This article is a historical study of how the New England church in America dealt with issues like the determining of membership after a person or persons came forward as converts. There were a set of rules and procedures that had to be laid down at that time to determine whether one was genuinely a member of Christ's body or not.
According to the author, the Gospel of John lays emphasis on both the individual believer and the community of believers. We should not allow either to cancel out the other. What Bauckham indicates as individualism is nothing more than the considerable emphasis this Gospel account lays on the relationship of the individual believer to Jesus Christ. In Chapter 1 he gathers and assesses the evidence for the individual’s relationship with Jesus.
Bauckham discusses the importance of having a Christian eschatology which looks forward to the new creation promised by God, but also works for change in the present.
'Sin' has become an old-fashioned word. One reason for this is that sin is a religious word. It suggests that what one does wrong is wrong in the sight of God. Another reason is that the word 'sin' implies that there are some things that are absolutely wrong. It assumes some standard to which our lives ought to conform. Both of these reasons go against the modern trend in our culture which views morality as a matter of private opinion.
The word 'saint' often tends to denote some type of "super-Christian" above the rest of us. But this author understands saints to be people who reflect Christ in their lives in such a way that people who know them feel that by knowing them they know Christ better. Not because they are perfect, but because they themselves point us to Christ.
Is it childish when we go on asking God for things even as adults? What Jesus says about prayer is put in the simplest childlike way: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you". This understanding of prayer makes sense only if we realize that for Jesus it belongs to a special kind of relationship with God - a relationship of trusting intimacy and close friendship. A child would not hesitate to ask a loving parent for anything.
Once Christians were very familiar with the image of the Last Judgment. Yet today, many wonder what it has to do with the gospel message of the love of God, or with the Jesus of the Gospels who lived and died for the salvation of sinners. However, it is the Jesus of the Gospels who makes it clearer than anyone else that He will sit in judgment over people. He will distinguish the innocent from the guilty as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats in a mixed herd (Matthew 25).