eluding our idols: twenty questions on 1 John 5.6-21

This coming Sunday (Feb. 1) 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 5.6-21 and (b) twenty questions and exercises to go along with this reading.

receiving the word

6 This is the one who came by water and blood: Jesus Christ. Not by water only but by water and blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 The three are testifying— 8 the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and the three are united in agreement. 9 If we receive human testimony, God’s testimony is greater, because this is what God testified: he has testified about his Son. 10 The one who believes in God’s Son has the testimony within; the one who doesn’t believe God has made God a liar, because that one has not believed the testimony that God gave about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God gave eternal life to us, and this life is in his Son. 12 The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have God’s Son does not have life.

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of God’s Son so that you can know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence that we have in our relationship with God: If we ask for anything in agreement with his will, he listens to us. 15 If we know that he listens to whatever we ask, we know that we have received what we asked from him. 16 If anyone sees a brother or sister committing a sin that does not result in death, they should pray, and God will give life to them—that is, to those who commit sins that don’t result in death. There is a sin that results in death—I’m not saying that you should pray about that. 17 Every unrighteous action is sin, but there is a sin that does not result in death.

18 We know that everyone born from God does not sin, but the ones born from God guard themselves, and the evil one cannot touch them. 19 We know we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 We know that God’s Son has come and has given us understanding to know the one who is true. We are in the one who is true by being in his Son, Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols! (1 John 5.6-21 CEB)

wrestling with this word

1. Circle every occurrence of “know” in this text, and so, make a list of what we Christians “know.”

2. Underscore the statements in this text that are most startling to you. What are they?

3. How is it Jesus Christ “came by [both] water and blood?” (vs. 6) Why is this important?

4. “ …the Spirit, the water, and the blood … are united in agreement.” (vs. 8) About what?

5. How do the words of vs. 6-12 chastise the group that left and encourage those who remained?

6. It’s all about having the Son in your life (vs. 12). So, who “has the Son?” Who doesn’t? (vs. 6-12)

7. John says disciples can know they have eternal life. (vs. 13) What is “eternal life?”

8. What does vs. 14 tell us about God’s character and ways?

9. Is John saying (vs. 15) believers always get what they ask for from God? What does he mean?

10. John describes prayer life (vs. 14-16a) with words like these: confidence, relationship, God will give, received. What four words or phrases would you choose to describe your prayer experience?

11. Is in some way the forgiveness of others by God dependent on our prayers for them (vs. 16)?

12. We pray for the spiritual health of others (vs. 16). You pray most for physical or spiritual health?

13. “… there is a sin that does not result in death.” (vs. 17b) Say what? Splain that.

14. All who are born of God are expected to actively distance themselves from sinning (vs. 18a). How?

15. Can Satan “touch” disciples who don’t keep their “guard” up? (vs. 18b) In context: how to guard?

16. Which statement can you most quickly and readily affirm: you’re “from God” or “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one?” (vs. 19) Why? Can you affirm both?

17. Gnaw on the affirmations of, and the encouragement within, vs. 20. What does this do for you?

18. “This is the true God and eternal life.” (vs. 20b) What is the “this?”

19. Brainstorm a list of some of the “idols” John dealt with in this letter, 1 John. (vs. 21)

20. Tell us about one thing this study of 1 John has underscored in your mind or done for your ways.

eluding our idols: twenty questions on 1 John 4.16b-5.5

This coming Sunday (Jan. 25) 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 4.16b-5.5 and (b) twenty questions and exercises to go along with this reading

receiving the word

4.16b God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them. 17 This is how love has been perfected in us, so that we can have confidence on the Judgment Day, because we are exactly the same as God is in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love because God first loved us. 20 If anyone says, I love God, and hates a brother or sister, he is a liar, because the person who doesn’t love a brother or sister who can be seen can’t love God, who can’t be seen. 21 This commandment we have from him: Those who claim to love God ought to love their brother and sister also.

5.1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born from God. Whoever loves someone who is a parent loves the child born to the parent. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep God’s commandments. 3 This is the love of God: we keep God’s commandments. God’s commandments are not difficult, 4 because everyone who is born from God defeats the world. And this is the victory that has defeated the world: our faith. 5 Who defeats the world? Isn’t it the one who believes that Jesus is God’s Son?

wrestling with this word

1. How exactly does a person go about making sure they “remain in God?” (4.16b)

2. Why is it crucial, not just good, for us to know that God “remains in us?” (4.16b)

3. How is it that when mature, perfected love is in us, confidence for, not fear of, the Judgment Day fills our heart? (4.17a)

4. When are we “exactly the same as God in this world?” (4.17b)

5. Is there to be any fear in the heart of one who loves? (4.18a) Does your view sync with 4.18a?

6. Restate 4.18b in your own words.

7. The cure for fear is _____. (4.17-18)

8. Just how strong/earnest is your quest to be “made perfect in love?” (4.18b) Score it 0-100.

9. Which comes first: God’s love for us or our love for him? (4.20)

10. How do we know our love for God is real? (4.20)

11. To love each other as brothers is God’s command to us. (4.21) When, where, and how did he declare such? Be as specific as possible with your answer.

