Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Don Carson on Preaching 1 John (EMA 2016)

11 things to consider when preaching 1 John:

(1) John speaks in both shades of grey and absolutist terms

(2) You need to come to some kind of understanding about the nature of John's opponents (probably proto-gnostics)

(3) You need to deal with the cyclical nature of the letter, the way in which it returns to themes such as love and obedience. Avoid saying everything in your first sermon, but be aware of what is coming, summarise and add as you go stressing the fresh stuff.

(4) The test which the letter gives work both positively to encourage true believers and negatively to exclude false "believers" and false teachers

(5) Work out how the letter contributes to the Christian doctrine of assurance with a focus on Christ but also bringing in the additional witness of a changed life etc. Don't discourage real Christians. Our salvation depends on Christ and his saving work not on our thinking we have passed these "tests".

(6) Work hard on certain hard passages such as 2v26ff - no teachers needed - cf. Jer 31v29ff; no priestly / prophetic / kingly mediating class in NT times as in OT - 3v9 - not an ontological statement but a strong prohibition: sin is not "the done thing" in the church and is never excusable. Danger of explaining away the text and robbing it of its impact. ch 5 - sin unto death; ch 3 - 3 witnesses

(7) Observe the many connections with John's gospel. cf. Raymond Brown in Anchor Bible Commentary. Christology - Jn 20:31ff - Christ the Son of God; cf. Prologues - Word / Life

(8) Our connection with the apostolic gospel. Partnership / fellowship in the Apostles' teaching is the means of fellowship with Christ - 1vv1-4

(9) Consider the eschatology - inaugurated - 2v18; 4v3; 2v28; 3vv1-3 - and it's impact on life now

(10) Relationship to 2 & 3 Jn. 2 Jn addresses a church too open to false teaching; 3 Jn addresses a church too narrow (rejecting the Apostles for another leader, no heresies mentioned). Similar false teaching in 1 & 2 Jn. The danger of running ahead and leaving the Apostles behind.

(11) Save the last line of the letter for the last sermon for its rhetorical impact. Anything that distorts the Biblical revelation is a kind of idolatry, distorting who God is.


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