NUGGETS OF WISDOM

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BELIEVING WHAT YOU CAN’T SEE

David recollected that as a young lad, with long unruly hair and a ruddy complexion, sleeping out in an open pasture under a starry sky after watching his father’s sheep all day long; how he would take his little harp and sing to the God above all gods. Looking up, he saw the sky as a huge tent with the sparkling stars as lights that lit up the night. He may have even tried to count them once or twice. But what really impressed him was that each night every star was in exactly the same place, not one of them was missing. He was so overcome with awe that he penned a hymn to the creator of that starry universe.

O my LORD Eternal and heavenly Master, Your awe-inspiring works mark You as a genius, as You display Your grandeur all over the heavens for all the world to see. For through these small and tiny dots of light You communicate as a way of countering those who don’t take You seriously; yes, You do this to silence the doubter and unbeliever. When I look up into the sky and see the galaxies Your hands created, the stars and the moon You put into orbit I ask, “What role do humans play in this vast universe; why do You care and fuss over them?” Then I realized, You created them a little short of being angels; endowing them with attributes of honor and dignity; making them the smartest and most influential creatures on earth; putting them in charge to being stewards of Your handiwork, even taking care of the animals, both domestic and wild, including the birds that fill the sky and the fish that fill the sea. O LORD Eternal and heavenly Master, Your awe-inspiring works mark You as a genius for all the world to see.” Psalm 8:1-9

Reflection: Back in the days of the hippy movement I sat in a coffee house in Stuttgart, Germany talking with a long-haired flower-child about God. The young man was respectful but adamant about his doubts concerning God’s existence because he couldn’t see Him or talk to Him. At that moment the Holy Spirit gave me an inspiration, so I pointed to a picture hanging on the wall beside our table and asked the young man if he believed that picture came into being due to an accidental collision of paint and paper. He laughed and said, “That’s ridiculous; that picture was painted by an artist.” I responded that I wasn’t convinced because I couldn’t see the artist in the picture; how did I know that maybe one day it just appeared on the wall by accident. The young fellow looked at me for a moment and then admitted that even though I couldn’t see the artist in the painting, I had to accept the fact that an artist painted the picture because it just makes sense. I told him that in the same way, one must exercise faith to believe an unseen talented artist created such a beautiful portrait, we can also believe an unseen God created the beauty of the universe. The magnificence of God’s creation shows His responsibility for man’s existence, and man’s responsibility to acknowledge God’s handiwork. The young man smiled somewhat embarrassingly as he bowed his head and said, “Okay, you got me on that one.” I asked him if we could have prayer for him to have faith, but he wasn’t sure. As he went away I asked the Holy Spirit to go with him and open his eyes to the truth.

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson VI) 10/03/22

5:1 If you believe that Jesus is the Anointed One – that He is God’s Son and your Savior – then you are God’s child. And all who love the Father love His children too.

Robert Cameron (1839-1904) mentions that the condition of this union with the Father and shared possession of the new life is faith in the Anointed One. This faith is also a sign of life. Believing is used here in its complete and definite sense. The third chapter of John’s Epistle expresses belief in the revelation made concerning the Anointed One,[1] and in chapter four, belief in the love manifested through Him.[2] But here, in chapter five, verse one expresses the personal relation of a believing soul to the Anointed of God. In addition to this truth about the Anointed One and the love manifested in Him, reliance upon Him brings the believer into vital contact with Him.

Cameron then adds that the one who believes that Jesus is the Anointed of God for salvation not only admits an intellectual truth but receives all that is involved in that truth. The Apostle John has previously considered the confession of the Anointed One concerning society, but he has in mind solely the faith of a soul in the person of the Anointed One without any regard to another. It is mankind meeting God in the Anointed One and with heart and mouth echoing God’s testimony about themselves and their Savior. It is the essence of what is needed to make a child of God. It is more than assenting to a proposition or expressing the truth. It is the uncontrolled contact of a soul with God through His Anointed One. Martha did not understand a word the Master said to her while grieving over her brother Lazarus’ death. When Jesus asked her if she believed what He said, she answered: “Yes, Lord, I have believed that You are the Messiah, the Son of God.”[3] Apparently, she did not comprehend what the Master said, but she believed in Him: His salvation and rest. She had faith in the right person, which is the right kind of faith. Everyone who believes this way is born of God.[4]

Sir Robert Anderson (1841-1918) says the Apostle John’s message should not be impossible for the natural mind to comprehend. In the wildest myths of false religions, there is nothing more incredible than the story of the life and death of the Son of God. However, for someone who knows who Jesus was and what “Messiah” means, to believe that Jesus is the Anointed One is so beyond the possibilities of human reason that it is proof of being born of God. Those who believe that Jesus is God’s Son are people with supernatural faith, which overcomes the world.[5] Yet just as in Him, the physical eye could see no beauty;[6] Likewise, the human mind can see no wonders in His Gospel. But John finds it fitting to preach the Gospel that the Holy Spirit may empower the Word to reveal the mighty mysteries and marvels of redemption. The Spirit has no desire to inspire John to lower and humanize it to bring it within reach of the natural individual apart from the work of the Holy Spirit.[7]

Erich Haupt (1841-1910) states that Apostle John presents the synthesis of our relationship to God and the Church, drawn from the love of God that is supposed to exist in us. In God’s eyes, being right is confirmed and verified only by a right relationship with fellow Christians. Now John looks at the matter from the other side: brotherly love is measured by our fellowship with God. This thought expressed in verse two is the fundamental note of the verses that follow, the chapter’s first verse forming only a transition. Several new ideas enter here. Instead of brethren used for the neighbor, the phrases “born of God” and “child of God” is selected for replication. It serves the synthesis that we love our fellow believers as children of God as God loves us. The validity of our love for them then is proven by the genuineness of our love for God. If this love for God is absent, I cannot love my neighbor as a child of God and therefore do not regard them with the right kind of sentiment. Since charity to the neighbor depends upon the infusion of divine love, that is, of the divine Spirit, such compassion will always be absent when the right relationship with God is unsustained. The first verse of chapter five asserts that between our relationship with God and our relationship with the brethren, there must be a reciprocal influence. It explains how the approval of our union with God is a sure token of our proper connection to spiritual brothers and sisters.[8]

George G. Findlay (1849-1919) states that the Incarnation is the basis of the loftiest and most potent human affections. Love to God and mankind are, according to the Apostle John, the same love toward like-minded believers. No matter how distant, they are one in the person of God’s Son and made children of God through Him. It is God’s nature in us to love other believers. If no one has that mindset, what will one value in the hereafter? The devoted believer who is not friendly is contradicting themselves. John is very short with people in this class; he calls them liars![9] Either they are hypocrites, willfully deceiving others, or they continue to deceive themselves. There is something of God in every born-again Christian; if one does not see and love that something, it is because their eyes of love have become dim. According to John’s doctrine in the closing verses of chapter four, one cannot truly love God without embracing their fellow believers with the same love.[10]

William Macdonald Sinclair (1850-1917) points out that when the Apostle John says, “Whoever believes,” we should not busy ourselves questioning who are those that still do not believe. This failure in trust is because so many have never heard the Gospel and its message of salvation. What’s important to John is that those who have this privilege of being God’s children are those who have accepted the message and the messenger, Jesus the Anointed One. To be born of God, in a general sense, is quite distinct from “only-begotten.”[11]

James B. Morgan (1859-1942) implies that this verse may contain the original theory of brotherly love John refers to in other parts of the Epistle. There he explains and enforces its meaning, but nowhere is it more fully expressed than here. We have seen it represented as rising out of love for God. We can assume then that loving God cannot exist without loving others. This assumption is reasonable and scriptural, for, in both exercises, it is one principle branching off in different directions. They are two streams issuing from the same fountain. Not only is there this necessary connection between them, but the same divine and supreme authority require both. Therefore, for a person to say they love God while hating their fellowman is to say they love God whom they disobey and dishonor. Still, as necessary as mandatory brotherly love is, there is only one way in which it can remain secure. That is what John explains in the text. Hence, we have said it contains the theory of brotherly love. As such, then, let us agree: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Anointed One, is born of God; and everyone that loves Him that gave them birth, also loves those whom He has birthed into everlasting life.” [12]

Robert Law (1860-1919) cautions that the Apostle John asserts that our relationship with our fellow believers is ordained for this reason. “And we have this command from Him: The one who loves God must also love their fellow believers.”[13] The first reason we realize our love for God to others is an opportunity.[14] The second is the express revelation of the Divine purpose for mankind. The ultimate end for which all social relations exist is that they may be, so to say, the arteries through which the Divine Life of Love flows. We find the third reason in verse two – its role in nature. The commandment, “They who love God also love their spiritual brothers and sisters,” is based on the profound universal law of kinship. Here in verse one, the clause is strictly introductory to the second. The statement, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Anointed is born of God,” is made only to define the persons to whom the brotherly love of Christians is due and the grounds on which it is owed. In opposition to the Gnostic’s exclusiveness, it claims the full measure of brotherly love for all believers. It does so because all are children of One Father. Those who love their parents as the source of their life must love those whose life is derived from the same origin. The psychological necessity for family love follows love for one’s spiritual brothers and sisters. In other words, those who are “born of God” cannot but love those who share the life that unites humans in their deepest convictions, dispositions, aspirations, and hopes.[15]

Archibald T. Robertson (1863-1934) mentions that the antichrist followers of Cerinthus[16] denied the identity of Jesus as the Messiah.[17] Hence John insists on this form of faith (Greek pisteuō; to believe”) here in the fullest sense.[18] Nothing less will satisfy the Apostle John, not merely intellectual conviction, but a total surrender to Jesus the Anointed One as Lord and Savior. Divine birthing is the forerunner, not the consequence of believing. Being “born of God” is expressed in other parts of this Epistle.[19] John appeals here to family relationships and family love. So then, our love for a mutual Father is proven by our conduct towards our spiritual brothers and sisters in the Anointed One.[20]

Alan England Brooke (1863-1939) notes that a new birth has occurred where true faith in Jesus as God’s appointed messenger is present. The Apostle John does not state whether faith is the cause or the result of the new birth. The point is not present in his thoughts, and his argument does not require an explanation. What he wishes to emphasize is the fact that they go together. Where true faith dwells, the new birth is a reality and has lasting and permanent consequences. The believer has been born of God. But incidentally, the tenses “make it clear that Divine birthing precedes believing, not the consequence of believing.”  Therefore, Christian belief, essentially the spiritual recognition of spiritual truth, is a function of the Divine Life imparted to those who believe.

