The Commandment of God

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. (1 John 3:21-24)

It is not uncommon to find the view that Christianity is all about behaviour, or acting in a ‘Christian’ manner. In other words, some reduce the faith to a set of morals which - it just so happens - reflect the morals of polite society.

That is to miss the point. In this passage John gives us the commandment of God: to “believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another”. At the heart of the faith is, well, faith. It is a belief in Jesus, which is something Jesus himself stressed:“This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:29). It is this commitment and obedience to Christ which results in everything else, not least loving other Christians.

This is why we can have confidence that “whatever we ask we receive from him”. It is not because God is some sort of transcendental Santa, but because if we keep his commandments then inevitably our desires will align with his will. This is product of, John assures us, not just our effort but more fundamentally the very Spirit of God dwelling - or abiding - in us. God being present to us at the very deepest level.

All of this is to say that the Christian has a very deeply entwined relationship with God. That is the great hope of the faith. Not simply some moral code.

Tyndale’s Final Letter

William Tyndale stands as one of the great men of this country of ours. His burning desire was to put the scriptures into the hands of the people. Whilst imprisoned he wrote a letter, the only one of his which survives, which gives us a fascinating glimpse into the life and cares of this remarkable man. Hero of the faith he may be, but he is also as human as any other. "I shall be patient, abiding the will of God to the glory of the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, whose Spirit, I pray, may ever direct your heart. Amen."

Test the Spirits

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. (1 John 4:1–3) - Christianity is a beautiful tapestry of finely intertwined doctrines. They fit together, and work together. Beware any who seek to remove one cog or another, because the machine will simply then not work. “Test the spirits”!

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