Fifth Sunday of Easter

 Sermon Text: 1 John 3:18-24

 Other Readings: Acts 4:32-37 and John 15:1-8



 

  1. John uses some “vocatives” to address his readers. He calls them “children” in verse 18 and “friends” in verse 21. (However, the Greek word used in verse 21 could be translated, “beloved” or “loved ones.”) What emotions do the words “children” and “friends” convey to you?
     
  2. “[We] receive from [God] anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him” (v. 22 NIV). – Has there ever been a time in your life when you have not received something for which you prayed? And doesn’t this make it seem like John is saying God answers our prayers only if we do what God says? Use the Lord’s Prayer to understand and apply verse 22.
     
  3. John says that we have the Holy Spirit. How can we be confident that we have the Holy Spirit?
     
  4. In our Gospel Reading (also written by John), Jesus says that his believers will bear “fruit” and he means fruits of faith. Based on 1 John 3:18-24, what are some of the most important fruits of faith that we do?
     
  5. How did the believers in Acts 4:32-37 love “with actions and in truth?” What are some ways that congregational members love each other “in actions and in truth?” What are some of the ways that this week you can love those in your personal life “in actions and in truth?”


 


  1. Answers may vary based on personal perspectives, but when we consider that John is writing this as an aged Christian and veteran pastor (he may have been around 80 years old and been in pastoral ministry for six decades), it’s not hard to hear a tone of sincere and confident love. If taken in that way, these verses might make us feel at ease and calm, knowing that John is coming from a place of sincere love.
     
  2. The Lord’s Prayer teaches us to pray to God as our dear Father in heaven. If we pray to God as his dear children, then we don’t use our good works as bargaining chips with him – just like a healthy relationship between earthly children and fathers doesn’t rely on good deeds as bargaining chips. The Lord’s Prayer also teaches us first to pray for God’s name to be kept holy in our lives, for God to strengthen his rule in our lives, and for God’s will to be done. If we pray for specific things but then close our prayers with those general petitions, we can be confident that even if specifically requested scenarios don’t play out, we know God is lining things up to keep his name holy, to strengthen his kingdom, and to do his will – the very things we asked for.
     
  3. We can be confident that we have the Holy Spirit because Jesus promised that he would give him to us and because the Scriptures declare that the baptized have the Holy Spirit. So, knowing that we have the Holy Spirit is less about seeing visible manifestations of the Spirit’s power in our lives and more about going back to the promises of God.
     
  4. John highlights these important fruits of faith – trusting in Jesus, continuing to love all our neighbors, doing acts of love (not just words of love), hanging onto the truth, and prayer. Notice how these line up with the Ten Commandments. To believe in Jesus is to keep the First Commandment. To hang onto the truth is the Third Commandment. To pray is the Second Commandment. To love our neighbors is to keep commandments four through ten.
     
  5. Answers can vary but we can do acts of love for our fellow members by caring for their needs at major life events – hospitalizations, births, deaths, unemployment, etc. To care for those in our personal lives, we can demonstrate the fruits of the Holy Spirit, as outlined in Galatians 5.