Brooke then points out that the phrase used in John’s Gospel, “to those who believed in His name,” [21] suggests complete and voluntary submission to the guidance of a Person who possessed the character their name implies. Although John is careful not to conceive of any genuine faith stopping short of being convinced of the statement, “He gave the right to become children of God.” They would have regarded the belief that Jesus is the Anointed One as inseparable from faith in Jesus as the Anointed One. Neither belief nor knowledge is, for John, a purely intellectual process. The antichrist’s denial affects this confession of faith.[22] It stresses the identity of Jesus as the incarnated Anointed One, as opposed to the prevalent theories of a higher power descending at Jesus’ baptism and leaving at His crucifixion. The child’s love for their parents naturally carries a divine passion for spiritual brothers and sisters. The step in the argument, “Everyone born of God loves God,” is passed over as too obvious to require a statement. We are reminded again that we must deal with the language of meditation.[23]

Ronald A. Ward (1920-1986) finds that the Apostle John makes no exceptions in distinguishing the facets of faith: (a) I believe that Jesus is God’s Son, (b) I believe, trust, and have faith in Jesus. John combines belief and faith, which can exist separately but only when combined can they be called “saving faith.”[24] When putting both together, it reads: “I believe that the Anointed One is Jesus.” [25]


[1] 1 John 3:10

[2] Ibid. 4:9

[3] John 11:27

[4] Cameron, Robert: The First Epistle of John, or, God Revealed in Life, Light, and Love, op. cit., p. 207

[5] 1 John 5:5

[6] Isaiah 53:2; Mark 6:3

[7] Anderson, Sir Robert: The Gospel and Its Ministry, op. cit., p. 25

[8] Haupt, Erich: The First Epistle of St. John: Clark’s Foreign Theological Library, Vol. LXIV, op. cit., pp. 285-286

[9] 1 John 4:20

[10] Findlay, George G: Fellowship in the Life Eternal: An exposition of the Epistles of St. John., op. cit., Ch. XXII, p.368

[11] Sinclair, W. M: New Testament Commentary for English Readers, Charles J. Ellicott, (Ed.), op. cit., Vol. III, p. 490

[12] Morgan, James B., An Exposition of the First Epistle of John, op. cit., Lecture XXXIX, pp. 384-385

[13] 1 John 4:21

[14] Ibid. 4:20

[15] Law, Robert: The Tests of Life: A Study of the First Epistle of St. John, op. cit., pp. 252-253

[16] Cerinthus taught that Jesus, the offspring of Joseph and Mary, received the Spirit of the Anointed One at His baptism as a divine power revealing the unknown Father. This Anointed One left Jesus before His death and the Resurrection.

[17] 1 John 2:2

[18] Stronger than in 1 John 3:23; 4:16

[19] 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:4,18

[20] Robertson, Archibald T., Word Pictures of the New Testament, op. cit., p. 1966

[21] John 1:12

[22] 1 John 2:22

[23] Brooke, Alan E., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary of the Johannine Epistles, op. cit., pp. 128-129

[24] See James 2:19

[25] Ward, Ronald A., The Epistles of John and Jude, op. cit., p. 53 

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POINTS TO PONDER

Undoubtedly, most of us in our lifetime have been told to have confidence in who we are, in what we do, and in our ability to accomplish whatever we may take on as a cause or project. Psychologists tell us that confidence is a belief in oneself, the conviction that one can meet life’s challenges and succeed – and the willingness to act accordingly. Being confident requires a realistic sense of one’s capabilities and feeling secure in that knowledge. Projecting confidence helps people gain credibility, make a strong first impression, deal with pressure, and tackle personal and professional challenges. It’s also attractive, as confidence helps put others at ease.

Furthermore, confidence is not an innate, fixed characteristic. It’s an ability that can be acquired and improved over time. Anxiety can take hold when people are plagued by self-doubt, so putting themselves in and getting accustomed to the specific situation they fear can assure people that nothing terrible will happen. And the activity gets easier with practice. Outside of a social context, one can gain a sense of confidence from personal and professional accomplishments. Continuing to set and meet goals can enable the belief that one is competent and capable.

Lindsay Tigar, a lifestyle and travel writer based in Boston, imagines that we’ve all come across those special people who ooze natural confidence and strength. Whether they’re a member of your work or friend circle, these individuals carry themselves with grace, have excellent eye contact and a firm handshake, and speak with conviction. You may have previously envied their ability to handle an audience and wondered how you could build your confidence to the same level. The truth is it takes practice. It comes from investing in ourselves.

Dr. Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., a Los Angeles-based Psychologist, says that having confidence means believing in and feeling emotionally secure about yourself. It means you have healthy self-esteem and a sense of self. Confidence involves feeling self-assured in an unassuming way rather than being pretentious or arrogant about your characteristics or abilities. 

Kristi Coppa, founder of Wondergrade, a psychological service to help build emotional well-being, states that our confidence reminds us that not only can we make goals, but we must also reach them. So, no matter if we’re working toward getting a promotion at work, making healthier food choices, maintaining a self-care routine, or choosing a life partner, we can trust ourselves. What a beautiful thing. 

Confidence also helps when things don’t turn out as expected. For example, when failure or mistakes happen, confident people are more likely to look at the situation positively, learn from their mistakes, and move forward. This ability to adapt to setbacks allows confident people to pursue higher reaching goals and remain open to changes in the environment or situation.

Also, while everyone experiences periods of sadness and bouts of anxiety, those who are confident are better equipped to push past these feelings. When fears do arrive, confident people typically can calm fearful thoughts with positive self-talk and are less likely to concentrate on worries. This allows confident people to move through anxiety and difficulty and positively cope with challenging emotions. Confidence is associated with almost every aspect of a fulfilling and satisfying life.

So, how can a person build confidence? First, give yourself a break. Having an eradicator sense of confidence doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it blooms from practice, patience, and continuously trying to be your greatest fan. Here’s a look at some ways to strengthen your self-esteem. Second, invest in your natural skills. Take the things you are good at and start using them more often. Third, accept your emotions. Don’t let fear or anxiety discourage you from completing a task. Fourth, track what’s going well. Don’t spend time on shortcomings; rather, celebrate achievements. Fifth, stop formulating your statements. Don’t soften your opinion so they’ll come across more likable. When we do this, we take power away from ourselves by handing over our thoughts on a silver platter. Sixth, rephrase what you say to yourself. All day, every day, we have an inner dialogue running. While this is a natural, everyday human practice that we should embrace, we must also take an in-depth look at how we speak to ourselves. We will never build confidence if we’re constantly talking down to ourselves. If we want to grow in confidence, we must train our brains to look for positive qualities in ourselves and our situation and turn that into positive self-talk.

This is all well and good, but what does God’s Word have to say about confidence? The Psalmist David has a great idea, “Even if an army surrounds me, I will not be afraid. Even if people attack, I will have confidence in the Lord” (Psalm 27:3). David’s son, Solomon, promoted the same idea by saying, “You can have confidence in the Lord to protect you. He will not let you fall into harm” (Proverbs 3:26). Then later Solomon states that “Reverence for God builds up confidence and makes a world safe for your children” (Proverbs 14:26).

The Prophet Isaiah has this word from the Lord, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you; don’t be dismayed, for I am your God; I will give you confidence, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Then the Apostle Paul tells us that “We must not be confident in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our confidence is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5), and “that you have confidence in the Lord that you will not believe the ideas with which someone is trying to confuse you” (Galatians 5:10). Furthermore, “You can do all things through Him who gives you confidence” (Philippians 4:13).

The writer of Hebrews also has a few things to say about confidence. First, he tells us not to “Lose the confidence we had in the past. Our confidence will be rewarded richly. We must be patient. After you have done what God wants, you will get what He promised you” (Hebrews 10:35-36), “so you can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid of what people might do to me’” (Hebrews 13:6).

Finally, the Apostle John states, “If we have a bad conscience and feel that we have done wrong, the Lord will surely feel it even more, for He knows everything we do. So, dearly loved friends, if our consciences are clear, we can come to the Lord with confidence and trust” (1 John 3:20-21). So, as we can see, as we are told to have confidence in ourselves, the Bible tells us it will be even better when we also have confidence in God.

