Living a Balanced Life Week 18 (Teaching Outline)

Living a Balanced Life

(An In-Depth Study of First John)

Week 18

Commentary

Final Things

1 John 5:18-21

 Outline

As John’s letter to the church comes to a close the question of how to live a more balanced life comes into clear focus. John never addresses the clock or the calendar. He never offers self-help type advice toward dividing your time between family and career. As we have discovered through our journey of First John, true meaningful change in our lives together can never be achieved without addressing the Son of God; the Gospel.

John taught us that balance begins with the truth. Without the truth we never deal with reality. Those who had left the church did so because they strayed from what they heard from the very beginning; the apostolic doctrine regarding Christ.  Without the truth, these individuals found themselves in the wrong place at all the wrong times. If we live without the truth we too will be out of balance with no hope, no matter how much we tinker with our calendars and attitudes.

Establishing that foundation, John utilizes the rest of the letter laying the track on which a balanced life, like a train, moves forward. Like parallel rails fit for a locomotive, two rails run all the way though this letter; assurance and vigilance. John offers absolute assurance to everyone who is found walking in the light. The main idea of First John can be summed up like this: Assurance of eternal life—based on obedience—empowered by love for God. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life” (5:13). “We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brethren” (3:14). “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe his commandments; for this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (5:2, 3). John’s threefold thrust is assurance of eternal life, conditioned upon obedience, empowered by love for God.

Love for God, allegiance to God, trust in God is the heartbeat of this great letter, and balance for life is found only in these things. God’s commandments are not burdensome to obey if you love him. If you delight in his promises to do you good and trust that he is real and genuine toward you, then doing what he commands will be the very thing you want to do. Being sure of this, we trust that he will never command us to do anything that will be for our ruin. He only commands us to do what is best for us. A recurring theme that weaves its way throughout Scripture from Genesis to Revelation goes like this, “You shall walk in all the way which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it maybe well with you” (Deuteronomy 5:33). If you love God, if you trust that it will be well with you, obeying God’s commandments will not be burdensome, but the very thing you want to do.

So it is no surprise after all this, John would leave these words ringing in his readers ears: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” There are mighty strokes of assurance as we close this letter. There are also stern warnings to remain vigilant in a world under the control of the evil one.

God Our Rescue (vs 18)

Foundation :

  • Eden (Genesis 3:16)
  • Noah and the Ark (Genesis 7:1)
  • Exodus (Exodus 2:23-25)
  • God’s Name (Proverbs 18:10)
  • Job (Job 19:25)

The Child of God:

  • Protected by Jesus
  • Does not continue in sin
  • Satan cannot touch

Two Kingdoms (vs 19)

The Kingdom of God

  • God is greater (1 John 4:4)
  • Victory is already won (John 12:31)

The Kingdom of Satan

  • Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor. 4:3-4)
  • Satan snatches the Word away from hearers (Matthew 13:4-19)
  • Satan does deceptive signs and wonders (Matthew 24:24)

Assurance Grounded in Christ (vs 20)

Given us understanding

We know the truth 

Reject Falsehood (vs 21)

Idolatry – Valuing any thing or person more than God.

LIFE APPLICATION

Balance is achieved by changing values

Values change only when the heart changes

Only the touch of God changes a heart

Living a Balanced Life Week 17 (Teaching Outline)

Living a Balanced Life

(An In-Depth Study of First John)

Week 17

Commentary

Abundant Life, Prayer and the Word

1 John 5:14-17

 Outline

During one of Jesus’ conversations with the religious leaders in Jerusalem he presented them with this purpose statement: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  (John 10:10b) Eternal and abundant life is a profound promise. In order to live this life Jesus called abundant, one must be certain about the status of their relationship with the Savior.

In the verses just prior to this week’s text, John delivers the good news of the certainty of eternal life. If you are a child of God you are certain of eternal life. If your life is being lived in the light, in the likeness of Christ, loving unconditionally and giving sacrificially you can be certain that your real home, your eternal home is the Kingdom of God!

Now John gives us a look at another major aspect of our abundant life in Christ; God hears our prayers! To many American Christians, prayer is much like a Christmas list. Like letters to Santa, their prayers are simply lists of stuff they ‘know’ will make life better. They treat prayer as if it were the little bell one uses to call the butler to come fluff their pillow. Prayer never informs God. It is never the case that something is happening in our lives that God is to busy or distracted to see. Jesus taught us that God knows what we need even before we ask. (Matthew 6:8)

On rare occasions, we see accounts of people praying and God changing the course of their lives. Examples include Hezekiah’s prayer by which God extended his life by 15 years. (Isaiah 38:5) Jesus taught His disciples to pray and not give up. (Luke 18:1-8) However, the overwhelming conclusion one sees in all of Scripture regarding prayer is that prayer changes us. When John states that we receive whatever we ask in prayer he doesn’t leave us with the understanding that sinful requests will be delivered. There is a condition in this promise. If we ask ‘according to His will’ God hears us. (vs 14) And we can only ask according to His will if our will comes into alignment with God’s. This is one of the most amazing results of prayer. As we pray, we begin to hear and understand God’s will. In other words, prayer is less like a bell to call for the butler, and more like a war-time walkie-talkie. When the sergeant radios headquarters to report that the battle is getting intense, he is strengthened and renewed when he hears the General’s reply; “Stand firm, we almost have them surrounded, victory is minutes away!” Prayer changes us.

