eluding our idols: twenty questions on 1 John 4.7-16a

This coming Sunday (Jan. 18) at 9:00 a.m., some of our adult classes at MoSt Church will continue in a study entitled Eluding Our Idols. It’s a close look at what’s commonly known as John’s letters (1, 2 & 3 John). To help you get ready for this encounter with Scripture and our discussion of it, you’ll find the following here: (a) the text of 1 John 4.7-16a and (b) twenty questions and exercises to go along with this reading.

receiving the word

Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God. The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love. This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him. This is love: it is not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins.

Dear friends, if God loved us this way, we also ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. If we love each other, God remains in us and his love is made perfect in us. This is how we know we remain in him and he remains in us, because he has given us a measure of his Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the savior of the world. If any of us confess that Jesus is God’s Son, God remains in us and we remain in God. We have known and have believed the love that God has for us. (1 John 4.7-16a CEB)

wrestling with this word

1. Circle every occurrence in this passage (4.7-16a) of the forms of the word “love.”

2. In this text (4.7-16a), underscore every direct statement regarding the fact that God loves us.

3. “God is love.” (4.8,16) What hinges on the truth or falsity of this statement?

4. Make a list. Why exactly, did God send his Son into the world? (4.9-10,14)

5. “… so that we can live through him.” (4.9) What does it mean for us to “live through” Christ?

6. Read Romans 5.6-11 in connection with 1 John 4.10. What similarities/difference do you see?

7. How, or why, do you suppose that “no one has ever seen God?” (4.12a)

8. Can God remain in us if we do not love each other? (4.12b) How can lack of loving be idolatry?

9. What does “made perfect in us” mean? (4.12b) Compare renderings (NIV, NLT, The Voice).

10. What does it look like when God’s love is “made perfect” in, and among, Christians? (4.12)

11. Engage this statement: “God’s purpose for us is for his love to be made perfect in us.” (4.12)

12. “… we remain in him and he remains in us …” (4.13a) What’s the difference?

13. Closely compare 4.9 with 4.13. How do these verses say the same, and yet different, things?

14. Read Romans 8.9 in connection with 1 John 4.13. Thoughts?

15. “… he has given us a measure of his Spirit.” (4.13) Meaning? How is this measure expressed?

16. John emphasizes God “sent” the Son. (4.9,10,14) Why might John’s first listeners need this?

17. How do Christians today bear witness to Christ being this world’s Savior? (4.14)

18. What does Christ’s cross say to you? What does John conclude from Christ on the cross? (4.11)

19. In context, what does John mean when he says “confess that Jesus is God’s Son?” (4.15)

20. What’s the difference, if any, between “believing” and “knowing” God’s love for us? (4.16)