One of the responsibilities of my job is doing playground duty for an hour every day. No recess has ever been uneventful since there is always someone getting hurt or fighting. When I ask for witnesses, I seldom get stories that agree – so I pray for wisdom to do what’s best for the victim and victimizer(s). (It’s not easy to discern when certain kids frequently cry wolf.)

1 John says we have a threefold and objective witness for declaring Who Jesus is. We who believe this cohesive witness may not fully appreciate what John was up against in trying to convince doubtful folk about Christ’s deity during the first century. We have the benefit of having the entire Bible and record of many centuries of Spirit-filled believers who proclaimed it to be reliable.

A right relationship with God depends on Jesus’ death and resurrection that offered us purification from sin and that released to us the gift of the Holy Spirit. So, Jesus’ real death brings us real life!

Back in 1976 when I asked my high school Bible teacher what John meant by water and blood, he said the water represented Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. Since then I’ve learned these words point to Jesus’ baptism and death and could also be referring to the water and blood that flowed from His side while on the cross.

Yes, John was a human witness to the crucifixion; he saw the water and blood. In 1 John 5 we read the Spirit, Who is Truth, confirmed his testimony. The Spirit’s witness equals that of God Himself about His Son’s atoning work on the cross. Who would dare to question God’s authority?

The significance of this truth continues today as Jesus’ payment for sin provides the atonement we need. No one can say he/she believes only part of this threefold testimony of water and blood and the Spirit, because then it’s no longer true at all.

— ES


Challenged by the recent winter Olympics, Brent Sandy wrote in last Friday’s WL blog about being gold medal winners in the game of life. How do we do that? In today’s text the Apostle writes on that very subject. He asks, “Who is it that overcomes the world? (v. 5). And then he answers his own question, “Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” He wrote, “Everyone born of God overcomes the world,” (v. 4).

Do you believe that Jesus is God’s Son, who came in the flesh to live a sinless life, to pay the sacrifice for your sin, and then to be raised again as proof of the acceptance of his work? If that is so, John says that you can overcome the world; you can have victory “in the game of life.” The question remains, “How do we do that”? Answer: the same way we receive God’s promise of eternal life: by faith. “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (v. 4).

You might well say, “That may be true but how do I experience that kind of faith? How does it work in my life practically?” The additional reading suggested for today is Ephesians 6:10-20 where we will find some helpful counsel. Here are the specifics from that text:

  • Stand against the devil’s schemes, v. 11
  • Stand your ground, v. 13
  • Stand firm with the armor and weapons God provides, vv. 10-18

If we put on the armor as a defense against the devil and his attacks and use the sword of the Spirit (God’s Word) and prayer as our offensive weapons, we can have victory. The victory is for our benefit, of course, but note that it also enables us to accomplish what God’s purpose for us is: to “clearly proclaim the mystery of the gospel” (Eph. 6:19-20).

We may never stand on the podium to receive medals on behalf of our country, but, if we’ve been faithful in overcoming, we can anticipate with joy kneeling before the Lord to hear him say, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

— JD

I think today’s reading in 1 John can be broken up into two main ideas: believe and love.  Let’s examine both of those as we trace John’s thought in these few verses.


John’s non-negotiable is this: you cannot be born again without believing Jesus as the Messiah.  He makes that clear in verse one when he writes, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.”  Note the word everyone – this does not mean that everyone is saved but rather that everyone who truly believes that Jesus Christ is the Messiah has been born again.  The Christian must believe rightly about Jesus.  A few weeks ago we read about how the false teachers got it wrong about Jesus, while also understanding that those who confess Christ are from God.  I will say again here what I said then: getting it right about Jesus is everything.  John would agree.  The one who believes Jesus is the Messiah is the one who has been born again.


