I decided that it is time to do another Bible study. However, this one will be quick. Over the next three days I will cover the three epistles of John. So grab your Bible, and start reading.
Today we are reading 1 John. In this letter John discusses two major themes. First, he combats a heresy that has arisen that says Jesus never came in bodily form. The second is to love and care for one another.
The heresy that John writes against is teaching that Jesus never came to earth, the apostles never saw him, spent time with him, or touched him. Basically, that it was all a spiritual experience. This is obviously counter to the entire gospel message! John writes, “And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross — not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth confirms it with his testimony. So we have these three witnesses — the Spirit, the water, and the blood — all three agree.” (5:6-8 NLT). John is showing that Jesus was God’s Son, as proof from his baptism (Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22). He is also showing that the Spirit came because of Jesus’ promise (Acts 2). And also showing that Jesus had a fleshly body, since he was crucified on a cross and his death is our salvation.
To me however, the biggest point in John’s first letter is that the defining attribute of a Christ follower is love. He says, “Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment — to love one another — is the same message you heard before.” (2:7 NLT). John is referring to the message that Jesus shared all throughout the his ministry, and most likely the same message all the apostle took as they started new churches.
“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” (3:18 NLT). This goes along with what James writes in his letter, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead…” (James 2:14-17 NASB). It seems counter to Paul’s argument that works cannot save you (pretty much most of Paul’s letter to the Romans). The difference here is that Paul is saying that you can’t do enough things to earn your salvation. James and John are both saying that if we have faith, we can’t help but do good deeds for the glory of God.
As Christians, we must love one another. “If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead.” (3:14 NLT). If we cross from sin into eternal life, it is because we have the Spirit inside of us, and that Spirit can’t help but love. So if you are still in sin, you cannot love the way Jesus, and the Christian lifestyle demands. However, I feel I should mention that this doesn’t mean we have to like everyone. There are people, even in my church, that I cannot stand. I still love them, but the moment that turns to hate, we’ve got a problem.
So love others. Christ loved everyone. God loves everyone. The Spirit compels us to love. This is the way it is for us. The most basic thing we can do on our Christian journey’s is to love others, unconditionally. Yes, people sin and that wrong. It’s ok to hate what they do, especially if it is a sin (we’re actually called to hate what evil and sin [Psalm 97:10]), but we can still love the person. Jesus showed his love to sinners and outcasts all throughout his ministry. So think about the words you say, and the things you do. Be certain that you are showing love to all people, especially fellow Christians.