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1 John 1:1-4


1 John 1:1-4, “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; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)  That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.  And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” (KJV)


“So 1st John, this is a great letter to study, a letter of encouragement, no doubt about it.  The way he writes reminds me a bit of James.  John writes with the intent to encourage you and I.  Of course, encouragement can take on different forms.  But he seeks to stimulate within the body of Christ, within each of us individually greater joy, greater victory, a greater awareness and assurance in our lives as believers in Jesus Christ.  But I’ll be honest with you, too, as you study this letter, it may not become so evident this week, but in the weeks ahead, as you study this letter, it can make some of us feel a little nervous, because of some of the statements he makes.  John without a doubt, draws a clear line in the sand, a very clear line.  He doesn’t mess around at all.  He makes it absolutely clear that it is important, it’s important what we are more so than what we say we are.  The real thing is what you are.  Just to profess to be a Christian [or Messianic believer] is not enough.  He’ll make that absolutely clear.  Rather, what’s vitally important is the life that we live, the life, it better back up what we profess.  If it doesn’t back up what we profess, then we may not be what we think we are.  That’s I think a way to summarize some of the points that he makes.  And we’ll see that as we go on.  I think a simple question that could summarize a good part of this letter would be: “Are you the real deal?  Are you truly a believer in Jesus Christ?”  That is a question that will be posed in different ways, and I hope we all walk away with an answer for our own selves personally—“I’m I truly a believer in Jesus Christ?”—according to what the Bible says about believing in Jesus Christ [i.e. walking the walk, not just talking the talk].  If we are truly a believer in Jesus Christ, then, as he says, our lives will prove it.  If our lives don’t prove it, then there is a serious problem.


Purpose of the letter—“Are you a believer?”


  So, it’s a letter of encouragement.  You may remember in the gospel of John, John at the very end of his gospel said that he wrote his gospel for the purpose to encourage people to believe in Jesus Christ.  He gave these seven clear examples proving the Deity of Jesus Christ, that he was the Son of God.  So he wrote to encourage us to cause men and women to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.  And that believing we would be saved and have eternal life.  John chapter 20, verse 31, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”  That’s why he wrote the gospel of John, so that we would believe and find life.  But now he writes this epistle, this first epistle of his with the intent of helping us know whether or not we really do believe.  One is written that we would believe, this is now written to help us determine “Do we really believe?”—and then whether or not we really are saved.  That comes in especially towards the end of the Epistle—1st John chapter 5, verses 9 to 13. 

          So there’s this encouragement to believe and then to continue to believe, but also this encouragement to determine “Do you truly believe.”  I’ll quote to you 1st John chapter 5, verse 13, “These things I’ve written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life,”—so this encouragement of assurance—“and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1st John 5:13).

          Well, let’s deal with some background as we get started.  Who is the author?  Of course, it is John.  John wrote the gospel of John, he wrote this epistle, he wrote the next two epistles, 2nd John, 3rd John.  He also wrote the book of Revelation [John actually states the real author of the book of Revelation is Jesus Christ, and that he was merely the scribe].  As you remember in our studies in the gospel of John, John is this disciple that refers to himself as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved.’ He had this great assurance in his heart that Jesus loved him and so he referred to himself in that way.  Now, it’s interesting as we saw in the gospel of John too though, Jesus had initially named him and his brother The sons of Thunder, which literally means ‘the sons of violent temper’.  So, it is possible that John, and it seems that way, and his brother, at least in some instances in the gospel were a bit hot-headed.  These guys, full of a lot of passion, but later as he begins to just grow in this love of Christ, this love that really impacted his life, he becomes this guy that sees himself as the apostle whom Jesus loved.  And then later because of the way he writes, we’ll see that in this epistle, he becomes known as the apostle of love.  You may also remember from our initial studies in the gospel of John that this love really begins to just determine his very life, his very breath, and we’ll see that as we go through, he talks a lot about love in this epistle.  Now John lived to the age of 94.  He was the only apostle of the disciples to die a natural death, the others were martyred.  Although there was an attempt to take his life, the Roman emperor Domician at one point had him boiled in oil, but John survived that and at AD 95 he was exiled to the island of Patmos, and that is where he writes the book of Revelation, where God gave him the vision for that.  After the emperor Domician’s death John was then returned to Ephesus where he pastured a very large church, returned to pasturing that church.  And it’s there that he died, and tradition tells us that his grave is there and also the grave of the mother of Jesus.  But as we noted too, in the gospel of John, and I’ll mention it again this time because I think it helps us as we look at this epistle, certainly this is consistent with the heart of this epistle.  But historian Eusebius says about the end of John’s life that John was old and he was weak, yet they would take him around to various churches and he would share.  But being old weak he wasn’t able to say a lot.  So, he would just say more than anything this very brief statement, he would say to the churches they brought him into, he would say “Little children, love one another.”  And of course, when he came, being the apostle John, someone who knew Jesus, actually laying upon his breast, Eusebius says that when he was brought to churches they would erupt into applause and just cheer him on.  This is the disciple whom Jesus loved, at least he refers to himself that way.  But he would just say to them “Little children, love one another.”  And then when questioned “Why do you continue to say that to the church?” he would say “This is what the Lord commands you, and this if you do it, is sufficient.”  It’s what it’s all about.  It’s a real deal, man, loving other people.  God loves you, you loving the Lord, and you loving other people.  And we’ll see that repeated as, if you’ve studied and read this before, he just drives this point home, that’s for sure. 

          Now we’ll see that this bit of history from Eusibius certainly lines up with this epistle.  Now when did John write?  He wrote, it’s really hard to know exactly when he writes this epistle.  Some would date it as early 60 to 70 AD.  Some as late as 90 to 95 AD.  We don’t know for sure.  He doesn’t reference the temple, the temple being destroyed in AD 70, maybe it was written after AD 70, we don’t know for sure.  His intended audience is most likely the one he started and pastured there in Asia Minor.  [Comment for our Messianic believers:  The early church, during the Jewish wars with Rome, especially AD 68-70, was in a process of fleeing out of the land of Israel, and moved northward, as evidenced by John moving to Ephesus, with that as his headquarters. Citing Stark and Edwards, the early church at this time is composed of 87 percent Jewish Stock and 13 percent Gentile Stock in the whole Roman empire.  Asia Minor, as evidenced by the Quartodeciman Controversy, was mainly composed of early Messianic Jewish believers who observed a New Testament Passover service once a year and more than likely the Sabbath and Holy Days on a voluntary basis.  These congregations were under John, then Polycarp and then Policrates (90-150AD).  See]  But of course, as you’ll see, it’s certainly intended and can be read and studied and appreciated by any believer in Jesus Christ.  And where does he write from?  He writes from either Ephesus or Patmos, we don’t know for sure, depending on when he wrote.


John knew Jesus in the flesh—refuting heresy


          But let’s get started.  Verses 1-4, “ 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, concerning the Word of life; the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and declared to you that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested to us.  That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.  And these things we write to you, that your joy may be full.”  Well as John begins his epistle, he makes a point very clear here, as you just read through it you quickly pick up on this.  He makes this point especially clear. That he is bearing witness to the fact that he knew Jesus, he had known him, knew him in the flesh as a person.  So he begins here especially with his witness, attesting to the fact that he knew Jesus in the flesh.  He repeats this in these four verses, that he knew Jesus while he walked on the earth, he knew him in that he heard him, he heard his voice audibly, that he saw him with his eyes, he looked upon him physically, and also, as you see there, he makes the point that he touched Jesus.  Now why is it so important?—as you see in those verses, that four times in just these few verses he refers to having seen and looked upon Jesus—two times he refers in those few verses I read, to having heard Jesus, and another time he refers to having physically touched Jesus.  Why does he begin?—I mean, he repeats himself, ‘I saw, I saw, I touched, I touched, I heard, I heard Jesus’—why does he do that?  Well it’s important.  As he writes, part of his purpose is to refute error, false teaching that is working its way into the early church.  And there is this false teaching of Gnosticism, this Gnostic teaching that believed that everything spiritual was good, but everything physical was bad.  And there were teachers who had crept their way into the church with this understanding, and they had taken then Jesus’ teaching and re-interpreted it basically two different ways, depending on what group they were a part of.  There was the teaching that Jesus went he came, he did not have a real body, that he was just a spirit, that he was a phantom [an avatar].  So as he walked he didn’t leave footprints, and he was just a phantom.  So clearly that’s why he’s making this point, “I heard him, I saw him, but just so you know, I also touched him, and he was more than just a phantom.”  And there was another group that said that Jesus was this emanation, that of course ‘the spirit was good, the physical was bad’, in order for God to actually come and to have an interaction with man, he had to put off an emanation of himself, and that emanation had to put off another emanation and continue to do it repeatedly and repeatedly, so eventually there was this emanation of God, this personality that went out from God that was so far removed from him that it could then come and interact in the physical sense. So this belief was that Jesus the man was born, he was the son of Joseph, physically the son of Joseph, and then at his baptism this emanation [called the Christ spirit in the other sermon series], this Jesus the Christ, the Divine, came upon Jesus the man.  And for his years of ministry the two were together, and just before his crucifixion this Jesus the Christ [the Christ spirit], this emanation, the Divine, left him so that only Jesus the man died on the cross.  Now that is much different from what we learned as we just went through the gospel of John.  But this sort of teaching, this Gnostic heresy, was working its way into the church, especially due to one particular man, his name was Cerinthis.  Cerinthis was a former Jew who had taken Judaic teaching and Gnosticism [and syncretized them together], and was really beginning to influence the church.  And with his understanding he also rejected the gospels, he rejected Paul’s letters, he only, with that type of teaching could accept part Matthew and Mark, and this stuff just started to makes its way through the church.  Sadly, of course, the church has been battling heresy all along.  In fact, even Paul repeatedly warned the Ephesian elders, he said “For three years I warned you that eventually, right after I leave, it won’t take long, these false teachers are going to come and work their way into the church.”  Now there’s an interesting bit of history, and when you think of Jesus saying that John was the son of Thunder that maybe was a bit hot tempered, there’s a bit of history that was given by this historian Irenaeus who quoted Polycarp.  Now Polycarp was a disciple, a direct disciple of the apostle John, a guy who just sat at John’s feet.  Polycarp knew Irenaeus, and Aranius gives this quote from Polycarp.  “John the disciple of the Lord, having gone to take a bath at the Roman baths in Ephesus, and having seen Cerinthis inside left the baths, refusing to bath at all and said ‘Let us flee, lest the baths fall in, since Cerinthis is inside, the enemy of truth.’” So there’s a quote we have historically from someone who was the direct disciple of John, who said ‘This bad-news heretic, this Gnostic Cerinthis, he’s in there taking a bath, and I’m not even going to take a bath, lest the roof cave in.’  So, interesting, that does seem to kind of say that this guy certainly had some passion [John], no doubt about it.  In fact, in his next epistle, he also makes this point, of not even having a false teacher in your house, don’t even let false teachers into your home.  So that would be consistent too with this quote we have from some church history.  Well John knows that this teaching is absolutely foolish.  He knows it from personal experience.  He had personal knowledge of Jesus, he walked with him and talked with him, he ate with him, he was with him on the earth, he know he [Jesus] was no spiritual phantom, he knew he had a physical body.  So this stuff was complete foolishness.  So right off he’s making that point clear.  He says he heard him with his own ears.  He heard him with his own ears.  When I think of that I think of John hearing him with his own ears, of course being able to sit across the table and talk with him and see all his gestures as he talked with him.  It’d be the difference between having a phone-call with somebody and then having a physical meeting.  There’s no doubt, sometimes on the phone you can misunderstand somebody, maybe read into a phrase that they have or misinterpret a statement of theirs, but when you’re physically with somebody, and you can have a conversation with somebody physically, it really helps for good communication.  And he’s saying ‘I’ve heard him’, meaning he was physically with him.  He had direct conversations with Jesus, he had that really cool experience of being able to do that.  But when he uses the word “hear” too, we can also note that in the Greek the word means more than just ‘to hear audibly’, it also means that in that word “he heard”, “he had ears to hear” meaning then he also then obeyed.  The words of Jesus impacted him.  They moved his heart, so that when he heard, he then went and conformed to what the instruction was, the teaching was.  So, when he says he heard, that’s the way in which he heard, that these very words of Jesus penetrated his heart.  So I ask you the question today, and this is an important question, Jesus states it repeatedly, but how about you?  Do the words of Jesus, does his teaching, does it thunder into your heart?  Does the words and instruction of Jesus move your being?  Does it effect your life?  I say that, because without any doubt, and I’m sure even here on Sunday mornings there are people that have come, that we go through the Word, we consider Jesus’ instruction, and yet they hear but they don’t hear.  Right?  They don’t hear in the sense that Jesus says ‘have ears that hear’, meaning the Word effects them, moves them.  I don’t know about you, but there’s been times in my life where God has spoken to me in such a way that I mean it was like thunder in my soul.  It moved me, it effected my very being, effected the way I lived, effected the way that I thought, it effected the things that I have desired.  And that’s what John is saying, when he said he “heard” Jesus.   He heard him, but also it really impacted, he really connected with Jesus when Jesus spoke, it effected the very way that he lived.  And of course, it’s always the goal of Bible study.  That’s always the goal of Sunday morning, is that we come and we hear Jesus.  We hear, it effects my soul, it thunders in my being, so that I go “yes!—that’s what I want to do, that’s the way I want to live, that’s the way I need to change, those are the things that I need to consider.  Jesus, I’ve heard you.  I’ve heard you speak to me personally.”  So how about you?  How about you?  So he says, “he heard”. 

