Jesus and the Johannine Letters

Jesus and the Johannine Letters

Date: 07/04/2009  Lesson: 1
A general look at the contents of 1, 2 and 3 John reveal common authorship and Jesus Christ as the center of the gospel message.
NOTE: If you have a Bible question for Pastor Doug Batchelor or the Amazing Facts Bible answer team, please submit it by clicking here. Due to staff size, we are unable to answer Bible questions posted in the comments.

Please note: Approved comments do not constitute an endorsement by the ministry of Amazing Facts or Pastor Doug Batchelor. This website allows dissenting comments and beliefs, but our comment sections are not a forum for ongoing debate. Please be civil to one another.


Good morning and Happy Sabbath. It is my pleasure to welcome you again to another "central study hour," coming to you from Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church. I hope you've had a wonderful, blessed week and that you are ready to sing songs with us this morning, 'cause we're ready here at central church. And we've been warming up. And now we're ready to join you with some of your favorite requests.

The first one we're going to sing is "a mighty fortress is our God." You'll find that on page 506 in your hymnals. This is a request from rollie and Mark in California, ugo in chile, deonne in grenada, Matthew in Hawaii, sechem and larry in indonesia, John in jamaica, edward in New York, darryl in the Philippines, abel in puerto rico, joyce in saint lucia, coreen in saint vincent and the grenadines, henry in saudi arabia, Pauline, nicole and gillian in trinidad and tobago, emmanuel in uganda, katherine in Virginia and Matthew in Washington. So sing along with us this morning, whether you're listening on the-- listening on the radio, watching on the internet, or on our television networks. Sing along with us, this morning 506, "a mighty fortress," st, 2nd, and 4th verse. [Music] Thank you so much for that request.

And I know that there are many of you who love to sing your favorite hymns with us. We've received requests from so many of you. And we thank you so much for each and every one who have written in and feel that this is their Sabbath school. And I'm glad that you feel that way. And we look forward to singing your favorite requests every week.

Our next one is "watchman, blow the Gospel trumpet," 368, 368. We'll do the 1st, nd, and 4th verse. If you do have a favorite song, you know what to do. Go to our website at saccentral.org. Click on the "contact us" link.

And sing along with us on an upcoming Sabbath, 368. [Music] Father in Heaven, we thank you so much this morning that through you we are free. And I pray that you will give us the courage to shout from the hilltops or wherever we are that you are coming again soon. And father, I just pray that we will each be ready for that day, that we'll put aside the things of this world that are holding us down. And that we will be free in you and that we will be ready to meet you in the clouds of glory.

I pray you'll be with each one who is joining us this morning. And thank you so much for each person that can be here, and those who are joining us from wherever they are. We thank you so much. I pray you'll be with our speaker this morning, that you will give him a message from you for us as we open up Your Word and study together. In Jesus' Name, amen.

At this time, our lesson study is going to be brought to us by our senior pastor here at Sacramento central church, Pastor Doug Batchelor. Thank you very much, debbie and jenny. And it's nice to have our men's choir of the church giving that resonating backup. Want to welcome our friends who are studying with us, watching on television and-- or listening on the internet. Some listen on the radio.

And it's very glad--we're very glad to have you be part of our study today. I'm frequently reminded that we've got a lot of folks who really have no church family. And they have become part of central church, some of our online members. Some of them are on islands in the pacific ocean, where their only link to a church is a satellite. And so we welcome you to be part of central church.

And it's wonderful to hear from these folks. If you'd like to know more about how you can connect, if you have no local church--that's of course the first preference-- that you can attend, then you're welcome to be part of Sacramento central. Just go to saccentral.org. Now of course there is a clearing process. We want to make sure that you understand the foundational truths.

But we'll walk you through that process. And so we'd love to hear from you. This is an interesting Sabbath because we've completed our former quarter's study and we're entering into a new study I'm very excited about, dealing with "loved and loving: John's epistles," "loved and loving: John's epistles." And we'll get into lesson number 1 in just a moment. If you do not have a copy of this quarterly that we use as a springboard for our study, we'd like to encourage and invite our friends that are watching, if you just call up or contact your neighborhood Seventh-day Adventist Church--trusting you have one in your neighborhood or around you--then I bet they'll give you one for free, so you can study along with us. And you just look in the phone book or online, you'll find them.

We have a free offer that we make available during every program. The free offer today is offer number 104. And it's called, "the faithful witness." And it's a book dealing with the dependability of Scripture. If you don't have that, you haven't read it, then we'd like to encourage you to ask for offer number 104. It's called "the faithful witness.