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SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

You might find that saying Love is a sponge seems a little odd. Aren’t we supposed to be a fountain of Love? But there’s more to it than that. Let me tell you a story involving the once-great mining town of Butte, Montana, where my next oldest sister was born. Back when it was a bustling mining town, Butte made a full third of the copper used in the United States. But as time went on, things turned sour, even after the mining company blew the shaft open to make copper extraction more efficient. Finally, in the early 1980s, economic forces forced it into bankruptcy. 

And it wasn’t just the company’s lights that got turned off, but on their way out of town, the firm shut off the pumps it used to keep water from collecting at the bottom of the mining pit. Slowly, over the years, the water level at the bottom of the quarry began to rise. It started as a puddle. Then it got fuller and fuller until, at 40 billion gallons, it became one of the largest lakes in the United States.

One oddity of geology in this region of Montana is that the ground is full of iron pyrite (which looks like “fool’s gold”). And it turns out that when air, water, and pyrite get together, they produce sulfuric acid. So, this huge lake became a massive vat of sulfuric acid, which hastened the rate at which heavy metals in the remaining copper ore seeped into the water. The lake became a toxic brew.

Then one night in the mid-1990s, a great storm swept over Butte just as a flock of snow geese passed overhead. Not knowing any better, the birds took refuge in the waters of this pit. When the residents of Butte woke up the next morning, they discovered the carcasses of approximately 350 geese floating on the lake’s surface. This was a pit of death, inhospitable to life.

One day, several years later, someone walked into the nearby University of Montana biology department brandishing an algae-covered stick. The researchers gasped when they learned it had been pulled from the lake. They had written off the lake for years. Nothing could live in it, right? But somehow, life had found a way. 

The researchers got curious. They decided to see what else they might find in the lake. And after a year of looking, they discovered this black, blobby glob floating around in the water. It turned out to be a kind of yeast. And it had the most remarkable property. It was absorbing the heavy metals from the water around it. It was acting like a sponge.

Scientists and engineers have used bacteria and other microorganisms to filter heavy metals from contaminated water for years. Usually, these bacteria remove about 10-15% of contaminants. But this black blob absorbed 85-95% of the heavy metals in the water around it. So it was purifying the water in what was once a toxic brew. Excited about their find, the researchers worked up a profile and ran it through their databases to see where else this yeast might exist in the natural world. They certainly, weren’t the first people to find it. 

Their search came up with a single hit. This yeast occurs in only one place – in the digestive tracts of geese. As I say, love is a sponge. Think about it for a moment. If the love revealed in Jesus’ death on the cross can, like yeast, soak up the world’s violence, brokenness, hatred, and division, then purify it, transform it, and reorient it into a new life, then let us never lose sight that at the heart of our faith is this conviction that God’s love can take what is the very worst in us and turn it into good.

With that being true, why can’t we use God’s love to do the same for those around us – in our homes, churches, businesses, and neighborhoods, so that it becomes a great blob acting as a sponge? The Apostle Peter was the first one to come up with this idea. He wrote his constituents, “Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so keep your minds clear and control yourselves. Stay wide awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes you willing to forgive many sins. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and He’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything. Then, God will be praised in everything through Jesus the Anointed One. Power and glory belong to Him forever and ever. Amen!” (1 Peter 4:7-8, 11b)

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson V) 09/30/22

5:1 If you believe that Jesus is the Anointed One – that He is God’s Son and your Savior – then you are God’s child. And all who love the Father love His children too.

William Kelly (1822-1888) mentions another relationship of more profound significance than loving one’s spiritual brother or sister in general but individually. How are they related to God? It is essential to have an answer from God to this question, “Who is my brother?” Many sincere and devoted individuals in the Apostle John’s congregation seem to have difficulty answering this. Undoubtedly, the scattering of God’s children, who once resided in one area like Antioch, adds to the perplexity. Are my fellow believers only those who compose the same congregation? The answer is, “No!” God expects our love to go out into the community, whether right or wrong. Other spiritual communities may have different doctrines or ordinances. But when they share the same beliefs, the present state of disharmony in the church is a reproach on God and makes the path slippery for most. The reason is that it may feel they are the ones who are correct instead of looking to God’s Word and Spirit for guidance. Undoubtedly, the Spirit is grieved[1] by the confusion and disorder in holiness matters. That opens the danger of swerving from His will.[2]

William Burt Pope (1822-1903) states that faith in Jesus as the Anointed One is, in verse one, the only one the Apostle John ever gives. It is that divinely fashioned trust in the work the Holy Spirit produces through the person of Jesus. Though he does not say so here, John will mention that the Spirit certifies this work. The exact link between faith and regeneration is left untouched. The argument is similar in content and meaning elsewhere,[3] but in verse one, John emphasizes loving one another as a requirement.[4]

Daniel Steele (1824-1914) states that what the Apostle John says here is more than a casual assent to the truth of the doctrines and claims in the life of the Anointed One. Such reliance upon His person for salvation causes us to abandon every other hope and plea to enthrone Him as the supreme Lawgiver. True faith embraces permission, consent, and trust. It also requires our intellectual approval, sensibilities, and complete submission of the will.

The perfect tense in the Greek verb gennaō implies the continuous effectiveness of this spiritual change. Thus, faith and love are inseparable. The Apostle James expresses the same sentiment respecting those who profess to have faith without the fruitage of Love.[5] It is natural. The love for God and the children of God do, in fact, include each other, just like sodium and chloride must be joined to make salt. It is equally valid if we reverse the order and say, “they who love the children of God love God.” Either form is suitable as the foundation or conclusion of the argument.

Here’s a little logic for you: Upon conception, children inherit the image of their parents. No one can love their parents and yet hate their photographs. True Christians are more or less perfect representations of God’s moral character. In logic, this verse is called an “irregular sorites.”[6] Here’s how it reads: “Every child of God believes in His Incarnate Son. Every child of God loves their heavenly Father. The heavenly Father loves all His children. Therefore, every believer who believes in God’s Incarnate Son, who loves their heavenly Father who loves His children are a child of God who loves God’s children.”This verse demonstrates that the Father’s agápē is the source of love for His children, not the reverse.[7]

Brooke F. Westcott (1825-1901) finds that the transition from chapter four lies in the thought of brotherhood. Brotherhood emerged because of the sensitivity concerning the revelation of the Anointed One given by God. It is not an arbitrary command that those who love God also love their fellow Christians. They must do so. They consciously share the principle of their new being with every spiritual brother and sister. The Apostle John uses the Greek verb pisteuō (“believe”) here, but in 1 John 3:23, it expresses a belief in the truth of the revelation as to the Anointed One. In 1 John 4:16, pisteuō describes the general position with regard to the Divine purpose. And here, in verse one, pisteuō presents that belief in a direct and personal form. It not only admits an intellectual truth but enters into a direct relationship with the powers of a spiritual order. The assumption is that the child will love the Author of their being spiritually alive. Love follows directly from life. In this spiritual connection, love must be directed to the Character, not the Person, apart from their character. Therefore, it follows that it extends to all those to whom God’s nature is communicated.[8]

The Rev. Jacob Isidor Mombert (1829-1913) was born in Cassel, Germany. A Christian convert from Judaism, he was ordained a deacon in London by the Archbishop of Canterbury and began ministering in Quebec, Canada. As a scholarly man and gifted linguist, the University of Pennsylvania conferred a Doctor of Divinity Degree on him. In examining this verse, Mombert says that the only limitation on “salvation for all” is believing and faith. And although someone’s faith may be weak and immature, as long as it is sincere (subjective), and genuine (objective), it will suffice. This belief involves knowledge, inclination, yielding, and trust to create an opening for receiving. Consequently, only a child of God believes in Jesus as the Son of God.[9]

Henry A. Sawtelle (1832-1913) amplifies that “Whoever believes (from the heart, from the center of being, with a faith that is a part of one’s self) that Jesus is the Anointed One (the one prophesied and anointed of God) is born (or birthed) of God, and “from,” or “out of” God’s nature, by the Holy Spirit, becomes a child in God’s family.”[10] The Apostle John presents the object to be loved in the light of its true nature. For everyone who loves Him that God birthed also loves others, He birthed – that is, God’s children who are of one Spirit with Him. John establishes this fact; if we love God, we also love all in union with Him. Hence, we love our spiritual brothers and sisters who have His nature. It is an argument previously implied [11] but restated here in certain words that we may certainly know who the believers are to be loved and the divine reason for loving them. Does anyone know the full impact of believing in Jesus by tracing out the profound truths and facts involved in that beautiful description applied to Him as the Anointed One of God? Also, note the importance of this verse proving the relationship of regeneration to faith. Shining like the sun; believing is the action of the regenerate heart. So then, you see the activity of belief and know that regeneration is its source.[12]

John James Lias (1834-1923) notes different wording in verse one: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the One born of Him.” These words are in close connection with what was said before. Though they lead to the definition of the place of faith in the Christian scheme, this definition, nevertheless, according to the subtle law of development characteristic of the Apostle John’s Epistle and Gospel, flows gradually and indiscernibly from the thought with which the last chapter concludes. Here’s how it unfolds: It is a fundamental principle of the Gospel that each disciple should love their spiritual brothers and sisters. And why? Because each is the possessor of a new life, coming directly from God. We are to love our fellow Christians because every believer shares the gift of the supernatural life.[13]

The next question is regarding the meaning of the Greek verb pisteuō (“believed”). In 1 John 3:23, it’s coupled with love. However, it does not represent in any sense the channel through which love flows. It involves the recognition of Jesus the Anointed One and complete trust and confidence in Him as Savior. But there is no specific definition of its character. So then, in 1 John 4:16, it is even more restricted but fuller in scope. It is not belief in God or the Anointed One, but His love. It is indeed connected immediately with the assertion that love is His essence. But what we are in that passage specially asked to contemplate is the action of God towards us, as witnessed by our experience. However, here in verse one, says Lias, the nature of faith is made clear. It accepts the truth that Jesus is the Anointed One, and this, of course, involves all the doctrinal statements of chapter four. Those who believe that Jesus is the Anointed One believe in Him as the personal manifestation of God in human form.[14]

John James Lias (1834-1923) states that faith is not the cause but the consequence of the new birth. This statement might be viewed as a paradox, so firmly is it believed by many that faith is the necessary condition of the “new birth.” But the paradox is asserted here. No better interpretation fits John’s words than this, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Anointed One has already been born anew from God.” In other words, faith is not the cause but the effect of the new birth. So, the Apostle Paul thinks it necessary to caution us that “Salvation” is not our work but God’s; faith is not achieved by claiming to be a Christian. Instead, it is a Divine gift and the dynamic that makes salvation work.

