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Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for April 26, 2015

Watch Out for Deceivers!           2 John 1-13

Focal Outline:           2 John 1-3                  Truth that abides

                                    2 John 4-6                  Love one another

                                    2 John 7-13                Be on your guard

Summary Statements: (To help you get a handle on the lesson truths.)

  1. Recognizing real truth in the midst of competing claims is a challenge for all Christians.
  2. We should not be embarrassed to say that we won’t compromise on certain beliefs. What are yours?
  3. There are some teachings on which the Church is repetitive. Repetition can help us to learn and grow!
  4. John wanted the early Christians to remember the importance of Christ’s identity. Who is Jesus to you?

 

Questions for Thought: (To help you think of some questions to challenge with a “So What?”)  

  1. In an age that believes “truth” to be individualized and personal, what are some of Christianity’s truths?
  2. What are your non-negotiables of Christian faith? (absolute truths you cannot/will not compromise)
  3. What are some of the messages, rituals and practices of the Church that are repetitive? What do they do?
  4. Name some hallmarks of Christ’s identity that teach us important things about God.

 

Points to Ponder

[NOTE: These suggestions are to help your class be more interactive and discussion oriented. Using 3-5 different ideas will enhance your preferred teaching style and involve class participants. Build excitement and intimacy in your learners!]

We’re back to defining truth as we study this week. If you haven’t had this conversation in a while, it might be interesting within the group to identify some truths you hold tight to in your Christian faith. And, for that matter— how would you define truth in general? We live in an age where truth is held to be a very customized, personal and individual realm. Yet, we speak of truths and convictions. Many of us might have faith convictions on which we simply won’t compromise. Years ago, I heard someone say, “Well that’s nice…but that’s your truth. And, not mine.” Really, is “truth” relative? How can Christians live respectfully, yet hold onto the beliefs that seem basic (and non-negotiable) according to our Bible? What is a sound theology in an age of flexible truth?

Jesus’ human nature is instructive here more than we might first think. This lesson will give us the opportunity to consider a closer reflection on the person of Jesus. How might Jesus give us some keys to unlocking the power of the gospel teachings? I think that might be a fresh angle for study, and one I hope we will all be helped by. But, ask yourself how such a study might work. How and why might this be helpful? And, what are the unique and important traits of Christ that shed light on God’s greatest hopes?

 

Introductory Thoughts (5-15 minutes – These are for discussion to introduce this week’s Lesson Ideas.)

  1. What are the truths that cannot be compromised in your understanding of God? What truths about your faith will you not compromise? Why? Enjoy the discussion, really getting to group members’ convictions. As this proceeds, where do you differ and where do you agree?

 

  1. Jesus’ own human nature is essential to understanding the messages of the gospel. Discuss in your group, identifying those descriptive words or phrases about Jesus as a person that are key to understanding.

 

  1. 2 John was written as some competing, impostor versions of Christianity arose. What are some imposter versions around us today? What do you believe separates Christianity from impostor or false beliefs today?   How might we communicate our beliefs without cutting off conversation of harming relationships?

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p115 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. How would you define “truth” in any walk of life?

 

  1. Who is Jesus to you? How does Jesus differ from the Cosmic Christ?

Studying & Discussing the Passage (20-25 minutes – See Brian Harbour’s Commentary for added insights and explanations.)

  1. Share an overview of the Lesson from “Locating the Text” (Teaching Guide ) and then examine the Focal Passage using a variety of teaching methods…

            2 John 1-3                  Truth that abides

What do we learn about writer and recipient from the greeting found in v1-2? Rather than a wish sent to the recipients, what affirmations or gifts does v3 bring?

 

2 John 4-6                  Love one another

In v4, what positive qualities does John believe the congregation possesses? In v5, what old teaching needs to become new again? (love one another) According to v6, what is love?

 

            2 John 7-13                Be on your guard

A problem or threat is finally named in v7. What does that seem to be? What is at stake that makes this so urgent in v8? A specific misstep is warned about in v9—what is that? How do v10-11place a restriction on what we have thought of as “hospitality”? Why? In v12, just how much does the writer love them?

 

  1. On p130 (lrge. print) our lesson author says, “John was concerned that the early Christians have a clear understanding of who they were and what they believed. He wanted them to know and live the truth…” How can any of us be sure we are able to tell the difference between truth and con? Between God and impostor?

 

  1. How does 1Jn 4: 2-3 relate to this passage? How about Mt 22: 37-40?

 

  1. On p135 our lesson author says “Jesus’ human nature is essential to understanding the gospel. Without an earthly, human life, we don’t have a flesh-and-blood Messiah who knew what it meant to be a person.” Why might this be true? What are some specifics of Jesus’ character and life that help us to interpret the Gospel?

 

  1. In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour leads with a funny children’s sermon story! Who is the “elder?” (see p86) What is the “truth” that is referred to in 2Jn? (p87) See p88 for a discussion of “and this is love…” Later on p88, why does John accuse others of false teaching? See p89 for why he escalates to a label of “antichrist.” Finally, on lower p89—what does John believe the practices of “community” can do for us?

 

Applying the Lesson (10-20 minutes – Choose one or two questions to encourage action plans for the coming week!)

Discuss any of the following questions…

  1. How might God use these verses to remind you to focus on one or two people who need your love?
  2. Listen to God’s leading, and commit to act on that leading. Listen to God’s urging!
  3. Give thanks this week for God’s gift of Christian community in your life. Give thanks for a firm place to practice and grow in your faith. Pray that you may experience—and give—grace, mercy and peace!

