Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bible Study 1 John Chapter 5 Identity & Overcoming Power

This is the last chapter of 1 John and John is summarizing the key points.

Qualifications to be Children of God
Whoever believes in Jesus as the Christ (Messiah, 1Jn 5:1), as he Son of God has eternal life (1Jn 5:13). That is all there is. Just believe. So easy. You don't need to be highly educated to understand it. You don't need to do anything good to earn it.  Good acts will come later. It comes by first receiving Jesus who paid the penalty and gave us the new godly life.

Evidence for our Faith
John is not asking us to believe in hearsays but in true evidences of blood, water and Spirit (1Jn 5:6-10). The God in the flesh is testified by John in 1Jn 1:1-3.

How can One be sure?
When we love God by obeying His commandments, we get to know (by reality of experience) Him more and His love for us. John points out that His commandants are not burdensome as others and the devils would like us to believe. James call those commandments the Laws of Liberty. I called them the opened secrets of success in life. See Principles & Insights from the Ten Commandments

A Digression about Laws and the Giver of Laws
There are preachers that tell us to know the author behind the principles rather than the principles themselves which may lead to legalism. Such kind of message is true in one aspect (to love the giver rather than the gifts, the author rather than his/her books) but create distortion in another aspect as if the principles are to be thrown away and not be followed. Such kind of one sided message can be easily exploited to justify sinning (don't follow the laws or principles, follow the author). Not only those messages are misleading, they are shallow and irresponsible. They are emotional charged. They sounded good but really lacked wisdom. How do we truly know the authors without his principles? Aren't the principles a reflection of the character of the author. Let see what Jesus say.
  • John 14:15 If you love me, you will obey my commandments.
  • John 14:21 He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
  • John 15:10 If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; just as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
We know the author of the principles by obeying the principles. By following, we get to experience that the principles are for our good and we may know His love deeper and His wisdom towards us. We don't follow the principles per se for justification. We follow the principles to experience the love and trustworthiness of God. Are God promises true and trustworthy? Are God true to His words? Does His words really work? We can only tell by following and acting them out in faith.

Don't listen to preacher and messages who preach one-sided messages. Truth is holding extremities in balanced or in tension. God is both love and just. There is justice and truth in love and truth has love in it. Get rid of simplistic A or B narrow minded thinking that forces one to take side, create strife and leads to heresies and cults . Any issue is multi-faceted and we need to adopt a better thinking approach. Learn to appreciate the differences and have discernment.

True Children of God Overcome

Children of God overcome three things:
  1. The Devils. Earlier chapter 4 says we have overcome them because of the Holy Spirit in us. 1Jn5:18 says that we are protected by Jesus and devil cannot touch us. We can boldly go out to conquer (Eph 6:15 shoes of gospels, Isa 52:7, Rom 10:15).
  2. The World. Instead of being tempted by the world as in 1Jn 2:16, we leads the world in glorify God. We take leading positions in influencing the Arts & Entertainment, Businesses, Churches & Religions, MeDia & News, Education, Family and Government bringing God's Kingdom practices in them.
  3. The Sins. Does not keep on sinning 1Jn 5:18.
True Children Get their Requests Answered - A Life of Faith in Action
By obeying God's commandments in practice, we get to know the heart and mind of God and we grow in our confidence in Him. We will also get to think and feel like God and will ask things according to His will and get the answers from Him. (1Jn 5:14-15). Fruit of the Spirit takes time to produce. The answer to the request for patience comes in the form of greater irritations and delays. It is not that God did not answer us immediately but that we fail to perceive His answer!

True Children Love their Brothers & Sisters -  They are their Brothers Keepers
A typical tendency we find in churches are the quickness to gossip about the wrong or bad behaviors of brothers and sisters behind their backs but not having the guts to confront their wrong doings. They did not give them a chance to explain themselves. By their gossiping behind their backs they already pass the judgments. This is not what John tell us to do here. We are to ask God first and get guidance to bring life back to him. (We are the likely agent God uses to give life back). God can give revelation to the person so that he can be awaken and face up to his sin. There is much discussion about what the "death" means. I will just take it physical death. Persistent in sinning without repentance will bring forth physical death see 1 Cor 5:5. It is our responsibility to correct our brother in the right ways but we cannot be responsible for his repentance.

Final Summary of the Greatest Truth for Life
John re-summarized the gospel again. Jesus, the Son of God, the Eternal Life, came to us so that we may know Him and have eternal life too. Jesus is the true God and we need not seek other idols. For the present days, the typical idol is money and it could disguise as career. Watch for the warning of 1 John 2:16.

Questions of Reflections & Applications
  1. What do the believers overcome?
  2. What does each overcoming mean?
  3. What difference does it make to your life? How can you reap the benefits?
  4. Give a one line statement of the Good News according to John. 
  5. What are you going to do about the knowledge of the Good News?

No comments: