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"What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life-- and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us-- what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete." (1 John 1:1-4)
John is an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is an eye witness to the three-year ministry of the Son of God. John is the brother of the Apostle James and a friend of the Apostle Peter. They were amongst the first disciples called by Jesus, and Peter, James, and John were in the inner circle and knew Jesus intimately. John, along with Matthew, wrote two of the gospels that were written by Jesus’ disciples. John identified himself as the disciple that Jesus loved in his gospel although he never identified himself directly. A major theme of John’s gospel was to present Jesus as the Son of God, God of very God, and the Savior of mankind. John wrote his gospel and his three epistles from an eye witness account of the three years he spent with Jesus.
The overall theme of John’s first Epistle is to recall the fundamentals of Faith in Jesus Christ. It was a letter to bring a straying Church back to the basics of the Christian faith. John also wanted Christians to know and have an assurance that they had eternal life through Jesus and wanted them to have a fuller understanding of this truth. John wanted them to have a solid knowledge of fellowship with God and what is required to maintain that fellowship. By practicing the truths of John’s first epistle the Christian can have assurance in his salvation. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:1-4)
In the first four verses of John’s Epistle, we see and order that leads to our salvation, the eternal life in His Kingdom that is the hope that we all live and look to. There are four assurances that we want to look at and the first is in verse one. "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life." (1 John 1:1)
John does not give us second-hand information or things that others taught him. The testimony of the Apostle John is first hand, and therefore it is a personal testimony. This a testimony that comes to us by what John heard, what he saw, things that he had seen, and touched with his hands concerning Jesus, the Son of God. John was so moved by his witness of Jesus, so moved by His teaching and signs and wonders, that there was no doubt in his heart that Jesus was the Son of God and the Word of Life. By John’s confession to the truth of Jesus, we know that his words come from the indwelling Spirit of Truth, which comes to us from God. "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God." (1 John 4:2)
John wrote this letter late in his years while living in Ephesus before his exile to Patmos. Yet, more than sixty to sixty years from the ascension of Jesus to the right hand of the Father, John teaches from vivid memory etched in his being, as if it had just happened. Over the years John had not lost the precise measure of the foremost truth of Jesus that He was the Son of God. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)
John uses physical terms to state his association with Jesus. John heard Jesus teach and saw him with his own eyes. With his eyes, John saw the good works of Jesus in preforming His many signs and wonders. The healing of the sick, causing the blind to see and the deaf to hear, feeding the multitudes and resurrecting the dead. John touched Jesus in the course of everyday events, and on the night before His crucifixion, John laid his head upon His bosom. These words present the fact that Jesus was God in the flesh. The writer of Hebrews states a reason that God became incarnate. "Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives." (Hebrews 2:14-15)
A second-order that leads to our fellowship with God is the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As we read in verses two and three. "And the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us-- what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." (1 John 1:2-3)
After Jesus’ ascension, Peter, James, and John become the pillars of the Jerusalem Church. "And recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised." (Galatians 2:9) They were the born again witness of the truth of Jesus by their apostolic teaching. They answered the commission that they had been given by their Lord to go and make disciples of all the nations teaching everything that He had taught them. When you are filled by the love of God and filled with His Spirit of Truth you desire to share the good news with all who have an ear to hear.
A third-order to fellowship with God is a personal response to the preaching of the truth of Jesus Christ. Looking again at verse three. "What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." (1 John1:3) Our fellowship with God first means that we believe that He is. If He is, then it requires faith and obedience. Our call is to share the news that Jesus is the Son of the living God that became in our likeness and lived among us in the flesh. "Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen." (Romans 16:25-27)
We teach in the power of His name, for we are His representatives from His Kingdom whose purpose is to lead others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. To have the power of God working within us is to have a constant fellowship with Him. The Christian has at conversion been sealed with the Spirit of Truth, who guides us to all truth. "Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge." (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
Teaching the truth that Jesus is the only way to the Father (John 14:6) we become a faithful student of our Master, we learn and obey His commandments, and we walk closer to Him each day knowing that He is the power in our lives. By our faith in Jesus we can see the glory of the Father and long for the day when we shall be in His presence. "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)
And we read in verse four, "These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete." (John 1:4) When you have the joy of the Lord, you have a possession that cannot be depleted, a feeling of ecstasy that the world cannot take away, and a state of being that overcomes all the trials and tribulations that life can thrust upon you. There are days that we are happy and days that we are blue, but when you are a Child of God you have eternal joy. As David wrote in Psalms. "But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God; Yes, let them rejoice with gladness." (Psalm 68:3)
Complete joy is complete fellowship with God, the Creator. The goal of our life is to walk through this world glorifying His name, as all things are in His control, and for those who love Him, all will work for good according to His purpose. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)
To have fellowship with God now is to have fellowship with Him forever. We are here in this world but a short time. In that time, we do all that we have been called to do in our faith and obedience to Him that when He calls us home we shall have eternity in His presence and joy. "As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life." (1 John 2:24-25)
Thomas N Kirkpatrick
First Baptist Church of Durant, December 27, 2015
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