Prayer is Confidence (vs 14-15) 

  • Intimate relationship (1 John 4:16)
  • Our wills align (with God)
  • Members of the Family doing the will of the Father

Prayer is Power (vs 16-17)

  • Prayer is to the Christian as Spinach is to Popeye (Joshua 1:6)
  • Importance of Family [Body of Christ]
  • Prayer’s power over a Brother’s sin
  • Don’t waste prayer? [on sin that leads to death]
  • ALL wrongdoing is sin [sin is not defined by government or culture]

LIFE APPLICATION

Life Balance is always attained by Truth

Prayer and the Word is the ONLY source of Truth

The ONLY way not to live dirty and stupid is Prayer and the Word

Prayer and the Word is a means of Grace obtained in private AND in corporate

Living a Balanced Life Week 16 (Teaching Outline)

Living a Balanced Life

(An In-Depth Study of First John)

Week 16

Commentary

Testimony

1 John 5:6-13

 Outline

What do you believe? This question is common. It is nearly always asked during every religious conversation. Whether the question is focused on the existence of God, or what really matters about a relationship with God, or how God fits in popular culture, people are curious about your opinion. In every case, you give testimony regarding what you believe to be true. Most Christians I know are eager to share the Gospel just as we are instructed by the Great Commission.

However, receiving the opinion of fellow humans should only be valued by the limited knowledge from which they were formed. Case in point: My grandson is four. He loves trucks. He can tell you a great many facts about trucks. He spends a great deal of his time each day at play with a whole fleet of them; fire trucks, dump trucks, semi trucks, and many, many more. He knows what they are used for and what type of people drive them. If I were going to start a construction company and wanted to purchase an excavator, I wouldn’t ask my grandson’s opinion as to which excavator to buy. He has no ‘real’ experience with excavators. His opinion will most likely be based on very limited and bias facts.

I think it is safe to say that most opinions about God held by those around us, of which we ask opinion of, are nearly as limited and bias as my grandson’s opinion of excavators. That being said, I think a better question than… “What do you believe?” …would be… “What does God say about Himself?”  An exciting thought about responding to a friend’s inquiry about God is the fact that God does give testimony about Himself. In our text, John records the testimony of God regarding His Son. There is not only one witness regarding Jesus, but three; the Water, the Blood, and the Spirit. These three witnesses are not only completely reliable but they are in total agreement.

As a Christian, this understanding of God’s testimony about His Son enables me to give the best answer possible to the question “what do you believe?” After all, I never need rely on my opinion. I never have to answer that question by beginning, “I think”…  The point of our text is to give every Christian the proper testimony about God and His Son. God loves us and has revealed Himself to us through His Word. God states clearly and to the point about having a proper relationship with Him (the Father) through Jesus (the Son).

John has again stressed the importance of believing in Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah. Eternal life is not possible apart from such belief. The words of Jesus once again ring true, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Testimony Concerning the Son of God (vs 6-8)

Water – Jesus’ Baptism (Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22, John 1:32)

Blood – Jesus’ Crucifixion (Matthew 27:50-54)

Spirit – Pentecost (Acts 2:22-33)

Testimony of Men and God (vs 9-10)

  • Testimony of God is greater
  • Testimony of God is the only truth
  • To accept another testimony is to call God a liar

Eternal Life (vs 11-13)

  • God’s testimony is eternal life through the Son
  • One way of Redemption (Salvation) (John 14:6)
  • God’s testimony offers assurance

LIFE APPLICATION

God testifies for Himself perfectly, no need for “I think” attitude

Our assurance rests on the testimony of God the Father toward the Son of God

Goal of the Son of God:

Liberate His people

Glorify His name

Living a Balanced Life Week 15 (Teaching Outline)

Living a Balanced Life

(An In-Depth Study of First John)

Week 15

Commentary

The Commands of God are not a Burden

1 John 5:1-5

 Outline

I have two wonderful grandsons. One is four years old, the other two. One of my favorite times together is “the walk”. Together we walk through the neighborhood, along sidewalks and lakeside paths, in a process of discovery. The world is a fascinating place for toddlers. Both are finally past the stage of exploring everything with their mouth. However, nothing escapes their watchful eye. Consequently, everything the eye sees the hand wants to touch.

The world is filled with thorn and thistle, claws and fangs. My neighborhood is no different. As you can imagine, I spend a majority of our time along the journey barking out commands. “Don’t get too close”, “that’s very sharp, don’t touch”, “that duck will bite you!”; well, you get the idea. My love for them is so intense that allowing them to get hurt is unthinkable. However, not even ‘Grandpap’ is perfect.

