Free Bible Commentary

Free Bible Commentary

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Second John 1:1-3

Friday, November 03, 2017

“The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth, for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.”

---End of Scripture verses---

John refers to himself as “the elder” (presbyter) instead of an apostle of the Lord in addressing “the chosen lady and her children” (verse 1). At the time of writing this letter, John would have been considered a very old man by anyone having the privilege of reading it. He was likely well into his 90th decade of life, and had the distinct honor of being the last apostle living, having served as an inspired, authoritative ambassador of Christ for well over a half-century. He was so well-known and well-respected among the churches in the region of Asia (Minor) that he could unpretentiously and affectionately introduce himself as “the elder” and still wield the full weight of his authoritative office.

John loved his faithful brothers and sisters in Christ “in truth”. He truly loved his obedient brethren because they made it their top priority to “walk in truth” (verse 4). The apostle demonstrated his Christ-like love for them by warning them about and trying to save them from the “many deceivers” who had “gone out into the world” (verse 7). I am afraid most of us profess love for a good many people in our lives that we have affection for, and yet make no effort to protect them against the “savage wolves” who pervert the truth, and draw them away to their spiritual destruction (Acts 20:29-30). Biblical love does not just feel—it acts, it protects, it serves.

John loved his brethren “for the sake of the truth which” dwelled within them (verse 2). Christians are, of course, to love all people, but especially “those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). God’s children are to cherish those of “like, precious faith” (2 Peter 1:1), and “be devoted to one another in brotherly love,” giving “preference to one another in honor” (Romans 12:10). The love that we have for Christ should draw us closer to those who have Him and His word “abiding in them”. When we grow in Christ’s “truth and love” (verse 3), God’s “grace, mercy and peace” will greatly abound within us, and will find its expression in words and deeds of affection and kindness.

“The truth…will be with us forever” (verse 2). This powerful declaration must have infused great courage and consolation into the hearts of our faithful, first-century brethren who were embroiled in a bitter battle against the enemies of the Truth. False doctrines like Gnosticism will come and go, but the unalloyed, absolute Truth will stand the test of time and endure forever. As we “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 1:3) today, it should embolden us to know that the word of God is and always will be His enduring power to transform lives and save souls. “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, ‘All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’” (1 Peter 1:23-25)

Please read 2 John 1:4-6 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Introduction To Second John

Thursday, November 02, 2017

This very short, urgent letter was written by the hand of the Apostle John to “the chosen lady and her children” (verse 1). While the recipients could possibly have been a literal, unnamed woman and her physical offspring, the context of the letter suggests that John was addressing a local congregation (likely in Asia Minor). Quoting Daniel H. King, Sr. in his Truth Commentary on “The Three Epistles of John” about the favorability of the congregational view:

“(1) This lady is said to be beloved by all who know the truth. This is more intelligible if it pertains to a congregation than to an individual. (2) Neither the lady herself nor any of her children are named specifically. This suggests a community rather than an individual. (3) The subject matter is not personal or specific, but general in nature, befitting a general letter to a group instead of a private person. (4) The predominance of the second person plural rather than the singular suggests a group rather than an individual (cf. vv. 8, 10, 12, ‘look to yourselves, that ye…’, etc.)… (6) Personification of the church in a feminine form is entirely in harmony with other New Testament usage (cf. Eph. 5:29f; 2 Cor. 11:2ff; 1 Pet. 5:13).”

The apostle had “many things to write to” this local church, but he desired to communicate these issues to them in person (verse 12). Yet two of these concerns were of such great significance, he felt compelled to write in advance of his arrival as a form of warning and encouragement to his brethren. John’s first priority was to emphasize the importance of “truth” and “love”. Five times in the first four verses we find the word “truth” as John stressed the critical nature of “walking according to His commandments” (verse 6), and abiding in the “doctrine of Christ” (verse 9). As we learned from John’s first letter, deviation from the Truth was already well underway in the Lord’s church, and it was progressing even as he penned this epistle. He was going to do everything within his power to stem the flow of heretical teaching, and the havoc that it wreaks on the Lord’s body, and we should take his actions no less seriously in this world of full-blown apostasy in which we live.

The doctrine of Christ is far too pure and holy to sit idly by as people overtly pervert and besmirch God’s Sacred Writ in the name of “progress” and “inclusiveness”. But friends, we must strive to avoid hatefulness in our rejection of “politically correctness”. As the second aspect of John's emphasis implies, we must ever focus on “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). The word “love” also leaps off the page at us with almost equal force as “truth” does, occurring four separate times in the first five verses. “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:3-6)

Please read 2 John 1:1-3 for tomorrow.

-Louie Taylor

First John 5:18-21

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

“We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

There is some question as to whether it is Christ that “keeps” the one “born of God,” or the Christian who keeps “himself” (verse 18). Even though John has one or the other specifically in mind in the immediate context, it is obvious that both statements are true based on the clear teaching of the Bible in other places. Those of us who have put on Christ in baptism and hold true to His world of life “are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). But God’s promised protection does not remove our personal responsibility to keep ourselves “unstained by the world” (James 1:27). Even in today’s reading, John ends the entire letter with the command for us to “guard” or “keep” ourselves from idols (verse 21).

“We know that we are of God and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (verse 19). There is no third option available to humankind. We are either with God or with Satan. We either abide in truth or we die in error. We either walk in the path of righteousness or we stumble down the broad road to destruction. We either have God as our benevolent, sovereign Father or “the prince of this world” as our tyrannical dictator (John 14:30). When we are “born of God” by “water and the Spirit” (John 3:3-5), and refuse to continue in a life dominated by sin, “the evil one does not touch” us. Satan may tempt us, he may “sift us like wheat” (Luke 23:31), he may dapple our way with obstacles; but he cannot do us permanent harm. Jesus said of His sheep, “I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28).

“We know that the Son of God has come” (verse 20). It is this profound knowledge and conviction that has changed the entirety of our worldview, and the course of our lives forever and ever. When you come to know Jesus as “the Son of God” who “has come” into this world to live and die as a man for the sins that destroy you, you have come to know “the true God” who alone can offer you “eternal life”. And the more time you spend in His word, with Him in prayer, in His presence in worship, the nearer you grow to Him and the more intimately you come to “know Him who is true.” Jesus is “the true God,” who is exceedingly greater and excellent than the false “idols” (verse 21) that are prevalent in this world. We must guard ourselves against any false religions or inferior substitutes for the only God who can satisfy our souls and save our spirits for eternity.

Ever keep on your guard! Our God is good and all-powerful but our adversary is evil and crafty! “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:7-8)

Lord willing we will have a brief introduction to Second John for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 5:16-17

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

“If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

John assured us in verses 13-15 that if we are living faithfully as God’s obedient children through “the name of the Son of God,” we can have “confidence…that He hears us in whatever we ask.” But he lets us know in today’s verses that all prayer requests are not appropriate. We should not “make request” for a brother if we know he is “committing a sin…leading to death” (verse 16). When we know that a brother or sister in Christ is involved in something sinful, the appropriate impulse from a loving and righteous heart is to pray for the erring Christian. But the apostle of the Lord warns us to not pray forgiveness for the brother caught up in a “deadly sin”.

Before anyone can accurately interpret the meaning of this perplexing little statement, it must first be recognized that “all unrighteousness is sin” (verse 17). All sinfulness is a killer because sin is the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4), and it subjects us to His divine displeasure. Sin erects a wall between God and the sinner (Isaiah 59:1-2), and it required the Father to offer up His perfectly sinless Son to break down that barrier. “A sin leading to death” is not one particular sin, but any sin that a Christian refuses to turn from and let go of. Any and all sin has the potential to kill us spiritually for all eternity, but the eternal consequences can be avoided by confession (1 John 1:9), godly sorrow and repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9).

We should never expect God to forgive us of a sin that we refuse to turn from, and we should not pray for God to forgive a brother in Christ when he has fully given himself over to the way of unrighteousness. There comes a point in time when the heart can grow so calloused, and sin has such a tight death-grip that the sinner becomes “beyond feeling” (Ephesians 4:19). The Hebrew writer says that a sinner can be so far gone that it is essentially “impossible to renew them again to repentance" (Hebrews 4:4-6). But John gives us hope in today’s reading. He tells us we can effectively pray for the erring child of God whose conscience is still operative, and whose heart is soft enough to still be touched by the love of God and the word of truth, and he can find forgiveness.

There is ample reason to believe, based on the overriding issue being addressed in this letter, that John has a brother who is caught up in doctrinal error specifically in mind. He refuted the troublers who were teaching that Christ had not come in bodily form, that human flesh was inherently evil and therefore it was useless and unnecessary to even try to fight against the urge to sin. Undoubtedly there were some brethren who had not tested the spirits to determine whether they were from God (1 John 4:1), and had succumbed to the apostasy that the false teachers were fueling. Gross immorality and doctrinal impurity both fall within the class of “sin leading to death.” It matters what you believe. It matters what you teach. It matters what you practice. It matters how you worship. All doctrines are not acceptable to God, and, in fact only one is: “The doctrine of Christ” (2 John 1:9-11).

Please read 1 John 5:19-21 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 5:13-15

Monday, October 30, 2017

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

As John had done previously in this letter, he states his purpose for writing to his fellow Christians in verse 13. To begin the epistle he informed his troubled brethren, “These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.” Some false teachers were spreading a corrupted gospel which was upsetting the faith of some, and effectively stealing away their joy in Christ Jesus. The doubt and confusion on the part of their brethren, in turn, jeopardized the joy of the author and his fellow teachers of truth. John knew no greater joy than for his “children” to be “walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4), so he assured them from the outset that they could know joy in the fullest degree by a life spent in truthful devotion to their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (15:11).

In 1 John 2:1-2, he wrote, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” Even though no human being is perfect, that does not give us the freedom to sin with impunity. Sin is mankind’s greatest problem, and it has eternal ramifications. But thanks be to the Lord, He dealt decisively with sin and its consequences when He sent Jesus to pay the ultimate price, and be the “propitiation” to quell the wrath that our sin rightfully incurs. God did everything that we could not do, but we must do what is in our power to do. We have to try our best to stop sinning. And when we do sin, we need to turn to Jesus our “Advocate” in godly sorrow and humble repentance.

In verse 13 of today’s reading John said he wrote “to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” There is no good reason to forfeit our joy or doubt our salvation if we believe in “the name” of Jesus. If we “walk in the light” of the Son by “obeying His commandments” (1 John 3:24-25), and confess and turn from our sins when we do commit them, we can know for certain that we are saved. The hope we have in Jesus is not merely wishful thinking but a confident expectation of greater glory when our life of faithfulness is over (Hebrews 6:18-20).

When we reverence “the name of the Son of God” by faithfully serving Him in all truth and obedience, we can have “confidence” (verse 14) in our intimate, familial relationship with the Father. We can approach the throne of grace with boldness “to receive mercy and to find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). We can rest assured that God knows us and sees us, and He hears us when we petition Him in prayer. God promises us that “we have the requests which we have asked from Him” (verse 15) when “we ask anything according to His will” (verse 14). That does not mean that God will give us anything that we want, but He will provide everything that we need and all that He knows is good for us through His perfect knowledge and wisdom.

Please read 1 John 5:16-17 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 5:9-12

Sunday, October 29, 2017

“If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

Just as the Savior had done with His adversaries before him, John appealed to the numerous “witnesses” that testified to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God. The apostle quoted Jesus in John 5:33-37: “You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.”

Jesus appealed to the testimony of John the baptizer (John 1:29-34), the proof of the miracles (works) He had done, and the verification of the Father in heaven that He was the Son of the living God. He went on in John 5:39-47 to appeal to the numerous Old Testament prophecies that spoke of the coming Messiah and His work of redemption, and how the very Law that His enemies claimed to cherish testified that He was the chosen One of God. But the culminating piece of evidence and the “greater” testimony was when the Father Himself proclaimed from Heaven: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17). The Apostle John took the same approach as his Master when he appealed to the witness of “the Spirit and the water and the blood” (verse 8), but the greater (greatest) witness of all was God’s own testimony “concerning His Son.”

“The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself” (verse 10). When we believe and embrace this all-important truth, the Lord and His word “abide within us” (1 John 4:15-16), and support us through all the travails and uncertainties of life. We may not understand why God allows certain things to happen or know all that the Lord has in store for us in the future, but we know for certain that Jesus is the Son of God, and that we can completely entrust our lives to His safe-keeping. When we “sanctify Christ as Lord” in our hearts (1 Peter 3:14), we know for certain that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (John 8:28). There is no more reassuring or comforting testimony that this: “that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (verse 11). In the grand scheme of things, when all has been weighed in the balances, everything else comes up miserably lacking in significance. If you have the Son you have eternal life. And if you have eternal life you have everything that means anything.

If you do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, you are not merely making a mistake or believing a lie. You are calling God a liar (verse 10). Friend, you do not want to be in such a condemnable condition on the Day of Judgment. Equally awful would be to believe this truth yet not embrace it, and allow your life to be transformed by it and reflect it by your thoughts, words and deeds. “Worship the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2:11-12)

Please read 1 John 5:13-15 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 5:5-8

Saturday, October 28, 2017

“Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

In the previous verse John had written that “whatever is born of God overcomes the world,” and faith in Christ is “the victory that has overcome the world.” The apostle had previously told us that the makeup of “the world” is “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life (1 John 2:16). When our faith in Christ leads us to be born again through the waters of baptism, and to consistently comply with His commandments in loving faith, He empowers us to resist the allurements of sinful lusts and damage of prideful self-will. In verse 5, for the third time in two verses, the writer tells us of a necessary component of the kind of faith that “overcomes the world”—belief that “Jesus is the Son of God.”

This probably sounds fairly basic and obvious to those of us reading this text, but its simplicity is both profound and extremely consequential. When we accept and profess that Jesus is the Son of God we acknowledge that He bears all the attributes, authority and privileges of eternal, almighty, omniscient deity. To say that Jesus is God’s Son is to proclaim that “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). Most people in “the world” will acknowledge that Jesus was a good man, a teacher or righteousness, even a prophet sent from God. But the kind of belief that overcomes “the world” with all its empty, human philosophies and tenuous, theological theories is faith in the fact that Christ Jesus is Jehovah God and deserving of all our love, reverence, loyalty and subservience.

Jesus is the “One who came by water and blood” (verse 6). Jesus intentionally emerged from relative obscurity and launched into His public ministry when He was baptized by His cousin John in the Jordan river (Matthew 3:13-17). The heavens were opened, the Spirit descended, and God the Father proclaimed that Jesus was His Son in whom He was well-pleased. Jesus also came by blood—that is to say that “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14) and literally bled and died for the sins of the world. Despite the insistence of the false teachers that God could not possibly come in the form of a human because of their false belief that flesh was inherently evil, Jesus truly did. He was the literal Son of God as pronounced by the Father at His baptism, and continued to be so all the way to the point of bleeding and dying on a Roman cross like a common criminal.

“It is the Spirit who testifies” of this “because the Spirit is the truth” (verse 6). Under Jewish law, by the testimony of three witnesses all facts may be established and “a matter may be confirmed” (Deuteronomy 19:15, Matthew 18:16). The “three that testify” (verse 7) are “the Spirit and the water and the blood” (verse 8). It is ultimately the Holy “Spirit who testifies,” however, because He is the divine revelator of the word who inspired John and the other Apostles to declare all truth about Jesus, including the water and the blood (John 16:13). Jesus called Him “the Spirit of truth” indicating that everything John was inspired to say was completely true and trustworthy, and in total “agreement” with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Please read 1 John 5:9-12 for tomorrow.

Blessings!

-Louie Taylor

First John 5:1-4

Friday, October 27, 2017

“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

The importance of faith in Christ and love for God and His children cannot be overstated as John makes clear by his fervent repetition of these themes. It is the apostle’s writing style in this first epistle to frequently return to points of emphasis to further develop and underscore them. He tells us in today’s verses that a person requires “belief” or “faith” in Christ Jesus to be “born of God” (verse 1). This spiritual rebirth takes place in the waters of baptism (John 3:5), and continues to prevail as we persistently and consistently “keep His commandments” (verse 3) in love for the Lord and His undeserved grace and mercy.

And, if we truly love the Father, we must constantly demonstrate it by loving the people that He loves. Earlier John stated that we can only know that we are keeping God’s commandments when we love our brethren in Christ (4:20-21). In verse 2 He tells us that the converse is true: we can only “know that we love the children of God…when we observe His commandments.” In actuality and unmistakably, the keeping of God’s commands and loving His chosen people are so tightly bound together that they cannot be successfully separated without committing spiritual suicide. Our author stresses unequivocally that Faith and love are infinitely greater than mere belief and emotion. Faith obeys the Father and love supports the brethren.

“This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (verse 3). John goes as far as to say that keeping God’s commandments is synonymous with loving Him. This verse must be particularly bothersome for the “belief only” advocates that insist we can do nothing to affect our spiritual standing with the Lord. Just the opposite is true: we must do everything! That is not to say that God expects us to be perfect because He does not. But we must strive to do all that the Lord commands (Matthew 28:20) just the same, and, fortunately for us, God’s “commandments are not burdensome.” While God’s requirements for us may be demanding, they are not so oppressive that they weigh His children down and crush their spirits. In fact, just the opposite is true. God’s commands are only beneficial for us. When we follow Him in loving, trusting faith, we are liberated from the overwhelming weight of sin and guilt, and the Lord promises to be there by our side to shoulder our burdens with us (Matthew 11:28-30).

Not only is God’s law for us not burdensome, it is very instrumental in our empowerment to “overcome the world” (verse 4). The people who are overly attached to the world and attracted by the pull of its sensuality will likely insist that God expects way too much, and takes all the fun out of life for His followers. But it is our obedient faith in Christ that gives us the “victory” over sin, and Satan and the pull of temptation that he wields against our weak flesh. The strength that garners the victory is not found inherently within us, but as John said in chapter 4 verse 4, “greater is He who is in” us “than he who is in the world.” “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Our obedient faith + God’s amazing power and grace = Eternal victory over Satan, sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:54-58)

Please read 1 John 5:5-8

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 4:18-21

Thursday, October 26, 2017

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

In verse 17 the Apostle John explained that “perfect” or “mature” love gives us “confidence in the day of judgment.” If we love the Lord with a healthy reverence that prompts us to keep His commandments and care for His children, we have no reason to live in a state of fear. We need not be filled with terror for what people can do to us for following Jesus, even if they should kill us in their hatred (Matthew 10:28-29). We have no cause to tremble in the presence of God on the Day of Judgment if we live faithfully to Him until the day that death frees our immortal spirits from our temporal bodies (Revelation 2:10). We will not live in dread of the prospect of old age, life change, injury, accident, illness or loss if we have placed our confidence and trust in the Lord, because “perfect love casts out fear” (verse 19).

“Fear involves punishment.” In fact, fear itself is its own form of “punishment” or “torment”. When we live in fear of what bad things might happen to us here on earth, or even the torture of eternal suffering for the sins we have committed in the past, we traumatize and can even incapacitate ourselves with debilitating fear. While guilt and fear serve an important purpose in our lives, and indicate that our conscience is working correctly, once they lead us to obedience to the Gospel, and repentance of our sins, we can and should let go of them. Fear of eternal punishment is good motivation to turn from sin and to God for forgiveness, “but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected” (1 John 2:5); and that perfect love should cast out fear (Romans 8:15). Fear that produces reverence for God is a blessing. Fear that cripples us spiritually and emotionally is the tool of the devil (Hebrews 2:15). If you are a faithful Christian who serves the Lord in love, truth and obedience, God has forgiven you of your sins. Forgive yourself so that you can be of the most use to Him as possible.

“We love God because He first loved us” (verse 19). God initiated the loving relationship that we have with Him, and He consummated His love for us when He “sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (verse 10). The love that wells up within our hearts and minds for the Lord who saved us should overflow to our brothers and sisters who make up His body. Loving our brothers and sisters in Christ is inextricably interwoven with loving God. If we do not love our brothers who we can see and hear and touch, we cannot truthfully say that we love our God who dwells in a realm outside of our physical sight and reach. God “lives in unapproachable light” (1 Timothy 6:16), and no one has seen Him at any time (verse 12). But, the person who has seen Jesus has seen the Father (John 14:9). And, in a very real sense, if you have seen the brother who has the Lord “abiding” in Him, you have seen Jesus (Matthew 25:40). To treat our brothers and sisters in Christ hatefully, or to see them in need and refuse to help is to close our hearts against them (1 John 3:17). A heart whose door is closed to and cannot be touch by the plight of another is devoid of love for both brother and God.

Matthew 25:40 reminds me of a poignant song we used to sing as school children about the judgment scene depicted in Matthew 25:31-46. The title of the song is “Whatsoever You do to the Least of My Brothers” and the lyrics are uplifting and chilling at the same time:

Stanza: Whatsoever you do to the least of your brothers, 
That you do unto me! 
Whatsoever you do to the least of your Sisters, 
That you do unto me!

Verses: When I was hungry you gave me to eat.
When I was thirsty you gave me to drink. 
Now enter into the home of your father.

When I was tired you helped me find rest. 
When I was worried you calmed all my fears. 
Now enter into the home of your Father.

When I was lonely, to me you did speak. 
When I was troubled you listened to me. 
Now enter into the home of your Father.

When I was homeless you opened the door.
When I was naked you gave me your coat.
Now enter into the home of your Father.

When I was laughed at, you stood by my side. 
When I was happy, you shared my joy. 
Now enter into the home of your Father.

Please read 1 John 5:1-4 for tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 4:13-17

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

“By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

So how can a person know that he is in an authentic, dynamic, redemptive relationship with the Father in heaven? How can we know that “we abide in Him and He in us” (verse 13), and “have confidence” on the ever-nearing “day of judgment” (verse 17)? First of all, John says that we can “know” of our fellowship with the Father “because He has given us of His Spirit.” Because of the Holy Spirit that inspired and empowered the Apostles to reveal and record “all truth,” all who listen to (verse 6) and follow their teaching can be assured that they are “from God” (verse 4). That would include any of us today that open the pages of the New Testament, and believe and obey the “doctrine of Christ” (2 John 1:9) as taught by “the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20).

Secondly, we can know that we abide in the Father and He in us if we “confess that Jesus is the Son of God” (verse 15). We can do this with great confidence because we have every reason to believe the eyewitness report of those who “have seen and testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (verse 14). John personally saw the pierced and broken body of Jesus Christ that had been taken down from the cross, and “his testimony is true” of the Lord’s sacrificial death (John 19:34-35). He also saw the risen Savior who was “declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4), and His testimony of Christ’s victory over the grave is also true (John 21:24). If we made the good confession of our faith in Christ when we put Him on in baptism (Acts 8:37-38), and continue to confess our faith in Jesus with our words and our deeds, He will confess His ownership our lives to His Father in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33).

Finally, we can have confidence in our standing with God if “we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us,” and if we abide in His love (verse 16). If we love God in all reverence and obedience, and love our brothers and sisters in Christ in a charitable and edifying fashion, “love is perfected with us” (verse 17). When we have grown our relationship with the Lord to the degree that we approach Him in trust and confidence, and sacrifice ourselves for His spiritual offspring, we have acquired a maturity level that also instills “confidence in the day of judgment.” And when vibrant love for God and mankind govern and control our lives, we follow in the footsteps of our Savior because we are living and conducting ourselves “as He is”. When the Father looks down from heaven and observes our Christ-like behavior, He is pleased with us, our love is perfected within us, and our hope for eternity is filled with promise and glory.

Please read 1 John 4:18-21 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 4:7-12

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

“Love is from God” (verse 7). Of all the marvelous gifts and blessings that God has bestowed upon His creation, love is the greatest (1 Corinthians 13:13). It was God’s love that prompted Him to create mankind in His image, to produce a “very good” living environment that abundantly provides for all human needs (Genesis 1:31), and to sacrifice “His only begotten Son” for when we frequently refuse to reciprocate that love and sin—“so that we might live through Him” (verse 9). It was not our loveliness that motivated the Father to offer up His beloved Son for us. He loves us because of what He is, not who we are.

The love of God found its ultimate “manifestation” (verse 8) in the loving person and the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. The Father “unveiled” the depths of His love through sending Jesus to die for us and be the “propitiation” (verse 10) that satisfied His divine wrath which our sins incurred and we deserve. The Father also “revealed” His nature to us through the life of the Son of His love. “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18). To be in the presence of Jesus was to see God “manifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). While it is impossible for any person to see God in all His radiant glory and survive (Exodus 33:20), to be in the presence of Jesus was to see the “glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14)…and love.

“God is love” (verse 8). Love is not merely an attribute of the Creator or something that He feels or does; love is God’s very nature and essence. Everything that He does is governed by this overriding, pervasive quality of divinity. “To say ‘God is love’; implies that all His activity is loving activity. If He creates, He creates in love; if He rules, He rules in love; if He judges, He judges in love. God’s love has its ultimate issue in bringing men to live in his eternal life: ‘that we might live through him.’” (Paul W. Hoon, “The First, Second, and Third Epistles of John, Interpreter’s Bible”)

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (verse 11) The love of God should prompt us to not only love the Lord in return, but also love our fellow participants in the human experience that have been created in His likeness. We who have been born again by the Gospel of Christ, and recreated through His sacrificial blood have been called to emulate our gracious Father, and follow the example of our loving Savior. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

Please read 1 John 4:13-17 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 4:1-6

Monday, October 23, 2017

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

John had just written in the previous verse that we can know God “abides in” us through the Spirit that He gave us if we “keep His commandments” (1 John 3:24). He tells us today that not everyone who claims to have the Spirit of God in him, and professes to be speaking by the Holy Spirit can be trusted (verse 1). There were “many false prophets” that had “gone out into the world” and adversely effected the Lord’s church, even as early as the end of the first century AD. There is every reason to believe that the proponents of false doctrines are exponentially more prolific nearly 2000 years and 20,000 denominations later.

Spiritual naïveté is not an asset but a very dangerous problem and obstacle to spiritual salvation. We cannot afford to accept everyone’s belief system at face value. God has always encouraged and commanded His people to hold self-professed prophets and proclaimers of His word to the test (Deuteronomy 13:1-5; Jeremiah 23:25-40). Today, in the final dispensation of time and God’s covenant with mankind through His Son Jesus, the test is a really critical and simple one. Certainly confessing “that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” is an important aspect of the test (verses 2-3), especially for John’s immediate, target audience who had been threatened by the Gnostic view that it was impossible for God to come in the bodily form of a human being.

But the test is a bit more complex than that. It all boils down to this: “he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God listens to them” (verse 5). We must compare everything that someone tries to teach or thrust upon us to what John and the other Apostles of Jesus Christ have said and written. They have “the prophetic word made more sure” (2 Peter 1:19). They had been given the Holy Spirit to guide them “into all the truth” (John 16:13; 2 Peter 1:3), and they spoke the words of Christ for Christ (John 14:25; 16:14-15), therefore they had been given “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” to “bind and loose” the doctrine of Christ upon the earth (Matthew 16:19-20). If someone believes, follows and teaches the truth as laid down by those who taught “from God,” and were authorized to speak it, then they speak religious “truth”. But the one who “listens to them” that do otherwise believes and profess religious “error” (verse 6).

Friend, the mindset that “doctrine doesn’t matter” was not adopted or endorsed by the Lord’s inspired, authoritative ambassadors. All forms of doctrine and worship espoused and taught by those in the denominational world are not valid. If there are religious groups that teach things that are in direct opposition to one another, all of them cannot be true. All may be false, but only one of them can logically be true and authentic. In this ecumenical, politically correct world that we live in, it is considered wrong to say that anyone’s religion is wrong. The inspired Apostle John disagrees with this permissive, liberal, “agree-to-disagree mentality,” and he does so by inspiration of God.

Please do not be afraid or offended to have your faith challenged. Test what you believe and practice against he inspired, infallible, enlivening word of God (the Bible). If your views and beliefs are not in alignment with the Truth, then change. It is just that simple and critical to your eternal salvation. “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Please read 1 John 4:7-12 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 3:23-24

Sunday, October 22, 2017

“This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

At this juncture of the letter, the Apostle John begins his focus on “faith and love”. He had said in the previous verse that we can have confidence in our relationship with the Father through the Son when “we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.” John is either honing in on two distinct aspects of the commandments of the Lord that are vital to his particular purpose in this epistle, or he is summing up the decrees of God in these two, far-reaching imperatives. When we love God enough to obey Him at His every word, and love our fellow man as we love ourselves, we keep the law of God in its entirety (Matthew 22:36-40).

John makes just as exclusive a claim as the Lord did when he wrote that all people “must believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ” (verse 23) in order “abide in” the heavenly Father (verse 24). Friend, obedient faith in Christ Jesus is the ONLY WAY to have a relationship with God the Father, and to have the hope and promise of heaven for eternity (John 14:6). We must believe in “the name” of Jesus, which stands “for all that a ‘name’ implies, of authority, character, rank, majesty, power, excellence, etc., of everything that the "name" covers…” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words)

To truly believe in the “name” of Jesus Christ is to profess that He possesses all the power, characteristics and essence of deity, and that He retains the intrinsic authority to make commands of us and reign as supreme ruler over the entirety our lives (Matthew 28:18-20). Also significant in this text is the tense of the verb “believe,” as expressed by Daniel H. King Sr. in his Truth Commentary on “The Three Epistles of John”: “The tense of this use of the word is aorist, signifying an initial, decisive act of believing commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord…” (page 114). To initially “believe” in the “name” of Jesus is to believe that He is the Christ (John 3:16), the Son of the living God, and to commit our loves to Him through confession, repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of sin (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 16:31-33; Romans 10:9-10).

We can only know for certain that we abide in the Lord, and that He abides in us if we obey His commandments. There is no other way to secure that intimate fellowship with the Lord that He promises to those who love Him and want to please Him in every way (Matthew 7:21-23; 15:8-9; Luke 6:46; John 14:15). To abide in the Lord is to walk with Him in a close union of absolute dependence and reverence through His word, worship and prayer, and, as He abides in us, we draw spiritual strength from Him to accomplish His will and be useful, productive servants in His vineyard/kingdom. As we read John 15:1-8 below, please take note of the importance of Christ’s “words” abiding in us for our fellowship with Him, and the cleansing power of that inspired “word” to further facilitate our ability to do His will.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”

Please read 1 John 4:1-6 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 3:19-22

Saturday, October 21, 2017

“We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

“We will know by this that we are of the truth” (verse 19): If we love “in deed and truth,” and not only “with word or with tongue” (verse 18). If we express our faith in Jesus by a sacrificial love for our needy brothers and sisters in Christ that prompts us to share “this world’s goods” with them (verse 17), we “will assure our heart before Him.” This is most certainly not the ONLY criterion that constitutes a saving faith, but it is an absolutely indispensable aspect of a life of holiness and truth in service to the Lord our God. We must “keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight” (verse 22), and loving our brothers in sisters in Christ with a fervent, active, benevolent love is an integral part of His will for us. 

