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LESSON 10 - VICTORY! (1 JOHN 5:1-12)

     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: Last week we learned that the self-sacrificing love
of Jesus towards us is what we should show towards fellow church
members. This week John continues to describe what this means and
ties this with his oft-repeated theme about the two paths: the path
of light which leads to eternal life; and the path of darkness
which leads to eternal death. Let's dig in!


I. TEAR IT DOWN?

     A. Think of someone about whom you had (or have) harsh 
     feelings. Got that person in mind? Are your feelings for that
     person gradually getting better and better? 

          1. If you "work on it" will your feelings get better?

     B. I have this "wonderful" wood porch that wraps around three
     sides of my house.  I could have bought a house with a poured
     cement porch, but I was excited that this house had a genuine
     wood porch. (Stupid me!)

          1. Real wood (of the cheap variety) swells and contracts.
          From the very first year we moved into our new house,
          some portion of our porch has needed some repair. So
          every year I would replace a piece or two of the porch.
          I used "better" wood for my repairs.

               a. This is the "patch" mentality. I am a "patcher"
               by nature.

               b. Finally, Dennis Baker and my wife noted that my
               porch was getting worse and worse looking. They
               told me that I should have the whole floor ripped
               out and replaced with a better grade wood. This is
               the "make it new" mentality.

     C. Open your Bibles to 1 John 5:1-4. Read.

     D. Does John subscribe to the "patch" or "make it new" 
     approach to the Christian life in these verses?

          1. What does John mean when he says (v.1) the believer
          "is born of God?" (A completely new relationship.)

          2. Remember, I asked you at the very beginning if you 
          could, by hard work, gradually get along better with
          someone that has "banged heads" with you?

               a. Can you? (Patching gives you the appearance of
               making it better. You can patch for a long time.
               But in the end, the patching does not make it
               right. You cannot force yourself to like an
               unlikable person. You need a completely changed
               heart, you need to be "born again!")

II. BORN OF GOD

     A. Why is it that "everyone who believes that Jesus is 
     the Christ is born of God?" (v.1)

          1. Do you follow John's logic?

               a. What do you think he means?

          2. Does this belief cause us to "tear it all down?" 
          (There are two possible meanings here. First, Jesus was
          a very new way of understanding God. God's people were
          generally surprised with Jesus' approach. Second, Jesus
          gives us the possibility of eternal life. This new life
          Jesus gives us is from God. So, yes, this is a completely
          new construct.)

     B. Since Jesus is the "kinder, gentler" vision of God, why 
     does John say (v.1) "everyone who loves the father loves the
     child as well?"

          1. Wouldn't it make more sense to say "everyone who loves
          the child loves the father as well?"

          2. Don't we normally look on Jesus as being "more 
          loveable?"
          
     (I do not think this is what John is talking about. When we
     are "born of God," God becomes our father. John assumes that
     sons and daughters love their father.  His point is that since
     we are all children of God, and therefore one family, we
     should love the "other children" as well. Verse 2 expands this
     by applying the idea to all of God's children.)

     C. When it comes to fellow believers, can you see the
     difference between "patching" and "tearing down" the old in
     favor of a "new relationship?" Patching is gritting your teeth
     and trying to get along with "Mongo, the terrible."  The new
     relationship is realizing that Mongo, with all his warts, is
     your brother.)

III. LOVING YOUR BROTHER: ANOTHER VIEW

     A. Last week we learned that loving our brothers involved the
     same kind of self-sacrificing attitude Jesus had towards us.
     This week John seems to give us another angle on this. John
     gives us one more in his series of "reality checks."

          1. How does v. 2 say we KNOW we love the children of God?

               (a. If we love God; and

                b. Obey (Put two columns on the blackboard: one 
               entitled "Love God" and the other "Obey."))

          2. How does v. 3 define "love for God?" (Obey)

          3. Do both our columns end up at the same place:
          obedience?

          4. Does loving God and loving our brother really only 
          mean that we obey?

          5. Notice that "faith" gets sort of "stuck" onto the end
          of v.4. What part does John say that faith plays in this?
          Or did John just stick faith in as an afterthought? 

               a. Is our faith "the victory that has overcome the
               world?" (No.)

