eluding our idols: 20 questions on 1 John 1.5-2.6

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This coming Sunday (Dec. 14) at 9:00 a.m., some of our adult classes at MoSt Church will continue a study of John’s letters entitled Eluding Our Idols. To help you get ready for this encounter with God’s word and our discussion of it, following is: (a) the text of 1 John 1.5-2.6 and (b) twenty questions and exercises go along with this reading.

receiving this word in our mind

1.5 This is the message that we have heard from him and announce to you: “God is light and there is no darkness in him at all.” 6 If we claim, “We have fellowship with him,” and live in the darkness, we are lying and do not act truthfully. 7 But if we live in the light in the same way as he is in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin. 8 If we claim, “We don’t have any sin,” we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong. 10 If we claim, “We have never sinned,” we make him a liar and his word is not in us.

2.1 My little children, I’m writing these things to you so that you don’t sin. But if you do sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. 2 He is God’s way of dealing with our sins, not only ours but the sins of the whole world. 3 This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commandments. 4 The one who claims, “I know him,” while not keeping his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in this person. 5 But the love of God is truly perfected in whoever keeps his word. This is how we know we are in him. 6 The one who claims to remain in him ought to live in the same way as he lived.

wrestling with this word in our mind

1. In this text (1.5-2.6), underscore every use of the word “in.” What is “in” God, and what is not? What can be “in” us and what can we be “in?”

2. What sort of “claims” are made in this passage. To know, note every occurrence of the appearances of the word “claim” in 1.5-2.6.

3. There is “no darkness in him [God] at all.” (1.5b) What are some of the “dark” things you sometimes hear people claim God is about?

4. God is light (1.5) and we’re called to “live in the light” (1.7). What does someone look like if they’re “living in the light?”

5. Fellowship with God (1.6) goes hand-in-hand with fellowship with each other (1.7). It’s not a matter of the former being essential and the latter being optional. How so?

6. Blood is a tangible thing, but sin is not. (1.7) And so, when John says it is Jesus’ “blood” that cleanses us from sin, what is John saying? That is, are we to understand the word “blood” literally here or are we to take it figuratively, like a metaphor for something else?

7. There is no sin too big for God to forgive us of and he can cleanse us of all wrong doing. (1.7,9) What does this truth do for your heart and spirit as well as your outlook and perspective?

8. Who in their right mind would claim to not have any sin or to have never sinned?! (1.8,10) Further, study what commentators and scholars say about who is being spoken of in these verses.

9. We can sometimes deceive others, but how is it that we can “deceive ourselves?” (1.8) What does this tell you about the power of sin and the weakness of human beings?

10. What is “the truth?” (1.8; 2.4) Make sure your answer fits John’s thinking and usage in this context.

11. The Greek word translated “confess” in 1.9 is a present infinitive, which means John is telling us that confession is an ongoing, habitual, ceaseless action for the Christian; it’s anything but a ‘one and done’ sort of thing. How is it that confession is a necessary habit for a healthy relationship with God and others? And what sort of things need to be in place in a person’s spirit so that confession can happen?

12. John writes so that his readers won’t sin (2.1). Turn that around and ponder it: your weapon with which to repel sin and your tool with which to ramp up a life of holiness is to read. So, how are you coming along with that? Tell us a bit about your reading habits regarding Scripture and some of your successes and failures with such.

13. Jesus is Christ is our “advocate” with the Father. (2.1) With the aid of BibleGateway (biblegateway.com) or a similar site, compare the rendering of the word “advocate” here in the CEB with other English translations such as the NCV, NIRV, The Message, and The Voice. What image of Jesus Christ is being placed here before us? What does this image say about us? What does it say about Jesus and what he does/will do?

14. How is the phrase “… God’s way of dealing with our sins …” in 2.2 (CEB) translated in other renderings? Compare the GNT, NASB, NIV, and RSV.

15. After reading 2.2, consider this: how does the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ differ from the many sacrifices commanded of the Jewish people under the Old Covenant?

16. Jesus Christ is God’s solution for dealing with “the sins of the whole world.” (2.2) What does this tell you about Jesus Christ? Does this mean every person needs to be a Christian or does it mean that whoever God forgives and accepts, he does so on the basis of Christ’s work for them? Explain.

17. How do we know that we know God? (2.3)

18. No one can keep God’s commandments perfectly. And so, can we ever say that we “know” God or can God’s love ever be perfected in us? (2.4-6)

19. “… live in the same way as he lived.” (2.6) Really? How far is a person supposed to go with that statement? What phrase or concept in the immediate context of this statement serves as good commentary or definition of what John meant when he said “live in the same way as he lived?”

20. Our right standing with God isn’t based on our ability to make something like a plausible sounding claim of having no real sin in our life, rather that we have a keen sense of our dependency on the work and blood of Jesus Christ for us. How can a Christian nurture the development of such a mind as that?

links: this went thru my mind

 

 

Art, Christians, cinema, film, movie & the movie Noah: Will Evangelicals Miss the Boat on Noah?