But sometimes we do fall short of keeping His commands. We stumble and trip up and fall into sin in many ways (James 3:2), even as we earnestly endeavor to walk in the light of His love and truth. Sometimes “our heart condemns us” (verse 20) because of our “wretchedness” (Romans 7:24), and I am very grateful that they do. When I do something foolish and sinful, I usually do not require reprisals from other brethren in Christ because I tend to be my own worst critic and am inclined to beat my own self up pretty well. As much as I am thankful that my heart easily condemns me and nudges me in the direction of godly sorrow and repentance, I am even more relieved that “God is greater than” my heart.

The simple truth of the matter is that my heart cannot truly condemn me or justify me before the Lord, only the word of God can do that. Some people’s hearts convince them that they are saved, and other people’s hearts convince them that they are lost, but the human heart can never be a good enough gauge to determine whether a person is right in the sight of God. You could ask the Apostle Paul (then known as Saul) when he was persecuting the church and trying to obliterate it from the face of the earth, and all the while doing so “in all good conscience” before God (Acts 23:1). The older Paul who was a mature Christian and Apostle of Jesus Christ also tells us: “But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 4:3-4)

It is the Lord who examines us, and either condemns us for our sins or acquits us by His mercy and grace through our obedient faith. The Apostle John wrote this letter (by inspiration of the Holy Spirit) to encourage His discouraged and confused brethren that they already knew the truth, and that if they continued in it they could be assured they are “of the truth,” and could know for certain that they were saved (1 John 5:13), regardless of all the perverted doctrine and hateful venom the false teachers were spewing. 

So, if we have obeyed the Gospel by repenting of our sins and putting the Lord on in baptism for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38); and if we endeavor to walk in the light by keeping the Lord’s commandments (1 John 1:5-10); and worship the Lord exclusively in spirit and truth (John 4:24), we can know that we are saved (1 John 5:13). Even if we mess up from time to time. Even if our hearts beat us up for the past sins we are ashamed of that sometimes come back to haunt us and we have a hard time forgiving ourselves for. Even though our flawed, emotional hearts bring doubt and discouragement into the picture, “God is greater than our heart,” and we can have complete “confidence before” Him when He promises us salvation through Christ Jesus our Lord by His mercy and His grace. In fact, that is what mercy and grace are all about: forgiveness of wrongdoing that we are totally undeserving of. 

Keep doing “the things that are pleasing in His sight” (verse 22), and do not make excuses for your sins. If you stumble into sin, confess it and turn from it and beg the Lord for forgiveness. “He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). And if you are not currently keeping His commandments and doing those things that please Him, make this day the day that you embark upon a life of faithfulness to the Lord that instills the confidence within you to know that “whatever” you “ask” you will “receive of Him.” As long as you ask with the mindset that “His will be done.” And if you are thinking right and living right, you will only ask for things that are in alignment with His will in the first place. 

Please read 1 John 3:23-24 for tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 3:17-18

Friday, October 20, 2017

“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

In verse 16 John had said that we should love our brethren in Christ to the extent that we would even lay down or lives for them if necessary. But there is a much simpler test and more clear indication of whether we love someone or not without having to pay the ultimate price to prove it. If a Christian “has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need,” and is not moved by compassion to help him in his pitiable condition, “the love of God” does not “abide in him” (verse 17). How can we truthfully claim to love God and refuse to show love for the precious souls that He created in His own image? We can say we love God, but our inactions belie our words, and divulge the truth of a stone-cold heart deprived of biblical, charitable love. 

The person John describes in verse 17 is someone who has enough of “the world’s goods” to spare, he clearly “sees his brother in need,” and yet ignores the plight and pain of another suffering human being. I can’t help but be reminded of the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31. The wealthy man “habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day,” while the poor man, Lazarus was “covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.” The rich man had been blessed with more than enough of this world’s goods to help such a hungry and hurting man like Lazarus, but he “closed his heart against” the poor man when he saw him “laid at his gate” on a daily basis and just walked on by. 

People with hearts as hard as stones that cannot be penetrated by compassion and kindness will be condemned severely by the Lord on Judgment Day (Matthew 25:41-46). Love cannot be adequately expressed with our words alone, but must be useful, visible and functional. “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (James 2:15-16) Faith without works is useless and dead, and love without active compassion stands in direct opposition to God’s “truth” (verse 18). The two greatest commandments given by God are to love the Lord with all our hearts, souls and minds, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). I’m pretty sure none of us would let ourselves go hungry or naked if we could help it.

Okay we looked to Luke’s Gospel account at the rich man and Lazarus as an example of someone closing their heart up against a poor, vulnerable, suffering soul. Let’s look to the “Good Samaritan,” also recorded in Luke, to see the positive example of a heart overflowing with love and compassion, and charitable deeds expressed in divine truth for a stranger who had been beaten, robbed and left for dead. “But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’” (Luke 10:33-35)

Hear the eternal words of our loving Lord Jesus: “Go and do the same” (Luke 10:37)!

Please read 1 John 3:19-22 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 3:11-16

Thursday, October 19, 2017

“For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

Loving our brethren is a matter of life and death (verse 14). This is the second of three sections that John devoted to this subject (2:9-11; 4:19-5:4), and his emphasis of this essential theme proves that “the message which you have heard from the beginning” (verse 11) is worthy of much repetition. John reminds us again that the truth has not changed in the slightest, but people grow tired of the old ways of righteousness, and gravitate towards new and innovative things that appeal to their desires (2 Timothy 4:1-5). In actuality, disregard for the God’s commandments and hatred for brethren dates all the way back to the first family of Genesis chapters 3 and 4 (verse 12).

The same impulses that prompted Cain to murder his brother Abel also motivated the false teachers and their adherents to hate the lovers of truth. They despised their brethren because the agitators were “of the evil one” and not faithful followers of the God of love and compassion (1 John 4:8). Also, like their predecessor Cain, their “deeds were evil.” They had no desire to “do well,” and they refused to “master” the sin that is always “crouching at the door” and ready to pounce on its victims like a wild animal and devour them (Genesis 4:7). “The world” also hates God’s children because their “deeds” are “righteous”. Sometimes people will hate us because they see us as a bunch of “do-gooders” who think we are better than everyone else. They will take our righteousness as a personal insult and an assault on their worldly way of life. There is no reason to “be surprised” at this kind of hatred because it has been going on from nearly the beginning of time, but it still causes God’s children to “marvel” when people hate them for merely doing what is right and pleasing to Him.

One distinguishing mark which demonstrates that a person has been “rescued from the domain of darkness” (Colossians 1:13) of the world, and translated into the “marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9) of the kingdom is demonstrable love for brothers and sisters in Christ. This is not the only proof of faithfulness, but Jesus Himself said, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). An “unloving Christian” is a contradiction in terms. If we have hatred in our hearts for our brothers and sisters in the spiritual family of faith, we have not “passed out of death into life” (verse 14), but remain dead even as we live and breathe (Ephesians 2:1).

John even went as far as to say that “everyone who hates his brother is a murderer” (verse 15). It was Cain’s loathing of Abel that drove him to brutally kill his brother in cold blood. Even if we never go so far as to take the life of another human being, if we harbor hatred for them we possess the spirit and attitude of a murderer, and that is a sin worthy of death in the eyes of the Lord. Rather than fostering murderous hatred, we should nurture the kind of love in our hearts that would prompt us to lay down our own lives for our brethren if necessary instead. That is love in the greatest degree, and is exactly the love our Lord possesses for you and me (John 15:13).

Please read 1 John 3:17-18 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 3:4-10

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

“Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

John makes it very clear here, as does the Holy Spirit throughout the pages of the Bible, that you cannot live in defiance of and disdain for the laws of the Creator and still be in a right relationship with Him. “Sin is lawlessness” (verse 4). Whenever a sin is committed, God’s law is broken and needs to be atoned for. Sin is such a very serious issue that it was for this very reason Jesus “appeared” in the form of a human and was crucified. Many believers take a very casual approach to sin and make excuses for their transgressions, but it was sin that cost Jesus His life on the cross, and it is sin that will cost us our eternal life if we “normalize” it and give ourselves a pass for our wrongdoings.

Please do not misunderstand. John is not writing about Christians who are trying their best to “walk in the light” and “abide in the truth,” and yet stumble and fall into sin. God has made provision through His Son and His word for forgiveness in such situations. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us” (1 John 1:9). If we repent and pray for God’s forgiveness He will mercifully grants it to us (Acts 8:22). But if we make sin our “practice,” or our habitual pattern of life; if we live as if there were no divine law governing our lives; if we refuse to acknowledge sin and attempt to turn from it, we demonstrate by our attitude and actions that our father is “the devil” and not the Creator (verse 10). When we practice righteousness we become like our Savior. When we practice lawlessness we behave like Satan.

“No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin” (verse 9). John obviously is not saying that it is somehow impossible for a child of God to sin because that would completely contradict most of what he has been teaching. “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). But we cannot allow sin to dominate our lives, and if the word is truly abiding in us, we will not. Jesus appeared to “destroy the words of the devil” (verse 8), and “to take away sins” (verse 6), not to offer us a “free pass” to live a life of reckless abandon and total disregard for God’s holy nature and sacred law.

Friend, John teaches in the simplest of terms that it matters how you live your life. Your actions must match your profession. You must practice righteousness in order to be considered righteous in God’s sight (verse 7). God’s mercy and grace will not cover the sins that do not produce godly sorrow within you, and that you refuse to turn loose of (2 Corinthians 7:9-10). Notice please, there are only two choices given by the Lord through His word. You can choose to be a child of God or a child of the devil. There is no third option or gray area with the Lord. You are with Him or against Him (Matthew 12:30). The choice is yours and it should be a very easy one to make.

Please read 1 John 3:11-16 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 3:1-3

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

In the previous sentence, John had written,, “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him” (1 John 2:29). In Christ Jesus God has given us new life, new hope and new reasons to rejoice with a heart filled with gratefulness. “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us” (verse 1)! Behold! What a wonderful thought to consider! God loved us enough to send His own Son to die for us so that we can be born again, saved eternally and added to His spiritual family! Just the thought of such an astonishing reality filled John’s heart with wonder and joy! It should do the same for us as well!

But, being members of the family of God makes us strangers to the world. Even though we can know with certainty that we are God’s children through faith in Christ, the people of the world will not readily recognize us as such, and many will even hate us for the profession of a life devoted to the Lord. Jesus said as much in John 15:18-19: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” We should let our lights, shine just the same, so that some WILL see our good deeds and recognize that we do them by the strength of the Father and through our love for His Son. We do this with the hope that some will be drawn to God and have reason to glorify Him along with us (Matthew 5:15-16).

“Now we are the children of God,” which is an amazing fact of itself, but, “it has not appeared as yet what we will be” (verse 2). That He actually calls us His children and we can call Him our father boggles the feeble, limited human mind, and the life of righteousness that we live in Christ Jesus is the best and most blessed manner of existence here on earth. But for the Christian, the best is yet to come. Our appearance right now gives no indication of how glorious things will be for us (Philippians 3:20-21; Romans 8:23). “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:3-4)

When Christ returns the true identity of the children of God will be fully revealed, and not until then. Here on earth we must share in the ridicule and persecution that the Lord experienced when He was in bodily form, and do so willingly. But, when He returns to reclaim His own, we will share in the glory with which He has possessed for all eternity (Colossians 3:4). If we truly have our “hope fixed” on Christ’s return and our future, eternal glory, this will motivate us to live morally sanctified lives in imitation of His perfect holiness (Colossians 3:5-13). The Christian’s hope is a call to doctrinal purity and moral excellence.

Please read 1 John 3:4-10 for tomorrow.

Have a godly blessed day and live a purified life!

-Louie Taylor

First John 2:25-29

Monday, October 16, 2017

“This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life. These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

God has promised “eternal life” to those who stay faithful to His Son and true to the Truth (verse 25). On the flipside of this promise is the forfeiture of life everlasting if we fall from our own steadfastness (2 Peter 3:17), turn away from the Truth (James 5:19-20), and abandon the way of righteousness (2 Peter 2:20-22). Any child of God who would desert the Lord who called him for a distorted and perverted imitation of the Gospel has been led astray and seduced by deception and stands accursed of God (Galatians 1:6-9).

The inspired teaching of the Lord’s true Apostles was the “anointing” which these troubled brethren had “received” (verse 27). They had “no need for anyone to teach” them anything new because God’s revelation through His chosen ambassadors had taught them “about all things” necessary to make them pleasing to God, and critical for their spiritual wellbeing (2 Peter 1:3). The truth that John and his companions taught had not changed in the slightest then, and it has not been altered even a little bit over the course of the past 2000 years or so. As long as we abide in the truth and do not believe in lies, we abide in the Lord and His saving grace. If we remain faithful to Christ and the purity of His doctrine we can “have confidence” at “His coming” and not “shrink back” in shame and embarrassment (verse 29).

Friend, make no mistake about this one, absolute truth: “everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him” (verse 29). The Calvinistic precept of “the perseverance of the saints” is a total hoax and sham that millions upon millions have been deceived and seduced by. This false doctrine teaches that once a person is saved he will always stay saved no matter what he does or how he lives. In truth, it is obvious that this doctrine did not originate with John Calvin in the 15th century, but can be traced back to the first century purveyors of incipient Gnosticism. They taught that you could live like the devil and remain in good standing with the Creator.

While it is true that “there is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10), and God “credits” or “imputes” righteousness to born-again Christians through faith in Christ Jesus (Romans 4:22), we are still required to live and pursue lives of righteousness in order be right with God. “Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous” (1 John 3:7).

Please read 1 John 3:1-3 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 2:18-24

Sunday, October 15, 2017

“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

The appearance of “many antichrists” indicated to John that “the last hour” had come upon the church. Similar terms had been used to describe God’s final dispensation of time in His dealing with humanity through covenant with Jesus Christ (Acts 2:17; Hebrews 1:2), and also to signify the Lord’s return and Final Judgment (John 11:24). But “the last hour” of verse 18 seems to mark a turning point that was taking place in the church of Christ at the time that John wrote his letter. A very definitive division was occurring among God’s people and the church would never be the same. The last true apostle of Christ was nearing the end of his earthly life, and a new, insidious brand of false teachers, who even went as far as to deny that Christ had come in the flesh, was wreaking havoc upon the sanctity of His blood-bought body.

Daniel H. King, Sr. wrote in his Truth Commentary on “The Three Epistles of John” the following: The Apostle John “considered the appearance of the many antichrists, their depraved and perverse doctrines, widespread apostasy, and the consequent division, alienation and strife which had come about as a direct result of these things. Such factors most assuredly pointed toward the end of the age of innocence for the church and the ‘last hour’ for that period of unity and consistent fellowship among the congregations which made up the first-century apostolic church.” (page 70) The old apostle was quick to point out that it was the false teachers who “went out from us” (verse 19), and not vice versa. They had changed and not the Apostles or the Lord’s true people. The truth had not been altered in the slightest, but certain corrupt men were willing to pervert the doctrine of Christ for personal gain.