" And we'll send that to you. It's 50% off free if you want to figure that out. We'll be glad to have you study along with us. Alright, let's go ahead and get into our study, lesson number 1 in our new quarter's series of lessons dealing with Jesus and the yohannine or johannine letters. It basically means Jesus and the letters of John.

Now we're not talking about the Gospel of John. John wrote the Gospel of John, the three letters of John, and the book of Revelation. This is not John the baptist; this is John the apostle. He was the younger brother of James. He was a fisherman.

They were friends of Peter and andrew. And it is possible that they were even related to Jesus. Some have wondered if John and James' mother was a sister, or at least a cousin, of mary. And I think I went into that a little more in another Sabbath school lesson, why some scholars wonder about that. Now we're dealing with the three letters that he wrote to the church in this study today.

And principally letter number one. But we're gonna have our memory verse. Our memory verse together, please. John 4:14. This is the new king James version in your quarterly.

Say it with me. "And we have seen and testify that The Father has sent The Son as Savior of the world." It's talking about their personal firsthand witness. "We have seen." Now as we go through our lesson today, this is really an introduction to the letters. And so we're gonna talk a little bit about the history. Hey, for one thing, when you say the name John, you know you've got the yohannine or johannine in your lesson title here, it comes from the Hebrew word, which is yanine, coming from the word yahweh--excuse me--it's the Greek form of the Hebrew name meaning, "yahweh has been gracious or merciful.

" So that's what John's name means. When you name your son, John, it means yahweh has been gracious or merciful. And first thing we want to understand as we dive into this lesson: who wrote it? To whom did they write it? And so we're gonna get into that now: from whom and to whom, the author and recipients of the letter. Alright, it's generally believed that the letter of 1 John and John and 3 John was written by the apostle. Now, if we're gonna examine this letter, there's two ways we look at it.

You look at the evidence on the outside, external evidence, and the evidence on the inside. And based on the external evidence, it's widely believed by the early fathers of the church that John the apostle, the fisherman, is the one who wrote it. And by the way, John was probably the youngest of the apostles that Jesus chose. Some have said that he may have been 15, 16 years old when he began to follow. He was part of the inner circle of Jesus' leadership.

So often when Jesus did something, it says he took with him Peter, James and John. Have you sometimes wondered why didn't it say "Peter, James--" they were brothers--Peter and andrew were brothers and then James and John. One time when it talks about the sermon on the mount, it says those four, the four fishing brothers, Peter, John, James and andrew. But so often, it's Peter, James, and John. Why just the three of them? They ended up becoming sort of the inner leadership of the church.

One time John and James came to Jesus. And they said, "master, we desire--" and their mother came to help 'em out, could be another reason she was a relative. "When you enter into your kingdom, I'd like to request that my two sons sit one at your right hand and one at your left." She was thinking about securing their position in his new cabinet. And Jesus said, "you don't know what you're asking. Are you able to eat the food that I must eat and drink the cup that I must drink? Or you can be baptized with my baptism.

" They said, "oh yes, Lord, we're able." And he said, "you will indeed." And it's interesting that of the apostles, James was the first to die a martyr's death. We're not talking about Judas, 'cause he sort of forfeited his apostleship. And John was the last and the only one to die of natural causes. Probably the letter of John, as near as they can tell, was written somewhere between , 69 b.c., Just before the destruction of Jerusalem. The church fathers believed it was authentic.

It's referred to by polycarp, who actually knew the apostle John in the beginning of the 2nd century. It's quoted by papias, also by irenaeus. Origen says in his writings, "John, besides the Gospel in Revelation," that he wrote, "has left us an epistle of a few lines, grant also a second and a third. For not all do allow these to be genuine." So in the 1st century or the 2nd century, some were beginning to question the authenticity of John and 3 John. But there's plenty of other support for those and we'll get to that later.

All three epistles were received by athanasius, by cyril of Jerusalem, by epiphanius, by eusebius. And he says, "besides his Gospel, his first epistle is universally acknowledged by those of the present time and by the ancients. But the other two are sometimes contradicted." In other words, there were some who questioned John and 3 John. As I said written probably about 68, 69 a.d. Where was it written, or where was it written to? In the latin version, when you read 1 John, many people don't know--i didn't know until I started studying this--that John was formally called the epistle of saint John to the parthians.

Now who are they? Parthian is a region in northeastern iran. And if you read in acts 2:8-- maybe I'll have someone do that for me. Where are microphones? We got microphones? Pancho has a microphone there. Do we got one on this side? You've got one here, brad, alright. Who will look up for me acts 2:8-9? "And how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, medes, elamites, residents of mesopotamia, Judea, cappadocia, pontus and asia.

