Friday, June 22, 2012
1st John Chapter 3 Part 4
3:6-7 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
In this chapter we have entered dangerous waters, as it were. The verses we are presently reading and studying have been the source of heated debate between Christians for a long time. I believe the Holy Spirit would never inspire John or any other prophet or apostle to write the Bible and leave the meaning of the language entirely ambiguous and open to various “readings.”
Granted, many verses mean more than one thing and some verses have a wealth of spiritual treasure hidden within them. But the Bible never contradicts itself. If I read a verse and take from its message “the grass is green,” and you read the same verse and get “green is the color of money: get rich,” someone is in error. The Bible’s message is not subjective; it was chosen by God to convey an objective truth. This truth is universally applicable and transcends culture, time, gender, age, language, or any other barrier we attempt to erect.
Many “trouble passages” evaporate in the clear light of Scripture’s totality. Such would be the case for Baptismal regeneration if its advocates stopped trumping Mark 16:16 and began to take the rest of the hundreds of passages concerning one’s salvation at equal value. Likewise with conditional salvation; Hebrews 6:4-8 or Colossians 1:23 are amplified while exceedingly clear passages such as John 3:16; 5:24; 6:37; 1st John 5:13; Jude 1:1; 1st Peter 1:5 etc. are made to conform to the minority of Scripture imperfectly understood. The Bible is an organic, divinely inspired whole; the messages it delivers about any given topic are unfaltering. Either one is saved by faith alone or faith plus conditions. Either we are kept by God’s power or we must strive to “keep the faith” or risk losing the free gift offered in Christ. It cannot be both.
Bearing this in mind let’s progress. John begins verse 6 by informing us that whoever abides in Christ does not sin. To understand this verse we must backtrack to deduce what the writer means by abiding in Christ. What does it mean to abide in Jesus? Let us listen to our Lord: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing… If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples,” John 15:5, 7-8.
Bear with me as I quote a few more verses. It will help to further clarify the nature of abiding in Jesus. “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love…This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you…Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you,” John 15:10, 12, 14.
To abide in Christ is to yield to our Lord’s will and love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. A paramount love of Christ becomes a tangible, testable love that is demonstrated in our dealings with our fellow man and our personal conduct. A life transformed to live in the way God has ordered your life is a life lived by abiding in Christ. Jesus abided in the Father during his time on earth and did nothing at all apart from the Father’s will. He could testify that He only did what pleased God, John 8:29. The Father likewise testified the same, Luke 3:22. Jesus was entirely sanctified; he was wholly set apart to perform God’s will on this earth. Paul began his epistle to the Romans in this way: “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God,” Romans 1:1.