Believers and practitioners of Truth “have an anointing from the Holy One” that allows them to “know” God’s will (verse 20). But what is this anointing and how is it acquired? Many people see this as a “proof text” that the miraculous indwelling of the Holy Spirit has been promised to all believers to equip them with perfect knowledge of the Truth. But Jesus (“the Holy One” – John 6:69) only promised to send the Holy Spirit and His perfect inspiration to His Apostles to guide them “into all the truth” (John 14:16-17; 15:26-27; 16:13), so they could reveal His will and record it for posterity’s sake (Ephesians 3:5; 2 Peter 1:3). The only way to know if a teacher is speaking truth is to “test” it by comparing what they teach to what has already been revealed by inspiration from the Apostles (1 John 4:1-6).

It seems obvious that the “anointing” John writes of is figurative terminology referring to the word of truth that dwells in the hearts and minds of believers through exposure to and study of the inspired, written and spoken word of God (Acts 17:11; Ephesians 3:4; 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 2:15; 4:2; Hebrews 10:16). The Apostle John also likely dabbled in a bit of wordplay since the words “anointing” (“chrisma”) and “Christ” (“Christos”) both derive from the same Greek verb “chrio” which means “to anoint”. In direct opposition to and distinction from the “antichrists,” true disciples of Christ have a “chrisma” that assures them of the truth dwelling within them. The “liar” is the one “denies that Jesus is the Christ” (verse 22). The “anointed” are those who “know Him who has been from the beginning” (1 John 2:14), and the word which they “have had from the beginning” (1 John 2:7, 24), given by apostolic inspiration (1 John 4:6).

“No lie is of the truth” (verse 21). Any deviation from the truth is apostacy from the Lord and His will and incurs His condemnation. The sacred canon of Holy Scripture is inviolable and cannot be broken (John 10:35) without despoiling the truth and jeopardizing our souls. We must be careful to not add to or take away from the inspired, revealed word of God (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:19). “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 1:9).

Please read 1 John 2:25-29 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 2:15-17

Saturday, October 14, 2017

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

In the most famous verse in all the Bible we read that, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). And yet the Apostle John warns us that we must NOT love the world. But while God loved the PEOPLE of the world enough to don human flesh and die a painful death to save them, we, as God’s people, must be careful to not love the THINGS of the world that place us at odds with His holy will and nature. The worldly “things” that arouse God’s displeasure are the evil inclinations and interests that originate from “the ruler of this world” (John 8:44), and permeate the wicked human heart, and find their expression in the rebellious human will.

John placed all the evil inclinations that are “in the world” which incur the Lord’s wrath under three headings: “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life” (verse 16). These tendencies did not originate “from the Father” when He created mankind in His own image, and the world and every good thing in it. These things are “from the” fallen “world” that was corrupted by Satan’s evil influence and mankind’s sinful rebellion because of dissatisfaction with God’s good provision. Each carnal desire and sinful display that arises from the mind of man can be found in one of these three carnal categories.

The “lust of the flesh” is the perverse desire for all unseemly pleasures that find their expression in things contrary to the benefit of man and God’s blessed will for him. The “lust of the eyes” is the undue attraction to the outward appearance of things, and the inordinate desire for that which a person does not possess. The “boastful pride of life” is the tendency of a person to want to glorify himself, and to take exaggerated satisfaction in his own intellect, accomplishments and accumulations. Eve felt the pull of all three of these worldly allurements before she ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate” (Genesis 3:6).

“The world is passing away, and also all its lusts” (verse 17). Everything about this present plane of human existence is temporary in nature: all things good, evil and neutral. The world is passing away right before our very eyes and, we all can sense the fading of its glory at the core of our spirits that have been fashioned in the likeness of our eternal Creator. We have the tendency to want to cling to things of a diminishing, corrupting, temporary nature even though we know they can never fully satisfy or be grasped (Ecclesiastes 1:14). But, if we learn the ultimate lesson that king Solomon finally comprehended at the end of a long life of chasing after wind, we can live “forever”. “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

1 John 2:18-24 for tomorrow.

Hoping your day is blessed.

First John 2:12-14

Friday, October 13, 2017

“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

Even in this peculiar little paragraph, the Apostle John wasn’t writing anything new to his brethren. He had already stressed the importance of hearing and keeping God’s word that dwells within the Christian (1:10; 2:5, 7). He had just previously emphasized the necessity of “knowing” the Father through the keeping of His word. (2:3, 5, 11). He also had addressed God’s blessing of forgiveness through Jesus Christ when His children walk in the light of the word (1:9). In today’s verses John informed His readers that this old (verse 7) new (verse 8) message is vital to the welfare of God’s people, from the young to the old in the faith, and must be fought for and adhered to by Christians of all maturity levels.

John wrote to the “little children” because they had been forgiven of their sins for Christ’s “name’s sake” (verse 12). This undoubtedly is a reminder to the babes in Christ of their recent conversion when they had their sins forgiven and were born again through the waters of baptism “in the name of Jesus” (Acts 2:38). This is most definitely NOT advocation of the position that little children are born with sins, or scriptural authorization for baptizing infants, as some people claim it to be. John “the elder” (2 John 1:1; 3 John 1:1) repeatedly referred to all of his readers as “little children” in this epistle (2:1, 28; 3:7, 18; 4:4; 5:21). This is obviously a figurative term of endearment and not a literal reference to numerical age.

John also wrote to “young men” in the faith who were full of the spiritual vigor and strength to have “overcome the evil one” because of “the word of God” which abided in them (verses 13, 14). These more developed Christians had been tried and tested and had proven themselves formidable soldiers of Christ, and John wrote to encourage them that they were more than equipped to stand up to the current challenge as well. The Apostle Paul reminds us that the offensive weapon we wield in our battle against Satan is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).

Finally, John wrote to the “fathers” in the faith and reminded them twice that they knew “Him who was from the beginning.” All true Christians have come to know the Father on some level, but it is the mature, experienced, circumspect disciples whose faith has been ripened over a long span of time and through an extensive run of trials, that come to know Him in the deepest and most profound ways. These are the rocks of the faith that the younger brethren lean on and look up to, and approach for sage advice and spiritual strengthening. The “fathers” know that they can fully trust and depend upon the One “who has been from the beginning” because He never falters or changes, even as their own outward man diminishes with the passage of time (2 Corinthians 4:16).

No matter where you may be in your walk of faith, if you belong to Christ through obedience to the word, you have been forgiven, you have overcome the evil one through Him, and you know the good that the heavenly Father has promised you. Keep learning and growing and resisting the devil and drawing near to the Lord in complete dependence and love (James 4:7-8).

Please read 1 John 2:15-17 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 2:7-11

Thursday, October 12, 2017

“Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

Even when Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another” (John 13:34), love was not, strictly speaking, a new commandment. God commanded His children to “love your neighbor as yourself” from old days long since passed (Leviticus 19:18). But Jesus took the old commandment and gave it new meaning when He told us to not merely love our brethren as we love ourselves, but to love them “even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Jesus loved us unconditionally, from the deepest depths of the love of God, and sacrificially, to the greatest lengths of laying down His own life for ours.

When we endeavor to love our brothers and sisters in Christ as He loves us, we “walk in the same manner as He walked” (verse 6), and we demonstrate that “the true Light is already shining” in our hearts (verse 8). When people’s hearts are permeated by the light of God’s truth and undying, sacrificial love, it transforms them into new creations with a greater capacity to love. The light “which is true in Him” is also true in us who walk in light, and reflect the light of the One whose glory exceeds that of all others (Matthew 5:14-16). The more we devote ourselves to the light of God’s word, and to loving Him and the souls created in His image, the more the darkness of this world passes away from us.

Anyone who thinks or says that he is living in the light of the Lord, “and yet hates his brother,” he is lying and walking in the darkness of sin and separation from God. God is light (1 John 1:5) and God is love (1 John 4:8). A heart filled with hatred is completely inconsistent and incompatible with the intrinsic nature of the God of glory, and will preclude any form of communion with Him. It is obvious that the proponents of Gnosticism hated the light of the Truth, and therefore they despised the good brethren who professed it and took a firm stance for it. To be filled with hate is to be filled with the kind of spiritual darkness that pervades and perverts a person’s entire consciousness, and produces “stumbling,” spiritual blindness. “The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble” (Proverbs 4:19).

But, “the one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him” (verse 10). “The love of Christ controls us” (2 Corinthians 5:14), and directs us, and provides an unobstructed, illuminated pathway free from unnecessary obstacles and entanglements. Satan places enough snares and impediments in our path without us darkening our own hearts and dimming our own vision with hatred. Let’s learn to love God with all our being, and love each other from a pure hear fervently (1 Peter 1:22)!

Please read 1 John 2:12-14 for tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 2:3-6

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

The false teachers that John refuted claimed to have a secret knowledge that initiated them into an exclusive group of gurus who truly knew the truth about God. So how can you really know that you really know? John greatly simplified things with a very easy test to determine that we actually know the Lord: “If we keep His commandments” (verse 3). Knowledge without obedience is walking in darkness. Faith in Christ cannot be merely philosophical, theoretical or unpredictable. It must be practical, ethical and continual. There is more to “walking in the light” than keeping the commandments of God, but this is the surefire way to know if you or someone else has been enlightened by the truth of God’s word. The purveyors of early Gnosticism clearly did not pass this test, therefore they could be rejected out of hand along with their teaching.

The Apostle John exposed those heretics for the liars that they were (verse 4), but let’s keep the application close to home and examine ourselves in light of God’s revelation. If we say that we “know” God and yet neglect or refuse to keep His holy commandments, we are either self-deceived (James 1:22) or trying to pull the wool over someone else’s eyes. Either way you look at it, that makes us liars, and we can be sure that our sins will find us out (Numbers 32:23). When we try to put up a front of righteousness, our religious façade will eventually crumble and people will see us for the hypocrites we are. If we continue to follow the way of darkness our lives can become so removed from God’s will and steeped in ungodliness that we can become devoid of truth. “The truth is not in” the person who abandons the way of righteousness.

“Whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected” (verse 5). The only way we can truthfully say that we KNOW God is to keep His commandments, and the only way to truthfully say we LOVE God is to abide in His word. Learning and doing what the Lord says demonstrates that our love for Him is “perfect” or “complete” (John 14:15), and propels us toward spiritual maturity. John sets Jesus up as the perfect example to follow in knowing, loving and obeying the Father in all faith and righteousness (verse 6). Jesus was human as we are, therefore He is fully aware of our weaknesses and challenges. Jesus is deity as the Father is, therefore He knew and demonstrated how a person ought to live before Him in truth. Friend, if you truly come to know God and comprehend His perfect, omnipotent nature compared to your weak and limited constitution, you are going to try your best to do what He says.

Please read 1 John 2:7-11 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 2:1-2

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

As Eric indicated yesterday, we must be careful to not minimize the effects of sin. Jesus had to live without sin in order to offer His life up as an adequate sacrifice for our sins so that He could be our “Advocate” with God and the “propitiation” for His wrath that our sins provoke. The tense of the verb in verse 1 indicates that each and every sin that we commit is deserving of God’s divine wrath and punishment, but praise be to Him that He provided advocacy through His Only Begotten Son when He offered Him up as a propitiatory sacrifice.

None of us can truthfully say that “we have not sinned” (1 John 1:10). Notice that the Apostle John places himself in the category of sinner as well, and in need of Christ’s intercession and mediation. But, while we cannot avoid the fact of sin in our lives, but we must avoid making sin our customary practice and way of life. John wrote this letter to the children of God, and addressed them as his own beloved “little children” in the faith, so that they would “not sin”. But when God’s children do transgress His will, we must not make excuses for our sins and behave as if transgression is a trivial thing with no eternal consequences (verse 1). We must confess our sins (1 John 1:9), and turn to our Advocate in remorseful repentance in order to be cleansed from all our unrighteousness.

The word “Advocate” is the Greek word “parakletos” that John frequently used to refer to the Holy Spirit and the work that He does as the “Helper” or “Comforter” (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). This is a compound word that refers to one who is called to the side of another in order to offer support. It was used of the Holy Spirit (and of Jesus – John 14:16) in His role of consoling and supporting the disciples of Christ as they carried out His mission, and it is used of Christ here to denote His “legal” advocacy as the One who defends us against the accusations of our adversary the devil, and pleads our case before the Father in heaven. As our High Priest and our propitiatory sacrifice, Jesus stands alone in His exclusive position of Mediator and Advocate between fallible mankind and the perfect and faultless God of heaven.

The word “propitiation” is the Greek word “halismos” and is used for that which provides an “appeasement” or “expiation” for God’s righteous wrath against sin. There is at least one prominent religious group which insists that Christ has yet to make complete atonement for the sins of mankind, and their evidence for this is that the word “atonement” is never used in the New Testament in reference to Christ’s sacrifice. But the word “propitiation” is the Greed equivalent of the Hebrew Old Testament word for “atonement”. In the 3rd century BC Koine Greek version of the Old Testament (the Septuagint), the word “halismos” and its various forms are used when referencing sacrifices involving atonement, with Leviticus 17:11 serving as the prime example, and definitive statement concerning substitutionary sacrifice for redemption.

Hebrews 19:11-12 expresses the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus quite well: “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” And He did this for the sins “of the whole world” (verse 2). Christ died to offer salvation to each and every human being (no "limited atonement"), and He is mankind’s one and only way to the Father as a means for atonement and redemption (John 14:6).

Please read 1 John 2:3-6 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

First John 1:5-10

Monday, October 09, 2017

“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

After countering the encroachment of the Gnostics by ridiculing the idea that Jesus was merely some divine avatar and not One Who came in the flesh, John launches into the first major section of his letter. Having established in the prologue that Jesus was “the fullness of God in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9), John uses this fact to examine the nature of God and its relationship to the activities of those who claim allegiance to Him. The connection between 1:3 and 1:5 should not be missed.

John’s first point is to reestablish Who God actually is in light of the revelation of Jesus. It was precisely because Jesus came in fleshly form, that He alone could reveal the true nature of God (John 1:18). As Jesus revealed this, He committed the ministry of revelation to His Apostles. What qualified them to do this in light of Jesus’ unique ability to do this? Two things: 1) the Apostles experienced His ministry in an intimate and completely unique way; 2) Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to inspire these men to reveal Jesus’ insights into the very nature of God.

One key aspect of the Lord’s nature is the oft-cited similitude between God and light. Perhaps no other analogy is used as often as this in the Bible when discussing the nature of God. Light was the first creation of God (Genesis 1:3), God is clothed in light (Psalms 104:2), and light is a metaphor for life or salvation (Psalms 27:1; 36:9; Isaiah 49:6). John takes this figure and runs with it. Contextually, it is important that we realize the significance of this. Gnostics and other human philosophies were founded in a strict sort of dualism. Terrestrial things were inherently evil and dark; celestial things were inherently good and light. So not only is John picking up on a common biblical motif, he’s also pecking away at the false concepts of the Gnostics. Irenaeus provides record that some Gnostics falsely believed that the divine fullness, or Pleroma, contained both shadow and light (Against Heresies 2.4.2-3). Furthermore, Gnostics clung to the idea of secrecy and hidden knowledge; but light reveals and keeps nothing secret so the very nature of God would disprove this false notion. This idea is so important that it is found prevalently in each of John’s inspired writings including all of his epistles (e.g. 1 John 2:6, 11; 2 John 4; 3 John 3, 4), his Gospel (e.g. 1:4, 9; 3:19-21; 11:9-10; 12:35-36), and Revelation! Jesus is the true light that enlightens every man (John 1:4, 9). Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12). In contrast, man loves the darkness rather than the light because his deeds are evil (John 3:19-21).

