Lesson Two – Word of Life

Word of Life

Lesson Text: I John 1:1-4.


No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.  I Cor. 2:7

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  I John 3:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.  In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.  John 1:1-5

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  Gen.1:27

The Lord formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.  Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there He put the man He had formed.  And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.  In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Gen. 2:7-9

The foregoing is where we need to begin our study concerning the truth about our own lives on earth.  The study must begin in God’s mind before this world was created.  The kingdom of God was there in the realm of spiritual eternity.  The life of Deity had life like Jesus Christ revealed to mankind (Col. 2:9; Heb. 1:1-4).  God’s complete plan for mankind, the truth and grace for living beings, was with Him in the Word before His first move in creation (John 1:1, 17, 18; Tit. 1:1-3).  “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth:” God Almighty spoke and the story of the Garden of Eden became a historical event and geographical reality in time (Gen. 1:1; 2:8-18).  It was at this historical and geographical juncture events took a “down turn” in God’s plan to add children to His eternal kingdom. Adam and Eve broke the covenant God made for them.

Consequently, humanity attained the capacity to be aware of entities God did not originally create in us:  “The man has become like One of Us, knowing good and evil.”  Gen. 3:22.  This does not mean each person knows what is good and evil.  It means we all have been endowed with the capability of this awareness.  Deity already knew what is good and evil; therefore, Jesus Christ was aware from His youth (Luke 2:49).  He chose only the good (II Cor. 5:21).  His incarnate challenge was to become obedient to what He knew (Heb. 5:9).

Christians have the capability of awareness but we need to learn to “hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”  Rom. 12:9.  We strive “to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.”  Rom. 16:19.  The life of our spirits in our “Adam bodies” plus the culture into which we have been born is our classroom for learning about life as a living soul.  Our learning period should not end until the very hour our spirits leave our bodies to return to God (Eccl. 12:7).  We have the source for the true knowledge about good and evil recorded in God’s word; therefore, we are responsible for our choices (John 12:48; Rom. 12:21).  Mature spiritual education is about discerning what is good and what is evil according to the law of life (Heb. 5:14; 8:10).

The lesson we must learn is how to develop our “selves” with characteristics that identifies us as sons and daughters of God (II Cor. 4:16-18; 6:18).  Since this is our potentials as a living soul, it must the goal of our faith (I Pet. 1:7-9).  In other words, it is about our spirits that came from God successfully living in our bodies made of the substance of the earth.  We are living souls created by God in two distinct parts with God-given needs.  These innate needs push us into our environment on a lifelong quest for satisfaction.  We also have the capacity to examine ourselves in order to fix what is broken (II Cor. 13:5).  Christians conduct court room type sessions on our behavior by the interactions of our minds and consciences (Rom. 2:15).  We all have two very long lists in our memories about what we believe is good and evil.  If we do not choose what we believe is good we will suffer with guilt on our consciences.  Guilt robs us of our glorious view of ourselves.  Our guilt ridden view of ourselves affects our outlook toward people and God.  The view we have of our selves determines the ethical level of our behavior.

Mankind seeks to learn the good way to attain satisfaction for the needs God created in us.  We must have His help (Rom. 1:18).  The Garden of Eden’s physical and mental environment was the perfect place for mankind’s pursuit of satisfaction for food, sex, social acceptance, achievement and glory; however, God subjected His creation to decay because Adam and Eve broke covenant (Rom. 8:18-21).  The principle God declared and used for mankind to learn the good way for attaining satisfaction for our innate needs is suffering pain in our tribulations (Gen. 3:16-19; II Cor. 1:7; Heb. 12:4-13; I Pet. 2:21; 4:1).

According to history and what we hear from the news media each day, most adult people are following the way of Cain.  Cain became angry because he failed to achieve social acceptance and favor with God (Gen. 4:3-7; I John 3:12).  Anger is the general cause of murder (Matt. 5:21, 22).  Man’s wisdom will always fail to produce what people hope will happen in relation to their inherent needs; consequently, many people suffer Abel’s fate because of another person’s anger.  Innocent people suffer from strife in their homes; fights in their communities and wars among the nations.  Anger is particularly the result of failure to attain satisfaction for the innate need of security.  Anger in the heart produces behavior that can lead to strife, murder and war.

There are reasons for this long and “far reaching” introduction to this lesson.  It is because we cannot enter into a study about “The Word of life” without an understanding of why and how God created living beings.  The answer to why God created us can be understood by reading Romans 8:28-30 and Hebrews 2:9-16.   How God created us is a bit more complicated, as most of us have come to know.  Jesus the Son of God is the “author of life.”  Acts 3:15.  An angel of the Lord assisted the apostles in a jail break and sent them to “tell the people the full message of this new life.”  Acts 5:20.  They had the assistance of the Holy Spirit to help them present the complete message.  The Holy Spirit has been awarded the role of each Christians’ spiritual growth – that is, sanctification (Rom. 8:5-16; Gal. 5:16-18; II Thess. 2:13; I Pet. 1:2).

This is not a simple lesson and it cannot be taught by simplistic methods.  We cannot merely quote scriptures about John’s spiritual visions of dark and light and expect learning to happen in God’s people.  The responsibility of a teacher is to “sound down” the scriptures to where we live in our daily lives.  The Greek word translated teacher is didaskalos.  It literally means to “sound down.”  We will need to read John’s beautiful spiritual words and then seek to understand how they apply to our mundane lives on earth – in “jars of clay.”  II Cor. 4:7.

Biblical history is almost non-existent from the time man was driven from the “tree of life” until about 2000 years before God sent His Son to enlighten mankind about the life of a living soul (Gen. 12:1-3).  A few people remained in touch with God; therefore, they were provided instructions about how and why they were created (Gen. 26:5; Heb. 11:2-38).  This remnant of humanity learned what is good by the discipline of tribulations (Rom. 11:5; Heb. 11:38-40; I Pet. 1:6, 7).  Cain and Able chose two different courses for their learning to attain satisfaction for their inherent needs (I John 3:11-15).

All but eight people had turned from the wisdom of God to the wisdom of man for discerning the good way to live and be happy by the time Noah came on the scene (Gen. 6:1-3, 11-13).  God removed all the people who would have an evil influence on His people by means of a flood (I Pet. 3:19-21).   Even so, the truth about God was suppressed by the mass of the following generations.  Consequently, they had to learn by trial and error a way to attain satisfaction for their God-given needs.  This method did not work for them and it is not working today (Rom. 1:18-32).

God finally began to make His final move on earth for His purpose in creation through the seed of faithful Abraham (Gen. 12:1-5).  He sought to separate the people who desired good from those with evil intent.  Most of Abraham’s children joined the world population culture in the later generations.  Even though they turned away from their Creator; still, they sought mundane gods for help in their quest to find satisfaction for their natural urges (Gen. 31:31; Ex. 32:1; Jas. 4:1-4).  People are prone to listen to clever people who tell them fantasy stories about superior beings.  Some ambitious people, who are often too lazy to work with their hands, have always used “persuasive words” to gain control over people and even nations.  At this very hour massive groups of religious people are under their influence.  Fakir types of religious leaders rule the masses in some Eastern nations.   Eastern world philosophers built idols in high places and told stories to answer the questions people often ask: What is life?  Why am I here?  What is the meaning of it all?  The Israelites also turned to idols for guidance to attain satisfaction for their innate needs.  Even through God had recently brought them out of Egyptian slavery they turned to idols (Ex. 32:1-5).  They became lust driven (I Kings 11:1-3).

Western societies have been influenced by the wisdom of Greek philosophers since the time of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.   They have philosophized about these men’s philosophies about what is life, but they failed to “know God” who is life (I Cor. 1:21; 3:18-20).  All philosophers, in one way or another, arrive at the right topic; that is, “What is good and what is evil.”  They, like all human beings, attained the capacity to know what is good and evil because “Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning” manner and Adam’s error of listening to his wife (II Cor. 11:3; Gen. 3:17).  The philosophers, by their own wisdom, sought to arrive at and thereby, teach what is good for mankind.

