God Is Light

1 John 15 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 John 1:5–10 (ESV)

5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Understanding the Word

In the previous verses, John spoke of bringing people into fellowship with God through the proclamation of the gospel. In these verses, he begins to talk about what true fellowship with God looks like.

John tells us first that God is light. By this he speaks of God’s purity and holiness. If we are in fellowship with the one who is light, then it is impossible to continue to walk in darkness. Darkness is here used to speak of sin. You simply cannot have fellowship with the light if you live your life in darkness. The two do not go together.

Applying the Word

The book of 1 John gives us a series of tests to help us determine if we really belong to God or not (1 John 5:13). This first test asks if we are still living in the same sinful way we did before we heard the gospel message. If we are still living in sin, we do not have a relationship with God. If we say we do, we are lying to ourselves and others.

It is important to understand that John is not saying that true believers will not sin. He is clear that we will (1 John 1:9). Thankfully, we have a God who is forgiving when we confess our sins. However, a life unchanged and characterized by sinfulness is a life that has no fellowship with the God who is light. May we acknowledge our sin and turn to the one who is able to save us and give us new life.

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The Life Made Manifest

Jesus Teaches the People by the Sea

Jesus teaches by the sea.

Reading the Word

1 John 1:1–4 (ESV)

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Understanding the Word

The Apostle John begins his letter emphasizing that the gospel he proclaims is real. He heard Jesus speak. He saw him. He touched him. The things that John proclaims are not just rumors or hearsay, but coming from a first-hand witness of the life of Jesus.

The reality of Jesus, the Son of God, being born into the world as a man, dying on a cross, and rising from the dead, means that eternal life is available for all who will hear the Good News and trust in Jesus. John wants all to hear his message and believe so that they might join the fellowship of believers now and for eternity.

Applying the Word

The Christian faith is grounded in history. The events that Christians hold to as the basis of their hope are things that actually happened. Christianity is unique in that it is not simply based on wise sayings or philosophical understandings of the world, as other religious systems. Instead, we look to the cross. We look to the historical events of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection as our hope.

And if Jesus really rose from the dead, we have the answers to all of our questions and the solution to our sin problem.

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2 Peter 3:14-18

Shaped by the Word publishes devotional content daily Monday through Friday. However, I will post suggested readings on Saturdays and Sundays. Here is the reading for Sunday, October 29:

Reading the Word

2 Peter 3:14–18 (ESV)

14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

2 Peter 3:11-13

Shaped by the Word publishes devotional content daily Monday through Friday. However, I will post a suggested reading on Saturdays and Sundays. Here is the reading for Saturday, October 28:

Reading the Word

2 Peter 3:11–13 (ESV)

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

The Lord Is Patient

2 Peter 39 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

2 Peter 3:8–10 (ESV)

8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Understanding the Word

Many unbelievers scoff at the idea that Jesus Christ will return as he promised. They point out the fact that it has been a long time now and there is still no Jesus!

Peter points out that what may seem like a long time to us is just a moment for the eternal God. He has not forgotten us nor will he fail to fulfill his promises to us. In fact, the reason for his delay is because he is a gracious God. He wants all to come to repentance.

Applying the Word

One day Jesus will return to this world. What if you knew it would happen tomorrow? How would it change the way you live today? How would you live if you knew you would be standing in the presence of the all-knowing Judge in just a few moments? Would it make a difference?

The Bible tells us that Jesus will return and that he will come like a thief in the night. This means he will come unexpectedly. He will come unannounced. We need to be ready for it at all times because one day all will stand before him and give an account. Take time now to call out to the gracious God who has given you time to repent and turn to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and salvation. He has delayed his return just for that purpose.

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Where Is He?

The Ascension

Reading the Word

2 Peter 3:1–7 (ESV)

1 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Understanding the Word

Here we find a word of encouragement from the Apostle Peter. He reminds his readers that Christ has promised to return. In every generation, unbelievers have scoffed at this teaching. They point out the fact that it has been so long and yet there has been no return. Unbelievers say this as if it negates the Christian hope.

Peter reminds us that the promise does stand. Christ will return to judge all of creation just as God judged the world through a flood in the days of Noah. The difference being the means of judgment.

Applying the Word

In these verses we find the hope of believers and the reason so many reject the word of God: the promise of justice. For unbelievers, this promise condemns them of their sin and serves notice that they will answer for everything they have done in life. The response is to reject such a notion and reject God the Creator as judge.

For believers, the return of Christ in judgment is the hope that all of the evils of this world will not go unpunished. Justice will have its day. God’s name will be honored. May we look forward to that day as we seek justice and righteousness even now in our own lives.

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Recognizing False Teachers


Learning from the past for the benefit of the present and future.

