This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Light and darkness cannot occupy the same space. Darkness is not the opposite of light, but the absence of it. It is impossible for them to share the space, where there is light, darkness is made scarce. In the same way, fellowship with Jesus is incompatible with living in darkness.
Please note, however, there is a difference between living in darkness and the Christian who sins. Living in darkness is equated with claiming to be without sin (v. 8), not with a Christian who sins. Instead, living in the light brings with it the blessing of God’s grace, the blood of Jesus Christ, to cleanse us from all sin and unrighteousness.
Therefore, be encouraged that the Christian is not expected to be without sin. Indeed, we work towards sinlessness, just as Jesus is without sin; this is our offering (Rom. 12:1-2), responding to the amazing grace of our Lord and Saviour. It is no license to sin (Rom. 6:15), instead a license to live free from the chains of sin.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
The greatest joy of a Christian is to share the gospel and to see people come to the saving knowledge in Jesus Christ. There is no greater joy, yet it is a joy that comes all too irregularly to many Christians. The Christian’s earthly life is nothing except the great joy of sharing the good news of life and fellowship within the body of Christ—His Church, and with the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ. The only greater joy lies after our earthly life, found in the final appearance and entrance into the heavenly presence of God.
This gospel is real. Despite Satan’s efforts to water down and dilute the message of the gospel, Christians need to realise this 2000 year old message is still full of life and powerful, changing the lives of people everyday for eternity. We may not share the firsthand witness of the Apostles, but we share in the life-changing power and majesty of the gospel’s work in our lives.
Christians! My brothers and sisters-in-Christ, do not forget what we have heard, what we have seen, what we have experienced concerning the word of life. This life was made alive in us by the work of the Holy Spirit, so let us testify and proclaim it to the world around us, that many might come to Jesus and enter in fellowship with us, and with the Father, the Son—Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
For simpletons turn away from me—to death.
Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.
But all who listen to me will live in peace,
untroubled by fear of harm.”
— Proverbs 1:31-32 (NLT)
My own life philosophy is shaped by the Bible, there is no denying it. While I consider it a fairly simple outlook on life, there comes the occasion where the Bible’s simplicity catches me by surprise. So I ask, “Is it really that simple?”
Yet, the incredible theme of the Bible metanarrative answers with a resounding, “Yes!” The life found in its pages is simple. Not naive, not a burden, yet, a life that promises peace and freedom of harm.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
— Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)
Jesus offers a life of peace, grounded upon his humility and gentleness. Before you get ahead yourself, this is no easy road to walk. Simple, yes. Easy, no. It entails a complete abandonment and surrender of your selfish life philosophy, but in return, a life of peace.
There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.
— Hebrews 5:11-14 (NLT)
These verses came to me in the midst of worship, seeking to hear the Spirit’s voice. I was struck with humility as these words penetrated my heart realising, first, my own faith inadequacies; but then, seeing the inadequacies of the Church.
For all the good I see in our churches, my Spirit cries out for us to rise above the noise—the noise of the world, the noise of our church, and in that moment, the noise of the music. We are so caught up in doing good and spiritual things, we lose sight of the great and amazing things God calls His Church to attain.
I dream of a Church empowered by the Holy Spirit, living for Jesus, glorifying God in every aspect of life, from the workplace to the retirement home, from schools to jail cells, from the family home to the homeless. And this stuff happens all around the world, praise God, but it is not the norm.
God calls us to be a Church aligned with His Holy Spirit, leading and guiding us in His way, instead we continue to stumble and find our way, because we are not fully nourished by the Word of God.
Yet, do not hear me wrong and do not be discouraged, God is faithful. Despite all these things, He continues to work through our inadequacies. For this, I am eternally grateful, but it will not stop me dreaming of something greater. He will accomplish His great work, my prayer is that we are able to testify to it.
It is interesting how life’s circumstances change our perspective of Scripture. Not that Scripture changes, but we do, in my case from singleness to marriage, moving from my father’s family to creating my own.
Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
They are a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck. — Proverbs 1:8-9
I read these verses now in a new light, not forgetting my parents in this at all, but recognising the future prospects and responsibilities that I may carry. It is no small matter for a child to pay attention to their parents’ instructions, the instruction needs to be full of wisdom and guidance. Especially today, in a world that sends a myriad of messages about who people should be.
