Listen to The Daily Word online. When I was in fifth grade, my best friend Darren Norris gave me J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings for my birthday. In the fall season, when the rain begins to pour, you can find me in an easy chair, re-reading the pages of my second favorite book. Every time, I find something new to ponder in this old, familiar story. There is an older, more familiar story that is my favorite. It is the gospel, the good news about Jesus. In 1 John 2:7-8, John writes about … Continue reading The Old New Command (1 John 2:7-8)
Alexandra Pelosi has a new documentary about evangelical Christians, Friends of God. Its title is derived from an Israel Houghton worship song that forms the background music for much of the film. Although the film has drawn the predictable ire of evangelical groups such as Focus on the Family, Michael Linton suggests that it reveals some real weaknesses in evangelical culture. Make sure to read his lengthy post at the First Things blog. Continue reading Friends of God?
Listen to The Daily Word online. One of the most common complaints about us Christians is that we are hypocrites. We believe one way but behave another. Unfortunately, this complaint is often true. In 2005, Ron Sider published The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, which sifted through numerous studies on the belief-behavior gap of American Christians. Here’s his conclusion: Whether the issue is divorce, materialism, sexual promiscuity, racism, physical abuse in marriage, or neglect of a biblical worldview, the polling data point to widespread, blatant disobedience of clear biblical demands on the part of people who … Continue reading Behavior, the Test of Belief (1 John 2:3-6)
Peruse the bestsellers table at any Borders or Barnes & Noble and you are likely to see a copy of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, which argues that belief in God is both false and pernicious. Next Wednesday, February 14th, I’m going to begin to write a blog series on my reactions to Dawkins’ arguments, taking them one chapter at a time. Although Dawkins is a world-renowned scientist, ardent defender of evolutionary naturalism, and excellent literary stylist, I find his arguments against belief in God generally unpersuasive and on occasion (such as when he writes about historical Jesus research) just … Continue reading The God Delusion?
Listen to The Daily Word online. Sin has a powerful grip on us humans, which we do not have the power to break free of. Only God has that kind of power. So how does he break the grip of sin on our lives? Answer: through the death of Jesus Christ. We find a brief description of how God overcomes sin through Christ in 1 John 2:1-2: My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our … Continue reading Liberator, Defender, Sacrifice (1 John 2:1-2)
Listen to The Daily Word online. When it comes to the issue of ongoing sin in the life of the believer, Christians often make one of two mistakes: either they claim an easy victory over sin or they concede an early defeat to it. A careful reading of 1 John 1:8-10 is the cure for both mistakes. In the history of Christian theology, people who claim an easy victory over sin have come to be known as perfectionists. They believe that God’s Word and Spirit are so powerfully at work in the life of the believer that … Continue reading Two Mistakes about Sin (1 John 1:8-10)
Listen to The Daily Word online. Many Americans claim to have a personal relationship with God, but how do we know whether they actually do? First John offers two tests of belonging to God: behaving and believing. How we behave is an ethical test. First John 1:5-2:2, which we will begin studying today, is an example of such a test. How we believe is a theological test, and 1 John 2:20-23 and 4:1-3, which we will study later, are examples of it. These tests of relationship with God are not only biblical, they are also common … Continue reading Belong, Behaving, and Believing (1 John 1:6-7)
Listen to The Daily Word online. When I was a boy, I was afraid of the dark. Who knew what bogeyman lurked in its shadows, or what under-the-bed monster went bump in the night? Not I. But I always knew the solution for my fears. And what was the solution? God, obviously! Whenever I found myself trembling in bed with fear, I would pray to God or sing a hymn. (I admit I was a weird little kid.) Martin Luther’s A Mighty Fortress Is Our God was particularly effective in dispelling my fears, especially this lyric: The … Continue reading God Is Light (1 John 1:5)
Listen to The Daily Word online. In 1 John 1:4, John writes something that at first glance seems self-centered, but a second look shows us an important truth about the relationship of our happiness and the wellbeing of others. Here’s what John says: “We write this to make our joy complete.” At first glance, doesn’t that look self-centered? What if I said to you, “I write The Daily Word for you in order to make myself happy”? Wouldn’t that strike you as more than a bit narcissistic? Shouldn’t I have some higher motivation than my own positive feelings? … Continue reading Our Happiness, Others’ Wellbeing (1 John 1:4)
Listen to The Daily Word online. As a pastor, I often wonder whether my sermons make a difference in anyone’s life. Do hours of preparation and thirty minutes of delivery change anyone’s mind, feelings, words, or actions? Even more importantly, are those changes made in the right direction? First John 1:3 offers a simple test for effective Christian preaching. “We proclaim to you,” John writes, “what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” According to this verse, the … Continue reading The Test of Effective Preaching (1 John 1:3)