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Monday, November 30, 2015

No Title

In the Entrusting Truth workshops I encourage men to come up with a memorable title for each section of a book and for the book as a whole.  I suggest that the title should be no more than five words long.  That is not always an easy exercise.  Many of the men don’t limit themselves.  One of my sons just refuses to do it.
No Title

Tomorrow morning the Tuesday group is in John 2.  I have titles for each of the paragraphs, titles that I can remember and help me remember the content.  But for the life of me I cannot come up with a title for the section.

I have been thinking about it all day.  Just spent some time reviewing the paragraphs.  There is a lot of good stuff in there but I cannot seem to synthesize what is happening in the chapter.  There is foreshadowing of the death and resurrection of the Lord.  There is the water to wine thing.  There is the cleaning of the temple.  There is the situation where people are believing Christ because of the signs but He is not believing in them, there is a really interesting word play in that paragraph in the Greek that is lost in English.

But I can’t put it together.

Sometimes that is the way it is…

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Overwhelming Prayer

I was praying this afternoon using the card I wrote about a couple of days ago (here it is, the picture was apparently unreadable).  I was praying for my wife and I came to Ephesians 3:14 – 21.  As I got to verse 19 I was almost unable to pray.
Overwhelming Prayer
A New Perspective
I have studied Ephesians multiple times.  I have translated the book from Greek to English.  I have parts of it memorized.  I use the content of the book pretty much all of the time.  It is one of the core books for what I have been called to do.  But, as far as I remember I have never prayed Ephesians 3:19 for anyone.

As I began to pray through the content for my wife, the immensity of what Paul was praying overwhelmed me.  Both phrases blew me away.  I am going with a literal translation of the Greek here:

  • To know the that which is beyond knowing love of Christ
  • In order that (with the result that) you may be filled up into all the fullness of God.

I was stunned.  I got through the prayer and then prayed that for myself.  I will do that for others and did later.  But the content, to know what is unknowable, to be filled with that which would overwhelm me, is almost – no that is not strong enough – it is incomprehensible that Paul prayed that.

But that is the assignment.  It also aligns with Paul’s view of what we are to be as believers.  He states it again in Colossians 1:21 – 29; 2:6 – 10.  Begin to pray that for yourself and your kids.  I am.

Friday, November 27, 2015

More with Paul in the School of Prayer

Past Challenge
A few days ago I shared that I was instructed by Paul in prayer in 2 Thessalonians.  Since then I took on a project.  I looked up all of the passages in the New Testament that had any of the words pray, ask, give thanks, or now may in them.
More with Paul in the School of Prayer
Current Project
I have culled out some of them that were not really about prayer and have focused on things I can pray for myself and others I have printed them out on two sides of card stock and keep that card in my journal.  It has given me new encouragement in prayer.

Christ’s Example
One of the things that was a consistent part of Jesus’ life was prayer.  In the morning, early morning, after the His busiest day that we have recorded He was out praying, Mark 1:35.  We should probably be doing the same.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Central to John
John’s gospel has several signs, seven or eight, depending on who is counting.  The Greek word group occurs 20 times, 17 nouns and 3 verbal forms.  We find the word first in John 2 and it is interesting what we see there in light of John’s stated purpose in John 20:30 – 31.
Wine Sign
You know the story well.  There is a lot here but let’s focus on the “sign” word group.  The word shows up in John 2:11, 18, and 23.  Jesus turns the water into wine, most people do not even know it happened, perhaps His mother, but the servants for sure.  They probably shared what happened later.

Temple Cleaning and Discourse
In John 2:18 the Jews demand a sign to validate the actions Christ took to cleanse the temple.  His response is that His authority is His death and resurrection.  They did not get it.

No Trust
The last one is the most intriguing to me.  In John 2:23 we read that many were believing in Him because of the signs.  However, John 2:24 starts with “but” in your translation.  There is a contrast and it is a play on words in the Greek.  In 23 the word that is translated “believed” is the same word that is translated “entrusting” in 24.

The theme of signs is an unmistakable thread in John.  Here where they are introduced He performs the first one in virtual secrecy, one is demanded of Him to validate His actions, and He does not “believe” those who are believing because He knows what is in them.

