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1 John Bible Study,Day 29: The True God

Today’s passage: 1 John 5:18–20

Focus verse: He is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20)

Today’s trio of verses each begins with the same phrasing: We know that.

What follows them are seven concepts John wants to remind his audience about. He has covered them throughout his letter and reinforces these key points now.

Here are John’s seven statements for us to remember:

1. We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin (verse 18). John covers the issue of sin in depth, mentioning it in twenty verses. See our recap about sin in Day 28: Bonus Content.

2. We know that those born of God will stay safe (verse 18). John uses the phrase born of God six times and is the only biblical writer to do so. This is analogous to being born again, which is having eternal life—another phrase John often uses. See Day 11.

3. We know that the evil one cannot harm us (verse 18). John mentions the evil one five times and assures us we will overcome him (1 John 2:13–14). See Day 8: Bonus Content.

4. We know that we’re children of God (verse 19). John uses the endearing phrase children of God five times. See Day 13.

5. We know that the entire world is under the control of the evil one (verse 19). John mentions world in sixteen verses in this letter. He also says that God is greater than the world (1 John 4:4), so we have nothing to fear. See Day 25.

6. We know that the Son of God has come (verse 20). The focus of John’s letter is on Jesus—the Son of God—coming to earth to save us, such as in 1 John 5:5–6. See Day 26: Bonus Content.

7. We know that the Son of God has given us understanding to know (verse 20). The word know shows up in thirty-two verses in John’s letter. See Day 8: Bonus Content and Day 27.

And what is it that Jesus (and John) wants us to know?

Quite simply, they want us to know the One who is true: Jesus’s Father—and our Heavenly Father. We are part of him because we are part of his Son. 

He is the one true God and gives us everlasting life.

Questions:

  1. Which of these seven truths do you connect with?
  2. Which of these seven truths give you comfort?
  3. Which of these seven truths do you struggle with?
  4. Are we part of Jesus and part of his Father? 
  5. Have we trusted him for our eternal life?

Discover more about having eternal life in 1 John 1:2, 2:25, 3:15, 5:11, and 5:13, as well as 5:20.

Tips: Check out our tips to use this online Bible study for your church, small group, Sunday school class, or family discussion. It’s also ideal for personal study. Come back each Monday for a new lesson.


Discover practical, insightful, and encouraging truths in Love One Another, a devotional Bible study to foster a deeper appreciation for the two greatest commandments: To love God and to love others.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Study

1 John Bible Study, 28: The Sin That Leads to Death

Today’s passage: 1 John 5:16–17

Focus verse: There is a sin that leads to death. (1 John 5:16)

Today’s passage teaches us some unusual things about prayer. 

First, John encourages us to pray for others when we notice sin in their lives. This isn’t all people, but our brothers and sisters in Jesus. Then God will give them life. I don’t think I’ve ever prayed for others in this way.

Even so, I’ve heard the plaintive prayers of parents over the sins of a wayward child.

Yet this praying for the sins of others isn’t just John’s idea. James gives a similar instruction. He tells us to confess our sins to each other and pray for one another. Then we’ll receive healing (James 5:16).

I’ve joined in with these kinds of prayers, but it’s always because the person I’m praying for has requested it.

John and James want us to pray for the sins of other believers. Therefore, we should.

Yet these prayers are for sins that don’t lead to death. John suggests that we don’t pray for the sins of others that do lead to death.

What is a sin that leads to death? The question is enough to give us pause.

The Bible has accounts of sin that lead to immediate death.

There are Ananias and Sapphira, whom God strikes down for lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1–10).

There is also Herod, whom the Lord strikes down for accepting glory for himself and not giving it to God (Acts 12:21–23).

A third example of immediate death occurs when Korah stirs up dissidents to oppose the leadership of Moses. God is not pleased and punishes some of them by opening the ground to swallow them.

Then he sends fire from heaven to consume the rest (Numbers 16:1–35).