So even though God came in the flesh, He maintained perfection in the Son. While this was a challenge to those peddling the Gnostic system, this should not be a challenge to those open to God. While He came into flesh (viewed by Gnostics as evil) there was not the slightest chance that doing so defiled Him in any way. He maintained, and maintains, absolute purity and there is no variation or shifting shadows with God (James 1:17).

As God maintains perfect purity and sets the standard, there is a high bar established for His people. Jesus even used this idea in the Sermon on the Mount: “Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). It should be quite obvious that God’s people never meet this ideal, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a mark we should be pressing toward (Philippians 3:12-21). When, not if, we fall short we have advocacy and cleansing (verse 10 and 2:1-2).

Falsehood #1 (verses 6-7) – Believing fellowship with God and darkness can coexist. If we claim allegiance and fellowship with God, and there is no darkness in God, then there has to be an expulsion of darkness from us. Sins create a chasm of darkness between God and us that only the bridge of Christ can cross. To be in fellowship with God, our sins must be forgiven. That means we have to submit to His plan as He has commanded. If He tells us how to have our sins forgiven, then that’s how we cross the bridge of Christ. For those coming out of the world, He has commanded belief, confession of Christ as Son of God, repentance, and immersion to forgive sins (Acts 2:38). For those prodigal Christians, confession of sins and repentance is required (1 John 1:9).

Let’s think more about “walking in the Light” as the prescription for this falsehood. If God is light, and we are to be in fellowship with Him, we must walk in the light. To walk in the light, we must abide in the Word (contrast Isaiah 5:20). “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105). We have to abide in Christ in order to produce fruit for the Lord; if we do not abide in Him, we are barren and fruitless. In fact, it is impossible to bear good fruit if we reside outside of Him (John 15:1-11). The concept of “walking” is a common one in the Scriptures. The word comes from the Greek word “peripateo” and has to do with the manner of conduct in our lives. “Our daily walk” is our habitual endeavors to either abide in Christ or abide in the world, to be friends with God or friends with the world, to be servants of God or servants of Satan. The concept is found extensively in the New Testament and a study of related passages helps flesh out the idea. Here are a few to check out: John 12:35; Romans 6:4; 1 Corinthians 7:17; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 5:16, 25; 6:16; Ephesians 4-5; et al. If we walk with God, He will walk with us (2 Corinthians 6:16). This will result in us being in fellowship with one another, having access to the cleansing power of Christ’s blood, proper estimation of self, and possession of truth. What a blessed state to be in! Gnostics claimed to see the light; Christians not only see the light, they walk in the light!

Falsehoods #2-3 (verses 8-10) – Believing we are without sin. There is, of course, the danger of self-deception. We can trick ourselves into believing the lies of Satan’s minions and become deceivers ourselves. We can deceive ourselves into believing the lie that there is no sin in us after the manner of the Gnostics and Epicureans or we can avail ourselves of the saving grace of God and have that sin purged from us (Psalms 103:12; Micah 7:18-19; Ephesians 2:8-10). F.F. Bruce makes a wise comment in his commentary with regards to this idea: “If people claim – perhaps on the ground of their possession of the Spirit – to have got beyond good and evil, to have reached a stage of spiritual development where moral principles are no longer relevant, they are self-deceived” (44). Religion without morality is an illusion. We can live in the darkness of deception or we can be transferred into the kingdom of God’s marvelous light. We can walk after the flesh, or after the Spirit. But rest assured one cannot blur the lines and be found truthful. There is no darkness in God and those desirous of a relationship with Him must not be deluded. God has spoken in a perfectly open way and to believe anything other than what He has spoken about His nature, the nature of sin, and the nature of people is to believe a lie and to cast aspersions on God Himself. He is faithful and He is righteous. Let us follow that paradigm by proving our faith with our works (James 2:14-26). Let us walk in the light and abide in fellowship with God!

Please read 1 John 2:1-2 for tomorrow!

Have a truly blessed day walking in the light!

-Eric Parker

First John 1:1-4

Sunday, October 08, 2017

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

The Apostle John gets right to the business at hand as He confronts the false, Gnostic teaching that God had not literally come to this earth in the form of a human being through the man Jesus Christ. With his first words he harkens back to “the beginning” (verse 1), when God spoke the heavens and the earth into existence (Genesis 1:1), to the fact that “the Word” was there with God, and that He was God, as He always had been from the infinite span of eternity (John 1:1-5). This eternal Word (Logos) who became flesh (John 1:14), John and the other Apostles had heard with their own ears, seen with their own eyes, and touched with their own hands.

More than that, they had “looked at” or “looked upon” Him over and over again as they spent day after day in his glorious presence, witnessing His miraculous power, hearing His divine wisdom and experiencing His palpable grace. And they were privy to this privilege before and after His death and bodily resurrection. John personally saw Jesus heal the sick and raise the dead. He was there with Him in all His radiant glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. He witnessed His anguish in the garden (when he was not asleep), and looked on helplessly as His Savior died the agonizing death of crucifixion. But John also saw and touched and “handled” the Lord’s resurrected body, and marveled as He was lifted up into the clouds.

Jesus was not some optical illusion or phantasm. He was God manifested in the flesh; a real, corporeal, living, breathing human being who died for the sins of the world, and arose from the grave to defeat death and bring salvation to all mankind. Jesus is the Word of “LIFE”. The Word, who was with God and was God, came into the world to confer life. He was and is the giver of all physical life (John 1:3), and He alone has provided spiritual, “eternal life” because of that which He accomplished for us in the bodily form of the suffering, servant, Messiah.

John and the other Apostles had the right to declare or “proclaim” (verse 2-3) Jesus Christ because they had been with the Lord, were personally selected by Him and empowered through Him to speak in His name. But John did not declare the eternal, incarnate, crucified, risen, glorified Lord for material gain or personal acclaim. His only motivation for professing the truth and fighting against error was so that He could share the spiritual blessings he had found in Christ Jesus with all believers. To say that John proclaimed Jesus to offer “fellowship with us” implies that the original recipients of the letter were, at the very least, perilously close to losing the “fellowship” they enjoyed with faithful believers in the Lord. If they followed after the lies of the false teachers and were carried away by the error of unprincipled men (2 Peter 3:17), they would not share in a faith of the same kind as that of the Apostles (2 Peter 1:1), and they would be lost. When Christians sever fellowship with God, the Lord’s people are left with no choice but to cut ties with them as well.

Fellowship with God and His people through obedient faith in His Only Begotten Son produces a “joy” that cannot be comprehended or concocted by anyone or anything in this world. Joy is the “calm delight” that is produced by owning a relationship with the Father, through Jesus the Son, that time cannot fade and thief cannot steal, and that will ultimately culminate in the eternal bliss of heaven above. John wrote of the reality of God’s plan through the sacrifice of His Son in order that the joy of his readers could be made complete. This divine joy is readily availble for your taking and for you to share with the ones you love.

Please read 1 John 1:5-10 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

-Louie Taylor

Introduction To First John

Saturday, October 07, 2017

The three letters in the Bible ascribed to John do not bear the Apostle’s name, but there is little reason to doubt the son of Zebedee’s authorship. The man who wrote these epistles was an eyewitness and close associate of Jesus (1 John 1:1-4), and a very prominent pillar in the first century church of Christ (2 John 1:1; 3 John 1:1). The similarities in writing style, vocabulary and phraseology between the Gospel account of John and the epistles bearing his name are striking to say the least. John, interestingly, did not directly autograph his Gospel account either, but left no question that he was the author when he signed off as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (1 John 21:20, 24). There is ample external evidence as well for Johannine authorship, including the testimony of such prominent “church fathers” as Polycarp (69-156 AD), Papias (60-130 AD) and Irenaeus (130-202 AD).

The Apostle John wrote this letter to combat and refute a burgeoning form of false doctrine known as Gnosticism that was likely proliferating toward the end of the first century through the province of Asia Minor and troubling the churches there (Revelation 1:11). The proponents of this heresy taught, among other untruths, that physical matter was evil and that higher, illuminating knowledge (gnosis) was required for salvation. They taught (and John refuted) that, since matter was inherently evil, God could not truly have come in the fleshly body of the man Jesus (1 John 4:2-3), and therefore He could not have died either (1 John 5:5-6). They also insisted (and John refuted) that, since a fleshly body is intrinsically evil, no amount of gross immorality could make a person’s spiritual situation any worse (1 John 3:10). They taught this new doctrine of spiritual elevation through special enlightenment, but John assured his brethren in Christ that they already knew the truth (1 John 2:21); that God’s commandments are immutable (1 John 2:3-7); and that they could know they had eternal life by no other means than through faith in Christ Jesus (1 John 5:13).

Over and over again in this remarkable epistle, John assured his brethren that they were the ones who were truly in the “know,” and that the heretics among them were “liars” (1 John 2:4, 22; 4:20) and “false prophets” (1 John 4:1) whose error required testing against the Apostles’ truth to prove they were not from God. The bizarre Gnostic coupling of superior knowledge with the practice of base licentiousness was shot down by John in numerous ways. He shows us that if one is truly in possession of a superior, spiritual knowledge that places Him in close communion with God, it will be clearly manifested through the godly way in which that person lives his life (1 John 1:5-6, 2:3, 10; 3:7-10, 14, 24, etc.).

Really looking forward to studying these epistles with you!

Please read 1 John 1:1-4 for tomorrow.

Have a super day!

-Louie Taylor

Second Peter 3:17-18

Friday, October 06, 2017

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

We have had enough inspired warnings to know “beforehand” that people are going to pervert and distort the Scriptures, and we must be on our “guard” against their untruthful teaching. Religious “error” is rife in the world today and Peter was not afraid to call it what it is. It matters what we believe, what we teach, and how we worship, and in fact, these have eternal implications. One doctrine or one church is not just as good as another, and all deviations from the Gospel do not stand up to the test of truth (1 John 4:1).

If we are not very careful and fail to lay a firm scriptural foundation, we can easily get “carried away” by false teaching that appeals to our pride or pleasure. The only effective defense against falling from our “own steadfastness” is, in a word: KNOWLEDGE! If we are slack or stagnant in our Bible study we will not “grow in the…knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (verse 18), and we will be swept away in a flood of religious error and consumed. The “untaught” (verse 16) are the most likely to be “carried away by the error of unprincipled men.” God’s people are destroyed when knowledge is lacking (Hosea 4:6). 

When we grow our knowledge of God’s word the Lord increases the “grace” (favor, goodness) that He bestows on us. We will be blessed a thousand times over for the great effort we put into a lifelong pursuit of diligent Bible study. If eternal salvation wasn’t enough motivation to keep us committed to the enduring word of God (and it should be), all the spiritual blessings we reap should be more than ample reason to keep us active, attentive and ardently devoted. “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.” (1 Peter 2:1-3)

To Christ “be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.” Christ deserves all the glory of deity because He was God manifested in the flesh. Jesus said that all should “honor the Son even as they honor the Father” (John 5:23), and the Apostle Peter took that imperative very seriously (1 Peter 1:3; 2 Peter 1:1). The Creator of the Universe descended to this earth, humbly took on the form of a human being, lived perfectly, died painfully, arose triumphantly and ascended royally to save us from our sins, reign over us as King and provide us a home in heaven. How could we not desire to live our lives to glorify Him?!

Lord willing we will have a short introduction to the epistle of First John for tomorrow.

Have a glorious day!

-Louie Taylor

Second Peter 3:14-16

Thursday, October 05, 2017

“Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction..”

--- End of Scripture verses---

Since we patiently await the Lord’s return and eagerly anticipate our heavenly abode, we are to be “spotless and blameless” (verse 14) in our short-term earthly pilgrimage. Peter said previously that we have been redeemed, “with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19). In light of the Lord’s selfless sacrifice and impending reappearance, we should live our lives after His godly example. We are to be “diligent” in our pursuit of peace and righteous living. The way we treat others and the manner in which we conduct our lives have a direct effect on how we will be judged.

In verse 15 Peter may have indicated the many references that the Apostle Paul made to the Lord’s Return in his letters, or he may have had passages like Romans 2:4 and Romans 9:22-23 in mind which specifically refer to “the patience of our Lord as salvation.” God’s longsuffering extends time and opportunities for more people to hear the Gospel’s call and turn from sins that earn the Lord’s hostility. Every minute of our life is an undeserved gift and precious opportunity to create a closer walk with God. Conversely, every minute spent apart from the Lord and His saving grace is precious time wasted that cannot be recaptured. 

Peter and Paul were not bitter rivals but “beloved brothers,” and they did not teach different doctrines as some religious groups teach today. They were completely on the same page in teaching the inspired “doctrine of Christ” (2 John 1:9), and earnestly contending for the one-and-only faith, once for all times handed down to the saints (Jude 1:3). False teachers were distorting Paul’s teaching just as they were Peter’s and “also the rest of the Scriptures” (verse 16). When you misinterpret God’s word, take it out of context or pervert it in any way, you do so to your “own destruction”. Ignorance of God’s word will not be a good excuse on the Day of Judgment. The ignorant and “untaught” are just as guilty as the “unstable” and blatantly ungodly. 

Do not build your spiritual foundation on the things in Scripture that are “hard to understand,” or you may very well be building a house of cards. Rather, let the clear and simple truths of God’s word be your bedrock, and develop your understanding of the more difficult and challenging passages through prism of the unequivocal, simple, black and white truth. Many Bible students make the mistake of going to highly figurative and exhilarating books like Revelation to build the framework of their understanding of God’s word, and then force the bulk of the Bible’s teaching into their preconceived and twisted frame of reference. This backward and perverted approach to Bible interpretation will only produce a deformed and fruitless faith. 

But why has God allow “some things” that are “hard to understand” into the Holy Scriptures. Wouldn’t it have been better for Him to have made everything crystal clear and easy-peasy? Friend, God wants you to be a serious student of His precious word! He didn’t give us all milk to drink because that would be spiritually unhealthy for us. He gave us some solid food as well to help develop and strengthen our spiritual muscles (Hebrews 5:14)! The Holy Spirit has inspired the books of the Bible in such a way that the basics of salvation can be easily understood, but also that a stronger and more meaningful faith can be acquired by sinking your teeth deeper into the word. Don’t be a surface-skimmer but a deep-diver! 

Please read 2 Peter 3:17-18 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

Second Peter 3:10-13

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

When the Lord Jesus returns He will do so just “like a thief” (verse 10). No, He will not come to rob us or steal what belongs to us, but to judge us and reclaim that which is His own. A thief gives no prior notice to his targets when he intends to break in and do his dirty work. In the same way, Jesus will return without prior notice, at a time when it is least expected, to execute righteous judgment upon the earth. The only good defense against a thief is to be prepared at all times, and that only way to avoid the “intense heat” of Final Judgment is to always be ready for the Lord’s Coming (Matthew 24:43; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; Revelation 16:15). 

