Discussion Guide for 1 John 4:1-6

Most people don’t know that the Secret Service was originally created as a part of the Treasury Department. Its first job, and one that it still carries today, is to investigate and stop the counterfeiting of United States currency.

To fulfill their mission, Secret Service agents are trained as the world’s foremost experts on genuine U.S. currency. Watch this video to learn a little bit about their work.

Just as the Secret Service are experts in genuine currency, the church needs to be experts in genuine Christian spirituality.

I (Jonathan) have been startled in recent years to hear bad theology about the Trinity being openly taught in evangelical Christian churches who claim to stand in historical Christian orthodoxy.

There are likely many explanations for this. But at the core, there are three trends in churches that allow heretical teaching about God to go unchallenged. 

  1. Most modern Christians do not make learning the Bible a crucial part of their personal worship.
  2. Very few young Christians are taught anything about the ecumenical creeds of the fourth and fifth century church. These are not as important as Scripture, but they serve as a good summary of what the church has believed about the Trinity from Scripture. These creeds were hammered out during the time when Gnosticism and other heresies threatened the very existence of the church. Check out this link to read the creeds. https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/ancientcreeds.html
  3. Worship in the modern church often relies too heavily on experience and too little on truth.

The Apostle John’s answer to the many false teachings and heresies is to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”

Individual Christians and the church as a whole need to understand the principles and processes for testing spirits.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

1 John 4:1-6

Discussion Questions

  • How would you explain the Trinity to a friend at work?
  • Why is it important for Christians to know the truth about the Trinity?
  • Is the world interested in spirituality?
  • How can we distinguish something that is merely spiritual from something that is Christian?
  • Can you describe a way that the Holy Spirit has been active in revealing truth to you?
  • How does the Holy Spirit use the Word of God in his work of revealing truth?
  • How are you praying for the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of those around you?

Accountability Time

Ask these questions of your group as you begin to work to identify where they are at in the discipleship pathways (Exploring Christ, Growing in Christ, Christ-centered) that we have talked about as group leaders. Keep in mind that we are not merely interested in box checking religious acts. We are seeking to shepherd group members to evaluate how their measurable actions reflect their personal journeys of faith. 

These questions will be on the discussion guide each week, so if you don’t get to all of them, you will have a chance over the next few weeks. If you need more information as a discussion leader, please contact Jonathan Pugh. 

  • Have you come to a place in your life where you can say that you have trusted God for salvation?
  • Have you publicly stated that faith through believers’ baptism?
  • How are you serving God with your time?
  • In what ways are you making prayer a part of your daily life?
  • How is your personal Bible study going this week?
  • Have you been able to talk about faith with somebody outside of church this week?
  • How are you currently being led to give of your resources to God’s work?

Prayer Time

Close by allowing those in your virtual group the opportunity to pray for one another. Everybody doesn’t have to pray out loud, but make sure that each person has another person praying for him or her.

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