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Weekly Bible Study and Prayer Meeting Wednesday, 6 July 2011 – 1 John 3:11-24.
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Weekly Bible Study and Prayer Meeting Wednesday, 6 July 2011 – 1 John 3:11-24 • We continue our study in 1 John which primarily teaches disciples how to live, individually and collectively, in the “beloved community” which the “Church” personifies. The author, the Apostle John, “the Beloved Disciple” who also wrote the Gospel of John as well as the other two epistles and the book of Revelation, instructs believers on the practicality of living in fellowship with God through a relationship with Jesus Christ (the Logos and the Life) within a community of fellow believers.
Love One Another • In this week’s passage, we explore the distinguishing characteristic of disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ: the love we exchange in relationship with each other. We will delve more deeply into the world’s hatred for believers, death of selfish ambitions, following Christ’s example of love, sharing material possessions, heart-centered beliefs and obedience to the commands of Christ as acts of love.
Love One Another • Love One Another 1 John 3:11-24 • In the eleventh verse of this chapter, John reminds his fellow disciples in the beloved community love is the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the gospel of John, the apostle quotes the Lord Jesus declaring love as the distinguishing characteristic of His followers. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Church members comprise the family of God. As they mature as Christ’s disciples, they acquire greater facility and precision of sharing Christ’s love in meeting the direct needs of each other and creating a more just society to enable each person to actualize his or her God given talents and natural abilities. (Isaiah 61:1-3, Matthew 22:34-40, Matthew 25, Luke 4:18, Acts2:42-47, Acts 4:32-37, James 1:26-27, and James 2:14-26) • John advises the disciples against following Cain’s examples that belongs to the devil. What were Cain’s reasons for murdering his brother? John describes Abel’s actions as righteous and Cain’s as the reverse. There are four primary motivations for murder: love, rage (anger), jealousy and money. The new law of love challenges us to resist murder within our hearts. • The world’s hatred should not surprise disciples. The world hated our Lord and accordingly hates us as Christian values clash with the principles and social mores of the dominant culture. Are we Americans who happen to be Christians or Christians who reside in the United States?
Loving our brothers is the surest sign we have passed over from death to life. What is this death? The Prayer of St, Francis of Assisi provides clues. • John declares anyone who does not love remains in death. The apostle equates a self-centered life, full of self-seeking motives, with death. Let’s discuss this one dimensional existence. • In the fifteenth verse, John defines murder as hatred for your brother. The law of love considers hatred to be equal to the capital crime of murder. What leads to hatred? How do we successfully eliminate hatred? • Hatred and Christianity are antithetical. Discuss historical racism and White supremacy. • Anyone who hates cannot inherit eternal life. Murderers do not have eternal life in their hearts.
Christ’s sacrifice of His life for humankind, past, present and future, is the clearest and most fundamental example of selfless love. In the gospel of John, the apostle defines our Lord’s gift of Himself as the greatest act of love. “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” In this epistle, John exhorts the beloved community to cultivate the character and willingness to emulate our Lord’s example. • Agape is sacrificial, redemptive, moral, ethical, rational and selfless. What are appropriate ways of practicing it within our families and the Church? Allude to the couple that saved $75,000 to purchase a home and gave it to assist with a transplant operation. Allude to the gift of a kidney between two Christian women. Allude to “Duchess” who gave a kidney to her cousin. Allude to the two high school friends who are joined forever via the gift of a kidney. Allude to Helena who gave a cousin a kidney.
How do we profess the love of God if we are unwilling to part with material possessions and money? John asks this powerful question in the seventh verse? James concurs with John’s underlying premise with his statement, “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:14-17) • In the next verse, John recommends we love with our deeds and integrity rather than rhetoric. As we Americans say grace over each meal, are we mindful of the millions of God’s children who do not have food? Let’s pray for a spirit and willingness to act upon our compassion. • Our hearts being at rest (peace) in Christ’s presence is an indication of integrity. Achieving this attribute is a lifelong process for disciples of our Lord. The heart is the center of being. When we mature spiritually by aligning our thoughts, words and deeds, we obtain integrity which yields Christ’s peace in our hearts. • If our hearts condemn us, we pay attention to any disquieting emotions and thoughts. They hint toward a lack of integrity. Let’s discuss inner gravitas, chutzpah and the will to stay the course. Allude to President Obama, former President George W. Bush, former President Lyndon B. Johnson, Coach Peter Carroll, Malcolm X, Mary McLeod Bethune, Queen Elizabeth I, and the Williams sisters.
Nevertheless, even when our hearts condemn us, God graciously forgives for He is greater than our thoughts, emotions, and mistakes. • Because He knows everything, He knows our true hearts. (1 Samuel 16:7) • In the twenty-second verse, does John link favorable answers to prayer to personal obedience? He suggests we will receive anything we ask if we “obey his commands and do what pleases him.” • Is there a correlation between morality and ethics and favorable answers to prayer? • In the next verse, John reminds the disciples to believe “in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.” Again, this epistle is an internal biblical commentary on The Great Commandment and The Great Commission. • In the concluding verse of this passage, John reminds members of the beloved community about the power of the Holy Spirit to encourage and empower disciples to live a Christian life with integrity.
Practically speaking, the deposit of the Holy Spirit within the mind, heart and soul of a disciple means willingly, eagerly and zealously obeys Christ’s commands in order to relate rightly to Him. Disciples desire earnestly to please Christ and glorify Him in their actions. • Let’s discuss the fruit of the Holy Spirit as delineated in Galatians 5:22-23. • Consider the Holy Spirit discourses in the gospel of John – 14:14-31 and 16:5-16.