" Alright, in acts 2, when the Holy Spirit is poured out, it names 16 different language groups. Of those groups, the first one mentioned is the parthians. And so this is believed by some is a group to whom John was writing his first letter. And so the external evidence is very clear that this was written by John. It's accepted widely in history.

There's a lot of books that some have contested, but this is not really one of them. And furthermore, you look at the content now for internal evidence. Matter of fact, I'm gonna do something I've not done before. Just I want to have a little more class interaction. Would you mind, birdie, come up, see if you can squeeze out and oh, who? I need another volunteer.

Would you be willing to read something for me? I'm gonna give you what to read. You can set your Bible down here. Alright, come up here. Tell me your name again. George.

George, I was gonna say that. That's right. Alright. Birdie. Alright.

Tell you what, birdie. See there's two columns here. You get to be the Gospel of John on the right. You get to be 1 John. Now one of the ways we find out who wrote-- oh, you guys need microphones.

Hey--yeah, you can talk into my cheek here. Alright, let's get the other one. There we go. Little detail. Alright, so, what we're gonna do is we're gonna look at content in 1 John and emphasis in John.

When I ask you, I'll say, "I want you to read the first box in 1 John. And then I want you to read what John said in the Gospel of John. Okay? Alright, regarding the word of life becoming flesh, what does John say? "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the word of life." Very good. Now, what does the Gospel of John say about that? John 1:1 says, "in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God." John 1:4, "in him was life, and the life was the light of men." John 1:14, "and the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of The Father, full of grace and truth." Alright, do you notice a comparison there? It emphasizes in both 1 John and the Gospel of John, it's the same author saying the same thing: "Jesus is the word of life. We saw him; we touched him.

" Personal testimony. Alright, what does 1 John say about "keeping my word?" "But whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in him." Okay, and what does the Gospel of John say? John 14:23, "Jesus answered and said to him, 'if anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.'" Alright, do you see the synergy there, that they match each other? Same author. Same thoughts. Same emphasize.

Alright, abiding. What does 1 John have to say about abiding? "He who says he abides in him ought himself also to walk just as he walked." Alright, now what does John say in his Gospel about abiding? John 15:4, "abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me." Does that match? Same emphasize, okay. Love one another. Do we find an emphasize in John? What does he say? "For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

" And how does John put it in his Gospel? In 13:34, it says, "a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another." Now we're just touching on some of these. Let's do one more. There's like 20 that I could go through here. Jesus is the light. What does it say in 1 John? "Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.

" And why don't you go ahead and read 1 John 2:10 also. "He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him." Alright, what's some of the emphasis of the Gospel of John in light? 1:5, "And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." :9, "That was the true light, which gives light to every man coming into the world." And 11:10 says, "but if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." Okay, let's do one more. John, what does it say about children of God? "Behold, what manner of love The Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God." And the Gospel? John 1:12, "but as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in his name." Do you see a harmony between the authors here, the internal evidence that they're similar? Thank you very much, george and birdie. I'll let you keep those. Yeah, if you want.

And by the way, there's a lot more there. We didn't read 'em all. So what the scholars have done is they've gone through the Gospel of John. They've gone through 1 John. And they just see this is the same fella, who has got the same emphasis, the same language, the same loves of truth.

And so based on the internal evidence, the historical, the external evidence, we know that John was written by the same one who wrote the Gospel of John. Alright, let's get back to our lesson here. And I like that--and I want to thank them for doing that--that we were able to get a little back and forth so you could see that. You could also see it through John and 3 John, but we just wanted to use 1 John today. One reason it sometimes is hard to identify John in his letters, he is the most selfless of the apostles, meaning that he never refers to himself.

Somebody read for me John 13:23. And I think I may have given that to somebody. Hold your hand up if you got that verse. John 13:33, hold your hand up, I gotta see you. No? Who'll read it for me then? "Now there was a leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.

" Who is that leaning on Jesus' bosom that Jesus loved? Who is it? It's John. Who wrote that book? Why doesn't he say, "I am-- I was leaning on Jesus' bosom?" All through the book he refers to himself as "the one whom Jesus loved." Very selfless. He doesn't refer to himself. He wants everything to point to Christ. And so, you know, that's one thing--reason you gotta do a little homework or a little detective work when you're looking at 1 John and the Gospel of John is because John's not waving a flag with his name on it.

He's waving a flag with Jesus' Name on it. And so you do a little comparison. And then you can find out who the author is. Now we're gonna talk in the next section here about what. And we talked about whom.

