Summary: When we experience Jesus we experience life.
Text: 1 Jn. 1:1-4
1. Illustration: For many years British author C.S. Lewis had such a great difficulty in becoming a Christian. Religion in his culture was "faith without power". A blind religion that required learning without questioning and without a personal experience with the risen Savior. According to his brother Warren, his conversion was "no sudden plunge into a new life, but rather a slow, steady convalescence from a deep-seated spiritual illness - an illness that had its origins in his childhood, in the dry husks of religion offered by the semi-political church goings of Ulster, and the similar dull emptiness of compulsory church during our school days." Our Daily Bread, March 15, 1994.
2. Like Lewis, I too grew up going to church, and it was all very lifeless and boring. It seems I knew a lot about Jesus, but I didn't know Jesus. It wasn't until the evening of April 4, 1978 when I had a personal and dynamic encounter with the risen Jesus that I truly experienced life.
3. In the introduction to his first letter, the Apostle John tells us about experiencing Jesus. He talks about...
A. Life Revealed
B. Life Visualized
C. Life Shared
4. Let's stand together as we read 1 Jn. 1:1-4.
Proposition: When we experience Jesus we experience life.
Transition: First. let's talk about...
I. Life Is Revealed (1).
A. Word Of Life
1. As with many of the NT letters, John here is dealing with false teaching. In particular, he is dealing with an early form of a heresy called Gnosticism.
A. The basics behind Gnosticism is that everything that is "spirit" is entirely good, and everything that is physical is entirely bad.
B. This led to the belief that salvation could be achieved through escape from the body, which as accomplished not through Jesus Christ, but through special "knowledge" (the word Gnosticism comes from the Greek word for knowledge, gnosis).
C. This led to some to reject the idea that Jesus was actually human, and led to strange beliefs about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
D. Some of these Gnostics believed that Jesus only "appeared" to have a body. Others believed that a "spiritual" Christ was separate from a "physical" Christ and that they were only joined during the time between his baptism and shortly before his death.
E. So part of John’s purpose is to confront and correct these false teachings.
2. So in order to combat this false teaching, John wrote, "We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life."
A. John begins this letter in similar fashion to the opening of his gospel. He opens with a reference to the beginning and leads us directly to the Word.
B. However, unlike the prologue to his gospel account, John moves quickly to the hard evidence of the reality of the “Word of life.” He makes it very clear that he is not talking about some philosophical concept.
C. Contrary to the abstract conclusions of philosophers of his time, John affirmed that he had had the awesome privilege of walking with, listening to, learning from, and otherwise experiencing firsthand the one Who was the foundation of their faith.
D. The Greek verbs have added emphasis that could be translated that John had actually heard, seen, and touched the Lord.
E. This one fact, established by factual evidence, sets John’s basis for the truth of his teaching, which would immediately refute the vain theologies and false teachings which were creeping into the churches of Asia Minor.
F. None of the heresies espoused by these false teachers could make such a claim.
(, Easy-to-Read Commentary Series – The General Epistles: A Practical Faith, 295).
3. Scholars are somewhat puzzled by the term Word of life.
A. John, in his gospel, refers to Jesus Christ as the “Word became human” (John 1:14). Is John, therefore, speaking of Christ in this opening verse?
B. Sixteenth-century Reformation theologian John Calvin concludes, “As its substance is Christ, and as it contains nothing other than that He, who had always been with the Father, at length appeared to us, the first view seems to me the simpler and more genuine.”
C. This conclusion would be affirmed by the evidence of John’s own gospel when Jesus said to Martha, “I am the one who brings people back to life, and I am life itself. Those who believe in me will live even if they die” (John 11:25) (296).
D. As the "Word," the Son of God fully conveys and communicates God. John’s use of the Word is a good title for the Son who both created the universe with God and then came to earth to be the perfect expression of God to humanity.