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Elgin’s Books


  • Christianity and Secularism

  • Evidence for the Bible
  • “White Christians” and Baltimore

    Friday, May 8th, 2015 by Elgin Hushbeck

    In his article “Why White Christians Need to Listen to Amos and Isaiah” Rev Morgan Guyton, the director of the United Methodist campus ministry at Tulane and Loyola University, asks “I wonder what Amos and Isaiah would say about the self-satisfied scorn that so many white Christians have been spewing out into social media in response to the rage in Baltimore?”  Given the question sets up a straw man, it answers itself.  God is never pleased with “self-satisfied scorn.”  While it fails as an indictment of “white Christians” in general, Rev Guyton’s article is, I think, a clear example of the problems with the attitudes of social justice.

    At the risk of falling into “self-satisfied scorn,” I think that Rev Guyton’s claim that “the collective rage that has exploded into violence is an expression of God’s wrath” is absurd. Still it goes to the heart of my problems with his article, and with social justice in general.

    For me it is easy to condemn the rioting. It brings nothing good and I agree with President Obama that those who participated in it are thugs.  I am mad at the police so I am going to burn down an innocent person’s store?  I am mad at the police so I am going to steal a TV?  Just how does that make sense? The destruction of the community they brought about, not only caused a great deal of innocent suffering during the riots, but if history is any guide, it will cause problems and suffering for years, if not decades to come.

    As for the “collective rage” that Rev Guyton claims is behind them, I would ask, rage about what?  This question is asked in all seriousness as we still do not know who or what caused the injuries that lead to Freddie Gray’s death.  So how do we do know what is behind the rage?  This is the problem with Social Justice. It is the agenda that is important. The facts really don’t matter.

    To see this one only needs to consider the events in Ferguson Missouri.  Like Baltimore, riots occurred long before the facts were known.  When they were known, it became clear that the whole, “hands up don’t shoot” meme was false, and that Officer Wilson was justified in shooting Brown.

    For some, the idea that Brown was unarmed is all the evidence they need to convict Wilson, but to see the absurdity of that claim one only need consider the case of Officer David Smith who just a few months before the events in Ferguson responded to a report of a disturbance and was attacked by an unarmed man before he could even get out of his car, very similar to Ferguson.  Unlike Ferguson, the unarmed man was able to grab Officer Smith’s weapon and then proceeded to shoot him to death.

    Given the numerous split second decisions, and numerous mitigating factors in such a violent confrontation, it is not at all difficult to image that Brown had been able to get Officer Wilson’s gun and Officer Wilson would have shared the fate of Officer Smith, dead and largely unnoticed, like the other 127 officers who died in the line of Duty in 2014,

    To put this number in perspective, something Social Justice advocates virtually never do, this is a number roughly equal to the number of black men killed by police each year.  The difference being that almost all of the police shootings are justified, the killing of police officers are not. Also given the relatively small number of police officers compared to the black population they encounter, in the police face a greater risk of death.  One could also compare this to thousands of black men murdered each year, mostly by other black men, don’t those black lives matter?  The problem is that those deaths don’t fit the agenda of Social Justice.

    In the end, the Justice of any given situation cannot be determined statistically.  It depends on the actions of individuals, not groups. In this case it depends on what actually happened that led to Freddie Gray’s death.  It will depend on the truth.

    But for many advocates of Social Justice the truth does not matter. Only the cause matters. Thus you continue to hear Ferguson included in the list of alleged outrages, many of which are equally false, which led up to what Rev Guyton calls an explosion of “collective rage” Baltimore.

    The other really troubling aspect about Rev Guyton’s charge is its stark racial foundation in that it is directed against “While Christians.”  While troubling on many levels, it is very characteristic of Social Justice, which divides people into groups and then pits them against each other.  It seeks division, not harmony.

    The injection of race into the situation in Baltimore is especially awkward and difficult given that the city is 60% black, most of its elected officials are black and 3 of the six officer charged are black. Given this why does Guyton single out “white Christians” for his condemnation?    These are the absurdities that come from abandoning true Justice for the false idol of Social Justice.

    God is truth, and whenever we put our agenda ahead of the truth, we put ourselves ahead of God. This is never a good place to be. I, for one, am quite content to wait until I know what happened before I presume to know what would be Just. A rush to judgment rarely results in Justice.  Neither does mob justice, whether by a lynch mob, or by a prosecutor who puts appeasing the mob head of seeking Justice.

