By Colton Corter
Lord willing, I’d like to begin a series of short meditations from the book of 1 John. 1 John was inspired by the Holy Spirit so that we might know that we have saving faith in Christ. As we’ll see, the root of our salvation is proven by fruits. 1 John is a penetrating book that calls us to holiness by pointing us to the certain salvation found by faith in the Rock of Ages. I doubt that I’ll hit every line, but most posts will take a couple of verses and glean whatever we can of the glories of Christ from them.
But first I thought it would be helpful to show just how these posts have come about. You may not be interested in knowing that. I understand! However, I want you to see how I have come to see these things in the Bible, why I am writing and how to see these things for yourselves.
The series is entitled “Meditations on 1 John.” Each of these posts will be the fruit of Bible meditation. Think of Bible meditation as a combination of Bible reading and prayer. It is the process of rolling biblical truths around in your mind, squeezing out of them all that we can so that we enjoy the God of the Bible more. This type of type of study welds the head and the heart – taking what is objectively true in the Bible and submitting our subjective affections to it so that we feel deeply about God as He really is. I wonder how many of us meditate on the Bible. And yet, our brothers that have gone before us testify that Christian maturity will come by any other means.
I have just recently studied through the book of 1 John. Each night, I will write out a section of the book and study it. I’ll take two different color pens and draw lines so that it looks like something that only I could make any sense of! During this time, I want to be focused on beholding the glory of Christ in the gospel. Therefore, I am coming to the Bible, not so much for practical “how-tos”, but to know God better (which ends up being the most practical thing in the world).
So Bible meditation takes two parts. First is the study of Scripture. Brothers, we must come to the Bible to know God. Eternal life is knowing God and His Son whom He has sent (John 17:3). We cannot know somebody that we know nothing about. To be sure, oh to be so sure, we can pursue “knowledge” in a way that puffs up and makes us stick our chests out. However, the problem with such a knowledge is not that we are too focused on our minds but that we have not yet begun to the love God with our mind. Mind and heart cannot be rightly separated. They aren’t even things to be balanced. True knowledge, all true knowledge of God, will result in increased affections, humility and holiness of life. Since the goal is to know God, we must think in theologically terms. Our longing is to see God! To do this, we need to view the Scriptures with an eye to what the whole Bible teaches about a particular doctrine. So when John says that he is writing so that we might not sin we know that he is not expecting some kind of sinless perfection, especially because he just said in the chapter before that the one who says that they don’t sin is a liar! So we want to see how different doctrines, those arising from the present text and those we have seen in other texts, connect with one another. And this takes a lifetime and will never be exhausted. What a wonderful God!
Second is prayer. We are desperate men. I am not capable of one God-honoring thought outside of God’s sovereign grace. I am to strive to know and think well, but all of my efforts are dependent on God’s enabling (1 Cor 15:10). For that reason, I am starting each time before the Book asking for God to help. John Piper taught me the acrostic IOUS:
- Incline my heart to you, not to prideful gain or any false motive. (Psalm 119:36)
- Open my eyes to behold the wonderful things in your Word. (Psalm 119:18)
- Unite my heart to fear your name. (Psalm 86:11)
- Satisfy me with your steadfast love. (Psalm 90:14)
If we come to the Bible in our own power then we will utterly fail. Our Bible reading will just become another means to another end that is by nature not god. We must ask God to help us, to open our groggy eyes. It is the Spirit that does this, so enlightening our hearts that we might discern the depth of God’s love for us in Christ. Even as you read, pause and ask God. Does something seem off or difficult? Ask God to help you! Some of my sweetest times in communion with God have come at dead-ins in my Bible study. While languishing in my own futility, God gives light and opens up His Word to me. All of this should be turned into adoration towards God.
I hope that this process is the spring from which all of my writings come from. God forbid I ever write in a way that is less than doxological and less focused on the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ clothed in the gospel. It is dangerous to write for other reasons than a desire to enjoy God and help others do the same. I am praying to the end, that God would be pleased, from what He has shown me, to take these truths (insofar as I am faithful to the text) and press them deep into your soul. Oh that God would give us low thoughts of ourselves, high esteem for the gospel of the cross and a longing to see God maximized in our lives and teaching. Glory to God alone, in the white-hot affections of His people for Christ alone!
Colton Corter is a student at SBTS and a member of Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville.