This is one of a series of reviews from a Christian perspective on the weekly lessons found in the Come, Follow Me (New Testament, 2023) for Individuals and Families published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To find the index of these reviews, visit here.
Bold face type in this article comes from the Church’s curriculum. (Note: Not every sentence is being reviewed.)
November 27-December 3
1-3 John; Jude
When John and Jude wrote their epistles, corrupt doctrine had already started leading many Saints into apostasy. Some false teachers were even questioning whether Jesus Christ had actually appeared “in the flesh” (see, for example, 1 John 4:1–3; 2 John 1:7). What could a Church leader do in such a situation?
The assumption given is that this must have been the start of the “Great Apostasy.” It is silly to think that this passage is showing how the church was apostasizing. There have been corrupt doctrinal problems from the very beginning of the church, just as there continues to be even today. But this does not indicate a complete apostasy of any kind. In fact, he Great Apostasy is not taught here nor in other places in the Bible. For more on this topic, visit:
The Apostle John responded by sharing his personal witness of the Savior: “This is the testimony which we give of that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life” (Joseph Smith Translation, 1 John 1:1 [in 1 John 1:1, footnote a]). And then John taught about love: God’s love for us and the love we should have for Him and all His children. After all, John was a witness of that, too. He had personally experienced the Savior’s love (see John 13:23; 20:2), and he wanted the Saints to feel that same love. John’s testimony and teachings on love are just as needed today, when faith in Jesus Christ is questioned and false teachings abound. Reading John’s epistles can help us face today’s adversities with courage, for “there is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18).
If the “Great Apostasy” had already begun during the days of John, how do we know whether or not the apostle John had been tainted by this corruption? Just because he was an apostle, would this necessarily mean that hestayed doctrinally clean? How do we know that the corruption didn’t extend to the other followers of Jesus as well? If the Latter-day Saints want to argue for the efficacy of John’s apostleship, then when did the apostasy begin? Certainly not with John’s apostles, Polycarp and Ignatius, as they taught exactly what their predecessor taught. It’s impossible for the LDS Church leaders to tell us when this event supposedly began, so they leave it uncertain by never placing a date on the Great Apostasy. Not knowing a “start date” allows for a muddy picture and nobody knows who is doctrinally sound versus those who are not.
Ideas for Personal Scrpture Study
1 John; 2 John
1 John 2–4; 2 John
“If we love one another, God dwelleth in us.”
You will also find words like “abide” and “dwell” repeated throughout John’s epistles. Look for these words, especially as you read 1 John 2–4 and 2 John. What do you think it means to “abide” or “dwell” in God and His doctrine? (see 2 John 1:9). What does it mean to you to have God “abide” or “dwell” in you?
It starts with having true (not corrupt) doctrine. This is the issue we have been talking about all year in the review of this Come, Follow Me New Testament series. We have shown, over and over again, how LDS Church leaders have misconstrued biblical doctrine and substituted it with their own. To “abide” or “dwell” in God and His doctrine means we must properly interpret what the Bible actually teaches, not according to the presuppositions of Joseph Smith and succeeding leaders.
1 John 2:24–29; 3:1–3
I can become like Jesus Christ.
Does the goal of becoming Christlike ever seem too lofty to you? Consider John’s encouraging counsel: “Little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence … [and] we shall be like him” (1 John 2:28; 3:2). What do you find in 1 John 2:24–29; 3:1–3 that gives you confidence and comfort as a disciple of Jesus Christ? As you study John’s epistles, look for other principles or counsel that can help you in your effort to become more Christlike.
We are commanded to become Christlike. This is what Christians call sanctification.
1 John 4:12
Has “no man … seen God at any time”?
Joseph Smith Translation, 1 John 4:12 clarifies that “no man hath seen God at any time, except them who believe” (in 1 John 4:12, footnote a; see also John 6:46; 3 John 1:11). The scriptures record several instances when God the Father has manifested Himself to faithful individuals, including John himself (see Revelation 4; see also Acts 7:55–56; 1 Nephi 1:8; Doctrine and Covenants 76:23; Joseph Smith—History 1:16–17).
1 John 5
As I exercise faith in Jesus Christ and am born again, I can overcome the world.
As you read 1 John 5, look for what we must do to overcome the world and gain eternal life. What might overcoming the world look like in your life?
Notice how the lesson teaches that “we must…overcome the world and gain eternal life.” But this is not what 1 John 5:13 teaches. It says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
To those who have a true belief in Jesus, it can be understood that eternal life is a “now” possession held by every true-believing Christian. I have asked many Latter-day Saints would they end up in the celestial kingdom if they were to die today? The answer I get regularly is, “I hope so,” “I’m doing my best,” or “I’m trying.” But this is different from “knowing” eternal life is possessed. It is so very sad that Latter-day Saints are trying hard to “overcome” the world and basing their justification on their own “righteous” works rather than on what Jesus did on the cross. It is certainly one of the reasons every Latter-day Saint ought to consider becoming a Bible-believing Christian. See 10 reasons why a person ought to consider becoming a Christian.
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening
3 John 1:4.
What does it mean to “walk in truth”?
It means that you follow the Word of God and do what it says. Period.
You might take this opportunity to tell family members how you have seen them walk in truth and talk about the joy this brings you. Family members might enjoy writing about or drawing truths they have learned on paper footprints and using them to make a path your family can walk on together.
What does it mean that family members are “walk(ing) in truth”? If you and your close family members are of the same faith, could it be possible you are following a religion without any critical analysis? As my friend Peter Barnes used to say, “A faith not worth investigating is a faith not worth having.”
I challenge my LDS readers to take a closer look at biblical Christianity, understand the differences, and own their own faith by having solid reasons (and biblical support) to believe what they do. Many want nothing to do with being challenged, so it provides no way to know if what you are believing really is true. I recommend this book as a help to better understand biblical Christianity and the essential doctrines it teaches in opposition to the religion of Mormonism.
Are there any spiritual dangers that have “crept in” to our lives and family? (Jude 1:4). How can we follow Jude’s admonition to “earnestly contend for the faith” and resist these dangers? (Jude 1:3).
Verse 3 says,
3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.
Those who are passive about their faith and who are willing to do whatever they are told to do by their leaders, thus foregoing the clear teachings of the Bible, have no ability to “contend for the (true) faith.” But that faith must be based on faith of true doctrine, not false. And that is what is key here.
What can we do to ensure that “peace, and love, be multiplied” in our family? (Jude 1:2).
For one, having a “peace that passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7) means praying with conviction. This is what 1 John 5:14-15 says:
14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
When a person knows that he or she is a saved individual and nothing can take that status away, coming before the throne of God is natural. He has everything in control and can regularly go to the thronw to make his requests known. And we can know that He listens. When we pray according to His will, as verse 14 says above, we can know that we have whatever we have asked. (The key is “according to His will.”) It’s that simple. This is when “peace and love” can be multiplied.
Correct doctrine is crucial. Without it, we miss the God who must be worshiped in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Unfortunately, Mormonism denies or distorts every fundamental teaching of the historic Christian church. Following its precepts means that we miss out on the reality of the real God as described in the Bible.
Are we almost done with this New Testament series? As a matter of fact, Revelation is the final book that will be wrapped in the next few weeks.