We Do Not Sin (?)

September 30, 2008

John makes a strong statement in 1 John 3:5-6 – “But you know that [Jesus Christ] appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.”

We all agree that it is wrong for a follower of Christ to also be a follower of sin, but this statement is severe. Has it ever caused you to crumble, or to question your faith? That’s not entirely bad. It is good for us to take a sober account of our hearts and ask hard questions. And yet, we sin. We fail, and we look to God’s grace to lift us up again. John affirms this when he says “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1:8)” and “if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. (2:1)” So how does he claim “we do not sin” in the next chapter?

Bill Mounce posted a good discussion of this text, and a thoughtful look at how Bible translation works. He concludes:

…sometimes a goal can be stated absolutely as a means of encouragement. A coach may tell his beleaguered team, “We do not lose!” A mother may discipline her daughter, “Good girls do not do that.” Really? A team never loses? Good girls never fail? Of course not. Sometimes the goal stated in absolute terms becomes the motivation for achieving that goal, no matter how imperfectly.

John was writing to people who believed it was okay for followers of Jesus to live in ongoing sin. As their apostle, their coach, their spiritual parent, John takes a deep breath and proclaims for all sinners to hear: “We do not sin.” “It is not in our character to walk in darkness.” “We have been made better than that by Christ.”

Praise God for Jesus Christ, the one who redeems us from our sin and who oversees our sanctification by His grace and empowers it by His Spirit! We do not sin – Jesus is better than that!

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Warm Feelings

September 24, 2008

I was asked last night by one of our members about my preaching plan for Titus.  He was interested in reading the preaching text during the week in order to be better prepared to listen on Sunday.  You ought to know that, for a pastor, hearing a request like this is something like a person saying to you, “Can I give you a lot of money?” or, “Will you permit me to take a few minutes to tell you how great you are?”  Warm feelings, baby.

Here is my tentative breakdown of Titus, along with key-words to guide your thinking.  As Drew will tell you, though, this schedule is subject to change if the Spirit leads differently or if I get fickle.  I hope many in our church will read and reflect on the passage in preparation for the message. 

Sep 21 / 1:1-4 / introduction
Sep 28 / 1:5-9 / elders
Oct 5 / 1:10-16 / troublemakers
Oct 12 / 2:1-10 / relationships
Oct 19 / 2:11-14 / grace
Oct 26 / 2:15 / authority
Nov 2 / 3:1-8 / government
Nov 9 / 3:1-8 / gospel
Nov 16 / 3:9-11 / avoidance
Nov 23 / 3:12-15 / conclusion

By the way, the entire order of worship for Sunday is posted on our website each Friday (click ‘resources’ and ‘order of worship’).  You can prepare your heart not just for the sermon but also for the singing.

I saw this American Express advertisement today and couldn’t help but think of the church.  We are one body with many members, the Bible says.  Each of us has been gifted by the Spirit to build one another up (see 1 Cor 12).  Are you playing your part in making Concord the church it ought to be?

Turn the sound OFF, and enjoy!

The creative (and apparently controversial) group AmEx used for this ad is called Pilobolus.

Kids love to make up big numbers, like one-hundred million billion gazillion googleplexes.  I think our government is still playing this game.  (That last sentence was a joke.  Kind of.)  Seriously, I see the numbers of dollars our government spends to bail out failing investment banks — now equalling more than $1000 for every man, woman, and child in America — and I wonder some things.  Where does all this money come from?  How will it be paid back?  Why are we in such a mess?  What would happen if the government didn’t come to the rescue?  What biblical lessons should I as a Christian learn from this crisis? 

And then I read this.  Very, very helpful for a guy who hasn’t had economics since high school.  Thank you, Justin Taylor and David Kotter.

I Repent (Part Two)

September 16, 2008

It has been said that doing the same thing and expecting different results is insanity.  It’s also the way many Christians repent.  We say “I’m sorry” to God but fail to change our behavior.  We don’t share the extra tunic or divvy up the surplus food.  “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance,” shouted the wooly prophet (John 3:8). 

When it comes to personal evangelism — namely, the lack thereof — what would the fruits of repentance look like?  What would be evidence that I really mean to share the gospel and not just hoard it?  Prayer, for starters.  Then relationships. 

If one wants unbelievers to meet Jesus, actually getting to know some unbelievers would be helpful.   Read the rest of this entry »