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Bible Study: Honest fellowship

NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, Lifeway publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.

This week’s Bible study is adapted from the MasterWork curriculum.

Bible Passage: 1 John 1:5-10

Discussion Questions:

  • How prevalent is honesty in today’s world? In today’s church?
  • How does your relationship with God affect your relationship with others? How does your relationship with others affect your relationship with God?
  • What does it mean to “walk in the light”? To “have fellowship with one another”?

Food for thought with Dane C. Ortlund*:

Pianist, singer and songwriter Billy Joel composed and recorded the hit song, “Honesty.” It reached No. 24 in the top 100, No. 9 in adult contemporary and No. 1 in France. The song speaks of what a rare but needed commodity honesty is.

Pastor and author Dane C. Ortlund would agree with that assessment. His book “Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners” explores how Christians can grow in their faith and Christlikeness. The final session of our study from this book, entitled “Honesty,” delves into the role honesty plays in such growth.

The apostle John wrote, “If we walk in the light as He himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Ortlund points out that while we might assume John stresses moral purity in this verse, “John has something far more liberating to say. Walking in the light in this text is honesty with other Christians.”

Ortlund makes clear his point: “You restrict your growth if you do not do the painful, humiliating, liberating work of cheerfully bringing your failure out from the darkness of secrecy into the light of acknowledgment before a Christian brother or sister.” If we are not honest with ourselves and others about our need for growth, we will not grow.

First John 1:7 speaks of “fellowship with one another,” yet what kind of fellowship can we have with one another if we pretend to be who we are not? The fellowship that helps us grow, the iron that sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17), depends on honesty and authenticity.

Once we are walking in the light of honesty and having honest fellowship, as John said, “the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” God faithfully forgives when we repent of sin. But our growth beyond the sin and our and sense of cleansing and forgiveness often await our honesty with our others in Christ. None of us are as pious as we would like to appear when we gather for worship.

* Dane C. Ortlund is senior pastor of Naperville Presbyterian Church in Naperville, Ind.


MasterWork is an ongoing Bible study curriculum based on works from a variety of renowned authors and offers pertinent, practical messages that adults will find uplifting and enriching. The list of authors and their books to be studied in upcoming months can be found at www.lifeway.com/masterwork.

Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by Lifeway can be found at Lifeway.com/SundaySchool.

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  • Staff/Lifeway Christian Resources