robber. (5:2, 4)
In the first part of chapter five, Paul lays out a series of contrasts:
There is a great day coming. The new creation will soon be upon us. When, you ask? We do not know exactly. Later today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe long after we are gone, in the days of our children’s children. But we don’t need to worry about it. Nobody in Christ needs to worry about it.
We are the wide-awake people. We live in the light where robbers are less inclined to come. We are not numbed to what goes on around us. We are protected by faith, hope and love (5:8). Though we do not know the hour, it is okay because we will have peace in that day. We are destined for salvation, not fury. So we can echo confidently the second last sentence of the Bible: “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
Does this describe the mindset you have? Why or why not?
Categories: 1 Thessalonians
Tags: 1 Thessalonians, Bible, confidence, darkness, day, jesus, judgment, light, night, reading, robber, salvation, Second Coming, unexpected, wrath
This is the victory that conquers the world: our faith. Who is the one who conquers the world? Surely the one who believes that Jesus is God’s son! (5:4b-5)
If faith is believing in what you cannot see, then a person without faith is limited only to what they can sense in some way. A no-faith life is really a life of the here and now. How can there be hope for something else, something better, some amazing renewal? Imagine if this is all there is to life? There are many great blessings to this life right now, but there are just as many set-back and heartbreaks.
Faith is what moves us beyond the worldly limitations, disappointments and darkness. Faith is what allows us to believe that there once was a better world and there will once again be something better. Faith allows us to rise above the boundaries of our own present realities.
And, of course, it is all possible because of Jesus.
What stood out to you in this last chapter of 1 John?
Categories: 1 John
Tags: 1 John, Bible, darkness, faith, heaven, hope, jesus, no faith, reading, victory, world
Knowledge is a bit intoxicating. It is a powerful elixir that quickly convinces us we have it together much more than we really do. Those drunk of the power of the mind are every bit as dangerous as those drunk on booze.
Knowledge was especially important to the early Gnostics that had been influencing the churches John was addressing. As was pointed out yesterday, the name “Gnostic” comes from the Greek word for “knowledge.” This would appear to be your typical head-knowledge, the kind that satisfies if one simply knows the facts. A good Gnostic “knew” the truth about reality: physical flesh is evil, and true enlightenment comes by developing a spirit that is impervious to the effects of physical sin. The most “knowledgeable” one can wallow around in sin and come out unscathed.
However, John has a very different view:
This is how we are sure that we have known him, if we keep his commandments. Anyone who says, “I know him,” but doesn’t keep his commandments, is a liar. People like that have no truth in them. . . . Anyone who says, “I am in the light,” while hating another family member, is still in darkness up to this very moment. (2:3-4, 9)
The kind of truth that John thinks is important is not simply head-knowledge. It is not enough to know facts and believe things to be true or not true. For John, truth is a lived reality. Knowledge is first and foremost lived out in the nitty-gritty of life. One shows their enlightenment by how they live, not how they think. One can claim to have spiritual enlightenment, but if actions do not exist that support that claim, one is still living in immense spiritual darkness. In particular, the selfless love of Christian community is the greatest testament to true enlightenment. Honoring God with a life that keeps his righteous decrees for life shows true knowledge. Knowledge teaches one to stay in the light with Jesus, not roll around in the darkness in sin.
When have you seen Christians today confused on what knowledge truly is?
Categories: 1 John
Tags: 1 John, Bible, darkness, enlightenment, Gnosticism, Gnostics, jesus, know, knowledge, light, love, physical, reading, spiritual, true, truth
1 John is the The New England Primer for all first-year Greek students. I knew I was hitting the big time when I graduated from my 50 flashcards of basic Greek vocabulary to the actual text of 1 John in my Greek New Testament. As one can tell from today’s reading, this is possible because John uses a very limited vocabulary in his letters. There may be a lot of reasons for this. Maybe Greek was a second language to John who had been raised in the Galilee region of Palestine and likely spoke Aramaic natively. Maybe John was not well-educated, however he shows great ability to think deeply about theology. Or maybe John just wants to drive his point home with a beautiful simplicity. Keep it simple and people will never mistake you.
Many of the words that John hangs his message on are emphasized in this very first chapter:
life, light, darkness, fellowship, truth, lie, sin, joy
Add “love” from chapter two and “spirit” and “world” and you have a wide door into John’s thought. Let’s pay attention to how John uses these words and what meaning they have for the aged disciple as we read John’s letters. I’ll bet we see them next month in John’s gospel too.
This passage has a nice confluence of most of these words:
This is the message which we have heard from him, and announce to you: God is light, and there is no darkness at all in him. If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the dark, we are telling lies, and not doing what is true. But if we walk in the light, just as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his son makes us pure and clean from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar, and his word is not in us. (1:5-10)
What caught your eye in this short chapter?
Categories: 1 John
Tags: 1 John, Bible, darkness, fellowship, lie, life, light, love, reading, simple, simplicity, sin, Spirit, truth, words