Advocacy And Standards (1 John: Part Two)

Advocacy And Standards (1 John: Part Two)

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

I’ll be repeating the book of I John in present-day terminology. It’s not a true translation of the book, as I am not qualified to do so. It will be based on an exegetical study of the book and will lean heavily on the SBL and UBS Greek New Testaments, as well as comparisons with other translations (ESV, NASB, NIV, ERV, NLT). My goal is to reflect the text accurately, and to highlight the intent of the author using concepts and vocabulary in common use today. 

This is not an “essentially literal” translation, and should be read as something of a commentary. 

Advocacy & Standards

My children, I’m writing all of this to you to help you avoid sin. But when we do sin, we have someone who came from God and who advocates for us: Jesus Christ, the morally perfect one who gets rid of every one of our sins. He doesn’t just take care of our sins, he does the same thing for the whole world! 

We can know for sure that we know him if we do what he’s told us. Anyone who claims to know God but doesn’t do what he’s told us is a liar. The truth doesn’t exist in them. 

If we do what he’s told us to do, the truth is in us and God’s love is, too. That’s how we know we’re with him. If we claim to be with him, we’re obligated to live by the same standard Jesus lived by. 

Can You Find The Blood?

Can You Find The Blood?

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

Hypovolemic shock recently put me in the hospital. As dehydration was the precipitant leading to this condition, I needed IV fluids, stat! I used to have such wondrous veins, vast highways of blood running through the hypodermis. All the cellular denizens of my body were happy and enriched by their life-giving flow. Metaphorically, if those veins of my youth were one of those two paths leading to our eternal destiny, it would lead to hell, being wide and broad. But, alas, with chronic health, and especially dehydration, they repented and became the strait and narrow way. The IVs that the nurses initially placed soon became infiltrated. Fortunately, the hospital has ultrasound guided peripheral IV teams capable of making the most challenging sticks. These technicians came to my bedside and put two new IV sites into my deeper veins. When I had the nurse pull those from me before my release, she expressed surprise over the needle’s length. Sometimes, it takes great effort to find the “blood” (i.e., vein) in medicine. 

I begin with an apology to the squeamish. The topic of blood and needles can be unsettling. I appreciate this. I might wince, too, had repeated phlebotomies not conditioned me to be a pincushion. However, the subject of blood is necessary for our salvation. When man fell from God’s grace, God must have instituted the sacrificial system as the means whereby one could assuage His wrath. We know not His specific instructions but realize God gave them to the patriarchs. The Hebrews writer says Abel provided a sacrifice by faith, faith being a conviction resulting from hearing God’s Word (Hebrews 11.4; Romans 10.17). A sacrificial system codified by God addressed the various types of noncapital sins under Moses’ Law. There were mandatory and voluntary sacrifices. Sadly, for those innocent animals, the Hebrews writer reminds us that their blood could not remove sin (Hebrews 10.3-4). During Passover, scholars believe that Wadi Kidron (i.e., Kidron Brook) ran red from the blood of sacrifices offered on the Temple Mount. Commentators of the Scriptures note that Jesus would have had to cross over this stream of blood to climb the height of Mount Olivet.  

Fortunately for us, the blood we must find to receive salvation does not require an ultrasound or a trip to a cattle feedlot. Instead, Jesus shed His saving blood atop the Place of the Skull in the first century, ushering in His New Testament. Moreover, the Hebrews writer tells us that this efficacious blood obtained eternal redemption for us (Hebrews 9.12). Best of all, Jesus only had to provide this sacrifice once for all time (Hebrews 10.10). Yet, all I have noted thus far is that Jesus shed this blood, that this blood is available. Scriptures remind us that without blood, God does not forgive sinners (Hebrews 9.22). So, we still need directions to the “fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Immanuel’s veins.” Thankfully, the apostle Paul informs us that the act of baptism (i.e., immersion in water) enables us to be in the likeness of the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord (Romans 6.3-5). Why baptism? Jesus shed His blood in death (John 19.34). And since we cannot literally bathe in the flowing blood of Christ, we must do so figuratively. Again, baptism is where you receive that symbolic washing of Christ’s blood. Once cleansed by baptism, John tells us that a faithful life of striving to walk in the Light enables us to remain in contact with that saving blood (1 John 1.7). 

Yes, baptism is where we find the blood. Therefore, quoting the preacher Ananias as he spoke to the crestfallen Saul of Tarsus three days removed from the Damascus road: “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” (Acts 22.16 NASB1995)  

 

Four-horned altar found in the Judean hill country
He Understands Me

He Understands Me

Neal Pollard

Marge Singleton and Merle Kilgore cowrote a song that was a hit for Teresa Brewer at the end of the “doo wop” era, entitled “He Understands Me.”  The heart of the lyrics, which are repeated, is: “He understands me the way you never did. He loves me the way you never did. 

He takes the time to notice I’m around. He builds me up, he never lets me down.” This is obviously a song about young love and a young woman who has found somebody much better than her “ex.” This is the age old complaint of many a man and woman, of feeling taken for granted. 

But in the most important relationship you can have, you have Someone who understands you better than you understand you. He wants a relationship with you and He went further to prove it than anyone else ever will or could. He left a place of safety to suffer. He left a position of supremacy to be a servant. He left the peer-ship of sovereignty for submission. He limited Himself to humanity without surrendering His deity to save the most important of every person, including you.  Because He successfully navigated the perils of this life, He can offer you eternal life.

Meanwhile, there are daily benefits for you because “the Word became flesh” (John 1:1-2,14). 

Intercession. Paul says, “Who is the one who condemns (cf. lays a charge against God’s elect, 33)? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Rom. 8:34). The Hebrews’ writer adds, “He always lives to make intercession for [those who draw near to God through Him]” (Heb. 7:25). He earnestly appeals to God with urgency and intensity for you. Try to picture that. He’s addressing God for you!

Intervention. Hebrews 2, which warns against the possibility of drifting away from Jesus, gives a multitude of reasons why you would never want to do that. One reason was He became one of us to die for us (9). His appearance here helped Him understand by experience your struggles (10). He claims you as spiritual family (11-13). He went to war with the devil for you and won (14-15). He gives you help (16). He paved the way for God’s favor toward you (17). The writer says He had to become one of us to be a “merciful and faithful high priest…,” and being tempted “He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (17-18). When you appeal to Him for help, He will!

Invitation. Knowing that Jesus has been through what you’ve been through, by itself, is comforting. Hebrews 4:15 says your high priest sympathizes with your weaknesses, having been tempted in all things like you are except that He never sinned. Those facts lead to a consequence, signaled by the “therefore” of verse 16. Because Jesus successfully took your place, you get to go someplace you otherwise never could! You can go directly to the Father’s throne of grace. You can do so confidently (boldly!). When you do, you will not only find “help” (same word as “aid” in 2:18) but you also grab hold of mercy and grace. You can step inside the greatest power source in the universe for help, pity, and favor, and you are invited to do so!

Do you know why you have intercession, intervention, and invitation? Because He understands you! He’s been through what you’ve been through. He knows. He gets it. But, combined with that, “He is able” (Heb. 7:25)! Are you taking advantage of these benefits? Why would any of us neglect to do so?

weeping