#DailyDevotion Jesus Is The True Vine (Israel) In Whom We Bear Fruit

#DailyDevotion Jesus Is The True Vine (Israel) In Whom We Bear Fruit

John 15:1–8 “I am the true Vine, and My Father takes care of the vineyard. He cuts away any branch of Mine that bears no fruit, and He trims any branch that bears fruit to make it bear more fruit. 3“What I have said to you has already made you clean. 4Stay in Me, and I will stay in you. A branch can’t bear any fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine. Neither can you if you don’t stay in Me. 5I am the Vine; you are the branches. If you stay in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone doesn’t stay in Me, he’s thrown away like a branch and dries up. Such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you stay in Me and My words stay in you, ask for anything you want, and it will be done for you. 8You glorify My Father when you bear much fruit and show yourselves to be My disciples.

When Jesus says he is the true Vine, He is identifying himself as the true Israel. It is said in Psa 80:8 “You plucked up a vine from Egypt, drove out nations, and planted it.” Matthew tells us when Jesus went into Egypt and returned as an infant he fulfilled the scripture, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Psalm 80 in one sense refers to God’s planting the people of Israel in Canaan. But what happened? The LORD said, Jer 2:21 “But when I planted you, you were a noble vine and a pure seed in every way. How then could you turn into weedy shoots of a foreign vine for Me?” Israel failed in her mission. As the LORD once told Moses he was going to wipe out the lot of them in the wilderness and start over with Moses but relents at Moses’ pleading, the LORD does start over with his son Jesus Christ of Nazareth. All of Israel’s sins are placed on him and he makes atonement for them. He then fulfills in his flesh all the Father wanted Israel to do. As Israel is baptized into Jesus they are made Israel again. As Gentiles are baptized into Christ Jesus they are made one with Israel.

Jesus calls us to abide in him. He tells us something terrifying and comforting, “My Father takes care of the vineyard. He cuts away any branch of Mine that bears no fruit, and He trims any branch that bears fruit to make it bear more fruit.” Not that bearing fruit saves us however should we not bear fruit it is because we are not abiding in Christ, in his word. So the Father trims those branches which bears no fruit because they are not abiding in Christ, in his word. On top of that, even when we bear fruit the Father prunes us. This isn’t always pleasant. Every fall a local shopping center prunes its trees down to the thickest branches. I always wonder how on earth they survive that. Every spring those same trees come to life and bear a lot of new branches. When the Father prunes us, we may feel like those trees and wonder what’s next. But at the right time we will bear fruit for the LORD.

To abide in Christ is to abide in his word. We abide in his word when we gather for Word and Sacrament. We abide in his word when we do daily devotions. Most especially though we abide in his word when we trust what we have received and were told by the word. We put that word into practice in our lives. What does that look like? We forgive those who sin against us. We are merciful to those before us who need mercy. We love our fellow Christians by taking care of them. Such things is bearing the fruit Christ produces in and through us and glorifies the Father.  We can only do such works pleasing to God when we abide in Christ, i.e. receive his word, trust it and let it have its way with us.

Heavenly Father, grant that we may always have the word of your Son Jesus Christ so we may be clean, abide in him and bear much fruit to your eternal glory. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Is God’s Love Having It’s Way With Us?

#DailyDevotion Is God’s Love Having It’s Way With Us?

1 John 4:17-21 17His love has accomplished what He wants when we can look ahead confidently to the day of judgment because we are what He is in this world. 18Such love isn’t terrified, but the finest love throws out terror. We are terrified by punishment, and if we’re terrified, our love isn’t at its best. 19We love because He first loved us. 20If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he’s a liar. If anyone doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen, he can’t love God Whom he hasn’t seen. 21And this is the order He gave us: If you love God, love your brother.

On the one hand, John’s epistle gives us great comfort in the promises about what God had done for us and his great love for us. On the other hand, his epistle at times make us doubt our faith because of the signs he gives concerning those who believe in those promises. It is hard to escape the fact that when we look into the mirror of God’s law we cannot but see our flaws and shortcomings.