In the rest of the gospel we find that while the signs were there to let us know that Christ was the Son of God.  It is our faith in Him, who He is, not the signs that He does that is important. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


In the Tuesday morning group we are studying John.  We were in John 1 this morning.  The men in the study have been in the battle for a long time.  By that I mean that they have been engaged in the ministry of disciple making each for over 40 years.  They have served on college campuses, military bases, and in multiple countries.  Additionally, this is not their first Bible study.  They have been studying the Word, equipping others to study, and leading studies for all of that 40 years.  So their observations are steeped not only with thousands of hours in the Word but with thousands of days applying the Word in their lives and ministry.  It is a fun time.
My Turn
I usually share next to last in the study.  By the time it got to me most of the observations I had made had been shared by one of the other men.  That is the richness of the study, they are all skilled, committed, and passionate about their time in the Word.

One thing that stood out in our conversation is the number of way John refers to Christ, the titles he gives Him.  I saw nine:

  • The Word
  • The Light
  • The Life
  • The Christ
  • The Lamb of God
  • The only begotten God
  • The Son of God
  • The King of Israel
  • The Son of Man

One of the guys also added creator.  Though that title is not used, in John 1:3, John acknowledges that all things came into being through Him.

John starts with a bang.  John immediately declares in nine certain terms that Jesus is God.  It gets better from there.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Not Ready

Concurrent Experience
I am reading a book by D. A. Carson , at the moment he is just about my favorite author.  I am also in the process of observing my youngest grandchild learn to walk.  I am also in the process of studying the gospel of John.  How do these relate?  Carson’s book is on John 14 – 17, I am studying John, my granddaughter is demonstrating one of the verses in John 16.
Not Ready
The Nexus
John 16:12 is a telling passage Carson’s thought is:
The latter is a more common barrier to the verbal communication of biblical truth than is often recognized. A brand new believer with no heritage of Christian teaching may ask, “Just what do we mean when we say, ‘Jesus is God’?” But he expects a far briefer and less sophisticated response than the believer taking an advanced Christology course in his fourth year at a graduate seminary. There might be many more things that could be said to the former brother; but he would not be able to bear them. In the training of new believers, this principle needs to be borne in mind.
My granddaughter has been about actually taking steps for the past couple of weeks.  As of today she will walk quite a few steps and then something will upset her balance and she will go down.  She will get back up.  But she is quite unsteady.  This past weekend the Route 66 Marathon was run in our town.  We did not enter my granddaughter.  She is not ready.  Someday she may be.

In Hebrews 5:11 – 14 the writer rebukes the recipients of his letter because they were unable to understand what he was trying to tell them.  Why?  They were not progressing in their practice of the Word of God.  It was if they were stuck walking like my granddaughter.

Christ knew this about His disciples.  He promised them the Holy Spirit to lead them into the truth.  It is the expectation for all of us as believers that we will grow in our understanding and practice of the Word, largely through that aspect of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in our lives.

However, it is my experience that does not happen with a large number of believers.  It seems that they are content to eat scraps from other’s tables.  Not willing to engage in the Word for themselves.  If they stay in that state, they will never be able to understand the richer answers to the questions.  They will not be able to bear it.

They are missing a lot.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Still Enough

Back in September I shared that I was struggling.  I was struggling with the question if I was not able to engage in the things that I thought God wanted me to do, was just knowing Him enough.
Still Enough

In the past few days some interesting things have happened that are very encouraging and, frankly, about which I am very excited.  I found myself this morning working through my thinking about what was happening.  I was concerned that my excitement was inappropriate, that somehow it was because of me that these things were coming to be…  I know better.

John 15:5 is true.  Apart from Christ we can do nothing.  Which answers my question.  He is enough.  He is all that is needed.  Everything else, every other focus, is a distraction.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Arresting Development Part 2

Be a Christian Prepper
A couple of days ago I shared that one of the themes in the New Testament is the reality that as believers we are going to face suffering.  Even a cursory reading of what the Bible says about the end times will validate that reality.  So how do we prepare?
Arresting Development Part 2
Assemble Your “Go” Bag
I work with a pastor in a country where it is illegal for him to be a pastor.  I spent a week with about 36 of the people in his underground churches taking them through exercises to equip them to feed themselves from the Word when their pastor is arrested.  What will you do if the Christian bookstores are closed, the Christian websites are taken down, Christian radio and TV is shut down, and your church is padlocked?  Can’t happen?  What if it does?  How will you feed yourself?