          I think of just this last week.  My son had his first baseball practice.  He’s in an instructional league in a town near here.  And it was quite a site, these little guys, five to eight years old, come for their first practice.  It was partly quite a site because the coaches were just getting started, didn’t have enough information from the league about what to do and it was a little disorganized, and I can say that because they said it was a little disorganized.  So I would just attest, ‘Yeah, that was fairly disorganized.’  In fact, when I got there, right off, when the coach, the assistant coach says to me “Hey, do you want to help?”, that just says, you know I’m just showing up, I got my daughter there, [and he’s] asking me if I want to help.  You know, they don’t know me from a bump on the log.  That says there’s a little disorganization here.  But anyway I gave some pointers on what I know.  But anyway I got started and the coach gave some instruction, but it was quite a site, telling the kids what to do, and then watching what kids did as a result.  They didn’t always do what they were told to do.  The instruction and hearing what was said wasn’t always received in the same way.  In fact there were times where kids were supposed to line up and toss balls back and forth, but there’s balls going this way, there’s balls going everywhere, just a little bit of confusion.  In fact the coach, I overheard him telling the assistant coach, he says, “This is like the Bad News Bears, man.”  So part of their training, clearly as Little Leaguer’s, their instruction is just to listen and hear the instruction, and then do the instruction.  I tell you, sometimes church is like the Bad News Bears, man.  What are we hearing?  What are we hearing?  What are you hearing?  Is God speaking to your heart?  Are you hearing and listening to his Word?  Well your life will certainly prove it, and that will come out as we go.  He says he heard, but also he says he ‘saw with his own eyes, he looked upon him’.  He saw with his own eyes, there are two different words here.  When he says “we have seen”, that word means more than just looked at, it means he also perceived that he was the Son of God.  He looked at him, he said ‘Yes, this is the Messiah, this is the Son of God.’  I think of the mount of transfiguration of course, John was one of the ones, one of the three that was up there, that saw Jesus in his glory.  So he says, ‘I heard him,’ but also ‘I saw him, saw him in his glory, I perceived that he was the Son of God, and more than just saw him physically as a man, I saw him in a way that this is indeed the Christ, the Son of God.’  So you read that, you think ears that hear and eyes that see.  Jesus repeatedly warned and encouraged that we would have ears to hear and eyes that see, that we wouldn’t just see Jesus a man that just passed through history, but that we would see Jesus as he is, the Son of God, as the Christ, as the Messiah [cf. Revelation 1:13-16].  And I pray if you’re here this morning, and you’ve never seen Jesus as the Son of God, that God would open your eyes, that he would remove any scales that are upon your eyes, anything that is blinding you from seeing, seeing him as he really is.  So he says, “I have seen him”, but also the other Greek word, that he had looked upon him.  And that word means to gaze steadily, to study.  The Greek word is the same word we get our “theater”.  So in the theater you have people sitting in the audience, and they’re looking at this play, they’re transfixed upon this play, they’re watching it, they’re trying to understand the plot.  So you’re looking for a long while, following something.  And that Greek word, “to look upon” is “to study” and “to gaze upon.”   So here’s a man that says I looked upon him, I knew and perceived he was the Son of God, but I mean, I studied his life, I watched him, I watched all the things he did, I watched him do the miracles that he did, I watched him interact with people the way he did, I watched him sleep, I watched him rise up, I watched him pray, I watched him, I studied him.  That’s the way that he’s referring to, [when he says] that ‘I’ve looked upon him and watched him very closely.’  Of course that’s why I like to study the gospels, is that I can look at the gospels and I can read the gospels and I can just look at Jesus and I can watch him, and watch his life.  Of course he is the example I want to follow more than anything.  This is the life that he lived and the example that he gave to me.


