1 John 5:11-21

These small group studies of 1 John contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

1 John  Inductive Bible Study

Outline:

I. We have eternal life in Christ (11-13)
II. If we pray in God’s will, He will answer our prayers (14-15)
III. The sin not leading to death (16-17)
IV. God’s power protects us from the evil one (18-21)

I. We have eternal life in Christ (11-13)

Discussion Questions

If someone asked you to explain eternal life, what would you say?
When do we get this eternal life?
How does having eternal life affect your life now?
What is the way to get this eternal life?
Why did John repeat these simple/basic truths?
What does it mean to have assurance and why is this important? (From the book of 1 John, how can you know for sure that you are saved?)

Cross-references:

John 17:3 – Eternal life is to know God.
Romans 2:6-8 – God will give to each according to his works.
John 3:36 – He who has the Son has life…
John 11:25 – Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

Teaching Points:

1. God gives eternal life. Jesus makes this gift possible. Our belief allows us to receive it. This is indeed the essence of the gospel. We can never achieve eternal life through our own efforts, unlike what every other religion on earth teaches. Jesus Himself claimed to be the life (John 11:25). The only way to receive this life is to believe in Christ, to abide in Christ. There are no shortcuts. There are no other roads. There is one road. It is simple. Yet it requires humility. It requires repentance. It requires faith.

2. Anyone who doesn’t have Christ, does not have this life. This is the only possible logical destination that the previous verse can take us. Many would say this is exclusive and narrow-minded. They would be right. Truth is exclusive. If any of you have seen 24, you know that Jack Bauer often tells people “it is the only way.” Many times when I see that I think, “Actually that is not the only way.” But in this case, Christ is the only way. This should be motivation for us to share Christ with more people so they can also receive eternal life.

3. Most of us are already familiar with this basic gospel message. But what affect does that have on our life now? How does having eternal life influence your life today? Skeptics might say that it would make Christians “so heavenly minded they are no earthly good.” I believe that the exact opposite is true. If evolution is true or if there is no god, then there is nothing after death. What you see is what you get. Therefore the philosophy of “eat, drink, and be merry.” would be an excellent one. Knowing that there is a life after death, means that our lives now are infinitely more important. What we do now can have an impact on others’ eternal destiny. It can have an impact on our own eternal destiny. Think about it. The humans with the greatest achievements ever (inventing the wheel or light bulb, etc.) only have an impact as long as this earth is here. But this earth is not eternal. Their accomplishments will one day fade. For the vast majority of people, our accomplishments fade very soon after death. And for many more, our accomplishments don’t mean anything even while we are alive. For a Christian, sharing the gospel with others can enable them to have eternal life and be saved from an eternity in hell. 1 Corinthians 3:12 tells about the rewarding believers for meaningful good deeds. It’s also true that not everything in heaven is equal. While all believers will be happy and joyful many Scriptures teach that some will have a higher position and more authority/responsibility/rewards than others who wasted more opportunities. Instead of spending our lives trying to get enough money to buy a bigger car, we can spend our lives getting treasure in heaven to get a bigger mansion (said slightly tongue in cheek, but nonetheless accurate.)

4. John is a big proponent of the assurance of salvation. In verse 13 we see the phrase “so that you may know that you have eternal life.” John wants EVERY believer to know without a shadow of a doubt where he stands. This verse could summarize the chapter actually. We see throughout the book many spiritual self-exams John prescribes. Can you remember them? These ultimately are not meant to discourage us or make us give up our faith. Ultimately John wants us to pass all of these exams so that we can be sure of our own standing with God. At the same time, if perhaps we have a false assurance, God wants us to see that and truly repent so that we can be secure (not false security) in him. If you haven’t yet, probably the best application you can get from this book is to exam yourself with John’s tests and repent if you fall short.

II. If we pray in God’s will, He will answer our prayers (14-15)

Discussion Questions

How or when can we be confident that God will answer our prayers?
What would you say if someone says to you, “This means that God just answers your prayers if He is going to do it anyway. What is the point of praying then?”
How can we know if we are praying according to God’s will?
What do these verses teach us about our attitude in prayer?
What do these verses teach us about God?
How is your prayer life? How can you improve your prayer life?

Cross-references:

Psalms 145:18 – The Lord is near to all who call on Him in truth.
Ephesians 6:18 – Pray at all times in the Spirit.
Matthew 21:22, Mark 11:24 – Whatever you ask, if you believe, it will be yours.
John 15:7 – If we abide in Him, He will answer our prayers.
Matthew 6:7 – Do not think God will answer us because of our many words.
Hebrews 4:16- With confidence draw near to the throne of grace to receive mercy in the time of need.

Teaching Points:

1. Following in this same line of being confident spiritually (a good counter to the argument of unbelievers who say that Christians are weaklings and use faith as a crutch), John tells believers that we can be confident in our prayers. Any of you ever wonder if God is really listening? Ever wonder if He really answers prayers? Ever wonder if He really cares about such a small thing as you are requesting? Well, these verses have the “magic formula, satisfaction guaranteed, can’t miss” solution for having our prayers answered. It is not complicated. Simply pray in God’s will. That means pray what God wants. To pray what God wants, we need to want what God wants. Psalm 37:4. Want to get whatever you want. Want what God wants and it will happen.

