Want to learn more about 1, 2 & 3 John (2)? 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.
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!
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!
“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.
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
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!
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!
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!
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
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!
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!
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!
“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!
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!