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p119 of the Uniform Teaching Guide. How can we recommit ourselves to the truth of Christ?
 Uniform 4-26-15

Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for May 3, 2015

Coworkers with the Truth            3 John 1-15

Focal Outline:           3 John 1-8                  Support such people

                                    3 John 9-10                You have trouble

                                    3 John 11-15              Imitate what is good

Summary Statements: (To help you get a handle on the lesson truths.)

  1. John’s hope for sending this small letter was to restore healthy fellowship to a church. We need to hear him.
  2. Hospitality is a sacred calling. But, each fellowship has to determine proper boundaries for their ministry.
  3. Not everyone is good at building church community. Some are better at tearing good fellowship apart.
  4. John holds up another leader, Demetrius, as an example of health. He suggests we “…imitate what is good.”

 

Questions for Thought: (To help you think of some questions to challenge with a “So What?”)  

  1. What are your church’s greatest vulnerabilities to ill health generally?
  2. How does your church practice hospitality? What boundaries or qualities should govern that responsibility?
  3. Why are churches slower to recognize/deal with ill-health than they are encouraging and healthy influences?
  4. What could come about if we allowed ourselves to be childlike—and imitate positive leaders in the Church?

 

Points to Ponder

[NOTE: These suggestions are to help your class be more interactive and discussion oriented. Using 3-5 different ideas will enhance your preferred teaching style and involve class participants. Build excitement and intimacy in your learners!]

 

We can be so shy about naming ill-health in the Church. Sometimes, I wonder why. I mean, no one likes to have trouble. Right? We want to say nice things about each other. Confrontation, discipline and punishment are awkward within a spiritual body. None of us should want to have to participate in these. We appreciate willingness. Except that sometimes, the willing might not be so helpful. When that happens, the Church has to decide what values are paramount. Our lesson writer observes, “Not everyone is good at building community. In fact, some people are experts at tearing down communities.” (p141)

Still, I have to wonder why our churches will sometimes let the danger linger for so long? You will no doubt have some thoughts on this. Me, too. For one thing, we have so committed to the “gospel” of positivity that when we need to name danger– or wrong– we almost can’t. We struggle with honesty if it means calling out dysfunction in our church. I also wonder if our members know enough about their own beliefs to recognize danger in time?

John will name what is unhealthy about Diotrephes’ leadership at his church. And, he will hold up a better role model within that same fellowship in the person of Demetrius. He will get specific about both. That honesty might have been exactly what the church needed at the moment! John also suggests a strategy that many adults have aged or matured themselves out of—imitation. “Imitate what is good,” he says!

Introductory Thoughts (5-15 minutes – These are for discussion to introduce this week’s Lesson Ideas.)

  1. Ministry opportunities abound. Truthfully, more than we can possibly affiliate with. How does your church decide which groups/causes to work with? And, which groups/causes are “real” and which ones to avoid?

 

  1. What are some ways in which your church can serve with hospitality as it helps mission causes to thrive? What are the responsible limits or boundaries that should be in place to regulate that hospitality?

 

  1. Today, our lesson writer will cite four characteristics from 3 John that make a particular leader an unhealthy person to follow. (p140-1) What do you believe are the hallmarks of a healthy leader in churches?

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p122 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. How do we decide who should receive our hospitality? Our following?

 

Studying & Discussing the Passage (20-25 minutes – See Brian Harbour’s Commentary for added insights and explanations.)

  1. Share an overview of the Lesson from “Locating the Text” (Teaching Guide ) and then examine the Focal Passage using a variety of teaching methods…

            3 John 1-8                  Support such people

Why might John self-address as “the elder” here in v1? In v3-4, what are some positives he has heard about the church? V5-8 affirms a specific habit or ministry they have. What does John uphold as positive here?

 

3 John 9-10                You have trouble

V9 shifts to a problem. In v9-10, what are some points you learn about the trouble John identifies? List what is wrong with Diotrephes’ leadership according to John here.

 

            3 John 11-15              Imitate what is good

V11 makes a suggestion. What is that strategy? (imitation of good) In v12, what 2 testimonies does Demetrius have to attest of his goodness? (word-of-mouth, truth itself) In v13-14, what do we learn about John’s love for this congregation? Finally, what relational habits does John encourage in v15?

 

  1. On p140 (lrge. print) our lesson author says, “Not everyone is good at building community. In fact, some people are experts at tearing down communities.” What are some warning signs that a person’s influence within a church might not be healthy? What is at stake for a church that is hesitant to deal with them?

 

  1. How does 1Jn 2: 6 relate to this passage? How about Mt 28:20?

 

  1. On p141 our lesson author says “Diotrephes wouldn’t be pleasant company. When you combine the four characteristics John describes, you have the perfect recipe for creating conflict in a church.” Read back over the summary of four characteristics that John cites about Diotrephes. Does your church do well discerning danger?

 

  1. In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour leads with an application of the word “hospitality” from Henri Nouwen (p91) Later on p91-92, who might Gaius be? On p92, why the urgency to send the missionaries on their way? See p93 for a word on why John might have issues with Diotrephes. On p94, who is Demetrius and why might John favor him so?

 

Applying the Lesson (10-20 minutes – Choose one or two questions to encourage action plans for the coming week!)

Discuss any of the following questions…

  1. How might God use you as a part of discerning valid leadership and direction?
  2. Ask God to help you to be willing, and wise, as you participate actively in your church’s ministry.
  3. How do we remain hospitable, compassionate and unified while we figure out what strangers to embrace—and who to send on their way? Pray that you may be of help in the God-given wisdom processes!

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p127 of the Uniform Teaching Guide. How can we be more discerning so that our use of church resources—and energy—is most responsibly guided?
 Uniform 5-3-15