(Let's trace John's logic for a minute. He says (v.1) that if we
believe in Jesus we are "born of God." He also says (v.4) that
everyone who is born of God overcomes the world. Why is this true?
Verse 4 tells us that we have "victory" over the world through our
faith. Jesus won the victory over the world. He allowed us to be
"born of God." We grasp His victory only by faith. But John tells
us that the "reality check" of whether we really mean what we say
(ie, whether our faith is genuine, whether we have really "grasped"
His victory) is whether we obey.)

     B. Generally, my children act as if obeying is burdensome. 
     Verse 3 says our obedience is not burdensome. 

          1. If you agree, why is this true? (If you have the right
          attitude, you will want to obey (most of the time!))

IV. THE WITNESSES

     A. Read 1 John 5:5-8. Do you remember that in 1 John chapter
     1, we discussed how John sounded like a lawyer explaining why
     he was such a great and reliable witness? Well, he is talking
     about the courtroom again.

          1. What does "plaintiff" John want to prove to us? What
          does he want us to believe? (v.5 -- "Jesus is the Son of
          God.")

          2. Who does John have lined up to testify to that effect?
          (vv.7-8 -- Spirit, water and blood.)

          3. I hate it when my witnesses have a different story.
          John says he has his "ducks in a row" because (v. 8) all
          three of his witnesses agree.

          4. (List all three witnesses on the blackboard) Tell me
          how each of these three testify, the substance of their
          testimony, and whether they are necessary witnesses?

               a. Spirit: How does the Spirit testify? Is it a 
               necessary witness? (We cannot understand God's word
               to us without the aid of the Holy Spirit. He is a
               "key" witness.)

               b. Water: What is the testimony of the water? What
               does John mean when he says (v.6) Jesus "came by
               water?"

                    (1) "Water" sounds like baptism. Did Jesus need
                    to be baptized?  If not, how is the water a
                    true witness? If Jesus did not need to be
                    baptized, perhaps water is a "false" witness?

               c. Blood: What is the testimony of the blood?

                    (1) In v. 6 John says "water and blood," not
                    just water. What does the blood have to add
                    that the water does not?

     (There are several reasonable and possible interpretations of
     the testimony of the water and the blood.  I think the water
     testifies to the humanity of Jesus. (See 1 John 4:2) He came
     as a man and as an example.  To show He was a man, and to be
     an example of the new birth, He was baptized. However, the
     "new birth" would have meant nothing if Jesus had not died.
     Therefore, the blood testifies to his death on our behalf. Can
     you see how the "testimony" of the water is not complete
     without the "testimony" of the blood?  Finally, the testimony
     of the Holy Spirit not only allows us to understand, it shows
     that Jesus was also fully God.)

     B. Let's continue by reading vv.9-11. John gives us another
     one of his "reality checks." 

          1. Must we believe the testimony of the three witnesses?
          (Yes. John says if we believe the testimony of a mere
          man, we certainly should believe the testimony of God.)

          2. What, specifically, are the "fact issues" on which we,
          the jury, must find for God? (v.11: 1) Belief in the Son.
          2) Belief that the Son allows us to accept the gift of
          eternal life from the Father.)

               a. Do all Christians believe that Jesus was the "Son
               of God?"  Do they all believe in eternal life?
               (Amazingly, no!  Within the last year I have read
               at least a couple of articles in which clergyman in
               prominent Christian denominations were denying that
               Jesus was God.  My general recollection is that One
               clergy member seemed to disbelieve most of the
               Bible and wrote that when God manifested Himself He
               might very well call Himself "George" and tell us
               that we were taking the writings (of the Bible) far
               too seriously.)

          3. Does John say that these are simply "theological 
          questions" on which reasonable minds can differ? (No! He
          says if you do not believe the very plain teaching of the
          Bible on the nature of Jesus and eternal life you are
          calling God a liar. Query why someone would spend his (or
          her) life in "the service" of some program in which the
          author was a fraud and a liar?)

     C. Read v. 12. Friends, this is the final division.  You 
     either have eternal life or you have eternal death. If you
     have the Son, you can know that you have eternal life now!
     Praise God!

V. NEXT WEEK: "Total Confidence." Study 1 John 5:13-21.
. You either have eternal life or you have eternal death. If you have the Son, you can know that you have eternal life now! Praise God! V. NEXT WEEK: "Total Confidence." Study 1 John 5:13-21.