Theme: A real Christian shares their experience of Jesus with others
ILL: Agnostic Seminary Professor
Sometime ago, a student was attending the great Harvard Divinity School, their seminary on the Harvard campus. Upon learning that one of the student’s professors there was agnostic (meaning they believed that it is impossible to know if there is a God), she inquired about the range of theological diversity on the seminary campus. “Anything goes,” came the reply.
The student pursued the point: “You mean no belief or absence of belief would keep one from being hired to teach theology?”
“Only one,” came the clarification, “the refusal to endorse women’s ordination.”
Regardless of how one feels on this subject, the apostle John would anchor the starting point (or litmus test) of real Christianity elsewhere. The test for real Christianity is based on the person of Jesus Christ.
1 John Background
• John the apostle is old serving the churches in Asia Minor (MAP)
o Probably written between 70-90 AD
o 7 churches in Revelation
• Written to people fully immersed in the Greek culture
• False teachers have risen up to turn people away from the true gospel
o Attacked the character of Jesus (not fully human, not fully God)
o Claimed to know knowledge that only the spiritually elite could understand
o They did not live out the teachings of Jesus
• Letter written to encourage Christians to live out real Christianity
READ: 1 John 1:1-4
PROCLAIM YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH JESUS (vs. 1)
• “from the beginning” – Met Jesus as one of John the Baptist’s disciples
• Jesus called John from fishing to be his disciple
o John was the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (part of the inner three)
o Last supper – John was leaning on Jesus – close friends
o John was the only disciple at the cross – took Mary as his mother
• When Peter and John ran to the tomb, John won the race / “He saw and believed”
• Wrote the gospel of John – his eyewitness experience
John heard, saw and touched
• Read vs. 1
• John physically experienced Jesus
• Christianity is based on a historical record – eyewitness accounts
Most Christians do not physically experience Jesus today like John did. (There are some exceptions.) But Jesus promised to never leave us as orphans (John 14:18). He promised to dwell with Christians even after he rose again.
John 14:23 (NIV) Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
Proclaim your experience with Jesus
ILL: Changing my religion!
A pastor had a phone call from an angry woman. “I have received a piece of religious literature from your church,” she shouted, “and I resent your using the mails to upset people!”
“What was so upsetting about a piece of mail from a church?” the pastor asked calmly.
“You have no right to try to change my religion!” the woman stormed. “You have your religion and I have mine, and I’m not trying to change yours!”
“Changing your religion, or anybody else’s religion, is not our purpose,” the pastor explained. “But we have experienced a wonderful new life through faith in Christ, and we want to do all we can to share it with others.”
Many people (including some Christians) have the idea that “witnessing” means arguing over the differences in religious beliefs, or sitting down and comparing churches. That isn’t what John had in mind. He tells us that witnessing means sharing our spiritual experiences with others—both by the lives that we live and by the words that we speak.
• How have you experienced Jesus? (Miracles on the wall)
• How has Jesus transformed you?
o What would you be like without Jesus?
o Anger Passion Your value and identity Your life purpose Fear (death)
o Positive effects of prayer Bible reading loving others
• Tell others your experience with Jesus – My Hope with Billy Graham
o Testimony – doesn’t have to be fanciful but real (People crave authenticity)
o Gary Burge says, “Today the authenticity of our faith is likewise linked to the vitality of Jesus’ life within us. If Jesus is a doctrine, our testimony will be hollow. If Jesus is a person, our testimony will be potent.”
o People can’t deny your experience with Jesus – your testimony is powerful
Not only are we to proclaim our experience with Jesus, we are to testify what the Bible says about Jesus.
TESTIFY ABOUT JESUS (vs. 2)
Jesus appeared (vs. 2) “The life appeared”
• “the eternal life” – Jesus existed before he was born
John 1:1-2, 14 (NIV) 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning…14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
o (Christmas) Incarnation – God became flesh
False teachers claimed Jesus was not fully human or fully God
1 John 4:2 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God
o (Easter) Resurrection – Jesus is alive
“we have seen it and testify to it”
• Closing song – “Lord I lift your name on high” – declares what Jesus did
• Tell others that Jesus lived, died for their sins and is living today!
o Hymn “I Love to Tell the Story”
Be a real witness for Jesus today. Tell others what Jesus has done in your life and the gospel story as found in the Bible.
FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD AND OTHERS (vs. 3-4)
We are made for relationships
ILL: Genie on a deserted island
Three men were marooned on an island. Suddenly a genie appeared and said, “What would you like to have? Any wish is yours.”
One man said, “I miss my family in L.A.” Whoosh – and he was gone. Another said, “I miss my brokerage in Boston. I wish I were back at my desk. I wish I were at work.” Whoosh – and he was gone.
Then the third man said, “I’m lonely. I wish my friends were back here.”
• Humans are made for relationships – Remember Adam alone in Eden
o God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Gen. 2:18)
• The purpose of the church - relationships (NOT – self-help sermons singing)
o I have never met a Christian thriving as an island
Fellowship with others (vs. 3)
• Fellowship = “kiononia” – a mutual participation in a common cause or shared life
• Christian Fellowship is not…
o Talking about the weather or sports
o Playing games together
• Christian Fellowship involves sharing Jesus with one another
o Praying for and with one another
o Talking real issues about life and God (feeling vulnerable)
o Holding others to account / confronting sin and others thing that trip us
o Reading and discussing Scripture together
o Loving the other person in words and actions
Encouragement, comforting, teaching
Triangle relationship – Me – others – God
• READ: vs. 3
• When one relationship is off, the other is effected
o Ex. – bw me and God –> I am agitated with others hiding sin
o Ex. – b/w me and others –> I can’t fellowship with God (1 John 2:9)
Jesus command to leave your sacrifice at the altar to make restoration with your brother (Matt. 5:23-24)
• When both relationships are on, genuine fellowship occurs
o The result is complete joy (vs. 4)
3 John 4 (NIV) I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
John 15:9–11 (NIV) 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
• John’s joy was completed when others joined him in fellowship with Jesus
o True joy in leading someone to Jesus – Christians who have never led another person to Jesus have never experienced the complete joy offered by Jesus.
God wants us to live in real witness for him. He wants us to proclaim how we have personally experienced Jesus and to testify to the good news about Jesus in the
God doesn’t want us to do this in isolation, but to do it as a community of Christians. He wants us to have genuine fellowship with one another and with him. Because of this, a real Christian shares their experience of Jesus with others.