Dear Student of the Word,
Happy New Year! I trust your holiday season was a good one and that 2010 is off to a good start. As you make your new year's goals, I am sure you included some goals to grow in your knowledge of God's word. At the end of 2009, we finished our study of John's gospel. Now it is time to turn our attention to the study of John's epistles. I will publish one study every other week and by the end of May, we should be done with this study of the New Testament, which began in 2001. Yet I get ahead of myself. First, let's look at something I wrote as part of this week's seven-part daily study:
v. 2:2 – Some have interpreted this verse to mean that Christ died for everyone’s sins, whether or not they repent. That is not what John was writing. Jesus died for those who turn to God through Him. There is no lack to the sufficiency of Christ for those people who repent. Even if everyone in the world repented of his or her sin, Christ would be sufficient. Not everyone does turn from their sin, however, so Christ is sufficient for only those who are His. Those who are not His have no sacrifice for their sins and live therefore outside of God’s grace.
This thinking that all men would be saved is called universalism and has been denounced as error many times. Yet even today some continue to believe that God will grant salvation to everyone, denying the existence of a literal hell and final judgment for sinners. That is not a tenet of orthodox Christianity. All those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved; all those who do not will not be saved. It is as simple as that.
v. 2:3 – There is evidence in the lives of those who know the Lord for salvation and that is in their behavior. Forgiveness of sins isn’t just something that God automatically grants to anyone. Forgiveness is granted to those who seek it, by God’s grace as a gift. Yet salvation should manifest new deeds consistent with a new heart.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7:17).
Only God knows those who are saved, but a saved person can produce evidence of salvation through his or her works and those certainly give credence to God’s presence. Are you showing forth fruit that is consistent with your confession of faith? Your works do not save you but you are saved to do good works.
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For further Bible study, my website archives contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse Bible studies from Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Thessalonians, 1&2 Timothy, Hebrews, James, 1&2 Peter, Hebrews and Revelation, along with the unpublished volumes of The Faith Files.
THE SOPHIA FUND: $1,300 come in for the Sophia Fund at year's end and some money and supplies for the Deborah Foundation continue to arrive. My response to all this is: THANK YOU AND PLEASE DON'T STOP. I leave for Kenya on February 5 with 14 others and we want to take as much stuff and money over with us as possible.
If you haven't already done so, please take the time to read my latest update on the Sophia Fund and the Deborah Foundation here. As you read, you will understand what a difference you can make in a child's life with very little effort or investment.
After you read these updates, I hope you will act to help as my trip approaches in four weeks. I need money and supplies to feed and educate the children in a difficult environment. If you need more background or information, go to my blog to see my latest posts or go to my Facebook page. I will figure out a way to get everything to Kenya. You just figure out a way to get them to me.
KENYA: The finest training in goal setting and personal development I have ever received was through an organization called The Pacific Institute. I am going to do a three-day Pacific Institute seminar while I am in Nairobi from February 8-10 at the Serena Hotel in Nairobi. This training is not inexpensive, but it has paid for itself in my life over and over again. Be watching for updates in the coming weeks and then be a part of this historic event when I come over in February. It will change you and your life forever.