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. 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."