This sin that leads to death could also relate to the unpardonable sin that Jesus talks about: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The context is the religious teachers who claim Jesus drives out demons because Beelzebul, the prince of demons, possesses him.

They say this instead of giving the credit to Jesus—or implicitly the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:24–32, Mark 3:22–30, and Luke 12:10).

The unpardonable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. It dismisses or even denies Holy Spirit power and his work to produce signs and wonders.

It worries me when I hear people claim that the evidentiary works of the Holy Spirit ended with the age of the apostles and no longer exist in our world today. In essence they dismiss the Holy Spirit.

Are they in danger of blasphemy against him and committing the unpardonable sin?

On an imperative level, the sin that leads to death is the sin of rejecting Jesus as the Son of God and as our Messiah. Yet, as we discussed in yesterday’s reading, it’s God’s will that none should perish, so we should pray for their salvation.

Keep in mind, though, that once a person who has spurned Jesus is dead, their decision is final, and our prayers cannot overcome their permanent rejection of the Messiah. Their choice has led to their eternal death.

These ideas of sins that lead to death are all speculation, for we can’t know for sure, but we should exercise care to guard against each one.

Questions:

  1. How can we best pray for the sins of other Christians? 
  2. Beyond that, how else can we pray for other believers?
  3. How should we react to the sins that lead to death?
  4. If we are a true follower of Jesus, do we need to worry about the sin that leads to death? Why?
  5. What should be our proper perspective of Holy Spirit power?

Discover more about sin and death in Romans 6:23, Romans 8:1–2, and Romans 8:10.

Tips: Check out our tips to use this online Bible study for your church, small group, Sunday school class, or family discussion. It’s also ideal for personal study. Come back each Monday for a new lesson.

Read the next lesson or start at the beginning of this study.


Discover practical, insightful, and encouraging truths in Love One Another, a devotional Bible study to foster a deeper appreciation for the two greatest commandments: To love God and to love others.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Study

1 John Bible Study, Day 27: Ask Anything According to God’s Will

Today’s passage: 1 John 5:13–15

Focus verse: If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. (1 John 5:14)

When we pray, do we think God hears us? Does he answer our prayers? All of them? The Bible says so. Consider what Scripture teaches.

First, we can have assurance that God does indeed hear our prayers.

John writes that we can be confident God will hear everything we ask and will grant everything we request. But there’s a condition that’s easy to miss, and it’s a critical one.

John stipulates that God will hear our prayers and answer them when we align our requests with his will (1 John 5:14–15).

The challenge for us then is to discover his perspective and pray according to his will. This may not be as hard as we think. Paul writes that we already have the mind of Christ through the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14–16).

The Holy Spirit can reveal to us the will of God. It’s simple. Each thing the Holy Spirit tells us to do is the will of God. We can count on this because God would never tell us to do something contrary to his will.

For some followers of Jesus, hearing the Holy Spirit is a daily part of life, while others struggle to hear from God, even once. But we should all lean into this and be open to hear from the Holy Spirit.

In this way we will know the will of God.

Another way to know the will of God is to read his written word, the Bible. The Father also reveals his will to us through Scripture. For example, he is not willing that anyone should perish (Matthew 18:14).

Therefore, it’s aligned with his will to pray for the salvation of others. But we must also act according to our prayers.

We plant (tell them about Jesus) and then trust God to make the crop grow (1 Corinthians 3:6) and produce a harvest (2 Corinthians 9:10).

A third way to know the will of God is to spend time with him. As we do, we will get to know him better and develop a stronger sense for what he wants, for his perspective, and for his will.

Enoch can serve as our example in this. He walked so close to God that the Almighty whisked his faithful follower into heaven (Genesis 5:22–24).

We find a fourth way to know God’s will—his good, pleasing, and perfect will—is to not conform to the world, but to transform our thinking by renewing our minds.

When we do this, we’ll understand what God’s will is (Romans 12:2).