“Not much has changed since the late Francis Schaeffer wrote in Art and the Bible, ‘I am afraid that as evangelicals, we think that a work of art only has value if we reduce it to a tract.'”

Brain, exercise, health & regulation: * The Toxins That Threaten Our Brains; * The Only 8 Moves You Need to Be Fit

* “… the real issue was not this particular group of 12 chemicals. Most of them are already being heavily restricted. This dozen is meant to illuminate something bigger: a broken system that allows industrial chemicals to be used without any significant testing for safety. The greater concern lies in what we’re exposed to and don’t yet know to be toxic.”

* “Human movement can be reduced to three basic categories: pushing, pulling, and hip extension (squatting, jumping, running, and even riding a bike). Functional fitness begins with learning good form for this essential repertoire and then gradually adding weight and difficulty to build stability and strength. Doing these exercises correctly with five pounds, in other words, is better than doing them poorly with 100.”

Church & discipleship: Deep Before Wide: A Vision for Returning Discipleship to the Church

“Discipleship is laboring in the lives of a few to give away your life and the gospel.”

Confession, Lent, repentance & sin: No Needy Among Us?

“This is one of the best arguments for seasons of confession like Lent. Without it, church starts becoming a place for ‘fine’ people to get together. We show up on the weekend with all our junk in order, and if we can’t at least look like that, chances are we just won’t go at all. We learn to stuff down this sense that all is not right in the world and all is not right with us.”

Critical thinking  & statistics: 3 Ways to Recognize Bad Stats

“We need to be shrewd when it comes to statistics and reality: things are not always as they seem.”

Forgiveness, Fred Phelps, grace & hate: * Hate and How to Overcome It: How Should We Respond to the Tragic Death of Fred Phelps?; * The Problem of Fred Phelps; * Fred Phelps: Life of Fear

* “… since a hateful man has died after distorting a message of Jesus’ love, I suggest that we consider three ways to respond …”

* “… to celebrate a death, especially one of such a tragic life, feels like we are starting to be on the wrong side of good.”

* “I pray when Phelps looked into the face of God, he saw a God he didn’t recognize. The God of all Creation, the One True God that casts out all fear. The God who loves us all enough.”

Payday loans: Garland Adopts Strong Payday Lending Regs

“An ordinance with real reforms to these predatory products …”

LIFE group guide: sing! with a song in your heart

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Mar. 2) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. This sermon is the first in a three-part series entitled Sing!

To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this sermon series, or this particular sermon, in a series.

To stress the significance of singing in our life together as seekers of God.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this morning’s sermon. Words underlined are stressed in the Greek.

• When they had sang a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Mark 14.26 NIV)

• Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise … Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5.15,18-20 NRSV)

• Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. (Colossians 3.16 NRSV)

• Without question, the mystery of godliness is great: he was revealed as a human, declared righteous by the Spirit, seen by angels, preached throughout the nations, believed in around the world, and taken up in glory. (1 Timothy 3.16 CEB)

• So let’s continually offer up a sacrifice of praise through him, which is the fruit from our lips that confess his name. Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have because God is pleased with these kinds of sacrifices. (Hebrews 13.15-16 CEB)

• Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. (James 5.13 NLT)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.

1. What are some of your all-time favorite songs or artists, Christian or otherwise.

2. Tell us of a song or album that has made a significant impact on your life. How so?

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this morning’s sermon.

1. Ps. 118 could be what was sung in Mk. 14.26. Read Ps. 118. How does it fit the context?

2. Scholars think 1 Tim. 3.16 is a part of a hymn. What other parts of Scripture are song?

Reflection

These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.

1. One might have legitimate reasons not to sing, but what are some common excuses?

2. Why is it that words sung to music often touch us more deeply than unsung words?

3. “The Christian songs I enjoy singing most are about ___. They have ___ in common.”

4. Who receives the most good from singing: the singer or the one sung to? Why?

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid in living out today’s message in the coming days.

1. Every day this month, use the song CD provided for our upcoming praise workshop.

this went thru my mind

 

Bible maps & Israel: Touring Israel in Google Street View [very cool!]

“Google has rolled out a rather substantial Street View update this morning, covering hundreds of towns in Israel and updating various other cities across the world. Some of the highlights include the Sea of Galilee, the Western Wall …”

Capitalism, government, Jesus & socialism: Jesus, Socialism, and Capitalism by James F. McGrath

“… Jesus said nothing about implementing any Christian principles in government, unless one includes the future Kingdom of God he envisaged as involving ‘government.'”

Confession, pride, repentance & sin: Four Things Christians Can Learn from the Lance Armstrong Debacle by Ed Stetzer

“The rise and fall of Lance Armstrong should serve as a reminder for us all as to how easy it is for us to allow sin to destroy all that we have. The patterns evident in this story are not new.”

