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Lesson 2: Experiencing the Word of Life *

Introduction: I'm in California! Over many years of visits to California, I've learned that a certain (large) segment of the California population is very concerned about looking young. This group resists the natural order of life in which age is desirable because it brings wisdom and dignity. Instead, everyone wants to appear eternally young. Why is that? I think a large part of the reason is that youth equals vibrant life. Age equals death. Youth and life are exciting and attractive. Death is, well, dull. Our lesson this week suggests another route to life (and youth). Are you someone who wants to be eternally young? Do you desire the joy of life? Let's jump into our study and find out more about the way to eternal life and youth!

  1. Witness for Life

    1. Lets read 1 John 1:2. Last week we discussed John's statement that Jesus is "the Word" of life. Now John emphasizes the second part of the phrase: "the Life." What is important about calling Jesus "the Life" when we have already called Him "the Word?"

      1. Have you ever heard someone talk about a subject and concluded that they didn't know what they were talking about? (John tells us that Jesus not only gives us instructions about life ("Word"), but Jesus is life.)

      2. In what ways is Jesus "Life?" (Last week we learned that Jesus is our Creator, that makes Him the author of life. John testifies that Jesus was resurrected and is alive. That shows that Jesus has life now. The resurrection shows a "life" power even when death has taken place.)

    2. When John writes in 1 John 1:2 that "the Life appeared," what point is he making? He twice uses the word "appeared." Would you say (about another person) that they "appeared?" (No. Gods appear to humans. John tells us that God became a human and then God connected with other humans. "[T]he Eternal Life which was with the Father ... appeared to us." The focus is on God coming down and appearing to humans.)

      1. What does John teach is Jesus' relationship to the Father in Heaven? (John is not ambiguous about this. He claims that Jesus was with the eternal God and then made His appearance as a human. Jesus had His origin in heaven. You either believe this or you do not. You cannot logically, like some religions and some people, believe Jesus was simply a wise rabbi or a good man. To do that makes Jesus and His closest associates outrageous liars. You either make the faith leap or you do not. There is no middle ground here.)

    3. Read 1 John 1:3. What additional claim does John make for Jesus? (He tells us that in addition to Jesus' origin being in heaven, Jesus is the "Son" of God. He paints a picture of the God of the Universe by calling one aspect "Father" and the other aspect "Son.")

      1. This is radical stuff. Read Deuteronomy 6:4. This was one of the most important Bible texts in opinion of John's Jewish contemporaries. How do we square this with John's picture of Jesus being the Son of God? How can Jesus be God when there is only one God?

        1. Meditate a bit about Deuteronomy 6:4. Why would you write this unless your God had multiple aspects? (I think this reinforces the idea of the Trinity, the idea that Jesus and the Father are one God.)

      2. Read Genesis 1:1-2. The Hebrew for "God" in verse 1 is a word which is plural. What does this teach us about the Trinity? (In both his gospel and his epistles John begins much like Genesis. It is in the beginning of Genesis we see God introducing to us the idea of the Trinity, including an introduction to the Holy Spirit. John explains that this Trinity includes Jesus as the Son and the Creator.)

  2. Witness for Joy

    1. Look again at 1 John 1:3. Why does John say he is giving his testimony about Jesus? What is his motive? (So his reader can have fellowship with John.)

      1. John is dead. Why do we care? What kind of fellowship does John have? (John says that his fellowship is pretty special. John fellowships with "the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.")

    2. Notice the substance of John's testimony in 1 John 1:3. He links "fellowship" to what he has seen and heard. How does that help us to fellowship with the Father God and with God the Son, Jesus? (If we do not understand the nature of God and that Jesus is God, we cannot have fellowship with God.)

      1. What is fellowship, anyway, that we should desire it? (Fellowship is getting to know someone, spending time with someone. John says, "Look, I've spent time with Jesus. I know Him. If you spend some time with this message you will be "spending time" with Jesus and you will get to know Him.")

        1. Are you excited about studying this book? Having an opportunity to get to know Jesus and to fellowship with God?

    3. Read John 14:7-9. Jesus says that if we know Him we know the Father. Is John further explaining Jesus' statement? (Jesus is God and a first hand witness of the things of heaven. John is a first hand witness of Jesus. We have a solid gold line of information.)

    4. Read 1 John 1:4. Shouldn't this say John is writing to make your joy complete instead of his joy complete? After all, he already knows Jesus. He is already in this special fellowship club. He is offering to let us in on this very special fellowship club!

      1. Imagine someone saying to you that they would take you to the White House and (for free!) introduce you to the President of the United States. Wouldn't it be obvious that the purpose was to make your day special instead of making the President's day special?

      2. Now ratchet this up a million degrees and say you are being taken into the "club" of the Creator and Lord of the universe. Is this for your benefit or for His?

      3. Why does John have this logically backwards? (Something very unusual and special is being said here: God wants to fellowship with you. It gives God joy to fellowship with us!)

    5. Read John 15:15. What relationship does God want to have with us? What does Eternal Life have in mind for us? (Jesus calls us "Friends, for everything [Jesus] learned from the Father [Jesus] made known to you." The next verse continues by saying that Jesus chose us, we did not choose Him. He wanted us to come to the oval office!)

      1. How does it feel to be a friend of God?

      2. Could you use more joy in your life?

      3. Sin has its pleasures, otherwise no one would ever sin. If you have experience with serious sin, can you testify that obedience to God brings real, lasting joy?

        1. Consider the experience of the Governor of South Carolina. If he could re-write the history of the last few years, what do you think he would do? (For readers who do not know, the Governor has been deeply embarrassed, may have lost his family and has lost his potential to be Vice-President of the United States (just to mention three of a host of problems) because he was involved in a sexual affair with a woman from Argentina.) Do you think he has joy now?

    6. In 1 John 1:4 John includes himself in the "our joy." When we introduce others to this circle of friendship with God, does it give us joy?

    7. Friend, would you like to be a friend of God? Would you like to enter the most powerful circle of insiders in the universe? Would you like lasting joy? If so, let's continue next week on in our journey to read and understand John's messages to us.

  3. Next week: Walking in the Light: Turning Away from Sin.
* Copr. 2009, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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