Yet in this section I think and I hope you also think that you can look at verse seventeen here as something you can say, “Yes, the faith I have is reflected in this statement.” When we look to Jesus and what he has done for us on the cross, shedding his blood for us for the forgiveness of sins, I hope “we can look ahead confidently to the day of judgment because we are what He is in this world.” His love accomplishes this in us. If God so loves us he sends his son to be the atoning sacrifice for us we should be confident on the day of judgment before the throne of God. Such faith makes us children of God and people of the love, light and life of God in this world. His love cast out our fear. If we do fear punishment then our love isn’t at its best. That is to say our love isn’t coming from trusting in his love for us. We must always we casting ourselves upon the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Verses 19-21 give us pause again to look into the mirror of God’s love and law. “We love because he first loved us.” His love starts with us being unlovable, sinners and enemies of God. His love sacrifices his son Jesus for us. When faith believes this then it should be reflected back into the world as the moon reflects the sun’s rays upon the earth. So John then gives us this test. If we say we love God but hate our fellow Christian we are liars. Why is that? Because our brother, our fellow Christian is made in the image and likeness of God. You can’t see God but you can see his image in those whom he has created and saved. How you treat them is how you treat God. You can say love God whom you cannot see but the proof is in the pudding as the saying goes. Don’t deceive yourselves. How you treat others, particularly your fellow Christ is in direct proportion of how you love God and your love for God is in direct proportion as you believe how much your sins are forgiven you as Jesus told Simon the Pharisee in Luke 7, 47“That’s why I tell you her sins are forgiven, many as they are. You see, she has loved much. Of course, he to whom little is forgiven loves only a little.” We who have been loved so great by Jesus, who gained such great forgiveness by the multitude of our sins should take his commandment to heart to love our brother, our fellow Christian for whom he died. This not to say we shouldn’t also love others, especially our enemies, but we should especially show the love of God to those whom we are on in Spirit in the body of Christ. They too have experienced the love of God and are partakers of his Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, grant us such faith that your love is perfected in us so we do not fear the day of judgment and live our lives loving those whom you are joined to us in the waters of baptism. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Where Does The Power To Love Originate?

#DailyDevotion Where Does The Power To Love Originate?

1 John 4:7-16 7Dear friends, let us love one another because love comes from God and everyone who loves is God’s child and knows God. 8He who doesn’t love hasn’t learned to know God, because God is Love. 9God has shown us His love by sending His only begotten Son into the world for us to live through Him. 10This is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the payment for our sins. 11Dear friends, if that’s how God loved us, then we should love one another. 12No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God lives in us, and His love has accomplished in us what He wants. 13This is how we know we live in Him and He in us: He has given us His Spirit.  14We have seen and can tell the truth that the Father sent His Son to save the world. 15If you confess Jesus is God’s Son, God lives in you and you in God. 16And we have come to know and believe the love God has for us. God is Love, and if you live in love, you live in God, and God lives in you.

Where does our love for one another begin? It begins in God. John’s epistles talks a lot about loving one another. No doubt, Jesus’ words to his disciples on the night he was betrayed had a lot of effect upon him. John 13, 34“I’m giving you a new commandment: Love one another! Love one another as I have loved you. 35By your loving one another everyone will know you’re My disciples.” John tells us to “love one another because love comes from God and everyone who loves is God’s child and knows God.” We have been made God’s children by the Father through his will. He has revealed his love for us. If we believe God loves us for Christ’s sake then we know God. If we know God and his love then it follows we will love our fellow Christians who also know God’s love.

Where does the power to one another come from? “9God has shown us His love by sending His only begotten Son into the world for us to live through Him. 10This is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the payment for our sins.” We do not love God by our own power, reason or strength. We do not love one another from our own power, reason or strength. God loves us. We see this by his sending his son to die for our sins. That he would sacrifice Jesus to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins, to cover them so God’s holiness would not consume us show us much he loves us. The Holy Spirit uses this message of love to convert us from darkness to light, from death to life, from fear and hatred to love.

Our confession of faith, Jesus is God’s son, shows us we have the Holy Spirit because no one can confess Jesus is LORD (YHWH) without the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God and if he brings out this confession from your heart and lips then God lives in you and you in God. When John says, “and if you live in love, you live in God, and God lives in you,” he is saying the same thing when the Scripture says, “Be holy because I am holy” and “Be perfect because your Father in heaven is perfect.” What is this to mean then? I do not believe God is talking about moral perfection here, though our morals most certainly will change. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. When you believe God the Father loves you for the sake of the son then that love is going to have its way for you. You will not only love your fellow Christian but you will start loving your enemies and those who persecute you. You were God’s enemies before you receive his love. Now you are his friends. You have received his forgiveness. You will forgive others. God lives his life through you now.

