1 John 1 - Research
(use browser's print feature to print out this page)
Jesus, The Hope of the World by Ed Wood
1 John 1:1-1:4
JESUS, THE HOPE OF THE WORLD
1 John 1:1-4
INTRO: In the letter of 1 John, John gives several keys as to why the book was written. One of the reasons for 1 John is to promote joy (1:4). The second reason he gives us this book is to prevent sin (2:1). In other words, that we might be strengthened by the Word of God and that we might be kept from sin in our lives. Not that we will ever, on this earth, be sinless, but that we will sin less as we get the Word of God in our hearts.
A third reason for the little book of 1 John is to provide protection for the saints, or to protect the saints of God (2:26). The fourth reason for the little book is in order to provide assurance (5:13). You see, God wants you to know that you are saved. God not only wants you to be saved, but He wants you to know that you are saved.
I. JESUS IS THE CHRIST OF REALITY.
Jesus is the Christ of reality. Men everywhere are searching for reality. They are trying to get hold of something that has substance in their life. Well, this little letter says Jesus Christ is reality.
There is a three-fold reality in Jesus given in these verses.
1. He points out that Jesus Christ is eternally real. Look at how he begins in v. 1, “That which was from the beginning.” Then notice what he says down in the middle of v. 2, “which was with the Father.” He is talking here about the eternality of Christ. Christ was in the beginning.
2. Secondly, look at what he says, “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life.”
John is saying this Jesus I’m talking to you about was not imaginary. This Jesus had a real existence in eternity. Then he says, “our hands have handled.” He is saying that Jesus had a real body, that the Word was made flesh, that Jesus Christ partook of human flesh. You see, when Jesus walked on the earth, those who did not know and understand saw Him, and all they saw was just a man.
ILLUS: Once Jesus Christ went up on a mountain and was transfigured before His disciples. Friend, did you know if there had been one flaw in the humanity of Jesus Christ that sudden blaze of glory would have destroyed Him instantly. You take a piece of crystal and you heat it with fire. If there is a flaw in that crystal the fire immediately finds the flaw and it cracks the crystal.
John says I want you to know He was personally real. Look at v. 2, “For the life was manifested.” The word manifested means to become visible, to appear. John is saying not only was Jesus real eternally, not only was Jesus Christ real historically, but Jesus Christ is real personally. He’s real in my heart and in my life.
II. JESUS IS THE CHRIST OF RELATIONSHIP.
In v. 3, John says that Jesus Christ is the Christ of relationship. “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” He is saying that coming to know Christ brings you into fellowship. The word fellowship occurs two times in that verse. Fellowship is a very special word. It is the Greek word that really means to have something in common. It means to partake of something together.
ILLUS: Somebody said fellowship means two fellows in one ship. Let me explain what fellowship is. Some of you guys like to fish. I had a man say to me one time, “Preacher, did you realize that two-thirds of the earth’s surface is water?” He said, “What do you think that means.” I said, “I’m not sure exactly what it means.” He said, “the surface of the earth is two thirds water because a man ought to spend at least two-thirds of his time fishing.”
Now that’s a fisherman for you. I’m not a fisherman. Every time I’ve ever been fishing, the fish get lockjaw, go on strike, and refuse to bite. But some of you men like fishing. So you see, if a couple of you men who like fishing got together and the subject of fishing came up you would immediately have something in common and you could talk together about fishing because you are both interested in fishing.
That’s what the word fellowship means. But it is a Christian word. It means to have the things of Jesus Christ in common. It means to enjoy Jesus Christ together. It means to be one in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Christ of relationship.
But then there’s also a vertical fellowship. Look at what he says, “and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” Can you imagine the meaning of that statement right there. That’s an overwhelming statement. Think about that. He’s saying that we, little, teeny, insignificant creatures that we are, have fellowship with the Father. Here we are, nothing more than a speck in God’s creation. We have the opportunity to have personal fellowship with God.
You say, Well, Preacher, how do you maintain that fellowship and how do you increase that fellowship? Here’s how you do it. By the Word of God and prayer. In the Bible God talks to you, and in prayer you talk to God. Isn’t it a shame that we don’t avail ourselves more of fellowship with the Father.
