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Jesus, the Bread of Life

2020-06-27T20:58:49-04:00 June 30th, 2020|

A prophet in the Old Testament of the Bible exhorts, “Do not eat the bread of men” (Ezekiel 24:17). What is the bread of men? We equate bread and money. “Give me my bread, man.” We love money. Money, we think, alleviates our present problems and assures our future. The Bible warns, “the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).

The alternative to the bread of men is the bread of God. Jesus Christ tells us this. “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world” (John 6:33). This bread, like earthly bread, gives life. The bread of God, however, gives superior life, eternal life. “This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die” (John 6:50). Who is this bread? Jesus responds, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:48).

Unfortunately, even people within the visible church of Jesus Christ cling tenaciously to the bread of men. They love “the leaven of malice” (1 Corinthians 5:8). Strange, many men and women would rather bear hatred in their hearts toward others than follow Jesus Christ and eat the bread of God.

Today’s devotion offers you “Living Bread from Heaven.”

Anti-Christs, Secessionists, and Assurance

2020-06-29T12:24:29-04:00 June 29th, 2020|

Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us (1 John 2:18-19).

Again, John calls church members children (Παιδία) in 2:18 and little children (τεκνία) in 2:28. He expresses “the fatherly concern felt by a genuine teacher for those who are still like children in their understanding and need his instruction” (Marshall, 1978, p. 148). The appearance of many antichrists characterizes the last hour. As Calvin (1961) puts it, “For these are signs of the last time” (p. 255). He intimates two things. First, agreeing with Marshall (1978), “the last hour has a sense more like that of ‘the last days’” (p. 148). Stott (1981) agrees, “Christians knew themselves to be living ‘in the last days’” (p. 103). Second, Calvin refers to what we call the inter-advent period, the time between Christ’s first coming and His second coming at the end of time.

Matthew 24:11-12 characterizes this period, “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” John Murray (1977) comments, “At verse 14, the more auspicious aspect of the inter-adventual history is promised, the worldwide preaching of the gospel” (p. 388). “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). During this period, “false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). That is, there are and will be many antichrists. All those who oppose Christ in doctrine and life manifest the spirit of antichrist (2:22, 4;3). The final embodiment of the antichrist, “the Antichrist par excellence” (Marshall, 1978, p. 150), is the man of lawlessness forecast by the Apostle Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

Verse 19, They went out from us, but they were not really of us. John now singles out the many antichrists he mentions in verse 18 (Haas et al., 1972, 63; Marshall, 1978, p. 151; Smalley, 2008, p. 96). He identifies them by their actions. “Originally they were members of the community,” however, “they had now separated themselves from the community … In spite of their external membership, they had never been true members of the Body … They did not share the inner life” (Brooke, 1964, p. 53, cf. 1:3).

John gives the reason for his judgment: For if they had been of us, they would have remained with us. A concrete outcome of the gospel is fellowship (cf. 1:3). “In short, he [John] means that those who fall away have never been thoroughly imbued with the knowledge of Christ but only had a slight and passing taste of it” (Calvin, 1961, p. 258). How so? Jesus explains in Matthew 13:20-21. “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.” Such people appear to be born again because of their initial joy. They have come into the assembly of worship and “have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come” (Hebrews 6:5). Judas, who preached the gospel and cast out demons, is an example (Smalley, 2008, p. 97).

In the final analysis, those who oppose Christ, the antichrists, cannot remain in the Christian fellowship. In the case of the church in Asia Minor, they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. Those who oppose Christ are schismatic; they separate from the church. In doing so, they display their real character. This division also displays the distinctive qualities of genuine members of the church. The Apostle Paul makes this point, “For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you” (1 Corinthians 11:19). Such circumstances serve to foster assurance. In them, it pleases God to confirm in their faith those who love Him.

Denny Prutow
Copyright © 2020

Works Cited

Calvin, J. (1961). The First Epistle of John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Brooke, A. E. (1964). A Commentary on the Johannine Epistles. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark.
Haas, C., et al. (1972). The Letters of John. New York: United Bible Societies.
Marshall, I. H. (1978). The Epistles of John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Murray, J. (1977). Collected Writings (Vol. 2). Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth.
Smalley, S. S. (2008). 1, 2, and 3 John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Stott, J. R. W. (1981). The Epistles of John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Foundations of Faith

2020-06-27T21:01:30-04:00 June 29th, 2020|

When you get ready for a trip, you get out the roadmaps to see exactly where you are going and how to get there. During the trip you no doubt refer to those maps several times in order to calculate your progress and to make sure you don’t get off the road leading to your destination.