We talked about when. We talked about to who. Now we're gonna talk about what. What is the content of his epistles? When you think about John, he's often called the apostle of what? The apostle of love. Yes.

And he has so much about love. And the statement, "God is love." "Brethren, love one another." So much of that is in the writings of John. But it might surprise you that John is also an apostle of law. He had a lot to say about doctrine and theology. And very strong contrasts were made by John in his writings.

Let me give you an example of a few of those. If you look in 1 John 1:6, it talks about the contrast between light and darkness. Now there's, you know, a boldness in what he says. If you look in 1 John 2:18, and 2 John 7, he talked about Christ and antiChrist. I mean would you say they're opposites? Look at the contrast there.

In 1 John 2:4, he talks about truth and falsehood. We'll say more about that in just a minute. TRuth and lies. Big contrast. He says, you know, he doesn't go for the gray areas, as some do.

He says things are black and white, truth and false, Christ and antiChrist. You're with me, or you're against me. And then if you look in John 4:4-5, he talks about being in God, or being in the world. He says you can't love both. If you look at 1 John 4:6, you get the Spirit of truth and the Spirit of error.

And so this is just a small sample of the contrasts you're gonna see in the writings of John, the letters of John, between right and wrong, truth and error. He draws some very bold, stark lines of doctrine in his letters. Now if you look for instance in 2 John 1, and I'll read this for you, verses 1-4. It ends up being half the book. It's a short letter.

"John, the elder, to the elect lady and her children." Now I'll talk more about this later, but who is the elect lady? Some have wondered, well, you know, maybe he's writing to a household like lydia had a household and there was some lady in the church. But most scholars believe he's referring to the church as a lady. Isn't John also the writer of Revelation where he portrays the true and the false church as two women? You got the lady in Revelation 12 who is the bride of Christ, and then you got that lady in Revelation 17 who's the antithesis of that. She is the great Babylon. So he's writing to the elect lady, the Savior called the elect in the new testament.

He's talking to the church. And her children, the church and her children. That's what it's talking about. By the way, does Babylon have children too? Babylon and her daughters. "Whom I love in the truth," now notice the word "truth" there, "and not only i, but also those who have known the truth, because of the truth which abides in us," there's the word "abiding" again, "will be with us forever: grace, mercy, peace will be with you from God The Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, The Son of The Father, in truth and love.

I rejoiced greatly when I have found some of your children walking in truth." Look at that. "In truth," "the truth," "the truth," "in truth," "in truth." What's the emphasis of that letter? Is there a point that he focuses on? Yeah. It's the truth. Now it's interesting. I was just listening to a tape actually by josh mcdowell yesterday where he was talking about how they interviewed a lot of young people over the course of a few decades, about whether or not there is absolute truth.

And many people used to say there is absolute truth. But as time has gone by, and there's so much relativism. And people are saying, "well, you know, that may be true for you, but this is true for me. And your religion will lead you to God. It's your truth.

And my religion is my truth, and it'll lead me to God." And there's all this relativism. And there's no absolute truth. And people have become more and more wishy-washy about are some things absolutely right and wrong? You're considered intolerant if you say to somebody, "this is the truth." They say, "oh, you shouldn't say it like that. That's not loving." You're supposed to say, "well, I sort of believe this might be right. And what you believe is right for you.

" And there's no right and wrong, because people don't want to call anything sin. Everything wants to be perspective. But according to the Bible and according to the letters of John, there is a truth and there is light and there is right and there is darkness and there is antiChrist. And there is wrong. And he makes it very clear that you can't live in this gray area.

He says, "we've gotta walk in the light." And so this is another point we're gonna find as we look at the letters of John is that he speaks in these very strong absolutes. You know, these letters became very precious to me one time when I was a baby Christian. And I was doing a Bible study with somebody who was saying, you know, "we're saved by grace now. We don't need to keep the law." That, you know, "the law has been nailed to the cross. And that means that we don't need to keep the Ten Commandments anymore.

That's the old letter." And I didn't know what to say. He was pulling out these Scriptures, and I was just a baby Christian. And I'm flipping through my Bible and praying. And all the sudden I opened up John. And I was surprised at how much he had to say about the law and the commandments of God.

And I started reading. And you know, I'd always thought, "oh those are the love letters." But they really have quite a bit to say. "Any man who says that he loves him and keeps not his commandments is a liar." Well, that's not very tolerant to say things that way. But this is that--by the way, not only was he called the apostle of love, Jesus didn't call him that. Jesus called James and John the "sons of thunder.