III. JESUS IS THE CHRIST OF REJOICING.
Look at v. 4. “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” He didn’t say that you may have one-fourth joy. And he’s not talking about one-half joy. Jesus Christ is talking about plumb full joy. That your joy may be full. You know there’s not a lot of joy in this old world. If you look into the eyes of the average people that you meet in the world today, you won’t find a great deal of joy. There eyes are hollow, scared, lonely, filled with anxiety.
ILLUS: I was thinking about it earlier today — these wonderful songs we are singing. Did you know that there are no songs rejoicing about being lost? Have you ever thought about that? Did you ever hear anybody singing songs about how glorious it is to be lost? You know, we sing these wonderful songs about going to Heaven — “When we all get to Heaven.” You don’t hear any lost people getting together singing with joy “When we all get to Hell.”
CONC: ILLUS: One of the sweet Christians in church history was a little guy named Billy Bray. He was a Cornish miner. He had one of the most remarkable salvation experiences you ever saw in all of your life. Billy Bray was so happy — he shouted all the time. He bothered people. He had so much joy, just shouting all the time. And somebody said to him one time, “Billy Bray, why don’t you tone down some? You’re just too happy. You’ve got too much joy all the time.” Billy Bray said, “I can’t help it. God saved me and I can’t help it. When I put down one foot it says hallelujah, and when I put down the other foot it says glory to God.”
And they said, “Billy, suppose you’re mistaken? Suppose when you die you find out that you’re not going to Heaven after all, you’re going to Hell.” Old Billy said, “Praise God, I’ve been having a wonderful time in the Lord all through the years. Jesus has been good to me and if I die and go down to Hell, then I’ll be thankful for the joy Jesus brought me in life. I’ll shout all over Hell and they’ll have to send me up to Heaven because they can’t stand that kind of joy down there.”
NOTE: This message is a revision of a sermon preached by my late father Ted Wood. It appears (though I can’t be certain) that he may have used Warren Wiersbe’s book "Be Real" for some of his inspiration.
Joy For The Journey by Timothy Peck
1 John 1:1-1:7
In 1492 Christopher Columbus set out for the Orient and ended up in the Caribbean. Some people have said that Columbus set a pattern that’s continued for the last 500 years…that men still won’t stop and ask for directions.
For many of us guys, being someplace we’ve never been before is a challenge, and adventure, an obstacle to be conquered. Asking for directions spoils the whole fun of the journey. Maybe for Columbus Day we should only let people drive who ask for directions. But then again if Columbus hadn’t gotten lost we wouldn’t be here. Not all guys won’t ask for directions, but it sure seems like a lot of us are.
Well, in many ways our spiritual lives are much like being on a trip. In fact the dominant word picture of the spiritual life in every world religion is the image of a journey. Whether you realize it or not today, you’re on a spiritual journey. You may be reading this as a spiritual seeker, someone who’s not yet committed to following Jesus Christ but who’s investigating the Christian faith… you’re on a spiritual journey. You might be a skeptic or an agnostic or an atheist or simply not sure what you believe…you’re on a spiritual journey. Or you might be a follower of Jesus Christ-his disciple--and you’re aim in life is to please Christ, to live out his plan for your life--you’re on a spiritual journey. In fact, with the diversity we have here that reality is probably the only common denominator among us…that we’re on a spiritual journey together.
Well guys may resist asking directions when it comes to a car ride, but in the spiritual journey both men and women equally resist asking for directions. If life is a spiritual journey many of us tend to act like we have it all figured out, like we know exactly where we’re going. We often refuse to ask for directions.
Today we start a new series through the New Testament book of 1 John. I’ve entitled this series A ROADMAP FOR THE JOURNEY because the little book of 1 John provides us with a reliable guide to navigate the rough terrain we’re likely to encounter in this spiritual journey we find ourselves in.
You see, the apostle John--who wrote the book of 1 John--was the only one of Jesus Christ’s original apostles to not be murdered by the Roman government. Not that they didn’t try! But John was a codgy old man who didn’t die easily. Eventually the Roman government banished John to an Island called Patmos. John was an eyewitness of Jesus Christ, one of the first of Jesus’ followers, and he wrote five books in our New Testament: The gospel according to John (the fourth book of the New Testament), three letters--1st, 2nd, and 3rd John, and then finally the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. Before being banished to the Island of Patmos by the Roman Government, John served for many years as an overseer for all the churches in ancient Asia Minor.
