What an interesting week we’ve had in 1 John 5! We tackled some difficult passages. We conclude our study of 1 John today and we begin the study of the letters of 2 & 3 John for our last week in What Love Is by Kelly Minter.
“This is the one who came by water and blood -Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify; the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:6-13
John states in the above passage that the Spirit, the water, and the blood are all in agreement and testify that Jesus came. Biblical scholars are divided on the exact understanding of this reference about the water and blood. Perhaps, the water and blood is a reference to baptism, maybe a reference to the Lord’s Supper, or even the water and blood that flowed from Christ’s side when he was pierced on the cross. A fourth option could be that the water and blood speak of the humanity of his birth. Kelly Minter points to water as most likely referring to his baptism and the blood as being that which Jesus shed for the forgiveness and purification of sin on the cross. Through cross-referencing in scripture, we attempted to understand more about what John was saying in this passage regarding the Holy Spirit. One certainty of which John is clear- is that the way to eternal life is by believing in the name of Jesus, the Son of God.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us -whatever we ask- we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14,15
Our focus for this day’s lesson was on prayer. Specifically, we studied how to approach God in prayer. We learned several truths through our biblical cross-referencing. Some of the things we learned are that God hears the prayers of the righteous, those who cry out for mercy, those who obey His commands, and those who do what please Him.
“If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.” 1 John 5:16,17
Our lesson for this day considered sin and prayer. Since the verses from 1 John 5:16,17 can be viewed as perplexing, Kelly Minter reminded us that according to Romans 10:13, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. She also had us read this verse from the gospel of John.
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24
These verses served as the anchor of faith through our investigation of what John meant about the sin leading to death. One aspect that we can know is that a child of God cannot continue in habitual sin based on all that we have studied. That behavior leads us away from God and towards spiritual death. Jesus paid the debt of sin by his atoning sacrifice on the cross for every believer. Rejecting God, refusing to accept the atoning sacrifice of sin that Jesus offers, blaspheming the Holy Spirit, or apostasy have all been considered as the sin that leads to death that John is referring to in these verses.
“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true-even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:18-20
John was counteracting the gnostic beliefs that threatened to woo the faithful away from truth. Notice the numerous times the word know is repeated throughout these few verses. The proponents of gnostic thought declared the need to obtain a special, secret knowledge and wisdom. As John brings his letter to a close, he reiterates encouragement to his readers, his dear children, to know their position as children of God and to pursue the path of faithfulness because of that relationship.
“Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” 1 John 5:21
Kelly Minter shared with us that John most likely wrote this letter while in Ephesus. She directed us to read several cross-references that described the culture of Ephesus during the first century. This region during the first century was polytheistic and idol worship was prevalent particularly the worship of Artemis, the great goddess of Ephesus. Our lesson concluded by cross-referencing and considering questions pertaining to idolatry and the worship of false idols.
Questions to Consider
- Have I ever wondered if the blood of Jesus could really cleanse me from sin? If I believe that His blood did accomplish purification for me, how does my behavior towards him reflect that belief?
- Do I hold fast to the truth I have been taught or have I allowed other ideas to cloud my belief in the truth?
- Do I believe God hears my prayers? Do I trust that He answers them?
- Have I come to know Jesus?
- How can I keep myself from idols?
Only one more week to go! Finish well! The assignment is Week 6 for this week.