Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

1 John 5:18 – The activity of Jesus

John wants his readers to think about divine remedies for the problem of sin in the life of a Christian. He mentions three remedies: the doctrine of regeneration, the activity of Jesus, and the limits of the devil. Yesterday, we thought about regeneration and today we will think about the activity of Jesus, described here as the ‘One who was born of God’ and that he keeps believers. This sounds rather cryptic, but the choice of words could have been chosen to make readers think carefully.

First, we need to ask what we are being kept from and the answer is in the next line – we are being kept from the devil. So it is straightforward to recognise that we need a divine person to keep us because we cannot keep ourselves in this area of spiritual living. Alexander Ross, in his commentary on 1 John, says that ‘The Eternally Begotten keeps him who is begotten by grace.’

Second, why does John refer to Jesus as the one who is born of God? There could be two answers to this question. One could be that John was referring to the incarnation of Jesus and stressing the genuineness of his humanity. The other is that he is indicating that there is a connection between Jesus and his people, one that is very close.

Third, in what way does the Son of God protect his people? It looks as if John is referring to a current activity of Jesus rather than a past or a future one. Therefore, what John has in mind is the intercession of Jesus in heaven, a reminder that the intercession is focussed on protection of his people from the power of the devil. In John 2:1-2, Jesus is described as our advocate who defends his people in the courts of heaven from accusations and defends them on the basis of his propitiation (his payment for the penalty for sin).

In 3:8, John wrote that the mission of Jesus included his purpose to destroy the works of the devil. Jesus did so at the cross and will do so at the second coming. He also does so in the present when he enables his people to resist the devil by sending the Holy Spirit to regenerate them and then to strengthen them throughout life. It is good for us to consider that our conversion took place as a consequence of the intercession of Christ and that our sanctification continues because of the intercession of Christ.

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