Asia Minor is located in modern day Turkey, and there John lived as a kind of spiritual mentor--the last living apostolic witness to Christ’s life and resurrection--so he kept himself busy helping the Christians in Asia Minor develop into fully devoted followers of Jesus. John most likely wrote his Gospel for use among these churches in Asia Minor, to give them an accurate account of the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some Bible teachers believe that a difference of opinion arose about how to correctly interpret John’s Gospel, with some people advocating new and novel ideas contrary to what John intended in his gospel (Brown, Burge). Soon the Christians in Asia Minor became bitterly divided down between those who held to the apostles’ teaching about Jesus and those who were believing new and novel ideas about Jesus Christ. So John wrote his first letter in order to correct these misunderstandings about Jesus Christ and the Christian life in the face of this terrible division that was destroying the churches and causing Christians to take dangerous side trips in their spiritual journey.
You see, the Christians in Asia Minor had reached a major fork in the road in their spiritual journey, with John as the last remaining living apostle beckoning them to follow the orthodox view of Jesus and with false teachers enticing the church to depart from the Christian path to follow their new esoteric ideas. Eventually this painful split would deeply wound the churches in Asia Minor, causing terrible division, and leading many into a false religion that later became known as Gnosticism. Ancient gnosticism is really quite similar to what you and I know of today as the New Age Movement. John is writing this letter as a roadmap to help the confused and troubled Christians in Asia Minor navigate these unexpected twists and turns in the Christian journey, to help them stay focused on the true Jesus and not be led astray down a different path. Shortly after writing this letter John was banished to Patmos, where he wrote the book of Revelation, and then he eventually died and was buried back in Asia Minor.
So John wrote his letter as a kind of roadmap for the spiritual journey. As we’ll see in a few minutes, one of John’s reasons for writing his letter was re-ignite joy in this spiritual journey. You see, John’s friends were so troubled by the division and controversy tearing their church apart, that they’d lost their sense of joy. That’s what we’re going to look at today, as we look at four factors we need in order to have genuine joy in our spiritual journeys today. So turn to 1 John 1:1 as we look at "Joy For the Journey."
1. Building On the Right Foundation (1 John 1:1-2)
The first thing we need for our spiritual journey to be joyful is the right foundation. That’s what we see in vv. 1-2. The first thing we notice about this letter is that it really doesn’t sound anything like a letter. Most of the 21 letters contained in the NT start out by stating who the letter’s from, who the letter’s addressed to, followed by a blessing or a prayer. In fact John’s other two letters in the Bible--2nd and 3rd John--are models of this ancient letter writing formula.
But here we find something very different, something that almost sounds like the beginning of John’s gospel that he wrote probably ten years before this letter. This unexpected beginning is probably written this way because John is correcting misunderstandings about his gospel, and he knew that as soon as he started writing like this his readers would immediately remember his earlier words, "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God" and so forth.
Now the "word of life" here is Jesus Christ himself. As the gospel of John already tells us Jesus is this word, that this word was with God in the beginning, yet this word became flesh among us-what John here describes in v. 2 as "appeared to us". The eternal Son of God--God the Son--appeared among human creatures in what Christian theology calls the Incarnation, God himself taking on human flesh. John emphasizes that both he and the other apostles were eyewitnesses to this incredible event of God entering into human history through the person of Jesus Christ. This apostolic witness is why John uses the pronoun "we" here instead of just "I."
He uses four verbs that describe his own experience with the Incarnation. He heard it--he heard the voice of Jesus teaching with God’s own authority, he heard Jesus declare to people that their sins were forgiven, he heard the sound of leaves crunching under Jesus’ feet as they walked together, he heard the sound of the whip Jesus used to drive the money changers out of the Jewish Temple. He heard it. He also saw it: with his own eyes he witnessed the many miracles Jesus performed, he had seen Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. He saw it. John had also looked at it. This word means to stare intently at something, to study it and contemplate what it means. John had stared in amazement at Jesus Christ after his resurrection from the grave on Easter Sunday. He gazed intently, rubbing his eyes to make sure it wasn’t a hallucination or a ghost. And finally, John had touched Jesus with his own hands. He had placed his hand on Christ’s shoulder, he’d reached out and groped at Jesus after the resurrection to make sure he wasn’t just seeing things. Because of John and the other apostles’ experience with Christ, they stand as reliable eyewitnesses to proclaim to us what they heard, what they saw, and what they touched.
