Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: If you want to experience the true joy of Christmas, experience Christ personally and share Him with others.

In the classic movie, A Christmas Story, young Ralphie wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, but his mom’s only response is, “You'll shoot your eye out!” In fact, all the adults in Ralphie’s life have the same response, including his teacher and even Santa Clause. Take a look (Show video “A Christmas Story: You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out”; www.youtube.com/ watch?v=YleZvTSDC6s).

Often, what we THINK will make us happy disappoints us in the end. So how do we experience the true joy of Christmas this year? How do we find real happiness this Christmas, the kind that doesn’t disappoint? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to 1 John 1, 1 John 1, where the Bible shows us the source of true joy.

1 John 1:1-4 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— 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— 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. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. (ESV)

Find complete joy in fellowship with God Himself. Discover a full and satisfying happiness in a close relationship with God the Father and God the Son.

That’s where John, the one who penned these words, says he and his friends found it. They were rugged fisherman, used to the hard life of the sea. They worked hard to earn a living, putting up with the unpredictable storms that often arose on the Sea of Galilee. Life was not easy for them.

In fact, John and his brother, James, were actually nicknamed “Sons of Thunder,” not because they were nice, easy-going fellows. No. They were the ones that wanted to call fire down from heaven on a town that rejected Jesus. They were not sissies in any sense of the word, and yet these rugged fishermen found joy in their companionship with Jesus. I get the sense that they had a lot of fun together.

They experienced God himself in the flesh. They heard Him with their own ears. They saw Him with their own eyes, and they touched Him with their own hands.

That’s the difference between Christianity and all other religions. All religions claim some sort of “revelation” from a deity.

According to John Dickson, a historian, “Buddhism depends on the insights Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha) gained while sitting under a Bodhi tree. Hinduism looks to the Vedas passed on to the first man at the dawn of time. Islam says that the angel Gabriel dictated to the Prophet Muhammad the very words of God.

“But Christianity claims something very different: a series of events [about Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection] which are said to have taken place in public, in datable time, recorded by a variety of witnesses… It is as if Christianity places its neck on the chopping block of [public] scrutiny and invites anyone who wishes to come and take a swing.

“[For example], Dickson says, “Imagine I came to you claiming that my late great, great grandfather revealed himself… in Times Square, New York, last Monday during the morning rush hour. His appearance stopped the traffic and left witnesses dumbfounded as he explained to them the truth about the spiritual realm… The claim itself is one you could test to some degree. You could watch the news services, read eyewitness accounts, check the New York traffic reports and so on. You might not be able to prove it beyond all doubt… but a fair-minded person would be able to arrive at a reasonable judgment about its truth or falsehood… If you found no evidence at all, you would be well within your rights to dismiss it. If you found good evidence, or at least more evidence than you would expect if the story were a fiction, then you could quite rationally accept it as true. This is what I mean by a testable claim.”

Dickson says, “The central claims of Christianity are to a degree testable. You can apply the normal tests of history… and find that we do in fact possess exactly the sort of evidence you would expect if the core of the Jesus story is true and decidedly more evidence than you would expect if the story were fabricated.” (John Dickson, “Jesus: God's Tangible Sign,” Just Thinking, 6-1-10; www.PreachingToday.com)

That’s exactly the claim John is making here in verse 1. It is a testable claim, where we are invited to examine the evidence. John says, “We heard… saw… and touched... the Word of Life.” He was not a figment of our imaginations. He was not an other-worldly revelation we received in a trance or from an angel that no one else saw. No! John says we experienced Jesus as a real flesh and blood human being.

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