BSF Study Questions John Lesson 21, Day 5: 1 John 4:7-5:21

Summary of passage:  1 John 4:7-21: God is love and showed it to us by sending His Son so that we may live.  We ought to love one another.  If you love, you know God.  If you acknowledge Jesus and God’s Son, then God lives in you.  You should have no fear.

1 John 5:  To love God is to obey His commands.  Only those who believe Jesus is the Son of God will overcome this world and have eternal life.  The Spirit, the water (baptism), and the blood all testify the truth.  If we ask anything according to his will, God hears us and will answer us.  We are born of God.  He keeps us safe from the evil one.  We are God’s children.  Jesus gives us understanding.  Stay with the truth.

Questions:

12)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  He sent His Son to dies for us so that we might live.  He has given us the Holy Spirit as a guide.  He has taken away our fear.  I am more loving towards others and compassionate.  Love overflows from God’s love.

13a)  We have eternal life through faith in Jesus.  We do not continue to sin as the Holy Spirit is our guide.

b)  We do not continue to sin and are kept safe from the evil one.  We are God’s children.  Christ gives us understanding so that we may know the truth.

Conclusions:  John repeats himself here, summing up what he just said and what’s most important:  loving God and others and obeying his commands.  Jesus’ baptism, death, and Spirit testify to who he is and are a gift from God to us.

End Notes: 1 John 4:  We love one another because and only because we are loved by God.  Otherwise, we’d all hate each other.  Man is still capable of love because we are made in God’s image.  But it’s imperfect and messy like man.  The Greek says is best:  agapetoi agapomen, “those who are loved, let us love.”

When you are born of God, you have a love you didn’t have before, one you weren’t capable of.  Because it’s God’s love, not man’s, which is non-existent without God.

This is the agape love, the love without expecting anything in return.  If we want to love one another more, we need to draw closer to God.  Love is a triangle with God at the apex.

God does everything out of love.  He’s righteous and holy and just because He loves us.  He is incapable of hating.

Love is also the giving of the Father as much as it is the sacrifice of the Son.  This should read only begotten Son, indicating God and the Son are of the same substance or being.

The love of the Father takes away our sin and allows us to live.  Both are important for we still deserve death but God wants us with Him.

His love for us initiates our relationship of love with Him, our love only responds to His love for us. We can’t love God the way we should unless we are receiving and living in His love.

Love is the constant.  Wherever there is love, there is God.  This is our evidence since we cannot see God that He exists and is working in our lives.  However, God is also spirit (John 3:24), light (1 John 1:5), righteous (1 John 2:29; 3:7), holy (1 John 2:20), powerful or great (1 John 4:4), faithful (1 John 1:9), true (1 John 5:20), and just (1 John 1:9).

We know (not hope) that Jesus is in us (through the Holy Spirit) and we are in him (giving us this knowledge is the Holy Spirit).

“We” are the disciples and the eyewitnesses.  Believers must acknowledge of confess that Jesus is the Son and believe God loves them even when they don’t feel His love.  God’s love will be complete on the day of Judgment.

Fear here is not the fear of God of his awesomeness but the fear that robs us of having a life full of peace in Him.  We should not fear judgment when Christ has taken it all on him.

“We love because he first loved us.”  We love God and Christ.  God has always loved us since before time.  Our love for God is always in response to His love for us; He initiates, and we respond. We never have to draw God to us; instead, He draws us to Himself.

Loving others is a choice and that is why it is a command from God.  We must choose to love others even when it’s not easy; otherwise, God is not in us if not.  To love God more is to love others more. If you want to love God move, love fellow Christians more.

1 John 5:  John wants to make sure you understand that you don’t earn salvation by loving others. You trust in Jesus and his atoning sacrifice on the cross to earn salvation.

Our love and obedience to God is a demonstration of love to the body of Christ.  Love for God will show itself in obedience.  Commandments are gifts from God to show us the most fulfilling life possible.  The Holy Spirit enables us to obey.

The key to victory is faith (reliance upon, trust, etc) in Jesus as Son and Savior.

“water and blood” has perplexed scholars for centuries.  What exactly did John mean here?  Some think water is our baptism and blood is communion (Luther and Calvin).  Some think this is the water and blood that flowed from Jesus when he was pierced with the spear at crucifixion (Augustine).  Others think the water is Jesus’ birth from the womb and the blood is his death.

Most likely, John means the water of Jesus’ baptism, and the blood of His crucifixion.  This was when Jesus’ ministry began and ended.  This explanation is the oldest recorded Christian understanding of the passage.  Jesus identified with man when he was baptized and saved us with his death.  This also supports John 3:5.

A priest was always ordained by sacrificial blood, cleansing water, and oil that spoke of the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  So Jesus also had these same three witnesses to His priestly ministry.

John keeps harping on this point because of the Gnostics.  If Jesus was not fully God at death, then his death was not sufficient to pay for our sins.

The Holy Spirit testifies that Jesus is the Son of God in two ways:  When the Spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism and he continues to affirm this truth in the heart of believers.