Many in our day want to earn salvation and the new birth through a person’s actions, not God’s. So, first, a person believes, and then God operates. The opposite is the case. With the spiritual, as with the natural life, the divinely given seed is the first starting point, which gathers shape and form by God’s holy laws. Wildlife develops according to the law of Nature. If it grows, the spiritual life develops according to a spirit of faith. Faith is undoubtedly a person’s “response to their environment” to use modern scientific language. But even that power is God’s gift. Humans have nothing beyond their free will, which accept or reject what God offers them.[15]

Augustus Hopkins Strong (1836-1921) states that the Church’s doctrine on faith is a necessary outgrowth of the doctrine of regeneration. This fundamental spiritual change is mediated not by external applications but by internal and conscious reception of the Anointed One and His truth. As such, union with the Church logically follows, not precedes, the soul’s spiritual partnership with the Anointed One. We have seen that God’s family is the body of the Anointed One. We now perceive that the Church is made a living body with duties and powers of its own by the impartation to it of the Anointed One’s life. A. J. Gordon emphasizes that the church, a voluntary association of believers united for worship and edification, is most inadequate, if not incorrect.[16] It is no more accurate than that hands and feet are voluntarily united in the human body for movement and work. The Church is formed internally. The Anointed One, present through the Holy Spirit, regenerating people by the sovereign action of the Spirit and organizing them around Himself as the living center, is the only principle that can explain the existence of the Church. Therefore, the Head and the body are One – both in fact and name.[17] [18]


[1] Isaiah 63:10; Philippians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19

[2] Kelly, William: An Exposition of the Epistles of John the Apostle, op. cit., p. 346

[3] See 1 John 4:20

[4] William Burt Pope: The International Illustrated Commentary on the New Testament, Philip Schaff (Ed.), op. cit., pp. 36-37

[5] James 2:26

[6] An instance of a form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn (whether validly or not) from two given or assumed propositions (premises), each of which shares a term with the conclusion and shares a common or middle term not present in the conclusion. For example, all believers are Christians; all Christians are born again; therefore, all believers are born again.

[7] Steele, Daniel: Half-Hours with St. John’s Epistles, op. cit., loc., cit.

[8] Westcott, Brooke F., The Epistles of St. John Greek Text with Notes, op. cit., pp. 176-177

[9] Mombert, Jacob Isidor: John Peter Lange, First Epistle of John, op. cit., Vo. IX, p. 158

[10] The American Amplified Version (1964) reads: Everyone who believes [with a deep, abiding trust in the fact] that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) is born of God [that is, reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose], and everyone who loves the Father also loves the child born of Him.

[11] 1 John 4:20

[12] Sawtelle, Henry A: Commentary on the Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 54

[13] John 1:12-13

[14] Lias, John James: The First Epistle of St. John with Exposition, op. cit., pp. 352-356

[15] Ibid. With Homiletical Treatment, op. cit., pp. 349-350

[16] Gordon, A. J., The Ministry of the Spirit, American Baptist Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1894, p. 53

[17] 1 Corinthians 12:12

[18] Strong, Augustus H., Systematic Theology, Vol. 3, op. cit., pp. 212-213

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson IV) 09/29/22

5:1 If you believe that Jesus is the Anointed One – that He is God’s Son and your Savior – then you are God’s child. And all who love the Father love His children too.

Candlish continues, can this be any different than after Mary gave birth to a boy, God spoke from heaven at his baptism, saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased?”[1] God has little interest in receiving honor, worship, or affection from us unless expressed to Him as the Father of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One. So, God pleads: “If you would love Me the way I desire to be loved, you must love Me as a Father. And the only sure proof of your so loving Me is loving my only begotten Son.” So, hear Him – worship Him – if you desire to love me – love me as the Father from everlasting to everlasting. Love me as the One sending Jesus to save and raise Him from the dead with this acknowledgment, “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father.[2]

And now, says the heavenly Father, I am fathering others to be my sons and daughters through my Son. They are born anew by the power of my Spirit to make them one with the Anointed One, who is my only begotten Son, first-born among many spiritual brothers and sisters. Thus, I am birthing children for my spiritual family, one after another. And every one of them is to Me what my only begotten Son is. Can you say that He is the same to you? He will be so if you love Me, says God. So, it says here in verse one, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him.”[3]

Johann Eduard Huther (1807-1880) states that verse one shows that believers, born of God, love their spiritual brothers and sisters out of necessity. The two elements of the Christian life – faith and love, represent their unity. John says Christos is motivated by the counter-argument of the false teachers. Loving others is not the manifestation of faith but faith itself. Keep in mind faith is not part of human nature. As the Apostle Paul explains, it is a gift from God.[4] This first sentence forms the premise from which the Apostle John draws his conclusion. John is not expressing fiction but fact.[5]

Daniel D. Whedon (1808-1885) states that when a person believes they are in union with God through the Anointed One, it requires one’s full consent of intellect, heart, and will that Jesus is the Anointed One. This faith embraces Him as God’s Son, with all His offices as Savior and giver of eternal life. Furthermore, those who believe in God are His children, just as the Anointed One is God’s only begotten Son of God. They that love the Father love the Father’s Son and all the Father’s other sons and daughters. They are, indeed, His brothers by a celestial parentage. Our family love ascends to our Father, God, and then comes down upon all His children. In other words, all are communicated by love in one way or another.[6]

Henry Alford (1810-1871) begins by asking, “Who is our brother?” Then, again, “Why does this term carry such an obligation to love?” In close connection with the previous verse, the Apostle John answers these questions: “Anyone who loves God must also love their spiritual brothers and sisters.”[7] Those who believe this does so by faith. Faith has spoken that Jesus the Anointed One is born of God. From what follows, spiritual brothers and sisters see this as necessary to love God. Then the connection between this and the following clause, some abbreviated as, “born of God = loving God.” But this is far-fetched, says Alford, and has shown above that the object points to are those we are bound to love if we love God. So then, having made this prediction of all God’s children, John takes it up again[8] as a general reference and talks about our faith as the principle which overcomes the world. Consequently, everyone who loves the One born of God cannot help but love those He is responsible for birthing.[9]

Karl Gottlieb Braune (1810-1877) says we must never separate faith and love! It is forbidden. Here’s why, 1) by its origin in the regeneration from a loving God, 2) by its object, Jesus the Anointed One, in whom the love of God was manifested, and 3) by its task, to conquer the world through love. Therefore, we must distinguish between faith and love in the work of regeneration. The first is secured by the last, but do not remove them from the sphere of sanctification where faith is the root of love, and love the many-branched crown of faith. Here is, says Braune, how you may ascertain whether you have faith and are born again from 1) your love to God the Father, 2) from your love of the brethren, 3) from your obedience to the Divine commandments, 4) and from your fight with the world in and around you.

Dr. Christian Friedrich Richter, a physician at the Orphan House of Halle, Germany, during Anne Franke’s time, was the author of a Christian song titled: “Es kostet viel ein Christ zu sein.” The lyrics in English say, “It costs a lot to be a Christian to live according to the mind of the pure spirit, for it sours nature to give itself forever to Christ’s death.” But John is saying that it is not difficult to be a Christian and live conformably to the mind of the pure Spirit, although nature finds it very hard. Both are true and good. The Law is only a burden to the person hampered by sin, not the Christian strengthened by grace. While the weak believer is encouraged to be good, enabling the firm believer to be good. Obedience to the Divine commandments marks the recovery of the Spirit; disobedience notes its decay. Nothing is more natural; nothing more adapted to human nature created by God after His image than the Will of God. It is consistent with His Nature and expressed in the Law for the benefit of His Kingdom. God did not give His Word to frustrate humanity but facilitate mankind, not as a barrier to humans, but in opposition to sin.[10]

William Graham (1810-1883) says the believer’s relation to God is another truth asserted in verse one. From this, we learn that chosen followers of the Savior are members of God’s family. First, it allowed them to call Him their Father and approach Him, at all times, as His dear children. But to do so with holy reverence and respect, knowing He will not withhold anything else after giving His beloved Son for them.[11] Secondly, love for God is of necessity connected with love for fellow believers. It is vain to talk of loving the Father in heaven while we disregard, despise, and dislike His children on earth. But this idea of the Father and the family being so intimately related to one another is very precious and consoling to the church of God. In our loving the Father, we love the family, and in our loving the family, we love the Father. We observe, here, that there is no hint of any distinct groups in the family, which, in other passages, are very conspicuous. It is because they are all born of the same Father; this quality unites them with Him, no matter how diversified they are in other respects, and makes them the objects of the love of all that love the Father.[12]

