Why these verses?
These verses continue the love story. Even though mankind continued to turn away from him, God continued to love. With reckless, unending and forever love he sent Jesus to rescue us. When we in faith accept his great love and acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, we are given eternal life. In case we would miss the message in verse 16, John adds verse 17. It is only love that would go to such lengths to rescue us. God’s intention is to rescue and forgive not to condemn. God is Love.
"Regarding oaths (Matthew 5:33-37), do these verses mean that we should not be swearing an oath by placing our hand on a Bible? Does it forbid us from saying such things as "I swear to God" or "As God is my witness"? (submitted through firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jesus’ half-brother, James, wrote something very similar in 5:12, “But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned.” (NLT). Neither passage is absolutely forbidding the taking of oaths. Not only did the Mosaic Law prescribe oaths in certain situations (Num 5:19,21; 30:2,3), both God the Father (Heb 6:13-18; Acts 2:30), and God the Son, swore oaths, (Matt 26:63,64) where an oath is strongly implied!). In Jesus’ day the religious leaders often took oaths in the name of “earth,” “heaven,” “Jerusalem,” etc., thinking that because they were not using God’s name, they were not strictly lying, and therefore not accountable to God. As John MacArthur notes, “What Jesus is forbidding here is the flippant, profane, or careless use of oaths in everyday speech.” Really, all our speech should be as if we were under an oath to tell the truth, because we really are (Deut. 5:20; Matt 5:37).
For the fall of 2019 we will be focused on an initiative to read or listen through the New Testament. As we introduce this initiative, we want to highlight a few points for you:
Before you start reading each day, take some time to pray and ask God to direct you and speak to you through His word. Perhaps you can pray something like this: “Father, thank you for the gift of your word I hold in my hands, may your Holy Spirit fill me and reveal the meaning of Your words as I read today. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
We are beginning on October 1st and will be concluding on December 31st, 2019.
If you decide to join this initiative at a later date, simply begin your readings on the date that you start, and complete your readings on schedule. It will mean your readings will spill over into 2020, but you will not be overwhelmed with catching up, and you will be on the same Scripture readings as everyone else.
Each week features a memory verse that we will be focusing on and asking you to seek to memorize. Each day you do your reading, if you read over this verse six times, you will be very likely to have it committed to memory for life. The memory verse will be printed in the bulletins each Sunday.
While our published information will normally be printed in the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible, you are free to read or listen from whatever translation you desire.
On that note, you don’t need to READ through the New Testament; you can also LISTEN through the New Testament. There are a large variety of onlineresources available such as www.thestreamingbible.com which are absolutely free!
Listen and read the New Testament simultaneously. Research tells us that the more senses that we involve in learning, the more successful that learning is.
Keep a journal or notepad handy. Write down thoughts, questions, concerns and ideas that come to you.