You need some tools.  You need to know how to study the Bible on your own, without aids.  Aids like a study Bible or commentaries.  If you had a Bible and a blank sheet of paper, how would you tackle the Gospel of Mark?  How would you start?  There is a best way.  Do you know it?

Decide Now
When you are confronted with a choice to renounce Christ or die what will you do?  Then is not the time to decide.  Yes I know that in Matthew 10:16 that we will know what to say, the Spirit will lead us.  But, based on John 14 – 16 isn’t that leading based on our abiding in Christ and obeying Him?  It may be a bit late to start that abiding and obeying when confronted with that choice.

Bottom Line
1 Peter 5:8 tells us that our enemy is continually active.  He is the ruler of this world and vehemently hates Christ and His followers.  He wants to kill us.  If we are not abiding in Christ and obeying Him, the only other Biblical option is that we have compromised with the world and with its ruler.

That is not a good place to be and will not serve us well when we are challenged.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

With Paul in the School of Prayer

Not My Strength
I have mentioned here before that prayer is not my strength.  That is being generous.  But something seems to be changing.  Yesterday in our Wednesday morning group we spent more time in prayer than in the Word.  It was a good time.
With Paul in the School of Prayer
Rebuked by the Lord
This morning on the way to the early Thursday study the Lord seemed to be rebuking me for my selfishness.  Selfishness in my unwillingness, I have to call it like it is, to really buckle down in the area of prayer when I know better.

Led by the Lord
This afternoon I was working through 2 Thessalonians and I was struck, again, by the amount of space in the first three chapters that Paul shares what he is praying for the Thessalonian believers.  I was given specific instruction and help on how to pray more effectively

Paul’s Example
Verse Prayer Request
1:3 For greatly enlarged faith
1:4 To endure perseverance and faith in persecution and affliction
1:11 That God will count them worthy of their calling
1:11 That God will fulfill their desire for goodness and the work of faith with power
2:12 Thanks that God has chosen them for salvation through the Spirit and faith in the truth
2:14 Thanks that they were called through the gospel
2:14 That they would gain the glory of Christ
2:16 Thanks that God loves them
2:16 For eternal comfort and good hope through God’s grace
2:17 Comfort and strengthened hearts in every good work and deed.
3:1 That the Word of the Lord would spread rapidly and be glorified through their lives
3:2 That they would be rescued from perverse and evil men
3:5 That their hearts would be directed into the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ

I spent some time praying for some people this afternoon using these passages as a guide.  For the first time in a long time I felt I was actually accomplishing something in prayer.  It was a refreshing and encouraging time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Arresting Development

Jailed in Spite of Miracles
In Acts 4:1 – 4, after Peter and John heal the man born lame in the process leading 5000 people to the Lord, the priests, captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees arrest Peter and John.  Why?  What they were sharing did not align with their view of the truth.  Forget that a 40 year old man, lame from birth, was suddenly able not only to stand, but to walk, run, and leap.  That evidence was apparently not compelling enough.  Rather they were greatly disturbed.  Enough so that they wanted to silence Peter and John.
Arresting Development
We Need to Pay Attention
There is a not so subtle message here.  In John 16:33, Christ tells the 11 that they are to expect tribulation in carrying out the assignment he is giving them.  The source of this tribulation, this hatred, this persecution, is the world’s hatred of Christ, John 16:1 – 4.

Compromise is not an Option
It really does not matter how many coexist or tolerance bumper stickers you may see, the world is not interested in coexisting or tolerating Christ’s apprentices.  Like the group that arrested Peter and John, they want to silence us.

Resistance is Guaranteed 
If that has not been your experience, it will be.  One of the main themes of 1 Peter is the reality of suffering for believers.  Much of the Church is already experiencing this.  Those of us in the western Church have, for the most part, been spared the full brunt of the world’s hatred.  That is changing.  It is changing more rapidly that we would probably like to admit.

How do we prepare?  Tomorrow I will suggest some ways.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Why So Rare?

The Question
I have shared here that one application of the last couple of years in Jeremiah has been to ask men what the Lord has been teaching them out of the Word.  I ask everyone that, but I make sure if I am talking to a leader that we have that conversation.
Why So Rare?
The Reaction
A while back I was at a function and was introduced to a leader of a mission organization.  We talked for a while and in the course of the conversation I asked the question.  He had a great answer.  His lesson was out of 1 John which is one of the books I have just finished studying, so we had a good time talking through his lesson.

