SDA Sabbath School Lesson

March 30 - April 5

The Word of Life

Lesson 1

Read For This Week's Study: 1 John 1:1-4.

Memory Text. "We write to you about the Word of life, which has existed from the very beginning. We have heard it, and we have seen it with our eyes; yes, we have seen it, and our hands have touched it" (1 John 1:1, NIV).

Key Thought: Jesus, the Word of Life, became one with us so that we could know God, believe in Him, and be saved for eternal life.

Knowing God As He Truly is. Knowing God As He Truly is. The Ever-Existing Word Of Life The Ever-Existing Word Of Life Touching God Touching God The Material Witness The Material Witness Proclaiming Fellowship - With God! Proclaiming Fellowship - With God! Completing Joy Completing Joy Further Study Further Study Also see: Lesson Helps for study material used in this lesson. And don't miss: The Inside Story

Sabbath Afternoon March 29

Knowing God As He Truly is. This is the great theme expressed as John opens his message. He is absolutely convinced that Jesus is the express image of the invisible God-Jesus with whom he walked and talked was and is truly the Almighty, eternal God!

"In asserting that he is about to write concerning the One whom he and his associates have actually heard, John contests the claims of those who deny the reality of the incarnation."- SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 627.

It is helpful to read the whole book of 1 John through it's quite short. You will gain something of the eagerness that John wants to share. The book is really breathless with the thrill of being with God and following His ways. Ask yourself: what is this epistle telling me about God and how He acts? Thoughts rush on you in quick succession from the conviction of a sincere Christian. Then read the epistle again as if it were a letter directly sent to you, rather than a dusty part of an ancient book. In so many ways, this is one of God's love letters to His friends, and it expresses the intimate relationship we need to have with the One who is love, the very Word of Life!

Inside Story

Sunday March 30

The Ever-Existing Word Of Life (1 John 1:1).

What immediately crosses your mind as you read 1 John 1:1?

I've read something like this before! The key words beginning and Word remind us of the beginning of John's Gospel, and this must have been in his mind as he wrote this first letter. "In the beginning was the Word" (John 1:1) announces the arrival of Jesus, the revelation of God Himself. But this, too, echoes the very start of God's revelation to humanity: "in the beginning God" (Gen. 1:1). Through these words we are brought into the presence of the creating, saving God. No time for introductory remarks! And perhaps there is a lesson here. In our writing and talking, let's put God first.

Though people often are reluctant to discuss religion, they frequently are quite happy to talk about God. Try it, and you will find it is true.

What do you think "the Word of life" (1 John 1:1) means?

John's Gospel shows that the Word is a way of describing Jesus. Jesus said that He came to bring abundant life (John 10:10). So we could read the Word of life as Jesus, who comes to bring life. Jesus was the living Word-the One who has life of Himself: "I am the resurrection, and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die" (John 11:25, 26 ,NIV.).

John also emphasizes that this Word has existed from the beginning - making sure that no one is confused into thinking that Jesus was created at some time.

At the heart of this term, the Word of life, is the essential truth that without Jesus we cannot live. Life is of God, and eternal life, comes only through the gift of God. Such life-quality begins now and continues forever, even if the first death should intervene.

What is significant in the way John elevates the idea of the Word? Compare John 1: 1-3 with 1 John 1:1.

Jesus is the revelation of God. The term Word is used to include not only the spoken and written word, but the idea that God discloses Himself to us through Jesus.

For consideration: How Real is "the Word of life" to you?

Inside Story

Monday March 31

Touching God (1 John 1:1).

How do we get our information, and how does this relate to what we know about God? 1 John 1:1, 2.

Information about the world we live in comes through our five senses. "Seeing is believing," we say. "Heard it with my own ears." "So real, I could reach out and touch it." We rightly place much weight on what our senses tell us. And to contradict those who want to make Jesus into some kind of ghost, John is quite adamant: "We heard, we saw, we even touched!" Jesus wasn't someone you could put your hand through. Remember Jesus' invitation to His disciples after His resurrection: "Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have" (Luke 24:39, NIV.).

In the same way, doubting Thomas was finally convinced when he could actually touch and feel the risen Jesus. Jesus urged him, "put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe" (John 20:27, NIV.). Likewise, John's certainty was based on his own experience. His knowledge and understanding of God came through his closeness to Jesus and what Jesus represented.

Why is it important to give evidence that what we say about God is true? 2 Peter 1:16-21.

How many different ideas are there about God? We all know people who have different understandings as to what God is truly like even within the church! That is why two things are essential: the truth about God as revealed in the person of Jesus, and our own personal experience of Him in His dealings with us. John points us to these two basic aspects of Christian faith: he knew Jesus personally, and he identified Jesus as God. Much of the message of 1 John is summed up in this.

