New Hope UMC

Lessons 1: Walking in the Light (1 John 1:1-2:6)

 January 11, 2018

Key verses:

“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

(1 John 1:7) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2)

We will begin the study of the Letters of the Apostle John on January 11, 2018. So what do we know about the Apostle John? 

  • He was one of the original twelve disciples.
  • he was the brother of James, sons of Zebedee. 
  • He may have been a cousin of Jesus on hi mother's side. 
  • He authored two other books on the New Testament besides the Letters: the Gospel of John and Refelation.
  • he was the only one of the disciples to die a natural death. 

It had been over 50 years since John had walked with Jesus when he wrote these to awe letters. But the flame was still burning for him even at an advanced age. John's calling was to bring attention to the Divine rather than to give a historical account of Jesus' activities. The Light was there from the beginning. It did not start with Jesus' inhabiting a human body. The Light was introduced to the world but was rejected by many (and still is for that matter). In this Lesson, we will explore John's thoughts on Fellowship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. This fellowship is based on truth, which comes from Jesus' teachings. One cannot be in true fellowship without knowing and at least attempting to live the Truth. 

The concept of sin is discussed, first in accepting that we all have sin, then ordering our lives to overcome it by acknowledgement, confessing it and seeking help through prayer. We may atone for our sins at any time, but the focus in First John is to learn to live without sin. 

We are looking forward to this study from Brother Wilson on the Letters of John, the last Disciple.  

Discussion questions. 

 Discussion question 1. (1 John 1:3-4, 6-7) Why is our fellowship with fellow Christians so often just on a surface level? How can we have fellowship at a deeper level in Christ? What would it take in your Christian group or your relationships with other believers to deepen your level of fellowship so it is authentically Christian?

Discussion question 2(1 John 1:5-7) What is the result when a Christian walks in darkness, that is, continues willfully to do what he or she knows to be wrong? How does this involve self-deception? What is the result, according to verse 7, when we walk in the light? How do we get back into the light if we sin?

Discussion question 3(1 John 1:9) How would you define “confession”? Why is confessing our sins so important? What happens to us if we stop confessing our sins? What are the promises given to us if we do confess our sins? How is forgiveness of sins different from cleansing?

Discussion question 4.  (Galatians 5:24-25) What does it mean to “crucify the flesh with its passions and desires”? Can a person be a Christian without “crucifying the flesh”? How have we produced such a crop of lukewarm Christians?

Discussion question 5 (1 John 2:3-6) How can we be serious about obeying Christ without becoming legalistic and judgmental, and without the self-righteous attitude that the Pharisees had? How do love and legalism differ? How can we be serious about obedience and make love our center?


Lessons 2: Don’t Love the World (1 John 2:7-17)

January 18, 2018

Key verses:

“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.” (1 John 2:9)

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:15-16)

The first section of John’s letter talked about heavy subjects like sin, forgiveness, and obedience. Now John turns to perhaps the strongest theme in this letter, love, one to which he returns again and again. John talks about the need for love by reviewing the old commands of Jesus, Love your neighbor as yourself. It was John of course who gave us one of the most familiar of all verses, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son..". The Letter then goes into some discussion of what love is and what it is not, specifically, it cannot exist in the presence of hate. If there is hatred in your heart, you cannot experience the depth of God's forgiveness and of Christian love. Forgiveness is a component of the love that we receive from God. 

Nor can you love the world. You must love God with all your heart. You cannot love the world at the same time. John's looks at the world as being evil, controlled by dark forces. By “worldly” and “worldliness,” John is describing the devil-may-care rejection of godly values and of devotion to the Lord that abounds in secular society today.

This is a thorough and provocative part of John's message to us.  

Discussion questions. 

 Discussion question 1. (1 John 2:7-11) How does hate and unforgiveness blind us spiritually? If we have been darkened by hurt and hate, how do we come into the light?

Discussion question 2(1 John 2:12-14) John encourages “children,” “young men,” and “fathers.” Why do you think he takes time to encourage them? In what ways does he encourage them?

Discussion question 3(1 John 2:15-16) What is “the world” in verses 15-16? What kind of love of “the world” keeps us from loving the Father?

Discussion question 4.  (1 John 2:15-17) What kinds of sins are covered by the three examples of worldliness that John gives? Why are these sometimes so difficult for us to discern in ourselves? Why is worldliness so harmful to our future?


