John continues in his passionate desire to help his readers (us!) know that we can know some things for sure. In particular here he is equipping us to know how to discern truth from error. Verse 2 is a very straightforward question we may ask of any teaching that comes our way - 'what is your view of who Jesus is?' The point of the paragraph, however is not strictly to give us an intellectual test question. Rather, the heart of his message is in verse 4 where he reminds us clearly that 'we are from God' (we belong!), and that therefore the One living inside of us (the Holy Spirit) is much greater than any false teaching we might encounter! This is where our confidence comes from! Not from our ability to figure it out, but from the Spirit whom God has given to His children! Praise His Name!
Over the last 2 weeks we have been working through chapter 3 and discovering first about how God has 'lavished' His love on us by laying down His life for us and making us His children! In response we are called to obedience! We saw over and over that we do not receive salvation through obedience, but John is very strong to suggest that obedience is the natural outcome of receiving the gift of New Life! The place where he emphasizes this more than anywhere else is in the context of our relationships with people around us. We cannot truly know and love Jesus and hold hatred in our hearts toward people around us! We are called to love others as He loved us! May it be so in our lives!!
John writes with some urgency in this section of his letter. He uses the term 'last hour' to indicate that the return of Jesus to the earth could happen at any time. He therefore calls his readers to live in anticipation; to live in a state of readiness. There is a strong warning to be aware of deceivers who are going around saying the Jesus is not the Christ, the Anointed One. John urges his readers to use caution so as not to be deceived by these false teachers and at the same time encourages them to 'continue', and to 'remain in him'. Overall, this is a passage that ought to give us courage - to be on the lookout for false teaching about Jesus, and to keep on 'keeping on' in the path of following the true Jesus so that we will indeed be ready for Him when we returns.
This coming Sunday we receive God's lavish love at the beginning of chapter 3 and also pay attention to the importance living in the reality that Jesus has conquered sin! Come and join us! 5pm Sunday evening.
In our study last Sunday we noticed that this text is divided into 2 parts. The first is very poetic in form and very encouraging nature. John seems to want to build confidence in all members of the congregations to whom he is writing by reminding them that they know Jesus already, they are strong, they have overcome the evil one! Then in verses 15-17, he issues a strong reminder that still they need to be careful not to be trapped by the 'world' which is comprised of 'the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life'. We had some great discussion about the practical implications of John's words to our own lives - these are challenging words which are very practical and applicable to us in 2013!
Question for further consideration: In a very practical way, how can we enjoy the good gifts which God has given us in this world (beauty, pleasure etc.) without 'loving the world' at the same time?? How does this work itself out in our lives??
Join us next Sunday evening at 5pm as we explore the next section, 1 John 2:18-29! We would love to have you participate with us.
The first verse of our text is remarkable! 'We know that we have come to know Him... if we keep His commands'. John wants his reader to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there IS a connection between knowing and doing - especially when it comes to knowing Jesus! It is not possible to truly know and love Jesus and not pay attention to His commands. John is writing this to correct the thinking of some of the believers who were saying that knowledge was all important - ethical living didn't really matter. John especially uses the light/dark imagery to highlight that our knowledge of Jesus must be lived out in relationships with people around us. We cannot say that we know Jesus and hate our brother / sister at the same time!!
Question for consideration: How would you define this English word 'know' in the way in which John is using it here? What is included in the idea when this word is used?
Next Sunday, May 5, we will pay attention to 1 John 2:12-17 which tells us that we have overcome the evil one through Jesus, but also offers a significant warning so that we may be on guard against the temptations of our world. Following our consideration of this passage, it will be our privilege to share in the Lord's Supper (Communion) together. We would love to have you join us!
Reflecting on sin, confession, forgiveness and cleansing in the language of 1John 1:5-2:2
Our observation of this passage last Sunday evening was both challenging and encouraging to us. These 4 statements help to summarize:
We recognize that John is writing to a group (or groups) of people who are already believers in Jesus but who needed to be challenged to continue to confess sin and seek to live in obedience. What we believe should make a difference in how we live! We noticed that this passage has much to say about choice - choice to live in darkness or live in the light; choice to confess sin or not. We also noticed the attitude of Jesus as we approach him with confession - he is not condemning but rather 'faithful and just' and longing to forgive!
This past Sunday evening at 5pm we began our study of the letter of 1 John. We began by observing that it is a letter written by the Apostle John who also wrote the Gospel of John as well as 2 John, 3 John, and the book of Revelation. We then looked at the original recipients of the letter and noticed that they had a variety of views about who Jesus really was and we discovered that John is therefore writing this letter to ensure that people will know for sure that Jesus really is fully God and fully Man. In our discussion groups we then looked specifically at the first 4 verses of the letter which form a powerful introduction. To make our study a little more interesting we have prepared actual scrolls to help us picture how the original text was likely passed around and read. Each week we will add the next portion to our scrolls! Plan to join us! If you have questions of comments about the study we would love to interact with you on this blog. Many blessings to you...
New Discussion Series!
This coming Sunday evening, April 14th, we will be starting a new discussion and study series! We begin a study of the letter of 1 John. Please read 1 John if you can beforehand and come and join us for a fruitful study of the writings of John over the coming 7 or 8 weeks! All are welcome. As usual, we start at 5pm and finish around 6:30pm. This Sunday, April 14th, we will also celebrate Communion together!
Sunday March 31st is EASTER SUNDAY! We will not have our regular SALUTATION evening. Instead we will have a more traditional Easter service which will be exactly the same as our morning service that day. Please come and join us at 5pm for this service!
Sunday April 7th - we will have a film night! As we have been spending time looking stories by and about Jesus over the past few months, we now will watch a film about the life of Jesus as a summary of all of the stories put together. Please join us at the usual 5pm start time!
Responding to the story of Zacchaeus, the short, chief tax collector in Luke 19:1-10 from March 24
In our discussions we learned some things about Zacchaeus by observing the story: he was short, wealthy, he held a 'chief' position and had a bad reputation (a 'sinner'). But he urgently wanted to see Jesus and so was willing to sacrifice his dignity by running AND climbing up a tree. We also learned some things about Jesus: He knows all things (knew Zacchaeus by name; picked him out of the crowd etc.), He cared about people whom others despised, and He 'came to seek and save the lost'. Further, we learned some things about 'salvation'. This is the term Jesus used to describe what happened to Zacchaeus. We don't have a lot of details in the description but we do know that he made a 180 degree turn in his life (sometimes known as repentance) - before he took advantage of people for his own gain; now he is giving up everything in order to serve the needs of others. The gospel had radically changed everything about him.