Living a Balanced Life Week 13 (Teaching Outline)

Living a Balanced Life

(An In-Depth Study of First John)

Week 13

Commentary

Love in Resurrection

1 John 4:7-12

 Outline

Holy week; a time on the church calendar when the central focus is the week of Jesus’ life when He came to Jerusalem to die on a cross and rise again on the third day – on purpose. The Scripture informs us that Jesus turned His face toward Jerusalem and never looked back, never hesitated, never missed a step. (Luke 9:51-53) It also says that, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) This week of Jesus’ life, as recorded in the Gospels, perhaps is the clearest view of God’s love for us.

One of the most significant statements in the Bible comes in three small words found in our text; the beautiful fact that “God is Love.” Now the Bible through this revelation teaches that love and God are one in the same. Love does not only come from God, it IS God. So these facts result; God is the highest order of the universe (creation), so love is the highest order. God created all things, so Love created all things. God has always existed, so Love has always existed. God is eternal, so Love is eternal. Jesus prayed and revealed to us that Love has always existed; “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24)

In John’s Gospel, Jesus sets love apart from all else when it comes to the identity of His disciples; “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) Jesus is making the statement that if we are born again, born of God, then God’s love is within us. John has already made the same claim from a different view; “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers” (1 John 3:14).

As we focus on the events of Holy Week, God’s love is on display for all who have eyes to see. God’s love is made manifest in sending his Son and in his Son laying down his life. This shows us what the Father’s love is like. The connection between God’s love for us and our love for each other is made clear in the Gospel. John states that if we are born of God we will know Him and love like Him. (vs 7) Just like last week we determined that the power to know truth from error comes from the Spirit of God within us, so this power to love is enabled by the same Spirit.

God’s love overflows 

New birth:

Father’s seed:

Father’s nature:

Father’s nature is love:

We now have the Father’s nature:

Therefore, we love

God is Love (vs 7-8)

Love is from God (vs 7)

God is Love (vs 8)

Love made manifest (vs 9-11)

God sent His only Son

God so loved us, we ought to love one another

Greatest love that ever was/is

Good Friday and Easter Sunday is the choice of Jesus

His Love (vs 12)

Origin of love is God, not you

God abides in us, making love complete

LIFE APPLICATION

Love rejoices in the presence of all God’s children

God commands us to become what we already are

If we ever doubt the love of God; remember the love of God

Living a Balanced Life Week 12 (Teaching Outline)

Living a Balanced Life

(An In-Depth Study of First John)

Week 12

Commentary

Power to Overcome

1 John 4:1-6

 Outline

There is a beautiful church building a short two minute walk from my house. The solid brick construction rests in the middle of a flawless green lawn adorned by majestic oak trees. It is always well maintained. On the outside it is very attractive. On the inside however, there is a confession of Jesus Christ that is very different from the confession found in God’s Word spoken by the Apostles. In the words of the Apostle John, “who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?” (1 John 2:22) Despite the outward attraction, something in my spirit will not allow me to unite myself with this church.

John loves those to which he writes. This section of text once again begins with a term of endearment; “beloved”. It is clear that John is warning his readers through a heart filled with love. He knows the dangers to the faith in this world. His warning is clear: behind every statement is a spirit, a pneuma(gk.), but not every spirit is the Spirit of God.

Many years ago a mentor of mine (in the business world) taught me a valuable lesson regarding understanding between two parties.  He made this statement which I have never forgotten; “every business deal has a spirit”. He went on to explain that each time he shakes someone’s hand in agreement to provide or purchase a good or service, he already knows how he wants the deal to benefit both parties. “Legal documents”, he stated, “never reflect the proper spirit of any agreement. They are filled with fine print stating what will happen when one party fails.” He went on to explain his model of always including a cover letter to every agreement he signed. The cover letter was always entitled, “Spirit of Agreement”. This letter stated in clear plain terms the intention of the agreement and the bright future my mentor intended for all parties entering the agreement. Like the Apostle John, my mentor knew all to well that many in the business world had a spirit that was not in accord with his own. This cover letter attached to the legal document and signed by all parties brought a unity or made clear any division of each spirit involved.

Like this cover letter, John commands us to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God”. (1 John 4:1) John makes it clear that all believers are to exercise the responsibility of discerning truth from error. However, John doesn’t allow us to believe that somehow by ourselves this could be possible. No, John calls each of his readers “overcomers”. (vs 4) His reason for naming us as such has one basis, and only one; “for he who is in you is greater that he who is in the world.” This should be a source of great joy for every believer.

Work of the Holy Spirit

From last week: (2:24)

Evidence of His work:

Produces Faith

Produces Love

Focus on Confession of Faith (vs 1-6)

What we say (vs 2)

                        Confesses Jesus has come in the flesh

Genuine confession (like confessing sin in 1:9)

How we listen (vs 6)

Listen to the truth and accept it

Hear the false teachers and reject it

Sovereign work of the Holy Spirit

Why are we able to overcome the false teachers? (vs 4)

To overcome or conquer

The Holy Spirit is greater

LIFE APPLICATION

We can only give God the glory (credit where credit is due)

Use this truth to work in mighty ways          

 

Living a Balanced Life Week 11 (Teaching Outline)

Living a Balanced Life

(An In-Depth Study of First John)

Week 11

Commentary

Being of the Truth

1 John 3:19-24

 Outline

Assurance; both powerful and freeing.