So, on the one hand, I look back at the instruction and teaching of my parents and I am grateful for the path upon which they set me. However, I look forward with prayer and godly fear that I will be full of godly wisdom and guidance for my own children when the time comes.
My son, if sinful men entice you,
do not give in to them. — Proverbs 1:10
For a child not to give in to the growing pressures around them is no small feat, and I can only draw strength and hope from God’s promises. So I am conscience now of the life I live, even before I am a father, setting into practice the life I want to emulate for my children.
In this world, knowledge is often associated with the sciences; truth a subjective matter, dependant upon one’s perceptions. It seems ironic then, how we claim to know truth through the sciences, yet deny the truth of life. Arguments will abound at such a statement, but if truth is not objective, then neither are the sciences from which “truth” stems.
…for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behaviour,
doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young…
— Proverbs 1:2-4
I haven’t read the book of Proverbs for a long time; yet, as I read these opening words, I wonder why not. These words jump out at me, screaming, “Fool, where did you go? All you desire is right here!” Indeed, the search for knowledge, for understanding, for insight, for wisdom does not begin much further than the words of God kept for generation upon generation.
The criteria for wisdom is far from an academic mind nor an aged experience of life. Rather, Proverbs avails itself for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young. The great irony of the book of Proverbs is its source—Solomon, son of David, king of Israel. If you accept that he also wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, then we should find ourselves humbled by a man who pursued everything in life and concludes:
Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.
— Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
In fact, it mirrors the closing of his introduction:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
— Proverbs 1:7
So, the journey begins by fearing God, the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—the God of generation upon generations. My friends, if nothing else, I am humbled and reminded by the riches and depths of Scriptures.
The Christian life is a life of truth—everlasting truth. However, it comes with a cost. For the fear of the Lord comes with ridicule and mockery as the world grows ever further from the truth, labelling Christians as fools who despise the knowledge and truth of the world. Yet, as the truth of the world is changing, our truth stands firm, though not static. The truth of God is active and alive, a journey, a process, with which we grow. As Solomon said:
…let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance…
— Proverbs 1:5
Following a recent entry about being a loving husband, my trail of thoughts led me to the matter of fatherhood. In a similar train of thoughts, I’m challenged by the task, should God bless my wife and I with a child.
The role of a father, esepcially in our society today, is an extremely important one. The role model of a male figure, not only in a young girl’s life, but particularly, in a young boy’s life is critical to their upbringing. I won’t begin to delve into the social conundrums that are connected, but there is more than enough reason to encourage greater promotion of fatherhood!
“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Before God, which is my primary focus, the words given to the Israelites still ring true today. The word of God is not merely a matter of ancient religion, but a matter of life and death. We live and die by the word of God. It is something that flows through every fibre of our being, while we are sitting, walking, sleeping, eating, and so on. No matter the circumstance, God is there and, as a father, it will be my role to communicate that with my child.
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
The critical action of this proverb is the training of a child. It is not a passive or inactive action. As I reflect on my own life, the model my own dad set for me, plays out in my life today. His reactions, his decisions, his life. The critical point is this: if you model it, it will follow through. If you don’t model it, it will not follow through. There are many things my dad never modelled, and it takes a great deal of effort for me to put those things into practice.
My prayer is the fathers’ of this generation will rise above the chasm in our society, not leaving another generation of fatherless children to fend for themselves in this world. May we see a generation of fathers’ who will raise a generation after the heart of God—Amen.
Don’t let the title fool you, my wife does not hassle me. What hassles me are the heights of Scripture!
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
The words of the apostle Paul cause me to lie awake at night, challenged and distraught by my continual, seeming, lack of love for my wife. Again, not that I don’t love her, but the depth of my love in comparison to the love of Christ seems dull and feeble.
However, I must first and foremost find myself submitted to Christ. It is only out of a place of awe and reverence for Christ from which I will be able to love my wife the way she deserves.
After submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
This verse is often translated with the verses preceeding, but it is agreed by most that it should be translated with the verses proceeding. My earlier quote (and the verses about a wife’s submission to the husband) follows the foundational point of submitting out of awe, reverence, and worship for Christ.
To my fellow married Christian brothers, who desire to be the best for your wife, set your attention upon Christ before your wife, then allow the riches of your relationship with Him flow into your marriage. For my unmarried brothers, learn this truth and embed it deep in your life so that it may be a firm foundation for you.