1 John 2:28–29 – Penthouses and Pudding

1 John 2:28–29 (NKJV)
28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.

Where do you live is a common question we ask new found friends or even brief acquaintances we have met at the airport. Our answers might very from the type of house we live in to the city or state. Rarely does it convey our spiritual residence of being in Christ. John has just finished clarifying what antichrist means and those who are antichrist in conduct and word. So now he exhorts his children again from a fatherly love to abide in Christ. I know I have confusedly and imaginatively thought of this as residing inside of Christ bodily, and have remained confused. So let’s look at t herehat word abide a little bit.

The Greek word is menete from the word meno. Approximately 45 of 120 uses of the word in Greek is translated “abide” or a derivative like abiding, etc… The next closest translation is “remain” with 30 of 120 uses. Common understandings of abide is, to stay, to reside, to live in, to remain in, to persist in, to endure in. To persist in or endure in have to do with passive steadfastness, not active aggression, so being immovable versus fighting for. I say this for definition, not that abiding in Christ isn’t a battle at times, because it is. However when we compare going through trials with abiding, the word endure carries two different meanings. For trials it means to spiritually fight against the negative aspects of the trial but for at the word abide it means to keep one’s ground in Christ. Don’t know if that makes sense…I guess the impression I got was one of remaining steadfast in Christ versus enduring opposition which is more about trials and persecution.

All that to say we are to remain steadfast or reside in what Christ has done and his word or commands to us. Difficult yet possible. Our assurance of residing is not effort bur reliance. Remember John 15 about abiding in the vine? Living in what Christ has done and who he is imperative for our constancy and growth. These are likely two things that those who have left that congregation abandoned. They denied Christ as Son of God and Savior, and also denied what he came to do. Second, the motivation that John gives for abiding in Christ is future oriented. When Christ returns we do not want to be shamed by not abiding. That is what ashamed means here. To be shamed is alluding to the shame of supposedly following Christ but not practically following him in spirit and in truth when He returns. The shame seems to be about what is not happening compared to doing something deliberately wrong.

So why does the title say “Penthouse?” We all know that the penthouse is the upper level home of a premier hotel. It is the best room in the place, and is typically a large accommodation costing significantly more than the other rooms. I used this terminology because Jesus himself in John 14 spoke of leaving and preparing a place for all who are his. Therefore at his return we will be going to that penthouse, mansion, heavenly abode and do we want to be ashamed at such benevolence? To receive such a gift yet be filled with shame…horrific, humbling, motivating, inspiring. Abide in Christ, his work and his words until he comes.

Verse 29 is a foundational support for verse 28 and this definition of shame. The proof is in the pudding…Do you remember the Bill Cosby commercials of Jell-O pudding? He always presented the pudding as the best out there. How was anyone to know? Only by buying and eating a Jell-O pudding would you experience the velvety chocolatey creaminess of that pudding. The origination of the phrase is from a hundreds of years ago and has been slightly modified. The original phrase was, “The proof is in eating the pudding.” Meaning that looks are great but the taste proves the truth of the dish.

This protasis (if) and apodosis (then) statement explains the fruit of abiding. The conditional statement is based on the character and nature of Christ which is attributing to him righteousness. What we can’t misunderstand is the intent of this verse. The focus is not on you practicing righteousness…Wha….tttt….It isn’t. It is on Christ. The word “born” is the old word “begotten” referring to the father’s act of producing a seed. It is not the mother’s participation of carrying child and giving birth through pain and travail. Why is this important? It shows the regenerative (begotteness, probably not a word) act of God in salvation, which produces children prone to practice righteousness.
John is using this picture of God’s regenerative work as proof to not only practice righteousness, but also the truth of not being ashamed. Many places in scripture it talks about who won’t enter into heaven, and it is usually a laundry list of sins. But like Paul who exhorts the truth of regeneration with, “and of such were some of you,” John shows a heavenly transformation too. Those antichrists weren’t regenerate based on their actions and words. John encourages his little children that they are because the proof is in the pudding. Their lives, words, and actions match the regenerative work in their heart.

Now for the hard stuff…if Jesus returned today, right this second, would you experience shame? Not from a failure perspective, but from abiding, residing in Him. It may be difficult to answer at times, and rightly should be. We should be challenging ourself with living in the grace of the cross, yet living lives for him. In fact, Second Corinthians 5:15 says, “And he died for all, so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them.” To put the application more candidly, does my life shadow Christ’s? Not in works, clothing, income, but in spiritual pursuits and living. Chew on this for awhile. Do I really live in Jesus? Just a few thoughts…

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