In these four ways we can know God’s will. 

When our prayers align with his will, he will answer our requests. But answered prayer isn’t the goal; it’s the outcome.

Our aim should be to know God’s will. May we focus on that.

Questions:

  1. Can we really ask God for anything? Why?
  2. How do we react when God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want or when we want? 
  3. Which of the four ways to know God’s will is the most helpful to you?
  4. Which of the four ways to know God’s will do you need to use more?
  5. What should we do to better align our perspective with the will of God?

Discover more about God answering our prayers in 1 John 3:21–22.

Tips: Check out our tips to use this online Bible study for your church, small group, Sunday school class, or family discussion. It’s also ideal for personal study. Come back each Monday for a new lesson.

Read the next lesson or start at the beginning of this study.


Discover practical, insightful, and encouraging truths in Love One Another, a devotional Bible study to foster a deeper appreciation for the two greatest commandments: To love God and to love others.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Study

1 John Bible Study, Day 26: Three Witnesses Give Testimony

Today’s passage: 1 John 5:6–12

Focus verse: For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. (1 John 5:7–8)

The Old Testament gives a rule that to convict someone requires two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15). The testimony of one person is not enough. Two people must agree; three are better. This principle of multiple witnesses repeats throughout the Bible.

John builds on this standard of three witnesses by telling us of those who testify about Jesus. These are not human witnesses but supernatural ones. In this case, the trio testifying of Jesus is comprised of the Spirit, the water, and the blood. 

The first witness is the Spirit, as in the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. The Old Testament testifies often about Jesus, but most people in Jesus’s day miss it (John 5:39–40).

It takes the work of the Holy Spirit for them to understand what Scripture says about Jesus. The same is true today. The Holy Spirit serves as Jesus’s first witness.

The second to give testimony is the water. This references Jesus’s baptism. Many were baptized around the time of Jesus and many more have been baptized since. What makes Jesus’s baptism special?

First, sinless Jesus doesn’t need to repent for his sins, which is the purpose of John’s baptism.

More important is that after John baptizes Jesus, Father God speaks from heaven. He testifies about Jesus, as his Son whom he loves and is most pleased with (Matthew 3:16–17, Mark 1:10–11, and Luke 3:21–22).

The Father, speaking at Jesus’s baptism, serves as the second witness.

The third to give testimony is the blood. This references Jesus’s death. Though not common, it’s possible one person—any person—could choose to die in place of another.

Yet this sacrifice would be incomplete, just like the annual sin sacrifices prescribed in the Old Testament.

What makes Jesus’s sacrificial death different? What makes his death the ultimate sacrifice to end all sacrifices? Quite simply, Jesus doesn’t just die. He overcomes death by rising from the dead.

His resurrection shows his mastery over death, both his and ours (Romans 6:9).

This serves as the third witness.

These three witnesses—Spirit, water, and blood—agree in their testimony of Jesus. 

If we’re willing to believe in the witness of three people, we should put even more confidence in the testimony of three supernatural witnesses.

Jesus died so that we may live.

Questions:

  1. How willing are we to believe what God says over what people say? 
  2. What does the witness of the Holy Spirit mean to you?
  3. What does the witness of the water mean to you?
  4. What does the witness of the blood mean to you?
  5. Which of the three witnesses for Jesus do we best connect with? Why?

Discover what else John writes about witnesses for Jesus in John 8:18.

Tips: Check out our tips to use this online Bible study for your church, small group, Sunday school class, or family discussion. It’s also ideal for personal study. Come back each Monday for a new lesson.

Read the next lesson or start at the beginning of this study.


Discover practical, insightful, and encouraging truths in Love One Another, a devotional Bible study to foster a deeper appreciation for the two greatest commandments: To love God and to love others.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Study

1 John Bible Study, Day 25: Overcome the World

Today’s passage: 1 John 5:1–5

Focus verse: Everyone born of God overcomes the world. (1 John 5:4)

There is a lot packed into today’s passage, but most of it reviews what John has already written. He talks about believing in Jesus as our Savior (the Christ) for us to be born again.