E-mail forwards: 3 Steps to Polite, Secure Email by Kim Komando

“I love my sister to death, but not when it comes to email. Every day when she gets off of work, I know I’m going to see a few dozen messages sent to me and everyone else she knows about some scam or some weird picture of a dog. Plus, my email address is visible to people I don’t even know. I hate to be mean to her, but I’d really like her to stop sending so many and so publicly! How should I break it to her?”

Gambling: I’m Losing Money. So Why Do I Feel So Good? by Randall Stross

“… Jon E. Grant, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Chicago, says … ‘The gambling problems of the people who are coming in for treatment, or who we see in our research, appear to be more severe than they were 10 or 15 years ago’ … and the popularity of multi-line slot machines is one reason. Addiction specialists are concerned that the near-wins and false wins served up by digital gambling technology set off the same reward mechanism in the brain that is activated by actually winning a game.”

God, love & power: God is Love, Not Control by Mark Love [required reading]

“… when we say that God is in control, I think what that should mean to us is that there is nothing that can happen to us outside of God’s love for us. Neither famine, or nakedness, or sword. Not even death itself can separate us from the love of God which is ours in Christ Jesus. And this love is not just God’s good feelings toward us. It is not primarily sentiment, but power. God puts this love to work in us, pouring it into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, so that no matter what our life’s circumstances are,we find our condition changed, our life transformed, our world more hospitable.

“And this allows us, I think, to picture God more faithfully when disaster does strike. Our picture of God in these moments should be less as the cause and more as the one who grieves with us, the one who bears our suffering, the one who will not let us go no matter what. This we can speak of confidently.”

Gold: A Rumble in the Jungle

“It is estimated that up to a fourth of global gold production now originates not from licensed, regulated and monitored mines, but from often illegal, unregulated artisanal, or informal, mines … “

Marriage & missionaries: Cinderella Lied by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]

“‘And they lived happily-ever-after.’ I don’t know whether to say ‘aaaawwww’ or throw up. Depends on how much pain I’ve been listening to lately. So, here is the true end of Cinderella …”

Spiritual growth & maturity: Fridays with Benedict: Chapter 4, What are the Instruments of Good Works? by Richard Beck

“What does spiritual growth and maturity look like? What’s on the syllabus of this spiritual education?”

this went thru my mind

 

Confession & sin: Confession – The Church’s Tragic Silence by Paul Smith

“Could it be that there is no forgiveness of sins in the church today because there is no confession of sin?”

Discipleship: Discipling Doesn’t Happen Very Well in Age Specific Groups Alone by Matt Dabbs

“We also need to foster relationships that integrate/interconnect the generations where those more mature in their faith can mentor and disciple those who are far younger and less mature. This is going to take some guts and creativity and great communication of our purpose in doing this. I am afraid we are dying from isolation because we only know how to do half the process well to the exclusion of the other.”

God, genocide, holiness & Joshua: Exterminate Them Without Mercy: The Problem of Joshua, Genocide, and the Character of God by Kurt Willems [required reading]

“For it was the LORD himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the LORD had commanded Moses. (Joshua 11:20 ‘Exterminating them without mercy.’ How does this fit with the God of love we see revealed throughout the whole of the Bible and particularly in Jesus Christ?”

Gospels & Jesus: Did We Get Jesus Right? Simon Gathercole Looks at the Apocryphal the Gospels [49 min. video]

“In the following video Simon looks at the New Testament gospels and the apocryphal gospels.”

Jordan River: Saving the Jordan River by Noah Wiener

“The Jordan River is the setting of some of the Bible’s most iconic scenes. A visit to the river, however, reveals a different landscape from the Biblical depictions. Agricultural waste and runoff from nearby communities pollute the water, and dams on the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers have reduced the water flow to four percent of its volume in the early 20th century. On Tuesday, the Israeli paper Haaretz announced that the ‘Environmental Protection Ministry and the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee are expected within weeks to submit a plan to the cabinet to allocate NIS 99 million’ to clean the Jordan river.”

Missions & missionaries: Answering 7 Common Objections to Long-Term Missions by Ben Stevens

“I cannot escape the conclusion that a major change in the tides has come … regarding missions. Time and time again I encountered intelligent people, both laymen and pastors, who argued passionately that long-term, cross-cultural work is ‘no longer the way God does things.’ …  So let me briefly introduce the most popular objections and offer an alternative way of looking at each of them.”

Pacifism: The Long Journey of a Christian Pacifist by Ben Witherington [required reading]

“Killing leaves blood on your hands, whether it’s manslaughter or pre-meditated murder or vehicular homicide. Killing is forever. If I ever did that, even by accident, or even while just intending to protect someone else’s life, I’d still have to do some serious repenting afterwards. All human life is sacred, and I have no right to take someone else’s life away. Ever. And BTW, the Bible says leave vengeance entirely in the hands of the Lord, he will repay.”

Tools: Top 100 Tools for Learning 2012 by Jane Hart

“The Top 100 Tools for Learning 2012 as voted for by 500+ learning professionals worldwide.”