Note on 1 John 5:7-8:  This passage is disputed.  Some words were added to the Latin manuscript that never appeared in any Greek manuscript that still appear in some Bible versions.  The NIV has it correct however.  Words were probably added to clarify the Trinity late in the Middle Ages.

If you reject Jesus, you are calling God a liar with your unbelief.

Eternal life is a gift from God receive in Jesus.

Ask anything and everything in His will.  Why doesn’t God just answer prayers?  God wants us to work with Him, and that means bringing our will and agenda into alignment with His. He wants us to care about the things He cares about, and He wants us to care about them enough to pray passionately about them.  God is delighted when we pray His promises. It shows our will aligned with His, our dependence on Him, and that we take His Word seriously.

We pray for our sinful brothers.  There are sins that lead to death but not all.  This could refer to the Gnostics adamant denial of the truth and their shameless immorality.  This is a spiritual death. Another view here is a physical death because a believer continues to sin so God takes their life (1 Corinthians 11:30).

If we are in Jesus, Satan cannot harm us.  Some bibles say “touch” instead of harm here.  It means “grasp” or “lay hold of”.  The only other place in his writings where John uses this particular verb for touch is in John 20:17, where He literally tells Mary to stop clinging to Me.

Significantly, this understanding must be given. We cannot attain it on our own. If God did not reveal Himself to us, we would never find Him.  Jesus is fully man and God.

Idols interfere with our relationship and fellowship with God.  Remember, putting anything (wealth, money, others, clothes, power, self, food, etc) above God is an idol.

Advertisements

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 21, Day 4: 1 John 3:1-4:6

Summary of passage: Believers are children of God and unbelievers do not know us because they don’t know God. When Jesus appears again we shall be like him. Jesus takes away our sin and if we live in him, we do not continue to sin. If you do what’s right, you will be righteous. Jesus appeared to destroy the devil’s work. If you do what’s right, you are children of God. Love your brother. The world hates you because of this love.

Jesus sacrificed his life for us, defining love. Love with actions and truth. If we obey God’s commands and do what pleases him, He will give us anything we ask for. He commands us to believe in his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another. If we obey his commands, He lives in us through the Holy Spirit.

Spirits that acknowledge Jesus is God in the flesh are true; all others are false. God is greater than the devil.

Questions:

9)  Personal Question. My answer: We are God’s children. God has purified us, taking away our sins permanently.

10)  Personal Question. My answer: Love is life. Anyone who loves one another is of God. Jesus defined love by laying down his life for us. So we are to do for others with actions and truth. God commands us to love one another and if we do, the Spirit will guide us and give us all we ask.

11)  Just that: That Jesus is God’s Son in the flesh. That he came down in human form. That he is God. That he took away our sins with his blood. Many religions now and then doubted either Jesus was human or Jesus was God’s Son. To do so is to die eternally. Gnostics, a popular religious movement at the time, taught Jesus was not human. They denied a pure God could take on a physical body, which they believed to be intrinsically evil. This led to immoral living as Gnostics believed they could not be tainted by earthly sins. John is emphasizing this point. Jesus is God in the flesh. Period. Believe it or die.

Conclusions: Wow! A ton here! Good job to BSF for bringing it all out. Love one another is a command from God no matter how hard it is. Love defeats all. Actions speak louder than words. Love with deeds. And believe Jesus is real. If you do these two simple things (believe in Jesus Christ and love one another) we will walk with God by the Holy Spirit, receive whatever we ask, and live forever with Him. Awesome!

End Notes:  John is asking for us to just pause and ponder the great love the Father (God) has for His children (believers).  NOTE:  We have more than Adam ever possessed albeit he walked with God.  It is an error to think of redemption as a restoration of Adam; it’s much more than that!  Christians are strangers to the world and should expect to be treated as Jesus was.  We cannot be like the world no matter how hard we try.

God’s ultimate goal in our lives is to make us like Jesus, and here, John speaks of the fulfillment of that purpose.  We will never succeed in being like Jesus on this side of heaven; this will only be fulfilled when we get there or when Jesus comes.  Those who don’t want to be like Jesus get what they want:  they go to hell.

We will see God!  Can you imagine?  What makes heaven heaven is God’s presence–not our loved ones, the streets paved in gold, or angels.

Our hope is in Him as we strive to be more like Jesus here on earth.

Sin is a disregard for God.  Jesus is here to take away our sin.

Verse 6:  According to the verb tense John uses, “does not sin” means does not live a life style of habitual sin. John has already told us in 1 John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. In 1 John 1:8, the grammar indicates John is speaking about occasional acts of sin. The grammar of 1 John 3:6 indicates that John is speaking of a settled, continued lifestyle of sin.  John is not teaching here the possibility of sinless perfection, which is impossible.

You don’t know Jesus if you are living a lifestyle of sin.  How do you react when you sin?  Are you repentant?  Or indifferent to where you keep on sinning?  This is a good question to ask ourselves when we sin.

Do not excuse your sin.  Confess it so it won’t be a lifestyle.

Righteous is right standing with God.  Perpetual sinners are of Satan.

