Two Mistakes about Sin (1 John 1:8-10)

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 he or she can attain sinlessness in this life. … Continue reading Two Mistakes about Sin (1 John 1:8-10)

Belonging, Behaving, and Believing (1 John 1:6-7)

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 sense. Consider your own relationships. If you belong to an … Continue reading Belonging, Behaving, and Believing (1 John 1:6-7)

God Is Light (1 John 1:5)

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 Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; … Continue reading God Is Light (1 John 1:5)

A Commendable Hagiography that Needs to Be Supplemented with Critical Biographies

Arnold D. Dallimore, George Whitefield: God’s Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the Eighteenth Century (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1990; reprinted, 2010). The 18th Century produced evangelicalism’s greatest theologian (Jonathan Edwards), evangelist (George Whitefield), organizer (John Wesley), and songwriter (Charles Wesley). These four represent evangelicalism at its best: trans-Atlantic cooperation across theological lines, a burning zeal for evangelism, and a concomitant commitment to social reform (especially in John Wesley’s case). But they also evince the deepest theological fault line within evangelicalism, between Calvinists and Arminians, and demonstrate the ongoing tensions between the church and parachurch ministries. Edwards, being dead, still … Continue reading A Commendable Hagiography that Needs to Be Supplemented with Critical Biographies

Our Happiness, Others’ Wellbeing (1 John 1:4)

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? In the Christian tradition, the highest virtues are … Continue reading Our Happiness, Others’ Wellbeing (1 John 1:4)

Energy Management

We often speak of time management, but as Wayne Cordeiro points out, time management is really energy management. Building on that insight, Dr. Jim Bradford asks the following two questions: What are my priorities? What are the things that only I can do? Once you’ve answered these two questions, put your best energy into priorities and things only you can do. This is the way to “make the most of every opportunity” (Eph. 5:17) Continue reading Energy Management

The Test of Effective Preaching (1 John 1:3)

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 test of effective preaching is fellowship. But what … Continue reading The Test of Effective Preaching (1 John 1:3)

The Life Appeared (1 John 1:1-3)

According to 1 John 1:1-3, the foundation of the Christian faith is eyewitness testimony about Jesus Christ. But what did the eyewitnesses see: the mere facts of Jesus’ ministry or their spiritual significance? Let’s read 1 John 1:1-3 again for an answer to this question. That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was … Continue reading The Life Appeared (1 John 1:1-3)