" I remember this is the brothers that said, "Lord, give us permission. We will call fire down from heaven on the samaritans." And so he did have some very strong opinions. And you'll find that out as we read on in the letters. So we read that there. And then someone read for me John, the Gospel of John 8:32, we just talked about the emphasis of truth.

John 8:32. "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." Alright, there again you see the synergy between the Gospel of John and 2 John now, the emphasis on truth. Alright John 14:6. And we've got that over here. Go ahead les, read that for me.

John 14:6, "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to The Father except through me.'" Okay, and then I think right--we're still on the same side here. John 18:37, or is that you, ray? You've got that over there? I don't know that they're set up for you here, so tell you what, I'm gonna read something for ya. John 1:5-6, "and now I plead with you, lady--" now again, who's the lady? Speaking to the church. "I plead with you, lady, as though I had--as though I wrote you--" I'm sorry.

"And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote you a new commandment, but that which you've had from the beginning: that we love one another. This is love, that we walk according to his commandments. And this is the commandment, as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it." So look at how he's mingling the truth and the commandments and love. Alright, now I want to leave John 18:37. Ray, you ready? Pilate therefore said to him, 'are you a king then?' Jesus answered, 'you say rightly that I am a king.

For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come unto the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.'" Alright, so look at the emphasis he has on truth. You saw it there in the letters of John. You see the same emphasis in the Gospel of John. John's the one who wrote these statements about Jesus.

And then of course pilate asked that question. He didn't wait for an answer. "What is truth?" So Jesus said there was absolute truth. Pilate said what the people are saying today. "Can anyone really know what the truth is? I mean you know how often have we thought something was true and we were deceived.

And so you can't really be sure of anything." There's a--let me, talk about that for just a moment more. There's a period of time when you first come to God and you're studying the Bible that's called a settling into the truth. What that means is that you're growing and you're putting your roots down. And I believe that when you first come to Christ and you're reading the Bible, that you need to have the clay a little softer in your mind. There's a lot of conceptions I had when I began to read the Bible about what the Bible said.

And as I read more, I said, "ooh, I've gotta adjust that. That's not right." For instance, when I first started reading the Bible, I had come out of eastern religions. I believed in reincarnation. I actually thought the Bible taught reincarnation. Because after all, it talked in the Bible about a resurrection.

Isn't that a reincarnation. It's at least one. And so I came to the Bible with this idea that these people in the Bible had been reincarnated. And as I read on though, I thought that was truth. I had to say, "whoa.

I'm way off on that." And so I learned there was a lot of things I'd been wrong about. And so my mind, as I read the Bible, I realized I needed to keep some water in the clay, that it didn't set up too fast, because there was a lot of things I was just wrong about. But then after a while, you can't always be reevaluating your foundation. You need to let the concrete set at some point and say, "I have been through the word several times. And when it comes to these foundational truths, I am settled into the truth.

I'm willing to die for the truth." Because at some point, Christians need to be willing to die for what they believe. Right? If you're unsure of what you believe, then are you gonna die for it? See what I'm saying? You've gotta know that some things are true and they're immovable truths. And you need to be settled into those truths. You don't want to always be walking around and double checking. Just went on a camping trip with the boys and some friends.

Had a truck and a trailer loaded with all kinds of gear and riding toys and really loaded too. Driving, oh, 6, 7 hours out into the desert, long ride, rough roads. When we first loaded up, we were on dirt roads, all this gear, you tighten everything down. I just heard on the news yesterday that there was a traffic problem on 80 because someone lost some camping gear. And the commentator says they're gonna be real disappointed when they get to camp.

We didn't want to be disappointed. So what we did is when we first started down this bumpy road, we stopped. We got out. We walked around the load. We cinched a few things down.

We checked to see if things were gonna blow out or bounce out. Then we went on down the road. A little while later when we stopped for gas, we walked around the load one more time. But you don't want to stop every feet after that and look at your load. You want to make the trip.

Right? And some people are continually walk--they stop. They keep stopping and walking around their load. And they don't get to go anywhere. Somewhere along the way, you can't keep checking the foundation. You gotta say, "alright.

I've got the foundation right. It's square. It's set up. Now it's time to move on and keep building. And there are certain truths that are unchangeable truths that once you nail them down, you need to move on.

You need to be able to defend your faith. You need to be able to say, "no matter what the whole world says, no matter what the whole world does, this is what the word says. This is what I believe to be truth. And I'm gonna take a stand for it and I'm willing to die for it. So you want to settle into the truth.

