For questions or comments regarding this study please contact Brian Hommel or Tony Graffanino

“We can get wrapped up in so many things, but at the end of our lives, we will sadly discover that none of those things will comfort us or matter much to us anymore. So life isn’t about things; it’s about relationships. And the most significant relationship that we can possibly have is a relationship with Jesus.”
— Brian Hommel

An Outline of john's first letter

  1. The Deity of Christ and Living in the Light (1 John 1)
  2. Abiding in Christ (1 John 2)
  3. God's Love (1 John 3)
  4. Discernment and Trust (1 John 4)
  5. Faith in God (1 John 5)

Study 1: The Deity of Christ and living in the Light

(Read 1 John 1:1-4) What separates those who follow Jesus from the rest of the world is their view and understanding of who He is. Jesus asked this question in Matthew 16:15 “Who do you say that I am?” 

  • Discussion Question #1: Who is Jesus?

(Read Hebrews 1:1-3; John 1:1-4; John 1:14) As John is writing this letter, he came to three realizations:

  1. He realized that when he heard Jesus speak, he was hearing the voice of God. 
  2. He realized that when he looked at Jesus, he was looking at God.
  3. He realized that when he touched Jesus, he was touching God.

(Read 1 John 1:5-10)

  • Discussion Question #2: What is the purpose of light? Why are we afraid of the light when we are living in ‘darkness’? What does a person’s life look like when he or she is living in the light?

Living in the darkness does three things to a person:

  1. You become disoriented and struggle for direction.
  2. You become isolated and alone living in darkness.
  3. You lose your identity living in the darkness (you forget what you look like).
  • Discussion Question #3: Take some time to discuss what fellowship is and why you believe its important?

God has put a desire for relationship in every one of us. It’s a desire that He intended to be met through relationships with other people, but most of all, it’s a desire ultimately to be met through a relationship with Him.

Study 2: Abiding in Christ

(Read 1 John 2:1-6) "When Satan accuses us, we tend to draw away from God because of a sense of shame and unworthiness.  When the Holy Spirit convicts us, we’re drawn  to God to make things right with Him.”

  • Discussion Question #1: Is it possible to live a sinless life? Where did sin start?  In the mind of Adam or Eve or when they ate of the forbidden fruit? When we sin, why do we tend to hide? 

Guilt tells me I did something wrong, while shame rightly tells me, now that I have sinned or been sinned against, “something is wrong with me.” When we feel shame, we can’t help but project how we feel about ourselves onto others. We assume that because we feel horrible about ourselves that others (even God) feel the same way about us. 

(Read 1 John 2:12-14) The answer to sinning less is spending more time with Jesus. And through that, you will start to understand who you are in Christ and just how liberated from sin you actually are!

  • Discussion Question #2: Take some time to read 1 John 2:16. Discuss any observations you can make from this passage? What does the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life mean? 

Rules apart from relationship equal rebellion. Following Jesus isn’t a bunch of rules - in fact it just two, Love Jesus and love people! If you are loving Jesus and spending time with Him, do you think it will be super hard to stop sinning? No, because your focus isn’t on sinning, but getting to know Jesus!

Study 3: God's Love

(Read 1 John 3:1) “What is it that makes us slow to believe the love of God? Sometimes it is pride, which demands to prove itself worthy of the love of God before it will receive it. Sometimes it is unbelief, which cannot trust the love of God when it sees the hurt and pain of life. And sometimes it just takes time for a person to come to a fuller understanding of the greatness of God's love.”

  • Discussion Question #1: What’s the difference between unconditional love verses conditional love? As a child, were you loved more unconditionally or conditionally? Do you struggle at times to believe that you are in fact unconditionally loved by God?

(Read 1 John 3:4-6) Part of our struggle is that we look to add Jesus to our lives instead of making Him central in our souls. So if He can improve our current situation, then we’ll cry out to Him, but if not, then we’ll just continue to do our own thing.

(Read 1 John 3:16-20) "Whatever love we may pretend to mankind, if we are not charitable and benevolent, we give the lie to our profession."

  • Discussion Question #2: How do I go about loving the unloveable? And should I give money to everyone who asks? What do I do with the homeless? 

(Read 1 John 3:21-24) “Condemnation can well up inside us that has nothing to do with our standing before God. It may be the work of the enemy of our souls (who, according to Revelation 12:10 accuses the brethren), or the work of an over-active conscience. At those times, we trust in what God's Word says about our standing, not how we feel about it.”

Study 4: Discernment and trust

(Read 1 John 4:1-3) ‘Testing the spirits’ means that we take what we know to be true of God (i.e. The Bible), and we compare that with what we’ve heard. (Read 2 Peter 1:20-21)

  • Discussion Question #1: Do you believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven? Do you believe Jesus is the only way for you, but not necessarily for everyone? Do you believe all religions ultimately lead to heaven?

There are many variations of Christianity, and some of them are completely false in nature. So the only way to really know if something is true is by studying the Bible. Not for the purpose of gaining superior knowledge, but for the purpose of developing a deeper relationship with the Lord.

(Read 1 John 4:4-6) “This understanding gives great confidence and spiritual power. For those walking in this truth, victory is assured - they have overcome them. It is a positive statement, not a wishful hope.”

  • Discussion Question #2: Who is the Holy Spirit?

(Read 1 John 4:18-19) Once we begin to trust who God is and what He is like, it will conquer any fears that we might have and allow us to live at peace even when things around us my seem to be in chaos. 

Study 5: Faith in God

(Read 1 John 5:1-5)

  • Discussion Question #1: What are different ways that those who don’t follow Jesus answer the question - How does one get to heaven? 

“John’s great emphasis has been on love, but he never wants anyone to believe they earn salvation by loving others. We are born of God when we put our trust on Jesus and His saving work in our lives… We also understand that John was not talking about a mere intellectual assent to Jesus being Messiah (as even the demons might have, as described in James 2:19). Instead, he means a trust in and reliance on Jesus as Messiah."

If we are not willing to trust in the Lord, then we are going to develop a belief system that will best cater to our needs and wants. What are you willing to endure in order to have your faith grow in Christ this season? For most of us, we would like to have our faith grow on our terms with the least amount of discomfort as possible.

(Read 1 John 5:6-12) “Martin Luther preached that there was nothing more important for a person than to see that he or she could contribute nothing whatsoever to one’s own salvation. We can be fully accepted and counted legally righteous in God’s sight through faith in Christ, solely by free grace. To understand and grasp this is to finally know freedom from the crushing burden of proving yourself - to society, family, other people, or even to yourself."

  • Discussion Question #2: What are the key components involved in sharing your testimony? 
And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him… We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them… Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. (1 John 5:14, 18, 21)