Socrates (469 – 399 B.C.) believed truth was of the highest value.  He thought truth could be discovered by human reason and logic in discussion sessions; the dialectic method.  Socrates’ student, Plato, gave philosophers the theory of ideas (Forms).  He thought abstract ideas are the truth about reality.  This is to say, for him, the truth about reality was not the material world people perceive with their senses.  He philosophized about true reality of a material substance was actually the idea behind the thing perceived and not the thing itself.  In Platonism the meaning of life is understood in the “idea of good.”  In this theory good took on the Form (Idea) called “Good.”  The claim is from “Good” all good and just things have value.

Of course, Plato’s student, Aristotle, disagreed with his teacher as philosophers must do in order to philosophize.  Philosophy ends where truth is understood.  Aristotle thought the “Highest Good” was manifested when a person became good by practicing good.  This supposedly led to happiness.  Cyrenaicism was developed by Aristippus of Cyrene.  To those people pleasure is the supreme good.  Their claim:  Immediate gratification gives people happiness.

The Apostle Paul engaged the Epicureans and Stoics in discussions about “what is truth” in his “meeting of the Areopagus.”  Acts 17:18.  The Epicureans were concerned with freedom from fear and pain as a means of attaining the highest happiness.  Stoics thought living in harmony with the universe’s divine order, being good and the use of reason was the right way to live.  This path was suppose to develop self-control and peace of mind; therefore, happiness.  It should be noted how these men’s philosophies became interwoven with and supported the pantheon of Greek and Roman gods.  One prevalent notion in both East and West philosophy was that material things were evil and non-material, or spiritual things, were good.  Out of this came Docetism.  This was the doctrine of the antichrist we have been introduced to in John’s letter (I John 2:18; 4:2, 3).

We could go on and on about other major philosophies and stories that produced religions like Confucianism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism and scores of others before the Son of God appeared on the historical scene in God’s story in the Bible.  The common thread running through all of the foregoing “wisdom of man” philosophy was about mankind’s “awareness capability.”  This is the capacity we received as a part of our mental faculties when Adam and Eve partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The problem is not merely with having this endowment, the depressing problem is guilt on the conscience.  It happens when we do not do the good we know we ought to do.  All mature people in the world realm have a problem with guilt because they have not, and will not ever learn as much as Jesus knew about good and evil while on earth.  People choose what they believe is not good; therefore, they need to do something about their guilt.  Some peoples’ favorite trick is to blame others.  Philosophers try other methods.  The actual thing philosophers try to work out is how to live “as they like” and still remain free of guilt on their consciences.  James stated a fact all mature people in the world must deal with; “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”  Jas. 4:17.  Of course, the great philosophers did not accept the entity of sin; however, they still had to do something about guilt.

People cannot live and be happy with guilt on their consciences because it robs us of our innate need for glory.  How Christians live free of guilt while we learn what is good and evil will be discussed in the next lesson.  In this lesson, we will consider what John meant when he said; “The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.”  I John 1:2.  We want to understand the law of life God has offered mankind in the new covenant (Heb. 10:16).  Jesus astonished the Jews and challenged the wisdom of man’s philosophies with the following straight forward declaration.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’  John 8:12


This is the message we have heard from Him and declare unto you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.  I John 1:5, 6

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.  John 3:19-21

We need to turn the terms light and dark into language that will help us understand the laws of life in the new covenant.  A paraphrase of the foregoing scriptures, with some help from John 1:1-14, may read like this:

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world to enlighten mankind about how our spirits have been designed to develop character and personality like God.  God created us to have fellowship with Him as His family – Father/children (I John 3:1).  He created an innate need in each individual for glory.   Christians’ role as sons in His family was predestined by God to satisfy this very strong need (I Cor. 2:7).  God did not create in us the capacity to know good and evil but we now have it; however, we have not learned to distinguish the difference in all situations.  However, when Jesus revealed what is good and evil most people continued to love the world (I John 2:15-17).  This happened because they had already chosen evil ways to satisfy their innate needs; therefore, they were slaves to their lusts (II Pet. 2:19).

