The Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

1 John 5:1-3

John’s Fresh Way of Saying Things

Repetition is the “mother of learning.”  This is as true for adults as it is for children.  But even though the Apostle repeats himself, he will arrange his thoughts in different orders providing fresh angles on what he is saying.  He does so here.

Let me show how John does this in verse two: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.”  On the surface, this appears to be an odd way of saying things.  We understand, “We know that we have passed out of death unto life because we love the brothers” (3:14), that love of our brothers is a witness to our salvation.  We understand our Lord’s words when he says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

But here it seems that John is saying that if one loves God and obeys his commandments, he will love his brothers—which makes perfect sense and says the same thing as that above—but simply says it in a different way.  John is saying that if we love God and keep his commandments, we will love our brothers; that is, loving our brothers will be a natural consequence of loving God and keeping the commandments.  But to word this as he does in verse two strikes me as rather odd.  Maybe it’s just me.  But I do think John is a master of saying the same thing in new and fresh ways—the task of every preacher (Matthew 13:52).

I know that I love the brethren when I love God and obey His commandments, for love of brethren flows from love of God and obedience to Him.  I cannot love the brethren without loving God first, and I certainly cannot hope to obey God unless I love Him first.  And the only way God’s commandments would not be burdensome to me is if I love God and so desire to please Him.  And how does it happen that I love God?  Is it that I believe in Him?  But how did that come about?  Because those who believe in Him and love Him have been born of Him as John says in verse one.  It all begins with the work God does in our hearts through birthing us again unto saving faith and love of Him.  We must be born again to believe in Him, love Him, keep His commandments, and love the brethren.

“The wind (Spirit) blows where it (he) wishes,” Jesus said (John 3:8).  Pray that the Lord will send His Spirit to our ailing country and wayward churches that souls may be reborn to truly love again.

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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