And John believed that. He believed that you've gotta know what the truth is. And then you've gotta be willing to defend it and take a stand for it. Alright, in 2 John 1:7, Jesus says, "many deceivers--" John says actually, "many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antiChrist.

" So a special message or emphasis that John is dealing with was a theological problem in his day that people were saying, "well, if Jesus rose from the dead, it wasn't really a physical resurrection." Or they were saying, "yeah, God came, but you just--you know, he wasn't a real being. You just thought you saw him. And it was an apparition. It was an epiphany that all these people had." And John is saying, "no, I am an eye witness. And I saw him, and I handled him.

" Keep in mind also what's happening. John is the last apostle alive. By the time of John, there were not too many disciples left. I'm not even talking apostles. I'm saying even disciples.

He outlived most of them, 'cause he started young. And I remember reading about when the last civil war veteran died. And it was before I was born. But what that was like. You know, right now the last world war I veterans are dying.

I don't know if there's any left. John was the last of the apostles. And there were very few disciples, 'cause he lived up to about 100. And so he saw heresy coming into the church about was Jesus real? And he really fought that, and he said, "I touched him. I saw him.

We handled the word of life. We know that he was real. I leaned on his bosom." And so he uses all this language to try and illustrate that it wasn't a theory. It's not a fable. It wasn't an illusion.

He wasn't an apparition or a ghost or a spirit. God came in flesh. And so that's a very important emphasis in his letter. The other emphasis that you find is about love. This is not in the Bible, but one tradition says that as John got old and he was teaching the people, he got to where he could not stand up and preach anymore.

And then he became more and more feeble. And they got where they would bring him up on the platform. And they'd carry him up on a gurney. And he would say, "my little children, love each other." And that would be the extent of his sermon. And they'd carry him off.

And someone in the congregation would shake their head, and say, "ah poor old fella is losing it now." And others would say, "no, he's not." He's just realized, "look, I can't say much. What's the most important thing that I could say to them?" And really, he had it right, because the whole Gospel is summed up in two problems we've got: one is loving God, and the other is loving each other. That's why John emphasizes those two great commandments. And also Paul does. The whole Gospel is summed up in loving the Lord, loving your neighbor.

And so you find a big emphasis on that. Matter of fact, I think I've asked someone to read John 13:34. Who has that? Hold your hand up if you've got that verse that we gave out on a piece of paper, John 13:34? Right here. Okay. Let's get you a microphone.

And while you're getting set up for that, let me read John 15:12. "This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you." How does Jesus want us to love each other? As he loves us. Who here thinks they can love anybody the way Jesus loves? I can't even hardly like some of you, let alone love you the way Jesus loves. Come on, fess up. Don't you sometimes struggle just liking the brethren? Let alone loving 'em! I mean sometimes we feel like we have to endure each other.

And Jesus is saying not only do we have to love each other, we've gotta love the way he loves 'em. How is that possible? Only if he's in us. If we have his spirit in us, we can love each other the way Jesus loves us. Alright, now I gave you John 13:34. Why don't you read that for us? "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you that you also love one another.

" Wow. That's a pretty tall order, isn't it? That we love each other the way Jesus loves us. How can that happen? You know, one thing that comes into my mind is the parable of the unmerciful debtor. I often think about that. You know in Matthew 18.

It tells a parable about a king that finds one of his servants that's squandered his money so that he has lost 10,000 talents, phenomenal sum of money. That's like, you know, bailout-size figures, ,000 talents. A talent was like to 75 pounds. And if it says 10,000 talents, it could have been silver. It could have been gold.

It's an enormous amount of money. And he's lost it. the King forgives him. That same servant goes out and finds a fellow servant that owes the equivalent of like $42, takes him by the throat, throws him in prison to be tortured for $42 that he hasn't paid. And the King then calls in that wicked, unmerciful debtor.

And he said, "look, I forgave you that great, big amount, because you asked me to. I freely forgave you. Shouldn't you also have had mercy on your fellow servant as I had pity on you?" And the Lord is telling us in that when we look at the cross, that's the great debt that God has forgiven us. That's the debt like between the distance between the earth and the sun is 93 million miles. It takes about 8 1/2 minutes for the light to travel from the sun to earth going at the speed of light.

And God is willing to forgive us that distance. But we sometimes aren't willing to forgive each other one inch. Match up an inch to the distance to 93 million miles. And you say, "wow, God's a lot more forgiving than I am." When you stand in the light of the cross, and you see what Jesus has paid for your forgiveness, it makes it easier for you to love and forgive others. You know, I've had a special prayer on my heart lately.

