“God is holy and just. In all his deeds, God is true to himself and faithful to his promises. In contrast, we act in opposition to our true selves and break our covenant promises. Rather than acknowledging God’s gifts with grateful hearts, we take our lives for granted; or, even worse, we use them as if we had created ourselves. When we ought to honor God by conforming to his holiness and justice, we follow our own foolish inclinations and reject the divine wisdom embodied in God’s law.
“Even if we admit that God has bridged the gaps between being and nothingness, between meaning and meaninglessness, why should the righteous and holy God reach out to an arrogant and ungrateful sinner? That which is nothing might at least arouse pity, since its pitiful state is not its own doing. But the ungrateful lawbreaker who considers himself wiser than God clearly deserves the consequences of his actions. Divine righteousness on one side and human unrighteousness on the other, God’s holiness above and our unholiness beneath – how can God bridge such chasms? And why would he do so if he could?
“To our amazement, God wills to have fellowship with the unrighteous: he chooses to save sinners from the consequences of their actions. … Why does God forgive sinners and reconcile them to himself by taking on their sin? Because he loves us with a love that ‘surpasses knowledge’ (Eph. 3.19), and that provokes our wonder and amazement.”
(Ron Highfield, Great Is the Lord: Theology for the Praise of God; pp. 175-176)
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.