Gospel of John & Epistles of John (1,2,3 John)

Jesus is God. He was fully Man and is fully God. This may seem like a basic truth to Christians, but to those reading the Gospel of John and the Epistles of John, this seemed far-fetched. John wrote his gospel and letters into a time when gnosticism was getting its start, in a time when the body was considered evil, and the spirit was considered pure. Therefore, “theories” about Jesus quickly emerged – that He was “just” a man, or that He was God performing some sort of optical illusion to make Himself look like a man. John writes against these theories, showing his audience that Jesus was fully man (enabling Him to become the propitiation for our sin) and that Jesus is God (meaning God died for our sins). Today, many people continue to feel that Jesus was “just” a man, or that He was only divine, never human. We don’t call that gnosticism anymore, but such theories remain as false as they ever were. Jesus is the Bread of Life (John 622-59) and the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18); He and the Father are One (John 10:30). Jesus is the only way to God, for He is God.

My next post will be about Revelation; it deserves its own post! It only takes about an hour to read, and if you have never read it before, get ready for a lot of unusual imagery! Keep in mind that people have been debating about this book for the last 1900 years, so don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” if you don’t totally get it – I would suggest that no one “totally gets it!” That being said, remember that this book is a message of comfort above all else, so if it seems scary and weird, remember that this book is meant to encourage those who know Jesus, giving them hope for the day He will return.


Gospel of John

Main Idea: Jesus is the light of the world, the only way to the Father and eternal life.

Reason Written: John writes so that all may know Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that all may have life in his name.

TT: Jesus is the only way to the Father (John 14:6).


1 John

Main Idea: John urges the OR to walk in the light, living in a holy way, loving one another as true believers.

Reason Written: The church was plagued by false teachers who were questioning the testimony of God – the divinity of Christ.

TT: Believers are called to walk out sacrificial love (1 John 4:11).


2 John

Main Idea: Do not tolerate false teachers.

Reason Written: False teachers were taking advantage of believers, using them to spread their false doctrine.

TT: Loving one another is the best way to combat false teaching (2 John 1:6-7)


3 John

Main Idea: Support those who are teaching the truth.

Reason Written: John writes to commend Gaius for his servant heart and for his discernment in the truth.

TT: Believers are called to support missionaries (3 John 1:6-7).

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2 Peter & Jude

The overwhelming message of 2 Peter and Jude is “hold fast.” Hold fast to godliness, hold fast to holiness, hold fast to faith. This is a message that would have spoken to the original reader when these books were written, and it is a message that speaks to us today. We don’t face a great deal of persecution as believers in North America, but we are surrounded by false teachers and the temptation to follow after that which is not of God. How is God calling you to “hold fast” in your life today? How is He calling you to “keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” (Jude v. 21)?

You may recall that the last time I posted about my studies, I suggested that those who are reading the Bible along with me should read the Peters, Jude and 1 John. In the interest of keeping all the “Johns” together, my next post will be on John’s epistles and gospel. After that, I’ll do a post on Revelation, which will close out my coverage of the New Testament (we study Matthew at the end of the year). If you’re reading along with me, read the epistles of John (1, 2 & 3 John) and the Gospel of John. It should take you about two hours and forty five minutes to read all four books.


2 Peter

Main Idea: Peter urges the readers to not be led astray by false teachers, but practice holiness and godliness as they wait for the Day of the Lord.

Reason Written: Believers were dealing with false teaching and an immoral culture, tempting them to return to the lives they led before they came to Christ.

TT: Believers are to live lives of holiness and godliness while waiting for the coming of the Lord (2 Peter 3:11).


Jude

Main Idea: Jude urges the readers to contend for the faith and to have mercy on those who doubt.

Reason Written: False teachers and ungodly people who blaspheme and lead others astray plague the church.

TT: Those who follow false teachers are setting themselves up for destruction (Jude 1:11-13).

 

New Project Funding Address

Quick update to those who support Michael and I (Helen) through YWAM Project Funding. First of all, you guys are awesome. Second of all, the Funding Project’s address has changed slightly. This won’t affect you if you are doing the pre-authorized payments thing, but if at some time you were planning on giving via sending a cheque, the new address is:

Project Funding Office
PO Box 57100 RPO East Hastings
Vancouver BC V5K 5G6
CANADA

We’ll include this address on our next newsletter and I’ve updated it to the “Partner With Us” page on this website. Thanks!

Michael’s Reflections on 1 Peter

I haven’t had as much time to study 1 Peter as I did Colossians, but I feel that in many ways the truth of this book of the Bible has had a significant impact on my life. I will try to unpack some of that as briefly as possible here.

Hope and suffering are traditionally seen as the two themes of this book, and I would certainly agree with that. As I looked more deeply into how Peter presents those themes, another revelation came to me. There seem to be 3 main sections of thought in the book: 1:1 through 2:11 covers the calling for the church to be a people set apart for God, a holy chosen people, a priesthood of believers. In many ways, Peter seems to be referring to the churches reading his letter as the New Israel. In the way that Israel faced persecution from the pagan nations that surrounded them, the readers of this book are going to suffer at the hands of the pagan world around them. In the midst of this, Peter challenges the reader to do good while they suffer unjustly. This is to be their witness against those who would falsely accuse them in the same way Jesus stood righteously in the face of those who falsely accused Him. If Jesus suffered for doing what is right, those who have chosen to follow him are expected to do the same. The hope in the midst of all this is God’s promise that He will vindicate those who have suffered because of their allegiance to Him. In the same way, Jesus was vindicated when he rose from death. Christians may be vindicated in this life, but this will more likely happen when Jesus comes again. In the meantime, the church is here to humbly care for one another in love, helping each weather the trials they face.

So what does this mean for us today? Primarily if you choose to allow Jesus to be the Lord of your life and seek to live as a member of the kingdom of God, it will put you in conflict with the kingdom of the world that surrounds you. For some that looks like real physical persecution that may lead to death. For many of you who are reading this post, that is not likely going to be the case. Instead, you may face rejection by friends and even family that cannot understand why you live the way you do. As someone who doesn’t take a pay check for what I am doing here, it can be hard to explain why I would come here, give of my time and pay to do it all. Actually the difficultly to understand this concept has made coming into this country difficult at times. The challenge may be to look at your life and consider if you are living for God in a way that puts you at tension with the world, or if are you compromising so that things will go more smoothly. If you are facing the tension, are you doing so with integrity?

If you are suffering, I hope you can trust that even if you don’t see vindication in this life, God will vindicate you. When you see the glory of Jesus face to face, all that you are suffering now will pale in comparison. If you know someone who is struggling, humble yourself and serve them in love. I pray that you would take the time to read over 1 Peter – I’d love to hear what you think! I’ll be glad to know that you’ve taken the time to study this amazing book.