     

    Responding to David Watson on Christians, Ferguson and the issue of Race

    Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 by Elgin Hushbeck

    David Watson recently wrote concerning the controversy over the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Trayvon Martin that, “We are seeing again and again a great travesty–the killing of African-American men without consequence. If we as Christians don’t call this out and commit ourselves to doing something about it, then we are not living into our high calling as people who claim the name of Jesus.”  He goes on to write about the lack of indictment, “I believe that most Christians, regardless of their race, know this is wrong.”

    Now I do believe that Christians should be concerned about injustice, but we should also be concerned about truth. Nor are our concerns for Justice limited only to certain groups, but should be a concern for Justice for all.  This includes police officers.  So while we are in agreement that something is wrong here, we disagree over what it is.

    Watson wrote that “we should not convict people before they receive a fair trial” but it is hard to see this as anything more than an empty platitude, for the rest article takes their guilt as a given. After all, Zimmerman did have a trial, and was acquitted. Yet that did not stop Watson from including him.  Watson says of the officers in the other two cases that they cast, “a pall over the reputations of many good and honorable law enforcement officers.”  What casts a pall are those whose prejudices lead them to rush to judgment before the facts are known and then to ignore the facts when they come out.

    A lack of a trial does not preclude due process. The Grand Jury system is part of due process and is there to protect people from needless prosecution.   Being charged with a crime and put on trial is not an inconsequential event in a person’s life.  Given the evidence in these cases the only hope of a conviction would be from persuading a jury to ignore the evidence so as to placate those with a vocal, and at times violent, agenda. This would hardly be an example of Justice.

    Watson’s main argument seems to be based on the false premise that unarmed equals innocent.  Consider the case of Officer David Smith who in March responded to a report of a disturbance and was attacked by an unarmed man before he could even get out of his car.  The unarmed man was able to grab Officer Smith’s weapon and then proceeded to shoot him to death.  Nor is police officers being killed in the line of duty rare.  In 2013, 105 officers were killed in the line of duty, 30 were shot to death.

    So when Michael Brown similarly attacked a police officer in what reasonably could be construed as an attempt to obtain his weapon he lost any claim to be innocent. When he charged head down toward the officer,  Brown left the officer little choice but to use deadly force.   This was not a Hollywood western where the hero can just wing the bad guy.  Nor is it hard to imagine how this could easily have gone the other way, leaving Officer Wilson dead.  Had that been the case, few outside of the area would know of Ferguson, and Officer Wilson would have quietly been added to the list of officers killed in the line of duty in 2014.

    Even if you have some questions about the evidence, given this set of facts, the presumption of innocent until proven guilty, and a burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, there would be no way consistent with Justice to get a conviction.  To put the officer on trial would itself be an injustice.

    The circumstances of Eric Garner’s death, while tragic and troubling, hardly call for the officers involved to be put on trial. It is troubling as most of us thankfully can ignore the government most of the time. For those on the left the government is the dispenser of all that is good. But as the Romans 13:4 says, “for it is not without reason that they bear the sword.”

    We may not like it; we may even wish it was different; but when a police officer says you are under arrest either you go quietly, or the situation will escalate until you are in custody, even the act of resisting being itself a crime. There is no right to resist arrest.   As things escalate, so does the chance for a bad outcome.

    In the case of Garner, his resisting arrest and his underlying health problems were major factors in his death.  While Garner was black and the arresting officer white, it is hard to see how race played any significant role given that the arrest was supervised by a police sergeant, who happened to be a black woman.  But that his arrest was conducted under the supervision of a black woman does not fit the political agenda and so is conveniently left out of most reports.

    The simple fact is that when citizens are put into confrontation with the government, the government is going to win, at least in the short term.  Last year New York City logged 228,000 misdemeanor arrests.  That tragic outcomes such as Garner are so rare is a testimony to the service and professionalism of Police Officers across the country.

    The real problem with focusing on these rare events and trying to cast them to fit a racial agenda is that since it is not grounded in truth it is bound to divide people, which has clearly been the case here. While some will focus on the agenda, and others will focus on what actually happened.  This will make things worse, not better.

    In addition, as I have written in the past, it diverts attention away from the very real problems that face many of our communities: the breakdown of family life, failing schools, crime, and lack of economic opportunity.  These are the real problems we should be focusing on.