They were lawless when they heard Jesus preach the kingdom of God (Luke 4:18, 19, 43; 7:22, 23; 8:11-15; 18:29).  At the same time He preached the kingdom, He proclaimed Himself as the life of the kingdom (John 1:4, 5; 11:25).  Those who accepted the kingdom had the life of the kingdom in them and this was the life of the Son of God (Luke 17:20, 21).  The kingdom of God cannot be understood unless we understand the quality of life in those who belong to the kingdom.  Jesus said:

If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples.  Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.                                                          John 8:31

Sin is lawlessness. I John 3:4

Therefore, Jesus also said:

“I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.  Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.  John 8:34-36

Now let us continue with the paraphrase of John 3:19-21.  The Jews who were looking for the truth about life became disciples (learners) of Jesus to gain more and more freedom from lawlessness.   Lawlessness is not a description of life; it is sin (I John 3:4).  The Jews who were self-righteous wanted to present themselves to themselves and other people as good people.  They knew their condition but they wanted the praise of men (John 5:44).

Now the key point about the title of this lesson can be set forth.  What did Jesus mean by free and slave?  Of course, we can turn back to Jesus’ lesson He taught Nicodemus in John 3:3-8.  Christians’ were first set free when we “passed out of death into life” at the time of our new birth (I John 3:14).  Simultaneously, we were transferred to the kingdom of God’s Son with the status of God’s sons and daughters and we became children of Abraham (Gal. 3:26-29; II Cor. 6:18; Col. 1:12, 13).  The question that follows is how do Christians stay free?  This question is answered in the title of the next lesson in this series: “Justification by Faith.”  Both of these blessing are grace doctrines based on the cross of Jesus of Nazareth who was the Christ.

However, Jesus was not speaking of grace in John 8:31-36.  His subject was not about becoming His disciple; it was about being His disciple.  His subject in this text is the truth how mankind was created to develop.   Truth about life will set a person free from ignorance about the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ,” if they believe and have faith in it enough to try it (John 7:16; Rom. 8:2).  People who decide to be farmers but remain ignorant of the law of nature about rice farming will be slaves to their ignorance.  Their hard work will produce no grain.  People who have not been enlightened by the life of Jesus in regard to their spirits will not have the freedom to grow up to the potential of being children of God.  All sinners are slaves to their sin – lawlessness (II Pet. 2:19).

The law of life describes how the spirit of Christians develops.  Jesus is the very life itself (I John 5:11, 12).  Every word He said and every move He made was a revelation of the law of life while He lived on earth.  Walking (living life) as Jesus walked with and among human beings is the way we let God write (press) the life of Jesus on our hearts and minds (I John 2:6; II Cor. 3:3).  Lawlessness is when we do not walk as He walked.

Yet, to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.  John 1:12, 13

The new birth of Christians’ “selves” is the grace that provides our fellowship with God.  We have personally passed out of death and into a new life with our Father (I John 3:14).  This fellowship has become a reality even while we live “in Adam, in Christ.”  Koinonia has been translated fellowship to denote Christian’s relationship with Jesus Christ, God, our Father, and the Holy Spirit.  I John 1:3, 6.  “And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”  II Cor. 13:14.  Koinonia means a sharing in common, a communion.  See II Cor. 1:3, 4; I John 4:16, 17.  It is an awesome fellowship.        

Christians’ fellowship with God is a “real present time” fellowship because God’s Holy Spirit has been given to us (I John 4:2-4; 5:14, 20).   This level of fellowship had not been provided for any group of God’s people since the Garden of Eden.  Fellowship with all three Persons of Deity became possible only after Jesus became Christians’ sacrifice of atonement and then returned to heaven as our king and high priest (John 7:37-39; Heb. 4:14-16; I John 2:1, 2).   Jesus’ sacrifice not only removed Christians’ past sins, it also removed the guilt of those sins from our consciences (Heb. 9:8-14; 10:12).  Therefore, Christians enjoy fellowship with God, but only if evil is not in us.  Life without holiness and righteousness is not life as Jesus is life (I John 2:29; 3:4-6).  The law of life can be found only in the teachings and the behavior of Jesus; who was and is life – zoe, as in eternal life (John 6:63, 68; 14:6).  At any point where a Christian’s fellowship has been broken with all three Persons of Deity, death is the description of the person’s “self.”

