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Archive for the month “March, 2012”

The world

The second section of scripture we will cover on Sunday will be 1 John 2:15-17.  This section concerns the Christian and the world.  John writes, “Do not love the world…”  Yet, in his gospel account, John quotes Jesus as saying, “For God so loved the world…”  We want to consider whether the meaning of love is being used differently, the meaning of world is being used differently, or a little of both.  Consider the question as you prepare for class this week.

In relation to the idea of not loving the world, what do you think about this column by David Brooks in the New York Times?  He says that “…there’s no use denying — though many do deny it — that [the sports] ethos violates the religious ethos on many levels.”  What do you think?

 

The church

Last Sunday we looked at two “tests” which John presents as useful in determining whether someone is truly a follower of Christ.  They are found in 1 John 2:3-11.  We also talked about the fact that John will use three “tests”.  The next few verses after verse 11, however, take a side trip before getting to the third test (the test of belief in Jesus Christ).

This coming Sunday we will look at John’s encouragement to his Christian readers and his warning about the world.  Talking about the test of obedience  and the test of love in last week’s class can possibly be discouraging to those of us who recognize our failings on a daily basis (“whoever say he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked…whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness”).

It makes some sense, then, that John may want to digress for a minute and assure his brothers and sisters in Christ of their standing with God.  So we will see “I am writing to you” six times in 2:12-14 (your version may have “I am writing to you” the first three and “I write to you” for the last three).  They all indicate to his Christian readers that he is confident of their Christian faith.

There are three groups of people mentioned.  What do you think the groupings indicate?  We will talk about that on Sunday, so read and study!

Finally, some thoughts on the relationship between humility and certainty.  Really good stuff.

Advocate

This Sunday we will start at chapter 2 of 1 John.  After pointing out the fact of sin, which many wish to explain away, John shows the provision God has made for our sin problem.  Jesus is described in verses 1 and 2 of chapter 2 as “an advocate”, as “the righteous one” and “the propitiation”.

“Advocate” can be used as a noun or a verb.  In the New Testament, it is almost always used as a verb (Joe advocated the benefits of being a Braves fan).  The only time in the New Testament that it is used as a noun (Adam was Joe’s advocate against the charge of discrimination against Mets fans) is in the gospel of John and in John’s letter.  You can check out its use in John 14:16, 26; 15:26 and 16:7.  Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit, but the descriptions may give us some idea of what kind of advocate John is telling us that Jesus will be for us as Christians.  Check it out.

There really isn’t that many of them

Check out the article in USA Today about the upcoming rally in D.C.  I am sure you might want to make plans to attend!  For our purposes, though, read some of the comments at the end of the article to see what people are saying about faith, reason, Jesus, etc.  I am sure that some of those same arguments were around in John’s day.

It seems next to impossible to reach the minds and hearts of those kinds of people.  How to do it?  How do we sow the seed with those kinds of thinkers, so that God can give the increase?  The atheist says he is all for reason, then you see this quote from Richard Dawkins in the article:

“Dawkins recently told the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, that the probability of a supernatural creator was “very, very low.” The idea of life starting from nothing is, he said, “such a staggering, elegant, beautiful thing. Why would you want to clutter it up with something so messy as a god?”

Think about it (using reason and common sense)…what is more likely, something was created by someone, or something was created by nothing??  Dawkins is a scientist.  Do you think he has ever created something from nothing?  Do you think he can even contemplate or explain how that would happen?

Finally, notice the chart at the end of the article.  Isn’t it interesting that there really isn’t that many of them that are avowedly athiest?

On another note, some of us have the buzz going in our ears.  There seems to be some promising treatment for that being developed.

Three claims

In 1 John 1:6-10, John points out three claims made by those who have an incorrect view of God’s view of the “light” mentioned in verse 5.  John is probably responding to specific claims being made by false teachers in Asia Minor.  Verse 6, 8, and 10 all start out with:  “If we say” (ESV, KJV, ASV) or “If we claim” (NIV, The Message).  We will talk about those three separate false views of sin; views which are still prevalent today.

I like to evaluate songs on their ability to be consistent with truth and reality.  And I like country songs, which may be a sin in itself.  But check out Miranda Lambert and see if you can see which false view she is falling into, and we will get the class consensus on that important question on Sunday.  See you there!

Seeing the light

This Sunday we will start with the following verse:  ” This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”   (1 John 1:5 ESV).

From The Letters of John (by John R. Stott):  “The categories of light and darkness belong to the universal language of religious symbolism.  They are common to most religions, not least the religion of the Bible.  They are used metaphorically in Scripture in several senses.  Intellectually, light is truth and darkness ignorance or error.  Morally, light is purity and darkness evil.”

Check out the scriptural references and you can see the double uses of “light”, as mentioned above: Intellectual/truth – Proverbs 6:23; Psalms 119:105 & 130; 2 Peter 1:19; Isaiah 42:6.  Moral/righteousness – Isaiah 5:20; Ephesians 5:8-14; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8;

Who is “we”?

Spike English had a good question after class on Sunday.  He noticed the use of “we” in the first four verses, and then the change to “I” in chapter 2.  It was a point I failed to make, but I believe the “we” in the first four verses refers to the apostles in general.  In other words, John was not the only eyewitness, there were many more.  This is further confirmation of the truth of fact of the historical Jesus.  Obviously, the fact that there are many eyewitnesses is an important part of the proof that John is presenting.

Moving on to chapter 2, John begins to speak to the recipients in a personal address, thus the use of “I” at that point.

Finally, for this week, the sense of “we” of verses 1-4 continues in verse 5, but changes in verse 6 and for the rest of the chapter.  Can you see in what sense “we” is used for the rest of chapter 1?

Get ready

We start on 1 John this Sunday.  We will specifically cover 1 John 1:1-4 during class.  I encourage you to read the verses we will be covering.  In fact, I don’t think it would be a bad idea to read the whole book every week, since it is not that long, and by the end of the class you will be thoroughly familiar with the letter.

If you did not get a syllabus for the class you can get one by clicking here.

Finally, some interesting thoughts from a turn of the century preacher (the turn of the 20th century!).  I think he is correct in observing that we, as Christians, need to be more engaged in the marketplace of ideas (remember Paul in Athens).

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