John actually touched Jesus


          So John says he heard, he also had these visuals, he saw, he looked upon, but then he says he also touched.  He touched Jesus.  Now in the Septuagint, that is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Greek word used here is the same word in the Septuagint that is used in the Old Testament to describe the way Isaac handled Jacob to see if it was Esau.  You remember that, Jacob came in and had the fur on him, and had just the odor there, trying to deceive his father who was going blind, and tried to deceive him into believing that he was actually his brother Esau.  It’s the way his father just touched him, Isaac handling Jacob, felt him, and determined ‘Yeah, this is Esau’, even though he was deceived because he couldn’t see.  But that word of ‘touching, feeling’, is what he’s saying, ‘I have handled him, so I had physical contact with him, you know, in many different ways.’  There’s the one time in Luke chapter 24, verse 39, after the resurrection, where Jesus after the resurrection with the disciples and says “Touch me, handle me.”  And he says it in Luke 24 verse 39 “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself, handle and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones.”  So even Jesus said ‘I’m not a spirit, check it out man.  Take a hold of me, feel me, I’m a man, I’m flesh, this is a body.’  So that’s what John is saying.  He says “I heard him, I saw him, and I felt him.”  So through these different senses, hearing, sighting, touching, he is clearly right at the very beginning addressing this Gnostic heresy of Jesus being a phantom or emanation, he says, ‘That is just baloney, and I’m an eyewitness that proves otherwise.’  Now when you have that type of experience, I think of this man, Mike Sasso.  I had heard about this man who’s a missions pastor.  I’d heard about him, and he had potentially a heart for the nation of France, and of course as a church we’ve got a missions trip this summer to France, and we’ve gone there before, and working with churches there.  So I had emailed him a couple years ago, and we had corresponded a little about the nation of France.  I didn’t know anything about him, I heard about him, and then had some correspondence via email.  But when I was going to India I read the names of the eight people going, and I learned that this man was going to go to India.  Well now I spent eleven days with him in India, I’ve actually roomed with him in some of the hotel rooms, sat in cars with him overnight and had meals with him.  I know him in a very different way, as opposed to just some correspondence over email and hearing about him.  Now I can tell you a lot about Mike, having been with him for eleven days.  Neat man, really great in children’s ministry, intelligent, 49 years old but he’s got a lot of energy.  In fact, at the airport he jumped over these railings, and the way he jumped over them, I know I couldn’t do that.  Twelve years older than me, great shape, funny guy, very personal.  I could tell you a lot about Mike Sasso, having spent time with him.  That’s what John is clearly portraying here, as he spent time with Jesus.  Man, he spent day after day, and this is the truth.  Jesus is the Son of God.  God sent his Son, he became a man, he dwelt on this earth, and he died on a cross and he rose to life.  Forget this other heresy.  This tells you and I is that what you and I have is not a philosophy, it’s not an ideology, it is an historical fact, it is a person.  That’s what my Christian faith is based upon, an historical person, Jesus Christ.  Not something that you can debate in philosophy or something that maybe changes with time.  It is an historical fact and person, that’s where the Christian faith starts.  It’s also based on trustworthy testimony of witnesses who spent their time with Jesus.  So we have a great foundation.  It’s unlike other religions.  I think of Mormonism, Joseph Smith writes this book of Mormon, but he writes about Jesus centuries after Jesus lived [many, many centuries], many centuries, and says this is the account of Jesus in the Americas.  Or even the Koran, where Mohammed writes about Jesus, six, seven-hundred years after Jesus lived.  But we have the Christian account which is written by 12 guys who actually walked with Jesus, spent time with him, knew him very intimately.  And that’s what he’s saying.  You have that account to start with in your faith in Jesus Christ.  