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Sabbath School Lessons on 1, 2 & 3 John
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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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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!
- The Test Question
- Read 1 John 4:1-3. How many spirits speak to you? (At
least two: the Spirit of God and spirit(s) against God.)
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.
- Read 1 John 4:4-6. Does the world understand this logic?
- 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.)
- 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
- If You Pass the Test
- Read 1 John 5:1-4. Are we obliged to obey God's commands?
- Why? To be saved? (Our love for God causes us to
obey His commands.)
- 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?
- 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
- 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
- Read 1 John 5:5. What is the key to overcoming the world?
(Believing that Jesus is the Son of God.)
- 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.)
- Knowing the Key is Correct
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.)
- Why do we need multiple witnesses? (So we can be
- 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.)
- I thought we were reading this in a book written by
John! How can he claim God as the witness for his
- 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
- Read John 11:41-44. How was God active in Jesus'
life to be a witness for Him?
- 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.)
- How important is it to get the answer right? How
important is it to believe God? (Getting the answer
right has eternal significance.)
- 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.
- 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.