The Evaluation
Later that individual was one of the speakers at the event.  During his remarks he mentioned our conversation and noted that he never gets asked that question.  He shared his lesson with the group.

Why Not?
Why would someone who is charged with leading believers in a mission not be asked what the Lord is teaching him from His Word?  As the Body of Christ are we not supposed to encourage one another day after day, Hebrews 3:13?  Are we assuming that our leaders are being taught by the Lord?  Why would we assume that?  We are quick to criticize or complain.  Why not engage and ask what they are learning.  It should encourage them and possibly challenge us.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

M7 Continued

Lessons One
There were a couple of lessons from the time with M7.  First, if men are given an opportunity to learn, and the tools to do so, they will.  In my experience I have heard the exhortation from leaders that men need to study the Bible, but there is little or no instruction as to how that is done.  I am learning that if you give men a few simple tools, show them how to use them, and get out of the way, the Lord shows up and meets with them in His Word.
M7 Continued
Lesson Two
Equipping men to observe empowers their gifts in Bible study.  All of us have different spiritual gifts.  All of us have different journeys to and with Christ.  According to Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4 we are given those gifts and experiences not for us but for the Body.  We are to use those gifts and experiences to build up the Body of Christ.  I have observed that when men are equipped to more effectively observe, the impact of their gifts and experiences are enhanced.

Lesson Three
Ok three lessons, in reality there are more.  When men are equipped to study they move from dependency to interdependency.  The guys on Thursday morning no longer look to me, exclusively, for insight into the Word.  We look to each other.  Each man has seen things the rest of us have not.  Each has contributed observations that have helped the others in the group to better understand the text.  In reality this is probably a subset of lesson two.

Think of It
What would happen in your fellowship if all were engaged in the Word at this level?

Thursday, November 12, 2015


The Group
Three and a half years ago 12 guys started a 10 week Dads Teach the Bible workshop (DTTB) at the church I attend.  At the end of the 10 weeks I suggested that they teach others what they had learned.  Seven took me up on it.  So that September we started studying Philippians together, with the idea that they would lead a Sunday school class through what they had learned.  One guy had to drop out of – I called them the Magnificent 7 (M7 in my notes) – because of travel for work.
They led the Sunday school after we finished the book.  But they did not want to stop meeting.

It is now three years later.  We are still meeting.  Men have joined and left.  One of the original men had family issues that prevented his continuing.  One left to start his own study.  One move on to another church.  Right now we are in Acts.

Over the three years we have been consistently applying the skills we covered in DTTB.  We have studied both short and long books.  We have gotten into some difficult issues.  The quantity, quality, and depth of the guys’ observations have consistently increased over the last three years.  They are, and have been seeing things that I miss.  This morning was no exception.

There were several, but I want to highlight one and share a bit about the discussion it generated.  One of the men observed that Acts 2:42 was a direct answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:1 – 26.  Then he connected the awe that everyone was feeling in Acts 2:43 as the result of what was going on in Acts 2:42.  It was an astute observation.

Attitude of the Early Church
The new converts were devoted to listening to the apostles relate to them their experiences with Jesus and the content of His teaching which they had experienced over the previous 3 years.  The teaching that now the Holy Spirit was bringing back to their remembrance, John 14:26 and John 16:12 – 14.  They were not only devoted to this but were engaged in that teaching continually…

Stay Tuned
There are two more things I need to say about this and the M7 group.  I will finish that tomorrow…

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Bewildered Amazed Astonished

If you have not read Genesis 11 lately you might want to.  After that read Acts 2.  The two passages are interesting contrasts.

Confused and Scattered
In Genesis 11 the people were trying to force their way to God by building a tower.  God confused their speech so they were not able to finish.

Amazed and Gathered
In Acts 2 God’s Son had died to bring men to God.  God allowed all that were there to hear in their own language removing the barrier He placed on them in Genesis 11 so that they could be brought to God by the work of His Son.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bewildered Part 3

(Continued from the past couple of days)
The “Final” Bewilderment
One other thing bewilders me.  Apart from believers not making getting into the Word a priority in their lives, is Christian leaders who have either abandoned the Word of God or else have made serious compromises in order to accommodate the world.
Bewildered Part 3
Not a New Problem
The core message of Jeremiah is that when leaders abandon the Word for their own ideas or the ideas the world, the people of God are left adrift.  In Jeremiah 5:4 the prophet describes those who have abandoned the Word as those who have broken the yoke.  In Jeremiah 23:21 – 22, God decries the prophet who chose to share their ideas rather than His Word.  He says that if they had stood in His counsel, His Word, they would have been able to turn the people back to Him.