Today, the 17th of March (first declared in the early 17th century), remembers Saint Patrick as the one who led the fifth-century Christian mission to Ireland. Unlike Britain, the Emerald Isle lay beyond the bounds of the Roman Empire. The Irish were considered uncivilized barbarians, and many thought their illiteracy and volatile emotions put them outside the reach of the gospel. At age sixteen, Patrick was taken captive by an Irish raiding party and spent the next six years on Irish soil as a slave. He learned their language, their culture, and most importantly, developed a heart for them.

Patrick escaped his captors and returned to England in his early twenties. In those years God had touched Patrick’s heart. He stepped foot once again on British soil, now a Christian. He studied for vocational ministry, and led a parish in Britain for nearly twenty years. At age 48 (past the life expectancy for a man in his century), when most retire; Patrick began his most accomplished ministry. Patrick and a team of dedicated missionaries took the Gospel to the ‘pagan’ Irish. The rest of the story is what movies are made of…

Whether God plans for us to evangelize a nation or a neighbor, no one can accomplish such a task without love in action. Last week we ended with the Apostle John’s encouragement, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” This week John continues this thought with the result statement, “By this we shall know that we are of the truth.” It is by loving one another in deed and in truth that we can reassure our hearts before God.

There are two themes which reoccur regularly throughout this letter; assurance before God and love for one another. Assurance that God is for us and that we are in a right relationship to him and genuine visible practical love for our brothers and sisters in Christ go hand-in-hand in the life of a true believer. John wants his readers to understand the amazing power that confidence before God has toward freedom to live a life of radical love. The only way we can exercise Christian love, the kind of love that lays down its life for another, is if we are first confident that the almighty God loves us. That he is for us and not against us. This confidence is the most valuable thing, the most freeing thing that anyone could ever possess. It was in this confidence and love that Patrick took the Gospel into the darkness in Ireland. Instead of coasting out life, he gave nearly thirty years transforming an entire nation. Patrick is a prime example of John’s precepts in chapter three.

Confidence Gains Strength (Vs 19-20)

19a:                 “In this [the love and obedience we exhibit; vv. 11–18] we will know that we are of                               the truth.”

19b–20:           “We will reassure our hearts in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us,                                     because (1) God is greater than our hearts, and (2) God knows all things.”

 

Motivation for Prayer (Vs 21-22)

Take on the nature of the Father

Love what God loves, Hate what God hates

Union between Faith and Love (Vs 23)

Cannot believe without loving

Cannot love without believing

Abiding in God, and God in us (vs 24)

Not human effort

By the Spirit

LIFE APPLICATION

Confidence in God frees us to love.

Loving each other is reassuring evidence that we are in the truth.

Living a Balanced Life Week 10 (Teaching Outline)

Living a Balanced Life

(An In-Depth Study of First John)

Week 10

Commentary

Loving the Brothers and Sisters

1 John 3:11-18

 Outline

To genuinely love someone is to forget about self. The thought that connects this week’s text and the preceding paragraph that we studied last week comes in 1 John 3:10. “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”  The first clause of that verse sums up the previous paragraph (3:4–10) in which John argued that a lifestyle of righteousness, or of not sinning, is the essential evidence of being a child of God, indwelt by the very seed of God (v. 9), increasingly sharing the nature of him in whom there is no sin (v. 5). On the other hand, a lifestyle of habitual, persistent, unrepentant sin is clear evidence of being not a child of God but a child of the devil, sharing the nature of him who has been sinning from the beginning (v. 8).

Verse 11 begins with the conjunction “for” and shows that in John’s mind verse 11 is the foundation of the idea in verse 10. Verse 10 makes the shift from the idea of practicing righteous in general to loving your brother specifically. The reason he can make that shift is that the command to love one another was what his readers had heard from the beginning. The moral imperative for Christians to love one another was at the heart of the apostolic gospel. And it still is. From the very beginning, from the very first time they heard the gospel, John’s readers knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what God would expect. God expects it only because God empowers it. What God empowers John’s readers to do is both simple and profound; love your brother.

Doctrine is of the essence of the gospel—doctrine about the character of God; about human sin; about the mediator, Jesus Christ, who is the God-man; about his life, death, and resurrection to forgive the sins of his people and give them eternal life; about the need for a personal response of faith to appropriate the work of Christ into one’s own life. But it is equally true that the essence of the gospel includes the moral imperatives of repentance and of a new life of love lived under the lordship of Christ and empowered by his Spirit. Any gospel you believe, any gospel you proclaim that does not include both doctrine and ethics (truth and love) is only half a gospel, totally out of balance, radically distorted, hopelessly deficient. Both doctrine and ethics are at the heart of the gospel because they are so inextricably linked. Therefore, righteous living void of love is hollow religion. This section of text calls for balance in a way that is not optional in relation to salvation.

