Saturday, December 10, 2011

I John 3: This is who I am

 1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
I love this passage because it reminds who I am. And whose I am. Let the world and the flesh scream and warp, I know who I am: a loved child of God. The Father has adopted me. When I was young I didn't really know what adulthood would "look like", but now I do. In this flesh I do not know what eternal maturity will look like, but then I will. And I know this much: I will see Jesus, and I will be like him, in his love and purity and courage and knowledge and....human awesomeness. What a hope! What a motivator for purity!
  16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
I love this passage because it is the second best John 3:16 in the Bible, and that is plenty good. Where, oh where, would this wretched, selfish, sinsoaked world be without the millions of redeemed souls who have taken this verse to heart and set about freeing the prisoners, healing the sick, and helping the lame to walk? The Patricks, the Moravians willing to sell themselves into slavery, the Amy Carmichaels in the world but not of it?
 19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

I love this passage because it leads me safely past the sucking whirlpool of my deceitful, adulterous heart's praise and condemnation, and into the still waters of "thus saith the Lord". And what he saith is: believe in Jesus, love as he loved, walk in the Spirit he gave me to enjoy until he returns, and I see him, face to face. Maranatha!

P.S. - our brother Tim Steiner wrote this thoughtful reflection on yesterday's posting about prophecy:

I confess the nature of prophecy does still leave me breathless with enthusiasm at times.  The nature of being invited into a time machine by the Uncreated One and being shown the Future from its Past which is, right now, the Present is pretty amazing.

Going on from the shocking beginning revelations of prophecy by the power of God at a believer's conversion, people take several paths.  The worst is the apostasy of simply rejecting it or choosing to ignore the prophetic for the sake of the mundane:  "Where is the promise of his coming?..."  A better way, I hope, is a maturity which maintains its watchfulness while learning to go on about the business of daily life.  Apostasy, of course, also likes to present itself as Maturity, so we must always be careful and look not to fall off either side of the high way...neither misdirected zeal nor shrugging cynicism.

As to the Antichrist, I certainly take the Scriptures literally that a final Man of Sin will come, but time and, hopefully, maturity have also led me to look carefully at "the spirit of antichrist which is already in the world."  I think John's timing and thinking on this refers to that spirit taking form AFTER the revelation of Jesus Christ, but evil has been around since the Fall in Eden, and so in some very real senses, the spirit of antichrist is the spirit of the god of this world.  In that sense, the Battle of Armageddon began when Cain slew Abel, and every heinous act, and war, and battle since then have been collective skirmishes toward the final one.  So, the spirit of antichrist took form and name upon the arrival of the Christ, or upon the completion of his earthly mission, but it took this specific shape out of the spirit of evil and the spirit of the god of this world which were already here.  (Even the Devil did not understand the revelation of Christ before it came: "Which none of the princes of this world [antichrists, fallen angels, and Satan himself] knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.")

Thinking this way, the whole world system stands in a permanent apocalyptic tension against God, against his ways, and against his Church and his People.  This is what I am learning to assess as the initial breathlessness has to be walked out over the course of my life in the Lord.  As such, I have come to see that "many antichrists have gone out into the world (I Jn, 2:18-22 and II Jn 7).  As such, certainly Adolph Hitler was a major antichrist of the modern era as Nero was of the ancient era.  And many others have come and gone throughout history:  Napolean, Mao Tse Tung, Marx ("See this Sword. The Prince of Darkness sold it to me."), Lenin, the Ottomans, Alexander (tho' pre-Christ), etc., etc., etc.  Each of them, by his nature, share prophetic marks and schedules of evil with the final antichrist, even if each falls short of the fullness of the final pattern. 

Smaller leaders, right down to the local political levels and religious levels are also often models of antichrist.  The New Testament is overflowing with warnings about "false apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers...etc." and finally, simply "false brethren."  As Christ is the great Leader, one thinks of antichrists as always leaders, leading astray, but even the followers who allow themselves to be deceived are equal in sin according to II Timothy 3:14, "deceiving and being deceived," so that "antichristians" (the whole of the followers and leaders) are a part of the whole mass under the delusion of the spirit of antichrist too.  And, remember, not all antichristians are directly and openly opposed to Christ, but the true subtlety and worst danger is brought on by those who claim to be of him while redefining/replacing who he is and what it means to follow him and obey him...even while keeping his name:  "many false christs will come..." and even his first name will be usurped:  "If any man comes preaching another Jesus..."

For this cause, I try to quickly define that it is Jesus of Nazareth alone, and the set of instructions committed to his apostles, the Canon, alone that I will follow.  And that any dogma (interpretation) must be speedily compared with the weight of their testimony and accepted or rejected accordingly.  So, time and trials teach me to view the whole of the world system as an Engine fueled by iniquity--the shifting imbalances of inequalities and power struggles of this world--as antichrist, and the purveyors of it at every level as "the spirit of antichrist," and that the duty of the true and spiritual church is to be always the maintaining of an apocalyptic tension with it---"Contra Mundum"--until the Age ends and the final Man of Sin is revealed to shortly after be thrown into the Lake of Fire.

Thank goodness!

Karl Marx wrote:
“The hellish vapours rise and fill the brain, till I go mad and my heart is utterly changed. See this sword? The prince of darkness sold it to me.”
Much stuff in the Cloud about Hitler's occult reich: one:


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