I see a lot of my problems are summed up in not loving Jesus more. And I just pray, I say, "Lord, help me love you better." Because I know if I love him better, then I'll obey him better. He said, "if you love me, keep my commandments." If I love him better, I'll love you better. If I love him better, I'll love what he loves. Right? Sometimes I'll go out to eat with Karen.

And she'll want to go to her favorite restaurant, which is not necessarily my favorite restaurant. But because I love her, I say, "I want to go to your favorite restaurant." You know what I mean? And so you learn--when you love someone, you learn to love what they love, even though it might not be your first pick. When you see how much Jesus loves the lost, you become mobilized to reach the lost because he loves them, and you love him. And so, so many of our problems revolve around just loving him better. That would help us love each other.

And that's why John made that a special emphasis. "This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you." Now we've talked a little bit about the who and the what. Now we're gonna talk about the why in our time that remains, the purpose of writing these letters. Someone please read 1 John 1:4, John 1:4. You've got that right here? Let's just--while they're finding that for you, I'm gonna read 1 John 2:12-14.

"I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, because you've known The Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.

I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the Word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one." Now isn't it interesting that he writes his other letters to the elect woman, but when he addresses individuals in the church, it's always in the masculine context? Fathers, sons, little ones, it's really all talking about the young men, the children. What does he mean by that? Well, it's possible when he says "little children," these are people who are converted from his influence. When he talks about the "young men," there are people who have been in the faith for a while, and they should be strong and out doing the evangelism. When he talks to "fathers," he's talking to contemporaries who maybe also went all the way back and knew the times of Jesus and those events. Some of The Fathers were still alive in 68 a.

d. When he wrote this. Alright, 1 John 1:4, I believe you're gonna read that for us. "And these things we write to you that your joy may be full." What is the purpose of this letter? Is he writing so that our misery might be full? You know, even when you read James, and he says, "cry, howl and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning," and you think, "wow, is that the purpose of the letter?" But you read on, he says, "humble yourself that the Lord may lift you up." The goal of humbling ourselves is ultimately our joy. I mean where are we going as Christians ultimately? Is it a funeral or a feast? He's taking us to a place of rejoicing.

We're gonna talk about that in our message a little later. And so he's writing to us that our joy might be full. If you want more joy, read these letters. By the way, in this next quarter's study: 1 John, 2 John, John, you can read all of that about 20 minutes. It won't take you very long.

And so I'm hoping that at some point, it'd be nice at the beginning. It'd be nice if we did it several times along the way. Sit down and say, "alright, I'm gonna read the letters of John." It's not hard. And you can get through it pretty quick. And just get your mind wrapped around what the emphasis is as we go through this study.

Alright, 1 John 5:13, talking more about what the purpose is. Who will read that for us? I think I've given that out to somebody. Got it right up front here. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of The Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of The Son of God." So another purpose of the letter is that their joy might be full, that they might know that they've got eternal life. I thought you weren't supposed to know that you have eternal life.

Isn't it sort of arrogant to say, "I'm saved?" Well, it can be. You don't want to say that with the attitude like Peter said, "though all men should forsake thee, I'll never forsake you." He was trusting in himself, and he failed. But if someone comes to you and says, "do you know the Lord?" I believe that Christians are supposed to know that they have eternal life. Meaning not that they can't fall. See the difference? But you ought to know that you have it.

First of all, if you have no assurance of salvation, can you be happy? Can your joy be full if you have serious doubt? Are we supposed to live by faith or by doubt? Did Jesus talk as though believers can know that if they continue to follow him that they've got eternal life? Let me tell you one reason I think this is so important. Part of righteousness by faith is, I believe that you can maintain a Godly life because you believe you have eternal life. If you doubt that you are saved, it's easier to sin. If you believe that you have been given eternal life and your sins are forgiven, you don't want to get back into that mess. Why would you gamble eternal life for a sin if you've got it? But a lot of people doubt that they've got it.

And so I think that we ought to have an assurance, but not an arrogance or a recklessness where you're tempting the Lord and saying, "I'm saved, and I can't be lost." That's the difference. So when some people say, "I'm saved," they're saying it like people who believe in predestination. "Once saved, always saved. I can't be lost." You shouldn't say it like that. But people who've accepted Jesus, that believe their sins are forgiven, that have new life-- "he that has The Son has," what? He's got life.

Can you have assurance of salvation? Yes! And that's why you can rejoice in the Lord. And so he talks about that. He wants us to know that and have that. Another reason he writes to us is to warn us about the antiChrist's power. Now typically when people think of antiChrist, what book in the Bible do they think of? Revelation.