And I tell you, that’s what I need.  I need the real deal, I don’t need anything that somebody has thought up in their mind, and people have debated and discussed in their own little philosophy meetings.  I want the real deal, and he’s saying we’ve got Jesus Christ, and this is based on concrete truth and evidence. Well he gives his witness and then he gives a description of Jesus in these very verses.  He talks about “that which was from the beginning.”  And then he goes on clearly, “that which was from the beginning,” referring to Jesus.  Now when he says “That which was from the beginning”, what does he mean?  Does he mean ‘the beginning’ like the beginning—way back billions of years ago, and before that, back to the beginning of the beginning?  What is the beginning of the very beginning?  Is it referring to that?  Or is he referring to the ministry of Christ on the earth?  I do not know.  In fact, I looked at this for awhile, I dug into a lot of different commentaries and I couldn’t get a concrete ‘Yeah, this seems to really jell with me.’  So I’m not gonna tell you for sure.  But I do like this Scripture, Micah chapter 5, verse 2.  I think this is a good one to just note here.  “But you Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me One who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.”  [“ancient times” margin: from days of eternity] NIV “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler of Israel, whose goings forth are from old, from everlasting.” NKJ  Of course, Jesus’ beginning was in Bethlehem, born in there in a manger, but he was from everlasting.  Incredible prophecy, and that’s also things we’ll see about Jesus as we go on.  But Messiah, one who had come from eternity, the Eternal One would enter into physical existence, into the universe [he had created] and be born as a child.  So, he says, he was from the beginning, was manifested.  That would mean, you know, he came and was born, came from eternity, just the Infinite One came, was manifested physically as a child, grew as a man, and this life they saw and they handled and experienced.  And so he refutes the Gnostic teaching there.  He says he was from the beginning, was manifested, “but also was with the Father.”   Now what you don’t see there in English, but in the Greek when he says “with the Father” there’s a little bit more to it than just being with him, there’s a sense of oneness in the words that are used—equality in those words.  So it’s a reference, a slight reference again to the Trinity, the Deity of Jesus Christ.  [Now there are some Sabbatarian Churches of God that don’t believe in the Trinity, but believe the Holy Spirit is the power of God, but they nonetheless believe in the Deity of Jesus Christ.  God doesn’t seem to deny them the indwelling Holy Spirit merely because they don’t understand the full attributes of God’s makeup.  Who does?  Explain Three-in-One, one God, three beings, one of which is found throughout the universe holding all matter together.  Careful, you’ll blew a mental fuse if you try.  If we can’t understand, then we shouldn’t be throwing stones at other denominations that don’t understand the Trinity, but still accept the Deity of Jesus Christ.]  He was with the Father, and then he came to this earth.  He says he is the Word, concerning the Word of life.  Of course then you think of John chapter 1, verse 1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…”  And here he says “…in the beginning, concerning the Word of life...”  Now the word for “life” here is the Greek word zoe, which refers to the essence of life, or life itself in that sense, as opposed to the Greek word bios, which is the means of life.  He’s referring to the essence of life.  So the Word of life.  Now why is Jesus called “the Word of life”?  Why is he referred to with that name?  I like Warren Weirsby, Warren Weirsby puts it this way, he says “Christ to us, is what our words are to others.  Our words reveal to others just what we think and how we feel.  So Jesus Christ to us reveals to us the mind and heart of God.  He is the living means of communication between God and men, and therefore as the Bible says ‘to know Christ is to know God.’”  So he’s the Word of life, I mean, he just shows us, communicates to us in the most dynamic way—God, his heart, his life, everything about God, we just have to look to Jesus, and there as he said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”  So, the Word of life. 