Heavenly Father, may the love you have given us overcome all our sin and iniquities that we may love as you love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion How To Tell From Whom You Learn Spiritual Things

#DailyDevotion How To Tell From Whom You Learn Spiritual Things

1 John 4:1-6 Dear friends, don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God. Many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize God’s Spirit: Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. 3And any spirit who doesn’t confess this Jesus isn’t from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist which you heard is coming, and here it is already in the world. 4Children, you are God’s family, and you have won a victory over these men because He Who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5These men belong to the world. That is why they speak the thoughts of the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are God’s children. Anyone who knows God listens to us. Anyone who is not God’s child will not listen to us. In this way we can tell what is the spirit of truth and what is the spirit of error.

There is a meme going around these days, “When you tell me you are spiritual you’ll have to be more specific. Demons are spirits.” There’s a lot of truth to that. Way too many people just accept anything that claims to be spiritual and they don’t test the spirits. Are they from God or from the evil one. Already in John’s day false prophets had gone out from the Church: People who either driven by jealousy or lust of money pervert the Gospel of Jesus Christ to make it more palatable.

John gives a clue here. Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. Now even here we need to be careful. For what and who do we mean by Jesus Christ. On the one hand there were Gnostics in that day (even in our day) who hate creation, who think and teach all that is material is evil. They do not believe Jesus truly became man but only appeared as a man. If you don’t believe Jesus is truly human you are of another spirit than John and the Church. On the other hand some teach that Jesus is only human and maybe he was filled with the ‘spirit of Christ.’ Again, they are denying Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. Still some confirm that Jesus is truly God and truly man but deny the work he accomplished in the flesh saying it wasn’t enough. You must contribute to your own salvation. These people too are the spirit of antichrist for they blaspheme the complete, full, perfect work of Jesus Christ in his flesh for the salvation of the world. We need not fear the antichrists that are in the world. In Christ, we have the victory over these people. They cannot drag us away from our Jesus who promises us, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” John reminds us, “He Who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” That would be Jesus. That would be the Holy Spirit. Even the Father has made our hearts his dwelling.

We often fear  for the people of the world because they reject our message, the message of the Church, the message of Jesus. They prefer the darkness to Light. It doesn’t make sense to them God would sacrifice his son and raise him from the dead to give us the free gift of eternal life, justify us by his grace and make us inheritors of his kingdom purely for Jesus Christ’s sake. They are of this world. It what they do just as a scorpion stings the frog carrying it to the other side of the river. So we can tell those who are of the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Those who accept our giving them the free gift of life in Jesus are of God. Those who reject it are not of God right now (they may still repent later). Be discerning. Be judgmental of spiritual talk. Is it of God or of the world? Who is glorified?

Heavenly Father, give us a discerning spirit that can test the spirit so we know whether they are of you or the world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion The Church Grows Through Sharing The Good News Of Jesus

#DailyDevotion The Church Grows Through Sharing The Good News Of Jesus

Acts 8:36-40 36 As they were going along the road, they came to some water. “Here is water,” the eunuch said. “What keeps me from being baptized?” 38He ordered the chariot to stop, and both Philip and the eunuch stepped down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39When they had stepped out of the water, the Lord’s Spirit suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch, going happily on his way, didn’t see him again. 40But Philip found himself in Ashdod. He went through all the towns, bringing them the good news.

Philip starting with the passage from Isaiah taught the good news of Jesus Christ to the Ethiopian Eunuch. We’re not taught how long Philip taught him but I think we can assume it wasn’t past dark. The eunuch already knew the Jewish faith. He was a practitioner of it. It was why he was leaving Jerusalem back for Ethiopia. No doubt he had been taught much about the Messiah and was waiting for him to show up. Now Philip presents the Messiah to him starting with the Suffering Servant song from Isaiah 53. It would be great to know what else he taught the eunuch. One can imagine him quoting Genesis three or eighteen, Deuteronomy eighteen, the Lord’s promise to David and Solomon and not to mention all the places referenced to the Messiah in the Psalms.

Eventually in all this, referencing the life of Jesus, his ministry following John’s and the “Great Commission” from Matthew twenty-eight the eunuch says, “Here is water. “What keeps me from being baptized?” The message of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, his life and work, is used by the Holy Spirit to bring people to faith in Jesus. It did the eunuch. Having received faith in Jesus and the promise of baptism he wants to be baptized before going back to Ethiopia. When is he going to have another chance? Who knows when the Church will get down there so he may be baptized. No, the Holy Spirit knew what he was doing when he moved Philip to go to him. The Eunuch would bring the message of Jesus Christ to his people who were also awaiting the Messiah to come.

Some people think we should baptize quickly others only after prolonged instruction. In Acts we often see the people getting baptized somewhat quickly, yet most of them were Jews, Samaritans or God fearers. They knew the Scriptures and were awaiting the Messiah. He need only be witnessed by those who knew him. There is the Philippian jailer who was baptized as quickly as the rest. He was neither a Jew, Samaritan or God fearer as far as we know. We don’t know much about him or his religious background. He does ask Paul what he must do to be saved. After a quick quip about believing in Jesus Christ, Paul then spends a fair amount of time instructing him and his family about Jesus. Before the night is through, it appears the whole household is baptized. So should we baptize as soon as someone asks? Should we have a day long period of instruction? Should we have several years like the early Church? Taking examples from descriptive actions is not the same as prescribed actions. I believe the pastor should use his discretion and see what he thinks is best for the individual. We note, Philip is preaching after he is whisked away by the Spirit, another good reason to think the deacons were placed into the Office of the Ministry. May the Lord move us to pray for opportunities to share his good news and may that message be effective by the Spirit to move people who hear to believe in Jesus and be baptized.

Heavenly Father, provide us with opportunities to share the good news of Jesus with others so they too may believe and be baptized with us in Christ Jesus. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

#DailyDevotion The Spirit Grows The Church Through The Gospel

#DailyDevotion The Spirit Grows The Church Through The Gospel

Acts 8:26–40 26An angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go south to the road going from Jerusalem down to Gaza.” It is a deserted road. 27He got up and went. Here there was a man from Ethiopia, a eunuch and high official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of all her treasures. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28and was on his way home, sitting in his chariot and reading the prophet Isaiah. 29The Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to that chariot and keep close to it.”

30Philip ran up to it and there heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. “Do you understand what you’re reading?” he asked. 31“Why, how can I without someone to guide me?” he asked, and he urged Philip to come up and sit with him. 32This was the part of the Bible he was reading: He will be led away like a sheep to be slaughtered, and as a lamb is dumb before the man who cut off her wool, so He will not open His mouth. 33 When He humbles Himself, His condemnation will be taken away. Who will describe the people of His time? His life will be cut off from the earth. 34“I ask you,” the eunuch said to Philip, “about whom is the prophet talking — himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip spoke. Starting with this statement of the Bible, he told him the good news of Jesus.

There is often debate as to whether or not the seven deacons set aside to wait tables so the apostles had more time to pray, preach and teach were ordained or not. C. F. W. Walther, the first president of my church body, (the LCMS) in his book on Church & Ministry in one section of the book treats them as not being ordained and in another section of his book treats them as being ordained. I generally like to remember the Bible doesn’t tell us everything (like how many children Adam and Eve actually had). But it does appear the seven at some point in time, based on their actions after being set apart for service, are doing the works of the office of the ministry and so they must have been ordained. If not at the point of their being set aside, at some other point in time not revealed to us in Scripture.

In any case we see Philip here being prompted by the Holy Spirit to speak to the Ethiopian eunuch. Which brings up another thing, the eunuch was returning to Ethiopia after worshipping in Jerusalem. He was probably there fulfilling the Mosaic Law to worship there on Passover and the Feasts of Weeks. He was a Jewish believer. Ethiopia had a large population of believers in the LORD (YHWH). Some believe they became that way after Solomon had instructed the Queen of Ethiopia during one of her visits. Others believe there were Jewish populations who moved there during the exile and mixed in with the population. In any case, he had been instructed in the Law of Moses and was a believing Jew. He was reading the prophet Isaiah and the Spirit moved Philip to go and talk with him. He did not understand what he was reading. Was it the prophet Isaiah, Isaiah was writing about or another? It is here that Philip explains what had happened to Jesus, his trial, death and resurrection. Philip told him the good news of Jesus, how Jesus fulfilled this passage and other passages of Scripture winning for him repentance, forgiveness of sins, eternal life, the inheritance of God, the kingdom of God and the like. We say the Nicene or Apostles’ creed every Sunday. When asked about your faith, it is a good place to start. Sharing your faith is not difficult. You don’t have to answer everyone’s objections. You just tell them what Jesus did for you and for them.

