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Knowing You Have Eternal Life
1 John 1:1-4
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 John 1:1-4
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.
1 Corinthians 15:5-6 tells us that after his resurrection Jesus “appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters.” Each passing year some of these 500 pass away. John is still going.
Perhaps in his older age his eyes are not as good, but John the disciple saw it all. He passes on what he has seen so that a new generation can also see and believe.
John also “looked at” it all. It makes John a “thinking-witness”. That is because sometimes “seeing” and “looking” are two different things.
Don’t you have a saying, “It’s still four months until harvest”? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.
“Looking” is to survey a situation with your eyes and think more deeply. To contemplate the impact of what you have seen.
Peter and John raced when they were told to tomb was empty. John beat Peter but stayed outside. Peter rushed in and saw the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus head, and the linen that had covered the body. John finally went inside “He saw and believed” (John 20:9).
Peter and John saw the same thing, but John “looked”.
50 years later John the beloved disciples is still looking. What he has looked at … what he has contemplated, and processed, and carefully observed, and interpreted … he passes so that a new generation can “look”.
John also says that which we have “touched” … we proclaim, and testify, and write about. It makes John a “experience-witness”.
We don’t read a lot specifically about Jesus touching the disciples. Thomas was encouraged to touch the wounds of the resurrected Jesus.
We do know Jesus is a “touch person”. He touched when he healed. He touched lepers. He touched the ear of the man which was cut when Peter tried to use a sword.
Shaking hands. Greeting hugs. An encouraging pat on the back. John declares that Jesus reached out and touched … John testifies to this so that a new generation may also be touched.
I have heard, seen, looked and touched.
And there is so much that has happened. So much that could be shared.
Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
There is no end to the stuff that I heard, seen, looked and touched.
It is from the beginning.
It is the Word.
It is life.
It is eternal
For around three years eternity … the Word … God made flesh … life
For three years Jesus intersected with John. It transformed John for all eternity … John the fisherman who became John the apostle.
A witness with the full authority of being an apostle who was there.
I testify to this. Put me on a witness stand and make a judgement. What I am saying is true.
I will proclaim this. My life has been completely transformed because of Jesus and I want everyone to know the message.
I will write it down. So that, when I am no longer here, the testimony and the proclamation can still go on for generation after generation.
Why does he do it?
What is his agenda?
1 John 1:3
So that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
That is the agenda.
All John want is for you to have what he has.
What a gentle way to go about sharing the Gospel.
“Let me tell you what I have, and how it has transformed me, and the life I now experience, and the peace I have, and the hope I am filled with.”
Let me tell you how I have heard, seen, looked and touched.
Let me tell testify and proclaim.
Let me tell you these things … then you decide.
Do you want a part of this? Do you want fellowship?
Later in the book John will specifically define how this fellowship comes about
1 John 5:13
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
Right through these epistles, as John proclaims and testifies, the question is being -- “Do you what to know that you have eternal life?”
Not just “know” … as in “I know the capital of Australia is Canberra.”
But really know.
Know in the way that John knew.
You can know because you have heard.
You have heard the voice of Jesus as you have read the Scripture. It is the voice of the Good Shepherd who calls out your name … and we follow because we know his voice.
Through the same Scripture, which is the living Word of God, you have heard the voice of the Holy Spirit, who will teach you all things and will remind you of everything Jesus has said.
Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ (Romans 10:17).
You can know by hearing.
You can know because you have seen.
We have seen the impact of his grace and love in our lives.
We have seen the transforming power of his love.
We have seen the most strident sceptic become a most faithful disciple.
Yes it is a differing seeing to knowing what colour Jesus eyes were, and seeing his beard grow. But it is still “seeing”
But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
You can know by seeing.
You can know because you have “looked”.
You have looked at the baby in the manger and recognised the significance of “God in the Flesh” – like us.
You have looked at the actions of Jesus and seen the Father’s love for you.
You have looked at the empty tomb and seen your eternal hope as sin has been conquered.
Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.
You can know by looking.
You can know because you have “touched”.
Not the physical touch of feeling the skin of Jesus; but the touch which comes because we have been impacted by the body of Christ.
A hug in a moment of grief.
A prayer in a moment of despair.
A meal in a moment of need.
A listening ear in a moment solace.
Colossians 1:18 tells us that Christ is the head of the body. Through that body Christ in the flesh continues to touch the world.
You can know because you have felt the touch.
This is where 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.
John is writing because he wants you to be sure.
Sure of call of Jesus on each one of our lives.
Let’s take this journey because there is only one thing that we must be sure about, and that is our belief in the name of the Son of God.