     

    The Epistles of John: Living in Truth and Love. 1 John 5:17-21

    Friday, May 10th, 2013 by Elgin Hushbeck

    Epistles of John: Living in Truth and Love. 1 John 5:14-16

    Thursday, April 4th, 2013 by Elgin Hushbeck

    The Epistles of John: Living in Truth and Love. 1 John 5:10-13

    Saturday, March 30th, 2013 by Elgin Hushbeck

    It has been some time since I posted on 1 John.  This has been because we switched from summaries of the class to videos, and the first video is finally ready.

    The Epistles of John: Living in Truth and Love. 1 John 5:1-9

    Sunday, February 17th, 2013 by Elgin Hushbeck

    Study

    John began his summary starting with how we should love one another, a key error of those who left. Now he moves to their other key error, their rejection of Jesus.

    To love God is to Love Jesus (5:1)

    Chapter 5

    1 – Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah[1] has been born from God, and everyone who loves the parent also loves the child.

    - John now expands on the other key error of those who left: their denial of Jesus.

    - He starts by linking this to the last section on love.

    • Here with some comments on obeying.

    - The parent here is the Father, and the Child is Jesus.

    • To love one is to love the other.
    To love God is to keep his commandments (5:2-3)

    2 – This is how we know that we love God’s children: we love God and keep his commandments.

    This is how we know

    - Not completely clear what “this” refers to

      • could look back to previous verse (KJV, NAS)
      • could look forward to later part of this verse (NIV)
      • The later seems to be the best

    - Again (see 2:1-11) John equates Loving = Obey for God which = loving God’s children

    3a – For this demonstrates our love for God: We keep his commandments,

    - In 2:3 John equated knowing God with obeying God.

    - Here knowing it replace with loving.

    To be born of God is to overcome the world (5:4-5)

    3b-4 – and his commandments are not difficult because everyone who is born from God has overcome the world. Our faith is the victory that overcomes the world.

    his commandments are not difficult

    - John goes on to assure us that this is not a difficult request.

    has overcome the world

    - It is not difficult because we have overcome the world

    - The biggest battle is the battle for salvation

    Our faith is the victory that overcomes the world.

    - Our faith is key

    - If we really believe in God, and in Jesus, and that he died for our sins can we really sin?

      1. To sin is to deny God, his love, his power.

     

    5 – Who overcomes the world? Is it not the person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

    - John emphasizes this point by repeating this as a question.

    - This is a particularly strong rhetorical device as it forces the reader to provide the answer themselves.

    - The key of our faith is belief in Jesus.

      1. Jesus as Son of God, has the power of God which overcomes the power in the World.
    - The Testimony about Jesus (5:6-)
    a. This Man Jesus (5:6)

    6 – This man, Jesus the Messiah,[2] is the one who came by water and blood—not with water only, but with water and with blood. The Spirit is the one who verifies this, because the Spirit is the truth.

    This man, Jesus the Messiah

    - John expands on this, once again alluding to those who left.

    - Again equates Jesus with the Messiah.

    is the one who came by water and blood

    - Several understandings of water and blood have been suggested

      1. Baptism and death
      2. Baptism and Lord Supper
      3. Water and Blood that flowed from his pierced side (John 19:34)

    - Best seem to be first Baptism and Death

    not with water only, but with water and with blood

    - This probably emphasizes a difference with those who left

    - Gnosticism did not believe that the Messiah went to the Cross.

    a. That the Messiah left Jesus, or that Simon was mistake for Jesus

    b. This is what Cerinthus, and opponent of John believed.

    - This is important because it goes to the core of John’s argument

    a. God’s love is shown in that he sent his Son to die for our sins

    b. Gnostic teach undercuts that because Messiah did not die

    c. It also goes to the core of atonement which required God’s Son to die as a payment for sin. No death no payment.

    The Spirit is the one who verifies this, because the Spirit is the truth.

    - This is not just John saying this.

    - The Holy Spirit, also testifies of this

    verifies this

      1. This is present tense, not past, The spirit testifies to us,
      2. in our prayers and through God’s word.

    - This is the foundation of our faith.

    - Some argue that this refers to the spirit coming on Jesus at his baptism.

      1. It does fit theologically
      2. Main problem is present tense.
        1. Present tense does not exclude this,
    b. The three witnesses (5:7-8)

    7 – For there are three witnesses[1]— 8the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and these three are one.