1 John 3:5:  Jesus came to take away our sins.

1 John 3:8:  Jesus came to destroy the devil.  If we have Jesus, we have no need to fear the devil.  In fact, the devil fears us because our walk with Jesus destroys the devil’s works.

Here we see where “born again” came from in verse 9.   A change comes over us as we obey Christ and bury sin.

You are either a child of God or a child of the devil.  You either do right and love your brother or you do wrong and hate your brother.  Period.

It’s not just about you.  It’s about your love for others as well.

If you have faith in God, love Christians, and are righteous, you are a true Christian.

What is love?  The ancient Greeks had 4 words for 4 different types of love:

1)Eros was one word for love. It described, as we might guess from the word itself, erotic love. It referred to sexual love.

2) Storge was the second word for love. It referred to family love, the kind of love there is between a parent and child, or between family members in general.

3) Philia is the third word for love. It spoke of a brotherly friendship and affection. It is the love of deep friendship and partnership. Philia love might be described as the highest love that one is capable of without God’s help.

4) Agape is the fourth word for love. It described a love that loves without changing. It is a self-giving love that gives without demanding or expecting re-payment. It is love so great that it can be given to the unlovable or unappealing. It is love that loves even when it is rejected. Agape love gives and loves because it wants to; it does not demand or expect repayment from the love given – it gives because it loves, it does not love in order to receive.

The epitome of love is Jesus’s death on the cross, removing our sins from us.  Loving other Christians in a sacrificial manner is what John is saying here. Say no to your life to let others live.  It’s an action.

This is not one, big sacrificial moment like in Jesus’ case.  For most of us, God calls us to lay down our lives piece by piece, little by little in small, but important ways every day.

When we love others, we are assured and God knows us. We experience answered prayer.  We are so in tune and fellowship with God that we ask for what is on God’s heart, not on ours.  This is when we receive.  Thy will be done.  Those things that please God.  Ask yourself how much do you do to please yourself? How much do you do to please God?  God is glorified when we enjoy His goodness and His good things.

Verse 23 is one commandment:  Believe in Jesus and love Christians.  To believe in the name of Jesus means to trust in Him, rely on Him, and cling to Jesus.  It isn’t about intellectual knowledge or understanding, it is about trust.  John will develop the first part in 4:1-6 and the second part in 4:7-12.

Knowing that Jesus is in us is having the Holy Spirit.  Someone who loves God should act like it.  Period.

John talks much about the devil here in this short letter.  He is called the devil and the evil one.  He has been sinning from the beginning.  He is the instigator of human sin and those who continue to sin belong to him and are his children.  He is in the world and has the whole world of unbelievers under his control.  He cannot lay hold of believers to harm them.  In fact, Christians will overcome him and destroy his work.

1 John 4 starts with a warning:  beware of false prophets and test them.  See if what they say lines up with what God says.  Their words.  Their actions.  God will never contradict Himself, which is His word.

In John’s day, the issue was about if Jesus had truly come in a real body of flesh and blood. Many Gnostic-influenced teachers said that Jesus, being God, could not have actually become a flesh and blood human being, because God could have no partnership with “impure” material stuff.

Docetism also taught that Christ was a spirit.  Cerinthians taught that the divine Christ came upon the human Jesus at his baptism and then left him at the cross so that it was only the man Jesus who died.

Many today deny that Jesus is really God (such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Muslims). But way back in John’s day, in this time closest to the actual life and ministry of Jesus on this earth, people didn’t have a hard time believing Jesus was God. They had a hard time believing that he was a real man. This false teaching said Jesus was truly God (which is correct), but really a “make-believe” man.

The antichrist both opposes Jesus and comes as a substitute.  He does not want you to believe in the true Jesus.  The Holy Spirit inside of us is greater than Satan and will over come him.  We have nothing to fear.

John uses the simplest language (barely 300 different Greek words) to express the Gospel, using contrasts to help us understand.

BSF Study Questions Lesson 21, Day 3: 1 John 2:3-29

Summary of passage:  We are in Christ if we walk as Jesus did.  If we obey him, we will know him and have God’s complete love.  You must love your brother to be in the light; otherwise, you are not.  If you love the world, then you are not in God.  If you do the will of God, you will live forever. Antichrists will come in the last hour.  They will deny the Father and the Son.  Being anointed with the Holy Spirit, it will teach you.  If you remain in the Father and the Son, then you will have eternal life.  Those who do what is right has been born of Jesus.

Questions:

6)  If you obey His word, God’s love is complete in you.  As long as you remain in the Father and the Son, you will have eternal life.  If you love your brother and shun the world, then you are in Christ.  If you obey God, walk with Jesus, and be righteous, you are in Jesus.

7)  The cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does.  All of these are negative.  A sinful man craves sinful things: sex outside of marriage, affairs, covets other people’s things, steals, cheats, lies, etc.  He boasts of his material possessions instead of his spiritual spirit.  The positive twist would be to strive for God’s will in your life, for God’s goodness in others’ lives, and to use your gifts and senses to do so.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  False teachers are those who deny Christ is the Son of God.  They could be those in the Christian community but do not abide in Jesus.  If you have the Holy Spirit, then you will know the truth when spoken and the lies when spoken.  Abiding in Christ protects us as well as the anointing.  If whoever is speaking says things directly against the Bible and God’s teachings, then they are false. Period. Pray. God will tell you. He will not let you be blinded.