12. Do you believe 5.1a? Explain. Would you say our tribe in Christendom is well known for believing/practicing this Scripture? Why?

13. How does a believer practice 5.1a?

14. What does it mean to “believe that Jesus is the Christ?” (5.1a)

15. John speaks of believers being “born from God.” (5.1a) What does “born from God” mean?

16. How might the expression of Christianity be very different if all believers everywhere truly, deeply, and consistently believed/practiced 5.1 with mature love? How might those yet to believe be different?

17. How is it that lovingly obeying God gives love to our kin in Christ? (5.2)

18. John says that “God’s commandments are not difficult.” (5.3b) But experience says they are at times. When are they difficult for us, and why?

19. All who are born of God “defeat the world.” (5.4a) What does that defeat/victory look like? What does it not look like?

20. What enables Christians to defeat the world? (5.4b-5)

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)

eluding our idols: twenty questions on 1 John 2.28-3.12

This coming Sunday (Jan. 11) 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 below: (a) the text of 1 John 2.28-3.12 and (b) twenty questions and exercises to go along with this reading.

receiving this word

And now, little children, remain in relationship to Jesus, so that when he appears we can have confidence and not be ashamed in front of him when he comes. If you know that he is righteous, you also know that every person who practices righteousness is born from him.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us in that we should be called God’s children, and that is what we are! Because the world didn’t recognize him, it doesn’t recognize us.

Dear friends, now we are God’s children, and it hasn’t yet appeared what we will be. We know that when he appears we will be like him because we’ll see him as he is. And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself even as he is pure. Every person who practices sin commits an act of rebellion, and sin is rebellion. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and there is no sin in him. Every person who remains in relationship to him does not sin. Any person who sins has not seen him or known him.

Little children, don’t let anyone deceive you. The person who practices righteousness is righteous, in the same way that Jesus is righteous. The person who practices sin belongs to the devil, because the devil has been sinning since the beginning. God’s Son appeared for this purpose: to destroy the works of the devil. Everyone who is fathered by God does not go on sinning, because God’s offspring remain in him; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been fathered by God. That is how it is clear who are the children of God and who are the children of the devil: everyone who doesn’t practice righteousness is not of God, particularly the person who doesn’t love their brother or sister. This is the message that you heard from the beginning: love each other. Don’t behave like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he kill him? He killed him because his own works were evil, but the works of his brother were right. (1 John 2.28-3.12 CEB)

wrestling with this word

1. What exactly does it mean to “remain in relationship to Christ?” (2.28a) How might this call have been especially challenging to John’s original audience? How is it challenging to us today?

2. How real to you is the prospect of Christ’s future appearance? (2.28b)

3. What gives us the ability to delight in, not dread, Christ’s coming appearance? (2.28b)

4. How is 2.29 a rebuke to those who left? How is it confidence/motivation to those who stayed?

5. What descriptors or declarations in Scripture speak deeply to you of God’s love for you (3.1a)?

6. Since the world rejected Christ, should Christians expect/seek, better treatment by it (3.1b)?

7. “… we’ll see him as he is.” (3.2b) What is John telling us we’ll see God to be?

8. How is our holiness fed and fueled by hope (3.3)?

9. “… sin is rebellion.” (3.4) What does this tell you about sin? About you? About God?

10. Why is sin not to be trifled with? (3.5-6) What sin(s) have been called out thus far in 1 John?

11. “… don’t let anyone deceive you.” (3.7a) How can a person grow to become less deceivable?

12. What does John mean in 3.7b? What does he not mean?

13. A person belongs to the one they serve. (3.8a) Thoughts?

14. Christ came to destroy the devil’s work. (3.8b) How exactly did he do that?

15. Is John saying Christians can mature to such a point that they cease to sin? (3.9) Explain.

16. Compare 3.10 with 2.9-11. How are these texts similar? In what ways do they differ?

17. Which archery target ring is labeled “do right?” Which is labeled “do right by others?” (3.10b)

18. Why is it just so plain difficult at times for Christians to just love each other? (3.10b-11)

19. Why did God reject Cain’s sacrifice? Was it about his offering or his life? (3.12; cf. Gen. 4.7)

20. What lessons does John expect his readers to glean from the Cain and Abel account (3.12)?

eluding our idols: twenty questions on 1 John 2.18-27; 4.1-6

This coming Sunday (Jan. 4) 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 below: (a) the text of 1 John 2.18-27; 4.1-6 and (b) twenty questions and exercises to go along with this reading.

receiving this word

Little children, it is the last hour. Just as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really part of us. If they had been part of us, they would have stayed with us. But by going out from us, they showed they all are not part of us. But you have an anointing from the holy one, and all of you know the truth. I don’t write to you because you don’t know the truth but because you know it. You know that no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? Isn’t it the person who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This person is the antichrist: the one who denies the Father and the Son. Everyone who denies the Son does not have the Father, but the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.