    - Textual issue

    1. Evidence very clear
      1. Does not appear in Latin until 4th century and then is written in margins
      2. Does not appear in Greek until 16th century.
      3. They are not quoted by any early church father, even when the trinity was being discussed.
      4. May have been written as a gloss (comment) in Latin mss which was later mistaken for a correction and included in the text such that it became common.
      5. When Erasmus created the first two versions of his attempt to create a scholarly version Greek text is was not in any mss he had so he did not include. But a mss was then created that did have it, and Erasmus included it. Erasmus’ work eventually became the basis for the KJV.
    2. While this removes a clear reference to the Trinity, it is important to know that the Trinity does not depend on this verse.
    3. This textual issue affects how we understand this passage, but has no effect on the overall teaching of the Bible.

    - John now combines the three the Spirit the water and the blood into a single testimony.

    - i.e., they are in agreement and cannot be separated as the critics try to do.

    - Again some scholar claim water and blood refer to sacraments.

    1. a. But this does not really match body and blood.
    c. God’s Testimony (5:9-12)

    9 – If we accept human testimony, God’s testimony is greater, because it is the testimony of God and because he has testified about his Son.

    - John started this letter with a strong statement of his eyewitness testimony.

    - As he comes to the close he emphasizes God’s testimony, which is even greater

    a. Both greater trustworthiness and significance

    - It is greater trustworthiness: because God, by his very nature cannot lie.

    - It is greater significance: because it is about his Son

    God’s testimony

    - What is this testimony – Three possibilities

    a. (1) The three just mentioned: Spirit, water and blood

    • i. Flows from previous
    • ii. Problem with change in tense 6-8 are present here is perfect
    • iii. John 5:31-40 lists several testimonies of Jesus (John the Baptist, his works, Scripture and God) which seem distinct.
    • iv. None of these are major objections.

    b. (2) That God’s testimony is the inner witness of the spirit.

    c. (3) That God’s testimony is unspecified by John.

    d. I believe the first would be the best.

     

    Questions and Discussion

    If you have question or comments about the class, feel free to send me an email at elgin@hushbeck.com and be sure to put “Epistles of John” in the header.

    See here for references and more background on the class.

    Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-2008 by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission. www.isv.org

    Note: Some places I have modify the text from the ISV version. Passages that I have modified have been noted with and * by the verse number and the ISV text is included in a footnote.


    Footnotes:

    [1] 5:1 Or Christ
    [2] 5:6 Or Christ
    [3] 5:7 Other mss. read witnesses in heaven—the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. 8And there are three witnesses on earth—

     

    The Epistles of John: Living in Truth and Love. 1 John 4:11-21

    Monday, December 31st, 2012 by Elgin Hushbeck

    Study

    John now begins a summary starting with a summary of the key points in this section but then moving into a summary of the letter. Such summaries are very helpful in making sure that our understanding of the key points in this letter, line up with John’s intent.

    g. Summary: Love leads to perfection (4:11-5:12)

    i. The significance of God’s Love (4:11-12)

    11 – Dear friends, if this is the way God loved us, we must also love one another.

    - John now begins his summary where he started this section – love one another. He starts by taking God’s example of love and applies it to us. This is more than just an example, it is an obligation. Note that this is not a command to love God, but to love others.

     

    12 – No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

    - It is likely that some of those who left, were claiming visions of God. Here John is pointing out that this is not possible, and that if we really want to experience God we do so, not through mystical visions, but by serving others.

    his love is perfected in us.

    - Lit: the love of him (ἡ ἀγάπη αὐτοῦ ) It is not completely clear what John means here. This could refer to: Our love of God; God’s Love for us; or the type of love God has. The context here would seem to support either 1 or 3.

    - True Christianity is not to be found in retreating from the world in prayer, but working in the world through love and service.

     

    ii. How we know we abide in him (4:13-15)

    13 – This is how we know that we abide in him and he in us: he has given us his Spirit.

    - This here refers to in the living out of our faith in the service of others. There is a dual point being made here. First, that we can know our personal relationship to God. Second, we can test the relationship of others. Do they live the love of Christ?

    - The spirit also reveals himself in our service to others.

    14 – We have seen for ourselves and can testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

    - John return to the opening of the letter: as statement of his personal witness.

    - Here the focus is on Jesus as the savior of the world. God’s love was not limited to Christians. Our love is, likewise for the world. Gnostic had secret teachings for the few, We have service to all.