When Jesus comes back, it will not be to set up an earthly kingdom, but to burn up “the earth and its works,” along with all “the elements” that this physical plane consists of. Variations exist in the manuscripts from which this text can be translated. Some of the ancient copies read that the earth will be “burned up,” and others allow for the idea of the earth being “discovered” or “revealed”. The ESV translators chose to present Peter’s words in verse 10 as “the earth will be exposed” in favor of the “earthly kingdom” viewpoint. But it is obvious from the context that, when “the heavens” are “destroyed by burning, and the elements” are melted by intense heat (verse 12), the earth will not be crystallized but incinerated!

According to the promises of God, “we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (verse 13). Peter borrowed this statement from Isaiah 65:17 where the prophet foretold of the restoration of the Jews and the rebuilding of Israel, so even from its original context this language is figurative in nature. That Jesus is not going to establish a future, physical kingdom on a refurbished, material earth is evident for various reasons. Christ’s kingdom is spiritual not physical (Luke 17:21; Romans 14:17). Christ established His kingdom when He died, arose and ascended to His throne in heaven (Daniel 7:13-14; Acts 2:30-36). Christ’s kingdom is His church (Matthew 16:18-19; Colossians 1:13; Revelation 1:6, 9). Heaven is the eternal dwelling place of God’s faithful followers (John 14:1-3; 2 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Peter 1:4). The “new heavens and new earth” represent the everlasting habitation that God has prepared for His elect.

Peter does not tell us about the obliteration of the present, physical universe to prompt us to speculate about what exactly will take place and the precise timing of that spectacular grand finale. He does so to motivate us to godly and righteous living in preparation for our Judge’s return and the gathering of His people home. “What sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (verse 11)! God’s grace, goodness and justice call us to be holy as He is holy (l Peter 1:16). And even though God, through His patience, has delayed His Final Judgment until this point in time, our desire should be for the “hastening” of “the coming of the day of God.” We should keep the prospect of the Lord’s Return ever present in our thoughts as a constant reminder of what kind of people God expects us to be!

Please read 2 Peter 3:14-16 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

Second Peter 3:8-9

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

“But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

Jesus had promised that He would return for His disciples and receive them unto Himself (John 14:1-3). The angels who were present at the Lord’s ascension had assured His Apostles that He would descend in the same manner in which they had watched Him ascend into heaven (Acts 1:11). The Apostles of Christ taught under inspiration the Lord’s imminent return, and they did so with all earnestness and conviction (Hebrews 10:25; 1 Peter 4:7). None of the inspired writers of the Bible predicted the timing of Christ’s Second Coming, but we are strongly encouraged by God’s word to always be ready for that day, and to live our lives as if it could happen at any moment because we “do not know the day” our “Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42) . “The Judge is standing right at the door” (James 5:9), and He will walk through it at the exact moment that best suits His purposes.

In all truthfulness, it has been a very long time since the first promise of the Lord’s Second Appearing, and it is understandable why some people have become skeptical. But please “do not let this one fact escape your notice” (verse 8): our eternal Creator is not bound by the time constraints of His finite creation. The one Psalm accredited to Moses reads, “For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4). With God there is little difference between a 24 hour day and the span of a millennium because Yahweh dwells in the realm of eternity. The end is coming at the time of the Lord’s choosing. It will be God’s perfect timing that will put an end to time and usher us into timeless infinity. That time always has been and always will be “at hand”.

Friend, it is the love of God that keeps the earth spinning on its axis. God doesn’t want to see anyone languish in Hell for eternity, “but is patient” granting time “for all to come to repentance” (verse 9). The Lord “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). But please do not consider the Lord’s slowness as untruthfulness or negligence, or mistake His patience as tolerance of our evil ways. Just like in the days of Noah, His long-suffering and forbearance with the sinfulness and wickedness of mankind will reach its end, and He will judge, condemn and destroy the world. And this time it will be permanently and completely with fire and not temporarily and limitedly with water (verses 6-7). Please honestly evaluate your current spiritual condition and position with God. Make your life right with the Lord before He returns because His coming will be sudden.

Please read 2 Peter 3:10-13 for tomorrow.

Come Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)

Second Peter 3:3-7

Monday, October 02, 2017

“Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’ For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

We are living in “the last days” just as Peter and the recipients of his letters were nearly 2000 years ago (Hebrews 1:1-2). And, just like in the days of the Apostles, there were cynics and skeptics scorning the prospect of the Lord Jesus returning to judge the world. Even at such an early date so shortly removed from the Lord’s Ascension, people were essentially saying that if Jesus was truly going to return He would have done so by now.

The false teachers spewed their cynicism as they went about planting the seeds of doubt within the hearts of Christ’s disciples. They followed in the footsteps of their spiritual father, Satan, as they carried on the work of the father of lies (John 8:44). Just as the old serpent told Adam and Eve that they would not die as God had told them they would for eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:4), so the heretics taught that God was lying to them about the Final Judgment. Notice also that the driving force behind their contempt for the truth was their own, fleshly “lusts” (verse 3). At the heart of rebellion against God and His restraining yet liberating truth is the desire to cast off all authority and moral restriction, and do just as the wicked heart pleases (Jeremiah 17:9).

Friend, please do not let it escape your notice that when God makes a “promise” (verse 4), His word is a certified guarantee. The fact that the Lord “long ago” spoke the heavens and the earth into existence from nothing is divine testimony that He will reduce them to nothing by the same “word of God” (verse 5). God promised that He would punish the wickedness of mankind by destroying the earth with the water from which He formed it, and He did just that (Genesis 6:5-7, 11-12, 17). The Lord promised that He would spare righteous Noah and his family and repopulate the earth, and He made good on His word (Genesis 6:13-14; 9:1-2). Our Great Provider vowed to send a Savior into the world to redeem mankind from the slavery and destruction of sin (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 42:1-7), and He mercifully fulfilled His promise. Our faithful Lord has also promised to judge the world and punish the unbelieving and disobedient with an all-consuming fire (verse 7) through the very same righteous instrument of His salvation (Acts 17:31). Mark His word. It will be done.

Jesus is coming soon. Morning or night or noon. Many will meet their doom. Trumpets will sound.

Just make certain that you are not numbered among the “ungodly men” who doubt, mock and scoff.

God has made provision through obedience to His Son for you to escape the “destruction” of “the day of judgement”.

Please read 2 Peter 3:8-9 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

Second Peter 3:1-2

Sunday, October 01, 2017

“This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

Peter assured his readers that he was not bringing them any new revelations or novel ideas as he conveyed to them the words of truth. Like the first letter that he had previously written them, this one was also for the purpose of “stirring up” their minds “by way of reminder” (verse 1). One of his main purposes for writing this epistle was to discredit the false teachers who were deceiving them with “destructive heresies” (2 Peter 2:1). They didn’t need anything new to make them complete because they, like us, had been given “everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us” (2 Peter 1:2).

Friends, there will be no new messages emanating from the mind of God (2 Peter 1:12). Our “beloved brother,” the Apostle Paul (verse 15) had previously written that anyone teaching a different gospel than what the Lord’s true ambassadors had originally delivered would be accursed of God (Galatians 1:8-9), just like the “accursed children” (2 Peter 2:14) who had been troubling the Lord’s people already in the middle of the first century. Any time someone comes to you personally or into your assembly bringing anything but the pure, original doctrine of Jesus Christ, He does not have God’s endorsement (2 John 1:9). Reject his heresy and stick with the basics of “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).

The Apostles of Jesus are “your apostles” (verse 2). Jesus hand-selected them, personally trained them and empowered them by the Holy Spirit to teach His words and guide them “into all the truth” for your spiritual benefit (John 16:12-15). The Apostles were not in it for their own personal enrichment. Everything they did was to help and save and edify us in the faith of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:13-15; 11:28; Philippians 2:17). Take their devotion and teaching very personally. God had you in mind when He sent His Son into the world to be a sacrifice for sin, and when He sent His ambassadors into the world to teach “the way of truth” (2 Peter 2:2).

All that we can and must put our trust in, and everything that we are going to be judged by are “the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles” (verse 2). In short, this comprises all the books of the Old and New Testaments. Friends, the Bible is all that you need to teach you how to be everything that God wants you to be and how to be pleasing in His sight (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Old Testament is still relevant today because it encourages us and instills hope within us (Romans 15:4), and teaches us about God’s characteristics and what He expects of His people, even though we are not bound by its various laws and ordinances (Galatians 3:10-14; Hebrews 8:13). And we are bound by every commandment that Jesus spoke and authorized His holy Apostles and prophets to speak and write in the pages if the New Testament (Matthew 28:19-20; Hebrews 1:1-2).

Accept nothing but the authorized original. When in doubt, return to the legitimate source of all truth!

Please read 2 Peter 3:3-7 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

- Louie Taylor

Second Peter 2:20-22

Saturday, September 30, 2017

“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, ‘A dog returns to its own vomit,’ and, ‘A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.’”

--- End of Scripture verses---

There are people out there who have “barely escaped from the ones who live in error” (verse 19). Some of our brethren in Christ are exposed to pressures that most of us are not plagued by, and many babes in Christ have established little separation between themselves and the world from which they recently emerged, and that makes them especially spiritually vulnerable. These are prime targets for purveyors of false preaching to prey upon. Once they have “escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge or the Lord and Savior” (verse 20), they are especially susceptible to be “entangled” in those old spiritual snares they are still accustomed to.

The word translated “defilements” is the Greek word “miasma” which signifies “pollution” or “foulness”. Our English word “miasma” means “a highly unpleasant or unhealthy smell, vapor or atmosphere.” When someone hears the Gospel, is pierced to the heart by the guilt of their transgressions and obeys God’s commands for salvation, the Lord lifts him up out of the muck and mire of sin and cleanses and purifies him. But friend, the Apostle Peter makes it clear that we can be sucked back into the foulness and contamination of sinfulness and separation from God, and be just as lost as we were before coming to Christ.

In fact, Peter paints an even uglier picture than merely being lost again. He says that “the last state” becomes “worse…than the first” for the one who finds the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46), and tastes “of the heavenly gift” (Hebrews 6:4), and “the powers of the age to come” (Hebrews 6:5), and then casts heaven’s best aside for the foulness and cheapness and vileness of the world. It is better to not know “the way of righteousness” at all (verse 21) than to learn of the excellence and pricelessness of Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:8), and then to trample the Savior of the world underfoot (Hebrews 10:29). That not only produces a deeper darkness and hopelessness and a greater hardness of heart for life on earth, but also requires a painful answer on Judgment Day for all the wasted opportunities and broken vows that had previously been made to the Lord.

If all this wasn’t a vivid enough depiction of the horrid nature of abandoning the Lord and forfeiting salvation, the apostle uses two disgusting illustrations to really drive his point home in verse 22. When a sanctified child of God returns to the filth and sludge of the world, it is like a dog throwing up its food and then eating it again (Proverbs 26:11). Friends, that’s just gross, gross, gross! It is like a washed pig rolling around in its own filth and excrement! In case you haven’t gotten the thrust of the Holy Spirit’s message yet, sin is a huge, vile, disgusting, ugly thing to God! Allow the Lord to cleanse you with the holy word that has been “handed on to” you and never, ever, ever go back to the sewage of the world!

Please read 2 Peter 3:1-2 for tomorrow.

May the Lord bless and keep you!

Second Peter 2:17-19

Friday, September 29, 2017

“These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

False teachers are like “springs without water and mists driven by a storm” (verse 17): they promise what they cannot deliver. To people who live in arid climates where drinking water is often scarce, these figures of speech would be very emotionally impactful. Imagine hiking through the woods at the end of a hot summer day with an empty canteen, a parched throat and an exhausted body. All of a sudden you see a column of trees outlining the fringe of a creek in the distance, and you sprint expectantly over to it only to discover that all the water has long since dried up. Can you feel the sense of disappointment, dejection and dread creep over you because of your hopeless predicament? False teachers and the error that they propagate are like that. They promise spiritual refreshment but only produce dehydration and desiccation. Like the sinful angels who have been committed “to pits of darkness” (verse 4), these are destined for the eternal torment of the “black darkness” of Hell.

This is a stern warning for us to not be fooled by fancy facades and first impressions. A spring looks inviting until you find it is all dried up, and a misty rain looks promising until it is “driven” away by a strong wind. A fancy suit, a winning smile and a booming voice have been known to mask more than a few “ravenous wolves” (Acts 20:29-30). These are the kind of men (or women) that appeal to our “fleshly desires” and “sensuality” (verse 18) by “promising” us “freedom” from the moral restraints that God has placed upon us in His word for our own safety and sanctification. They may try to convince you that God is more interested in your happiness than your holiness, and that you should be true to yourself rather than your commitments. When a preacher speaks persuasive words that appeal to your fleshly desires, he is promising you the freedom to pursue the course that makes you feel good, but slavery will always be the end result.

“By what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved” (verse 19). Friend, the sins that you refuse to fight against and turn away from will ultimately overpower and enslave you. This is true for the horrible addictions that can ravage our bodies, deteriorate our minds and ruin our relationships, but all sin is, by nature, enslaving (Romans 6:16-23). Once we have transgressed God’s law, the only way we can be freed from sin’s grip and bondage is to obey from the heart that form of doctrine that God has committed to us through His word. Then we are conveyed to the benevolent slavery that only a loving God can offer. We are only presented with two choices. We can choose to be servants of sin or servants of righteousness. Servants of God or servants of Satan. That choice is entered into through belief in Christ, repentance of sin, and submission to the command to be baptized for forgiveness and salvation (Romans 6:1-7).

Please read 2 Peter 2:20-22 for tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!

Second Peter 2:10-16

Thursday, September 28, 2017

“Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet..”

--- End of Scripture verses---

Peter turns up the heat considerably on the false teachers that wreak havoc on the church of Christ with an all-out scathing rebuke of their character and practices in today’s verses. These “creatures of instinct” are driven by lust and animal impulse, and there is no point in trying to reason with such debased beasts (verse 12). “Self-willed” people (verse 10), who perceive no greater authority than the man in the mirror, become so headstrong and “unreasoning” that all you can do is confront them directly and forcefully, and expose them for who they are. Peter didn’t reveal the details of their heretical teachings and he really didn’t need to. One fallacy is usually just as bad as another, and there will always be some old or new deviation from the truth that will threaten the Lord’s church. We must equip ourselves with knowledge and logical argumentation and be ever-ready to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 1:3). But, a shameless, unreasonable, factious man must be summarily exposed, discredited and dismissed (Titus 3:10-11).

The apostle exposes the motivations for why these vile predators do what they do in verse 14: the desire for sexual gratification and the love of money. This should come as no surprise to any of us as most of the scandals in the world of religion, business and sports today boil down to the same two lusts of the flesh. People who have “eyes full of adultery” and “a heart trained in greed” are “accursed children” who will never be satisfied with any or all of their carnal conquests. If they are honest, any pornography addict or workaholic will tell you that their addictive pursuits only leave them miserable and yearning for more of what can never possibly provide fulfilment for their souls. The nature of sin is that we will always suffer “wrong as the wages of doing wrong” (verse 13). We sometimes deceive ourselves into thinking that we can do wrong and harmful things with impunity, but sin is a self-destructive activity that will chip away at us bit by bit and eventually leave us broken.

