Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All Scripture references are to the NIV unless otherwise noted. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard. This lesson can be found at: <URL:http://www.cameronlaw.com> INTRODUCTION: You remember John tells us that the righteous are on the path of light? The Pastor's sermon last week discussed Nicodemus and his midnight talk with Jesus about "being born again." The last verse of our lesson study last week (1 John 2:29) also spoke of us being "born of him." Our study this week speaks of the results of being born of God as we travel on the path of light. Let's dive in! I. GOD'S CHILDREN A. "Born again" is a very common phrase among those who claim to be Christians. The latest issue (5/19/97) of CHRISTIANITY TODAY reports (p. 59) that 43% of Americans describe themselves as born again (and this includes 32% of Catholics). 1. What do you think it means to be "born again?" (The lesson has a very nice quote from Ellen White: "Those who know not what it is to have an experience in the things of God, who know not what it is to be justified by faith, who have not the witness of the Spirit that they are accepted of Jesus Christ, are in need of being born again." Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, May 12, 1896.) B. Is being "born again" different than being "born of God?" (No. Being born of God means more than just a new life. It means that we have changed parentage: no longer is Adam our father; Jesus is now our Father.) C. Let's read 1 John 3:1-2. John says we are the children of God, and thus we are "born" of God. 1. What does that mean in terms of earthly parents? (The responses should reflect the special relationship between parents and children. There are lots of wonderful children in the world, but being "your child" makes all the difference.) a. God says, "You are MY child!" D. When our children used to misbehave (read no meaning into the use of the past-tense) we would assure them that they had been switched at birth at the hospital! No doubt someone else had "our" well-behaved children! 1. Of all the things we could tell our children to encourage them to behave (or, depending how you look at this, encourage them to write "how not to raise children" books when they grow up), why did we tell our kids this? (People believe there is a genetic behavioral link between parent and child.) a. Do you think this is also part of John's point? (Being a son or daughter of God means something about the way we live.) b. If we are not anxious to "claim" our children when they misbehave, isn't it a miracle of love that God is willing to call us sons and daughters? (This is both a joy and a responsibility.) E. John adds at the end of v. 1 what appears to be a negative spin, part of the "responsibility" to our being children of God. He says the world does not know us because it did not know Jesus. 1. What is this supposed to mean? 2. Does this create a real responsibility for us? 3. Does it have any logical connection to John's discussion about us being the children of God? 4. Is it bad that the world does not know us? (I think this is an extension of this idea about relationships. (Draw three concentric circles of diminishing sizes.) This small circle represents our children. We know them and care for them the most. This next circle represents children that we know. We have a special regard for them because we know them. Probably the better we know them, the closer we would place them to the center of our circles. The outer circle represents the rest of the children in the world. We don't know them, and we care the least about them. a. As far as God is concerned, we are in the center. b. As far as the world is concerned, we are in the outer circle. This has a practical and immediate impact upon our everyday living. It means that the world is not going to be sympathetic. In fact, they may very well be hostile. Our responsibility is to understand this and apply the "sermon on the mount" (Matt. 5:11, 39-45) response.) F. When your kids were young, did you wonder what they would be when they grew up? What kind of life they would have? My kids are still at the "I wonder what the future will hold" stage. 1. You are God's children according to John. Are we in that "wondering what they will become" stage? 2. If not, what does John mean in v.2 when he says, "what we will be has not yet been made known? 3. Is this "what we will be" here on earth? (Seems he is speaking of heaven because of the "when he appears" statement.) 4. Do you wonder what heaven will be like? 5. Do you wonder what you will be like in heaven? 6. John says you will be like Jesus in heaven! G. Notice the trailer in v.2 "for we shall see him as he is." What impact does that have on being like Jesus? (Look at 2 John 2:8 again. The more you observe "the Word" the more the "darkness" is passing and the true light is shining." Friends we are on a "path of light" that becomes even brighter as we come closer to Jesus.) 1. This is what separates us from the world. We are studying to know more about God every day. The world does not know Him and does not care about knowing Him. (1 John 3:1) II. THE ADOPTION REACTION A. Read v.3. You are on this path of light, and you understand Jesus better as you progress towards the light. What is the result in your life? (Verse 3 says that if you are really walking on the path, and have this hope, you will become more pure, just as Jesus is pure.) 1. How is this result possible? (Knowing Jesus more all the time gives us the power to make the change. You cannot become more like Jesus if you do not know what He is like.) B. Let's read on: vv. 4-8. "He who does what is right is righteous..." How does this fit into the concept of righteousness by faith? (Friends, we are saved only by grace. It is a free gift which we cannot earn. However, the New Testament has this consistent theme that there is a cold, steely way to know if we have accepted the gift, and that is to look at and seriously evaluate our lives. (See e.g., Hebrews 10:26; James 2: 14-26.) C. Verse 8 tells us that Jesus appeared to "destroy the devil's work." How did He do that? (First, He did it by becoming our substitute for the penalty of sin. But He also did it to show what it means to live a righteous life.) D. Read vv. 9-10. Our lesson disputes the NIV translation of v. 9 "continue to sin." The problem with the lesson's assertion is that it admits that this (the use of the present tense) generally "expresses continuous action." To say it "does not always express continuous action" is a logically weak argument to prove that continuous action is not intended here. 1. What does v. 10 suggest is the acid test of being a child of God? (Two tests: doing what is right and loving our brother.) a. Fit this second test - love for our brother - into the dispute in v. 9 over whether we "continue to sin." (Sin is an attitude. As such, the concept transcends this question of time. It is not like the timing of a deed. It is an ongoing process. If this ongoing process is on the road to darkness, then it will lead to sinful acts.) b. Lets pray that the Holy Spirit will come in and change our sinful attitude and give us a love for our brothers. III. NEXT WEEK: "LOVE ONE ANOTHER" Study 1 John 3:11-24!