William E. Jelf (1811-1875) sees the Apostle John giving another reason for brotherly and sisterly love from Christians spiritually born of the same Father and grounded on the position in which faith puts them. It comes in its prominent characteristic: believing He was known on earth by His human name Jesus and in heaven as the Anointed One. But, on the other hand, John considers faith the same as belief, separate from the fruit of love, because he will speak of love as a necessary part of faith. This faith is the work of the Holy Spirit and shows that the new birth has taken effect. Not only are the faithful ones adopted as God’s children, but they also have a unique nature. This new birth includes and implies that the believer loves the Father. After all, He was the One who birthed them, and by the ordinary laws of mankind’s moral nature, a child shows love to their Father. Therefore, if someone says they love God, they must admit that they are also bound to love their siblings. In all these passages, John seems to be contemplating cases in which a person would separate faith and brotherly love.[13]

John Stock (1817-1884) elaborates that those who receive the Anointed One acknowledge Him as both Son of God and Son of man in one. They also declare Him as their only Savior and way to the Father. The Anointed One is their sole Advocate with the Father and their living and triumphant Head and King. In doing so, they likewise claim Him as their prophet and High Priest. Furthermore, He is their Lord who gives them strength and hope. They affirm every part of this as they grow in Him as a mustard seed into a great tree. Their souls enjoy His saving grace and lead to a glad confession of His name, the only name under heaven given whereby we must be saved and proves they are born of God.

Theologian Stock claims that such believers love the Lord and follow Him, genuinely repenting their past sins and daily endeavor to walk with Him on the path of holiness. To such, the Anointed One gives the power, privilege, and permission to those not born naturally resulting from the passion of the flesh or the will of mankind but of God to be called God’s children. God owes no one anything for their spiritual existence; His mercy is at His disposal, for the Almighty has compassion on whom He will understand.[14] God has no interest in condemning anyone. We heap damnation upon ourselves. Vessels of wrath are fashioned for destruction, but not as God’s vessels of mercy, which God has already prepared for glory.

Professor Stock continues with his exciting proclamation about God’s offer of salvation to all. The Great Commission is to preach the Gospel to every creature. Rejectors of salvation are such by their attitude and actions. So, the Apostle Paul said to the Jews; that they rejected the message of salvation by judging themselves unworthy of eternal life. Then our blessed Lord said, Jerusalem, you would not let me gather you as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings.[15] So it was Jerusalem that refused. Isaiah also prophesied of such and said, the hearts of these people are so hard, and their ears are completely deaf and have shut their eyes so tight, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.[16] [17]

Johannes H. A. Ebrard (1819-1893) follows a further establishment of this point by the Apostle John. And it is not to be explained simply on the assumption that from verse twenty in chapter four, John had in view the relationship between genuine Christians and Christians in name only. His goal is to show the requirement of brotherly love in its organic connection with faith in the incarnation of the Son of God. Now, those who have this faith are born of God. A true believer loves God, as outlined earlier by John.[18] Therefore, we must accept that the obligation to love God is acknowledged even by those who may not love many Christian brothers or sisters. Hence, without adding anything else, John can connect the major proposition, “whosoever,” with the minor proposal of “loving.” The concluding clause then demonstrates that those who believe are born of God. And because they are born of God, they carry in them the nature of God.[19]


[1] Matthew 3:17

[2] Psalm 2:7

[3] Candlish, Robert S., The First Epistle of John Expounded in a Series of Lectures, op. cit., Lecture XXXV, p. 434

[5] Huther, Johann E., Critical and Exegetical Handbook to General Epistles, op. cit., pp. 600-601

[6] Whedon, Daniel D., Commentary on the New Testament, op. cit., p. 276

[7] 1 John 4:21

[8] Ibid. 5:4

[9] Alford, Henry: The Greek Testament, Vol. IV, op. cit., p. 497

[10] Braune, Karl Gottlieb, Johann Peter Lange: A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical, Vol. IX, p. 165

[11] Romans 8:22

[12] Graham, William: The Spirit of Love, op. cit., p. 307

[13] Jelf, William E., A Commentary on the First Epistle of St. John, op. cit., pp. 68-69

[14] Romans 9:15

[15] Luke 13:34

[16] Matthew 13:15; cf. Isaiah 6:9-10

[17] Stock, John: An Exposition of the First Epistle General of St. John, op. cit., pp. 397-398

[18] 1 John 4:7-20

[19] Ebrard, Johannes H. W., Biblical Commentary on the Epistles of St. John, op. cit., pp. 310-311

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson III) 09/28/22

5:1 If you believe that Jesus is the Anointed One – that He is God’s Son and your Savior – then you are God’s child. And all who love the Father love His children too.

But how should we deal with a sinning believer, asks Pierce, especially one who committed a sin leading to spiritual death? John told the saints not to pray for them. Those born of God are preserved from it. So also, the acceptance that God’s Son came, coupled with John and his fellow apostles’ enlightenment, declared their interest in the Anointed One. And the chapter is closed with this appeal, little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.[1] Deciphering this statement about taking anyone off your prayer list who sinned, punishable by being lost forever, is that it interferes with the Holy Spirit’s work. Once a person refuses to repent and rejects the Gospel of salvation as the only way to eternal life, praying to God for their salvation is needless. God does not save people based on our prayers.[2]

George Haydock (1778-1862) amplifies verse one by saying that Jesus is the Anointed One, the promised Messiah, the world’s Redeemer, is born of God, and is made His adoptive child by His grace in baptism. Thus, “born of God” means “a justified baptized child of God.” That is, provided belief in this fundamental article of the Christian faith accompanies all the other conditions God’s Word outlines. That includes confidence in everything God has revealed and promised: hope, love, repentance, and a desire to keep God’s Holy Law.[3]

Augustus Neander (1789-1850) describes faith as nothing but conviction, having passed through the awareness of sin, acknowledging Jesus as the center of it all, and embracing the sum of it all. It is the act whereby the soul, renouncing itself and joyfully accepting the offered union with Jesus as its Redeemer and Lord, wholly gives itself to Him so that it may no longer belong to itself but Him alone. That means everyone who believes in this sense, says the Apostle John, is born of God. John regards this as something which can only proceed from divine power entering the heart, a work of God in mankind, a blessed fact. Where this occurs, the person receives a new existence whose fountain and root are in God. Thus, they become a new person born of God in the true sense, which has the source of divine life in them.

By this, says Neander, a person born of a woman entering the world to take their place among humans is now raised to a higher existence. Therefore, as by natural descent, the Son of God derived a holy essence from His Father to reflect this image so that those who believe, by the quality of this new spiritual birth from God, are called God’s children. And thus, they reflect this feature of the holy life the Father gave them through His Son. Hence, John says they who love God, from whom this born-again experience is derived, must love this relationship and likeness in others because those who love Him and are born of God have this same eternal life. Therefore, love, the source of being a new creation in the Anointed One, necessarily includes love for all partakers in this life. For this reason, everyone united in fellowship as God’s children feel drawn toward each other because of the mutual agápē they share, unlike no other relationship among mankind.[4]

Gottfried C. D. Lücke (1791-1855) states that genuine love for God and fraternal love for others are inseparably connected; they serve each other on a mutual basis and condition. And since brotherly and sisterly love is the indispensable manifestation of loving God, loving God is the basis of loving others. Accordingly, the divine love of God’s children is grounded in a deep love for God as long as it consists of the faithful keeping of God’s holy commandments.[5]

Charles Hodge (1797-1878) talks about the Apostle John’s terms for admission into God’s kingdom. Any human authority cannot rightfully alter these. No one can add or subtract from them. The rule He laid down on this subject is what He requires for admission into heaven’s kingdom as a condition of access to God’s earthly kingdom. No one can demand anything more and nothing less. We are to receive all those who the Anointed One welcomes. No degree of knowledge, no confession, beyond that which is necessary to salvation, can be required to recognize anyone as a Christian brother or sister and treat them as such. Philip baptized the Eunuch on the confession, “I believe that Jesus the Anointed One is the Son of God.”[6] For believers to reject those God has received into His fellowship is an intolerable assumption. All those terms of Church communion set up beyond the credible profession of faith in the Anointed One are violations of an authority that belongs to God alone.[7]

Albert Barnes (1798-1870) comments on the meaning of the word “Christus” Of course; it means that the proposition that “Jesus is Christus” should be believed or received in the true and proper sense. It cannot be supposed that a mere intellectual acknowledgment of the proposition that Jesus is the Messiah is all it means, for that is not the proper interpretation of the word in the Scriptures. That word, “Christus,” is not a name but a title. If, in the appropriate sense of the phrase, a person believes that Jesus is Christus, receiving Him as the Anointed One and Savior, it is undoubtedly true and constitutes them being called a Christian.

The point the Apostle John is trying to make is that believers constitute one family since all Christians are children of the same Father. And because they all bear the same image, they also share alike in His favor. Therefore, they all owe a debt of gratitude to the Anointed One and are committed to promoting His Kingdom in this world. After all, they will share the same home in heaven one day forever. Therefore, as all the children love their father, it should be the same in the great family of which God is the Head.[8] 

Richard Rothe (1799-1867) makes it clear that it is impossible to love God without at the same time loving their brothers and sisters on account of the essential equality of the objects of this twofold love. Our Christian brothers or sisters are born of God and are similar in relationship to God. How, then, is it psychologically possible that anyone can love God and not their fellow Christian related to God? John says: if only we do not forget that, in virtue of their faith in Jesus as the Anointed One, a Christian is essentially born of God and a child of God. Consequently, it must be evident that God our Father’s nature and characteristics are reproduced in our Christian family members.

