Summary: Fellowship with God is everything.
1. There is an old story about a mother who asked her daughter to go to their storage shed and bring her some jars of preserves. It was dark outside and the little girl said that she was afraid.
Her mother said, “You don’t need to be afraid, God is there and He will watch over you.” She said, “I know but I want someone to go with me with skin on.”
2. God understands our need to have “someone with skin on” and that’s why the Son of God took on a sinless human nature – one with body, soul, and spirit. We call it the incarnation, God taking on another nature thus becoming eternally the God-Man. One who is fully God and fully man in one person.
3. The Declaration of the Proof and Purpose of the Incarnation.
Trans: It’s important that we understand that John wrote this letter to teach us how to have fellowship with God and to combat a heresy called Gnosticism. This taught that all matter was evil and spirit was good. Since God is Spirit they could not believe that He could create matter; also they did not believe in the incarnation because they said God could have nothing to do with an evil body.
Two forms, Docetism meaning “to seem” they taught that Jesus only seemed to have a body – He was a phantom! The other Cerinthus, named after a man who taught that “Jesus” and “the Christ” were two separate beings. Jesus was believed to be the son of Mary and Joseph and that “the Christ” [God] came upon Jesus at His baptism and then left just prior to the crucifixion. John combats such false teaching.
They were also big on secret knowledge which was viewed as a mark of great spirituality. Christ was degenerated from a Savior to a mere revealer. In practical application Gnostics were either given to Asceticism, seeking to punish the evil body; or License excusing sin by making a distinction between what one does in the body and what one does in his spirit.
Only as we understand that background will be able to rightly understand what John is saying in this letter.
1 John 1:1-4 (NKJV)
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life--
2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us--
3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
I. First, the Proof of the Incarnation.
A. Christ Existence.
1. Related to His Eternality.
That which was from the beginning – the verb “was” is an imperfect tense which means “was always in existence” and not the idea of coming into existence.
Christ is eternal, an attribute true only of God Himself. The Son did not begin in the incarnation, but He is from all eternity. Jn. 8:58; 17:5, 24
Now the problem is that we are sinful and cannot fully understand such a God. An illustration might be taken from my dog and I. I love my dog but he does not understand much about me. When I am working on a sermon he has no idea of what I’m doing. When I go to the store he has no idea what I am doing. We do communicate he can go bring back a ball, or go outside when I tell him to go to the door, and a host of other things but we are not on the same level.
God and I can have wonderful fellowship but not on the same level.
2. Christ’s Incarnation.
Which we have heard – a perfect tense, a past experience with present results. “That which we have heard with the present results that it is ringing in our ears.” [Wuest]
Which we have seen with out eyes – another perfect tense, it means to see with discernment, with the results that we can still see Him in our mind’s eye.
Which we have looked upon – it means to gaze upon something as a spectacle.
Which we have handled – an aorist tense, to handle with a view to investigation.
Which we have seen and heard – v. 3 picks up on the thought by using the pronoun and repeating what has been said, verse 2 is a parenthesis.
The point being demonstrated is that Jesus was no phantom, no mirage but a real human being with a body, soul, and spirit. The Gnostics were wrong…