2. Maybe this makes you feel disappointed. You thought that prayer was a way to get things. You thought that if you believed in God, God would make you rich or give you a promotion, or help you pass an exam or give you a beautiful wife or handsome husband. However, this is not, and never has been the purpose of prayer. Prayer is a way for believers to be involved in God’s work on earth. Prayer is a way for us to align ourselves, our hearts, and our attitudes with God. We should come to prayer with an open heart, open hands, and an open mind. We should come with a teachable spirit and a flexible will. We come to God in prayer to learn His will and change our plans if need be to fit into His will.

3. As we align with God, we will start to feel happy and excited when we see God’s will come to pass. We will truly be delighted when we see God accomplishing great works in our lives.

4. There is even more good news. Yes, God does His will. He is sovereign. AND, He loves us. He wants what is good for us. So when we pray for God’s will, we are really in the end praying for what is good for us. For example, that beautiful wife or handsome husband may not be the one for us. It might be torture to be married to that person. If we are willing to adjust to God’s will (and pray for God to show us the right person), then we will have a happy marriage we can enjoy for the rest of our lives. When you ever doubt what is God is doing or why He didn’t answer how we expected, just remember that God always has your best interests at heart. (Jeremiah 29:11)

III. The sin not leading to death (16-17)

Discussion Questions

What specific prayer request does John mention?
Explain what he means by “sin leading to death” and “sin not leading to death.” What is he referring to?
Does God every cause physical death for someone who keeps sinning? What are some examples in the Bible of this? What should a Christian’s response to those cases be? What does this example teach us about prayer? What does it teach us about God?

Cross-references:

James 5:16 – Pray for one another.
Acts 5:1-11, 1 Corinthians 5:5-7, 11:30 – Death as a result of sin.

Teaching Points:

1. Here John gives a specific example of what kind of prayer is good, and what kind of prayer is not.

a) The kind of prayer that is good and is in God’s will. Praying for God’s forgiveness and mercy to be given to a person who commits a sin not leading to death.

b) The kind of prayer that is not good. Praying for God to spare the life of someone who has committed a sin leading to death.

2. So to fully understand what John is saying we need to understand what he means by these two phrases. A “sin leading to death” probably refers to someone who is unrepentant and keeps on sinning (not one specific sin like homosexuality or adultery). God has already decided to punish this person by physical death. This person has ventured beyond the limits of God’s patience. His doom is sealed. Another similar example would be not to pray for the unsaved dead that God would save them. It is too late for them. There are some cases like the one about the person committing a sin leading to death, where we might not know God’s will. We don’t know yet if God has decided to punish this person with physical death. What should you do if you don’t know? (We should pray like Jesus did, “not my will, but yours be done.”)

3. Then a sin not leading to death means that God will not cause physical death for the person who does this sin. It could be that he is not practicing this sin or that God is giving more time to repent. God doesn’t always punish sin with immediate death. John makes it clear in verse 17 that these things are still wrong. It is still sin, so we should not tolerate it.

4. In the Bible there are a number of cases of God punishing sin with death including Eli’s sons (and Eli), the last king of the Babylonian kingdom, Annanias, and Saphira.

IV. God’s power protects us from the evil one (18-21)

What does this verse mean that no one born of God sins?
What does it mean that the evil one doesn’t touch us? So then what would you say to someone who says that a believer is possessed by a demon (believe it or not, I have heard this many times in China)?
Why is the whole world under Satan? Why doesn’t God do something about this? How could this verse help shed light on what the “kingdom of God” refers to throughout the gospels?
What was one purpose of Jesus’ coming (20)?
Why do you think John closes with an admonition against idols?

Cross-references:

1 John 3:9 – No one of God practices sin.
Romans 6:15-22 – Part of the “dead to sin chapter.”
Job 1:10-12 – Satan was given specific limits on what he could do to Job.
1 Peter 5:8 – Satan is like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.

Teaching Points:

1. No one born of God sins. See 1 John 3:9. Those who belong to God MUST NOT practice sin.

2. God protects us from the evil one. Before salvation, we are under Satan’s control, under his power. After salvation, we are not. God’s power protects us. Satan and his demons cannot possess us (the Holy Spirit does.) They cannot control us. We can have the victory. We can do what is right. We can be free of sin. We can say no to temptation. This doesn’t mean that Satan can have no influence over us. He still tempts us and is still active in the world. We can say no through God’s grace, but will we? That is the question.

3. What implication does this have for our lives? Be bold. Do not give in to sin or return to our old bad habits. Make use of the resources God has given us to cast Satan’s influence completely off. At the same time, continue to be wary of his temptations, knowing that a cornered dog could be the most dangerous one. We need to live in freedom, but remember where we have come from and not return there.

4. Jesus came for many reasons. One of these reasons is to teach us the truth. He said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If you want to know the truth, learn it from Christ. He revealed to us the truth about God. This is a great gift because by ourselves we could never know the infinite God who is so different from us.

More Bible Studies

Email