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Summary: Authentic fellowship is the mutual participation of two or more people in each other’s lives. The epistle of the morning affirms our need for fellowship with God and each other

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The Europeans who came to settle North America found it vast and unexplored. “Self-reliance” was the watchword, and the scout, the mountain man or pioneer, with his axe and rifle over his shoulder, became the national hero.

In the early days the government gave away quarter sections of land (160 acres) to anyone who would homestead, in order to encourage settlement. People flocked west from crowded cities and villages to have their own land at last. Before they could farm the land they had chosen, their first job was to build a sod hut to live in, and most families built them right smack-dab in the middle of their quarter section. The reason was obvious. People who had never owned land before had a new sense of pride and ownership. They wanted to feel that everything they saw belonged to them.

But that custom changed quickly. This chosen isolation did strange things to people. Occasionally, photographers went out to record life on the frontier and returned with photographs of weird men, wild-eyed women, and haunted-looking children. Before long most of these families learned to move their houses to one corner of their property to live in proximity with three other families who also lived on the corners of their property. Four families living in fellowship?sharing life and death, joy and sorrow, abundance and want, had a good chance of making it.

[Authentic fellowship is the mutual participation of two or more people in each other’s lives. The epistle of the morning affirms our need for fellowship with God and each other. OYBT 1 Jn. 1]

I. INTRODUCTION

1. John’s prologue (1 Jn. 1:1-4) addresses two hazards in the church; [1] the notion that Christian fellowship is possible without common belief in Christ (some suggest Christian fellowship occurs when people of different beliefs come together in worship), and [2] the notion that one may have a true relationship with God while rejecting Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and the life.

2. While it is clear that some in John’s audience doubt the divinity of Christ, John declares it boldly, giving no voice to those who would contest it (John is, after all, an eyewitness). He has another agenda in this correspondence. . .that his readers may have true fellowship with him and so with God and Jesus.

3. There are conditions to this fellowship, and John turns his attention to them. The basis for his argument lies in the 5th verse: “This is the message we have heard from [Christ] and declare to be true: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”

[With this declaration, John warns his readers of three barriers to true fellowship with God and others. See if these barrier claims sound familiar to you (they will; little has changed in 2000 years).]

II. I HAVE FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD (6-7)

1. Some in John’s audience claim to have fellowship with God without accepting the core of the gospel; that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. IOW, no one comes to God without him.

A. This troubles those who claim that fellowship with God comes only by revelation, and that such revelation comes by “special knowledge” that one may possess; they believe this special knowledge makes submission to Christ ineffective.

B. The Gk word for knowledge is gnw?siß (gnosis). Those holding to such beliefs are called Gnostics. Scholars suggest that the heresy John is dealing with here is the first evidence of Gnosticism in the early church (though it remains unconfirmed in the 1st century).

2. In any event, John’s message is clear. Apart from the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, one lives in darkness (read: sin). Regardless of revelation, knowledge, or any other man-made form of righteousness, one cannot have fellowship with God (light) when he lives in darkness (sin).

III. I AM WITHOUT SIN (8-9)

1. It appears that John’s opponents responded to his accusation by denying it. “We are without sin” was either how they replied or how John imagined they would reply. Actions John deemed sinful do not appear sinful to them.

A. Sound familiar? Look around. . .the very word sin is being replaced in our culture; we use words like indiscretion, shortcoming, alternative and others to describe sin.

B. It is clear from this statement that ours is not a unique problem. For centuries, people have made excuses for sin in order to avoid dealing with their sin. John’s opponents were no different. We almost hear them using the same euphemisms we use 2000 years later.

2. Here’s something worth remembering. There is no remedy for denied sin. No amount of good deeds, no amount of charitable donations, no amount of worship attendance. Those who refuse to acknowledge their own sin live and die in darkness (def: the absence of light).

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