Reading the Word

2 Peter 2:10–22 (ESV)

10 …Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. 17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

Understanding the Word

2 Peter is written to address false teaching among these believers. Previously, Peter has warned that the false teachers would come and bring destructive heresies with them. These teachers would be motivated by greed. In the end, God would surely judge them for their deceptions.

Now, we get a more detailed picture of these false teachers. They are bold and willfully dismiss any authority, including angelic authority (cf. “glorious ones”). These false teachers are ignorant and indulge in sin while teaching others that to do so is part of the freedom they have through the gospel (cf. 2 Peter 2:19). They lead unsteady people astray.

Applying the Word

The Bible is an ancient book that proclaims ancient truths. When someone comes along with a “new” teaching it is time to be very careful. Chances are, if no one has said it before, it is for good reason.

In fact, not many things are new at all, even the things that are promoted as such. Most of these “new” things that we hear about are simply repackaged heresies from the past. They are things that previous generations of Christians have confronted and rejected. If we just take the time to ask “How have Christians responded to this teaching in the past?” we will avoid many problems. Unfortunately, many of us come from church traditions that think church history is referring to our parents’ generation. We have little or no knowledge of the 2000 years of Church history.

May we be students of the Bible and our Christian history.

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Is It Heresy?


Reading the Word

2 Peter 2:1–10 (ESV)

1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

Understanding the Word

Now Peter warns against false teachers who will contradict the word of God (cf. 1 Peter 1:16-21). He says these false teachers will bring in destructive heresies and that many would be fooled by their words. The motivation for these false teachers will be their greed. Be assured, in the end, God will judge those who would lead people astray through the distortion of truth.

Applying the Word

How many times have you heard a teacher or pastor say something you did not agree with? Does that mean the other person is a heretic? How do we make a distinction between heresy and difference of opinion?

When we speak of heresy, we are speaking of the primary tenets of the Christian faith. Some examples include the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus, salvation by grace through faith alone, and the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. These are teachings that have been the foundation of Christianity for 2000 years. To deny these is to no longer be Christian.

By contrast, we can have differences of opinion on some things. This would be in areas where Scripture is not as clear and where the issues are not primary. Some examples might be end times views, baptism, and predestination vs. free will. If two people disagree on these things, it does not make one of them a heretic.

May we give grace to those with whom we disagree, but may we never be fooled by false teachers who would lead us away from the truth of the gospel. Let us always look to God’s word as our final authority.

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The Prophetic Word

Bible Study Woman

Reading the Word

2 Peter 1:12–21 (ESV)

12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Understanding the Word

Peter assures his readers that what they have heard is true. Peter himself testifies to the truthfulness of the gospel through eyewitness testimony. He also reminds his readers that the word of God is not the creation of humanity. It is the word of God himself as God spoke through men inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Applying the Word

Many in the world call into question the Bible’s teaching, especially that concerning the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Some who cast doubt on these things even call themselves “Christian”. They claim that Jesus’ resurrection was a spiritual one, not a physical one. Or they say that the resurrection is just a legend and the real thing we need to learn from Jesus’ life on earth is to love one another.

False teaching abounds today as it did in the first century when Peter wrote this letter. But we are reminded that Scripture is the word of God and we can have confidence in it. It teaches us that Jesus was God in the flesh, that he died for the sins of mankind, and that he rose from the dead in victory over sin and death. All those who trust in the person and work of Jesus are forgiven of their sins and given eternal life. What a wonderful gospel!

Clothe Yourselves with Humility


Reading the Word

1 Peter 5:1–5 (ESV)

1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Understanding the Word

Peter now shifts his focus from telling his readers how to live in the world with unbelievers to giving them instructions on how to live with one another. He instructs the “elders” to shepherd the flock of God. The picture here is that of shepherds caring for their sheep. The elders, as we learn elsewhere in Scripture (e.g. 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9), are to be the spiritually mature who are able to guard the true gospel from corruption and care for the less mature. They are not to rule over the flock, but live as examples.

Peter also gives instructions to the “younger”, that is, the less mature believers. He calls on them to be subject, or submit, to the elders. In essence, he calls on them to follow the leadership of the elders.

This passage ends with a call to both the elders and the younger to live in humility toward one another. There is no place for one feeling superior over another for any reason.

Applying the Word

Humility is contrary to our nature. It is seen as the opposite of self-esteem. We embrace the opposite and call it self-confidence. But in the Church, there is no place for one person or group feeling superior to another. In Christ, all are children of God and stand on equal footing as heirs to the kingdom. May Christians never allow things like race, social class, education, or roles in the church to divide the people of God. May we live in humility as we serve one another through the grace of God.

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