As for you, what you heard from the beginning must remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, you will also remain in relationship to the Son and in the Father. This is the promise that he himself gave us: eternal life. I write these things to you about those who are attempting to deceive you. As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains on you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you the truth. But since his anointing teaches you about all things (it’s true and not a lie), remain in relationship to him just as he taught you. …

Dear friends, don’t believe every spirit. Test the spirits to see if they are from God because many false prophets have gone into the world. This is how you know if a spirit comes from God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come as a human is from God, and every spirit that doesn’t confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and is now already in the world. You are from God, little children, and you have defeated these people because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world. So they speak from the world’s point of view and the world listens to them. We are from God. The person who knows God listens to us. Whoever is not from God doesn’t listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 2.18-27; 4.1-6 CEB)

wrestling with this word

1. “It is the last hour.” (2.18-19) What does that mean? What does it not mean?

2. How does 2.18-19 & 4.3b contradict commonly held (mis)understandings about the end of time?

3. An antichrist is someone who ____? (4.2-3)

4. What does 2.19 say to you about the importance and place of the church in the life of a believer?

5. “… you have an anointing … and … know the truth.” (2.20,27) In context, “the truth” is “Jesus is the Christ” (2.22) What is the “anointing?” How can it “teach?” (2.20,27) Do we have it today? Explain.

6. The writer says he writes his readers because they already know the truth. (2.21) Then why write?

7. Consider what the “liar” in 2.22-23 believes/does. Are there such out and about in the world today?

8. Note 2.23. Is there anything about the Father and the Son that you see as being at cross purposes?

9. The words “remain” and “if” are huge in 2.24. Why might the readers be tempted to cut their roots?

10. How does seeing “eternal life” as something that has already begun color your take on life? (2.25)

11. Read 2.26. Deception was a real danger for the original audience. How big a problem is it today?

12. How do we know if/when something is big/dark enough to label it “a lie” of an antichrist spirit?

13. “… you don’t need anyone to teach you the truth.” (2.27) What were those who departed saying?

14. “Dear friends, don’t believe every spirit.” (4.1) How gullible/naive are you? Score yourself.

15. To deny Jesus’ humanity is huge. (4.2-3a) Which is harder for you to grasp: his humanity or deity?

16. How might the readers have “heard” what they did (4.3b)? How do you “hear” teaching today?

17. If someone asked if you were a “Christian,” you’d say “Yes!” Are you “from God?” (4.4a)

18. In what sense can the writer say that his reader’s have “defeated” the false prophets? (4.4)

19. “… the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (4.4) This promise is ____.

20. 4.6 is quite a claim. Who are the “us” and what makes their claim credible, the acid test? (cf. 1.1-4)

eluding our idols: twenty questions on 1 John 2.12-17

This coming Sunday (Dec. 28) at 9:00 a.m., some of our adult classes at MoSt Church will continue in a study entitled Eluding Our Idols. This study focuses our attention on the letters of John (1, 2 & 3 John). To help you prepare for this encounter with God’s word and our discussion of it, you’ll find the below: (a) the text of 1 John 2.12-17 and (b) twenty questions and exercises. Dig in!

receiving the word

Little children, I’m writing to you because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus’ name.  Parents, I’m writing to you because you have known the one who has existed from the beginning. Young people, I’m writing to you because you have conquered the evil one.

Little children, I write to you because you know the Father. Parents, I write to you because you have known the one who has existed from the beginning. Young people, I write to you because you are strong, the word of God remains in you, and you have conquered the evil one.

Don’t love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in them. Everything that is in the world—the craving for whatever the body feels, the craving for whatever the eyes see, and the arrogant pride in one’s possessions—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world and its cravings are passing away, but the person who does the will of God remains forever.

wrestling with this word

1. What three metaphors are used in vs. 12-14 to describe a spiritual household with varying levels of spiritual maturity?

2. Note the past tense: “your sins have been forgiven.” (2.12). How real/final is that to you?

3. What does the phrase “through Jesus’ name” mean (vs. 12b)?

4. Spiritually speaking, what do “parents” do for “young people” and little children?”

5. How do “young people” and “little children” relate to, and what do they do for, “parents?”

6. Elsewhere in 1 John the phrase “little children” refers to all of this letters recipients, no matter their spiritual maturity (cf. 2.1,28; 3.7,18; 4.4; 5.21). To whom is the phrase referring in 2.14a? Why? What difference does it make to understanding 2.12-14 (or all of 1 John)?

