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Christianity is Rational and Reasonable

Contrary to popular opinion, one does not need to check one’s brain at the door to believe in God. Rather, the truth of the gospel can be known and understood. That is the argument presented by the apostle John in his first letter. Throughout 1 John, the apostle uses two Greek words for knowing to emphasize that the true knowledge of God is available to all.

1 John

Text

Commentary

2:3 This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands. There is no assurance apart from obedience.
2:4 The one who says, “I know him,” and does not keep his commands is a liar, and the truth is not in them. There is no true knowledge of God apart from obedience.
2:5-6 This is how we know that we are in him: the one who says, “I remain in him,” ought also himself to walk just as that One walked. There is no true knowledge of God apart from discipleship.
2:13 Fathers, I am writing to you because you do know the One who is from the beginning. Christian maturity entails personal knowledge of the eternal God.
2:14 Little children, yes, I write to you because you have known the Father. Fathers, yes, I write to you because you have known the One who is from the beginning. To be a child of God and to become a mature Christian means to know God truly.
2:18 Children … even now many have become antichrists, and so we know that it is the last hour. Knowledge of God provides discernment.
2:29 If you know that he is righteous, you know also that everyone who lives righteously has been born of him. True knowledge of God is the basis for Christian ethics.
3:1 For this reason, the world does not know us, because it did not know him. “The world” is all those who do not know Jesus.
3:6 Everyone who sins has neither seen him nor known him. True knowledge of God requires obedience.
3:16 In this way we have known love, because that One laid down his life on our behalf. True knowledge of God allows true love.
3:19 This is how we will know that we are of the truth. Assurance requires true knowledge of God—that One “belongs to the truth.”
3:20 … whenever our heart convicts us. For God is greater than our hearts, and knows everything. True knowledge of God allows us to put our guilt to rest.
3:24 In this way we know that he remains in us: from the Sprit, whom he gave to us. True knowledge of God requires the Spirit.
4:2 In this way you know the Spirit of God. True knowledge of God requires true knowledge of the Spirit.
4:6 We are of God; the one who knows God hears us, [but] whoever is not of God does not hear us. True knowledge of God means accepting the teaching of his apostles.
4:7 Everyone who loves has been begotten of God and … knows God. True knowledge of God motivates love.
4:8 The one who does not love does not know God. True knowledge of God motivates love.
4:13 In this way we know that in him we live and he in us: because he has given to us of his Spirit. Assurance requires the Spirit.
4:16 And we have known and have trusted the love that God has for us. True knowledge of God means we know God loves us.
5:2 So this is how we know that we love the children of God. Assurance requires love.
5:20 We know that the Son of God has come and he has given understanding to us to that we might know the True One. We cannot know God truly apart from knowing the Son of God.

Chart taken from Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: 1, 2, & 3 John. By Karen H. Jobes. Grand Rapids, MI: 2014, p.239-240.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2017 in 1 John, Quotes, Scripture, Theology

 

Change your mind about evangelism

Book Review: Sharing Jesus {without freaking out}: Evangelism the way you were born to do it, by Alvin L. Reid

When you mention the word “evangelism,” chances are most people think of a canned presentation like The Four Spiritual Laws, Romans Road, or Evangelism Explosion. You think about a program you have to memorize and repeat correctly. Pastor, Professor, and author Alvin Reid wants us to think about evangelism more as a conversation rather than a program.

In his book, Sharing Jesus {without freaking out}: Evangelism the way you were born to do it, Reid shares eight principles that are aimed at helping each person see

… how God wired you to be you—how to be a living, loving witness without morphing into a person you were never meant to be. You don’t have to be a superstar Christian or a clever communicator. You just need to find the intersection of your love for Jesus and your love for the other person.

Each chapter of the book explores one of his eight principles:

  • Principle 1: God created you for his glory, to advance his gospel with the gifts, talents, and opportunities he gave to you.
  • Principle 2: In order share Jesus confidently and consistently with others, first share him confidently and consistently with yourself.
  • Principle 3: Shifting from giving an evangelistic presentation to having an evangelistic conversation takes pressure off the witness and relates the gospel more clearly to an unbeliever.
  • Principle 4: God has sovereignly placed you in this world at this time with the abilities and gifts you have to bring glory to him and show the joy of the gospel to others.
  • Principle 5: Effective evangelistic conversations connect the unchanging gospel with the specific issues people face.
  • Principle 6: Expect people to be open to the gospel, and learn to share Jesus where they live.
  • Principle 7: Talk to the actual person in front of you about the Jesus inside you; let them see and hear the change Jesus makes in you.
  • Principle 8: Developing a lifestyle of sharing Jesus consistently flows out of a plan to share Jesus regularly.

The book includes an eight-week study guide for individual and small group study designed to help the reader put the principles into action. I appreciated his approach and found his stories and examples to be encouraging.

Books like this one have an inherent two-fold weakness. One is that they presuppose that one already knows how to share their faith. A person still needs to learn a basic approach to evangelism and what verses you’d use in sharing your faith. That way when it comes up in conversation you know what to say and how to shift a conversation in that direction. The second weakness is that it presupposes everyone is an extrovert like the author and naturally connects and talks easily with strangers. One has to work hard at adapting his principles to your own unique personality and style. That being said, the book is helpful and encouraging.

