Saturday, March 30, 2013

What We Have Heard, Seen, and Touched - 1 John 1:1-4 Bible Commentary

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. (1 John 1:1-4)
The world was dark, filled with shadows. Though fire could be summoned, it still required fuel to burn, one that had to be bought or gathered. Though the sun, free to all, would certainly rise, darkness was just as sure to follow.

Night and the darkness it brings is a universal human experience. Night is when the thief comes. It's when the normal sounds of day become suspicious. Mysterious and unknown, darkness is a veil, beyond which the eye cannot see.

In the introduction to his gospel, John writes of Jesus that He is the "true light, which gives light to everyone" (John 1:9). It is this light that John saw. He didn't merely see Christ illumined by the sun's rays, but he saw Christ fully illumined. In a spectacular display that we cannot fully grasp with our understanding, John saw Christ in his glory on the mount of transfiguration.

Sight is just one sense. John also writes that he heard Christ. Not only that, but John says that he touched Christ with his hands. This is something more intimate. There is light, and there is darkness; but there is something even deeper to the human experience. There is the cold shunning, and there is the warm embrace. John had reclined upon the bosom of Christ in that final hour before Golgotha (John 13:23). He had not merely heard the Saviour, nor merely seen Him, but he had come into direct contact with God Himself, condescending in human flesh.

It is the message of this Christ, whom John, fully aware of in every human sense, proclaims in his letter. The One who was with the Father Himself— who is the word of Life— it is the message of that King whom John seeks to set before us. And why does John do so? "So that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3).

John came into contact with Christ, and though we cannot travel back in time to see our Saviour in His incarnation, we can experience what John experienced through his writings. We too can hear the words of our Saviour. We too can look upon our Saviour. And though we may not be able to touch our Saviour with our hands, we can come into contact with Him in a way John never experienced during Jesus' earthly ministry— through the Spirit who has been given to us.

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Quote of the Day #226 - Richard Sibbes

A quote from Richard Sibbes:
God is glorified in making us happy, and we enjoying happiness, must glorify God... A heavenly soul is never satisfied, until it be as near God as is attainable. And the nearer a creature comes to God, the more it is emptied of itself, and all self-aims. Our happiness is more in him, than in ourselves. We seek ourselves most when we deny ourselves most. And the more we labour to advance God, the more we advance our condition in him.
~Richard Sibbes (The Soul's Conflict and Victory Over Itself By Faith, Chapter XXVI)

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Quote of the Day #225 - Charles Spurgeon

A quote from Charles Spurgeon:
I am never to look to myself for wisdom, and to fancy that I am the creator of truth or the revealer of it—but ever to go to Him—my Lord, my Teacher, my All—and to believe that the highest culture, the best results of the highest education are to be found by sitting at His feet. And the best results of the deepest meditation, too, are to be gained in lying down in the green pastures beside the still waters, where He, as the Good Shepherd, leads me.
~Charles Spurgeon (The Fourfold Treasure 991)

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Saturday, March 09, 2013

Jesus: Repent, For the Kingdom of Heaven Is At Hand - Matthew 4:17 Bible Commentary

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17)
The first word recorded for us in Matthew from the lips of our Saviour is a command: Repent! From this single command, we have enough information to— once and for all— dispense of the idea that Jesus is a tolerant man who merely meets you where you're at and doesn't demand that you live a holy life.

This command for repentance was nothing new. The prophets of old had always called for it. In fact, Jesus' first words in Matthew, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," are identical to John the Baptist's first recorded words, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2).

Anything repeated twice should certainly draw our attention. This message of repentance is central to the Gospel. Any preacher who removes the command to repent from sin in his proclamation of God's kingdom cannot be called a Christian preacher at all; such a preacher has neglected to mention the first words out of both John the Baptist's and our Savior's mouths!

But what are we to make of that phrase: "the kingdom of heaven"? Is this kingdom already here, or is it yet to come?

Throughout his gospel, Matthew often refers to the "kingdom of heaven". The phrase is unique to Matthew. Mark and Luke instead use the phrase "kingdom of God". The two phrases are identical in meaning (for instance, compare Mark 1:15 to Matthew 4:17).

When Jesus was on earth, He proclaimed that "the kingdom of God is in the midst of you" (Luke 17:21). He also said that "if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Matthew 12:28). Paul writes that God has delivered Christians "from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son" (Colossians 1:13). We see, then, that God's kingdom is, in one sense, already here— and Christians are its citizens.

Yet other passages make it clear that God's kingdom is something we have not yet entered. Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven..." (Matthew 7:21). Our entrance into the "eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:11) is something that will happen in the future.

From this, we conclude that the kingdom of heaven has already come, but it is not yet here in its fullness. Not until the end of the age, once Satan has been conquered, will the kingdom of heaven be seen in its fullness. For now, we must be content to ask the same question that the disciples asked shortly before Jesus' ascension, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6).

We can be assured that one day, the kingdom will be here in its fullness. We will see it, and we will live in it. For now, we look forward in expectation of that day when the seventh angel will blow his trumpet and proclaim, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever" (Revelation 11:15).

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Saturday, March 02, 2013

Quote of the Day #224 - William Beveridge

A quote from William Beveridge on the natural man:
Man's understanding is so darkened that he can see nothing of God in God, nothing of holiness in holiness, nothing of good in good, nothing of evil in evil, nor anything of sinfulness in sin. Nay, it is so darkened that he fancies himself to see good in evil, and evil in good, happiness in sin, and misery in holiness.
~William Beveridge

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