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Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.

LESSON 6 - CHILDREN OF GOD (1 JOHN 3:1-10)

     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!
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!