It is the same way with the Christian faith. You need to know where you are going and how you get there. The destination we are seeking is heaven, the world to come. How do we get there? The Bible is our roadmap and the classic text of the Bible is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Yes, men and women must trust in Jesus Christ as the One who has paid the penalty due to them for their sins.

But we ask, “Who is it that really comes to Christ and trusts in Him?” The answer of the Bible is plain. It is the person who is born again of the Spirit of God. Listen: “But as many as received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12 & 13).

In other words, the person who comes to Christ is already born of God. This person is not born again through the strength of his own will. He is not born of the will of man. He is born of God. This is truly significant. Some people have a faith that is born of their own fleshly ability. Others have a faith born of the power of the Spirit of God. So their faith does not rest upon their own ability but upon the power of God!

Today’s podcast is also called, “Foundations of Faith.”

Don’t Worry?

2020-06-26T22:11:46-04:00 June 28th, 2020|

What do you mean, “Don’t worry”? That’s a laugh. Our schedule is so hectic we don’t have time to plan a meal let alone sit down together. It takes all I’ve got to make ends meet and provide the few clothes for our kids need. When I look into the future just a little bit, it scares me to death. Tomorrow could bring an atrocious storm, bankruptcy, catastrophic illness, or death. The future is not bright. I worry. It’s a preoccupation.

Are these your sentiments? Are you too a worry wart? Listen to the Bible. Jesus says, “Do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25). At least Jesus knows we worry about food and clothing.

What is the answer to this worry and anxiety? “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Our most common worries about food, clothing, the future, and worry over constant nagging anxiety should be met with an eternal perspective on life. We should seek first the kingdom of God. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24). Money is not the answer to anxiety. God is.

The podcast today is, “What Do You Mean, ‘Don’t Worry?’

We Have an Advocate

2020-06-26T22:10:35-04:00 June 27th, 2020|

In this day of relativism, whatever we think is right, we do. We will have no truck in absolute standards. Such standards just get in our way. The result is that people become callused. We shrug off any notion of right and wrong.

But where does all of this lead? Strangely enough, it leads to guilt. Why? We all have a conscience. That’s how we are built. Whether we like it or not, we are all moral beings. We all have a sense of right and wrong no matter how much we try and bury it. There is even honor among thieves, as the saying goes. But after a while, the burden of guilt becomes too great to carry. Something must be done. The guilt must go. Or you will break under the burden.

Listen, there is an answer. “If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:1-2). Yes, sin is real. Guilt is real too. So there must be a real answer to the problems of sin and guilt. The answer is Jesus Christ. He gave Himself as a sacrifice for people like you and me. He paid the penalty due to people like us for their sins. He paid the debt owed to the Father.

You see, sin is an affront to God. But Jesus Christ is an advocate. He stands between God the Father and the sinner. He shields the person who believes in Him from the wrath of the Father. Jesus Christ bears their penalty. This is the Good News. And so, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). This means that guilt is removed and internal cleansing takes place. What a joy.

Today’s podcast is also called. “We Have an Advocate.”

Jonah’s Prayer of Praise

2020-06-24T03:58:09-04:00 June 26th, 2020|

Our deepest fears involve the unknown. What will become of me if I loose my job? What will I do if my husband leaves me? How could I ever cope with cancer? These and other questions like them involve the unknown. They frighten us. Why? We cannot control the unknown. That does frighten us.

We need to realize, that although we may not be in control, God is. In fact, God is in control of all things. This is the lesson of Jonah and the great fish. When Jonah was cast into the sea by the sailors, Jonah did not blame those sailors. Listen to what he said, “For You had cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas” (Jonah 2:3). Jonah spoke these words to God. Jonah realized God put him in this terrible position. This was an important step in Jonah overcoming his fear.

Jonah did not know what was going to happen to him. But he knew he was in the hands of God. This is the best possible place to be. And so, in his fears, Jonah turned to God in prayer. “While I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came to You, into Your Holy Temple” (Jonah 2:7). Yes, Jonah knew God is the Master of the universe. Jonah knew God controls the winds and the sea. There is no sense praying to a god who does not have such control.

It is this same God who takes the fear out of the unknown. How so? “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). So you can overcome fear by realizing the absolute sovereignty of God, trusting Him to work out all things for good, and by going to Him in prayer.