Agreement With the World
I know of denominations and organizations who are now accepting the World’s view on homosexuality.  That is the logical conclusion of decisions that were made years ago that parts of the Bible no longer apply to us.

Quick Question
If we agree with the World, what difference does the Church expect to make?

Not Surprising
So when the leaders of denominations, churches, and Christian organizations break the yoke, abandon or compromise with the world, and do not emphasize the importance of the Word nor share from it consistently, is it any wonder that those in their care do not view it as important?

I am bewildered but not surprised.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Bewildered Part 2

(Continued from yesterday)
All In
After that first verse analysis study on 2 Timothy 2:2, I was hooked.  I went to the local Bible bookstore and bought a New American Standard Bible, not a study Bible.  All it had was side column references.  It was the first time the NASB had been published as the full Bible both testaments.  I also bought a couple of books that I thought might be helpful.  Those were the first two of many.
Bewildered Part 2
Over Committed
Within the next six months I was leading 7 Bible studies per week and teaching Sunday school at the Base Chapel.  I do not recommend that as a normal course of action.  But there is a point I want to make…

The Bible was/is Central
From the first time I understood the gospel it was obvious to me that I needed to be in the Bible.  It was never a question.  I took the Air Force commission because I wanted to fly fighters, well really RF-4s, reconnaissance.  After I got into the Word it became clear that the planes were temporal, they were going to eventually burn.  But the people flying them, were eternal, they were going to live forever, either with Christ or else separated from Him for eternity.

The Bible First
So in the midst of learning to fly supersonic aircraft, the Bible became more important to me than the planes.  Don’t get the wrong idea, I was a good pilot.  Graduated near the top of my class and was fighter/IP qualified.  But, flying, though I loved it, was no longer my top priority.

So from the first week I was a believer, it has been crystal clear to me that the Bible had to be central, had to be a focus of my life.  It was obvious to me that apart from that Book I could never know Christ well.

The Bible Not Central
So, I share all of that yesterday and today to explain why I am bewildered.  I continually run into believers who view time in the Word as good but not necessary.  I hear messages from pastors and Christian speakers that refer tangentially to the Bible or not at all.  I have had people tell me that in their “Bible” study they are studying a book by Mark Batterson, Craig Groeshel, or Francis Chan.  I like those guys, I have read some of their work, it is not the Bible and it is not inspired.

Yes and No
I have had multiple people tell me that they wanted to learn to study the Bible, yet when I begin to show them how, they bail.  It looks like work, to them.  Probably because it is.  So what?  We go to school and take classes for two to 10 years depending on what degree we pursue.  We take tests.  We do that to learn a profession.  That kind of smacks of work.  Yet we are not willing to invest some level of effort to learn to study the Bible so that we can know our Lord better?  I do not get it?

There is more that I do not understand.  I will finish with that tomorrow

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Hearing the Gospel
The first time the gospel was clear, at least the reality that Christ paid for my sins, was when it was presented by a Young Life leader at a meeting my sophomore or junior year in high school.  I knew then that I did not want to go to hell.  So that evening I asked Christ to save me.  I bought the fire insurance.

This is the study...
Initial Reaction
Got involved in a Bible study with the leader.  Went to a conference in Colorado at a Young Life property to get ready for college.  When I got to college I was involved for the first year with InterVarsity, and went to church a few times.  Things went south after my fish year (fish is what freshmen are called at A&M).

Life Changes
I graduated from A&M in May of 73, Saturday the 5th to be exact.  I was sworn into the Air Force after commencement, and the 6th, was in Selma, Alabama, Craig Air Force Base to start Undergraduate Pilot Training.

Roped In
There is not much, at least there wasn’t then, in Selma.  There were several of us A&M former students, in UPT at Craig.  One of the guys I knew pretty well was invited to a Bible study.  He asked me to come with him, I think for immoral support.  Since there was not much to do in Selma, I went.

