Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sundays in the Study BS12-001


“Introduction to the First Epistle of John”
(Part I)


The Appetizerlet’s stimulate interest

·        Why do writers open their books with introductions?
·        What are the components of a good introduction?
·        Has a good introduction caused you to read a book?
·        Has a bad introduction stopped you from reading a book?

The Adaptation – let’s adapt the appetizer to our lesson

Tonight and over the next two Wednesday evenings, I intend to introduce to you a letter written over 2,000 years ago by a man named John in order to properly understand and apply the divinely inspired material contained in this letter.

The Argument – let’s discover the main idea of our lesson

This letter was written by the Apostle John to the churches of Asia under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit around AD 85-90 for the spiritual welfare of God’s children. Therefore, it needs to be carefully studied, learned, and applied by each one of us today.

The Aim – the change you need to make as a result of this lesson

I challenge you to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of this letter so as to make application in your daily walk with Christ. 


INTRODUCTION

To set the table and to prepare for the delicious and nutritious banquet given to us by Christ through John, we will take tonight and next week, Lord willing as our introduction to this letter.

[First, let’s open an …]

A.   Invitation to Study this Letter

1.     This letter has always been loved by the Christian Church

2.     This letter is filled with profound thoughts expressed in simplistic expression

3.     This letter is both reflective and practical for your daily life in Christ

4.     This letter was written to reassure and further develop Christians in their faith

5.     This letter needs to be studied deeply, meditated on intently, and loved dearly

6.     This letter is concerned with the fundamentals of Christian theology

7.     This letter was written by an old man who had pastoral charge over a number of churches. (Probably the churches in Asia)

So, there are a number of reasons that invite us to study this letter.

[Let me give you some…] 

B.   Information to Substantiate This Letter

1.     A crisis had arisen in a church due to the rise of false teachers

2.     It seems these false teachers have left the church by this time

“They went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” (I John 2:19)

3.     These false teachers were still in contact with the members of one of or all of the churches that John was responsible for

4.     These teachers were challenging the character of Christ and they challenged whether John’s people were Christians at all

a.     They claimed to have true fellowship with God

b.     The claimed to be sinless

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness , we lie and do not practice the truth…if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us…If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (I John 1:6, 8, 10)

c.      They said they actually knew God and no one else did

“Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him… (I John 2:4)

d.     They claimed to live in the “light”

“Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” (I John 2:9)


e.      They did not believe that Jesus was the Christ or that He was the Son of God.

“Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the anti-Christ, he who denies that Jesus is the Christ.” (I John 2:22)

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.” (I John 5:1)

“Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (I John 5:5)

f.       They denied that Jesus actually came in the flesh or was born as a man

“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the anti-Christ, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.” (I John 4:2)

g.     They did not accept nor obey Jesus commands.

“Whoever says I know him but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him… (I John 2:4)

This is serious! You cannot say that you know Jesus Christ or that you are a Christian and not obey God. Living sinfully and rejecting the commandments of God proves that you do not know God and it proves that you are not a Christian. 

h.     They seemed to live their life for their own sensual/pleasure

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (I John 2:15-17)
i.       They apparently lacked love, brotherly love

Wow, these guys were bad news! They challenged the very character and core of Jesus Christ by challenging his teachings.

They claimed to have true fellowship, to be sinless, that only they knew God, that they lived in the real light, they didn’t believe Jesus was the Christ from God, they denied he even was a man born in the flesh, they refused to accept his commandments and obey them, they lived for all the pleasure and sensuality that they could find and they were not very loving. Sound like anyone you know? Hope not! Do you wonder why John wrote this letter?

Let’s wrap up this section on the information that substantiates this letter:

·        John must deal with these false teachers and shut them down before they pollute the churches and lead precious sheep astray

·        John is dealing with a very definite system of teaching that spread and opposed the teachings of Jesus

·        The church is under attack by a formidable enemy and adversary

·        John must defend and demonstrate the Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah

We are just setting the stage by way of introducing this letter so that we can understand what John means. We have seen an invitation to study this letter and now we have seen some information that substantiates the need for this letter.

Now, let’s finish tonight by looking at some…

C.   Implications to Supplement this Letter

[There are at least four implications I want to look at before we call it quits tonight. The first implication to consider is…]

1.     There is no reference to persecution in this letter.

a.     Problems – are not mentioned or even referenced

b.     Persecution – are not mentioned

c.      Pain

2.     There is a marked absence of references to comfort or consolation.

This leads us to believe that things were not too bad for the church and believers at the time John wrote. This was probably just before John was arrested and put into a pot of boiling oil to die. We know he did not die and was banished to the Island of Patmos where he received the Revelation of Jesus Christ for the seven churches in Asia.

This letter is to combat false teaching and not to confront or console pain from persecution.

3.     The real danger seems to be in the attitude of the recipients toward:

a.     The world – they were beginning to love it

This diminishing enthusiasm and developing love-affair with the world was making them more and more susceptible to what we call “worldliness.”  So John warns his readers about loving the world and the things in it. 

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world.” (I John 2:15-16, ESV)

b.     The Christian faith – they were questioning its validity

A.   E. Brooke wrote this about their attitude,

“The enthusiasm of the early days of the Faith is no longer theirs. Many of them had been brought up as Christians, and did not owe their faith to a strong personal conviction or experience.” [1]

Brooke’s is saying that a spiritual laxity with some internal squabbling had developed into a lackadaisical attitude among the Believers. They weren’t as steadfast in their fellowship with God and with each other as they once were.

CONCLUSION

Tonight we looked at three basic areas that will help us understand and apply this letter.

We looked at some material that would invite us to study this wonderful letter.

We looked at some pertinent information that set the stage that leads to our understanding this letter.

We looked at some implications that are derived from this letter for our benefit.

Because of this…

… this letter written by the Apostle John to the churches of Asia under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit around AD 85-90 for the spiritual welfare of God’s children needs to be carefully studied, learned, and applied by each one of us today.

I challenge you to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of this letter so as to make application in your daily walk with Christ.

So, let me share three insights for you to chew on this week:

1.     The danger of growing lax in our walk with Christ is constantly present – therefore, we need to avail ourselves of every resource we can in order to remain faithful and steadfast

2.     The danger of false teachers leading us astray is very real and very destructive – therefore, we need to know the truth in order to guard against the false

3.     The delight of our Father was to preserve for us this letter for our benefit – therefore, we need to read, study, meditate, and apply the truths that are contained in this letter.


[1] A. E. Brooke, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Johannine Epistles, International Critical Commentary, pp. ii-iv

1 comment:

Annmarie Pipa said...

I just love learning and thinking about this !!