Summary: John starts his letter with a declaration of authority and an invitation to know you have eternal life because you have heard, seen, looked and felt the touch of the Word who was from the beginning.
You can listen to the full message here:-
Knowing You Have Eternal Life
John the Authoritative Apostle
How do you know if you can trust what you are reading or hearing?
The first question you want to ask is, “Who is the author?”
Who wrote what I am reading?
Who spoke what I am hearing?
Do they know what they are talking about … or just think they know?
Are they experienced and credible … or just speaking opinion?
Is what they are saying transparent … or is there some sort of agenda?
Knowing the author makes all the difference
A book entitled “The Foundations of Practical Engineering” written by Mr Quak could be one which you know is reliable.
Especially if the Mr Quak was John Quak or Neville Quak.
But if the book was written by Mr Allan Quak – well it would be a good alternative in the next toilet paper crisis.
But what if Mr Allan Quak wrote a book called “Dadding Daughters: How to Raise World Transforming Woman”. Well, perhaps, such a book would have a measure of credibility.
The author, and their topic of focus, impacts how much authority we give to what we are reading and hearing. Let’s keep this in mind as we start at the beginning of 1 John.
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.
We heard, saw, looked touched.
We proclaimed, testified, write.
Who is “we”?
A closer look at the text reveals that the “we” is a collective for a group who had the experience of hearing, seeing, looking and touching … as well as the responsibility to proclaim, and testify. The only ones who fit these criteria are the apostles.
In this case specifically the apostle John.
The beloved disciple.
The one exiled on Patmos.
It has been 50 years since Jesus ascended, and John is still going strong.
That fact, in and of itself, is a powerful witness. In the past 50 years the church has been ostracised, abused, vilified, and persecuted – at the hands of Jewish religious followers, and the Roman state. In the middle of all this the church has just grown and grown, with leaders like John continuing to stand up and bring the Gospel. He has remained faithful, continuing to hold on to Jesus no matter what.
That is a powerful witness.
Never underestimate the Gospel-power testimony of a believer who keeps holding on to Jesus always. Jesus has carried so many faithful believers through 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 years of life. With all the challenges that life brings. These same saints, after 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 years will all say exactly that same testimony … “if it were not for Jesus they would be lost.”
Look to such people and let their testimony be an encouragement to faith … especially when we get stuck on the here and now and the today.
But it is not primarily the longevity of John’s faith journey, or his older age, that gives us cause to listen. We listen because John is able to speak with authority.
John is a witness.
A witness to the ministry of Jesus.
That which we have “heard” … we proclaim, and testify, and write about.
We might want to say that John is an “ear-witness”.
John was there when Jesus took the disciples aside and taught the Sermon on the Mount.
John heard all the parables first hand – and Jesus would have used these parables on multiple teaching occasions.
John heard people confessing Jesus, and the crys of demons being exorcised, and the joy of the widow who received her son back from the dead.
What he heard … he passes on … so that a new generation can hear and believe. John heard it all.
John also saw it all. That which we have “seen” … we proclaim, and testify, and write about. The makes John an “eye-witness”.
He saw the storm being stilled, and he counted the 153 large fish that were caught, and he watch the lame walk.
He saw Jesus face when Jesus was upset with him for telling the children to go away.