How loving the Father is loving his Son. There’s a reminder to love others and obey God’s commands, which are easy to do and not a burden (see Day 18).

Then John slides in the word overcome. He’s already mentioned this word in two passages. 

First, he said that the word of God lives in us, and we have overcome the evil one (1 John 2:13–14). Second, he said that since we are from God—that is, his children—we have overcome the spirit of false prophets, the antichrists (1 John 4:1–4).

For his third mention of overcome, John does not build on either of these prior mentions. Instead, he adds a third consideration, one even more grand. He says that everyone born of God overcomes the world.

Yes, we, through our belief in Jesus as God’s Son, have overcome the world. Not that we can, not that we might, but that we are actually doing so. We are overcoming the world.

From a spiritual sense we will overcome the world as we move closer to our time of joining Jesus in heaven. From a tangible perspective we overcome the world each day—at least that’s God’s expectation.

Yet many Christians don’t act as though they’re overcoming the world. Instead, they live defeated, dejected lives that prove how the world has overcome them. I get that. I’ve been there. But that’s not God’s plan; this is not his intent.

Everyone born of God overcomes the world. Not a few. Not some. Not even most. Everyone. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God has this overcome-the-world condition in them. 

Then why don’t our lives show it? Or show it more often?

I wonder if it’s because we try to live a life that’s too close to the world we hope to overcome. If we act like the world and think like the world, it’s impossible to overcome the world because we are part of it; we’re fully immersed in it.

But this isn’t a call to segregate ourselves from our worldly neighbors, community, and society. If we do that, we’ll never have a chance to tell them about Jesus.

Yes, we must stay in our world, but if we’re too much like it, our witness will be ineffective, and we’ll have no hope of overcoming the world.

Questions:

  1. Are we overcoming the world or is it overcoming us? 
  2. How can we move from living a defeated life to overcoming it?
  3. What should we do to be less like the world?
  4. How can we remain in the world and not be overcome by it?
  5. How can we be a better witness for Jesus?

Discover what else John writes about overcome in John 1:5 and John 16:33.

Tips: Check out our tips to use this online Bible study for your church, small group, Sunday school class, or family discussion. It’s also ideal for personal study. Come back each Monday for a new lesson.

Read the next lesson or start at the beginning of this study.


Discover practical, insightful, and encouraging truths in Love One Another, a devotional Bible study to foster a deeper appreciation for the two greatest commandments: To love God and to love others.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Study

1 John Bible Study, Day 24: He First Loved Us

Today’s passage: 1 John 4:19–21

Focus verse: We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

Perhaps the most misused, most misunderstood word in English is love. I love my wife, and I love to watch movies. I love nature, and I love blue. I love to write, and I love spring.

I also love God. 

If our love of God means anything, we show it by how we love. This is because he loved us first. Therefore, we respond to his love by loving him back and by loving others.

We show our love to him by how we worship him, how we spend our time, and how we use the resources he blesses us with. Our love for him is a fitting response to his love for us.

We also show our love to God by obeying his commands. One of his chief instructions is for us to love one another (Day 16). 

If we do not love the brothers and sisters we live with and can see, how can we expect to love the God we don’t live with and can’t see?

We delude ourselves if we claim to love God yet remain mired in hate toward others. Therefore, if we love God, we must also love our brothers and our sisters.

We may wonder who qualifies as our brothers and sisters. Surely, this goes beyond our own family, but does it expand to include only those in our faith community, or does it mean everyone in the entire world? 

We can ask the same question about the command to love one another. Does this only apply to the Church of Jesus, or does it apply to everyone?

For the answer to this question, recall the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37). A religious expert asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life.