          He’s also the ”eternal life.”  There’s three times he refers to life in these verses here.  “The eternal life.”  Now that doesn’t just mean everlasting life.  When he says eternal life there, he means more than that, it does include that.  But when he says “eternal life” he means life that derives from God himself.  And because God is eternal, Romans chapter 16 verse 26, his life that he gives is also eternal.  That it’s the life that characterizes God.  So eternal life. More than just life everlasting, but the very life that comes from God.  And we’re told in the Scripture as it says here, that this life, he says the eternal life, this life is Christ. “…we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.” [NIV]  This very life is Christ himself.  So it can be simply said, what is eternal life?—what is eternal life?  The answer to that is a person, Jesus Christ.  He is eternal life, he’s the very life, that is Christ, eternal life. 


Another purpose of the letter


          Then, well John gives this witness, he then gives these attributes and descriptions of Jesus, and then we have his purpose.  And this is part of his purpose here, he goes on later in this Epistle and gives other points to this purpose.  But he says this is the purpose of his writing, verse 3, “that we may have fellowship with God’s children” he says in verse 3, “I write, I declare this to you, that you may have fellowship with us, and truly our  fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”  This is really a tremendous declaration here.  KJV, verse 3, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”  The disciples had this incredible fellowship with Jesus.  They walked on this earth with Jesus, they knew him so intimately.  And now they write and say “that you may also have this same fellowship with us, which is this fellowship with God, which is the same fellowship that you also can have with the Father and with his Son.  Of course the vertical fellowship creates the horizontal fellowship, as you see there. 

          Now the word for fellowship in the Greek is an interesting word.  That is because in our English we don’t have any word that can really grab the entire meaning of that word.  So in the New Testament the word “fellowship” is translated, the Greek word koinonia for fellowship is translated different ways throughout the New Testament just to try to grab different parts of the meaning.  But it means oneness, a complete oneness.  The word “fellowship”, that word koinonia also means communion, it means an inner relationship, it means fellowship of the deepest richest sort.  And it means sharing.  So that’s all included in that word.  Just oneness, sharing, fellowship, communion, and very intimate inter-relationship.  And he says, this fellowship we have with God, and this fellowship we declare to you so that you can have this fellowship [with God], and also can have this fellowship with us [i.e. with each other, as members of the church].  It’s incredible, and we’ll see this as we go on, that God does offer this type of relationship and fellowship to us.  The infinite God, an infinite God, a God from the eternal, that’s come to this earth to provide the means for you and I to have this fellowship with him, a relationship with him.  A real closeness with him, a sharing with him, a communion, a oneness with him, just an interaction with him.  In the same way the disciples had with Jesus, we also can have that with God even now, with Jesus even now, just close to him, near him, sweetness with him.  That’s what he’s referring to, it’s very sweet.  And so as that sweetness with God grows, there’s that sweetness horizontally with one another.  And it’s true, the sweeter our communion with Jesus, the sweeter our communion with one another.  You want to have a really tight church, you want to have really close bonds and relationships in the church, it takes people having a real tight relationship with God.  That comes from there and goes out, it’s exactly how it works.  The more I have an open heart and just a daily walk with God, the more it now affects my ability to have a real sweet time with you as a another believer.  And it’s amazing, you see that though.  I tell you, I can, you have this experience, you can travel to other parts of the world, and you can tell that person’s a Christian.  I hear even people in the church tell me, ‘I work with this guy, and I’ve never asked him, but I think he’s a Christian, and there’s just something about him, something about him, I sense that he’s a Christian.’  And our relationship with God affects us, and then he gives us that relationship with one another.  The sweeter our communion with God, the sweeter our communion with Jesus, the sweeter our communion with one another.  I think of my time again in India.  And there was one particular time, I just think of it, it was a sweet time.  One guy from our team is part of a band, a nationally growing Christian band, and great musician.  So it was neat at different times to have him lead worship.  But there was one time we were just hanging out in the guest house in Bangalore, and I forget what we were doing, but we went there a couple times where we had gone one place, and were waiting now, and we were showering before we went to another place.  And he got out his guitar, and he just started to play, and of course just played wonderful, and began to sing, and sings wonderfully.  And after a little bit of time the rest of us started to make our way into the living room where he was playing, and maybe you’ve had this experience, we just started to join in with him and just started to worship.  It wasn’t planned.  But we just started to worship with him.  And it went on for awhile, we started to pray, and just worship.  It was just spontaneous.  But it was sweet.  Then of course when we got into the van to travel to the next place, man, our time together was great, man, just intimate, very spiritual.  I mean, we had just connected with Jesus in a wonderful way, so you can just imagine the conversation as we traveled then to the next place that we were going to.  And that’s it man, we can have a tightness with the Lord, and the more we do, the tighter this church becomes man, the closer it becomes.  He writes that, he declares this, he says in verse 3, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”  He shares these things that we would have fellowship with other Christians, with the church, we’d be part of this incredible mystery that God is working in the church.  But truly our fellowship also, as he says, would be with the Father and his Son. 


