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1 John

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More Than Eye Witnesses

1 John 1:1

By the time the Apostle John wrote this letter he was an old man. He had been imprisoned on a convict island: most, if not all, of his fellow apostles had died violently. Persecution threatened the church. And yet the church grew. Then false teachers undermined the gospel with heresy. Yet John was not shaken! He knew that Jesus really was God who had come as a human to atone for the sins of the world. So he writes this letter to scattered groups of Christians to help them stay close to Jesus, reject false teaching and tell others about Him.

Eternal Life is a Person

1 John 1:2-4

By the time the Apostle John wrote this letter he was an old man. He had been imprisoned on a convict island: most, if not all, of his fellow apostles had died violently. Persecution threatened the church. And yet the church grew. Then false teachers undermined the gospel with heresy. Yet John was not shaken! He knew that Jesus really was God who had come as a human to atone for the sins of the world. So he writes this letter to scattered groups of Christians to help them stay close to Jesus, reject false teaching and tell others about Him.

Fellowship in the Light

1 John 1:5-7

John started his letter saying that God is life, eternal life, and that a living fellowship with God is only possible when we receive His eternal life. Now John says that God is light. He is the light-giver (Genesis 1:3) but He is more than that, He is light. As Hebrews 1:3 says, "The Son is the radiance of God's glory", so God is light and Jesus Christ makes that light visible to us. It was physically true at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:2).

The Cure for Sin

1 John 1:8-10

Most human beings like to think that they are right, and in the right with everybody else, especially God. That is how God designed us to be and such relationships are a template of heaven. However we are not like that all the time. So how do we cope with the tension between our creation design to be righteous and the reality of our unrighteousness?

Our Advocate in Heaven

1 John 2:1-2

John is writing to God's children, people who have put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:12). And yet the apostle refers to them as 'my children'. This was an affectionate term for those who looked to him for guidance as they learned to be disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:19); but John did not claim to be their father because Jesus had said, "… do not call anyone on earth 'father', for you have one Father, and He is in heaven" (Matthew 23:9).

Love Leads to Obedience

1 John 2:3-6

Love is not primarily an emotion. We may feel lovingly towards someone or experience the emotional warmth of another's love, but love is much deeper and more active than the way we feel. True love is always expressed in action; like God's love was shown by giving His Son to be our substitutionary sacrifice. The believers who John was addressing were being caught up by Gnostic teaching which claimed that if you have a special religious formula and mental attitude you can know God: but John said you do not need a formula – you need love and obedience.

New Expressions of Eternal Love

1 John 2:7-8

Love is the desire to give ourselves to another. Love cannot be invented from nothing; it is a cascade which starts with God. It is at the heart of the Godhead, because God is love (1 John 4:8). The Father loved the Son and gave Him authority over everything (Ephesians 1:22). God loved the world by giving His Son (John 3:16). The Son loved us by willingly giving His life for us (Ephesians 5:2). So you see that the only reason we can love is that He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

Loving in Light v Hating in Darkness

1 John 2:9-11

Many different sorts of people meet together in churches. How do you know those who are truly walking with Jesus? John sets the test of brotherly love: those who claim to be 'in Christ' are 'in the light' and should love their brothers and sisters who are also 'in Christ'. Through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ they have been made children of God – and have a blood relationship which should be cherished.

The Family of God is Secure

1 John 2:12-14

As John wrote this letter to point out the errors of false teaching, he also wanted to assure the true believers that they were safe in God. Those who want to be closest to the Lord have a heightened conscience and often feel themselves to be the greatest failures. So John was quite direct and emphasised his commendation of them by repeating the reasons for his confidence in their faith.

False Love

1 John 2:15-17

Love is the central theme of this letter. To love, is to freely give yourself to somebody or something; you become their willing servant. It is right to serve God and other people in Jesus' Name. It is what we are designed to do. However the way of the world is to seduce us into giving ourselves to people, things and ideas in a way that Jesus cannot honour.

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