Jesus tells him to love God fully and to love his neighbor as much as he loves himself. The religious expert asks Jesus to define neighbor. This is when Jesus gives his parable.

It’s a story about a man who’s robbed and left on the side of the road to die. A priest comes upon the man but walks by him. Next a Levite arrives and ignores the hurting man as well.

At last, a Samaritan—a person Jesus’s audience reviled—arrives on the scene. He stops to help the man and takes steps to nurse him back to health.

Jesus asks the religious expert which of these three people acted as a good neighbor to the injured man.

The religious leader can’t bear to even say “the Samaritan man.” Instead, he simply says, “The one who showed mercy.”

Jesus tells him to do likewise.

In the same way we should love one another—our brothers and sisters—because God first loved us.

Questions:

  1. What is your definition of love?
  2. In what ways do we misuse the word love? 
  3. How can we love God more fully?
  4. How can we love our brothers and sisters better?
  5. Who can we show mercy to?

Discover more about loving our neighbors in Galatians 5:14.

Tips: Check out our tips to use this online Bible study for your church, small group, Sunday school class, or family discussion. It’s also ideal for personal study. Come back each Monday for a new lesson.

Read the next lesson or start at the beginning of this study.


Discover practical, insightful, and encouraging truths in Love One Another, a devotional Bible study to foster a deeper appreciation for the two greatest commandments: To love God and to love others.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

Easter Sunday

He Has Risen!

Today’s passage: John 20:1–18

Focus verse: Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18)

Jesus dies. His body is prepared for burial and his human shell is placed in a tomb. A large stone seals the entrance.

But this isn’t the end. In many respects, it’s the beginning. Three days later, he rises from the dead. Here’s what happens:

After his death, Jesus’s body is laid hastily in the tomb before the start of the Sabbath. With the Sabbath now over, Mary Magdalene heads to the tomb early the next morning, while it’s still dark.

When she arrives, she’s shocked at what she sees. The stone that blocked access to his tomb is no longer there. This isn’t what she expected.

She runs to tell Peter and John (the disciple Jesus loved) what she assumes happened: “They’ve taken Jesus’s body from the tomb, and I don’t know where they put him.”

Peter and John run to Jesus’s grave. John gets there first and peers inside. When Peter arrives, he goes right in. The burial cloths are there, but Jesus’s body is gone.

Seeing for themselves, they believe what Mary said—that his body is gone—and they leave.

Mary, however, stays at the tomb, tears flowing. She sees two angels inside. They ask her why she’s crying. “They’ve taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they moved him.”

Jesus—now very much alive—walks up behind her. “Why are you crying?”

She assumes he’s the gardener and asks where he moved the body.

Jesus calls her by name. “Mary.”

She turns to him and cries out in relief.

Jesus tells her to go and tell the disciples he’s alive and will soon return to his Father in heaven. In doing so, Jesus tasks Mary to deliver the most important message throughout all history. “Jesus is alive! He has risen from the dead!”

Though her culture doesn’t accept a woman’s testimony, Jesus doesn’t care. Mary will serve fine as his messenger.

This makes her the first missionary to tell others the good news about Jesus, that he has risen.

We call this day Easter when we celebrate his resurrection from the tomb. A better label is Resurrection Sunday.

On this first Resurrection Sunday, Jesus is victorious over the finality of death. This proves his mastery over the grave. Through this resurrection power he provides, we, too, can rise from the dead. And if we follow Jesus, we will.

Then we’ll live with him and Father God forever.

Questions:

  • What can we do to celebrate what Jesus did when he died and rose again?
  • How can we best tell others about him?

Prayer: Jesus, may we celebrate your victory over death when you rose from the dead. May we tell others the good news.

Celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and his return to heaven in The Victory of Jesus. The Victory of Jesus is another book in Peter DeHaan’s beloved Holiday Celebration Bible Study Series. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Study

1 John Bible Study, Day 23: No Reason to Fear

Today’s passage: 1 John 4:16–18

Focus verse: There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. (1 John 4:18)

In the Old Testament of the Bible, we read the command to “fear God” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). In the New Testament we see the principle to “love God” (1 Corinthians 8:3), and we read that God is love (1 John 4:8 and 16).