This is why John’s friends had all met untimely and brutal deaths, because of this testimony. Yet, even with his closest friends killed for this testimony, John as the last living apostle still bears witness to this reality for these Christians who seemed to be losing their way in the spiritual journey.
These first two verses speak to having the right foundation. OUR SPIRITUAL JOURNEY IS JOYFUL WHEN IT IS BUILD ON REALITY.
John’s point here seems to be that God’s Son Jesus Christ really lived, really died on the cross, and really rose from the grave. The Incarnation wasn’t an illusion or a hallucination, Christ’s resurrection on Easter wasn’t a myth or a fairy tale, but it was something John actually heard, saw and touched, something that’s real. For our spiritual journey to be joyful we must have a foundation in reality, not in wishful thinking or fantasy.
In 1849 a wagon train was traveling through Death Valley to follow the gold rush into California. As this particular wagon train trudged through Death Valley, the hottest place in California, they looked ahead and saw a sheet of water they all believed was Owen’s Lake. But it was just a mirage created by the intense heat, and the harder their pressed on to make it to the water, the more frustrated they became. The foundation for many people’s spiritual journey is no more real than that mirage. People base their entire spiritual lives on illusions whether it’s the psychic friends network or astrology, whether it’s some strange teacher like David Koresh or some new claim to have special insight into the future .
In contrast to that, God invites us to base our spiritual journey on the Incarnation and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This reality was witnessed by those who knew Jesus, and they wrote down what they saw and heard in what we have today as the 27 books of the New Testament. The New Testament is our link to their eyewitness account of the Incarnation and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Only a spiritual journey based on reality can bring us genuine joy, because anything less is a mirage.
2. The Right Companions (1 John 1:3-4)
But not only do we need the right foundation for our journey, but we also need the right companions. John is sharing his experiences as an eyewitness so we can enter into fellowship with the apostles.
Now we don’t use that word "fellowship" much these days. The Greek word here is koinonia, and it means a close relationship of sharing with other people. One Bible scholar describes it as the "setting aside of private interest and desires and the joining in with others for common purposes" (Rienecker, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, p. 785). It describes "mutual sharing," whether it’s sharing our lives, our hearts, our possessions, our tears (Smalley 12). Biblical fellowship is a relationship of both give and take with other followers of Jesus Christ. One of the primary purposes for the Christian Church is to provide a place for this experience of biblical community with other Christians to occur.
We learn here that true fellowship is based on a common fellowship with God and God’s Son Jesus Christ. In v. 5 we also learn of John’s desire that there be joy in this spiritual journey, that this joy might be full.
Here we find the necessity of having the right companions in our spiritual journey. OUR SPIRITUAL JOURNEY IS JOYFUL WHEN IT IS SHARED WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS.
Christians today have diluted that word "fellowship" to describe any kind of social event. We use it to describe watching Monday Night Football with a friend where we never even talk about the spiritual journey…there are even "fellowship" chat rooms on the Internet. Yet the word describes genuine life involvement, a true investment of ourselves in relationships with other Christians. It’s impossible to be in fellowship if this relationship is one-way, if we’re the only one giving or if we only taking, but it’s a mutual thing. Without the right kind of companions in the spiritual journey we’re likely to lose way…just like the churches in Asia Minor John was writing to.
Many Christians today try to live the spiritual journey alone…just me and Jesus. Others try to find companions in the workplace, or in Alcoholics Anonymous, in their political party, or in their country club, or in a myriad of other possible social groups we encounter every week. Yet the Bible pictures the church as the place to find that biblical fellowship, not because the people are so perfect, but because they live in fellowship with Jesus Christ.
Now attending worship services doesn’t guarantee genuine fellowship; in fact, in a church of our size the worship service is the least likely place to find fellowship… teaching yes, corporate worship yes, celebration of God yes, evangelism yes, but fellowship probably not. This is why we have small groups so you can get together in smaller groups and live out this koinonia together.
I read recently about a woman who was driving from Alberta, Canada to the Yukon. She didn’t know that you never travel that way alone, especially in a rundown Honda, Civic. So she set off on a road usually reserved for four wheel drive trucks. Eventually she found herself in a truck stop. Two truckers invited her to join them, and since the place was so small she felt obligated to oblige. "Where are you headed?" one of the truckers asked, to which she replied, "Whitehorse." "In that little Civic? No way! The pass is dangerous in weather like this." "Well, I’m determined to try" was her naïve response. "Then I guess we’re going to have to hug you," the trucker suggested, to which she replied, "There’s no way I’m going to let you touch me." The trucker laughed, "Not like that. We’ll put one truck in front of you and one in the rear. That way we’ll get you through the mountains." That entire day she followed two red dots in the fog in front of her, as the two trucks hugged her through the dangerous pass as she made her journey.