Disclosure: I received this book free from B&H Publishing through the B&H/Lifeway Bloggers program http://www.bhbloggers.com/. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Books, Evangelism, Quotes

 
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Watch out for sinkholes

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2017 in Personal growth, Quotes

 

A Royal Commitment

Would that more of us approached contracts, commitments, and marriage vows like the Queen of England.

Prince Philip Is Retiring but Queen Elizabeth II Won’t Abdicate: Experts – At the age of 96, Prince Phillip, the husband and confidante of Queen Elizabeth II is retiring. The Queen, however, will continue on and has no plans to retire and hand over the reins to her son, Prince Charles.

The reason? Elizabeth, 91, places the responsibilities of her role above self. And the monarch regards vows she made two days after her father’s death in 1952 — and reiterated at her coronation — as paramount.

Gordon Rayner, who spent 7 years as royal correspondent for Britain’s Daily Telegraph, said: “The queen made a promise to the people of the Commonwealth before she even became queen that she would devote her whole life, whether it be long or short to the duty that she would be taking on. For her it is a duty you carry for your whole life and to her that means literally.”

“Abdication is a dirty word in her language. She would never step down.”

He added: “She is not somebody that would take a vow and not see it through. It has never been in her thoughts at any point in her life.”

You choose to honor a contract, commitment, marriage vow, pledge, or promise when you view your responsibility as more important than your self. A good example for us all.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2017 in News stories, Quotes

 

A Game Plan for New Dads

Book Review: The New Dad’s Playbook: Gearing up for the biggest game of your life, by Benjamin Watson

Becoming a dad for the first time often feels like navigating uncharted waters without a map. Fortunately, NFL tight end Benjamin Watson has written a helpful book providing guidance and encouragement for men entering fatherhood for the first time.

Most men are scared or nervous when they hear they are going to become a father. Then, when they hold their child in their arms for the first time, they feel elation and pride and wonder how they can avoid hurting this fragile creature. What if you cause harm without even knowing you are doing something wrong? I don’t care how many Super Bowl rings you wear, what your job title is, or what kind of car you drive, when your wife is pregnant for the first time, many men would rather turn the other way than ask, “How do I do this? How can I help?

This book is for those guys: You don’t have to wing it for the next nine months—in fact, you shouldn’t! I hope I can provide guidance for those of you scratching your heads and wondering where you fit into this whole process.

Using sports analogies, the book is divided into five parts. Training Camp covers the beginning days of pregnancy. Regular Season deals with the basics of how a woman changes, her needs, baby showers, and budgets. Super Bowl covers what happens during the delivery. Postgame deals with what happens when the new family comes home. Off-Season reminds dads that they don’t have to be perfect, but they do need to be present.

The book is well-researched, honest, encouraging, and thoroughly Christian. Benjamin and his wife, Kirsten share their testimonies about faith in Jesus Christ from beginning to end. This is a book I wish I had read some 30 years before my firstborn came into the world.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2017 in Books, Parenting, Quotes

 

Grace can reach even those whom we think will never receive it

Ty Cobb was one of the all-time greats in the game of baseball. He had a .367 lifetime batting average, with 4,191 hits and 892 stolen bases. He won nine straight batting titles. But Ty Cobb was also the meanest man in baseball. Known for stopping at nothing to win, he would insult, humiliate, and even injure other players in his quest for victory. Even his own teammates once rooted against him when he was in a tight race one season for the batting title. He was known to make unprovoked racial slurs. He had three wives, all of whom he verbally and physically abused. He was constantly involved in fistfights, arguments, and tirades against fans and players. He once pistol-whipped a would-be mugger so badly that the face of the corpse could not be identified. Cobb was worth millions because of his early investment in Coca-Cola. When he died, he had in his possession millions in stocks, bonds, and cash because he was an early investor in Coca-Cola. And yet it would be hard to find a more apt specimen of total depravity. But the story does not end there.

Not long before he died, Cobb was visited by a Presbyterian ministry named John Richardson. Cobb curtly told the preacher to leave. Two days later he returned. This time Cobb listened as Richardson explained to him the plan of salvation. Hearing of Christ’s love for sinners and how he had come to die for the likes of Ty Cobb, the “Georgia Peach” was overcome with emotion. Richardson continued to explain the necessity of repentance toward sin and faith in Jesus as the only way of salvation. Cobb told the preacher he was ready to put his complete trust in Jesus Christ as his Savior. Two days before he died, Ty Cobb told Richardson, “I fell the strong arms of God underneath me.”

Cited in 1-3 John: Fellowship in God’s Family (Preaching the Word), David L. Allen, p.191-192

 
 

Be the pastor of your pew

“’Pastor, there is a man sitting in my pew,” she said. “Would you please tell him to move so I can sit down?’”

“’You know,’ Jerry said to her, ‘if I were a betting man, I would bet that this man sitting in your pew is a visitor and doesn’t know…Perhaps you could let him have your pew this Sunday and sit behind him and pray for him during the service. Perhaps you could engage him in a friendly conversation after the service…Perhaps you could even ask him what brought him

“What if each Sunday every Christian chose to be pastor of his or her pew? Every week people come to church looking for something to mend the brokenness they feel inside. Often they leave and no one has spoken a word to them the entire morning. Why?”

Jerry Root & Stan Guthrie, The Sacrament of Evangelism

Good reminder, especially considering the many guests that will be present this week for Good Friday and Easter services.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2017 in Church, Evangelism, Quotes