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.  And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.  Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them.  And this is how we know that He lives in us:  We know it by the Spirit He gave us.  I John 3:21-24

The commands of God are very important for our understanding of the laws of life.  In fact, the commands of Jesus, our king, are the very commands of God (John 4:34).  In many cases, if not all, the commands become Christians’ exercises to let God write the laws of the new covenant on our hearts and minds.  For instance John wrote:

We have come to know Him if we obey His commands.  The man who says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if any one obeys His word, God’s love is truly made complete in him.  This is how we know we are in Him.  Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.  I John 2:3-6

The command to love your neighbor is an old command but it is now brought to be life in a son of God (Matt. 22:37-40; I John 2:7, 8).  When a Christian accepts this command and does it, God’s love is written on his or her own heart and mind.  Love (agape) is the quality of their “selves.”
John wrote, “Whoever loves his brother lives in light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.”  I John 2:10.  The commands of God belong in a different category of law from the Law of Moses.  Authority to pass God’s commands on to mankind was given to Jesus Christ.  He learned obedience to them while He lived on earth.  He continued to pass these commands on to the apostles and others by the Holy Spirit after He took His present place at the right hand of God (John 16:12-15; I Pet. 3:22).  The Apostle John is now passing them on to Christians, even as we study his letters.  Jesus walked as God commanded and Christians walk as Jesus walked (I John 2:6).  This is how we know we have life, as in eternal life.

The laws of life describe how our spirits develop like the Person and character of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:2, 29).  John believed the recipients of his letters fully understood the laws of the new covenant.  He simply said “sin is lawlessness” without further explanation.  They knew about God’s law of nature for their bodies and they knew about God’s law of life in the new covenant for their inner-man (II Cor. 4:16).  They knew “the law of the Spirit of life set me (them) free from the law of sin and death.”  Rom. 8:2.

The law of life should be a simple law for people to understand because we work with God’s laws of nature every day.  Gardeners and farmers are fully aware the law of nature that describes how seeds germinate and plants grow.  They understand they must follow this law to reap the fruit from the plants and trees.  We expect our family doctors know the law of nature.  It describes the “fearfully and wonderfully” way God has designed our bodies (Psa. 139:14).  We know our spirits might leave our bodies if our doctor makes the wrong diagnosis (Jas 2:26).

Jesus chose twelve men for His students in His three and one-half year apostleship course (Luke 6:12-15; John 6:70).  The theme of His course was the life of a son of God in the kingdom of God (Luke 4:43; 6:35).  The Apostle John was one of those men.  This letter is a testimony about what John learned from Jesus about eternal life while traveling with Him in Israel and later via the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:45; John 20:22; John 1:1). 

Questions for Discussion

1.  Why should Bible study start with a single specific answer to the question: “What was in the mind of God about mankind before He created the present world?  How does the design of mankind relate to your answer?  Why is it important to understand the difference in the capabilities of mankind before and after Adam and Eve broke the covenant God offered them?  Why is it important to have a clear answer to the foregoing questions before we are can intelligently discuss the topic of this lesson?

2.  Why is it not possible to make a simplistic approach in our study of God’s word?

3.  Who influenced Western philosophers for decades?  How did the philosophy of these individuals relate to the capability mankind became endowed with after Adam and Eve became covenant breakers?

4.  What was the main error John revealed in the platform of the antichrist doctrine?  How are all religions formed – if not on truth?  What is the premise for John’s claim for making use of the word truth?

5.  Other than preparing an “atoning sacrifice” for people who are seeking their role in the kingdom of God, why did Jesus come to earth?  Why do people distance themselves from your answer?  How does the dichotomy “free and slave” relate to the answer to these two questions?

6.   How could God restore the fellowship with His children in the last days of time He enjoyed with Adam and Eve in the Garden before they decided to break the covenant?  What became possible in relation to God’s purpose in creation, after this immanent fellowship was restored?  List some of the words John used to portray the fellowship He and faithful Christians now enjoy “in Christ.”

7.  Why should it be easy for Christians to understand the law of life in the new covenant?


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