Lessons 3: Antichrists, Anointing, and Abiding (1 John 2:18-27)

January 25, 2018

Key verses:

“Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18)

“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in him.” (1 John 2:27)

In this lesson John teaches us to discern false teachers, to trust actively in the Holy Spirit to teach us and to guide us, and to remain or abide in Jesus our Savior. Our safety and security are bound up in Christ. Christians are familiar with the term "Antichrist", but the word is used only once in the Bible - in the second chapter of 1 John. The concept goes back to Daniel when he talked about "abomination and desolation". Jesus also quoted Daniel in his admonitions to his followers. According to prophecy, there e is only one Antichrist but there is no shortage of false prophets. They can come at us from outside or more frequently inside the Church. They are manifested in false doctrine and in immoral behavior. 

John explains that we have an anointing. We are familiar with the term from the Old Testament teachings. This anointing teaches us and is aligned with the Holy Spirit. Jesus was anointed to preach the Gospel when the Holy Spirit descended upon him. The Holy Spirit teaches and leads into Truth. It teaches and reminds. It is a constant reminder to remain in he Father and the Son as they remain in you. This is the important concept of abiding or remaining. It is one thing to accept Jesus but it is quite another to remain and dwell in Him.   

Discussion questions. 

Discussion question 1. (1 John 2:18) What is this antichrist that John expects to come? What is the difference between the antichrist and antichrists in the church John is writing to? In what ways do we see the spirit of antichrist at work in our day?

Discussion question 2(1 John 2:20-21) What is the “anointing” that John is talking about? In what way is anointing connected to the Holy Spirit in the Bible? Do you think that each Christian has received this anointing?

Discussion question 3(1 John 2:20, 27) In what ways is the Holy Spirit an internal Guide for us? In what ways does he teach us? In what ways does he point us to Jesus’ teaching?

Discussion question 4.  (1 John 2:24-28) What does it mean to abide/remain/continue in Jesus? Give an example of what a Christian does who is “abiding” in Jesus. What are symptoms in a Christian who is not “abiding” in Jesus?

Lessons 4: Sin Is Lawlessness (1 John 2:28-3:10)

February 1, 2018

Key verses:

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.  Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”(1 John 3:2-3)

style="padding-left: 30px;">“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4)

“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” (1 John 3:9)

John continues with the topic of sin in Chapter 3 of this letter. He once again establishes Jesus as the true son of God and the person we should model our own lives after. He talks about the Second Coming of Jesus and how we should be prepared to present ourselves to the Savior when he returns. Righteous living is the answer but what is that and how do we achieve it? We do so as children of God. As children of God, we are being accorded the high privilege of being on the same plane as the Saviour. This is possible by being born again after renouncing a life of sin and accepting Jesus as the true savior. God created us alll but only Jesus' was "begotten", that is to say being the same as the Creator. So we will engage in a discussion of what it means to be "begotten". The Pharisees could not grasp this concept, but perhaps we can. 

The Lamb takes away our sin so we are no longer sinful. But is this possible? “Those who have been born of God do not sin, because God’s seed abides in them; they cannot sin, because they have been born of God.” (NRSV, similar to the KJV). There is an interesting discussion on what is meant by "cannot sin" and it goes into the nuances of the Greek language. 

And then how is it that we are prevented from sinning? Another interesting discussion that complete with the all important bullet points. 

Discussion questions. 

Discussion question 1. (1 John 2:29-3:2) In what sense are we “children of God”? What does the Holy Spirit have to do with this “new birth”? How does the new birth change us?

Discussion question 2(1 John 2:28; 3:2-3) In what way does our expectation of Christ’s Second Coming motivate us to purify ourselves from sin? How does purifying ourselves from sin relate to God’s grace?

Discussion question 3Q3. (1 John 3:4) How does lawlessness show up in a person’s attitude and actions? In what sense is an attitude of lawlessness the cause of sin in our lives?

Discussion question 4.  (1 John 2:24-28) What does it mean to abide/remain/continue in Jesus? Give an example of what a Christian does who is “abiding” in Jesus. What are symptoms in a Christian who is not “abiding” in Jesus?(1 John 3:6, 9) How does the presence of God’s seed in us keep us from habitual lawlessness and sin? How does the Holy Spirit sanctify us and make us like Jesus?

Discussion question 5.  (1 John 3:3-10) How does John’s teaching on sin and righteousness in this passage relate to combating the false teachers? What did they seem to be teaching about sin and righteous living?