Heavenly Father, when given the opportunity, give us your Spirit so we may open our mouths and speak the good news of Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion How Did Jesus Really Die? How was He Resurrected?

#DailyDevotion How Did Jesus Really Die? How was He Resurrected?

John 10:17-18 17“The Father loves Me because I give My life in order to take it back again. 18No one takes it from Me. No, of My own free will I am giving it. I have the power to give it, and I have the power to take it back again. This is what My Father ordered Me to do.”

We have been hearing in Peter’s sermons in Acts that the Jews and the Jewish leadership killed Jesus. Indeed, the Father used the wickedness of their hearts to reject Jesus and have them crucified. For all practical purposes, they indeed crucified him to put him to death.

Yet here we also see an important truth, they could not have killed Jesus if they wanted to and they did want to. No, Jesus gave up his life. He chose the day and the hour, even the moment of his death. He committed his spirit to the Father and gave up his life taking death unto himself. He willingly went through the ordeal of crucifixion and all that it entailed to receive in his flesh and soul the due penalty for our guilt. The wages of sin is death. Jesus took our iniquities upon himself and there on the cross paid the price for those sins by his death.

What wondrous mystery it is that the one who did not deserve death died, died on a cross. It is a great wonder that God the Son took on human flesh and died although he was innocent and death had no claim on him. Jesus did this great thing of his own free will. It was by his power he took death into himself and died.

Similarly, as he had the power to give up his life unto death he also has the power to take it up again. Indeed, on the third day Jesus did rise from the dead. By his resurrection he has conquered death. In conquering death he has taken away Satan’s power through his tempting people to sin and by that sin incur death. Jesus’ resurrection is our justification. His resurrection declares us righteous, free from sin. If we are free from sin then we don’t die. Satan has no power over us. What did Jesus say? John 11, 25“I am the Resurrection and the Life,” Jesus said to her. “Anyone who believes in Me will live even if he dies. 26Yes, anyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” When we have faith in Jesus our soul is no longer dead. We are born from above. He gives us his life. If we have his life, we cannot die even if our bodies die. Our souls are living souls again. If our bodies die, Jesus will raise them from the dead when he returns.

Because Jesus does this willingly, the Father loves him. The Father ordered Jesus to give up his life on the cross and Jesus willingly obeyed. Jesus reversed Adam’s rebellion. Adam willingly, without being deceived ate the fruit his wife gave him and disobeyed his Father. Jesus of his own free will does not listen to the crowds who speak for the devil and obeys the Father’s command. Now through faith in Jesus the Father credits you all that Jesus has done even as before you were credited for what Adam had done in unbelief.

Have you heard the voice of your Shepherd calling? That voice is Jesus calling to you to follow him and receive from his hands eternal life.

Heavenly Father, even as Jesus willingly obeyed you to the point of death and took up his life again, now give us faith in Jesus that we may be raised from death to life and willingly obey you in all we think, say and do. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion What Is Jesus Claiming When He Says “I’m The Good Shepherd”?

#DailyDevotion What Is Jesus Claiming When He Says “I’m The Good Shepherd”?

John 10:11–16

11I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12When a hired man, who isn’t a shepherd and doesn’t own the sheep, sees a wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away — and the wolf carries them off and scatters them — 13because he works for money and doesn’t care about the sheep. 14I am the Good Shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15as the Father knows Me and I know the Father. And I give My life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep, too, that are not in this fold. I must lead those, too, and they will listen to My voice, and so they will become one flock with one Shepherd.

Jesus claims to be the Good Shepherd. He tells us the Good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep. Giving one’s life for the sheep would seem to be the mark of a good shepherd. But is Jesus making some other claims here when he calls himself such?

Psalm 23“The LORD is my Shepherd.” We all have heard this. The LORD, YHWH, the God of Israel is often referred to as Israel’s Shepherd.  We see this in Psa 28 9“Save Your people and bless Your inheritance! Be their Shepherd and carry them forever!” Again in Psalm 80 the psalmist says, 1“0 Shepherd of Israel, listen.” The LORD tells us in Ezekiel 34, 15“I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. (ESV) What claim then is Jesus making when he calls himself the Good Shepherd? Elsewhere Jesus tells us “There is no one good but God.” If Jesus is the Good Shepherd, he must be God, the LORD. Indeed, no one can say “Jesus is LORD” except by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus. in claiming to be the Good Shepherd as opposed to hirelings who run away when the wolf comes, is making an appeal to Ezekiel chapter thirty-four, where the LORD complains the shepherds of Israel abuse and mishandle the sheep. He is claiming the leaders of Israel, the Pharisees, the Scribes, and the Priests are doing the same thing. They did not care for the people the LORD had put them over.