The New English Bible uses striking language in its abrupt and uncompromising beginning: "It was there from the beginning; we have heard it; we have seen it with our own eyes; we looked upon it, and felt it with our own hands; and it is of this we tell. Our theme is the word of life" (1 John 1:1). John had not only heard of Jesus, but he had also seen Him, touched Him, and associated with Him. The witness of his senses was irrefutable.

For reflection: Without the actual physical presence of Jesus, how can you touch God?

Inside Story

Tuesday April I

The Material Witness (1 John 1:2).

What is important about an eyewitness? List some specific aspects. Acts 10:38-43; Acts 13:30- 33; 1 Peter 5:1.

We live credibility to the testimony of witnesses who see and hear something firsthand. They are considered to have the best knowledge of a situation, since they were actually present, unlike others who may have heard only second - or third hand.

John presents himself and the other apostles as eyewitnesses (1 John 1:2). He himself was the man on the scene, who knows it to be true because he heard, saw, and touched for himself. The conviction of personal experience is hard to argue against. John speaks of what he knows to be true because he saw the life become visible in the person and nature of Jesus Christ.

"[1 John 1:1-3 quoted.] Thus John bears testimony that he had seen Christ, had been with Christ. In the early history of the Christian church, the enemy tried to bring in questions that would lead to doubt and dissension. At this time the testimony of John was invaluable in establishing the faith of the believers. He could say with assurance, I know that Christ lived on this earth; and I can bear testimony regarding His words and works." - Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 947.

How could someone who looks like only a man be God? John 14:6-11.

By depicting haloes, medieval artists tried to make sure Jesus (and other specially holy persons) were recognized. But Jesus came as a man among men, and there was nothing to attract us to him other than the truth itself. "[Isa. 53:1-3 quoted.] .... In the eyes of the Jews, Christ had no beauty that they should desire Him. They looked for a Messiah who would come with outward display and worldly glory one who would do great things for the Jewish nation, exalting it above every other nation on the earth." - Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 1147.

We have become so familiar with the story that we may need to think again of what John is really saying. How easy is it to believe that someone who from outward appearance looks like just another man is actually the God of the universe?

How easy is it to be disciples today? Was it more difficult then? If so, why? If not, why not?

Inside Story

Wednesday April 2

Proclaiming Fellowship - With God! (1 John 1:3).

Like a herald announcing the visit of a king, John proclaims the truth and invitation of God. The amazing fact is that God invites us all to join John in friendship with him: "Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3).

How does Christianity differ from many other religious systems? John 15:14, 15.

Where else is the idea of friendship with God so strongly stated? Ideas of "God" as distant or unconcerned or needing pacifying are frequently found in religious systems, since God is seen as being so "far above" us. The God revealed in Jesus remains all-powerful, the great Almighty - yet He invites us into fellowship (friendship) with Himself. What a gracious God! And this is truly the message of Jesus, who invites us into understanding friendship.

How are we to relate to God? James 2:23.

"We need to educate and train the mind so that we shall have an intelligent faith, and have an understanding friendship with Jesus. Unless we continually cherish friendship between God and our souls, we shall separate from Him, and walk apart from Him. We shall make friends of those around us, and place our trust in humanity, and our affections will be diverted from the true object of worship. We must not allow coldness to chill our love for our Redeemer. If we have fellowship with Him, we must ever set the Lord before us, and treat Him as an honored Friend, giving Him the first place in our affections." - Sons and Daughters of God, p. 27 (italics supplied).

How inclusive is John's invitation in 1 John 1:3, 4?

Some Christians have thought they should be exclusive and have even incorporated that idea into their system of beliefs. But following the example of Jesus, John wants to invite all who will respond into fellowship with us and with the Father and the Son. The church is to reflect the God who is inclusive - inviting all who will to come into fellowship with Him.

For reflection: Are there any ways in which you are exclusive? What can you do about this?

Inside Story

Thursday April 3

Completing Joy (1 John 1:4).

How does John think his joy and that of other members of the church will be made complete? 1 John 1:4.

It is interesting that John does not feel joy to be complete without those to whom he is writing. And though we are far down the ages, this surely applies to us too. All true Christians feel that their joy is incomplete unless it is shared with others who also can experience the joy of the gospel. As Phillips puts it: "We must write and tell you about it, because the more that fellowship extends, the greater the joy it brings to us who are already in it" (1 John 1:4).

This infectious enthusiasm for evangelism is often what we miss. How can it be recaptured? We may think that what is needed are methods, plans, and schemes - or more advertising, better technology, or improved presentations. All these may be good, but none can be a substitute for the irresistible zeal of the Christian who holds on to the experience of first love for God. All through his Gospel and letters, John speaks of this inner joy. (See John 3:29; John 15:11; John 16:20-24; John 17:13; 2 John 12; 3 John 4.) How can this joy be sustained?