“that your joy might be full”


          Then he makes this point.  And maybe this is just for you this morning.  He says, verse 4, “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.”  That your joy would be full, that you’d have a fullness of joy.  Not just a little joy now and then, not just a taste of joy in your life, not just a passing  joy that gets interfered with all the time, but that your joy would be full.  He writes that you may have a fullness of joy.  Of course, joy is found in Jesus Christ.  God created you, you may not know this or believe this, he created you to have joy.  He didn’t make you to be miserable.  He didn’t make you to be sour.  God created you that you would be a person that would experience joy.  He created man to have joy. Of course when, we go back to the Garden of Eden, we see that initially.  And then it was lost.  It was lost through Adam’s sin, and replaced with fear and the curse of sin, and of course then with the sin came a shame and hiding from God.  But in the New Testament that joy is regained through man’s reconciliation with God by believing in Christ, who is eternal.  Romans 15:13, great verse.  “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy, and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  So are you filled with joy.  Are you filled with joy?  Is there the fullness of joy in your life?  If there isn’t, then why isn’t there the fullness of joy in your life?  The Bible says that you can have joy, and if you are lacking joy, 1st John is a great letter for you to study.  Include it this week in part of your study time.  Open your heart to God and let God speak to you.  Have ears to hear and obey, and eyes to see.  And as you do, God is a God of truth, he doesn’t make promises that he doesn’t keep.  These things are written that your joy may be full.  So, do you have the fullness of joy?  If you don’t, why don’t you?  The Bible says the fruit of the Spirit is joy.  The fruit of the Spirit is joy.  If the Spirit is in me, it should be growing in me in such a way that there is greater joy.  So joy, and man, the joy of the Lord is wonderful.  We see here too, as indicated in this verse, a believer’s joy is in Christ, but also a believer’s joy is fulfilled too, is just fueled through the study of the Scripture.  So as we study together, I  pray man, as we go on, that this is fuel for our tank.  Well, you have fellowship, he talks about fellowship with God and with one another.  And he talks about joy.  And no doubt about it, fellowship with God and joy go closely hand in hand.  So Charles Spurgeon says “Fellowship with Jesus and joy lie so closely together, that the apostle could aim at both at the same time.”  i.e. he could make one statement because they’re connected.  And if you lack joy, maybe it’s because you’re not an individual that’s been drawing near to the Lord, and just experiencing the fullness of the Holy Spirit.  This morning you can do just that.  You can draw near to the Lord, and he will draw near to you, and the result of that is joy, joy, guaranteed.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.  This is the Word of God, and God’s Word is true.  His purpose is that we would have fellowship, a tighter fellowship with God and one another, but also that your joy would be full.  He’ll go on and give us a few more later.  His purpose, we’ll see this next week, is also to stimulate victory over sin [and John also defines sin later on, in chapter 3].  His purpose is also to stimulate love for one another.  His purpose is also stimulate awareness of false teaching.  And we’ll see even later, his purpose is to stimulate assurance of salvation.  All great things that we need in greater measure in our lives.  And we’ll pick up again with verse 5.  I really like how this letter builds, we’ve just started to scratch the surface and get started.  And he really makes some strong declarations in the verses that proceed right after this.  I didn’t want to rush through them, so we’re just going to kind of look at them separately next week [and the following weeks after that throughout the book of 1st John].”  [This sermon series going through 1 John 1-5 is given by a pastor of a local church somewhere in New England who does not wish his identity or that of his church revealed.]                  

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