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Summary: Sermon Series on 1 John

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Series: 1 John

Week: One

Passage: Various

Title: Introductions

Focus: An Overview of 1 John

BIG IDEA: “True Fellowship comes through the Word and of the Lord.”

INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK (Go Slow!):

• Explanation: Many Christians are accustomed to light, inspiring devotional material. We often get comfortable in “Our Daily Bread’s” or “15 minutes with God”. There is a stage in the life of an adult where we get comfortable in the “normal” life routines. While these resources and times with God can be good. We often loose the fellowship that we need more than ever.

• Illustration: 1 John is a small portion meal to be enjoyed slowly. The contents of the book are to be enjoyed not quickly consumed. We must chew on the contents with patience.

• Application: If the book is enjoyed slowly and applied in a daily context, the old “quick and easy” Bible study will seem like a one-dollar hamburger after a thirty-dollar filet mignon. Quick hamburgers are good but not on a steady diet.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” –Psalm 1:1-2

BOOK(S) BACKGROUND: John, the author of 1 John, is also the writer of the Gospel account titled “John”, the book of Revelation, and 1, 2, and 3 John. in his three writings John gives us as Christians a full picture of the Christian life.

PURPOSE: 1 John is writing to opposing three popular ways of thinking in his culture and time of His writing.

Thought #1: Heresy of Gnosticism

• Explanation: No other heresy threatened early Christianity more than Gnosticism. Reaching its height in the second century, Gnosticism had its origins at least a century earlier that was based on the Greek philosophers, with a its grounding in the teachings of Plato (420-350 BC). Gnostics had/have a dualistic view of reality, meaning the material world and the immaterial world were totally separate.

o The material (possessions) world is fundamentally evil.

o The immaterial (spiritual) world is fundamentally good.

• Beliefs:

o Creation of Evil: For the Gnostics, it was inconceivable that a good God could have created such an evil, material world.

Isaiah 45:7 “I create light and darkness. I send good times and bad times. I am the Lord who does these things.”

• God is ultimately sovereign over his world. In accordance with his independent will, he can cause wars to cease and peace to prevail. He can bring disaster and judgment on nations. He is God who response to sin.

o Creation of Universe: They argued that a firework from God created the physical universe (Big Bang).

Genesis 1 – Seven literal or seven figurative there is still a process to creation.

o Christ in Human Form: and could not believe that Jesus could have had a physical body but merely “appeared” to have a physical body.

1 Timothy 3:16 “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”

o Knowledge is Salvation: Almost all the teachings of the Gnostics were part of a special body of knowledge that was necessary for salvation. Gnostics said that God informs only a select few. They claimed that their “special knowledge” of salvation came through the disciples to a select group of people. Because the soul alone was good, salvation was purely spiritual. There was no place for the resurrection of the body in Gnosticism.

• The claim to having their source of knowledge in the Apostles is one of the points that John drives home in his opening verses of 1 John. He claims that he (along with the other Apostles and a well known group of believers) has heard, seen, and looked upon, the Christ. His hands have touched the Savior. Then he says that all that he (they) have witnessed he (they) proclaim. He is giving the fullness of his personal knowledge to the rest of the believers that they all may have knowledge of who Jesus is.

NOTE: This is a line of rebuttal to the Gnostics for the next century – Iranaeus makes the same argument in the mid to late 2nd century. He was a disciple of Polycarp who was a direct disciple of John who was a direct disciple of Jesus. The line of authority is everything in this issue. (I know you touch on this in Thought 3, but I think it’s relevant here as well)

• The very heart of Christianity was at stake in every one of their stances!

• Illustration: Think education here. While education is good, when education pushes into person pride that trumps spiritual transformation an error has occurred (Pharisees – “Knowledge puffs up but love edifies” 1 Corinthians 8:1).

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