1 John : The Basics

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The First Epistle (or Letter) of John is an intense and practical letter. It warns about the dangers of false teaching, encourages believers to live lives of obedience to God and to love their brothers and sisters. The books theme also focuses strongly on the fellowship God the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

The Background; for this letter doesn’t give much of hint or identity or location to us other than the fact that they were Christians. Since early church tradition John associates with the Roman province of Asia or Turkey, so it is possible the recipients lived there. What we can gather is whomever the letter was intended to reach it was meant to be an urgent warning against some common misunderstanding of the Gospel of Jesus and other false teaching and doctrines.

The Date; for this letter, because it was written by the apostle John, it would be late in the first century A.D. so from 65-70 A.D.

The Author; is usually indicated as the apostle John because of the first chapter stating that the author had been physically with Jesus during His time on earth. It is very important to understand who John is as we read the rest of the letter, understanding this man’s life and heart will bring more context and sincerity to what he writes.

Do you ever have a nickname growing up? John had a nickname it was “John the Beloved” or “The One Whom Jesus Loved”. It is peppered throughout the gospel where we see John’s nickname appear. We only usually give nicknames to those we love or hate so John was in this inner circle that Jesus only reserved for three; Peter, James and of course John.

John would have been a young man in his 20s possibly 5- 10 years younger than Jesus, when Jesus invited him to “come and follow Me”. He was working a family business with him and his brother and it was an business that would have been passed down from son to son. John forsake it all, his family business, his financial security, his income to be with Jesus and later become one of the founding fathers of our faith. Would we have been as quick to jump on to something like that?

John was with Jesus for three years and he saw with his own eyes, Jesus miracles, teaching, healing of the sick and blind, raising of the dead, casting out of demons, Jesus calming the storm and even Peter walking on water. He would have physically witnessed these things.

Because John was the youngest disciple the relationship between him and Jesus would have been the loving kind of relationship you have between a big brother and a little brother. John was considered his best friend, close alley, his family. John was with Jesus when he died on the cross and told him to take care of Mary his mother as if it was his own mother. John was there to see Jesus’ risen body and his ascension into heaven. John you could say was super AWARE of Jesus life and mission. He saw and felt Christ’s love in a way that we will only be able to understand when we are with Jesus in heaven. Because of this love, John’s life was transformed he would never be the same fisherman again. This was his new identity “The One Whom Jesus Loved”, “The Beloved”.

When we met Jesus did it change us? Did it rock and shape our very identity of who we used to be?

As we read the 1 chapter of 1 John we begin to see some themes take shape.  The first is that of true fellowship! True fellowship with Christ and others brings the fruit of joy.  John describes joy as a gift from God and it is something you experience when you have experienced the transforming life that God gives us. Many Biblical writers like Moses, Solomon, David looked unto the day when they would know of joy (the messiah’s promised coming) and could rejoice. John though writes that we can experience this JOY now. It is based on the expected joy that we have continual fellowship with God the Father and his son Jesus and we no longer have to wait for that blessing. The messianic age is here.

True biblical joy is not just an emotion. Joy is an attitude. Joy is ours. It is available for the taking when we know Jesus. Joy is not dependent on earthly circumstances and life. It is also not substitute for pain and escape from sorrow. Joy doesn’t have to happen until there is the elimination of things that weigh us down or trouble us. Joy comes from a deep trust, a deep hope that no matter what happens in our lives or in this world God has given us eternal life even if we are surrounded by death and destruction around us. There is joy being in the presence of God and sharing together in that experience; God’s love,  His gift of life (salvation) and His presence that completes our joy.

More thought provoking questions and teaching in the slides below

Introduction to 1 John (2)

Keeping it Simple, Not Stupid

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The next series that our Community group will be doing is we will be applying the Inductive Bible study method to 1 John.  The Inductive Bible study method is pretty simple.  It basically is a method that brings you directly to the Word of God apart from another’s understanding or interpretation of the text. It involves observing, interpreting and applying God’s word directly to our lives.

In the slides below you will see the keys that are involved in the process of studying Scripture in this way. To help remember the Inductive Bible study process we will be using the S.O.A.K method in our group as we go through the scriptures. The acronym explanations can be found towards the end in the slides below.