    - Given the context, it is likely that the “We” refers to the Church as a whole, rather than just the apostles, as in the opening.

    - Can we say this today? Have you seen the work of Christ in your life? It is the Holy Spirit that testifies to us.

     

    15 – God abides in the one who acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, and he abides in God.

    - John again return to the concept of abiding, and thus these three verses are in the form of a chiasmus, the focus of which is on our testimony.

    Abide – v13

    Testify – v14

    Abide – v15

    that Jesus is the Son of God

    - An emphasis on the human side of Jesus.

     

    The results of abiding in God (4:16-18)

    16 – We have come to know and rely on[1] the love that God has for us. God is love, and the person who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

    And rely on (πεπιστεύκαμεν)

    - Believe – trust – perfect tense indicates lasting conviction

    the love that God has for us

    - Lit the love which has the God in us. (τὴν ἀγάπην ἣν ἔχει ὁ θεὸς ἐν ἡμῖν) This would seem to indicate that the love here includes the love of the Cross and the gift of the Holy Spirit

    God is love

    - John is giving us a logical argument here. Since God is Love (also v 8) therefore to abide in love is to abide in God. Abiding in love is a result of abiding in God. Scholars debate whether or not this is Love of God, or love for one another. John makes no real distinction, to do one is to do the other. It is a demonstration and source of comfort for relationship with Christ

     

    17 – This is how love has been perfected among us: we will have confidence on the day of judgment because, during our time in this world, we are just like him.

    - The perfection of God’s love leads to confidence. Do you have confidence about Judgment day?

    during our time in this world, we are just like him

    - Some claim a contradiction with 3:2. While a superficial reading can lead to a contradiction, as usual context is very important. The context here is Judgment Day. What is critical to judgment? Sin. Give this, how are we like him? We are sinless because of his love, and that is why we can have confidence.

     

    18 – There is no fear where love exists[2]. Rather, perfect love banishes fear, for fear involves punishment, and the person who lives in fear has not been perfected in love.

    - Because of this, there is no fear. After all, what do we have to fear of Judgment day? Nothing! We have been washed clean but the blood of the lamb. We abide in the perfect love of God. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

    - How does this line up with verse like Phil 2:12

    And so, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only when I was with you but even more now that I am absent, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling

    That we do not fear judgment day does not mean we lose our respect for God position.

    has not been perfected in love

    - This is not necessarily referring to those who are lost. It means that God’s love needs to be perfected in them.

     

    To love God is to Love one another (4:19-21)

    19 – We love[3] because God[4] first loved us.

    - Our love for God is not grounded in a threat of punishment. It is a response to the love that God has already shown us. It is grounded in gratitude, not fear.

     

    20 – Whoever says, “I love God,” but hates his brother is a liar. The one who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love the God whom he has not seen.

    - John returns again to the claims of those who left, but here he is making a larger point. We cannot see God, but we can see our brother. So while we might not really be able to tell if someone loves God, we can tell if someone loves his brother.

    - This works both ways. Sometimes is it easier to love God, because we do not see him. Sometimes it is easier to love people because we do see them. True love covers both.

     

    21 – And this is the commandment that we have from him: the person who loves God must also love his brother.

    - This is more than just a guideline, this is a commandment. In John 13:34 Jesus said,

    I’m giving you a new commandment…to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.

    - John started his summary with how we should Love, which was one the key errors of those who left. Why do you think John has stressed this point so often?

     

    If you have question or comments about the class, feel free to send me an email at elgin@hushbeck.com and be sure to put “Epistles of John” in the header.

    See here for references and more background on the class.

    Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-2008 by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission. www.isv.org

    Note: Some places I have modify the text from the ISV version. Passages that I have modified have been noted with and * by the verse number and the ISV text is included in a footnote.


    Footnotes:

    [1] 4:16 Lit. believe in
    [2] 4:18 Lit. in love
    [3] 4:19 Other mss. read love him; still other mss. read love God
    [4] 4:19 Lit. he

    The Epistles of John: Living in Truth and Love. 1 John 4:4-10

    Saturday, December 8th, 2012 by Elgin Hushbeck

    e. We overcome the World (4:4-6)

    i. You have overcome them (4:4)

    4 – Little children, you belong to God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

    - John assures them of their victory. They have resisted the temptation though the power of the Holy Spirit. There is possibly a hint of persecution here. Also note the contrast between “in you” and “in the world.” While we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, non-believers are not indwelt by Satan.

    ii. Belonging to World vs. Belonging to God (4:5-6)

    5 – These people belong to the world. That is why they speak from the world’s perspective,[1] and the world listens to them.