Here it is important to understand the reality of Jesus the Messiah (which John assumes in this passage) because as Sam talked about on Sunday at WL, when we understand the love that Christ has shown us (as our Savior), how then could we not show that love to others?  So John moves on to say that, “everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.”  You say you’ve been born again?  You say you love God?  Well do you love those who have also been born again of Him?  It is expected that, in a normal family relationship, you will love your brothers and sisters, right?  If you were to ask why you needed to love them, one might answer, “because they’re your sibling(s)!”  So why should we love our fellow Christians?  Because they’re our siblings, those who have also been born again of God!

That is true and good, but leaving it there misses John’s deeper point in this passage: the motivation for this love is God!  In verse two he writes something that may seem to us backward if we’ve been following John’s thoughts so far in this letter: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.”  We might expect John to say that loving the children of God helps us know that we love God, but here he says that loving God helps us know we love the children of God.  What?  I believe that John here is getting at the heart of love.  We love others because we love God and becasue we want to follow His commandments (which can be summed up as loving God and loving people).  So we can know that we are truly loving others in a God-honoring way when we root ourselves in loving God and obeying Him.  Christianity, then, is more than a set of morals – that you should love your brothers and sisters because it’s the right thing to do – and goes deep into our motivations; we love others because we understand the love God has shown us, we love God, and we obey Him – which includes loving those who have been born of God.

But the Christian does not view this as a burden – it is not as if we say, “Oh man, I have to love God again today…” or “Crap, I guess I have to love that person again!” – but rather embraces it.  That does not mean that it is easy, but it means that we should be eager and willing to love others because we know God’s love for us and because we love God and desire to obey Him!  Christians should be marked by the kind of love that is rooted in the love God first showed us (1 John 4:19), is sacrificial in the way God loved us (1 John 4:11), and is joyful rather than burdensome (1 John 5:3).

So here’s the summation of what John is saying: True faith in Christ leads to true love in one’s life, first for God and then for others.

Were you excited about the Gold Medal winners in the 2018 Winter Olympics? For the U.S., it included the Women’s Ice Hockey Team, the Men’s Curling Team, plus eight individual winners.

The more important question is, Would you like to become a gold medal winner yourself? Here’s the deal. On the night before Jesus’ death, he laid out plans so his followers could become medalists in the game of life. It’s an incredible concept. Pay close attention to what Jesus said:

  • Whoever accepts anyone I send, accepts me. (John 13:20)
  • Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things. (John 14:12)
  • Father, as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. (John 17:18-19)
  • The glory that you gave me I have given to them. (John 17:22)
  • I have made you known to them . . . in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them. (John 17:26)

Do you see where this is going? When Jesus departed the world, He empowered his followers to be His proxy, to continue what He had been doing, to be Jesus for the ages. Some would say Jesus is not here physically. But He would say, “Yes I am—in my followers.”

  • Like Jesus, we are to love people sacrificially.
  • Like Jesus, we are to do great things—incredibly, even greater things.
  • Like Jesus, we can have glory (a gold medal!).

Along the same line, note what John said in his letter:

  • If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us (1 John 4:12)
  • Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him (1 John 4:16)

Mother Teresa got it right: “Spread love everywhere you go; be the living expression of God’s kindness.”


APPLICATION: What would it mean to be Jesus to our neighbors? To be Jesus at work, at school, in the home, at church? Many people will never read the Bible. But they will read our lives. The question is, Will they learn about Jesus?


I work with computer data centers, and they have specialized fire suppression systems. If a fire breaks out in a data center, that is obviously bad, but spraying water on the computers is equally bad, so engineers designed a halon deployment system. Halon is a gas that replaces all the oxygen in the air very quickly and very temporarily. Without any oxygen, the fire quickly goes out and none of the equipment is harmed. Then, just as fast, the halon dissipates and the people in the room can breathe again! This perfect gas casts out the fire, but then the halon goes away, so the perfect love analogy breaks down… 😦