And who wrote Revelation? John the apostle, same one. How many times does the word "antiChrist" appear in the book of Revelation. None, not once! It really surprises people when you tell 'em that, because you hear so many people talk about the antiChrist in Revelation. It's true the character of antiChrist is in Revelation, but the word "antiChrist" is not in the book of Revelation. You read about the millennium in Revelation, but the word "millennium" is not in Revelation.

And you read about the Bible in the Bible, but the word "Bible" is not in the Bible. Did you know that? That's right. So it's a latin word that means "assembly of books," a book of books. AntiChrist is found in the letters of John, not in the book of Revelation. So one of the reasons that he writes to us is to warn us about the dangers of the antiChrist.

For instance, 1 John 2:18, "little children, it is the last hour; and you have heard that antiChrist is coming, even now many antiChrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour." I could take a long time and talk about John writes about the imminence. He always writes that the end is at hand. Even when he ends Revelation, he says, "I come quickly, even so come Lord Jesus." Because he's talking about it's happening right now. Had the antiChrist already begun to work in John's day? And when you think about the shortness of life and the deceptions of the devil, it is the last hour for every generation. And so he was warning them about that.

He also says there in John 2:22, "who is a liar--" that's not very tolerant-- "but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antiChrist who denies The Father and The Son." Another example, 1 John 4:3, "and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the Spirit of antiChrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world." So antiChrist in summary is an opponent of the Messiah or the anointed. "Anti" means against, Christ, the anointed or the Messiah. It's the power that works against Christ. When you say antiChrist, you're really talking about the Great Controversy between good and evil.

So John's description of these antiChrists includes the following. One: they have faulty understanding of who Jesus is. That's what the devil wants to do. And you find that in the Gospels of John. Two: they have no relationship with The Father or The Son.

Three: they are liars. These references to antiChrist were for primarily the false teachers who had left the church and were promoting heretical doctrines. So antiChrist describes anyone who denies the truth about Christ and seeks to deceive others concerning him. I want to say that again. The antiChrist--we always think about antiChrist as this, this "rosemary's baby" concept.

I'm not recommending that, but before I was a Christian, that was a movie that came out about the devil having intimate relations with a human. She gets pregnant, and this antiChrist is born, half-demon, half-human. You know, there's people who believe that. There are people who believe in Genesis 6, where it says, "The Sons of God saw the daughter of men," that demons, had intercourse with humans. And that's why you had giants.

I've never heard of anything genetically working like that. That's absurd. The Sons of God there are the descendants of seth intermarried the daughters of cain. And that's all that it's talking about. So the antiChrist is not this half-human, half-devil.

It's telling us that the antiChrist describes anyone who denies the truth about Christ and seeks to deceive others concerning him. So how long has the antiChrist been around? Is he just a last-day character? Or all the way--right after Christ ascended to heaven, the Spirit of inequity already began to work, to deceive about Jesus' mission and ministry. And to cause that confusion. Finally Jesus, in the epistles of John, Jesus is the center of the book. Christ is always pointing to Jesus, that he had come in the flesh.

It says, "by this you know the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God." Now that wasn't meant by John to say that the litmus test for anybody in any church is all you've got to do is say this special abracadabra, "I believe Jesus came in the flesh." And automatically, you're authentic. 'Cause can the devil say that? Are there false churches that do say that Jesus came in the flesh? No, he was just saying that dealing with the deceptions and the false theology that was coming into the church in those days, you could pretty quickly identify the false teachers by the ones who were denying that Jesus came in the flesh. He didn't mean that that was the only litmus test that you were to apply over time. I've heard some churches interpret it that way.

John 20:27-28, remember when he said to thomas, "reach your finger here, and look at my hands; reach your hand here, put it into my side." He was saying, "touch me. Feel me. I'm real. A spirit does not have flesh and bone as you see that I have." Then he ate in front of them. And there is quite a bit more.

I know I'm gonna have time to get to some of these other points I had to leave out today, 'cause we've run out of time. But as we close, I want to remind our friends, if you missed it along the way, we have a free offer. It's called, "the faithful witness." Ask for offer number 104. Or you can even just go to amazingfacts.org. We'll send that to you.

Call the number: 1-866-788-3966. We'll send that to you. Hey, I think we've gotten an adequate introduction to the letters of John. I'll say more that I may have left out in future lessons. God bless you, friends.

Thank you for studying with us. And God willing, we'll study again together next time.

Name:

Email:

Prayer Request:


Share a Prayer Request
Name:

Email:

Bible Question:


Ask a Bible Question