I’ve been leading a Good Morning Girls Bible study group online now for more than a year and this process of S.O.A.K. is what they use. I think is the most simple method to really apply God’s word daily to our lives. I hope this tool will be useful to you as we use this method to study 1 John. Click on the link below for the slide presentation.

S.O.A.K (1)

What Happens When the King Returns? : Parable of the Pounds

 

download 2Jesus and His followers are nearing Jerusalem close to Passover and the rumors and buzzing. “He plans to overthrow Rome!” “He will establish the throne of King David!” “The kingdom of God is here!” The huge groups of Passover pilgrims were already feeling patriotic because Passover is the celebration of the liberation of the Jews from Egypt. Perhaps this Passover the nation will be liberated from Rome!

It was to silence these dangerous ideas that Jesus then tells this parable. Jesus would one day establish his kingdom, but he would first have to go away. The story he tells about this nobleman actually isn’t a new story to the Jews. They had heard a similar story before except this story was based on truth and not fiction. Herod Archelaus (Matt. 2:22) was left part of Herod the Great’s kingdom, but his part had been ratified by Rome. The people hated Archealus because he had promised to be kinder than his father and turned out he was just as wicked if not worse! So a delegation of Jewish leaders went to Rome and protested the approval but Augustus ratified the appointment and Arechelause did become tetrarch of Judea and Samaria . When the Archealus arrived home he rewarded those faithful to him and those who protested, well, they were punished.

Jesus isn’t comparing himself to the wicked ruler and he isn’t talking about setting up his physical kingdom in Jerusalem at this point. Jesus was using the familiar to teach the unfamiliar. Jesus will return someday to establish His kingdom on earth and until that time we are given a job to do. We don’t know when He will return, but we do know He will deal with the three kinds of people we see in His parable; the faithful servants, the unfaithful and the rebellious citizens.  Which one will you be?

Ch.13 The Parable of the Pounds

How Much Will We Get? : Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard

 

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What you and I know about modern labor and management in our society today is going to strangely contradict what we see in this parable. There aren’t any seniority rights, your wages are fixed no matter how long you worked. Some workers only labor an hour and receive a day’s wages!

However we don’t jump to conclusions that Jesus doesn’t know what he is talking about or stretched the truth to make a point. Remember Jesus was a blue collar worker before he began his ministry. Jesus was a carpenter for many years His daily experience was with the laboring man.  Jesus was an observer and he often saw workers waiting in the marketplace to be hired, saw the haggling over wages, the complaining at the end of a hard day.

The main thing you want to understand is that this parable is NOT talking about salvation. To make the penny stand for (a day’s wage) stand for salvation is to miss the whole meaning of the parable. First, nobody works for salvation and second certainly nobody is going to complain about his own salvation or someone else’s. To use the different hours of the day to symbolize ages at which people respond to Christ’s call is wrong. The parable is not telling us how to get saved. Christ is also not dealing with the gaining rewards here either. Rewards are granted to His own on basis of faithfulness and service, check out 1 Cor. 3:8. This is not happening in this parable.

If Jesus isn’t talking about salvation or rewards what is he talking about? He is warning about a wrong attitude in service. This is why we read the Bible in context and in content. If we look at the scripture above, before he tells this parable, we see Jesus addressing concerns of the rich young ruler (Matt. 19:16-30). This rich young man refused to give his all and follow Christ. Peter saw how Jesus talked to and responded to this man and because Peter had left his fishing business and his family and forsake all to follow Christ he had some concerns. He asks Jesus “What shall we have then?”. The Lord’s answer was encouraging, stating they would receive a hundred fold back, (imagine that is 100% return on your investment) and they would share in the thrones in the future kingdom.

But Jesus detected something in Peter. Peter’s question had an underlying attitude of heart that was dangerous. Was Peter only serving the Lord for what he could get out of it? Were the disciples forsaking all only because He had promised them a reward? To counteract this subtle attitude of “What am I going to get?” Jesus told this parable. In this parable Jesus gives several warnings that relate to Christian service. You can view these warnings within our study on the slides here. It’s time for a heart check.

Ch. 12 The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard