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

LESSON 5 - THE LAST HOUR! (1 JOHN 2:18-29)

     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. 

INTRODUCTION: Let's review for just a minute what we have learned
so far in 1 John: John tells us we are on the road to fellowship
with God if we walk on the path of light, and not the path of
darkness. 

     How do we know we are on the right path? You are on the right
     path if you obey. 

     How do you know you are obeying? Obedience means loving your
     brother. Loving our brother is made possible by knowing God
     and allowing His love to fill us.

     Last week we discussed knowing and loving the world versus 
     knowing and loving God. One argument John makes (2:17) against
     loving the world is that it is going to burn ("pass away"),
     while loving God is forever.

This week we turn our attention to when and why the world is going
to burn. 

I. SIGNS OF THE LAST HOUR

     A. Read 1 John 2:18. John says this is "the last hour."

          1. What do you think he means by this?

          2. If he means "the last hour of earth's history" ie.,
          the second coming, then is John a false prophet?

               a. If he is a false prophet, should we abandon
               the study of his book? (If so, we need to throw in
               the gospel of John and Revelation too.(See Deut.
               18:20-22))

          3. Isn't John just repeating what Jesus said in Matthew
          24 (apparently) about the second coming, and
          specifically, in v.34 "I tell you the truth, this
          generation shall not pass away until all these things
          have happened."

          4. In 7 SDA Bible Commentary 643 we find the subtle 
          suggestion that the real goal of the Bible is not to set
          dates but get people ready.  Thus, this kind of
          misrepresentation (not the term used by the Commentary)
          has the salutary effect of achieving the more important
          goal of "stir[ring] the believers to more fervent
          witness, ...."

               a. What do you think about this idea?  What if a 
               used car salesmen said (reasonably) that the higher
               goal is feeding my family rather than being
               completely honest about the condition of the cars I
               sell.  Therefore I will lie to achieve the "higher"
               goal.  Do we need to make excuses for God (and
               John)? If we are going to make excuses for God, why
               come up with excuses that make Him look sleazy?

     B. How do you understand the "last hour" in 2:18 and how do
     you explain this to others?  (There are several reasonable/
     possible explanations for John's "last hour" reference:

          1. "Last hour" can refer to the new era brought about by
          Jesus' life and death. John makes reference to this new
          day in 1 John 2:8 "in which the darkness is passing and
          the true light is already shining."  John had already
          quoted Jesus as using "hour" to refer to different
          periods in the unfolding plan of salvation. (John 12:23-
          27)

          2. Prophecies about the general timing of the second 
          coming were conditional, like nearly every other
          prophecy.  Jesus could have come shortly thereafter, just
          as John believed and predicted. (Note that commentators
          place the writing of this book before the writing of
          Revelation -- thus limiting the argument that Revelation
          contains several "time markers" that could not have
          reasonably come to pass within a few years.)  For a
          fuller explanation of the conditional nature of the
          predictions on the general timing of the second coming,
          and an explanation why Jesus and the New Testament
          writers were not bamboozling their listeners with
          predictions of an imminent second coming, read in the
          sermons section of my web site
          <http://www.cameronlaw.com> the sermon entitled "Last
          Chance.")

          3. John is making his "last hour" statement based on 
          logical deduction rather than inspiration.  He explicitly
          states the basis for his belief in 2:18 where he says,
          "[The presence of antichrists] is how we know it is the
          last hour."  He doesn't say this was revealed to me, he
          says I got this by logical deduction.)  To obtain the
          truth in Scripture we need to consider God's entire Word. 
          This would include John's fuller description of the
          timing and activities of the "antichrist" in Rev.12:17-
          14:1.)

     C. Lets find out more about what John means by this term 
     "antichrist." Read 2:18-22. This word "antichrist" is found
     only in John's epistles.

          1. Is the antichrist a person? 

          2. What do you make of the fact that John refers (v.18)
          to "the antichrist" and "many antichrists?" (This makes
          it seem that we are referring to an attitude or a point
          of view that more than one person can adopt.)