Conclusions: We talked a ton about the Antichrist and false teachers last year in Revelation.  It was more prevalent in ancient society and with so many different religions floating around it would be hard to know what to believe in–especially as a new convert to Christ.  Still, we must be aware of cults and society’s tendency to follow charismatic leaders and smooth talkers.  The Antichrist could come at any time and the little antichrists preceding him as well.

End Notes:  Following God’s commandments is evidence of knowing God.  There is a difference between knowing about someone and knowing them.  God and you know which is truth.  God’s love is perfect or mature in those who obey and by this we know we are in Jesus.  We will walk at Jesus did.

What does that mean?  Walk as Jesus did?  It means that sin is distasteful to us and every day we lead more of a righteous life of obedience to God.

Loving one another is not new.  What’s new is the depth of love that Jesus spoke of in John 13:34.  Jesus’ love is what we are to grasp–loving everyone.   Our relationship with God can be measured by our love for other Christians.

We have to keep His commandments, walk as Jesus did, and love other Christians.  If one is missing, then we fail.  You can do all the right things, believe all the right truths, but if you do not love other Christians, then all is lost.

Hatred and love in the bible are more than emotions; they are attitudes expressed in actions.

Stages in Spiritual Life:  We all begin as little children in our spiritual walk with God.  It is enough to know God forgives our sins.  Fathers are people who have known God for years and are mature in their spiritual walk with God.  Young men are those in the middle of their spiritual walk who have fought with Satan.

The repetition is intentional.  The key is knowing God.  God’s word is our source of spiritual strength, which is tested in the youth phase, and which lives in our hearts.

The world here is sin, the world’s system, it’s way of doing things, and material objects.  It’s controlled by Satan and organized against God and righteousness.  It’s easy to fall in love with the things of this world that make us better off but not better.  The world and what we gain in the world or strive for pass away when we do.  Heaven and God are eternal.  We are to be in the world but not of the world (John 17:14-18).  Monks took this to the extreme in the Middle Ages.

This goes all the way back to Eve who looked upon the fruit, thought how it would satisfy her and how it would make her appear before Adam.  Our thinking is usually of the world.  You must arrest your thoughts, capture them, and then work to change them towards God.  Lot is another example who was of the world.

In this world, we have three eternal things: the Holy Spirit, the people around you, and God’s word.   Time, attention, and expense put into these three things pay eternal rewards.

The last hour is Jesus’ return. John considered the last days to be everything after Christ.  The Antichrist is instead of Jesus.  He will appear and do wonderful things to appeal to us.  There will be only one “Antichrist” at the End Times.  However, there will be smaller versions preceding him.  The antichrists in John’s day were the Gnostics.  “Anti” means against in Latin.

John assumes his readers will know someone will oppose God before the Second Coming.  Also known as the man of lawlessness or the beast from Revelation.

Fun Fact:  The word ‘antichrist’ occurs in the Bible only in the letters of John and only five times in four verses (1 John 2:18, 22, 4:3; 2 John 7).

Essentially, the Antichrist is a world dictator who leads humanity in what seems to be a golden age, until he shows his true colors – and the judgment of God is poured out on him and his empire immediately before the return of Jesus.  This could happen at any time.  Think of Stalin, Hitler, and Mao.  Many of these antichrists will identify as Christians but never were since they left.

Other characteristics of the antichrists John lists:  1) They deny the incarnation 2)  They deny Jesus is divine.  3)  They deny the Father  4)  They don’t have the Father  5)  They are liars and deceivers  6) there are many.

Anointing has the idea of being filled with and blessed by the Holy Spirit, enabling discernment and knowing the Truth.

This idea of anointing – literally, to be blessed with oil – was said to be the reason behind one of the punishments given to John in persecution. The Roman emperor Domitian cast John in a boiling vat of oil, as if to say, “Here is a real anointing.” John emerged from the vat of boiling oil unharmed, because he had a different anointing.

In verse 20, John used a different word for know than he mostly used before. Previously John used the word meaning knowledge by experience; here he used the word meaning knowledge by intuition. We know some things intuitively by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

We must believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, as the Bible defines Christ – the Messiah, who is fully God and fully man; who perfectly revealed the Father to us.  We don’t worship the same God unless your God is the God who was revealed in Jesus Christ.  If not, then your God is not the God of the Bible.  If you reject Jesus, you reject God.

Fun Fact:  John uses the word “love” 35 times in this letter alone.

What you have heard from the beginning is the message of the apostles (the New Testament).  We must abide or live in Jesus Christ.  We do this by knowing His word and living in His word.

Fun Fact:  John uses “abide” 6 times in these few verses and idea is strewn about the New Testament.