How can we fear someone we’re supposed to love, someone who loves us? Is it even possible?

Is there a difference between fearing God in the Old Testament and loving God in the New Testament? Although it’s the same God in both, one who doesn’t change, the difference is Jesus. Jesus alters the way we understand and perceive God.

True, we are to fear God, and we are to love God. This is a spiritual paradox.

In the Old Testament, the focus is on the law (rules) and the result is fear because we fall short of God’s expectations. Based on our failure to follow every part of the law, we deserve to die; stumbling over one small point makes us guilty of all (James 2:10).

The penalty for our sins is death; it doesn’t matter if it is one sin or many. This is something to fear.

Under the law we can’t make ourselves right to stand before God. This conclusion is the purpose of the law. It shows us our sin and the need for Jesus to save us (Romans 7:7).

In the New Testament, Jesus fulfills the law—overcomes or replaces its rules—with love. This is the immense love of Father God in sending Jesus to earth to save us and our Savior’s incomprehensible love to die in our place.

The result is that love trumps fear. This doesn’t mean we should disregard a healthy fear of God, but instead we should temper our fear with his love.

His love serves to push away our fear of punishment. This is because his perfect love drives out our fear. 

Therefore, by faith we can have confidence on judgment day because of his love. Whoever lives a life of love has God living in them. 

But we need not feel guilty if a touch of fear remains. This simply means that his love has not yet fully matured in us. But through him we move closer toward realizing his perfect love.

When his love becomes complete in us, it will drive away our fear of the future and judgment.

Questions:

  1. How can we balance the paradox between fearing God and loving God?
  2. How can God’s love in us move toward completion and become perfect? 
  3. What does a healthy fear of God look like?
  4. What should our attitude be toward any fear that remains in us?
  5. How can we be confident on judgement day?

Discover more about fear in Luke 1:50, Luke 12:5, Luke 23:40, Philippians 2:12, and Revelation 14:7.

Tips: Check out our tips to use this online Bible study for your church, small group, Sunday school class, or family discussion. It’s also ideal for personal study. Come back each Monday for a new lesson.

Read the next lesson or start at the beginning of this study.


Discover practical, insightful, and encouraging truths in Love One Another, a devotional Bible study to foster a deeper appreciation for the two greatest commandments: To love God and to love others.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Study

1 John Bible Study, Day 22: Acknowledge Jesus

Today’s passage: 1 John 4:13–15

Focus verse: If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. (1 John 4:15)

In yesterday’s reading John said that anyone who loves has been born of God and knows him (1 John 4:7).

Later we’ll read that anyone who believes in Jesus as the Messiah is born of God (1 John 5:1). And today we read that anyone who acknowledges Jesus as God’s Son has God living in them (1 John 4:15).

Are these three ways to approach God in conflict? Or are they alternative options to achieve the same outcome? Neither.

Instead let’s view them as complementary, working in cooperation to bring about our right standing with God and our future with him in heaven.

It starts with believing in Jesus as the Messiah, as our Savior. We then acknowledge him as the Son of God and give testimony to others about him.

The outcome of our belief and our testimony is loving others. Loving others isn’t a requirement to earn our salvation. It’s the result of our salvation—a natural byproduct of our faith.

The word acknowledge appears four times in the book of first John. This is more than any other New Testament book. (As you might expect, acknowledge also shows up in the gospel of John, 2 John, and Revelation, three of John’s other writings.)

First, we read that whoever acknowledges Jesus as the Son of God also has the Father (1 John 2:23). It’s as if they’re a package. Acknowledging one acknowledges the other. Through our acknowledgment we have the Son and the Father.

