Monday, October 27, 2014

I John - Advocate with the Father - Weeks 03 & 04

As you may have noticed, there was no post from last week's class period.  Sorry about that, sometimes life happens. :)  As a recap from the past couple weeks, let's do a little review to catch up...

We've been working through I John chapter 1 for several weeks now.   As we've progressed through these early parts of the  the book, we've already noticed an emphasis on the contrast between light and dark.   One thing that keeps coming up in these verses is the idea of our walk.  What does our walk look like?  Chapter one says that if we say we've got this fellowship with God and walk in darkness, then we are lying and not practicing the truth.  Does that mean that if we sin we are not legitimately children of God?  Does that mean that only by what we do can God accept us?  We left this tension in the text up in the air for the week and came back to it, only to realize that John is confronting us with a hard truth, but he is not advocating for a works-based salvation.  Instead, he is pointing us to our need.  When faced with the dilemma that only through a lack of darkness can we have fellowship with God, the average person's response internally is, "I must try harder, because I'm not there yet."  However, a true believer's response as we saw in the text is more to the tune of, "Wow, I need more Jesus in my life.  If it's up to me, it's over already."

The defining difference that we saw was the fact that there is a contrast between walking in light and walking in darkness; however, walking in the light is not doing good things and refraining from sin.  If it were, then I John could easily be advocating for a sinless perfection as a requirement for salvation.  Instead, we see that walking in the light is evidence that Jesus has given us His righteousness and taken our darkness on Himself.  We see that the light in our life is evidence that Jesus has been at work there, not a means of salvation.  On the opposite side, walking in the darkness is not a matter of committing too many sins and being banished from God's presence.  It is evidence of a lack of conversion. It is indication that Jesus has not brought life from death there.   

Therefore, we see that if someone is claiming to be in fellowship with God (i.e. a Christian) yet the Gospel has had no effect in changing his life or showing any growth from who he is in his natural he telling the truth?  Not according to the text we're looking at.   True Gospel conversion will bring true change.  It will not be the same time-frame in each case, but walking in the light and walking in the darkness are two very different things, and ultimately they do lead to two drastically different results.

So, we are left with the cold, hard reality that not everyone who makes a 6-year-old-raised-hand-at-revival-service profession of faith is necessarily a Christian.  To recycle something Pastor Matt said a long time ago, "When you're checking to see if someone is alive at the hospital, the answer that they were alive when they were 6 is not sufficient proof of life..."  Are you alive?  Has your life truly been changed?  Is your life on a different track now that you're on the Jesus train?  Or has He simply been integrated in as the part of your life that makes you feel better about yourself and makes you worry less about dying and going to hell?  These are serious questions we must ask.

But we didn't just stop there, we came back at it this week.  We entered chapter two, and interestingly, after all John's hard sayings and blunt language in chapter one, chapter starts off in a very compassionate tone of voice.  He tells us that the reason he's writing these hard things to us, is that we might not sin  (i.e. we must not see Jesus' hard-fought victory and costly forgiveness as an out to sin).  But he acknowledges that we will sin because we are still human, and he goes into detail of the advocate we have with the Father.  Our advocate is Jesus Christ, the righteous one.  Wow.  How can such a thing be true?  After all the soul-searching that these past few weeks in I John have brought about, how can it really be true that this Righteous One would be not only advocating for us to the Father, but also our very means of forgiveness?!  Praise God, that He has given us much more than we could ever even ask for.   It seems like a very slight thing that we should be walking in the light, it seems only natural considering the family we've been born into and the ancestral heritage we now enjoy the benefits of.  The signs of spiritual life --our spiritual pulse, our breath, should we not be concerned if we are not breathing spiritually?  Or should we shrug it off because it's awkward to talk about and makes us feel bad?  If we say that we are in Jesus, we ought to walk the way Jesus the light.

Tune in again next time, when we'll hopefully cover just one week in a more manageable post. :)

Til then, grace and peace beloved. <3

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