There is every reason to believe that Peter is writing about people who had obeyed the Gospel with good and honest hearts, but then forsook “the right way” having been led “astray” by their own lust and greed (verse 15). He sets the prophet Balaam up as an archetype of the kind people who would use religion for their own, personal enrichment. Balak, the king of Moab, requested that Balaam place a curse upon Israel because he feared them greatly and wanted them defeated and their advancement thwarted (Numbers 22:1-6). Balaam rightly refused to curse God’s people because they were under His protection (Numbers 22:7-14), but Balak knew that every man has his price. Balaak promised the prophet great honor and wealth if he would only do his bidding (Numbers 22:17-21). The Lord allowed Balaam to go and talk with the king, but he was told to only bless Israel and not curse them. On his journey to Moab God threatened Balaam and empowered his “mute donkey” to talk reason to him and “restrain the madness of the prophet” (verse 16) because He knew that greed was in his heart (Numbers 22:22-41).

While Balaam refused to curse Israel and only prophesy God’s revelation to the Moabite king (Numbers 23-24), he still looked for and found an “angle” to side-step God’s will and entice Israel into cursing themselves. Balaam advised king Balak to use his women to seduce God’s people and draw them into the idolatrous practices of the Moabite people, thereby inducing divine wrath upon them (Numbers 25:1-8; 31:16). As a result, 24,000 Israelites were struck dead with a plague (Numbers 25:9), and Balaam was ultimately slain for his wicked heart and deeds (Joshua 13:22). Please heed the warning friends. Lust and greed can sink their teeth into us so deeply that, even though God should speak to us and chastise us directly, we will speed right through the stop sign and rush headlong into our own peril and destruction!

Please read 2 Peter 2:17-19 for tomorrow.

Have a fantastic day!

-Louie Taylor

Second Peter 2:4-10

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment: and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

God’s “judgment…is not idle” against false teachers, and their “destruction is not asleep” (verse 3). The same God who judged and condemned gross immorality “long ago” will most assuredly convict those who corrupt His perfect word and despise His righteous authority in the latter days. Peter cited three examples of God’s intolerance of abject wickedness and His austere treatment of it, two of which are clearly portrayed in the book of Genesis.

God did not tolerate the “angels when they sinned” but hurled them into hell (“Tartarus”) where they await His Final Judgment (verse 4). There has been much speculation made as to when, why and how this happened, but the Bible does not specify the details. It is obvious that angels have a free will and some elected to sin against the Lord in some way. Jude, the Lord’s brother, tells us they “did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode” (Jude 1:6). Many Bible students tie this statement in with what is said in Genesis 6:2, but that kind of speculation is inconclusive at best.

“God did not spare the ancient world…when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly” (verse 5), and He reduced “the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah…to ashes” because of their ungodliness (verse 6). In Noah’s day “the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and…every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Peter doesn’t specify the hideous nature of the sinfulness of Lot’s contemporaries, but Jude makes it clear that it involved homosexuality: “Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7).

God destroyed “the ancient world” with “a flood” and Sodom and Gomorrah with “fire and brimstone” (Genesis 19:24), and the destruction of “the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire” (2 Peter 37), “in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). God did not ignore the world’s sinfulness in the past and He is not turning a blind eye to it now. He is withholding final destruction because He desires all to repent (2 Peter 3:9), but sooner or later the world’s wickedness reach its fullness and be ripe for obliteration.

But please do not miss the words of hope and good news that are saturated within this passage of doom and despair. “The Lord knows how to” and most certainly will “rescue the godly from temptation” and the punishment that awaits the “unrighteous” who “despise” is holy “authority” (verses 9-10). God “preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness,” and “He rescued righteous Lot,” and He will deliver you too if you have righteous, obedient faith as they did. These men were obviously not perfect but they committed and entrusted their lives to the Lord. We should also be preaching righteousness to the lost as Noah did, and have our souls “tormented” by the “lawless deeds” of the corrupted culture in which we live. We simply cannot allow ourselves to be desensitized to sinfulness and blend in with the sinful world around us! God did not tolerate unrighteousness in the past and He will not tolerate it from us either!

Please read 2 Peter 2:10-16 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Second Peter 2:1-3

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

Since “false prophets…arose among the people” of Israel under God’s prior covenant, it should come as no surprise that “false teachers” also walk among the Lord’s people during this final dispensation of time (verse 1). God’s covenant has changed, but human nature has not. As long as this world continues to be populated with human beings, there will be predators looking to exploit people for personal gain; and, unfortunately, God-fearing people are sometimes an easy target. Most of us are kind-hearted souls who try to think the best of all people and give them the benefit of the doubt, and we look for ways to help people in any way that we can. 

It is very important for God’s people to be as “innocent as doves” but also as “shrewd as serpents” (Matthew 10:16). We cannot afford to be foolish enough to tolerate people who “introduce destructive heresies” within our lives or assemblies. “Heresies” are departures from the truth that cause strife and divisions among brothers and sisters in Christ, and cause great harm in the body of Christ. Notice that the preferred method of introducing false doctrine is “secretly”. These wolves might do this by smooth-talking one unsuspecting sheep at a time outside the watchful eyes of the shepherds of the flock. 

The type of predators that Peter refers to as “false teachers” are motivated by “greed” (verse 3), and they appeal to human “sensuality,” therefore I hesitate to place this label on everyone who teaches something false. It seems obvious that motive matters with these “brute beasts” (verse 12 – KJV) who bring “destructive heresies” and, subsequently, reap “swift destruction upon themselves.” But, make no mistake about it; anyone who teaches or embraces false doctrine can cause just as much damage, and will be just as lost and suffer the same fate of eternal destruction as these “creatures of instinct” no matter how sincere they are.

“In their greed they will exploit you with false words” (verse 3). There are a slew of false teachers who make a financial killing off of deceiving the masses by doing nothing more than telling them soothing words that they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3-4). It is not hard to part a fool from his money when you promise him the moral freedom to do whatever is required to make him “happy,” and dispense the soft soap in such a way that is smooth and exciting. If someone is making tens of millions of dollars from teaching about Jesus, chances are they are not teaching the truth. In fact, they are actually “denying the Master who bought them” by perverting His message, devaluing His blood and fleecing His lost sheep. 

“Their judgment…is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” It may appear that the Lord has turned a blind eye to these false teachers and their exploitation, but He has not. God has been reserving eternal condemnation from “long ago,” and their destruction will be “swift” and abrupt and inescapable. Friend, please make certain that you are not swept away by their deception because you will surely share in their punishment. 

Please read 2 Peter 2:4-10 for tomorrow. 

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Second Peter 1:16-21

Monday, September 25, 2017

“For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased’ — and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

--- End of Scripture verses---

Some people had been mocking the suggestion that Jesus was really going to return to judge the world and reclaim His own, as the claim is still mocked and ridiculed today (2 Peter 3:3-4). Peter’s eye-witness of the glorified Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration was all the evidence he needed to confidently proclaim that Christ will unquestionably return in glory at the end of the age. Peter had also personally witnessed the Lord’s omnipotent “power" as He healed the sick, lame and afflicted, and raised the dead, so He knew that His future “coming” was as good as done (verse 16).

Peter, James and John “did not follow cleverly devised tales when” they testified of Jesus’ power and glory (Matthew 17:1-8). Most of the religions of the ancient East were loaded with myths and fables, but the testimony of Jesus Christ was the factual, verifiable, historical account of a real-life man who was much more than merely a man. Peter’s evidence of the reality of Jesus’ present “power” and future “coming” was threefold: 1) He had seen the glorified Lord on the “holy mountain”. 2) He had not been alone in his witness and testimony as is affirmed by his use of the word “we”. 3) He had heard the voice of “the Majestic Glory” from heaven testify that Jesus was the “beloved Son” of God (verse 17). BTW—can there be any doubt that Jesus was God manifested in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16)?!

When we read the words of the Apostles and the other inspired writers of the New Testament we must “pay” very close “attention” (verse 19), because we are actually reading the revealed truth, commandments and will of God (1 Corinthians 2:12-13; 14:36-37; 1 Thessalonians 1:5). We can completely trust all Old Testament revelation as well because “no prophecy of Scripture…was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (verses 20-21). Jesus himself testified to the trustworthiness of the entirety of the Old Testament Scriptures when He said in Luke 24:44, “all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and Psalms must be fulfilled.” The Bible outshines all other works of literature because it stands alone as THE recorded and preserved message from The God of all Creation.

When the Lord Jesus does return as the Apostles and prophets have testified, it will be like “the morning star” arising in the hearts of all the obedient believers (verse 19). It will be the dawning of the day that ends all days, and we will dwell in the glorious light of the Son for all eternity. But, for the disbelieving and disobedient, Jesus will come like “a thief in the night” and overtake them with the unspeakable punishment of eternal loss and destruction (2 Peter 3:10). The only question that truly matters, friend, is will you be ready for that day? The only thing standing between you and an eternity in heaven is your belief in Jesus, and your obedience to His every biblical command (Matthew 28:18-20). One more vital question before we close for the day: What are you waiting for?!

Please read 2 Peter 2:1-3 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Second Peter 1:12-15

Sunday, September 24, 2017

“Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

If Peter’s brethren proved themselves to be short-sighted and forgetful, the Apostle did all that was in his power to make certain it was not because of his negligence. He was “always…ready to remind” them of “the truth” about Jesus Christ that they had been “established in” (verse 12). He was not saying that they didn’t know the truth or that they had already forgotten it because it was “present with” them. But there were false teachers peddling a perverted gospel (2 Peter 2:1), and he wanted to make certain that they could readily recognize a counterfeit from the genuine article, even long after he was dead and gone (verse 15). 

How many times have you laid your song book aside and opened your Bible in preparation for a good sermon, only to hear the minister preach on a subject you’ve heard dozens of times before? If that happens frequently then you are a truly blessed disciple and your preacher takes his job very seriously. He is only following the example of an inspired apostle of Jesus Christ by stirring “you up by way of reminder” (verse 13). He is endeavoring to reignite the flames of your faith by carrying you back to your spiritual roots and the story of your spiritual heritage, and remind you of the reasons you obeyed the Gospel in the first place. 

Peter had reminded his brethren in his first letter that they were only “strangers and pilgrims” (1 Peter 2:11) upon the earth, and now he informs them that “the laying aside of his” own earthly tent was imminent (verse 14). This may have been a reference to what Jesus told him in John 21:18-19 or some other revelation that the Lord had given him, but either way, Peter was keenly aware that his earthly body was only a temporary dwelling place for his spirit. The best he could do with the remainder of his earthly pilgrimage was spend it teaching and reteaching people what they needed to do to gain their entrance into the everlasting kingdom of the Lord in heaven (verse 11). 

Please read 2 Peter 1:16-21 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

-Louie Taylor

Second Peter 1:8-11

Saturday, September 23, 2017

“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

Peter encouraged us to apply all diligence in adding moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love to our faith (verses 6-7). The reason we must diligently pursue the supplementation of our faith is because these things are not friendly suggestions but absolute imperatives. These qualities must be acquired and “increasing” if we desire to be useful and fruitful “in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 8).

In verse 9 Peter illustrates in three figures what it is like for Christians to fail to pursue a path of spiritual growth. Disciples who lack these qualities are either “blind” or “short-sighted,” and they are forgetful about their former purification. I am a “short-sighted” person who can see things well when they are right in front of my face, but far away objects look fuzzy without my glasses. Applied in the spiritual realm, the short-sighted might be the kind of people who can only focus on the here and now, or only the things that are going on right around them. They easily lose sight of their spiritual commitment of the past, and have trouble maintaining a clear focus on the future consequences of their thoughts, words and actions. They get all caught up in the activity or thrill or stress of the moment and lose sight of what God consistently expects of them.

“Blind” people are those who are not perceptive of the spiritual realities which cannot be seen with the naked eye (2 Corinthians 4:4). It is possible for a person’s mind to be enlightened by the word and get a good taste of the future glories of heaven, and then go blind to the light of the truth (Hebrews 6:4-6). Whether it is blindness or short-sightedness, in either case, when person puts the Lord on in baptism and then drifts away by refusing to pursue a course of continuous spiritual improvement, he has “forgotten his purification” and the commitment he made to the Lord, and he becomes “useless” and “unfruitful”. Lord willing, we will see in tomorrow’s reading that we all can be forgetful hearers, therefore God knows that we all need frequent reminders (verses 12-13).

“Therefore,” since we can go blind, loose sight, atrophy spiritually, become useless, become unfruitful, and “stumble,” we must “be all the more diligent” (verse 10) to make our “calling and election sure” (KJV). Friends, do these verses not make it perfectly clear that the way we live our lives has a bearing on our eternal salvation? We must frequently examine our lives under the microscope of the word by which we were called (2 Thessalonians 2:14) to “make certain” that we are living in accordance with God’s calling. If we are not, there are only two possibilities: we either make the necessary corrections and live, or we continue on our course of destruction and perish.

As long as we “practice these things,” as long as we continue to build upon the framework of our faith, we “will never stumble.” If we do stumble and fall spiritually, we can either stay down or we can choose to get back up. Keep pushing, keep studying, keep praying. God only wants you to succeed and not fail. He has “abundantly supplied” to you “the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (verse 11). If you obey the truth and are making the effort, He will give you the victory.

Please read 2 Peter 1:12-15 for tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!

-Louie Taylor

Second Peter 1:5-7

Friday, September 22, 2017

9-22-17 – 2 Peter 1:5-7

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

“For this very reason”—because “God has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises” and allows us to “become partakers in His divine nature” (verse 4), we must continually be “applying all diligence” to the righteous supplementation of our faith. While God provides the plan and the power, there are things that we must be doing to foster growth in our faith, and this will be true for the entirety of our lives in Christ. We must continually strive for moral perfection even though we will never arrive at it while living on earth.

Having come to the Lord in obedient “faith” we are to use that as the foundation for the further building and strengthening of the makeup of our new life in Christ. To our faith we are to “supply moral excellence”. God has “called us by His own glory and excellence” (verse 3) thru the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14) so that we might share and grow in the moral goodness and virtuous perfection of our Father. To our moral excellence we are to supply a working, practical “knowledge” of God’s word. Knowledge of the truth is essential to conversion and afterward its furtherance continues to be vital for our spiritual growth, so we must study the Bible like our lives depend on it! But we can see from this list that the mere accumulation knowledge takes a backseat to faith and moral excellence. “Knowledge makes arrogant” if it is not supported by conviction and virtue (1 Corinthians 8:1).

The foundation of faith, virtue and knowledge will help us to control our sinful desires and impulses. “Self-control” (verse 6) is greatly lacking in the people of the world today and has been for the greatest part of human existence, but it can and must be exhibited by people wearing the name of Jesus the King. Armed with self-control we will have a greater ability to persevere through trials and temptations with our righteousness intact. “Perseverance” is that quality of character that will help us see our journey of faith through to its happy ending. To our perseverance we must supply “godliness” which is the disposition of heart that reverences God absolutely and endeavors to place Him and His will at the forefront of every thought and decision.

