Introduction: 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!

  1. The Test Question

    1. Read 1 John 4:1-3. How many spirits speak to you? (At
      least two: the Spirit of God and spirit(s) against God.)

      1. What do you think John means when he writes of
        spirits? Are these whispers in our ear? (I think he
        is using the term broadly to refer to currents of
        thought, logic, our “conscience,” prophets, teachers
        – anyone or anything trying to persuade us.)

      2. How can we determine spiritual truth from error?
        (John gives us a very simple test: truth says that
        Jesus is from God and He came to earth in human

      3. I’ve argued before that anyone who believes in the
        Old Testament, and understands the sacrificial
        system, must logically accept Jesus and Christianity
        as the logical extension of the sacrificial system.
        John confirms this logic by telling us that if we
        believe the Bible, we believe that Jesus is the
        incarnate Son of God.

    2. Read 1 John 4:4-6. Does the world understand this logic?

      1. A common attitude towards Christians is that they
        are stupid and uneducated. Is this true? (A
        Christian might be stupid and uneducated, just as a
        non-Christian might be. But, what separates
        Christians from pagans is that Christians have a
        Christ-centered world view.)

      2. What does this teach us about evangelism? Shall we
        give up because pagans will not listen to us? (This
        is where we must depend on the Holy Spirit to touch
        hearts. We can argue the logic of our position, but
        without the Holy Spirit logic will not do us much

  2. If You Pass the Test

    1. Read 1 John 5:1-4. Are we obliged to obey God’s commands?

      1. Why? To be saved? (Our love for God causes us to
        obey His commands.)

      2. Last week we learned we should give up our stuff for
        fellow Christians who are in need. We discussed how
        difficult it is (at least for me) to attain this
        ideal. John now tells me meeting the ideal is “not
        burdensome.” Is he kidding?

        1. When I taught my class last week, one group was
          against giving money to those on the street
          asking for money. Another group was for giving
          them the money and being done with it. (We
          give the money and God will sort out the rest.)
          Another group said we should find out what they
          want to buy, and buy it for them (if we approve
          of it). What we ended up deciding was that we
          should get to know the needy to figure out how
          best to help. If I told you to become friends
          with a homeless person, would that seem

      3. About six months ago we had a fellow arrive at
        church who had lost his job, been tossed out of his
        house by his wife, and needed a place to stay. I’ve
        got three empty bedrooms in my house. My heart was
        touched and I thought I should help this fellow. My
        wife pointed out that this would mean that for most
        of the time she would be alone in the house with
        this guy who I did not know. (No one in church
        really knew him.) I did not invite him to stay with
        us and he soon left the church. What should I have

    2. Read 1 John 5:5. What is the key to overcoming the world?
      (Believing that Jesus is the Son of God.)

      1. This seems a little tricky to me. We just got
        through discussing how we need to obey the commands.
        Now John is back to talking about belief. Why is
        this? (The only logical conclusion is that the two
        are linked. Believing Jesus is the Son of God is the
        essential “right answer” for eternal life. When you
        come to that answer, it affects your behavior.)

  3. Knowing the Key is Correct

    1. Read 1 John 5:6. When I give a test, I try to be
      absolutely certain that I understand the correct answer.
      Teachers call the list of correct answers the “key.” Why
      does John say that we can know Jesus is the correct
      answer to the question of eternal life? (He says Jesus
      came by water and blood.)

      1. What possible link is there between Jesus being God
        and water and blood? (This would be more obvious to
        the recipients of John’s letter. If you understand
        Deuteronomy and Leviticus, the whole sanctuary
        system revolved around purifying things with water
        and blood. Water took away regular dirt. Blood took
        away spiritual dirt. Jesus took on water
        purification with His baptism ( Matthew 3:13-17) and
        He shed His blood for us ( Matthew 27:50). We need
        pure lives and pure hearts.)

      2. How is the Holy Spirit involved in this? (Read John
        3:5-6. Jesus equates baptism (water cleansing) with
        being born of the Holy Spirit (spiritual

    2. Look again at 1 John 5:6. John says that the Spirit is a
      testifying witness who tells the “truth.” I’m not sure
      our link between water, blood and the Holy Spirit makes
      the best logical sense. How would you tie the three
      together? (Read 1 John 5:7-8. Recall the issue is whether
      we have the right answer. The power of the Holy Spirit in
      the early church, the power of the Holy Spirit in our
      lives today, gives evidence that Jesus is real. Matching
      Jesus to the historical means of removing sin and dirt in
      our life, seeing how the Holy Spirit works against sin in
      our life, all of these are witnesses that Jesus is indeed
      the Son of God, the means for removing the sin that keeps
      us from eternal life.)

      1. Why do we need multiple witnesses? (So we can be

    3. Read 1 John 5:9-10. John compares his argument for Jesus
      being the right answer with the ordinary means by which
      we are convinced of something. Why is the argument for
      Jesus being the right answer more powerful than ordinary
      arguments? (Because God is doing the testifying.)

      1. I thought we were reading this in a book written by
        John! How can he claim God as the witness for his

      2. I recall when I was a kid one of my little friends
        would use his father as a “witness” for his far-fetched theories. Whenever I disagreed, he would
        ask, “Do you think you know more than my father?”
        How does John get to claim God as vouching for his
        theory of eternal life? (Read Acts 1:6-8 and Acts
        2:1-4. The actions of the Holy Spirit in our life
        are divine proof that Jesus is God. This is God
        speaking to us, not just other people making an

      3. Read John 11:41-44. How was God active in Jesus’
        life to be a witness for Him?

    4. Read 1 John 5:11-12. What a minute. Are we wrong about
      the nature of God’s testimony? What does this say is
      God’s testimony? (Jesus’ resurrection shows the power of
      eternal life. This is the ultimate display of God’s
      testimony that Jesus is God.)

      1. How important is it to get the answer right? How
        important is it to believe God? (Getting the answer
        right has eternal significance.)

    5. Friend, how about you? Have you accepted Jesus as the
      Son of God? Do you believe that Jesus died on your
      behalf to take away your sins? Do you believe that when
      Jesus rose to eternal life, you have the opportunity for
      eternal life? Is the Holy Spirit a witness to these
      things in your life? If you cannot say, “yes,” to all of
      these questions, right now ask Jesus and the power of the
      Holy Spirit to come into your life so you will have the
      key to eternal life.

  4. Next week: Confidence.