    - Then, as now, there was the way the world looks at things, and the way God looks at things. Those who left were of the world and they speak that way. Today we see this in the use of, and battle over, labels such as Pro-Life – Pro-choice. We must remember we are not in a popularity contest. God’s message will is not to be judged by numbers. The world judges by how big and how popular something is. But for God, what matters is truth and love.

    6 – We belong to God. The person who knows God listens to us. Whoever does not belong to God does not listen to us. This is how we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.

    - Note the change to plural. John is speaking of all Christians. Those who know God will accept the teachings of God, while those who do not know God will not. We are not in a battle of logic and reason. That someone does not accept the Gospel is not a failure on our part. That the experts disagree is not relevant.

    f. Love comes from God (4:7-10)

    i. Love one another (4:7a)

    7 – Dear friends, let us continually love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God.

    - Having just talked about the importance of truth, John now turns to the other test: Love. Here John adds a reason: because love comes from God. He is continuing his argument that those who know God accept the truth of his message, and they reflect his actions: i.e., they love.

    Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God

    - This can be a difficult verse and context is important to avoid misunderstanding. Here the context is of loving others. John is not talking about the love of a parent for a child, or love of a spouse. The context is loving people.

    - To really love, require that we love in truth. We are to love as God Loves. To know God is to obey God; to Obey is to Love; to Love is to know God – John closes the circle. This is a goal that few and probably none actually achieve. It is something we strive for.

    ii. Loving one another = knowing God (4:7b-8)

    8 – The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

    - Again having stated the positive, John now emphasizes this with the negative.

    because God is love

    - This is one of John definitional statements, such as God is Light (1:7), God is Spirit (Jn 4:24) This statement is quite popular in the modern Church but note that it does not say God is only Love. John’s argument here is that God is Love, how can we claim to be followers of God if we do not love?

    iii. God’s Love demonstrated (4:9-10)

    9 – This is how God’s love was revealed among us: God sent his unique Son into the world so that we might live through him.

    - If we are to love as God loves, then how does God love? John gives us the greatest example in a fashion very reminiscent of John 3:16. This example has both of the major components of godly love: A true compassion that works itself out in action.

    10 – This is love: not that we have loved[2] God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

    - John expands on his definition of love

    Not that we have loved God but that he loved us

    - As we seek to understand real love, we cannot look to how we love God or how we love others. True love is to be found in how God loved us.

    sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sin

    - Rom 5:8 – But God demonstrates his love for us by the fact that the Messiah died for us while we were still sinners.

    - God’s love was demonstrated while we were in rebellion against him. What does that say about our love? What does it say about how we treat others?

    If you have question or comments about the class, feel free to send me an email at elgin@hushbeck.com and be sure to put “Epistles of John” in the header.

    See here for references and more background on the class.

    Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-2008 by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission. www.isv.org

    Note: Some places I have modify the text from the ISV version. Passages that I have modified have been noted with and * by the verse number and the ISV text is included in a footnote.


    Footnotes:

    [1] 4:5 Lit. from the world
    [2] 4:10 Other mss. read we loved

    The Epistles of John: Living in Truth and Love. 1 John 4:2-3

    Thursday, October 4th, 2012 by Elgin Hushbeck

    Week 35: Sept 30, 2012

    Study

    i. How to test (4:2-3)

    2 – This is how you can recognize God’s Spirit: Every spirit who acknowledges that Jesus the Messiah[1] has become human—and remains so—is from God.

    - Having said that we should test, John now gives us a means for testing.

    Jesus the Messiah has become human—and remains so

    - The Greek is somewhat ambiguous here. This could be translated as Has become (NIV) or is come (KJV) The ISV translation encompasses both views. Those who left seem to have drawn a distinction between physical and spiritual and as such they would have denied this. So what John has done is go straight to the core issue: the nature and person of Jesus.

    - This is also the dividing line when we look at those who attend other churches. What do they say about Jesus? We may disagree on a lot of side issues, but the key question is what do they say about Jesus.

    3 – But every spirit who does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist. You have heard that he is coming, and now he is already in the world.