7. Compare what’s said of parents (2.13a,14b) with what’s said of the letter’s author (1.1-4).

8. Notice the three phrases spoken to the “young people” (2.13b,14c). Why emphasize such?

9. If 2.14 is this letter’s thesis statement, what is the letter’s main point to the original readers?

10. Read Jeremiah 31.31-34. What portions of that text do you see correlate with 1 Jn. 2.12-14?

11. Again: what does John mean here (vs. 15-17) when he says “the world?” Hint: vs. 16.

12. The word used for “love” in vs. 15 is agape. What sort of love is this? How does it act?

13. What exactly is “the love of the Father?” (1.15b)?

14. “The world” is a trinity of evil. (2.16). Is this meant to be comprehensive list? Explain.

15. Compare 2.16’s rendering in paraphrased versions (e.g. – J.B. Phillips, The Message, etc.).

16. Compare this three-fold definition of “the world” (2.16) with the three temptations of Jesus. (Matthew 4.1-11). Do you see any correlation? Explain.

17. Try to rank the three aspects of “the world” (2.16) as to commonality and deadliness.

18. “… the world and its cravings are passing away …” (2.17a) How so? Do you believe this?

19. To do “the will of God” (2.17b) is to do the exact opposite of 2.16. What would that be?

20. The one “who does the will … remains forever.” (2.17b) How does “forever” appeal to you?

eluding our idols: twenty questions on 1 John 2.7-11; 3.13-24

This coming Sunday (Dec. 21) 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 God’s word and our discussion of it, you’ll find the below: (a) the text of 1 John 2.7-11; 3.13-24 and (b) twenty questions and exercises to go along with this reading.

receiving this word

Dear friends, I’m not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the message you heard. On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light already shines. The one who claims to be in the light while hating a brother or sister is in the darkness even now. The person loving a brother and sister stays in the light, and there is nothing in the light that causes a person to stumble. But the person who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and lives in the darkness, and doesn’t know where to go because the darkness blinds the eyes. …

Don’t be surprised, brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have transferred from death to life, because we love the brothers and sisters. The person who does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. This is how we know love: Jesus laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. But if a person has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need and that person doesn’t care—how can the love of God remain in him?

Little children, let’s not love with words or speech but with action and truth. This is how we will know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts in God’s presence. Even if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and knows all things. Dear friends, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we have confidence in relationship to God. We receive whatever we ask from him because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. This is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love each other as he commanded us. The person who keeps his commandments remains in God and God remains in him; and this is how we know that he remains in us, because of the Spirit that he has given to us. (1 John 2.7-11; 3.13-24 CEB)

wrestling with this word

1. How is the command John writes about both “old” and “new” (2.7-9)? What is this this command?

2. “The darkness is passing away and the true light already shines.” (2.8b) What is meant by this?

3. Knowing what we do of this letter’s original recipients and context, who is 2.9 talking about? Why?

4. “Don’t be surprised … if the world hates you.” (3.13) Define “world.” Why expect hatred? (3.14)

5. “The person loving a brother and sister stays in the light.” (3.10) “The person who does not love remains in death.” (3.14b) Brotherly love is crucial, not optional! How can we nurture such love?

6. Do believers today try hard to insure the world doesn’t hate them? Are they shocked when it does?

7. What is “eternal life?” (3.15) Let John 17.3 inform you. How does this tie in with 1 John 3.17b?

8. How do Christians know how to go about loving others? (3.16) What does love look like? (3.16-17)?

9. Our life isn’t compartmentalized before God. Loving him and loving others are one (3.16-17). Why?

10. Why note the withholding of material things as a sign of a dropped connection with God? (3.17)

11. We all want to know we belong to the truth and want to be confident before God. (3.18-19) How?

12. Restate 3.18 in your own words.

13. How do you love someone with “truth?” (3.18b) cf. John 4.24 for use of the same word for “truth.”

14. What exactly is our “heart?” (3.19-21) Define it. What is an effective synonym for “heart?”

15. How might the first readers have struggled with having confident hearts before God (3.18-21)?

16. We all want what we ask of God to receive a big “Yes” from him. What enables that? (3.22)

17. When you don’t get what you ask for is that to be understood as a sign you’re disobedient? (3.22)

18. “We keep his commandments and do what pleases him.” (3.22) What pleases God? (3.23)

19. To believe in the name of Jesus and to love each other (3.23) is one “commandment?” How so?

20. How can a Christian know that God lives in them (3.24)?