Church Matters (1 John 4:4-6)

  Listen to The Daily Word online.   First John 4:1-3 offers a Christological criterion for distinguishing between true and false prophecy; verses 4-6 add an ecclesiological one.   You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is … Continue reading Church Matters (1 John 4:4-6)

The Importance of Disbelief (1 John 4:1-3)

Listen to The Daily Word online.   Belief is an important part of Christianity, but so is disbelief.   The Bible teaches the importance of belief (or faith) in several places. According to 1 John 3:23, belief is a divine requirement: “And this is [God’s] command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.” According to Ephesians 2:8-9, faith is instrumental in our salvation: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that … Continue reading The Importance of Disbelief (1 John 4:1-3)

Condemnation or Confidence (1 John 3:19-24)

  Listen to The Daily Word online.   Is your relationship with God characterized by feelings of condemnation or confidence?   If you’re at all like me—in other words, if you’re an ordinary Christian—your answer to this question is probably, “Both.” Sometimes I feel guilty and ashamed of my sins. Knowing that I’m a sinner, I feel like I should be condemned. Other times, however, I feel like I’m in sync with God and his purposes for my life. In those times, I feel God’s love for me, have hope for the future, and approach him confidently in prayer.   … Continue reading Condemnation or Confidence (1 John 3:19-24)

Self-Sacrificial Love (1 John 3:16-18)

  Listen to The Daily Word online.   Christianity is a religion of love. But what exactly is love? First John 3:16-18 provides an answer.   This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.   In these three verses, … Continue reading Self-Sacrificial Love (1 John 3:16-18)

Love vs. Hatred (1 John 3:11-15)

  Listen to The Daily Word online.   Christianity is a religion of love, not hatred.   Before you start citing examples of hateful Christians, whose existence I freely concede, permit me to draw an elementary distinction between ideal Christianity and actual Christianity. Ideal Christianity is normative Christianity, what Christianity should be. Actual Christianity is descriptive Christianity, what Christianity currently is. At the ideal level, Christianity is a religion of love, not hatred. But at the actual level, Christianity contains more than its fair share of haters, bigots, and jerks.   First John 3:11-15 paints a picture of ideal Christianity … Continue reading Love vs. Hatred (1 John 3:11-15)

Are American Christians Fascists?

In a new book, American Fascists, Chris Hedges argues that conservative Christians are. The fascist charge is both cliched and easily refuted. How easily? Read Ryan T. Anderson’s post about Hedges at First Thing‘s blog. Here are the money paragraphs: What really animates Hedges’ anger at religious conservatives, however, is their recent political power and success on the state level at banning same-sex marriage—an issue that has been central to Hedges since his father made him start a gay-rights group at college. According to Hedges, the religious right demonizes homosexuals: “Gays and lesbians, like other enemies of Christ, are not … Continue reading Are American Christians Fascists?

Sin, Jesus, and Us (1 John 3:4-10)

  Listen to The Daily Word online.   What is sin? What is Jesus’ relationship to sin? And what is ours?   First John 3:4-10 provides an answer to each of these questions.   First, what is sin? Verse 4 says, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” According to the Bible, God’s moral will is revealed in both nature (Romans 1:18-20) and Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Sin is the intentional disobedience of this divine will. It is acting contrary to both reason and revelation. Because the devil is the first and most notorious example of … Continue reading Sin, Jesus, and Us (1 John 3:4-10)

Is God’s Fatherhood a Cliché?

  Listen to The Daily Word online.   Is the Fatherhood of God a cliché?   The dictionary defines cliché as “a phrase or word that has lost its original effectiveness or power from overuse.” You undoubtedly have heard this cliché, for example: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” I’m sure this advice made sense when people didn’t have indoor plumbing; but now you don’t throw water out, you unstop the plug and let it drain away. I’m sure babies all over America will sleep peacefully tonight knowing there’s not a chance they’ll be tossed with the dirty … Continue reading Is God’s Fatherhood a Cliché?