Lessons 5: Love in Action (1 John 3:11-24)


February 8, 2018

Key verses:

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (1 John 3:16)

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:17-18)

“[We] receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.” (1 John 3:22)



Now John turns in his letter from sin to the topic of Love, which is, and always has been his central theme in all his writings. But first he has to overcome some other obstacles within his congregations and within us. He refers back to Genesis and the slaying of Able by Cain as evidence of hatred. He discussed this in some detail and comes to the conclusion that the murder was born out of jealously. From there, he offers that Cain represents for us the world. The world says that it hates Christians because they are “holier than thou” and a bunch of hypocrites. And I am sure that these charges are often true. But the real reason for the hatred is that when Christians seek to live righteously, it exposes the sin and corruption of those not committed to Jesus, stimulating both shame, anger, hatred – and persecution energized by a spirit of murder.

John helps us understand Christian love, that is love in action. As acts of compassion and even laying down one's life for another. Love brings us closer to the Truth, which can only be found in the presence of God. Finally, he gives us assurance that we are in good hands and these things will be there for us in a loving relationship with the Father. .


Discussion questions.

Discussion question 1. (1 John 3:12-15) Why did Cain resent Abel? Why did Cain kill Abel? How does the story of Cain and Abel illustrate Jesus’ explanation of why the world hates us?

Discussion question 2. (1 John 3:15) How can anger turn into hatred in our hearts? In what ways do anger and hatred relate to murder? How can we get rid of stored-up anger in our hearts so that we may love those who have offended us?

Discussion question 3. (1 John 3:16-18) What does it mean to “lay down your life for your brothers”? What are some concrete examples of this kind of love in action within the Christian community? If you are in a large congregation, how can you get to know other members so you’ll be able to lay down your life for them – and they for you?

Discussion question 4. (1 John 3:22) We know that God doesn’t “owe” us anything. So what is the relationship between obedience and answered prayer? Do we “earn” God’s favor through obedience?

Lessons 6: God Is Love (1 John 4:1-21)

February 15, 2018

Key verses:

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10) “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)


We now move to Chapter 4 of 1 John The apostle is still concerned that his congregants are grounded in the theology of the Divinity. As mentioned in Lesson 3, the primary heresy John was combating in Ephesus and elsewhere was a serious error in Christology – who Jesus is. This error stems from a very strong Greek dualism and resulting Docetism, which taught that Jesus couldn’t have been divine in the flesh. Especially, a divine being couldn’t carry the sins of all mankind in his body on the cross. This argument would surface centuries later in the form of Arianism and would cause a great schism in the church. It was of such importance that Emperor Constantine convened a council in 325 AD to come up with a single theology as pertaining to Jesus. The Divinity was upheld but Arianism was not done. In fact, it would survive until this day.

The crux of the matter is this. Was Christ created or begotten by God or was he there from before time, like God? This may seem a subtle distinction, perhaps above the discernment of those just coming to the faith, but for John it held great importance. In fact, he denounced the Docetists as imposters, heretics and being in the "spirit of the Antichrist". We believe that Jesus is God in the flesh, the incarnate son of God, that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one and the same. Thus, the Trinitarian point of view. Other Christians, Unitarians and Universalists, subscribe to the Arian view that Jesus is the son of God but came after the creation of the world. In fact there exists an Arian branch of Catholicism even today. This is a fundamental Christian concept that should be studied and fully understood.


Discussion questions.

Discussion question 1. (1 John 4:1-3) Why is believing that Jesus was God in the flesh so important? Why doesn’t Satan want us to believe that? What are the implications of the fact that Jesus could live out his divine life in a human body like ours? What significance does it bring to the crucifixion and to the resurrection? What is the significance for your Christian life?

Discussion question 2. (1 John 4:4) What in us is greater than false prophets and even Satan? In what sense have we overcome them? In what way will we overcome them in the future? How should this truth affect fear in our lives?

Discussion question 3. (1 John 4:7-8) Why is the statement, “God is love,” so important? What does it say about God’s nature? How does love being the essence of God’s nature affect us? If we were created in God’s image of love, but fell, what does this say about the road to healing in our lives? Why does love demand a willingness to forgive?

Discussion question 4. (1 John 4:11-18) What kind of fear should we have towards God? What kind of fear is extinguished by his love perfected in us? What kind of attitude should we have towards future judgment?


