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Introducing 1 John

This fall, Mars Hill Church will be studying through the book of 1 John. In the words of The Monotones, who wrote the book of love?

Love. It’s one of the most uttered and least defined words in our culture.

The most loving person who has ever lived is Jesus Christ. And one of the people he loved the most was his disciple and dear friend, John. In fact, he was “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20). Jesus’ love transformed John and sent him on a lifelong mission of loving Christians as Christ had loved him.

Nobody could get John to stop talking about Jesus’ love.

The Bible introduces us to John when he is a very young man—a fisherman, working in the family business on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus calls him and his brother, James, to join the first disciples. “Immediately,” Scripture records, “they left the boat and their father and followed him” (Matt. 4:22).

John walked away from everything to walk with Jesus. In the years that followed, John witnessed firsthand the miraculous life, death, and resurrection of the Lord. When Jesus was preaching, teaching, healing, casting out demons, raising the dead, John saw it all. Just before Jesus breathed his final breath on the cross, he left his mother in John’s care (John 19:26–27). Jesus trusted John more than anyone, and John remained faithful to his friend, his God. After Jesus returned to heaven, Pastor John spent decades caring for the young church, leading them according to the Way and the Truth, and reminding them to “love one another, for love is from God” (1 John 4:7).

John lived a long time. He was the only apostle to avoid martyrdom, though he narrowly escaped death on numerous occasions. He survived beatings, a boiling meant to kill him, and deprivation in exile. But nobody could get John to stop talking about Jesus’ love. According to history outside the Bible, it is possible that John was 100 years old when the church would still gather to hear him speak about what it was like to hang out with Jesus. In various ways he would tell them, over and over, “You are the children of God. Jesus loves you. Love one another.”

You are the children of God. Jesus loves you. Love one another.

This is the heart of John’s writings. After all that John went through with and for his great God and dear friend Jesus, he was not going to allow false teachers to confuse the new Christians who called him pastor, because he loved them. John wrote his letter to primarily younger and newer Christians as their pastor/grandpa who continually refers to them (and us) as “my dear children.”

The letter of 1 John is our opportunity to learn from this great man about Jesus’ love so that we can love Jesus and one another. He warns us, encourages us, rebukes us, and reminds us again of what truly matters: that we know who Jesus is and what he has done for us; that we embrace Jesus’ love for us; and that we share that love with others as we fellowship together as God’s family made up of brothers and sisters in Jesus.

As you read and study 1 John, pray that God would help you examine the book accurately. Pray that God would use these words to transform you to be more like Jesus. And pray that God the Holy Spirit, who is mentioned throughout the book as the source for new life in Jesus (2:20, 27; 3:24), will transform your life to enjoy Jesus’ love and share it with others.

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