Bored to Tears
The study was a fill in the blank study, Studies in Christian Living, Book 4, See the image above.  You will note that most of the blanks are not filled in.  I was not all that excited about the study.  At the end of the 5 or so weeks we did the study, the leader suggested we go to book 5 of the series.  I raise my hand and asked if there was something else we could do.  He said, yep, and then passed out three sheets, here is what he passed out.
Most of the blanks are still blank...
Mind Blowing
A couple of days later I pulled out the sheets and the Bible that was given to me in elementary school and started working through the study on 2 Timothy 2:2.  Three hours later I was done.  I was both blown away and hooked.  I could not believe there was that much in one verse in the Bible.

The Real Deal
Three weeks later I turned my life over to Christ.

What happens next is what has me bewildered.  Stay tuned…

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Purposely Scattered

As I read through the Bible it seems to me that regardless of what is happening, God seems to be in control.  For instance, look at Acts 2:9 – 11.  There were people from many nations in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost.  They were Jewish believers.  How did they become Jews?  Born that way or converted.  Many were in all likelihood converted.
Purposely Scattered
Purposeful Captivity
Isaiah 49:6 is a bit like the Old Testament great commission.  It was God’s intention for Israel to be a light to the nations.  He chose them to represent Him to the world.  They did not do that well.  So in 722 He had Assyria take Israel into captivity.  136 years later Babylon took Judah into captivity.  Israel and Judah were settled in some of the nations that are represented in Acts 2:9 – 11.  Like Daniel did with Babylon some of these people were continually faithful to what God had revealed of Himself.  As Daniel had an impact on those he met, so would have they.  Some would have converted to the worship of the Hebrew God.

The Audience Primed
Those people’s descendants could have been those from the nations listed in Acts 2:9 – 11.  God used the captivities to spread knowledge of Himself to the nations to which the Jews were displaced.

Purposeful Persecution
In Acts 8:1 we read that a great persecution arose after the stoning of Stephen.  Some in the Church scattered.  They carried the message of Christ to the places they went.

The Gospel Spread
As with the captivities God used the persecution to spread the good news of the gospel.

It seems He moves us where He wants.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sharing What He Heard

A couple of days ago I shared that I was looking at John’s purpose statements in 1 John.  I mentioned that 1 John 2:12 – 14 needed a separate post.  Those three verses read like the parts of a liturgy or a hymn.  They also seem to be parallel.  So as I began to work with the passage I set it up in a table.
Sharing What He Heard

Greek Word
First Reason
Second Reason
because your sins have been forgiven you
because you know the Father
because you know Him from the beginning
because you know Him from the beginning
because you have overcome the evil one
because you are strong and the word of God abides in you

Different Words
You will note that the clauses that deal with the fathers and the young men use the same Greek word but the clauses directed at the children use two different Greek word usually translated in our English Bibles “little children,” τεκνία, and “children,” παιδία.

Why Different
So I looked into the use of the words.  My first question was are they synonymous?  Looking through the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament I ran across this definition and comment (I highlighted the important part ignore all of the abbreviations):
Fig. a. of undeveloped understanding, like νήπιος (→ IV, 917, 33 ff.), 1 K. 14:20 → 649, 33 f. b. As an affectionate address of the spiritual father to those committed to him: the risen Lord to His disciples in Jn. 21:5; the teacher to his hearers and readers, 1 Jn. 2:18; 3:7 vl. So also 1 Jn. 2:14; 2:12 vl., since the sequence παιδία, πατέρες, νεανίσκοι would be odd if the sense were a. (→ supra). The readers are first addressed as a body, and then distinguished into old and young men.4 This use is peculiar to the NT and is found only in Jn…In the NT it occurs only in the vocative plur. as an affectionate address of Jesus or the apostles to their spiritual children. τεκνία, Jn. 13:33; 1 Jn. 2:12 (vl. παιδία, not children in the strict sense → 638, 22–25); 2:28; 3:7, 18; 4:4; 5:21. τεκνία μου: Gl. 4:19 vl.; 1 Jn. 2:1.
Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 638 - 639. 
What’s Happening
In the first set of clauses John, if TDNT is correct, is using the same diminutives to describe the group that Christ did in John 13:33, τεκνια, and John 21:5, παιδια.  If this is the case it renders the passage more understandable.  The recipients of the letter have had their sins forgiven and know the Father, that is their state of being as a result of being in Christ.

The next phrases seem to be reversed in maturity levels.  The fathers being the more mature with their state being repeated for emphasis.  Knowing God is the pinnacle of maturity.  Perhaps the phrase “from the beginning would refer to a fuller knowledge of God.  The younger men are in that process of moving toward that knowledge by overcoming the evil one through the strength they obtain from abiding in God’s Word.

