The Letters of John

Love One Another

1 John 4:7-21

Love is central to the Christian life. But what is love? The word itself is one of the most overused and ill-defined words in the English language. In this passage, John explains what love is by tracing it to its source, namely God. Then he gives us a very uncomfortable command: “If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

Little Children, Keep Yourselves from Idols

1 John 5:21
John’s teaching method in this letter has been described as cyclical. He introduces a topic and then leaves it momentarily, only to return later. John uses this method to explain three evidences of true faith: truth, love, and obedience. In chapter five, he shows how each of them are rooted in the work of God’s indwelling Spirit. If the Spirit is present, then the evidences will be the fruit of his work. He closes his letter with a short, but not disconnected statement: “keep yourselves from idols.” Idolatry is a key concept in the Bible. In this sermon, we’ll see how it relates to the work of the Spirit.

Love is From God

1 John 4:7-5:1
Love is something common to everyone. We all love someone or something, yet love is often love is hard to define or describe. John traces the experience of love (“love one another”) back to its theological source (‘God is love”). By understanding that love originates in God, we can navigate the many questions (and problems) that arise from the need for love.

Test the Spirits

1 John 4:1-6
Why does truth matter and can anyone claim to know the truth? In this passage, John agrees with the rest of Scripture by telling us that there are many voices who make religious claims. The task of the church is to discern the truth from error. He commands, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” How are we to make this discernment? John gives us at least one important test.

Whoever Practices Righteousness Is Righteous

1 John 3:1-10
Sin is an attempt to dethrone God and crown ourselves. Since Christ came to set the believer free from slavery to sin, what should the relationship be between the child of God and sin? John answers: “no one born of God makes a practice of sinning.” In other words, habitual sin is incompatible with the Christian. Does he really mean that? How can that be?

Called Children of God

1 John 2:28-3:10
Scripture uses the concept of family to communicate wonderful truths about the Christian life. It tells us we have been adopted as children of God; he is our Father; Jesus is our Brother; we have an inheritance; and many other truths. In this text, John draws upon that familial concept to teach us about sin. After declaring the wonderful truth that we are called children of God, he then turns to say, “Now act like it and obey.” To the apostle John, sin is disobedience to the Father.