When God lives in us, we have eternal life in heaven.  This anointing of the Holy Spirit allows us to know the Truth and discern the falsehoods and guide us closer to Jesus.  Because you are abiding in Jesus, when he comes again you won’t be ashamed or fearful.  We’ve seen this before (John 14:23). We practice righteousness since we are born of God who is righteous.

Summary of 1 John 2:  Christians: 1) know Him (1 John 2:4), 2) abide in Him (1 John 2:6), and 3) are in the light (1 John 2:9).  If this is true for you, it will show in the life you lead and the love you hold for fellow Christians.

BSF Study Questions Lesson 21, Day 2: 1 John 1:1-2:2

INTRODUCTORY NOTE TO THIS LESSON:  This lesson took me 2 1/2 weeks to complete.  There is so much here in this short book about Christianity.  Please take the time to read my End Notes to each day which I have tried to make as condensed as possible to what all this means.  Your time put in this lesson will echo volumes in your understanding of the Bible and of John.

Summary of passage: The author makes clear Jesus was a human, one he has heard, seen, and touched. God is light without darkness. If we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness we lie to ourselves and do not live by the truth. We are all sinners and if we confess our sins, we will be purified and forgiven. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. We will know Jesus if we obey his commands.

Questions:

3)  Jesus (who is God as His Son, Jesus) because John has heard, seen, and touched him.

4) God is light and if we walk in the light, we’ll have fellowship with one another and Jesus’ blood will purify us of all sin.  He writes this to believers so that we may know we have eternal life, have fellowship with others, and with the Father and the Son.  He writes this so we won’t sin.

5)  Personal Question. My answer: False claims: 1) If you claim to have fellowship yet walk in the darkness. 2) If you claim to be without sin. 3) If you claim you have never sinned. Fellowship: 1) If we walk in the light. 2) If we confess our sins. 3) If we obey his commands. Well, I do sin but I don’t deny it. I do obey and walk in His ways. Do I stumble? Absolutely. But He picks me up. That’s all that matters.

Conclusions: Unsure why we’re reading 1 John at this point in our study right after the Last Supper. I hope the notes will shed some light on this. Great passage of how we are to walk in the light always and not tell ourselves we are when we still dally in the darkness.
End Notes: Much like the Book of Revelation, John does not expressly state that he is writing this letter. However, certain hints and distinctive writing patterns of style make it very likely that John the Apostle wrote this letter at an advanced age. This letter is eerily similar to the beginning of the Book of John and says how he was a close eyewitness of Jesus’ life.

John wrote the Book of John in order to bring readers to a belief in Christ. Here, this letter is directed to those who are already Christians, outlining how that faith should affect a person’s life. John starts with a few simple themes–light, truth, life, love–then builds variations on them. He defines a word, discusses its opposite, and then describes what a life should look like with God as the source of power in the Christian life.

Presumably, the Christian faith has been around for 50-60 years by the time of this letter.  John repeatedly begins with the phrase “If we claim” and then proceeds to show what actions must result if we claim to live in the true light and know God.

Most people understand that the important things in life are not things at all – they are the relationships we have. God has put a desire for relationship in every one of us, a desire He intended to be met with relationships with other people, but most of all, to be met by a relationship with Him. In this remarkable letter, John tells us the truth about relationships – and shows us how to have relationships that are real, for both now and eternity.  The whole purpose of the letter is to bring us to a relationship with God and His son, Jesus Christ.

The beginning John is referencing here is the beginning when there was only God.  He came to earth to know him (hence the seen, looked, and touched).  At the time John was writing, Gnosticism (from the Greek word for knowledge or gnosis) was gaining in popularity.  The gnostics believe Jesus was God’s Son but he never came to earth in a physical body.  They believed a physical body was intrinsically evil.  They believed Jesus was a phantom, a temporary apparition who only looked human.  Some said God descended on Jesus at his baptism but left him before death.

John debated these beliefs in person and he had them in mind when he said he touched, seen, and heard Jesus.  Throughout this letter he lambastes those who deny Jesus was flesh.

Gnostics believed all matter was evil.  Only the spirit was pure and they sought to rise to this spiritual level.  However, this led to horrible ethics as they believed they could act how they wanted since their spirit was pure and could not be tainted by earthly sins.

This is the same Logos (Word) spoken of in John 1:1.  For the Jews, God was often referred to as the Word because they knew God perfectly revealed Himself in His Word.  For the Greeks, their philosophers had spoken for centuries about the Logos – the basis for organization and intelligence in the universe, the Ultimate Reason which controls all things.

John is telling everyone, “I have seen and heard and touched and studied the Word!”.

John is calling Jesus the “eternal life”(John 5:26, 6:48; 11:25; Micah 5:2) equal to God.  He references the eternal relationship as well.  This eternal relationship is clearly described in the Scriptures, but we could also understand it from simple logic. If God is love (1 John 4:8) and God is eternal (Micah 5:2), we understand that love in isolation is meaningless. Love needs an object, and since there was a time before anything was created, there was a time when the only love in the universe was between the members of the Godhead: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Christ is life because he is the living one who has life in himself (John 1:4; 11:25; 14:6).  He is also the source of life and sovereign over life.  This letter begins and ends with the theme of eternal life.

