The Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

1 John 3:23-24

A Summary of the Tests

These last few verses of chapter three seem to summarize the letter up till now.  We may have confidence before God and have what we wish from him if we pass these three tests, which John calls “commandments”:

1) That we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ.”  Indeed, it all begins here.  The Apostle has spoken much of loving one another and practicing righteousness, but never divorced from faith in Jesus Christ.  The beginning of the letter stresses that the Son was made flesh and was seen and heard, that he is the only one who can cleanse us of all sin as the propitiation for the sins of the world, and that to confess him is to confess the Father and to deny him is to deny the Same.  John never preaches a “works-righteousness” religion; Christianity all depends upon faith in the Son of God who is Savior and Lord.

2) That we love one another.  Those who believe in Jesus Christ and have been born again of him love the brethren and practice love of neighbor.  As we have said before, love is not a sentiment that we feel inside (though feelings are certainly not excluded) but an action that is committed towards someone else for their well-being.  Jesus went about healing, ministering, and blessing people; that was how he loved them and how he wants us to love others.

3) That we keep his commandments—which is first and foremost that we love one another as was just stated, but also that we abide in Him by practicing righteousness, doing what pleases Him.  Those who have been born again desire to walk as he walked.  They hate sin.  They loathe their sins and strive with might and main to put them to death.  They strive to be so heavenly-minded that they may be of some earthly good.  They hunger and thirst after righteousness and purity of heart.

The Apostle closes the passage with one last word which I decline to number among the “tests” or even call a “characteristic” because being born again completely depends on him—and that one is the Holy Spirit who births us anew unto salvation.  Those who know God and are known by Him have this seal within them (Romans 8:16; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:14; 4:30).  And because they have the Spirit within, theirs is a life of faith working through love (Galatians 5:6).  These are the things Christians have (the Holy Spirit), believe (in Jesus Christ), and do (love others and do good).

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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