A petrified forest is created by a normal tree falling into a watery place. Over time, the individual cells of that tree are replaced one-for-one by mud or minerals, and that replacement solidifies in the same place as the original, yielding a petrified stone version of the tree. You can’t have both a live cell and a mineral replacement in the same place, the perfect stone casts out the other decaying cell. But who wants to replace living material with inanimate, so again the perfect love analogy breaks down… 😦

John writes of perfect love casting out fear (v.18). “Perfect love” is described so eloquently in 1 Cor 13, and fear has to do with torment. You can’t have love and fear occupy the same space, so the one casts out the other. This principle applies also to thankfulness displacing grumbling, you cannot do both at the same time. Unfortunately, in v.20, John indicates that this condition of love displacing fear might not be permanent. If you hate your brother, then love is not perfected in you (yet). But since He loved us first (v.19) there is still time for us to love our brother. How do we do this? Grit our teeth and take the credit? No, like all of sanctification, it is God who does it in us. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” [Phil 1:6]

— SF

Symbiotic it is not – for we rely on God but He does not depend on us for Who He is. Rather, the relationship is one of daily communion with God which is vital for healthy spiritual life. This fact is certainly not anything you don’t already believe and practice, so I prayed about what would be fresh and impactful for this space of 350 words. I turned to MacLaren’s Exposition (quite lengthy) in the Bible Hub and found his old-fashioned language may just be the “fresh” way to think about our familiar passage for today.

     What is it to abide in Him? It is to direct the continual flow of mind and love and will and practical obedience to Him, to bear Him ever in the secret place of my heart whilst my hands are occupied with daily business and my feet are running the sometimes rough race that is set before me. Think of Him ever; love Him ever. . . . Thus when our whole being is steeped and drenched with Him then it cannot but be that we shall be like Him.

Isn’t that beautiful? It’s almost tempting to imagine living in a hermitage, away from our constant demands and distractions, in order to concentrate on steeping ourselves in God’s presence. But we know He is present wherever we are right now as we live in humility with gratitude and faith.

As a youngster I was often in the fearful arena of a hellfire and damnation evangelist who roared scary threats to hundreds of us gathered in a large tent. In the fifty intervening years I have come to know the assurance of salvation abiding believers have and continue to receive. There need not be qualms about meeting God on Judgment Day as we place our confidence in the perfect work of Christ on the cross and allow the ongoing process of sanctification to change us to be like Him.

— ES

In yesterday’s blog, Josh made it clear that John is calling the church to a very high standard for living the Christian life. We are to love one another with the same kind of love that God has shown us, for after all, God is love. That love is so different from human love that it must be defined a bit more carefully. And it is in today’s reading. “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only son into the world” (v. 9). Verse 10 says further that he “sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” The key word is “sacrifice.”

Godly love is not just an action word; it involves sacrifice of some kind. It isn’t just that we feel good toward someone, that we like them and want to do good for them. Perhaps this godly kind of love could be described as “showing I care by my willing sacrifice for another’s good.” Jesus is the supreme demonstration of that kind of love.

The Apostle Paul notes that men will rarely choose to die for another, even a good person (Romans 5:7), but Jesus did just that, not for good people but for those whom Paul describes as “powerless,” “ungodly,” and “sinners” (Romans 5:6, 8).

We might well ask the question, “Why did God do this?” Why did Jesus come to make this great sacrifice? He came, according to Luke 19:10 “to seek and save the lost.” He also came to redeem Israel (Psalm 130:8). Good answers. But, I think there is a deeper one. God wants us to have a living relationship with him (1 John 4:9) as adopted sons and heirs (Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5).

As “dear friends,” (v. 1) and “dear children,” (vv. 4, 7), how do we show that we have a personal relationship with God both within the family of God and to the world? Both within and without the church, we are to be the means by which others can see the invisible God (v. 12). If that is true, the critical question for me is, “What am I willing to sacrifice to show God’s love to my brothers in Christ and to the world?”

— JD