Do You Have Life?

Whoever has the Son has life

In the first of John’s three letters, he writes to the early followers of Jesus, reminding them of God’s essential message about Jesus, light, and life. Jesus, by the way, is the light and he gives life. So amid John’s poetic flare, his words all revolve around Jesus.

As John winds down his letter, he writes, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” He makes it so simple.

We take this word life to mean eternal life, that is, our future life in heaven.

Yes, it is that. But this future begins today, not later after we die. The life Jesus gives us is physical life, too. And this might be just as important. Really.

Too many Christians plod through this life, placing all their hopes in a future life in heaven. Their exclusive future focus robs them of what God wants to give them today.

We need to make the most of this life that Jesus gives us. Live for him. Love others as he does. Point them to Jesus, the Son of God.Seek Jesus and you will have him. It’s that simple. Click To Tweet

John makes it clear: Whoever has the Son has life.

Do you have the Son?

If so, the life he gives starts here, now.

If not, seek Jesus and you will have him. It’s that simple.

[Read through the New Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is 1 John 5, and today’s post is on 1 John 5:12.]

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John Calls Jesus the Word; Does that Make Him the Word of God?

Considering Jesus as the Word of God shines new light on some verses in the Bible

The book of John, which is a biography of Jesus, opens with a most poetic passage. It calls Jesus the Word. It confirms Jesus’s presence at creation and that he took part in it. In fact without Jesus creation wouldn’t have happened.

Life came through Jesus. His life gives us light, a light that shines for us in darkness. And, best of all, the light of Jesus overcomes the darkness (John 1:5).

While you may think I’m taking liberties with the text by claiming the Word refers to Jesus, keep reading the passage. Later on John writes that this Word became human and joined us on earth. The Word showed us his glory as the one and only son from Father God (John 1:14).

It’s easy to see from the above passage that Jesus is the Word, life, and light, as well as creator. But what if Jesus is the Word of God?

We commonly think of the word of God as the Bible, but remember that the New Testament of the Bible didn’t exist until several centuries after Jesus’s death and resurrection. In light of this, I prefer to think of the word of God as the spoken word of God, more so than the written word.

But let’s take this one additional step. What if Jesus is more than the Word? What if he’s actually the Word of God?What if Jesus is actually the Word of God? Click To Tweet

This thought isn’t mine alone. John thought it too. In another of his writings he, in fact, calls Jesus the Word of God (Revelation 20:4). Curious.

The Bible contains 39 mentions of the word of God. Though it doesn’t flow smoothly in all cases, as a thought-provoking exercise, let’s reword some of these verses to say Jesus instead of word of God.

Here we go:

  • “You nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition” (Matthew 15:6) becomes “You nullify Jesus for the sake of your tradition.”
  • “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God (Luke 8:11) becomes “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is Jesus.”
  • “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28) becomes “Blessed rather are those who hear Jesus and obey him.”
  • “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables” (Acts 6:2) becomes “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of Jesus in order to wait on tables.”
  • “When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John” (Acts 8:14) becomes “When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted Jesus, they sent Peter and John.”
  • “The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God” (Acts 11:1) becomes “The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received Jesus.
  • “So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God” (Acts 18:11) becomes “So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them Jesus.”
  • “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit” (2 Corinthians 2:17) becomes “Unlike so many, we do not peddle Jesus for profit.”

There are many more interesting examples, but you get the point. Considering Jesus as the word of God and inserting his name into these verses elevates their impact for me. I hope it does for you, too.

[Read through the New Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is John 1, and today’s post is on John 1:1-5, 14.]

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What I Learned From the Parade of Homes

Parade of HomesI’m not sure how widespread this is, but in our corner of Michigan, there’s an annual event in several cities called the Parade of Homes. It’s like a progressive dinner, but instead of eating at each stop, you look at the house. This is an occasion for builders to showcase their work, in hopes of selling their house or finding new clients.

I’ve always been intrigued by the Parade of Homes but have never gone. I worried that seeing these houses, many with extravagant extras, would turn the satisfaction with what I have into an unhealthy desire for more. When it comes to possessions, I seek contentment with what I have, not something bigger or more shiny.

