1, 2 & 3 John

July, August, September 2009

Want to learn more about 1, 2 & 3 John? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Lesson 1: Jesus and the Johannine Letters (1 John 1, John 1)
Have you ever gotten a phone message that seems important, but the person forgot to leave their name or phone number? What about people who call you and don't say who they are? What about fax messages to the "main office" fax machine that are not addressed to you? These things annoy me because it makes it more difficult to receive and understand the full message. Our study of the book of 1 John presents a similar problem: it does not clearly say who wrote it. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn about this mysterious messenger and his(?)message!

Lesson 2: Experiencing the Word of Life (1 John 1, John 14, Genesis 1)
I'm in California! Over many years of visits to California, I've learned that a certain (large) segment of the California population is very concerned about looking young. This group resists the natural order of life in which age is desirable because it brings wisdom and dignity. Instead, everyone wants to appear eternally young. Why is that? I think a large part of the reason is that youth equals vibrant life. Age equals death. Youth and life are exciting and attractive. Death is, well, dull. Our lesson this week suggests another route to life (and youth). Are you someone who wants to be eternally young? Do you desire the joy of life? Let's jump into our study and find out more about the way to eternal life and youth!

Lesson 3: Walking in the Light: Turning Away From Sin (1 John 1)
"What's wrong with it?" Have you ever asked yourself that question when you wanted to do something debatable? Have your children asked you that question when they wanted to do something you had forbidden? The Bible teaches that there is a range of decisions that do not involve sin. Christians can reasonably disagree on whether some action is sin, and each side can be right. (See Romans 14.) At the same time, John teaches us about the importance of all of our decisions. He compares life to taking a walk. Does every decision in life takes us closer to righteousness or closer to sin? Let's jump right into our study and find out! We can decide whether "What's wrong with it?" is the right question or not.

Lesson 4: Walking in the Light: Keeping His Commandments (1 John 2:1-11)
One of my tasks as a lawyer is to prove the "elements" of my client's case. When I am litigating religious accommodation cases, the first element is to prove that my client has "sincere religious beliefs." How would you do that? How do you prove to a judge, who does not know your client, what is in your client's heart? I use my client's actions to prove what is in the client's heart. Is my method God's method? What relationship do our actions have to what is in our heart? Let's jump into our study and find out what God says about this!

Lesson 5: Walking in the Light: Rejecting Worldliness (1 John 2)
Living by the ocean means I'm spending a lot more time at the beach than I have in the past. From time to time I see Muslim women at the beach. The contrast between them and the regular beach people is obvious. It reminds me of when I was a young man and members of my church would show up on Sabbath on the nearby beaches of Lake Michigan. Church members would often still be wearing suits and church clothes, while people sunbathing would be wearing something much different. Our lesson this week is about "worldliness." Are these two examples of rejecting "worldliness?" Is sticking out like a sore thumb God's goal for us? Or, is that making a plain statement to the world? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and see what John has to teach us about worldliness!

Lesson 6: Walking in the Light: Rejecting Anti-christs (1 John 2:18-29, 2 Corinthians 1)
Last week we learned that the smart people had their focus on eternal matters and eternal wealth. Why are they smart to do this? Because this world is going to burn while those with a heavenly focus will have eternal life enjoying eternal treasures. That focus divides the "worldly" from those who are believers. This week John turns his attention to an unusual sounding problem. He warns us of "anti-christs." What is an "anti-christ" and how do we avoid one sneaking into our home (or our mind)? Is there more than one of them? Let's plunge into our Bible study and find out about these anti-christ characters and how to avoid getting into anti-christ trouble!

Lesson 7: Living as Children of God (1 John 3:1-10)
This past week I have been corresponding with a Christian who argues that keeping the Ten Commandments does not save you. I agree. This Christian then builds on that argument by saying that you can pick and choose which of the Ten Commandments you want to keep and still be in a right relationship with God. Now I'm doubtful. Does John say anything about this issue? I think so. Our study of 1 John 3 this week looks at this issue of the relationship between righteousness by faith and right living. John tells us that sin is serious stuff. Let's dive into our study and see just how serious it is!

Lesson 8: Loving Brothers and Sisters (1 John 3:11-24)
This week we all get to think like "common law" lawyers. They started the idea that the law did not consist of a set of rules, but rather the rules were derived from a set of case decisions. In the former you would find the right rule and have your answer - assuming you asked just the right question. In the latter, you find the right case examples and you figure out your answer. John gives us some "cases" for us to figure out how to live as we continue our journey on the path to light. Let's plunge right into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn about Biblical living!

Lesson 9: Believing in the Son of God (1 John 4 & 5)
When I'm grading law school exams, I try to give students as much credit for their answers as I can. Since most of my questions call for "essay" answers, I look for anything that reflects an understanding of the right legal issue. At the bottom, however, there is a right answer. Is this also true with spiritual matters? Is there only one right answer? Our lesson this week explores this issue of the ultimate "right answer." John writes that there is one right answer, and if we get it right, the reward is eternal life. If we get it wrong, the result is eternal death. That sounds serious! Let's dive into our study of the Bible and find out more about the right answer!

Lesson 10: Confidence (1 John 5:13-21)
John tells us in 1 John 5:19 that "we know that we are children of God, and the whole world is under the control of the evil one." What kind of confidence can we have in such a setting: that we will continually be beaten up? That life will kick us around? Everyone wants to have something they can trust. Everyone wants someone or something that they can depend upon in difficult times. Is this desire destined to remain unfilled? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and find out!

Lesson 11: Important Themes in 1 John (1 John 1-5)
I like to read books about brains. No one is really sure how people think or how they process information so quickly. How long does it take you to recognize a familiar face? How long does it take to determine a person's relative age? Matching faces and determining age are tasks which are very difficult for a computer. One thing we do know about our brains is that repeating something strengthens our ability to understand it. Have you ever read a book which had a "review" at the end of each chapter? That is what we are doing this week. We are going to do something we know works for our brains: strengthen our understanding of the wonderful things John wrote. Let's plunge right into our review of 1 John and see how this all fits together!

Lesson 12: John's Letter to the Chosen Lady (2 John)
"Truth" is not a valued commodity today - at least in the United States. The media and the educational system confuse tolerance with truth. God teaches us tolerance through His example of allowing sin to run its course. But, God never confuses tolerance with truth. When it comes to salvation, John teaches us that there is one truth, not many different beliefs that are "true" for the individual who holds them. Instead, John has some hard advice on supporting those who teach something other than objective truth. Let's dive in to our study of the Bible and learn more!

Lesson 13: Power Struggle (3 John, John 20)
Have you ever read a book and wished it were longer? Were you sad when you came to the end? That is how I feel with the letters of John. This week we come to the last in our series of studies on John's letters to the church. Let's dive into our study of Third John. While we are at it, we will pick up on a discussion that we left unfinished last week!

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