In appealing to Ezekiel thirty-four Jesus is also appealing to this passage, 23“I will raise up one Shepherd over them, My Servant David, Who will feed them. He will feed them and be their Shepherd.” Jesus is also claiming to be the Good Shepherd is claiming he is the LORD’s Servant David. Not that God is going to reincarnate David but that he would fulfill his promise to David by having his seed, his descendent, upon his throne forever. Jesus is the servant David who feeds the LORD’s people. Jesus first sacrifices himself, gives his life for the sheep. Then he feeds us with his body and blood and with his Word. Jesus has given his life into the hands of the wolf, i.e. the devil who seeks to devour us. In giving his life, he takes it up again overcoming the wolf for us.

Jesus also gives us glimpse into the mystery of Christ, the salvation of the Gentiles. The Father has chosen these Gentiles, non-Jews to believe in Jesus and be saved. They become one with Israel, one flock, one holy people of God. We call this flock today the Church.

Almighty God and Father, you sent your only begotten Son Jesus Christ to be the Good Shepherd who gives his life for us and overcomes all our enemies. He calls people of every nation, tribe, tongue and people to be one flock, his chosen people Israel. Give us ears to hear his voice and follow him all the days of our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion God Is Greater Than Our Conscience In Jesus

#DailyDevotion God Is Greater Than Our Conscience In Jesus

1 John 3:19-24 19This is how we’ll know we’re born of the truth and will reassure ourselves before Him: 20Whenever our conscience condemns us, God is greater than our conscience and knows everything. 21Dear friends, if our conscience doesn’t condemn us, we can talk boldly to God 22and get from Him anything we ask because we keep His commandments and do what pleases Him. 23He orders us to believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and to love one another as He has ordered us to do. 24Anyone who keeps His commandments lives in God and God in him. And this is how we know He lives in us: by the Spirit Whom He has given us.

What is this? What is this this which will reassure ourselves before Him? It is “He gave His life for us.” Or is it,  “We, too, should give our lives for our fellow Christians.” Is it both? It is an important matter. If it is He gave his life for us then we can have full assurance before God because his work is perfect. If it is our love or both, then we can never have full assurance because we still sin and when we sin we most certainly are not living in love, of God, neighbor or fellow Christian. While can at times gain a little assurance in that we forgive others their sins against us or that we don’t turn away a fellow Christian in need, our assurance is in “He gave his life for us.”

Why do I say this? Because of verse twenty, “Whenever our conscience condemns us, God is greater than our conscience and knows everything.” If our conscience condemns us it is because we have sinned. God knows our weaknesses and he is greater than them. His mercy and kindness is seen in Jesus giving his life for us so his life may overcome our sin and death. We cannot sin so much the blood of Jesus does not cover it and give us a clean conscience before the Father. It is in the name the LORD has given to Moses in Exodus 34, “the LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, slow to get angry, rich in love and faithfulness, 7continuing to show mercy to thousands, forgiving wrong, rebellion, and sin, without treating it as innocent, but disciplining children and children’s children to the third and fourth generation for the sins of their fathers.”

Since this is so, we may always confess our sins and our Advocate, Jesus Christ pleads for us before the Father and gives us a clean conscience. In Hebrew 4, the author writes, 16“So let us come boldly to God’s throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help us when we need it.” We can ask for whatever we want and get it because we keep the commandment, “to believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and to love one another,” When we are keeping this commandment we are asking for things according to his will and if we ask anything according to his will we know we shall receive it. (1 John 5:14) What a great and wonderful promise.

Keeping this commandment tells us we are living in God and us in Him. Christ is living his life in and through us. This is God’s work. To believe in Jesus and to love another is the will and work of God. (John 6:26, Eph. 2:10). We should abandon ourselves and our wills and our lives to His care and believe he will take care of us. He will perform for us, in us and through us that which he demands. It is the new covenant he promised in Jeremiah 31:33.

Heavenly Father, continually bestow your grace upon us that we may believe in your Son Jesus Christ and love our fellow Christians. Give us a clear conscience that we may stand before you boldly and pray and receive from you every mercy and grace necessary for our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.