In line with the 139th BFC Conference’s Reflections theme, four BFC pastors offered reflections on the Holy Spirit-inspired words penned by the Apostle John in 1 John 1:28-3:24. Just as the 138th BFC Conference, held the previous October, afforded a group of the BFC’s newest, youngest men an opportunity to proclaim God’s Word before their fellow pastors and delegates, this Conference was introduced to four fresh voices. Each of the men was given 20 minutes to expound and apply assigned passages from 1 John. An immediate observation: you can say a lot in 20 minutes.
Scott A. Allison of New Life BFC in Oley, PA, given 1 John 2:28- 3:3 as his text, opted to focus on three words from verse 28: Little children, abide. As Christian believers, we have the great privilege of seeing God as our Father and knowing that His Word affectionately refers to us as His “little children.” Scripture’s encouragement, Allison noted, is to “abide” in Christ Jesus. “This is another word that John packs with meaning,” he explained. It speaks of persevering, of keeping on with Jesus despite trials and persecution; thus drawing close to Him with a sense of “intimacy without shame.” Our hope needs to be in our Savior and rests in the promise of His return. When He appears, John writes in 1 John 3:2, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. That, Allison declared, ought to motivate us to pursue holiness. We purify ourselves as He is pure as and we continue to draw closer to Him.
John P. Sullivan of Christ Community Church in Piscataway, NJ, provided a Tuesday afternoon message with 1 John 3:4-10 as his text. He opened by quoting Paul David Tripp. “The blinding ability of sin is so powerful that you and I literally need daily intervention,” Tripp said in his book Dangerous Calling. The apostle’s warning to his readers is that sin is deceitful and dangerous – so all need to take heed of it. Pastors and congregations alike need to battle against sin. Sullivan directly addressed all who were in attendance. “We need to work to build churches full of members who are regenerate – who love Jesus Christ,” he said. “But what about you? What about your own battle, your own heart, your own life?” Pastors, like everyone else, need to be growing in love for Christ and in their opposition to sin. Sullivan added, “John isn’t writing to discourage you. John is actually writing that you would know that you have life. I remember someone saying, ‘Jesus didn’t hire you; He saved you.’ That’s where you start every day.”
Tuesday’s evening session saw Daniel Z. Krall of Ephrata BFC, Ephrata, PA, focus on 1 John 3:11-18 – a passage whose emphasis is love. This is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, John says in v. 11. How we reflect Christ to the world starts with love, which John in his epistle borrows from the Lord’s words in John 13:34 of his Gospel: the “new commandment” that Christ has given us: that we should love one another. “It’s a message that we need more now than ever,” Krall said, asking if our love as ministers for our flocks has grown since the onset of COVID-19 or whether our love has been stretched or even broken by circumstances and the difficulties of ministry. “If your church has been taught well in doctrine, I pray that they also express that doctrine in their love for one another,” Krall added.
Finally, Roger L. Siegrist of Bethany BFC, Mt. Carmel, PA, led Conference in a study of 1 John 3:19-24 on Wednesday morning. His subject was assurance. What proofs do we have from 1 John that God loves us? Siegrist offered three “benefits of love” from the text – assurance of faith, confidence in prayer, and God’s abiding presence. If we are following God’s commands, which include the command to love our brothers, we can be assured of our salvation. “How exciting it is that we can be assured and know without a shadow of doubt that we are children of God!” Siegrist said. Despite these promises from God’s Word, we are human and are prone to doubt. Our hearts often condemn us. Our consciences can be a tricky thing to navigate, and the world around us continually slings “immoral mud” at us – mud that at times looks better than the truth. John tells us that whenever our hearts condemn us (v. 20), we need to remember that God is greater than our hearts “and He knows everything.” “If you know that you are a child of God … then even if your heart condemns you for falling short, God is greater than your heart. God is the One who justified you – who has declared you righteous,” Siegrist stressed. That kind of love, he noted, has to translate into action, with Christ’s own sacrificial actions as our model and example. “Our love is not to be based on hollow words but on concrete actions toward our brothers and sisters in Christ,” Siegrist said.
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