Next, in 1 John 4:2–3 the word acknowledge comes up twice. (See our discussion about the false prophets in Day 19.)

Every spirit who acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah who walked among us in human form is from God. Whereas every spirit who does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.

Acknowledging Jesus is key. 

This means our faith can’t be silent. We need to tell others about the confidence we have in Jesus and what he’s done for us. 

At a basic level acknowledging him means to give our assent. If someone asks if we’re a Christian—a believer or a follower of Jesus—we acknowledge our standing with him by saying yes. And we do so with confidence.

On a more consequential level, acknowledging means taking the initiative to tell others about Jesus. We testify about him. We are his witnesses to the world. If we don’t tell them, who will?

This is what it means to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God.

Questions:

  1. When have we been silent about Jesus when we should have spoken? 
  2. How can our actions, apart from our words, acknowledge Jesus?
  3. How can we do a better job at acknowledging Jesus before a world who needs him?
  4. What can we do to better tell others about Jesus?
  5. What does our witness look like?

Discover what John says about acknowledgment in John 9:22, John 12:42, 2 John 1:7, and Revelation 3:5 and 9.

Tips: Check out our tips to use this online Bible study for your church, small group, Sunday school class, or family discussion. It’s also ideal for personal study. Come back each Monday for a new lesson.

Read the next lesson or start at the beginning of this study.


Discover practical, insightful, and encouraging truths in Love One Another, a devotional Bible study to foster a deeper appreciation for the two greatest commandments: To love God and to love others.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Study

1 John Bible Study, Day 21: The Love of God

Today’s passage: 1 John 4:7–12

Focus verse: This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9)

So far in John’s letter he’s already talked a lot about love, building up to this passage in chapter four, where the topic of love becomes the focus. In the rest of chapter 4, John mentions love twenty-seven times. That’s a lot of love.

Building on his encouragement to love one another from the prior chapter, John again reminds us—his dear friends—to love one another.

This is because love comes from God, and he empowers us to love others. When we are born of God and know him, we’re able to love others well. But those who don’t know God aren’t able to love. 

Loving others is the fruit of our relationship with our Heavenly Father; it’s proof of our right standing with him, through Jesus.

Though we love God, he loved us first (1 John 4:19). He proved this by sending his precious Son to earth so that we might live eternally through him. Father God sent Jesus into our world as the sacrifice to atone for our sins (1 John 4:10).

We often think of Jesus’s great love for us. He showed this ultimate expression of love through his willingness to die in our place for all the wrong things we’ve done in our life—and all the wrong that we will do. 

Jesus endured a most painful death, tortured at the hands of his Roman executioners. Dying in our place is the epitome of love, and we celebrate him for making this supreme sacrifice. In turn, we love him back to the best of our ability.

Yet John isn’t talking about Jesus’s love for us by dying in our place. Instead, the apostle is talking about Father God’s great love for us. God showed his immense love for us by sending Jesus to save us.

For those of us who are parents, we don’t want to see our children suffer. We’d gladly stand in their place if we could shelter them from the pain of their struggles.

Our Heavenly Father is no different from us in this regard. How hard it must have been for Father God to send his precious Son into our world, knowing what he would have to endure.

That’s real love. And God’s immense love for us is why we should love one another.

When we do, “God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (1 John 4:12).

Questions:

  1. How well do we do at accepting God’s love for us? 
  2. How well do we do at loving others?
  3. Who do we love well enough to die for?
  4. Should our list be longer? Why?
  5. How can we thank God for loving us?

Discover more about God’s love for us in Romans 5:7–10.

Tips: Check out our tips to use this online Bible study for your church, small group, Sunday school class, or family discussion. It’s also ideal for personal study. Come back each Monday for a new lesson.

Read the next lesson or start at the beginning of this study.


Discover practical, insightful, and encouraging truths in Love One Another, a devotional Bible study to foster a deeper appreciation for the two greatest commandments: To love God and to love others.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.