So, the question is, how can they who claim to have the supernatural essence and attributes of the Father in them not love these same virtues in their fellow Christian? The conclusion of the argument is unexplained in this verse. John states two premises: First, they who believe in Jesus as the Anointed One must love. Secondly, they must love God and all other believers in union with Jesus as the Anointed One.  John leaves it up to the reader to draw these conclusions for themselves.[9]

Heinrich A. W. Meyer (1800-1882) points out that there seems to be a close connection between verse one in this chapter and verse twenty-one of the previous chapter. It is indicated by the corresponding thought of 1 John 4:16, bringing forward the idea of God’s children and fulfilling God’s commandment to love one another. Believers are born of God before entering into a child’s relationship with Him. The natural and necessary result of a child’s connection to a father is love and love for the other children born of him. Therefore, God’s children must love their spiritual siblings.[10] You will notice in the text that the Greek verb gennaō is used three times in verse one. The KJV translates them as “born,” “begat,” and “begotten.” You will observe that the first refers to Jesus, the second to the believer, and the third to all other believers. John’s message to Christians is that love must encompass all three, or else it is not God’s love.

John N. Darby’s (1800-1882) version of the New Testament reads: “Everyone that believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God, and everyone that loves Him that has begotten also loves Him that is begotten of Him.” The NIV has, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves His child as well.” And the NLT “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves His children, too.” Since they all use the exact Greek text, it doesn’t show that they changed the original reading, but that time has changed how we read it for better understanding. That’s why I am so interested in comparing translations. Paraphrases are another matter. Those we must take as expressions rather than verbatim translations. Never base a sermon on a paraphrase. Instead, use paraphrases as a way of amplifying the original text. Remember, the KJV was only the Authorized Version of the Church of England in 1611 AD and among the Puritans who brought it to America. The KJV kept that position until the beginning of new English translations in the 1950s.

Henry Cowles (1802-1881) says that genuine faith in Jesus as the Anointed One is proof of the new birth. Such souls, new-born to God, naturally love their divine Father and consequently all His spiritual children. To love God as their Father, they must love all those possessing this same relationship with this loving Father. The love of father and mother reproduces the same passion in sons and daughters. It has been a well-known law of the human family through all ages. It is why believers enjoy the same relationship and fellowship with God and others in mutual love.[11]

Robert Jamieson (1802-1880), Andrew Fausset (1821-1910), and David Brown examine the Apostle John’s statement that believers who accept Jesus as the Messiah are God’s children because to love the Father means loving all His children. They point out that in 1 John 4:21, our spiritual brothers and sisters are entitled to such love because they are “born of God:” so if we want to show our love to God, we must show it to God’s visible representative. The Greek adjective pasWhosoever” (KJV); “Everyone” (NIV) [collectively] or “Every one” [individually] claiming Jesus as their Savior is not possible unless the man from Galilee is God’s Messiah, revealing the way of salvation as a Prophet. In addition, the Son of God could not work out our salvation without being a Priest, nor confer everlasting life on us without being our King. Therefore, everyone that loves the One who generated them,[12]  by secured possession, not a mere profession, also loves all others born of Him – namely, “their spiritual brothers and sisters.[13] [14]


[1] Pierce, Samuel E., An Exposition of the First Epistle General of John, Comprised of Ninety-Three Sermons, sermon LXXIII, 1 John 5:1

[2] See Romans 9:18

[3] Haydock, George: Catholic Bible Commentary, N. T., pp. 518-519 (This Catholic commentary on the New Testament, following the Douay-Rheims Bible text, was originally compiled by a Catholic priest and biblical scholar Rev. George Leo Haydock (1774-1849). This transcription is based on Haydock’s notes as they appear in the 1859 edition of Haydock’s Catholic Family Bible and Commentary printed by Edward Dunigan and Brother, New York, New York.

[4] Neander, August: The First Epistle of John, Practically Explained, op. cit., pp. 276-278

[5] Lücke, Friedrich C. F., A Commentary on the Epistles of St. John, Section Eight, p. 249

[6] Acts of the Apostles 8:37; cf. Romans 14:1, 4; 1 John 5:1

[7] Hodge, Charles. Systematic Theology: Vol. 2, The Nature of this Kingdom, p.607

[8] Barnes, Albert: New Testament Notes, op. cit., p. 4872

[9] Rothe, Richard: Exposition of the First Epistle of John, The Expository Times, November 1894, p. 88

[10] Meyer, Heinrich A. W., Critical and Exegetical Handbook on New Testament, op. cit., p. 811

[11] Cowles, Henry: The Gospel and Epistles of John: with Notes, p. 353

[12] 1 John 4:20

[13] Ibid. 4:21

[14] Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s New Commentary on the Whole Bible, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, Wheaton, IL, New Testament Volume, 1990, p. 728

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson II) 09/27/22

5:1 If you believe that Jesus is the Anointed One – that He is God’s Son and your Savior – then you are God’s child. And all who love the Father love His children too.

The Lord Jesus the Anointed One is the Rock for all Christians. Race, place, and face are a distant second. It is effortless to test our love for God. How committed are we to fully applying His principle every day? That is the measure of our love. Fellowship with God transmits power. The person who trusts in Jesus the Anointed One joyfully rises to God’s standards for Christian living. They receive direction from their divine Parent. Therefore, their identity as Christians and the dignity of being part of their spiritual family; motivate them to love all members of God’s family.

COMMENTARY

Bishop Irenaeus (130-202 AD), in his writings against heresies, stated that all those outside of the dispensation of Grace who imagines having some divine knowledge that Jesus and the Messiah were not one person are deluding themselves. Sadly, to them, the Anointed One and the Only-begotten are two different people. They also contend that the Word and Savior don’t exist in one man named Jesus. Unfortunately, they are nothing more than disciples of erroneous thinking by those still in a state of depravity. Such individuals appear as sheep, trying to be like us, but their public behavior, even when repeating the exact words we do, does not hide that they are undercover wolves. Their doctrine is homicidal, conjuring up, as it does, any number of gods but lowering and dividing the Son of God in many ways. These are those against whom the Lord cautioned us beforehand, and His beloved disciple, in this Epistle, commands us to avoid them at all costs.

Irenaeus goes on to say that in his day, many deceivers were going around who did not confess that the Anointed One of God came to earth in human form. Such impostors are antichrists. Beware of them, says John; you don’t want to lose what you already have.[1] And again, John says in this Epistle: “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if their spirit comes from God, for there are many false prophets in the world. Here’s how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus the Anointed One came in a human body, that person has the Spirit of God.”[2] These words agree with what John records in his Gospel, that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,[3] and “Every person who believes that Jesus is the Messiah is God-born.”[4] So, knowing that Jesus and the Anointed One is the same person to whom heaven’s gates opened for us because of His becoming human: is coming again in the same flesh in which He suffered, revealing the glory of the Father.[5]

Bede the Venerable (672-735 AD) asks, who believes Jesus is the Anointed One? It is the person who lives according to the Anointed One’s teachings. Therefore, let no heretic or divisive person falsely say they believe that Jesus is the Anointed One. Even the demons believe and tremble because they know that much. But those who do not have His love or loving ministry are not of God.[6]

Matthew Poole (1624-1679) states that for someone to say they believe that Jesus is the Anointed One either makes a genuine affirmation or a superficial confession. For a confession to count as being authentic, it must be a lively, productive, unifying, soul-transforming, and obedient faith in Jesus as the Anointed One, which proclaimed the effect of God’s regenerating power and grace.[7] And as nothing can be more natural to such a heaven-born faith than loving God who birthed us, nothing can be more consequential and agreeable than loving the characteristics and image of God within those born of the same Father.[8]

Hugh Binning (1627-1653) exclaims what a royal heritage this is! How it makes a person’s human nature nobler! Indeed, all other degrees of birth among humanity are unsuccessful imaginary things that have no worth but in society’s fantasies. They put no noble excellence in people. What the Anointed One offers is true nobility. It alone extracts individuals from the multitudes on the world’s garbage pile. No underlying differences between blood types or races disqualify anyone. It is called a divine second birth. All other distinctions are but opinions; this is reality. It puts the image of that blessed Spirit upon humanity. Truly, such a creature is not conceived in the womb of any natural cause, human persuasion, appealing words of a person’s wisdom, or any external mercy or judgment. No instruction, influence, allurement, or fear of hell can make anyone a Christian in the Spirit. The Spirit breathes spiritual life when and where He pleases. He alone can make you new again. It must come from above – power that can set your hearts right and cause you to look straight toward the Kingdom of Heaven.[9] [10]

John Flavel (1627-1673) points out that if believers fail to unify with those who bear God’s image, how can they be in union with God? What is being at peace with the Father and at war with His children? It cannot be. Is it true that some believers who hope they have made peace with God but still dislike, despise, and discriminate against God’s other children? Surely, when we are submissive to the Lord, we are in harmony with His people: we will then love a believer as a Christian, and by this, we may know that we have passed from death to life.[11]

