Summary: Sometimes we need to strive to understand important truths more deeply. Sometimes we need to be admonished to stay true to those truths, and to interpret events through their filter. Sometimes we need to find our unity through these.
A Different Angle
Introduction to I John
1. Being well-intended does not always work. One blogger writes, “Today, I found out that shutting off the heat in the rental property my parents owned was a bad idea. The water froze and the pipes burst, causing the whole kitchen ceiling to fall down. The water ruined the wood floors and the appliances. I turned off the heat to save money.”
2. The same thing is true with the Christian life. Some people think that all you need is a heart-felt faith; facts, doctrine, and Biblical knowledge can be left to the experts.
3. Other people think everything is simple and they already know it. And they don’t know that they don’t know because they haven’t thought it through.
4. Bill Gates is hanging out with the chairman of General Motors.
"If automotive technology had kept pace with computer technology over the past few decades," boasts Gates, "you would now be driving a V-32 instead of a V-8, and it would have a top speed of 10,000 miles per hour. Or, you could have an economy car that weighs 30 pounds and gets a thousand miles to a gallon of gas. In either case, the sticker price of a new car would be less than $50."
"Sure," says the GM chairman. "But would you really want to drive a car that crashes every month and needs recall updates every couple weeks?" [http://jokes.cc.com, altered]
5. Theology, the Bible, the Christian life – it has tendrils and depths that even the most diligent of us have not realized. If you think you know everything worth knowing, you probably do not even grasp the basics.
6. There is so much to cover, and so many different voices out there. Learning the truth is no guarantee that we will remember the truth or continue to adhere to it or give it the place of prominence it deserves when putting the truth to action.
Main Idea: There is more to spiritual truth than just learning and practicing. Sometimes we need to strive to understand important truths more deeply. Sometimes we need to be admonished to stay true to those truths, and to interpret events through their filter. Sometimes we need to find our unity through those shared beliefs.
I. Understanding the UNIQUE Nature of I John Prods Us in All These Directions.
A. Like the rest of the New Testament, it is INSPIRED and AUTHORITATIVE.
1. There are seeming contradictions in I John, but no REAL ones.
2. Reading it through in one sitting is CRUCIAL for interpreting I John.
B. The author: The Apostle JOHN, relative, and eyewitness of Jesus: part of the Inner Circle of the Apostles.
• The vocabulary, style, and themes of I John very much resemble the Gospel of John.
C. Like Hebrews, I John is more of a TREATISE or a sermon than a typical epistle.
1. There is no greeting. This is not in standard letter (epistle) form.
2. John is preaching to the choir, strengthening them in their convictions, encouraging them and cheering them on to stay the course and bear down spiritually.
D. This is written like a SYMPHONY with themes presented and then elaborated upon later.
It is not LINEAR like most of the New Testament.
1. Rather than scurry about trying to understand the difficult verses of I John, it is better to “chill” and read on, expecting an answer.
2. If you found time to read through I John this week, you know what I mean.
E. John deals with one THEME, then another and another, and then returns to the first to ADD more to the theme.
G. Much of I John is a MIDRASH on the life and teachings of Jesus.
H. John’s epistle is extremely THELOGICAL and extremely BEHAVIORAL.
Light, life, fellowship, love, the Holy Spirit, two types of sin, keeping the commandments, confidence before God, the assurance that comes from faith, the battle with the evil one and his antichrists, propitiation, confession of sin, joy.
II. The INCARNATION of God the Son in the Person of Jesus Christ Is a Great Starting Point (1-4).
A. John claims EMPIRICAL evidence that Jesus, as presented in the Gospels, came to earth as a real Man (1-3).
1. From “the beginning” parallels John 1:1-4, 14-17
2. A Person became the content of the message.
3. This is one of the most important foundational truths of our faith; anyone who denies the incarnation is certainly not a Christian.
4. Errors deny both the deity (Arians) and humanity of Jesus (Docetism).
B. The tie that binds us is a SHARED fellowship with the Father, the Son, and other believers, and much of that fellowship is doctrinal (3-4).
1. Marylu and I visited with a woman in the neighborhood here who had a sad story.