Fellowship With God; Confidence in Christ, Lesson 13

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:7-21)


We come now to one of the most love-saturated passages of Scripture in the entire Bible. If you take a moment and count how often love is mentioned in any form (Beloved, love, loves, loved) in our passage above you will find it 29 times. We also find one of the most well-known declarations of the nature of God: God is love (4:8). Indeed, even many unbelievers can quote that, but without understanding what it means that God is love, believers will not be able to live out the love to which we are called. Our focus in this lesson is love, and we have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s dive right in. Continue reading “Fellowship With God; Confidence in Christ, Lesson 13”

Fellowship With God: Confidence in Christ, Lesson 9

18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.

26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. (1 John 2:18-27) Continue reading “Fellowship With God: Confidence in Christ, Lesson 9”

Closer Than a Sister, Week 1

 

By STEFANIE BENNETT|CONTRIBUTOR

 

Week 1: Closer Than a Sister, Part 1: Chapters 1-3 (pp. 23-61)

We have many “shoulds” in our lives—

should go to church.

should join a Bible study.

should spend time getting to know other women.

But we have all seen the long-term effects of acting on “shoulds” without having a proper foundation and motivation for doing them—we burn out, give up, or become disillusioned.

The Triune Community

That is why our first session of Christina Fox’s Closer Than a Sister, which covered Part 1 (chapters 1-3), is so purposeful. If we are to seek, serve, and savor Christian community with our sisters, we cannot get there through self-compulsion and “shoulds.” Instead, this desire flows from a woman who relishes God’s design for a life of community as she sees it reflected and perfected in the triune Godhead.

We see from the beginning that the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) “is one of self-giving love, each one delighting in, adoring, honoring, and treasuring one another” likewise “united as one, infinitely dear, and incomprehensible, and mutual eternal love” (Fox, 25; c.f. John 10:30; John 16:13-14; John 17:5, 26). Oh Christian, what a profound community!

The Abiding Community

Perhaps the most beautiful and magnificent reality is that God is complete and content in and of himself, abiding in perfect community from before the foundation of the world. He had no need for us. And yet… oh, how he loves! How he invites us in to such a community by calling us to abide in Him and with his people. It is a profound privilege.

Indeed, abiding in Christ gives us everything we need for life and godliness (cf. John 15:1-6; 2 Peter 1:3). “We receive our spiritual life and health from our union in Christ,” and we must continue to draw from this well-spring if we are to love others in the fulfilling, selfless, life-giving way Christ modeled for us (Fox, 41-42; c.f. John 15:1-6). Abiding in Christ will produce fruitful, fragrant lives of love and fellowship that reflect the very image in which we were created. “As we seek to love and serve our sisters in Christ and they in turn love and serve us, we are living out our union with Christ. We are reflecting the triune community” (Fox).

The Nourished Community

But, Sisters, less we think that this community is held together by our sheer will-power to love and serve, let us continually remind ourselves that Christ is the Author and Perfecter of our faith (c.f. Hebrews 12:2). He is the covenant-initiator and covenant-keeper. Community takes work. We are easily distracted. We are prone to forgetfulness. We forget who we are and whose we are. We forget (or ignore) that we were made for community (Fox). Here, too, our Christ has provided a way, because “the glorious truth of the Gospel is that our union with Christ is not contingent upon our grasp of Christ but of His grasp of us” (Fox, 60). Therefore, our union with Christ nourishes and transforms us to live out our design in the context of community, not just because we have a glorious, perfect example, but also because we continually drink from the living water that compels us to dwell well in the community for which we were made.