In a sermon on Wednesday, May 11, 1693, John Howe (1630-1705) says that the Apostle John’s opening words about acknowledging Jesus as God’s Anointed One is a doctrinal assertion. It only needs explaining and application. Hearing such an assertion for the first time might may you think it unnecessary. It may seem strange to unaccustomed ears, at least, that such a thing as this should be affirmed universally. Hearing that a person can be born of God might even scare a person to think of such a thing. Being sinful creatures, we might say to sin, “you are my father,” and to corruption, “you are my mother.” Thus, knowing where we came from, how can we now suppose that we are divine offspring, heavenly children, as someone born of God? How wonderful and transforming that would be if it were so.[12] The Jews gloried that they were God’s children and had God for their Father; they were called His children and firstborn.[13] Nevertheless, the Apostle John informs them that this earthly relationship would be useless unless they were born again of water and the Spirit.[14] Therefore, they must be born again and baptized in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.[15]

Daniel Whitby (1638-1726) paraphrases verse one to read: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and everyone that loves Him that gave birth also loves those born of Him” (as being by their new birth partakers of Divine nature and created anew after the image of God).”[16] [17]

William Burkitt (1662-1714) observes: (1) The proposition laid down as the object of our faith, namely, that Jesus of Nazareth, who was born and lived among the Jews, was the world’s Savior, the person whom Moses and the Prophets foretold to be the Messiah. (2) The duty requiring us to believe that Jesus is the Messiah is historically accurate and to express the truth of that faith in a conforming lifestyle. (3) Only those who declare that Jesus is the only Anointed One; can claim to be born of God. (4) The affection that every person born of God offers must also be shared with others. (5) What are the actual effects and natural products of this to God? It is, without doubt, a sign of sincere fondness for all His children. Every Christian that genuinely loves God loves the image of God in His saints. How can we love God and His Son and not love any of His other children?[18]

Johann Bengel (1687-1752) says that the scope and design of this paragraph are plain from the conclusion:[19]If you don’t love your fellow believer, then you do not love God.”[20] So, with great elegance, the Apostle John mentions love in this part of the discussion. This affection we have toward any believer is spiritual love. Where there is dislike, the new life is immediately injured. The conclusion is that those who delight in God’s love for all will, in turn, love all those who call Him “Father.”[21]

James Macknight (1721-1800) states we should not consider this verse as speculation but with firm persuasion to influence those who possess it, leading to obeying Jesus implicitly, from a sense of His authority, as the Anointed One, the Son of God, sent into the world to save humanity. The unbelieving Jews thought themselves the children of God because they were descendants of Abraham through Isaac and possessed knowledge of the true God. Some Jewish converts added that title to that high honor on the same foundation. But the Apostle John assured both that God confirmed Jesus as the Anointed One. Thus, the only thing under the Gospel dispensation that made believer’s His children was their belief in Jesus as the Anointed One, God’s Son loving God’s children. The Apostle John knew that all God’s children loved God as their Father. Now he declares it a characteristic mark of God’s children that they love all their spiritual brothers and sisters because they bear the image of their Father. [22]

John Brown of Haddington (1722-1787) said we should fix it in our minds that whoever affectionately believes that Jesus is the promised Messiah, and depends on Him, as the anointed Prophet, Priest, King, and Head of His Church, is regenerated by God’s Spirit. Furthermore, from this principle of faith, they have supreme love, esteem, desire, and delight in the Almighty. Such believers cannot but have an excellent will to delight in every Christian brother and sister as beloved of God and spiritually born again in His image.[23]

Alfred Plummer (1841-1926) finds that verse one contains a couple of statements condensed into irregular logic of passing from a major point to a minor issue. The Apostle John states, “Whoever has God’s Son has spiritual life; whoever does not have His Son, does not have spiritual life.” Everyone who accepts the Incarnated One is a child of God, and every child of God loves their Father and all His children. Consequently, to acknowledge that Jesus is the Anointed One is to understand that One who was known as a man fulfilling His Divine commission by being crucified is the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Savior of the world. To have faith in this is to accept both the First and the Final Covenants; it is to conclude that Jesus is what He claimed to be. Therefore, for believers to have union with the Father demands the surrender of self to Him. As the Apostle James says, faith without love is “the belief of demons.”[24] [25] This message cannot be treated lightly since your claim to love God depends solely on your love for one another.


[1] 2 John 1:7-8

[2] 1 John 4:1-2

[3] John 1:14

[4] 1 John 5:1

[5] Irenaeus: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, Bk. III, Ch. XVI, p. 443 ⁋8

[6] Bede the Venerable, Ancient Christian Commentary, Bray G. (Ed.), Vol XI, op. cit., p. 221

[7] John 1:12-13

[8] Poole, Matthew, Commentary on the Holy Bible – Book of 1st, 2nd & 3rd John (Annotated), Kindle Edition.

[9] Matthew 6:33

[10] Binning, Hugh: The Sinner’s Sanctuary, Sermon XVI, p. 184

[11] Flavel, John: The Method of Grace: How the Spirit Works, op. cit., Ch. 3, p. 62

[12] Howe, John: On Regeneration, Sermon XXXVIII, pp. 484-485

[13] Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 14:1; 32:19; l Psalm 72:15

[14] 1 John 3:5

[15] Matthew 28:19

[16] Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10

[17] Whitby, Daniel: Critical and Paraphrase of the N.T., op. cit., Vol. VI, Chapter V, p. 469

[18] Burkitt, William: Expository Notes, Vol. II, p. 734

[19] 1 John 5:13

[20] See ibid. 4:20

[21] Bengel, Gnomon of the New Testament, Vol. 4, pp. 134-135

[22] Macknight, James: Apostolical Epistles with Commentary, Vol. VI, p. 102

[23] Brown, John of Haddington: Self-Interpreting Bible, N.T. Vol IV, op. cit., p. 506

[24] Cf. James 2:19

[25] Plummer, Alfred: The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, First Epistle of St. John, op. cit., p. 155

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

 NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson I) 09/26/22

5:1 People who believe that Jesus is the Messiah are God’s children. Anyone who loves the Father also loves the Father’s children.

EXPOSITION

Thomas Pyle (1674-1756) paraphrased verse one this way: “I observed to you before that the truth of Christ’s Messiahship was the rule whereby you are to judge men’s pretenses in religious matters. Keep then to that rule and be assured that denying Jesus to be the real Christ, the Son of God, and Savior of humankind is to deny God the Father, that sent Him into the world for that purpose. And, on the contrary, sincerely to embrace the one is to embrace the other.” [1] But that was over 200 years ago. So, a more up-to-date paraphrase renders it: If you believe that Jesus is the Christ – that He is God’s Son and your Savior – then you are God’s child. And all who love the Father love His children too.” [2]

The Apostle John begins this chapter by presenting his “test for belief.” You cannot pass this test by simply saying you believe, nor will you meet the requirements needed to complete this test by outlining your declaration or creed of faith. Instead, you must prove that you “practice yourself what you preach” [3] because “saying is one thing and doing is another.” [4]

In today’s world, what John says in verse one is a ridiculous claim. Some people would accuse them of being exclusionary or hostile because they leave no door open for Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, or any Nonchristian getting into the Kingdom of Heaven by their beliefs, misbeliefs, or unbeliefs. In the opening of his Gospel, John announces that God sent two men into the world. One called the WORD, and in Him was a revelation called the “Light” to enlighten the world as to the truth about God; the other was the forerunner of this human Messiah and received the authority to verify who the Light was. As a result, the WORD became better known as Jesus of Nazareth, while the other was known as John the Baptizer.

So, in the Apostle John’s Gospel, we find this clarification, “The true Light was coming into the world. He is the true Light that gives Light to all people. The word was already in the world. The world was made through Him, but the world did not recognize Him. Then, finally, He came to a world that belonged to Him. Some of His people did not accept Him, but some did. They believed in Him, giving them the right to become born of God. They became God’s children, but not in the way babies are usually born. It was not because of any human desire or plan – they were born of God.” [5]

The Light and Word came to all humanity so that whoever believed Him to be the Messiah could be given the right to call themselves children of God. So, it doesn’t matter your nationality, ethnicity, culture, race, or religion. If you believe that Jesus the Anointed One is the Son of God and that He came to show you the way to salvation and you follow that way, He will claim you as one of His. But you cannot make this decision yourself. First, the Father in heaven must choose you for that privilege, and then the Holy Spirit will arrive to guide you to the Anointed One, after which your confession of faith in Him will lead to Him accepting you.

When Jesus told His followers that if they doubted He was God’s Anointed One sent from heaven to be the Light of the world, they were free to go and find another path to God. But Peter was quick to point out, “We believe in You. We know that You are the Holy One from God.” [6] Thus, John’s theme in his first letter concerns the believer’s love, not just Belief, for God and how they express it by loving others.

To John, this was one of the most important things that would prove a person’s claim of being God’s child. Nowhere does John say we must love the sinner to prove we are God’s children. We can certainly show them mercy and kindness, but we are not required to love them as fellow believers in God’s family. God already loves them, and we cannot do it better than He does. Jesus loves them and proved that on the cross. Can we exceed that?

Nevertheless, we certainly are charged with loving our brothers and sisters in the Anointed One. But unfortunately, one of the most significant roadblocks to the growth of Christianity over the centuries has not been the world’s persecution and hatred but the lack of unity in the Christian community. Thus, John defines his statement concerning brotherly and sisterly love.