That’s what the right companions will do for our spiritual journey. There’s no better way at LBF Church to find that fellowship than our Share & Care Groups. How’s your joy in the journey? Maybe you need to find the right companions.
3. The Right Source (1 John 1:5)
In v. 5 we find an emphasis on the right source. This image of God being light is common in the Bible, and it describes God as being majestic and fully righteous. But perhaps most of all this image of God being light describes the fact that God reveals himself, he makes himself known to us as people. Just as it’s the nature of light to shine and dispel darkness, so it’s the nature of God to reveal himself. This is picturing the spiritual journey on a dark road, that we can’t find our way to our destination unless we have light…the kind of light God provides. For us today, the source of God’s light is our Bibles.
Psalm 119:105 tells us, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Psalm 119:130 says, "The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple."
Here we find a focus on the right source for our spiritual journey. Our spiritual journey is joyful when it is based on God’s revealed truth.
People today are flocking to all kinds of different sources for truth in their spiritual journey. Whether it’s pyramids or the psychic friends network, whether it’s astrology or hidden Bible codes, whether it’s science or church dogmas, there’s no lack of claims to spiritual truth. Some people base truth on their spiritual experiences, others on their favorite theology or their favorite author.
Yet only the Bible has stood the test of time as the only reliable source for God’s revealed truth. The entire Bible--all 66 books of the Old and New Testaments-are like God’s Thomas Guide for the spiritual journey. The Bible contains everything we need to know to start and complete this spiritual journey of following Jesus Christ, God didn’t withhold anything from us that he thought we’d need.
A few weeks ago I was driving around looking for a business in Riverside. I had an ad that I’d clipped out of the newspaper that had a little map to the business, and that map told me that the business was near the corner of Van Burren and Jurupa in Riverside. So I went to Van Burren and Jurupa, and I looked…and I looked…and I looked. Being like a lot of guys, I didn’t stop and ask for directions…at least not for an hour. Finally I called the phone number on the ad, and the business owner told me, "Oh…you’re on Jurupa Rd. and I’m on Jurupa Ave." My ad didn’t make any distinction between road or avenue, and because of that little piece of information I lost my way.
What’s your source of truth for the spiritual journey? Do you look at the Bible as simply a set of good suggestions, a combination of folklore and advice? The Bible claims to be more than that, it claims to be from God himself, a unique product of divine inspiration, that the Spirit of God so superintended the authors of the Bible that they wrote the very words of God, God’s revealed truth. Nothing else in the world-no other book, no preacher or teacher, no theologian, no church can make that claim.
If we want to have joy in the journey we must have the right source.
4. The Right Goal (1 John 1:6-7)
In verses 6 and 7 we find John hint at one of the misunderstandings that was circulating among the Christians in Asia Minor, Apparently some people were claiming to be in close fellowship with God, but these same people were living lives of moral and spiritual darkness. Now that means that for all their pious talk about God, their lives were characterized by disobedience, sinfulness, and rebellion. In fact some Bible teachers think that these people were claiming that once you trust in Jesus Christ, God doesn’t care what you do or how you act, that sin no longer matters. I’m met Christians who believe this, that as long as they’ve trusted in Christ it doesn’t matter what they do or what choices they make because God will forgive them.
Yet John tells us that such a life is dishonest and impossible, that it’s impossible to live in close communion with God--who is light by nature--and then to live a life of darkness. Your words may sound good, but your choice of direction in the journey gives you away, because there’s no darkness in God, not even a shadow. You may tell me you’re heading toward the beach, but if you’re going North your direction gives you away. Now this doesn’t mean Christians have to be perfect, but it does mean that in this spiritual journey Christians will strive to live in God’s light.
That’s John’s point in v. 7, that if we walk in the light as God, the byproduct of that will be fellowship with each other and purification from our sins. Notice he doesn’t say forgiveness our sin, but he uses the word "purify" which means to erase the stain caused by sin and to was away the defilement and ongoing effects of our sin in our lives (Rienecker 785 and Burge 71). As the Christian strives to live in conformity with what God has said in the Bible (walking in the light) then the blood of Jesus--which is just a way of describing the significance of his death--washes away the stain caused by our continual struggle with sin. So the challenge here isn’t sinless perfection, but a life that seeks to walk the spiritual journey in the light of God’s truth.