    - This is so important that John expresses it both in a positive and a negative fashion as a way of emphasizing it.

    not acknowledge Jesus

    - There is a textual issue here as some manuscripts have Jesus is come in the flesh or similar variations. These are almost certainly later addition by scribes who were attempting to make this verse match verse the wording in verse 2.

    - Note that the focus here on Jesus (as opposed to saying that we should acknowledge the Messiah) and thus it serves as a perfect summary. First, it focuses the issue on the key point denied by those who left. Second by just mentioning Jesus, and it serves as a generalization, i.e., the nature and person of Jesus.

    spirit of the antichrist

    - Again this is a term that has taken on a lot of meaning since the first century. John usage here is not focused on the end times, but on those who claim to be followers of Christ, when in reality they are against or opposed to Christ; i.e., antichrists. ( See comments on 2:18)

    If you have question or comments about the class, feel free to send me an email at elgin@hushbeck.com and be sure to put “Epistles of John” in the header.

    See here for references and more background on the class.

    Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-2008 by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission. www.isv.org

    Note: Some places I have modify the text from the ISV version. Passages that I have modified have been noted with and * by the verse number and the ISV text is included in a footnote.


    Footnotes:

    [1] 4:2 Or Christ

    [1] 4:2 Or Christ


    The Epistles of John: Living in Truth and Love. 1 John 3:23-4:1

    Thursday, October 4th, 2012 by Elgin Hushbeck

    Week 34: Sept 23, 2012

    Study

    i. The Commandment (3:23-3:24)

    23 – And this is his commandment: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus the Messiah,[1] and to love one another as he commanded us.

    - John spells out what is expected of us: Believe in the name (On name see notes on 2:12). The concept of Name refers to the power and the authority. This stems from who Jesus is. Note that John includes Jesus. This is another indication that those who left were a form of proto-Gnostics who would have rejected that the physical Jesus was anything more than just a container for the Messiah. The other part of the command is to Love one another. These are the two tests of a true Christian. On a side note, just think of all the things the church has at times added to this list. John’s list is much better.

    24 – The person who keeps his commandments abides in God,[2] and God abides in him.[3] This is how we can be sure that he remains in us: he has given us his Spirit.

    - John once again returns to equating obedience with abiding in God, We in him, and He in us. Marshall points out that obedience here is not so much a condition but an expression of abiding in God.

    This how we can be sure

    - While obedience equates to abiding, John give us a further test: The Holy Spirit. John does not specify how will manifest itself, probably because it is different for different believers. But his does raise the question, how do we know that what we think is the spirit is the Holy Spirit? This is a question to which, John will now turn.

    d. Test what People Say (4:1-3)

    i. Test (4:1)

    1 – Dear friends, stop believing[4] every spirit. Instead, test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

    - Having just told them that the Spirit confirms that we abide in God, John adds a caution: Not every spirit is from God, it is important not to be deceived. Mormons, for example, base their faith on “their Testimony” which they believe to be a message directly from the Holy Spirit. My faith is based on a message I believe came from the Holy Spirit. We both cannot be correct. So how can we tell?

    test the spirits

    - Faith is not simply a belief and nowhere are we told to just blindly accept. Christianity is not just an abstract theological system to be believed. It is a faith based grounded in historical events that can and should be tested. For example:

    1 John 10 – The claim of who Jesus is in 10:30 is challenged. Note how Jesus basis his claim on evidence in 10:30-37

    If I am not doing my Father’s works, do not believe me. But if I am doing them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works,

    2 John 14:11 – Jesus told his disciples to believe him, or at least believe the works (i.e., the evidence) that he has been doing.

    3 Acts 17:11 – the Bereans tested everything Paul said

    4 1 Thess 5:21 – Test everything

    - many false prophets have gone out into the world

    - Not only are there false spirits, but people are deceived by these spirits have gone out into the world. How we are to deal with these false prophets was a key message of 2nd John. Given the context here, it is most likely, those who left also claimed to be led by the Spirit.

    If you have question or comments about the class, feel free to send me an email at elgin@hushbeck.com and be sure to put “Epistles of John” in the header.

    See here for references and more background on the class.

    Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-2008 by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission. www.isv.org

    Note: Some places I have modify the text from the ISV version. Passages that I have modified have been noted with and * by the verse number and the ISV text is included in a footnote.


    Footnotes:

    [1] 3:23 Or Christ
    [2] 3:24 Lit. in him
    [3] 3:24 Lit. and he in him
    [4] 4:1 Or do not believe