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Lesson 9: Believing in the Son of God *

Introduction: When I'm grading law school exams, I try to give students as much credit for their answers as I can. Since most of my questions call for "essay" answers, I look for anything that reflects an understanding of the right legal issue. At the bottom, however, there is a right answer. Is this also true with spiritual matters? Is there only one right answer? Our lesson this week explores this issue of the ultimate "right answer." John writes that there is one right answer, and if we get it right, the reward is eternal life. If we get it wrong, the result is eternal death. That sounds serious! Let's dive into our study of the Bible and find out more about the right answer!

  1. The Test Question

    1. Read 1 John 4:1-3. How many spirits speak to you? (At least two: the Spirit of God and spirit(s) against God.)

      1. What do you think John means when he writes of spirits? Are these whispers in our ear? (I think he is using the term broadly to refer to currents of thought, logic, our "conscience," prophets, teachers - anyone or anything trying to persuade us.)

      2. How can we determine spiritual truth from error? (John gives us a very simple test: truth says that Jesus is from God and He came to earth in human form.)

      3. I've argued before that anyone who believes in the Old Testament, and understands the sacrificial system, must logically accept Jesus and Christianity as the logical extension of the sacrificial system. John confirms this logic by telling us that if we believe the Bible, we believe that Jesus is the incarnate Son of God.

    2. Read 1 John 4:4-6. Does the world understand this logic? (No.)

      1. A common attitude towards Christians is that they are stupid and uneducated. Is this true? (A Christian might be stupid and uneducated, just as a non-Christian might be. But, what separates Christians from pagans is that Christians have a Christ-centered world view.)

      2. What does this teach us about evangelism? Shall we give up because pagans will not listen to us? (This is where we must depend on the Holy Spirit to touch hearts. We can argue the logic of our position, but without the Holy Spirit logic will not do us much good.)

  2. If You Pass the Test

    1. Read 1 John 5:1-4. Are we obliged to obey God's commands? (Yes.)

      1. Why? To be saved? (Our love for God causes us to obey His commands.)

      2. Last week we learned we should give up our stuff for fellow Christians who are in need. We discussed how difficult it is (at least for me) to attain this ideal. John now tells me meeting the ideal is "not burdensome." Is he kidding?

        1. When I taught my class last week, one group was against giving money to those on the street asking for money. Another group was for giving them the money and being done with it. (We give the money and God will sort out the rest.) Another group said we should find out what they want to buy, and buy it for them (if we approve of it). What we ended up deciding was that we should get to know the needy to figure out how best to help. If I told you to become friends with a homeless person, would that seem burdensome?

      3. About six months ago we had a fellow arrive at church who had lost his job, been tossed out of his house by his wife, and needed a place to stay. I've got three empty bedrooms in my house. My heart was touched and I thought I should help this fellow. My wife pointed out that this would mean that for most of the time she would be alone in the house with this guy who I did not know. (No one in church really knew him.) I did not invite him to stay with us and he soon left the church. What should I have done?

    2. Read 1 John 5:5. What is the key to overcoming the world? (Believing that Jesus is the Son of God.)

      1. This seems a little tricky to me. We just got through discussing how we need to obey the commands. Now John is back to talking about belief. Why is this? (The only logical conclusion is that the two are linked. Believing Jesus is the Son of God is the essential "right answer" for eternal life. When you come to that answer, it affects your behavior.)

  3. Knowing the Key is Correct

    1. Read 1 John 5:6. When I give a test, I try to be absolutely certain that I understand the correct answer. Teachers call the list of correct answers the "key." Why does John say that we can know Jesus is the correct answer to the question of eternal life? (He says Jesus came by water and blood.)

      1. What possible link is there between Jesus being God and water and blood? (This would be more obvious to the recipients of John's letter. If you understand Deuteronomy and Leviticus, the whole sanctuary system revolved around purifying things with water and blood. Water took away regular dirt. Blood took away spiritual dirt. Jesus took on water purification with His baptism ( Matthew 3:13-17) and He shed His blood for us ( Matthew 27:50). We need pure lives and pure hearts.)

      2. How is the Holy Spirit involved in this? (Read John 3:5-6. Jesus equates baptism (water cleansing) with being born of the Holy Spirit (spiritual cleansing).)

    2. Look again at 1 John 5:6. John says that the Spirit is a testifying witness who tells the "truth." I'm not sure our link between water, blood and the Holy Spirit makes the best logical sense. How would you tie the three together? (Read 1 John 5:7-8. Recall the issue is whether we have the right answer. The power of the Holy Spirit in the early church, the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives today, gives evidence that Jesus is real. Matching Jesus to the historical means of removing sin and dirt in our life, seeing how the Holy Spirit works against sin in our life, all of these are witnesses that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, the means for removing the sin that keeps us from eternal life.)

      1. Why do we need multiple witnesses? (So we can be sure.)

    3. Read 1 John 5:9-10. John compares his argument for Jesus being the right answer with the ordinary means by which we are convinced of something. Why is the argument for Jesus being the right answer more powerful than ordinary arguments? (Because God is doing the testifying.)

      1. I thought we were reading this in a book written by John! How can he claim God as the witness for his statement?

      2. I recall when I was a kid one of my little friends would use his father as a "witness" for his far-fetched theories. Whenever I disagreed, he would ask, "Do you think you know more than my father?" How does John get to claim God as vouching for his theory of eternal life? (Read Acts 1:6-8 and Acts 2:1-4. The actions of the Holy Spirit in our life are divine proof that Jesus is God. This is God speaking to us, not just other people making an argument.)

      3. Read John 11:41-44. How was God active in Jesus' life to be a witness for Him?

    4. Read 1 John 5:11-12. What a minute. Are we wrong about the nature of God's testimony? What does this say is God's testimony? (Jesus' resurrection shows the power of eternal life. This is the ultimate display of God's testimony that Jesus is God.)

      1. How important is it to get the answer right? How important is it to believe God? (Getting the answer right has eternal significance.)

    5. Friend, how about you? Have you accepted Jesus as the Son of God? Do you believe that Jesus died on your behalf to take away your sins? Do you believe that when Jesus rose to eternal life, you have the opportunity for eternal life? Is the Holy Spirit a witness to these things in your life? If you cannot say, "yes," to all of these questions, right now ask Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit to come into your life so you will have the key to eternal life.

  4. Next week: Confidence.
* 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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