Lessons 7: God’s Testimony Regarding Jesus (1 John 5:1-21)

March 1, 2018

Key verses:

“This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)

“Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4)

“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11-12)

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)


We now move to Chapter 5 of 1 John  where the Apostle starts with the theme of the divinity of Jesus, criticizing his opponents in Ephesus who would downgrade Jesus to the role of a pious man who was neither the Christ nor the Son of God. This was a serious matter for John and one that could present a problem for the believers if they did not understand it and embrace it fully. For John, what you believe is who you are. You must get to the well of belief no matter what or how long it takes. Everything works off of this. Without this you cannot properly follow the commands of Jesus, which John points out are after all, not burdensome. To the contrary, living with these commands gives you contentment and joy. The alternative of lawlessness is not legalism, but love lived out consistently in one’s life.

John brings in the concept of "overcoming", as in overcoming the world. He does not mean that we are to wage war on the world or even confront it, but that we must remove ourselves from it spiritually. Living for Christ is living outside the World of Satan. 

Then he has us focus on the Spirit, Water and Blood, concepts we are familiar with in our Christian faith. These are seen as witnesses and Wilson elaborates on this concept. This leads to the idea of eternal life which John explains as a promise by Jesus in this life. The gift of eternal life is a present possession to be enjoyed now. 

Next we talk about prayer, i.e., the prayers that we make and the prayers that God answers. There are two conditions: our obedience and God's will. He deals with the idea of praying for sinners and has some explicit advice on mortal sin, restoration from sin. when to stop praying and others.  

Discussion questions. 

Discussion question 1. (1 John 5:4-5) How does a defeatist mentality differ from a belief that in Christ we have overcome the world? What part does faith have in this overcoming? What part does unbelief have in a defeatist mentality?

Discussion question 2. (1 John 5:11-12) What is the difference between saying “this life is in the Christian Church” and “this life is in his Son”? What should we be doing differently so that we teach a faith relationship rather than a religion? What is the difference between “faith” and “faith in Jesus”?

Discussion question 3(1 John 5:14-15) What are the two conditions to answered prayer in 1 John? (See also 3:22) How do we determine God’s will so that we can pray boldly, confidently? How often will our prayers be answered when our main motive is to achieve our will?

Discussion question 4. (1 John 5:21) Why does John exhort his “children” to “keep yourselves from idols”? What idols distract us from the true God? What idols compete with God for attention in your life?


Lessons 8: Walking in Love (2 and 3 John)

March 15, 2018

Key verses:

“Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 9)

“We ought to support such people, so that we may become co-workers with the truth.” (3 John 8, NRSV)

“Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.” (3 John 11)


In our final lesson, Wilson turns to John 2 and 3. These are very short letters more in the style of the traditional letter we find elsewhere in the New Testament. John is writing to a specific audience, sometimes a person with specific instructions as to how to carry out his teachings in 1 John. He mentions three individuals. Gaius, Diotrephes and Demetrius and has things to say about each one, which in turn leads to further instruction. The letters are short but John covers some important topics including Welcoming, the Prosperity Gospel and, of course, Warnings About False Teachers. ATs usual John does not mince words. This is perhaps because (a) he is probably 90 years old and (b) he has only so much space on the single parchment he is using.

This study of the Letters of John has been refreshing and thought provoking. Our sessions have been lively and discussions were engaging and helpful in understanding John's message. These letters, especially 1 John, can serve as a reminder to us what the fundamental Christian life is based on, boiled down to its simplest terms. Thanks to all the participants for their attendance, devotion and contribution.

Discussion questions.

Discussion question 1. (2 John 9) What is the danger of “running ahead” of Christ’s teachings to “deeper truths”? What is the danger of “running ahead” of Christ’s guidance for our lives? What does it mean to “abide” or “continue” in Christ and his teachings? Why is this so important?

Discussion question 2. Q2. (2 John 10-11) Why does the Apostle John tell his readers to refuse hospitality to the false teachers? What would refusing hospitality mean for a congregation (as opposed to an individual)? What is the border between tolerance and stupidity, when it comes to false teachers? Do the divisions of denominationalism find justification in this verse? Why or why not?

Discussion question 3. (3 John 5-8) What are the reasons given in these verses for supporting Christian workers in their ministry? What reward comes with becoming a “co-worker,” by assisting Christian workers? How effective can Christian workers be without those who support them?

Discussion question 4. (3 John 9-10) What character flaws does Diotrephes exhibit? Can a person be a strong pastoral leader without developing these traits? If you have tendencies in yourself towards pride and a controlling spirit, how can you fight against them?