Message Heard from the Beginning (vs 11) 

Simple message – “love one another”

Profound in its essence – no Gospel without it; vs 3:10

Old Commandment – Love vs 2:7-10

Walking in the Light, free to love

Lifestyle of Love (vs 14) 

Proves we move from death to life

14a – love the “brethren”

14b- love for all

A lifestyle of love is a matter of life or death

Either Love or Murder (vs 15)

Matter of love or hate, life-giver or murderer (no one sits the fence)

John learned from Jesus (Matthew 5:21-22)

Example of Cain (vs 12-13)

Original account – Genesis 4 Cain murders Able

Able sacrificed in faith – Hebrews 4:11

Darkness wants to murder Light (1 John 3:19-20)

Example of Christ (vs 16)

We know love because we have seen love

  • Great Sacrifice
  • Meets our deepest needs
  • Had the greatest possible motive

LIFE APPLICATION

Allowing the worlds goods to be a vehicle of love not a source of pride

Allowing our eyes to “see” needs

Being righteous without love is a good definition of Religion. So, Religion is Rules without Relationship. Here is the illustration of Religion vs Gospel:

RELIGION: I obey-therefore I’m accepted.

THE GOSPEL: I’m accepted-therefore I obey.

*******

RELIGION: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity.

THE GOSPEL: Motivation is based on grateful joy.

*******

RELIGION: I obey God in order to get things from God.

THE GOSPEL: I obey God to get to God-to delight and resemble Him.

*******

RELIGION: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or my self, since I believe, like Job’s friends that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life

THE GOSPEL: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while he may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.

*******

RELIGION: When I am criticized I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a ‘good person’. Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.

THE GOSPEL: When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a ‘good person.’ My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ. I can take criticism.

*******

RELIGION: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work. Or how moral I am, and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. I disdain and feel superior to ‘the other.

THE GOSPEL: My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for His enemies, who was excluded from the city for me. I am saved by sheer grace. So I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace I am what I am. I’ve no inner need to win arguments.

Living a Balanced Life Week 9 (Teaching Outline)

Living a Balanced Life

(An In-Depth Study of First John)

Week 9

Commentary

Sin and the Christian

1 John 3:1-10

 Outline

“You are what you eat.” This idiom has been around for centuries. In a culture focused on health and nutrition its meaning is clear; take in healthy food, be healthy. Of course, no one would say that just because you eat healthy you will never get sick. Most of the people in my immediate family eat healthy but all of us are prone to colds and flu on occasion. However, when a family member does catch a cold, recovery time is quick. A healthy body has a strong immune system. To be a member of a health conscience family is to be influenced, educated, and conformed to a healthy lifestyle.

In much the same light, John presents a section of text focused on the Christian and sin. To open the discussion, family is the main point. Listen to John’s opening comment, “Look at the sort of love the Father has given us!” (vs 1) This family is centered on the greatness of the Father. In particular, the love of the Father is in view when it comes to His greatness. In this great love, God has called us his children. To understand the meaning of being “born again” into the family of God, is to understand the lifestyle of righteousness. John states plainly, “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” (vs 6) John, or any other Biblical author, can make this type of statement casually. John genuinely believes that the love of the Father has done much more than simply save us from sin.

John knows that to be in the family of God, God MUST be in the family. John refers to this as each and every child having the seed of God inside.  “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” (vs 9) In other words, something in this adoption into God’s family goes far beyond earthly adoption. If I find a child and want to take him into my home, I cannot cause the child to be born again. I take him and I love him with the personality and temperament that he has from his biological parents. I influence with love, but I do not get into the very nature of the person and change it. But God does. The love that John has in view here in verse 3 is not the love that merely takes care of paper work and adopts. John sees it as much more. God moves in, by his Spirit, his seed, John calls it, and imparts something of himself to us, so that we take on a family resemblance.

This is the foundation from which John will submit the remainder of his argument. God’s children, though sometimes found in sin, do not live a lifestyle of sin. To be at home with God means to be at home with the very nature of God. John returns to the concept that the child of God will behave in a manner that is similar to his Father’s nature. The one who is “born of God” will not continue in sin.

Children of God (vs 1-3) 

Beyond Rescue

Beyond Adoption

Children of God are:

  • Led by the Spirit of God
  • Lights in the world
  • Heirs of All Things

False Teachers (vs 4-7)

Jesus come in the flesh (vs 7)

  • False teachers disconnect Spirit and flesh (4:1-3)
  • False teachers- you can be righteous yet do no righteousness (vs 4-7)
  • Yet humanity has been folded into the Godhead forever

The Reason the Son of God Appeared (vs 8) 

Destroy the works of the devil

The works of the devil are sins

Sin is lawlessness (rebellion)

How did the Son of God destroy the devils works? (vs 8-9)

His appearing (life, death, resurrection; the Gospel)

New Birth (You must be born again, John 3:3-7)

The Gospel and not sinless perfection

Vs 9 “makes a practice of sinning”

Remember verses 8 and 10 from chapter 1

LIFE APPLICATION

Presumption – lukewarm toward sin

Despair – works will never be good enough to prove I’m born of God

Run to the Advocate