My youngest grandson fell in the lake. After countless dissertations regarding water safety, a thousand instructions on how to hold tight and not get too close, my grandson, with all the skill of a gymnast, unlocked from my hand with a leap into a perfect hand stand and performed an Olympic style half gainer right into the lake. Only inches from his diving platform, I was able to quickly fish him out. But not before he was completely submersed and completely soaked. The air was cool that day and the water much cooler. Needless to say, he emerged screaming at the top of his lungs. Being submersed in that cold “ucky” water was not his idea of a good time. Several weeks have pasted since the “incident”, and my grandson still blames me for the whole ordeal.

One thing has changed; my grandson no longer sees my commands to stay away from the lake’s edge a burden. As a matter of fact, he rarely leaves the sidewalk while exploring the lake area. He remembers what it is like to be soaked and scared. He now understands my commands as loving and safe. (at least as far as the lake is concerned)

John begins to unfold a new idea for his readers. Loving God is about keeping His commands. That thought is nothing new. However, John now states that keeping the commands of God is not a burden for those of have been born of God and are people of faith. There is something about commands and love that cause those who know God to see them in perfect harmony; perfect balance. John teaches his readers that ‘love-prompted’ obedience to God’s commands is not a burden to His child. Simply stated, the commands of God draw us near to the Father and cause us to live like Christ. None of the commands are meaningless laws that do not affect the heart.

The Test of Genuine Love (vs 1)

If you love God, you must love your brother (4:20-21)

Born of God (those who believe Jesus is the Christ) (vs 1)

If you love the Father you love the Children of the Father (vs 1)

A New Look at Love (vs 2-3)

How can you know if your love is genuine toward people?

By loving God:

  • Keep commandments
  • Commandments are not a burden

Overcoming the World (vs 4-5)

What kind of person doesn’t consider God’s commands a burden?

  • Born of God
  • Victory by faith
  • Truth regarding Jesus

LIFE APPLICATION

True love never departs from the commands of God

To love someone is to move them closer to the commands of God

The commands of God are never a burden, and we are never found apologizing for them

Living a Balanced Life Week 14 (Teaching Outline)

Living a Balanced Life

(An In-Depth Study of First John)

Week 14

Commentary

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

1 John 4:13-21

 Outline

Today’s text deals with a subject that is relevant to every person on planet earth. I have never spoken with anyone who has even remotely said something like this; “I want to have more anxiety and less confidence in my life.” As a matter of fact, at least one of the reasons given by most people for going to college or technical training is to achieve confidence in what they do. Most believe deeply that proper education and training will drastically reduce anxiety and give bold confidence in the workplace. In other words, what you have learned will manifest itself in your occupation. When having a degree in accounting proves itself, in real corporate life, by accomplishing the balancing of the books, one would describe that as an education becoming complete. Once you have experienced education manifesting itself in the workplace and successfully accomplishing its intended goal, fear is gone. You know that next month you will be able to do the same great job with the books. You have confidence!

Everyone wants to have confidence. Everyone wants to be rid of fear. The Apostle John wants the same things for all his readers. John offers everyone confidence on the ‘day of judgment’ in whom love is perfected. Of course, John is not speaking of sinless perfection; that would contradict previous chapters. The word John uses best fits our understanding of ‘complete’ or ‘accomplished’. In other words, John is stating the fact that everyone who abides in God does so by God’s Spirit, and it is by the Spirit that love is perfected in our lives. So love is perfected when it’s not just talk. Love is perfected when love moves into action. When love reaches its goal, which is to love the children of God, John says it’s complete or perfect. A proper way to summarize verse 17 from our text would be: “When you love someone with more than just talk, when the love of God manifests itself in action, you will experience an unshakable confidence before God.”

Christ-likeness is the result of abiding in God, and God in us, by the Spirit. Our text, in a way, asks the following rhetorical question: “Who would lack confidence or be in fear of judgment when we look very much like the Son of God?” Of course, compared to Jesus, all fall short. However, John states that everyone who has forgiveness of sins by the Blood of Jesus will be found walking in the light. (1 John 1:7) The Blood of Jesus atones for our sins, AND experiencing a certain “walk”, namely love in action, confirms the genuineness of our faith.  John is calling all his readers that have placed their faith in Christ alone and are experiencing the love of God manifesting itself by God’s Spirit toward others to rejoice with confidence and cast out fear.

The Spirit in us (vs 13)

  • We know we abide in God by perfected love (vs 12)
  • We testify the Son of Son is Savior (vs 14-15)
  • We know the love of God (vs 16)

What abiding does (Vs 17)

Perfected Love

  • When love reaches its goal (mission accomplished)
  • From internal and subjective to external and objective

Confidence for the day of judgment

  • Love not in word or speech but in deed and truth (3:18-19)
  • Theme of John’s letter (3:14)

Christ-likeness

  • Having the Spirit of Jesus
  • God doesn’t condemn His Son or those like Him

He first loved us (vs 19)

  • We don’t love our way into God’s favor

We rest in God’s favor and then we love

  • No confidence from being good enough

But confidence in abiding in God

LIFE APPLICATION

Our normal lifestyle is always more than just talk

Living a life of love we never consider punishment

The only way to cast fear from life is to love

Working out a lifestyle of comfort always makes one fear

 

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