The Apostle John readers are not the first to be questioned about who Jesus is. It is one of our Lord’s most earnest discussions with His disciples near the Mount of Transfiguration. Why was this so important? John tells us that God gave the people who believed in Him and accepted Him as the Messiah the right to become God’s children. Many turned away from Jesus because of His challenging teaching; however, He was encouraged to hear Peter’s assurance about who His disciples believed Him to be.

So, when the Apostle Philip witnessed to the Ethiopian Eunuch who asked the Apostle to baptize him, Philip said, “Yes, I will, but only if you believe with all your heart.” And the Eunuch replied, “I believe that Jesus the Anointed One is the Son of God.” [7] And when the Apostle Paul wrote the Jewish members of the Church in Rome and told them about his heartfelt desire that they too would listen to his message of faith and “openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” [8]

Jesus put even more pressure on the subject of true believers loving God and His children when He told them that “The one who hates Me hates My Father also.” [9] So you can’t say you love the Father and then hate His Son or His children. But nevertheless, the Apostle James says, “it was a happy day for God when He gave us our new lives through the truth of His Word, and we became, as it were, the first children in His new family.” [10]

The Apostle Peter was even more expressive; he wrote, “All honor to God the Father of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One; for it is His boundless mercy that has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God’s family. Now we live in the hope of eternal life because the Anointed One rose again from the dead.” Then Peter goes on to tell us why this was so important. He writes, “Now you can have a real love for everyone because your souls have been cleansed from selfishness and hatred when you trusted the Anointed One to save you; so, see to it that you do love each other warmly, with all your hearts, for you have a new life. It was not passed on to you from your parents, for the life they gave you will fade away. This new one will last forever, for it comes from the Anointed One, God’s ever-living message to humanity.” [11]

The Apostle John now examines the nature of faith and agápē. They are not separate but joined in word and deed. The Anointed One and other believers are the objects of this divine love. It also involves the witness that we share concerning Him in our lives. Such a witness is necessary to honor Him. It also gives us confidence in our prayers being heard and concerning whom we offer them. Furthermore, faith in the Anointed One is evidence of regeneration that affects the happiness of regenerated Christians and their duty to keep themselves from worshipping idols. It is expressed by those known to be born of God and keep His commandments. And obeying God’s directives is not burdensome. It is simply further proof that we love God.

The first twelve verses of chapter five affirm God’s love, supported by God’s clear testimony about His Son. John shows how the nature of one’s faith gives significance to love. The message of this chapter grows out of the end of chapter four. Spiritual birth rests on the Belief in Jesus as the Messiah. Faith is the only condition for salvation. John refers to Belief three times in this section.[12] He follows this with three pronouncements: Belief’s victory (5:4), Belief’s validity (5:9), and Belief’s vitality (5:11).

The connection between faith and love brings John’s argument to the forefront in this Epistle. It involves love in the family of God. The Greek word Christos (“Christ”) means Messiah, the Anointed One. This title emphasizes His work, especially shedding His blood for our sins and suffering the death penalty.[13] Gnostic heretics had a problem identifying Jesus with “Christos,” the Messiah. Jesus is not only genuinely human, but He is God Almighty. 

The tense of “is born” means the child of God received spiritual birth at some point in the past. The result was meant to continue permanently. Thank God there are no spiritual abortions. The only condition for salvation is believing in the person and work of the Anointed One for the forgiveness of sins. Many of us add things to salvation according to the church denomination to which we belong. Some say that a person must repent, be baptized, or join a church to receive spiritual birth. It adds conditions to salvation that God does not. God’s only condition for salvation is trust or Belief in Jesus and His work.

John uses Belief and love as partners in a close relationship. Divine life inevitably manifests itself in love for God’s family. Genuine love for God stimulates specific responses to His commandments. If a person loves God, they will love His children.[14]  The faithful believer loves the Lord and His family because the Lord provides regeneration. Everyone who has faith in God’s Son’s Incarnation is His child, and everyone who loves God loves all of His children. If God loves those who worship Him, they should love each other because they are spiritual brothers and sisters. You cannot love one without the other. Loving other Christians is evidence of the new birth. Every child of God is entitled to each other’s love because they are birthed into the same heavenly household. They are God’s visible representatives on earth. Like-minded Christians are attracted to each other. Therefore, love starts in the visible Church. If we tell a mother that we do not like her children, we will have a problem. Love for the mother and love for her kids are a package deal. We cannot separate faith and love. One is the source of the other.

In addition, if we wish to show love for our unseen God, we should demonstrate it to God’s visible agents, His children, and members of His family. A fellow Christian is worthy of our love because they possess distinguishing features of God’s children. They feature what non-Christians do not have. Love for God shows itself in active love for His children, not just emotional attachment. We love other Christians best when we respond to God’s command to love. Love for God and His children are essentially obedient to God’s instructions. It is not how we feel about God and other believers but how we choose to relate to them.

This first verse is an argument with several premises but one conclusion. First, it goes without saying that believing in the Incarnation involves having been birthed by God’s Spirit. To be born of God includes loving God, and love for God contains loving His children. So, to believe in the Incarnated One requires loving His children. The KJV translation, “that is begotten of Him,” [15] is not to be misunderstood as related to Anointed One alone but should be read, “born of Him.”

[1] Pyle, Thomas: A Paraphrase on Epistles of the New Testament, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 399

[2] The Living Bible

[3] Quote from Roman playwright Titus Maccius Plautus (254-182 BC), Asinaria, Act 3, Scene 3

[4] Quote from French writer Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) 

[5] John 1:9-13

[6] Ibid. 6:69

[7] Acts of the Apostles 8:36-37

[8] Romans 10:8-9

[9] John 15:23

[10] James 1:18

[11] 1 Peter 1:3, 22-23

[12] 1 John 5:1, 5, 10

[13] Cf. Isaiah 53:5-6

[14] 1 John 4:20-21

[15] Ibid. 5:1b


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POINTS TO PONDER

SKEPTICS may ask, why don’t people follow the advice of numerous proverbs and maxims of forethought available for centuries? Instead, they conclude that these apply only after some rightful venture has gone “horribly wrong.” When, for instance, a person gambles and loses all they have, including their house, why didn’t they remember the old Scottish proverb, “willful waste leads to woeful want?” However, it wouldn’t have done much good because of the gambler’s greed. So, are the maxims of morality useless because people disregard them? For Christians and Jews, the Book of Proverbs is a great example. Yet, what about other religions and philosophers?

British religious poet Francis Quarles (1592-1644) once said: “In the height of thy prosperity expect adversity but fear it not. If it comes not, thou art the more sweetly possessed of the happiness thou hast and the more strongly confirmed. If it comes, thou art the more gently dispossessed of the happiness thou hadst, and the more firmly prepared.”

This has the familiar ring of the Apostle Paul’s advice: “This precious treasure – this light and power that now shine within us – is held in a perishable container, that is, in our weak bodies. Everyone can see that the glorious power within must be from God and is not ours. We are often pressed on every side by troubles but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. We are constantly being hunted, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9).

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SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

I’m sure all of you know that no matter what happens in your life that alters your course for a moment, it can be taken with either a negative or positive viewpoint. Unfortunately, many see it negatively unless it is meant to make you happy. Nevertheless, some people have been very disappointed with birthday or Christmas gifts. There’s one where a girl’s father gave her a car for graduation, but her reaction was negative because it wasn’t her favorite color.

So we can see that negative thinking and poor body image can seriously affect your life. You end up feeling tired, anxious, discouraged, or even depressed. But there is no reason to become a prisoner of negative thinking, feel more secure in your identity in God, and be less vulnerable to negative emotions. It may not be easy and require some of the most challenging mental work you will ever do. But in the end, you will be on the road to feeling better about the person God created you to be so you can do what He calls you to do.

There is a theme attached to negative emotions people have been experiencing. They include Anxiety, Discouragement, Fearfulness, Frustration, Low self-esteem, and others. But how can this be? Aren’t God’s people supposed to live victorious lives because Jesus has overcome the world? Unfortunately, most people know that message mentally but do not allow it to reach their hearts.

Let this impact your mind: “The thoughts on which you abide determine the world in which you reside.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if your old ways of thinking were wiped out when you accepted Jesus as your Savior? But that doesn’t happen. You may still hear critical voices from the past, anxiety about your present circumstances, or fear of the future.

This revelation explains how God’s people can be in just as much bondage as people of the world. As God’s child, you were never meant to live under mental oppression unless you remain a slave of our sinful tendencies. To cope with this, the Apostle Paul tells us we must knock down every tower of proud ideas that raises itself against what God’s Word tells us. We should also capture every thought and make it give up and obey Jesus the Anointed One who guides you in overcoming these issues (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Thus, we learn that negative self-talk should not be allowed to roam freely in your mind where it can wreck your life; you are “called” to actively take those thoughts as prisoners by the power of God’s Word. That takes work and patience, and yes, it takes time. But the effort is worth it because it keeps you from settling in Negativville.

Just imagine if all Christians would take this instruction to heart and put it into practice. We would bear the spiritual fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The world would see something different about us and want to know our secret. That would open the door for us to tell our unconverted neighbors and co-workers, even some family members, about Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)!

If you believe in that vision, try joining others in a 40-day challenge to transform negative self-talk into positive thinking using God’s Word.[1] Remember again: ensure that the world you live in is consistent with the abundant life that Jesus has for you! Be blessed with health, healing, and wholeness.

Courtesy of Kimberly Taylor:

Christian therapist for living fit, healthy, and empowered in Christ.


[1] https://mintools.com/maintain-perspective.pdf.

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