     D. How does John describe the antichrist "attitude?"

          1. No longer believers (v.19)

          2. Liars (v.22)

          3. Deny Jesus is the Christ (v.22)

          4. Deny the Father and the Son (v.22)

          5. Someone read 1 John 4:3. (Not acknowledge Jesus is 
          from God.)

          6. Someone else read 2 John 1:7. (Not acknowledge Jesus
          came "in the flesh.")

     E. What is John's point about former believers being the 
     antichrist?  When someone leaves the church, do we say "good
     riddance" they are antichrist? (John introduces the idea,
     reinforced in Rev. 13: 14-15, that antichrist has a strong
     "spiritual" flavor.  This attitude is not one of complete
     separation from religion; it is a false religion, an
     alternative to the worship of Jesus. Consider those who have
     ceased regular attendance. They do not generally have the
     "antichrist" attitude.)

     F. Is the antichrist attitude alive and well today? (The 
     worship of the creation instead of the Creator seems to be the
     "politically correct" attitude of the day.)

II. HOW TO STAND IN THE LAST HOUR

     A. Verses 19-22 not only describe the antichrist, they 
     describe the faithful. Look specifically at vv. 20-21.

          1. What do you understand to be "an anointing from the
          Holy One?" (The Holy Spirit. (2 Cor. 1:21-22))

          2. Is it necessary to have the anointing of the Holy 
          Spirit to be able to stand in the last days? (John seems
          to link the Holy Spirit and the knowledge of God's truth.
          This relationship is made explicit in his gospel. (John
          16:13: "the Spirit of truth ... will guide you into all
          truth.")

               a. It may be that the antichrist group has some sort
               of "anointing" ceremony.  John says, "Here is our
               anointing."  

          3. Verse 21 finds John saying that he writes because they
          know the truth, not because they do not know it.

               a. Does this make any sense? Why not write to those
               who do not know the truth? Isn't he wasting his
               time?
               
               b. Does this have anything to do with "standing" in
               the last days? (We need to be reminded, we need to
               study, the truth.  We do not get truth once and
               then say forever after, "I knew that! No need to
               tell me.)"

                    (1) Do you agree?

     B. If you agree, let's skip ahead to v. 27. Read.  Now do you
     disagree?  You just got through agreeing with me that we need
     to be regularly reminded of the truth, and now John comes
     along and says "you don't need anyone to teach you."

          1. Was John wrong in v. 21 or was he wrong in v. 27?  
          Were you wrong when you agreed that we need to keep
          immersing ourselves in the truth to be able to stand or
          are you wrong when you agree we do not need anyone to
          teach us? (Like the cross-examination question: "Which is
          it: Are you lying now or were you lying then?)

          2. What does John say in v. 27 will teach us? ("His 
          anointing."  This goes back to John's theme that the Holy
          Spirit will teach us, bring us into truth.)

               a. Does that exclude human teachers?  Should I spend
               more time minding my own business watching TV and
               less time studying to teach this class? 

               b. If human teachers are excluded, what is John 
               doing in this letter?

     C. Skipping over a few verses left us without some important
     clues to what John is saying. Read vv. 23-26.  How would you
     summarize these verses in one sentence? (Continue to believe
     that Jesus is God despite the teaching of those who deny
     this.)

          1. In this context, considering the "clues" in vv. 23-26,
          what do you think John means when he says, "you do not
          need anyone to teach you?" (He means, "you do not need
          anyone to teach you falsehoods which are contrary to what
          the Holy Spirit leads you to believe.)

          2. What should be your attitude towards teachers like me?
          (That everything taught should be tested against what the
          Holy Spirit has revealed to you.)

               a. How does the Holy Spirit reveal things to you? 

               b. Notice the theme in vv.24 ("from the beginning"),
               27 ("remain in him"), 28 ("continue in him"). John
               is telling us that the Holy Spirit is not going to
               teach us something new that contradicts what we
               have already been taught.  This is a vitally
               important point.  It is dangerous to believe that
               we are led by the Holy Spirit apart from the
               teachings of the Bible.  The Bible alone is the
               standard, and any "leading" that you (or anyone
               else) gets that is contrary does not come from the
               Holy Spirit.  John tells us to "test" the spirits.
               (1 John 4:1))

     D. What does John say is our reward if we remain faithful and
     are not drawn away by false doctrines? (v.25: eternal life!)

     E. Let's read vv. 28-29 in closing. That is our goal: to be
     confident and unashamed before Jesus at His coming!


III. NEXT WEEK: Study 1 John 3:1-10 "Children of God."
octrines? (v.25: eternal life!) E. Let's read vv. 28-29 in closing. That is our goal: to be confident and unashamed before Jesus at His coming! III. NEXT WEEK: Study 1 John 3:1-10 "Children of God."