The word “with” indicates that this being, who is eternal, and is eternal life Himself, is distinct from the Father. John builds the New Testament understanding of the Trinity – that one God exists as three Persons, equal and one, yet distinct in their person.

The purpose of John’s declaration of the Word of life who is God yet distinct from the Father is to bring people into relationship with both God’s people and with God himself.

The idea of fellowship is one of the most important ideas in this letter of John’s. It is the ancient Greek word koinonia, which speaks of a sharing, a communion, a common bond and common life. It speaks of a living, breathing, sharing, loving relationship with another person.  It literally means common as in being shared by all.  We see this idea in common areas for animals to graze in.  We all share in the same resources and responsibilities of God and others.  Amazing grace at work!

This was a revolutionary idea in ancient times that man could have fellowship with God!  It’s the same idea as when Jesus told everyone to address God as Father (Matthew 6:9).  This relationship is only possible because Jesus was human.  We can become more like Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit because of this fellowship of a shared, common life–fellowship.  We share our life with Jesus and he shares his with us and we are better able to do life with Jesus.

Fellowships with others often leads to encounters with God.

Joy is optimism and cheerfulness and contentment.  John echoes Jesus (John 15:11; 16:24; 17:13).  Circumstances sap us of joy and we must fight to stay close to God to maintain it.

Verses 1-4 are one long sentence in the original manuscripts.  John sums up perfectly how to live our whole Christian life. God was.  He physically manifested.  He’s Jesus.  Fellowship with Jesus will bring you joy.

Verse 5 begins with John telling us this is what God says, not him. God is light.  Darkness is an absence of light. This is similar to saying God is perfect.

Some falsely claim to have fellowship.  “Walking” in the darkness is a pattern of life of wickedness and evil, not the occasional lapse we all experience.  This is active as we grow with Him.  “Walking” in the light is an obedient life–full of holiness and truth.  Since God is light, when we walk in the light we walk with God and experience the continual cleansing of the blood of Jesus.

Sin is the hindrance to fellowship and the blood of Jesus, received by faith as the payment for our sin, solves the problem of sin and opens the way to fellowship with God.

Note there is nothing said here about rites, ceremonies, baptisms, sacraments, the Eucharist, communion, etc.  It is only the blood of Jesus we need.

We are all sinners.  “Making mistakes” or being “only human” or “not perfect” will not get you to heaven.  Admitting you are a sinner will because Jesus came to rescue sinners.

We must keep on confessing our sins.  By admitting to God that what we have done is sin, and by asking for His divine forgiveness, we will be cleansed based on what Jesus has done for us on the cross.  Be truthful and God will be truthful.

This text doesn’t mean go and sin cause God will forgive you.  This is not fellowship with God and a right heart.  This is an evil heart and God will not forgive that.

If we don’t admit our sin, Jesus (the word) is not in us.  We will sin.  There is forgiveness in confessed sin.  Gnostics denied that their immoral actions were sinful.

God’s desire for us is not to sin, which is possible through Jesus Christ.  He is our defender if/when we sin and is our atoner and remover of our sins.  God’s wrath against man is satisfied and turned on to Jesus instead.  We must receive Christ’s sacrifice through faith (John 3:16).  This verse does not teach universalism (that all people ultimately will be saved), but that God is an impartial God and Christ’s sacrifice is open to all.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 20, Day 5: John 15:18-16:4

Summary of passage: The world hates believers because they were chosen by Jesus to be not of this world. The world will persecute and hate believers as they have persecuted and hated Jesus. The disciples and the Holy Spirit are to testify about Jesus. The time will come where the disciples will be thrown out of the synagogue and persecuted.

Questions:

12)  Part personal Question. My answer:  The human system that opposes God’s purpose and unbelievers.  They hate believers because they were chosen by God.  These people hate me or are indifferent to me because they are of the world and not believers.  Why would I ask myself questions?  It’s a fact and you deal with it and you move on with life.

13)  Part personal Question. My answer:  We need to be the light for others who may come out of the darkness.  We are called to evangelize.  By doing His will.

14a)  All believers, the Holy Spirit, and the disciples.

b) Part personal Question.  My answer:  Because Jesus was persecuted and the world hates believers.  They don’t know the Father nor Jesus, only the devil, so they follow the devil’s way which includes persecution.  We must respond as Jesus would with compassion and from an understanding that they are blinded to God and do not have Jesus’ heart.

Conclusions: Repetitive in terms of how you are living for Christ and bearing fruit. Talked about this last year as well in our Revelation study. In essence, Satan works through unbelievers. He tells them to hate us and persecute us. He blinds them to the Truth. We must understand it is Satan at work and not take it personally. We must be like Christ and still shine bright despite the encroaching darkness around us.

End Notes:  Jesus warns his disciples they will be hated.  All except John were martyred.  First the world hated Jesus, then them.  “You or Ye know” or “keep in mind” means be aware or be very sure.

The disciples were different from the world.  If people don’t know God, they persecute those who do.  Those persecuted (Christians) should sympathize for unbelievers because they don’t know God.