Now listen to today’s podcast, “Praise the God of All Hope.”

In Demonstration of the Spirit

2020-06-17T23:50:52-04:00 June 25th, 2020|

Do you remember when you were born? You were ready. Your mother knew it. So it was off to the hospital. There may have been a long struggle, a long period of labor. All of a sudden, there you were. You had your first spanking to get you breathing and crying. But you don’t remember any of those things, do you? You were brought into the world kicking and screaming. And it was not your choice. It’s amazing, isn’t it?

Jesus Christ uses the analogy of birth to describe how a person becomes a Christian. He talks about the necessity of being born again. He says, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). But, we ask, “How can a person be literally born again?” Well, we do not enter our mother’s womb a second time. That’s impossible. However, we can experience a spiritual rebirth and this spiritual rebirth is a must.

Many people think spiritual rebirth is something they do. Not so! Just as you did not personally bring about your physical birth, you cannot personally bring about your spiritual rebirth. Let me explain. The Bible says that people in this world are spiritually dead. They are spiritual corpses. Dead people don’t have the power to return to life. So, new spiritual life must be given to these spiritual corpses. That is exactly what God does. Listen to this. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5). You see, God makes people alive. When God makes people alive, they are born again. This is a very gracious and merciful act of God.

Now, listen to today’s podcast, “You Must Be Born Again.”

What it Means to Have a New Heart

2020-06-17T23:49:40-04:00 June 24th, 2020|

Getting a new start on life is something for which many people long. They know they are suffering from their past mistakes. But they see no way out. They are stuck. Part of the problem is that they are in a rut as far as their own personal feelings. Bitterness and anger really have the upper hand. And they ask, “How in the world am I going to change? To improve the family or financial mess I’m in, I’ve got to get my own personal life together. I’m a mess and I know it.”

If this is how you feel, you need to turn to the God of the Bible. He is in the business of changing people on the inside. When God changes a person, he changes how they think and how they feel. God changes a person’s heart. He changes how they think about themselves and about others. He bridles their emotions, cures the sin of anger, and takes away bitterness. He points people in a new direction by making them willing and happy to do good. Sometimes you know very well that when you want to do good, you can’t. The power is not within you. So you literally need a new start on life.

We call this new start and change of heart the new birth. We are born again by the power of God’s Holy Spirit performing radical heart surgery upon us. The Bible talks a great deal about this work of God. Listen, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Perhaps you need a new heart.

View today’s podcast, “Effectual Calling.”

The Faithfulness of God

2020-06-17T23:44:01-04:00 June 23rd, 2020|

When I went to the Military Academy at West Point, there were tough entrance requirements. The funny thing was, my nose was broken when I took my medical exam. The doctors did not say a word. But college is not the end of meeting requirements. To get a job, you have to meet the requirements. To be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, an engineer, you name it, you have to meet certain requirements. In most cases you have to meet the requirements of a professional organization. It all seems a little discriminating. And it is.

But did you know there are also requirements to enter heaven? This should not be surprising. Listen! “Who may ascend to the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3-4). To enter God’s heaven, your hands have to be clean. If you have ever done anything wrong in your life, it is counted against you. You have to have a pure heart. If you have ever reveled in unclean thoughts or had bad motives, it is counted against you. This means that none of us meet the requirements for heaven. That’s right, none of us.

But thank God for Jesus Christ. Christ came into the world to do the two things we could never do. First, He lived a perfect life. And then, He died to pay the penalty due to others for their sins. The good news is that those who trust in Christ receive two great gifts from God. First, their sins are forgiven. They are cleansed on the inside. And second, the good works of Jesus Christ replace their own sinful conduct in God’s record books. This really is good news. God is faithful to provide Christ to meet the requirements of heaven for those who trust in Him.

Listen to today’s podcast, “God is Faithful.”

Spirit, Water, Blood, Assurance (1 John 5:6)

2020-06-20T18:56:05-04:00 June 22nd, 2020|

This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ (1 John 5:6). What does it mean that He came by water and blood? The prepositional phrase is adverbial, modifies the main verb, and tells us how Christ came. As Westcott (1966) indicates, “The sense of ‘He that came,’ which distinctly points to a past historic fact, determines that these terms [water and blood] also must have historic meaning” (p. 181). Water and blood bracket Christ’s earthly ministry. He was baptized with water to begin His earthly ministry, and Christ shed His blood to complete His earthly ministry. This interpretation goes back to Tertullian (Smalley, 2008, p. 265). “It takes water as referring to the baptism of Jesus, at which He was declared the Son and commissioned and empowered for His work, and blood to His death, in which His work was finished” (Stott, 1981, p. 178). Law (1968) interprets the text similarly; “Thus it is evident that ‘water’ here denotes our Lord’s baptism, and ‘blood’ His death on Calvary” (p. 96).