Consistent Usage
This use is further validated by John’s language in 1 John 2:1, were he addresses his audience as τεκνία, and 1 John 2:18, where he addresses them as παιδία.

Sharing What He Heard
Regardless these are further allusions to the things that John heard from Jesus and recorded in his gospel.  The use of the diminutives, overcome, and abide are connections to and reinforce that John is sharing what he saw and heard.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Application of John’s Purpose

Yesterday I outlined one possible application from John’s purpose in 1 John.  That application, focus on the truth and you will recognize error.  By the way, those who prosecute counterfeiters do not study counterfeit bills, they study and are intimately familiar with the real thing – same principle.  I learned this the hard way.
Application of John’s Purpose
My History
When I entered the Air Force in the early 70’s I found myself surrounded by Mormons.  As a new believer, I was interested in sharing my faith with them.  Although they present as a Christian – sect for lack of a better word – Mormonism is not Christian.  In multiple conversations, I had with those in my unit, we hashed out our differences on the Bible and the elements of the gospel.  I begin to study books about the cult.  I read extensively about its founding.  In my Bible study I looked for passages that would help me share with my Mormon friends more effectively.  In the margins of the Bible I used back then there are notes about how a passage would answer a question a Mormon might ask.

My Error
After some time I realized I was no longer studying for myself.  I was studying to better interact with the Mormons in my unit.  I was convicted.  My time was not refreshing with the Lord but searching for answers to questions that I knew that they would ask.  I put away the books.  I refocused my study on getting to know my Lord.

The Correction
Years later I was at the campus of the University of Alabama in Birmingham.  A group of us were working at starting a collegiate ministry there.  We were taking pre-evangelism surveys with students during lunch.  One of the students and I got into a lengthy discussion.  He was telling me about a Bible study that he was attending.  The more he talked the more something about the study did not seem aligned with Scripture.  I ask permission and briefly drew out an illustration of the gospel for him.  He told me that what I had shown him was not what they were talking about.  I suggested to him that he might want to look for another study and gave him the information about the studies we were starting.

Truth Reveals Error
The group that he had found himself in was the Way.  It was a cult that was moving through college campuses in the late 70’s.  I had never heard of it.  I had no idea what they were teaching.  All I knew was what the Bible said, I knew the truth.  When he shared what they were studying, it was immediately apparent that it did not align with the Bible.

I found out in later conversations more about that cult.  But I never studied it.  I did not need to.  Knowing the truth is all that is needed to discern error.

Monday, November 2, 2015

John’s Purpose

Finding John’s Purpose
One thing that is nice about the apostle John, he will tell you why he is writing.  He tells us his purpose for the gospel in John 20:30 – 31.  In 1 John he tells us several times why he is writing.  Probably the overall purpose is 1 John 5:13.
John’s Purpose
Looking at the book as a whole
I am working through a summary of 1 John, second or third week on this.  This afternoon I spent some time working through a couple of the threads in the book.  One of those threads was John’s statements on why he was writing. Here they are:
  • 1:4 – So that our joy may be made complete…
  • 2:1 – So that you may not sin…
  • 2:7 – not a new commandment
  • 2:8 – a new commandment
  • 2:12 – because your sins have been forgiven you 
  • 2:13 – because you know Him from the beginning, because you have overcome the evil one
  • 2:14 – because you know the Father, because you know Him from the beginning, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you
  • 2:21 – not because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it
  • 2:26 – concerning those who are trying to deceive you
  • 5:13 – In order that you may know you have eternal life.
What we learn
The detail of the statements in 2:7 – 14 need to be dealt with separately, I may do that in another post.  Looking at the rest as a whole, we get a picture of the content of the false teaching the recipients are hearing.  There seems to be a false teaching that it is ok to continue to sin.  Further, although the recipients of the letter know the truth there is an individual or a group of individuals that are attempting to deceive them.  A further aspect of the false teaching seems to be that there is more to attaining of eternal life than receiving Christ.

A major lesson
John does not give the details of the false teaching, he just outlines what is true.  He focuses on what is real and not what they are teaching.  There is at least one major lesson there.

Focus and hold on to the truth and you will be able to recognize and counter error when you encounter it.  I will give you an example of how that worked out in my life tomorrow.