a first century letter to 21st century Christians
The Apostle John is an older man when he writes this letter - First John. All of the other original 12 disciples are dead. For about sixty years John witnessed the amazing growth of the church but also saw some of the defections, participated in discussions on issues that threatened to divide the church and he had taught against false teachings/teachers.
John is compelled by God to write this important letter. There is an urgent need to ensure the church remains true to the teachings of Jesus and his gospel. It is vital that all Christians in every generation clearly understand what is the heart/core of the Christian faith and grasp/comprehend the nature of the Christian gospel.
In his letter, the Apostle John distils for us in a series of black and white statements the essence of the Christian Gospel: Jesus is the son of God; Jesus is the Christ/Messiah; Jesus is God come in the flesh; Jesus is the true God and eternal life; Jesus is the propitiation/atonement for our sins, and not only ours, but also for the sins of the whole world; God is love; God is light.
Then there are a series of black and white statements about our response to the Christian Gospel:
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us" [1 John 1:8];
"The man who says, 'I know Jesus,' but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him" [1 John 2:4];
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” [1 John 2:15];
“He who does what is sinful is of the devil” [1 John 3:8];
“This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother” [1 John 3:10];
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” [1 John 1:9].
- Make a list of all the things John writes about God: God the father, Jesus/Christ/Son of God and the Holy Spirit
- Make a list of all the things that genuine Christians do/say
- Make a list of all the things non-Christians do/say
- Make a list of all the warnings John gives
- Underline each time John uses the word love, or light, or darkness
Dr Keith Graham
See under Books 4 U to order a study guide on First John