Water and blood is a figure of speech we call a merism, which is a “[r]eference to the totality of something by naming its extremes or opposite parts” (Hernando, 2005, p. 117). In this case, the text speaks of the totality of Jesus’ ministry by symbolically mentioning its beginning and end. “And the aorist naturally refers to definite historical facts, or to the whole life regarded as one fact” (Brooke, 1964, p. 134). The latter is the case here. John “is thinking of the total act of his coming into the world” (Marshall, 1978, p. 231). In addition, the word water and the word blood are both a figure of speech we call metonym. Water, which is an aspect of baptism, is put in the place of baptism. In the case of the crucifixion, blood is put in place of this murderous act of shedding blood.

John presses his point by adding, Not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. Again, the text refers to blood and thus to Christ’s atonement for sin. Romans 3:25 speaks of “propitiation in His blood,” or by means of His blood, or by means of His death. The context is guilt for sin (Romans 3:23). Of course, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). “Propitiation contemplates our liability to the wrath of God and is the provision of grace to release us from that bondage” (Murray, 1959, p. 116). The result is profound. “The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1:7).

The crucifixion has a twofold effect. On the one hand, the cross assuages God’s wrath against us. On the other hand, the impact of “the blood of Christ” is to “cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14). Therefore, you experience “the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4). There is a subtly here. John may be emphasizing the propitiatory work of Christ when he adds this statement: Not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. “For propitiation strictly refers to the sacrifice of His death” (Calvin, 1961, p. 291).

Verse 6 continues. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. That John moves quickly to the testimony of the Spirit is not surprising. “The Holy Spirit is He who testifies of Christ (John xv. 26), who glorifies Him, and shews of the things which belong to Him (John xvi. 14). “It is by the possession of Him that we know that we have Christ” (Alford, 1983, p. 1750). The verbal, who testifies, is a present active participle. “The reference is to the continuing witness, or testimony, of the Spirit” (Haas et al., 1972, p. 138). “The witness concerned is both corporate and individual. The Spirit bears testimony to the salvific character of Jesus in and through the church by means of preaching” (Smalley, 2008, p. 267). At the same time, “John appears to be referring to the inward witness of the Holy Spirit who opens our eyes to see the truth as it is in Jesus” (Stott, 1981, p. 180). Even in the corporate setting, the testimony of the Spirit is personal and individual.

“In order to stress that the Spirit’s testimony about the circumstances of Jesus’ coming can be trusted, the author adds ‘because the Spirit is the truth’” (Haas et al., 1972, p. 139). “The best explanation of the author’s meaning is to be found in the account of the function of the Paraclete in Jn. xv. 26” (Brooke, 1964, p. 136). “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.” In summary, John gives us “two kinds of corroborative testimony, objective and subjective, historical and experimental, water and blood on the one hand and the Spirit on the other” (Stott, 1981, p. 180). “He it is who seals in our hearts the testimony of the water and the blood. He it is who by His power makes the fruit of Christ’s death come to us, who makes the blood shed for our redemption penetrate our souls.” (Calvin, 1961, p. 304). And so, the Spirit works in us to assure us that Christ sacrificed Himself for us.

Denny Prutow
Copyright © 2020

Works Cited
Alford, H. (1983). The New Testament for English Readers (Vol. 4). Grand Rapids: Baker.
Brooke, A. E. (1964). Commentary on the Johannine Epistles. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark.
Calvin, J. (1961). The First Epistle of John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Hass, C., et al. (1972). The Letters of John. New York: United Bible Societies.
Hernando, J. D. (2005). Dictionary of Hermeneutics. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing.
Law, R. (1968). The Tests of Life. Grand Rapids: Baker.
Marshall, I. H. (1978). The Epistles of John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Murray, J. (1959). The Epistle to the Romans (Vol. 1). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Smalley, S. S. (2008). 1, 2, and 3 John, Revised. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Stott, J. R. W. (1981). The Epistles of John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Westcott, B. F. (1966). The Epistles of St. John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.