Because Jesus was God walking around on the earth, there is no excuse not to know God or more about Him.  Both his works and his words are enough to know Him.

Jesus quotes the Psalm here to show Scriptural fulfillment.

Jesus previously spoke of the sending of the Counselor (John 14:16, 14:26).  The departing Jesus knew the disciples would need the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit to face the opposition the world would bring.

“Who proceeds from the Father” or “whom I will send to you from the Father”: This is one source of a historic controversy between the eastern and western branches of Christianity, debating if the Spirit proceeds from the Father alone or from the Father and the Son (known as the filoque clause in the Nicene Creed).

The Holy Spirit’s job is to tell us and show us what Jesus would do and who he is.

The disciples’ job is also to bear witness for Jesus.

Jesus did not want his disciples to be surprised by opposition against them so he tells them they will be thrown out of the synagogue, which for a Jewish person is ostracism from all they know.

Most Christian martyrs are killed by followers of other religions.  Jesus is preparing his disciples because up until this point all hatred was against Jesus himself.  When Jesus departs, it will fall upon the disciples to bear.  He will not be there to protect them.  It wasn’t pertinent until this moment.  God’s timing.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 20, Day 4: John 15:9-17

Summary of passage: Jesus loves us and tells us to obey his commands to remain in his love. If we do, we will have joy. We are to love others as Jesus has loved us. He has chosen us to bear fruit that will last and God will give us whatever we ask in Jesus’ name. Love each other as friends.

Questions:

9)  God’s love is immeasurable.  If we remain in His love by obeying Him, we will have complete joy and whatever we ask for.

10)  Part personal Question.  My answer: Because Christ loved us so much we are to love each other.  We were sent into this world and made for this purpose.  It is a pattern for a way of life.  If we love others, we build them up and strengthen them for Christ.  You can try to fake it until you make it.  If you choose to fake it, often it will not come.  If you choose not to fake it, blessings will come.  Pray and ask God for help to love those unloveables in our lives.  We all have them.  Exercise the fruits of the Spirit here: patience, love, kindness, and compassion.  God will help us.

11)  To bear fruit.  We are to remain in Christ and bear much fruit because of it.  If we obey His commands, discover God’s purpose for our lives, we will bear much fruit.  We pray.  We read His Word.  We grow closer to Jesus and God.  We become more Christ-like, loving others. We share the gospel.  Then His will will be done.

Conclusions: Another great lesson especially on loving others whom we cannot love.  Remember: All things are possible through Christ who strengthens me.  Find your purpose.  Love others, including the unloveable.  You will then have great joy, peace, and prosperity through Him.  Love is the answer to all.  Think of the opposite:  evil and hate.  Where does that lead?  The opposite of joy and peace and eternal life and satisfaction.

End Notes:  Jesus compares his love for others with that of the love God has for Jesus.  It’s protecting, sacrificing, serving, guiding, and blessing.  It’s never-ending, personal and unchanging.

Obey God’s commands and you will remain and stay connected in God’s love.  Then and only then will your joy be complete.  Joy is not happiness or excitement or pleasure in life.  It’s walking in God’s love and care.  The picture is a pitcher of water filled to the brim.

Jesus uses repetition to emphasis love.  Giving up your life is giving up everything you have.  You have nothing else to give.  It is complete.

In ancient times, the rabbi was not friends with his disciples and definitely not servants.  You are friends if you actively obey.  There are no secrets between friends.

Normally, the disciples chose the rabbi they wanted to learn from.  Jesus chose us.  He holds us, not us him.  We are to go and bear fruit which Jesus enables us to do as his chosen disciples.  Then our prayers will be answered.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 20, Day 3: John 15:1-8

Summary of passage: Jesus says he is the vine and God is the gardener. God cuts off those who don’t bear fruit and prunes the branches that do bear fruit. Believers will only bear fruit if they remain in Jesus. Apart from Jesus, you can do nothing. Ask whatever you wish and as long as you remain in Jesus, your wish will be granted. For God’s glory you will bear much fruit.

Questions:

6)  Personal Question. My answer: My family, my job, my purpose in life. I could be doing more in writing my novel and helping others. I am failing in gentleness and self-control. These are my hardest areas especially since my heart towards the world and others is very hard. I can be brash and rude. Loving others is hard for me as well. I do have joy and peace though. I could always be more patient and kind. I’m pretty faithful though to God and others.

7)  Yes. No. Jesus says apart from me he can do nothing. He can bear no fruit. If believers stray, then they are leading lives of quiet desperation where nothing is being accomplished that God wants. Even if you are doing good but your heart is empty of God you are not growing and those around you are not growing or seeing God’s light. You are withering and you are empty inside. Eventually you will shrivel instead of bloom. God wants us to bloom and bloom for Him!  You must remain connected to God always.

8)  Personal Question. My answer: Well, you are constantly being cleansed and molded and growing if you abide with Christ and stay connected.  I hope I’ve been more fruitful. One, to you all. Two, to my family. Three, in my job. Four, in my personal life. I hope I’ve grown more mature and been more fruitful to others. I still have much to do though.  We have been abundantly blessed through Him.

Conclusions: Love this lesson! It’s great to reflect on how we are living out God’s calling in our lives and if we think we’ve grown or been more fruitful or productive in doing so. And the fruits of the spirit is something we all need to constantly ask ourselves and check in with how we are doing. Are we more patient? Kind? Loving? At peace? Etc. Great reflection time!

End Notes: [Same from yesterday]  Most scholars believe Jesus is speaking to the disciples here as they are standing in the upper room, preparing to depart.  Jesus only has a few more hours to prepare his disciples for the tumult ahead. These are his closest friends and he is about to leave them. He knows they will face fierce opposition, hatred, beatings, and execution. So, he reaches for an allegory to explain himself again.

One, grapes. They were just drinking wine. He says they must remain connected to him in order to bear everlasting fruit. Two, dead branches. They have lost their connection somehow and now useless.

The vine. Jesus’ 7th and last I am statement.  This would have stood out to both believers and unbelievers since everyone knew God as the great “I am”.  Jesus is equivocating himself with God in all these statements.

The vine was a familiar symbol. God repeatedly used a vine as a symbol of His people in the Hebrew Scriptures (Psalm 80:8-9). Yet it was often used in a negative sense (as in Isaiah 5:1-2, 7 and Jeremiah 2:21). Just in the previous week Jesus publicly taught about Israel being like a vineyard in the Parable of the Vineyard (Matthew 21:33-44).

Vineyards were everywhere in ancient Israel. There was a large golden vine set as a prominent decoration on the front of the temple communicating the idea that Israel was God’s vine. And it was a recognized symbol of the Messiah.

Jesus is the true vine. We must be rooted in him in order to bear fruit. The branch and the vine picture complete dependence upon one another as well. The vine in the Old Testament pictured Israel and God as the tender of the vine.

There are two understandings for verse 2. Either the branches are taken away because they were never abiding the first place (judgment) or they are lifted up (another possible translation of the Greek) to be taken care of.

The word for prunes does mean cleansing as well in the Greek. The vine will maximize its fruit if it is pruned. God removes the dead wood from his church and disciplines the life of the believer so that it is directed into fruitful activity. Good fruit in the New Testament represents a godly life (Matthew 3:8; 7:16-20) or virtues of character (Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:9; Philippians 1:11).

The work of pruning has already begun in the disciples as they listen to the Word of God. There is an initial cleansing and then more (John 13:10). Through the Word, we are cleansed (Ephesians 5:26). It condemns sin, inspires holiness, and promotes growth.

Abiding or remaining is a two-way street. Choose to abide in Jesus and he will abide in you. You have to be connected to the vine, to Jesus, to bear fruit. Otherwise, it’s impossible.

Jesus repeats himself that he is the vine since so often they thought of Israel as the vine. The purpose of caring for the vine is to receive fruit. In this sense, we can say that fruit represents Christian character (such as the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5). God’s work in us and our connection to Him should be evident by fruit, and perhaps by much fruit. Fruits contain seeds which are meant to be spread.

Jesus abides in us in an active way.

We can do nothing of real, eternal value without Jesus. You must remain connected to the master or you will fail.

Note you are thrown away, withered, and then burned–a slow progression of losing that connection with the Father. Fire is associated with punishment and eternal repercussions like the burning lake of sulphur in Revelation. It also was an Old Testament symbol of punishment.

Verse 6 Interpretations of the cast out branches:

1) Believes are the cast out branches who, though once true believers, end up in hell for lack of abiding and fruit. They were once disciples, but are now cast out

2) The cast out branches are ones who only appeared to be disciples, and who never really abided in Jesus, and therefore go to hell (like Judas)

3) The cast out branches are fruitless disciples who live wasted lives that are in effect burnt up, and this passage doesn’t refer to their eternal destiny (like Lot, Abraham’s nephew)

However, all agree that there are no true disciples who do not abide. The branch must remain connected to the vine or it has no life and is of no lasting good. Genuine salvation is evidenced by a life of fruitfulness.

Verse 7: Jesus connected abiding to the idea of faithfulness to His words (John 14:23-24) and answered prayer (John 14:13-14).

Spurgeon says “Prayer is the natural outgushing of a soul in communion with Jesus. It comes spontaneously from those who abide in Jesus.”

It is impossible to pray correctly apart from knowing and believing the teachings of Christ.

Abiding in Jesus means abiding in His words, and having His words live in the disciple.

Tenney explains: “The connection is maintained by obedience and prayer. To remain in Christ and to allow his words to remain in oneself means a conscious acceptance of the authority of his word and a constant contact with him by prayer.”

This faithful, abiding disciple should expect answered prayer as part of their relationship with Jesus. A failure to see prayer answered means something is not right in the disciple’s relationship. Perhaps something is not right in the abiding, and prayers are amiss and unanswered. Perhaps something is not right in the asking and there is no perception of what Jesus wants to do in and through His disciple.

Verse 8: We must remember bearing fruit is for God’s glory, not our own. When we achieve great things, it is God’s will and through God’s might not ours. We give credit to Him for we ourselves can do nothing.