If we reverence God the way that we are supposed to then we will learn to love our brethren who have been created in His image. “Brotherly kindness” is the love and affection that brothers and sisters have for one another. The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:10-11 to “be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” Crowing this list of spiritual virtues is “the characteristic word of Christianity”—“Love”. Love is the expression of God’s attitude toward all humanity in sacrificing the life of His Son for their sins, and it is the care and concern we are to show to other people, even when they are not particularly lovable, but because their lives and souls are valuable.

How could we not adore a divinely inspired list that begins with “faith” and ends with “love”?!

Please read 2 Peter 1:8-11 for tomorrow.

Have a lovely day!

-Louie Taylor

Second Peter 1:1-4

Thursday, September 21, 2017

“Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

Peter introduced himself to his readers simultaneously as their leader and their peer. As an inspired “apostle of Jesus Christ” he had the Lord’s authority to issue commands, and as “a bond-servant” who possessed “a faith of the same kind” as theirs, he could appeal to them as a fellow servant and brother in Christ (verse 1). Peter issued some stern warnings and rebukes in this letter and he had the delegated power to be heard and heeded, but he had also shared in the same trials and spiritual struggles of all humanity and required “like, precious faith” to overcome and reign victorious.

There is a very old adage that says “knowledge is power”. This phrase is never truer than when we acquire “the knowledge of God” from His word (verse 2). God has imbued His inspired word with the power to transform lives for the better and save souls for eternity. God’s “grace and peace” are “multiplied” to us when we learn, love and obey the written word that He has perfectly preserved for us. God’s “divine power has granted to us EVERYTHING pertaining to life and godliness” (verse 3) and packed it powerfully within the pages of our Bibles (the reliable versions anyway). Through the Bible God tells us everything we need to know to be saved and acquire eternal “life,” and everything we need to know to stay saved by living righteous lives of “godliness”.

Friends, it is impossible to overemphasize the value and importance of learning God’s will for you. You will find the word “knowledge” repeated five times in the first eight verses of Peter’s second general epistle. We simply cannot trust our own feelings or hearts when it comes to matters of salvation and eternity (Jeremiah 17:9), and we cannot afford to take another man’s word for what is true and right in God’s sight (1 John 4:1). It is obvious that false teachers challenged the authority of Peter and the other Apostles, and claimed to have a special knowledge that the Lord’s true, chosen ambassadors did not possess. The Holy Spirit makes it clear that we can only trust the words of the Lord Jesus that have been revealed, recorded and preserved through the writing of His inspired prophets and Apostles (1 Corinthians 14:37; Ephesians 3:4-5; 2 Peter 1:19-21).

We can only learn of God’s “precious and magnificent promises” (verse 4) from the Bible, and it is only through believing and obeying that we can realize the fulfillment of those promises. Those promises include, but are not limited to, the grace, peace, salvation and home in heaven that God extends through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. God’s word teaches us how to “become partakers of the divine nature” by escaping “the corruption that is in the world by lust.” The lusts of our “flesh” corrupt and condemn us spiritually (Romans 6:20-23; 2 Peter 2:10; 1 John 2:15-17), so we must repent of our sins and have them washed away by Christ’s blood in the waters of baptism (Acts 2:38; 22:16), and arise to walk as God’s new, spiritual creations (Romans 6:4). The more we resist our lusts the more we become like our Holy Father in heaven, and ultimately we will share in His glorious nature for eternity if we remain faithful until death (1 John 3:2).

Please read 2 Peter 1:5-11 for tomorrow.

May we all glorify God with our lives this blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Introduction To Second Peter

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Second Peter is a different kind of letter than First Peter, presented in a different writing style, and many people have concluded that it was written by a different person. The differences in style, wording and subject matter can be explained reasonably, however, without insisting that Peter was not the author of one of the two New Testament letters that bear his name. Peter just had a different focus, chose more illustrative wording, and had a greater sense of urgency in getting his message across to his readers as he neared the end of his life (2 Peter 1:14). He may also have used a different “scribe” or “amanuensis” than Silvanus (1 Peter 5:12) in his second letter which could account for some differences.

In his first letter Peter emphasized the hope to be brought about at Christ’s return to his brethren who were experiencing external persecution for their faith. In Second Peter he warns about the dangers of “false prophets” that would arise from “among” them (2 Peter 2:1). He still stresses the importance of the Lord’s Second Coming but more to explain why He had delayed His return that many thought should have occurred more immediately (2 Peter 3:8-9). It is actually the Lord’s mercy and longsuffering that has prevented Him from returning and destroying the world, so we must strive to live in faithful tolerance of persecution that comes from without, but strive mightily against false doctrine that threatens to contaminate the community of faith from within.

The second general epistle ascribed to the Apostle Peter has been the subject of more suspicion and speculation possibly than any other New Testament book. Scholars are divided as to the date of its writing and the intended recipients, and there is even evidence to suggest that it may have actually been written before First Peter for an entirely different target audience. Laying all the uncertainties aside that really have no bearing on the value and importance of the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, I see no reason to doubt that “Simon Peter” was the legitimate author of this work. He distinguishes himself by this name in 2 Peter 1:1, and identifies himself as being “an eyewitness of” the Lord’s “majesty” having been one of the blessed few to accompany Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (2 Peter 1:16-18).

I am really looking forward to studying this important piece of inspired literature with you!

Please read 2 Peter 1:1-4 for tomorrow.

Hope your day is blessed one!

-Louie Taylor

First Peter 5:12-14

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

“Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it! She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ.”

---End of Scripture verses---

It was actually the Apostle Paul’s frequent travelling companion, Silas (Silvanus) that wrote this letter according to Peter’s dictation, and he may have delivered it to its original recipients as well (verse 12). Silvanus proved himself over and over again to be a dependable and “faithful brother” in Christ. It was Silas who was beaten and imprisoned with Paul in Philippi for dutifully preaching salvation in Christ Jesus. “But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25). This is the type of brother anyone would want to be in the company of.

The ultimate purpose for Peter writing this letter was to “exhort” and “testify” about “the true grace of God.” It is by grace that God saves us through our obedient faith in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:8). Grace is the favor that God bestows upon His children, not because we deserve it, but because He loves us so very much and wants only the best blessings for us. But we have an important part to play in the reception and retention of God’s saving grace. We must repent of our sins and be immersed in water to enter into His grace and have our sins forgiven (Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21), and we must remain faithful to the Lord with firm conviction in the face of trials and persecution. God does not extend His grace unconditionally. God’s grace is a gift but it is incumbent upon us to “stand firm in it!”

The “she” that extended her greetings was likely a local church, and “Babylon” may well have been a reference to the city of Rome (verse 13). The Apostle John referred to the capital city when he wrote, “And on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, ‘BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH’” (Revelation 17:5). The word “Babylon” is synonymous with sin, corruption and “abominations,” and let’s face it—that’s where we live now! But God’s people remained faithful to Him under the most oppressive governments and debased cultures of the past, and we can live virtuous lives of conviction in this day and age as well.

Peter closed by extending “love” and “peace” to “all who are in Christ” (verse 14). Brothers and sisters in Christ should love one another and it should be obvious. A “kiss” is not a command but there are other ways that we can show our appreciation and affection for our spiritual family members. Let’s look for appropriate ways to do that.

Lord willing we will have a brief introduction to the Second Epistle of Peter tomorrow.

Peace be to you all who are in Christ! 
If you are not in Christ, what are you waiting for?! 
That’s where all of God’s peace and grace reside!

-Louie Taylor

First Peter 5:8-11

Monday, September 18, 2017

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

---End of Scripture verses---

Peter wrote this letter to Christians who were suffering loss and pain at the hands of worldly people. But the apostle makes it perfectly clear at the end of his first epistle that it is “the devil” (verse 8) who is ultimately behind all the persecution, temptation and suffering that exists in the world. Satan is mankind’s greatest “adversary”. He means only to do us great harm and his desire is that we cave in to the pressures of persecution and temptation and suffer the eternal punishment of Hell alongside of him.

The devil (slanderer) is depicted as a cunning and crafty deceiver (2 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 6:11); a great, red beast of a dragon (Revelation 12:3); and here he is described as a “roaring lion” prowling around “seeking to devour” his prey. Our adversary is very powerful but his strength is no match for that of “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5). If we steadfastly “resist him, firm in” our “faith” (verse 9) he will flee from us (James 4:7), and the Lord will ultimately “crush him under” our “feet” (Romans 16:19).

Life is not all gloom and doom but it isn’t all fun and games either. Life is a serious undertaking, faith in Christ Jesus is demanding, and it takes great effort to put up a strong resistance against the temptation to sin and to abandon our Lord when we suffer for following Him. To be successful we must spend much time in prayer, Bible study, worship, and fellowship with likeminded people possessing a shared faith and common eternal goals. You have no chance to win the battle against the devil on your own. You need the strength of the Lord, His defenses and armaments, and His legion of fellow soldiers who share “the same experiences of suffering.”

We have been called to and are eagerly awaiting God’s “eternal glory in Christ” (verse 10). If we resist the devil firmly and place or faith and trust completely in the Lord and His promises, He pledges to “perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish” us as we fight the good fight of faith.

Please read 1 Peter 5:12-14 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

First Peter 5:5-7

Sunday, September 17, 2017

“You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”

---End of Scripture verses---

For elders to shepherd the flock effectively it is important for “younger men” to “be subject” to them (verse 5). Submission is not a thing that God coerces out of anyone, and it must be given willingly by Christians to leaders in a local congregation as well. It takes a healthy dose of humility to willingly surrender your will to another person in matters of judgment, and this is especially true when it comes to “younger men”. Elders must exercise oversight voluntarily with eagerness (verse 2), but it is equally important that church members voluntarily and eagerly volunteer their obedience to them according to God’s will.

As children of God and disciples of our servant Savior, all Christians should “clothe” ourselves “with humility toward one another.” The imagery is that of an outer garment tied around the waist, much like the one that Jesus removed in that upper room just before He got down on His knees and washed His disciples’ dirty feet (John 13:1-5; 12-17). To clothe ourselves with humility is to wear the mantle of Jesus who lived the entirety of His life in service to others and obedience to the will of His Father in heaven.

Humility is not merely bringing ourselves low in our own estimation but also elevating others to a place of importance and God to a place of preeminence in our minds. God is opposed to the “proud” or “arrogant” but extends His good graces to those who are humble in mind and spirit (Proverbs 3:34). The Apostle Paul encourages us to, “Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation” (Romans 12:16). It is only God’s “mighty hand” that can “exalt” us at the proper time, but that will only happen if we demote ourselves in the meantime.

As arrogance is an inhibitor to faith, so is “anxiety” (verse 7). In fact, it might appropriately be said in many cases that anxiety is the opposite or absence of faith. If we find ourselves frequently worrying about what tomorrow might bring, it is as if we are saying that we do not trust God to make good on His promises to always be with us, provide for us and take care of us. So, cast your anxieties upon Him. Give your worries over to Him. They are weighing you down and He is more than capable of shouldering those burdens for you. But you have to let them go and give them up. Fretting about something never helped anything. Worry about nothing, pray about everything, be thankful to God for all that He does for you (Philippians 4:6-7).

Please read 1 Peter 5:8-11 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

-Louie Taylor

First Peter 5:1-4

Saturday, September 16, 2017

“Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”

---End of Scripture verses---

It is the Lord’s desire and design to have elders leading the flock of a local congregation of the His sheep. It is not obvious until you look more closely at the original Greek language that this passage clearly designates elders, shepherds (pastors) and overseers (bishops) to all be different terms describing the same office. This same language is used to describe the elders at the church in Ephesus in Acts 20:17, 28.

From a purely denominational standpoint, a pastor and a preacher are synonymous terms. But from the truthful, biblical pattern revealed in the New Testament this is not the case. God authorizes multiple (at least two) elders (not the denominational single pastor system) to “rule” a local church of Christ (Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:5; Hebrews 13:17). We learn of their qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.

It helps to look closer at the imagery that these terms convey when considering who elders are and what they are called by God to do. As “elder” leaders of the church must be older men who can guide and direct with the wealth of wisdom and experience that they have accumulated over many years of faithful service to the Lord. As “shepherds” or “pastors” they are to bravely and lovingly lead, feed and guard the “sheep” that are “among” them (verse 2) in all matters of spirituality. Consider the shepherd and sheep imagery of Psalm 23:1-6; Jeremiah 3:15; 23:3-4; Ezekiel 34:11-16; John 10:11-15. As “bishops” or “overseers” they exercise the authority of “managers” over the Lord’s household.

Elders of the Lord’s church are to exercise their duties “voluntarily” and “with eagerness” and “not for sordid gain” (verse 2). The driving force behind their desire to lead is love for the sheep and not “the love of money” (1 Timothy 3:3). Having said that, it was not uncommon in the early days of the church for elders to receive compensation from the “treasury” for the difficult, demanding, time-consuming work that they devoted themselves to (1 Timothy 3:3; 5:17-18; Titus 1:7).

When a qualified man desires, accepts and is appointed to the office of elder in the Lord’s church, he assumes the position of a servant and not a “lord” himself (verse 3). Instead of “lording it over those allotted to” their charge, elders are to lead by their good “examples” of love, virtue, diligence and faithfulness. When shepherds of a local church follow the example of “the Chief Shepherd” while leading the flock, they can eagerly look forward to “the unfading crown of glory” when He returns to reclaim His own (verse 4).

Please read 1 Peter 5:5-7 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

First Peter 4:17-19

Friday, September 15, 2017

“For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”

---End of Scripture verses---

The church of Jesus Christ, which is “the household of God” (1 Timothy 3:15), has been subjected to testing by persecution since its inception. When Christians suffer for their faith in Christ, in a real sense, it is a form of “judgment” that comes upon them (verse 17). When we endure trials with patience and righteousness God judges us faithful, and when we buckle under the pressure of persecution He judges us unfaithful. But the judgment that He is reserving for the wicked and disobedient that will be dispensed at the revelation of Jesus Christ will make any earthly suffering seem like a slight scrape or bruise.

Peter quotes Proverbs 11:31 in verse 8 when he writes, “it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved.” The King James Version confuses the message with its rendering: “the righteous scarcely be saved.” Peter isn’t saying that God’s faithful servants will just squeak by on the Day of Judgment, but that they must endure difficulties while walking the road that leads to heaven. But if it the road is rough that faithful Christians must walk upon on earth, it will be exponentially worse for “the godless man and the sinner” in the after-a-while.

When we strive to fully and persistently do “the will of God,” we will suffer for it in this wicked world in which we live (verse 19). The suffering that is “according to the will of God” is the kind that we do not deserve but that we endure with purity and virtue. This passage serves as encouragement to the righteous and warning to the wicked. God’s promises never fail and His power never falters. He will safely deliver the righteous and eternally condemn the godless people who mistreat them and refuse to “obey the gospel of God.” As Jesus confidently “committed His Spirit” to His Father in heaven (Luke 23:46), we can decisively “entrust” our “souls” to our “faithful Creator,” but only if we continue in “doing what is right.”

Once again we see from a Scripture dealing with Final Judgment that the Gospel is a thing to be obeyed and not merely believed if we expect to receive a mansion in heaven (verse 17). Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 that “the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” Obey the Gospel. Do the will of God. Endure difficulty. Do what is right. Peter really drives home the importance of obedience to the word and godly living in anticipation of the Lord’s Second Coming.

Please read 1 Peter 5:1-4 for tomorrow.

May God bless and keep you.

-Louie Taylor

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