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The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit — What Do We Learn from I John about the Holy Spirit?

There are two ways of approaching the doctrines of the Scriptures. One way is to collect all the data throughout the Bible into logical categories (called “systematic theology”). The other way is to work through individual books of the Bible, collecting the data on a particular subject (this is called “biblical theology,” although the term is used in other ways in less than conservative circles). When we ask, what does the epistle of I John say about God the Holy Spirit, we are taking a kind of biblical theology approach. Our conviction in these posts is that, while some believers overemphasize the Spirit, others overlook Him. We want to do neither, but long to have a balanced view of the Third Member of the Trinity.

What do we find when we unit-read (read straight through at one sitting) the epistle of  I John? We find that there is precious little reference to the Spirit of God in Titus! But here’s the one reference that we do have —

I John —
Ch. 1 – Note the binatarian reference to the Father and Son (no mention of the Spirit) in 1:3 (see also 2:1, 22, 24).

Ch. 2 – 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.[e] 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.

Could 2:27 be a reference to the Holy Spirit (“the anointing you received”)?

Could 3:19-20 be a reference to the Spirit: 19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives 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. (first overt reference to the Spirit).

Ch. 4 – Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

Ch. 5 – 6 This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the[a] Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Here in I John there is much about God the Holy Spirit. He is often left in the background in what I call the “binitarian” references (1:3 and others) where the Father and the Son are mentioned, but not the Spirit.

In chapter 2 we learn of this “anointing” that we have from “the Holy One.” This anointing refers specifically to knowing the truth. And Jesus told His disciples that the Spirit would lead them into all truth (Jn. 16:12). The Spirit is called “the Spirit of truth” in each chapter of the Upper Room Discourse (John 14-16).

Perhaps the “God [who] is greater than our hearts” is the indwelling Spirit of truth (3:20).

How do we know that God lives in us? “We know it by the Spirit he gave us” (3:24).

When it comes to spirit-testing, we see that the Incarnation is tied directly to the reality of the Spirit of God (4:1-3).

Could “the one who is in you [and who] is greater than the one who is in the world” be a reference to the Spirit of God (4:4).

Our certainty that we live in him and he in us? “He has given us of his Spirit” (4:13). Acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God = God living in them and they in God (4:15).

Although there are some textual difficulties with 5:6ff, we learn of the Spirit’s testifying “because the Spirit is the truth” (5:6).

Conclusion: In this first epistle, John has much to say about God the Holy Spirit. He anoints the believer, is in the believer, is greater than our condemning hearts, has been given to the believer, and is the Spirit of truth. Praise Him for those truths today?

 

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2019 in The Holy Spirit

 

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A Sermon on I John: Why Should We Behave as Believers? Part 2

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2019 in behavior

 

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A Message on I John: Why Should We Behave as Believers? (Part 1)

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2019 in behavior

 

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The Joy of Unit-Reading #39 (the First Epistle of John)

This morning we unit-read through I John, Screenshot 2016-02-25 05.54.11one of my favorite New Testament epistles. There is so much in these five chapters. Because it is written for the larger audience of the world, the Greek in I John is the simplest in the New Testament. Here are my notes on this wonderful letter:

There are many takeaways from this book:
1. The need for Christians to love one another.

2. The reality of false teachers and their denying of Christ.

3. The fact that we can know certain things.

4. The work of God the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.

5. The battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil.

One takeaway for me:  I show my love for the invisible God by the way I treat and love His visible children.

My prayer:  “Lord, help me to take my sin seriously, but to take Christ’s atoning work even more seriously.  Empower me to love the world of people, but not to love the worldly system which opposes You!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2016 in unit-reading

 

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My Valentine’s Day Sermon!

Friends:
Here’s the Valentine’s message I preached on Feb. 14, 2016. Comments welcome!

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2016 in love

 

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True Love!

Friends:

I shared the following message in the chapel at KeynoteScreenSnapz050Columbia International University a few years ago.  It’s a brief study of I John’s emphasis on LOVING EACH OTHER.

First,  a short video clip from Princess Bride!

Here’s my message!  Comments welcome!

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2016 in Valentine's Day

 

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MY CHAPEL MESSAGE AT CIU ON VALENTINE’S DAY

Some of you might find my message, preached at Columbia International University this past Valentine’s Day, helpful.  I was once again impressed with how John argues that we show our love for the God we can’t presently see by loving His people that we can see.

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Posted by on April 1, 2013 in true love, Valentine's Day

 

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A VALENTINE’S MESSAGE (PART 2 of 2

Friends:  I think my message in CIU’s chapel went well yesterday.  I showed the “Princess Bride” clip and also shared with the group the poem I wrote for my wife.  Here is that poem:

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If you have trouble reading it, it says:

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Here are the SEVEN TRUTHS ABOUT TRUE LOVE which I shared in chapel:

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If you’ve gone through this whole thing, you either a true friend or you desperately need a message for this Sunday!

Blessings.

Larry

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2013 in I John

 

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A VALENTINE’S DAY MESSAGE!

Friends:

I will be sharing the following message in the chapel at KeynoteScreenSnapz050Columbia International University this coming Thursday.  It’s a brief study of I John’s emphasis on LOVING EACH OTHER.

First, I want to start off with a short video clip from Princess Bride! [to be continued]

 

Questions:

1.  How do you define “true love”?

2.  What is the source of your definition?

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2013 in Valentine's Day

 

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