Define in a few words real joy. What is the reason for this joyful enthusiasm?

"If there is anything in our world that should inspire enthusiasm, it is the cross of Calvary. 'Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.' 1 John 3:1. 'For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' John 3:16. Christ is to be accepted, believed on, and exalted. This is to be the theme of conversation - the preciousness of Christ." - Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 338.

If this is so, how does my conversation match up? Is this my theme in the talks I have with others? And how do I bring such themes in without appearing preachy or spiritually vain? We also need to question our relationship to those new Christians joining the church as well as the way we prioritize evangelism and our own personal commitment to sharing faith.

If these activities seem unenjoyable, what does this say about our experience of the joy of the Lord?

Inside Story

Friday April 4

For Further Study: The prologue (1 John 1:1-4) to 1 John has been the subject of some study. What is the "that which" that John is referring to?

For some useful parallels between 1 John and the Gospel of John, refer to the SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, pp. 623, 624.

The "that which" is the truth of and about God, as revealed in Jesus and as witnessed by John and his fellow apostles. All Christians may experience this truth as they come to know Jesus personally.

"By coming to dwell with us, Jesus was to reveal God both to men and to angels. He was the Word of God, - God's thought made audible. In His prayer for His disciples He says, 'I have declared unto them Thy name,' - 'merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,' - 'that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them.' But not alone for His earth born children was this revelation given. Our little world is the lesson book of the universe. God's wonderful purpose of grace, the mystery of redeeming love, is the theme into which 'angels desire to look,' and it will be their study throughout endless ages. Both the redeemed and the unfallen beings will find in the cross of Christ their science and their song. It will be seen that the glory shining in the face of Jesus is the glory of self-sacrificing love. In the light from Calvary it will be seen that the law of self-renouncing love is the law of life for earth and heaven; that the love which seeketh not her own' has its source in the heart of God; and that in the meek and lowly One is manifested the character of Him who dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto."- The Desire of Ages, pp. 19, 20,

Discussion questions:

  1. What exactly does Jesus, the Word of Life, tell us about the nature and character of God?
  2. We cannot directly see, hear, or touch Jesus today. Does this put us at a disadvantage or not? Why?

Summary: Only by believing and accepting the Word of Life, Jesus Christ, can we experience God's truth and His healing salvation. Without Jesus, who reveals God, we would be in ignorance of God. But thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ we have access to friendship with God and to eternal life. We have complete joy with God and with one another.

Inside Story

The Devil Tried!

Paul Newman Yao

My parents are from Togo in West Africa, but I was born in Ghana. When I was about 8 years old, my father took me back to his village in Togo to live with relatives. He wanted me to learn about the culture and heritage of Togo.

I had attended a Catholic school in Ghana, but my father's family would not allow me to practice Christianity. They taught me their culture and religion, which is a form of animism and spiritism. ('Togo is the voodoo capital of the world.)

When I was 12 years old the other boys and I were initiated into the tribe. The men took us far from the village. We were not permitted to look at the sun or the sky, for the spirits lived there. Each boy performed sacrifices and consulted with the spirits to learn the future. When it was my turn, the witch doctor told me I should not eat certain foods or attend crowded events. Then he gave me the name of a spirit God: Looso Akla.

When I became an adult, I moved far from Togo to a village in northern Cote d'lvoire (Ivory Coast). I began to think about my spiritual life, and I felt a yearning to return to Christianity. A nearby Adventist church was having evangelistic meetings, and someone from the church invited me to attend. I did. The speaker promised gift Bibles to all who attended every night, so I came to every meeting to get my Bible. But I received far more; I received Jesus Christ and was baptized. I found what my heart was searching for!

I took a lay-ministry-training course and moved to an area with no church. I went door to door seeking people to study the Bible with me. I began holding meetings for children. We sang and I told them stories. We had a wonderful time! They invited their parents to come, and soon I began giving Bible studies to those who asked.

In three months we had seven people ready for baptism, and in three years our little group had grown to 40.

Praise God! He took me from heathenism and voodooism and gave me something far better - Jesus! The devil tried to keep me, but Jesus won the victory!

Paul Newman Yao is studying natural remedies used in healing. He hopes to open up his own practice in Abidjan, Cote d'lvoire.

Inside Story

For Current Newsbreak, Call 1-800-648-5824.

Join the SSNET moderated email discussion group. You are also warmly invited to join a group discussion of this lesson Sabbath morning, with your local Seventh-Day Adventist congregation.

Last updated on April 9, 1997

Prepared for the Internet by the SSNET Web Team

Copyright © 1997 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. All Rights Reserved.