However, this year – with plans to build a house for the first time – we decided it might be a good idea to check out this year’s houses in the parade, to get ideas of what to include and learn what to avoid. Still, I worried this tour would skew my perceptions of what our new home should look like.

Overall, we enjoyed visiting these houses. Aside from being educational, it was an inexpensive outing that lasted four days. We did get some practical ideas for our house and saw some things we want to avoid. We saw finishes and treatments we liked and some we can take off our list.

We also confirmed we don’t want a big house that will be costly to run and take too much time to maintain; I don’t want a bunch of fancy, impractical things that are likely going to break. I feel sorry for the people who will buy these huge houses; I don’t think they will find peace there. A big house may be impressive, but I don’t see happiness in their future.

But mostly I learned that an affordable, comfortable house is the right one for me.

[This is from the July 2014 issue of Peter DeHaan’s newsletter. Sign up to receive the complete newsletter each month via email.]

Book Review: The Meaning of Life

The Meaning of Life

By James Rutz (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

In The Meaning of Life, author James Rutz takes a new look at some of the standard thinking about God. He examines anew God’s creation, corrects common misconceptions about what heaven and hell are really like, revisits history to address its central theme and approaching conclusion, addresses the problem of evil, and takes aim at clarifying some of the Bible’s perplexing passages. His purpose in doing so is to remove the intellectual stumbling blocks to faith. However, all this is merely a prelude to his main objective: offering “an enticing alternative to old-fashioned, Sunday morning Christianity.”

Although The Meaning of Life is a standalone book, Rutz does make multiple references to is prior work, Megashift, which was published the prior year. Both works take vastly different approaches and cover a different theme to arrive at the same place: house churches. Toward this end, Rutz first suggests that it is time to “reboot the church”; then he encourages readers to “make an end run around the church” by starting their own (their own church, that is, not their own religion).

Rutz proceeds to reel off a string a house church benefits where participants can experience “team life,” with “24/7 support”; “have mutual accountability”; “form deep, loving relationships”; “find solutions to many…deep seated problems”; realize “tremendous empowerment”; “gain a new authority”; discover freedom and a “greater identity as part of the royal priesthood”; and be offered “the ultimate challenge – daring high-stakes, history-changing adventure.” Plus, there will be the free worship of God, where his presence is clearly felt. “When the [church] meeting is open,” Rutz notes, “the Holy Spirit is allowed to direct things as he wants, His presence can be heart-stopping – like nothing you’ve ever experienced.”

Rutz then offers a dozen rules for those who desire more out of life. He concludes The Meaning of Life with five keys to help readers understand the problem passages found in the Bible.

[The Meaning of Life, by James Rutz. Published by Empowerment Press, 2006, ISDN: 9780966915846, 138 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.

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Where is the Tree of Life?

Lately I’ve been meditating on the phrase “tree of life.” It occurs in only three books of the Bible: Genesis, Revelation, and Proverbs.

In Genesis, we find the tree of life in the garden of Eden, while in Revelation the tree of life is mentioned in the book’s concluding chapter, which addresses the new heaven and the new earth that will be created once all things have been made right. Some people see the tree of life as a reference to Jesus, be it symbolically or literally. He was there at creation and will be there at the culmination of all things.

Proverbs puts a different twist on tree of life, preceding it with an indefinite article, as in a tree of life. According to Proverbs, a tree of life is:

  • Wisdom (Proverbs 3:13-18)
  • The fruit of righteousness — that is, the results of doing good (Proverbs 11:30)
  • A longing fulfilled (Proverbs 13:12)
  • A tongue that brings healing (Proverbs 15:4)

Is there a connection between this list (a tree of life) and Jesus (the tree of life)? Perhaps the link is that those who follow Jesus will become more like him, exemplifying these, and other admirable, characteristics. While we will never be the tree of life, I think that we can be a tree of life; we will never be the Christ (the Messiah), but we can become a Christ or “little Christs,” that is, someone who is a Christian in actual practice. Then, as a tree of life, we can effectively point people to the tree of life.

Do you think we can be a tree of life?