Summary: This is the first in a series of three messages based on 1 John and the themes - Life, Light and love. At the start of the letter John provides an introduction which presents Jesus as the fount of Life. Our understanding of life is found & fixed in Jesus
Lessons in Life
The First Letter of John largely revolves around three connected themes - Life, Light and Love.
When we take these three as essentially linked we have the call and basis to respond to error. Such as response is crucial as John clearly demonstrates in this Letter. When any one of these three truths is attacked or misrepresented then we must respond and assert the truth.
‘Old World, New Church’ – we act as though it is an old church in a new world. The church is Christ’s agent through the indwelling of the Spirit in bringing the Gospel message to a sin sick world. There might be new technology in the world but the fallen human condition remains the same – it is in need of redemption and reconciliation.
In examining John’s introduction to his first letter we will note:
1. Consummate Life
2. Communal Fellowship
3. Complete Joy
1. Consummate Life 1 John 1: 1, 2
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—
John’s first letter starts where his Gospel account started in eternity – from the beginning – this takes us to eternity and the eternal pre-existence of Christ. And John testifies that in time the incarnate Son of God appeared in Jesus Christ.
He appeared – in time – in history. The incarnation- revelation is God’s initiative
God is Life – the Word of life.
As a result of His incarnation He was:
1 heard - akekoamen
1, 2 seen - heorakmen
1 looked - etheasametha
1 touched (to handle, to grasp) - epselaphesan
John makes it plain that he is a witness, who testifies to the person, work and life of Jesus Christ. This in turn requires him to proclaim this perfect revelation of God. A revelation of Jesus Christ has to result in testimony and a declaration of His wonder and His work. John, like all the other apostles, was compelled to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ!
2 testify (witness) - marturoumen
1-2 proclaim (pronounce, declare) - apaggellomen
These opening two verses centre and focus on the second person of the Trinity – Jesus Christ. It starts in eternity and takes us into time when He is incarnated, revealed, made manifest – ephanerothe
Life is in him. He is the only one who can make meaning of things physical and things spiritual.
2. Communal Fellowship 1 John 1: 3
3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
The proclamation of the Gospel’s end – purpose – is fellowship ‘so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. Fellowship is koinonia – ‘sharing in common’, communion. This commenced when Christ was on earth with his disciples and extended with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost – the purpose of the Gospel is fellowship – that is at the heart of salvation. Fellowship is a specifically Christian word and the link is the Holy Spirit. It is all about entrance into relationship – it is true restoration: With us – believers; With the Father & with his Son, Jesus Christ
This is a rebuke to aspects of modern evangelism and church life. Often it is so self- focused that does not have a communal context. Church is more than a social event – it is a spiritual communion. True fellowship is equally bound in the truth about the Word of Life – this is the substance of real koinonia.
The Christian message can be summed up in two great aims – love for people and love for God.
The Gospel brings people closer by first bringing them close to God in and through Jesus Christ and by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Any message that promotes schism and division is not grounded in Life – and runs contrary to Christ’s earthly mission. Reconciliation is the intent.
3. Complete Joy 1 John 1: 4
4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
The consequence of fellowship is the completion of joy (chara).
The essence of Christianity is joy. The aim of the Gospel is to bring joy. That is why the Gospel is Good News! The ultimate note of the Christian message is joy. Joy is dependent on life which brings fellowship which leads to joy. John makes it plain – if people are to ever find fellowship with one another and fellowship with God , and if they are to ever find true joy, they will find them nowhere else than in Jesus Christ. There is no one else!