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Discussion Summary of I John 4

When asked how the group would “test the spirits,” we came up with a pretty good list such as “Know the Word,” observe the actions of others, search the heart of a person, examine what is said “critically,” pray for discernment, and ask questions. M gave a great example of how the thoughts in our head could be “tested” by simply saying the prayer, “Jesus is Lord, and I place these thoughts under that authority.” If the thoughts are from God, they remain, but if not, they tend to flee in the face of this confession of Christ’s lordship. M also shared a good acrostic for FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real.

Again, John delves into the importance of Jesus is God in the flesh in verse two. This is so important because of the testimony of Christ, being “just like us” while on earth and what gave his sacrifice such power.

Who have the believers in Christ overcome? False prophets and unbelievers, yes, but even moreso, the “spirit of anti-Christ.” This can be found in a variety of forms and this is part of our battle: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” [Ephesians 6:12] We must speak truth through love. Remember love the greatest power in the universe is married to truth.

The “Spirit of God is greater than the one who is in the world” through his roles as creator, victor, lover, and savior. He is the one who extends forgiveness and restoration, truth and faith and hope. He is eternal. I talked a bit extra about this idea that each one of these words typifies that “one who is within” and if He is greater than everything else and He is WITHIN, then we have that too. We have that creativity and victory. We have His love. We have the ability to forgive and restore and to speak truth and to hold onto faith and hope. And we are greater than what the “world” can throw at us.

When we talked about the “essence” of God’s nature being love and how that would affect us, A spoke poignantly about the truth she discovered: when one goes through a season in which there is an absence of God’s love, peace and wholeness, then a return into that place, is the most amazing feeling ever. She learned about the power of God’s love by experiencing the absence of it. God’s nature gives us the ability to deal with challenges, to cope with difficulties in a way we never could be fore, a desire to interact with others in a more positive way, to be less self-absorbed, to experience joy.

What prevents us then from loving one another? The list is well known, like pride, selfishness, fear, rejection, harm, vulnerability, time, distance, and simply choosing to “love conditionally” instead.

Will we ever be “made complete” in Christ Jesus in this life? We don’t think so. It is part of our journey to move closer and closer to Jesus, to be like Christ, to operate in the world differently, to love freely, to live in unity, to abide in His love.

I asked a bit of a trick question when I asked if Jesus’s role as Savior or Rescuer was working out, was he successful? The only answer can be “yes.” AN said there are three ways in which Jesus is rescuer, at our own personal deaths, at the end of time and in our daily lives as we encounter troubles. It is important to know that you actually need a rescuer. Those who are in fog that way will find it more difficult to find Christ.

Perfect love drives out fear because it takes up more room in the heart. As we experience more and more of the Christ within, fear has no place there. As trust grows, there is no need to fear because we trust the outcome of every situation. We are safe. This is the idea, but few of us could say we walk in such freedom.

Lastly, I passed out post-its and asked each person to write a name (or two) down of people who have, historically, been difficult to love (for whatever reason). I then collected the notes, shuffled them up and each person took one or two names. The purpose? The class would covenant to pray for the “unlovely” one on behalf of a sister or brother. We would spend a week, holding this difficult person up to the throne of Christ as a help to the one learning to love. The goal for this week is that we could discover, what would be the one step… the first action … in extending love. Just one action. Just one.

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We will finish the third chapter, beginning with Question 3 based on I John 3:15

We will then start on I John 4 and finish these questions next week.

God’s Love

1. In John’s time, fighting the issue of “Christology” (was Jesus God in the flesh from his inception), a follower just had to ask the “teacher” if he believed that Jesus was the Christ in the flesh. That answer would reveal all. But this may not suffice in our age. How would you “test the spirits?” Any examples of heresy discovered or sensed? (4:1)

2. Why is belief that Jesus was/is God in the flesh important? (4:2)

3. John says that we have overcome “them.” Who and how? (4:4)

4. In what way is the “spirit of God greater than the one who is in the world?” How do we reflect (or not) this truth in our daily lives? (4:4)

5. How does love being the essence of God’s nature affect us? Can a non-believer be affected by God’s love? How or in what way? (4:8)

6. Love one another. What hinders us? (4:7, 11)

7. To be “made complete” in Greek is “teleioō” which means, literally, “to overcome or supplant an imperfect state of things by one that is free from objection, to bring to an end, to bring to its goal/accomplishment, to be made perfect.” What would God’s love “completed” in us look like? Sound like? Feel like? (4:12, 17)

8. In verse 4:14, it says the Father sent His Son to be the Savior [Rescuer] of the World. Is that working out? Why or Why not?

9. Why does “perfect love drive out fear?” (verse 4:18)

10. What would loving someone . . . someone you do not love today . . . look like? What would you do first?

Questions for Week 3.

1. What or who is the antichrist? What is the spirit of antichrist? Difference?
2. What does it mean to be anointed? What does it do for the person being anointed? What does that look like? Feel like? How does it manifest? Is it still for our time? Why or why not?
a. A few references of interest: I Samuel 16:12-13; Luke 3:22; Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38; John 15:26
b. More references: Exodus 29:21; Ex 40:9; Ex 40:15;
c. What is the anointing oil? Why do we use it today (if at all)?
3. What does it mean to abide in Christ? What is the opposite of abiding? (What do each look like?)
4. Have you ever been duped and found yourself in a situation that was not healthy? Do you fear false teaching? How can that be avoided?

1. Why does John refer to his listeners as “dear children?” Does it make a difference?
2. If Christ has atoned for the sins of the world, why must we be “saved?” Doesn’t that sacrifice count with or without our participation?
3. What does sacrifice look like? How does it work?
4. What are the two tests of an authentic Christian journey (see I John 1:9 and 2:3)
5. To what is John referring when he speaks of the old commandment and the new commandment in verse 2:7?
6. How does hate blind us? How do we get out of the darkness? Is there such a thing as “twilight walking” vs. walking in the light or walking in darkness?
7. In I John 2:6, there are three groups identified… why? What do these mean? And what is John offering to the those groups?
8. How do we understand the difference between I John 2:15 (“Do not love the world…”) with John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world…”)
9. How does loving the world keep us away from a loving Father, specifically? What are some of the symptoms?