Here we find the right goal. OUR SPIRITUAL JOURNEY WILL BE JOYFUL WHEN IT LEADS TO TRANSFORMED LIVES.
This purification process is designed to change us, to erase from our hearts the stain left by our failures and disobedience, so we can be changed into people who wholeheartedly love God and other people. Picture your spiritual journey as being on a dark stage with a spotlight shining in the center of the stage (Marshall 110). The goal Christian journey is to get in that spotlight, so it’s focused on us, and then to move forward slowly and gradually as the light leads us. Our fear is that the light will expose our sin and failures, so John assures us we have nothing to fear by walking in the light because Christ’s death on the cross will cleanse us from what might otherwise be exposed by that light.
You see the point of the journey isn’t just to get to the final destination, but it’s to be transformed along the way. Like a caterpillar that becomes a butterfly, so also God is transforming our lives as we walk this journey with him.
People today are striving for joy in the journey, turning over every rock along the way to try to find the secret. Some pursue it in pleasure and success, still others in money and security. John would tell us that joy is to be found by having the right foundation, the right companions, the right source, and the right goal. If we build our spiritual journey on reality, share it with other Christians, based it on God’s revealed truth in the Bible, and allow it to transform our lives, our joy will be full, even as John’s was when he wrote this letter.
How is your joy today?
Easy Chair Faith by Guy Caley
1 John 1:1-1:7
Arm Chair Faith
Text: 1 John 1:1-7
ILLUSTRATION (Have two people play catch with a football--when the ball is thrown to you let it fall to the ground). There’s a difference between observation and participation.
I remember as I was growing up hearing my parents say to me on more than one occaision, "Just wait until you have kids of your own, then you’ll understand." I don’t suppose that any of your parents ever said anything like that to you, but mine said it regularly. The thing that is so frustrating about that statement is that it turned out to be true. There is something inexplicable about parenthood, something that can never be understood by hearing about it, reading about it, or thinking about it. It has to be experienced. When I stood holding my breath in that delivery room as Alexandra came in to the world, instantly I knew that my life had changed in a way I could not describe. From that point on I was going to be someone’s daddy.
Like parenthood Christianity is something that must be understood primarily by experience. Christianity is more than just a statement of faith, more than church membership. It is not merely a philosophical position. It is a faith experience. You can’t buy Christianity, and you don’t inherit it from your parents. You’re not on the team just because sit in your arm chair and watch it on television, for that matter you’re not a player anymore than the home audience just because you sit in a Church pew. Christianity must be personally experienced!
Proposition: Christianity is not a sideline experience. Genuine faith in Jesus requires personal involvement.
Interrogative: So exactly what is the nature of this Christian experience, what does it involve?
Transition: Three basic answers are found in our text from 1 John today. John, who was one of the original twelve team members shares something about the personal nature of his experience with Jesus which help us to understand a little bit of what it’s all about. The first thing that jumps out at me about John’s experience is that it involves a...
v. 1That 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.
Second hand experience is not good enough. You’ve probably heard it said that God has no grandchildren, and that is an absolutely true statement. We cannot count on our heritage, church affiliation, nationality, or even our own good works to replace a personal experience with Him. The apostle Paul on more than one occasion wrote about His own impeccable heritage, but he said that he counted all of those things as trash compared to his faith experience with Jesus. The righteousness that God requires of us we cannot gain on our own or from our affiliations. We must individually place our trust in what Jesus has done for us. We must meet Him personally.
The experience you have with Jesus is uniquely your own. No two people will have the same experience. Some come to Him with tears, some with laughter, some with great relief, others with solemn awe at the magnificence of it all. But I have never yet met a person who said they didn’t feel something, when they met Jesus.
You may say, "Chaplain, our salvation is based on faith not feelings." And I would reply, "you’re absolutely right." The work that Christ did to cleanse us from our sins is a bona fide historical fact. God came to earth in human flesh. They called His Name Jesus. He was nailed to a cross to pay the price for each of our sins and He rose again to prove His victory over death and to offer us the gift of eternal life. That is fact. John in our text says that he’s writing to testify to that fact. Our salvation is based upon our faith in that fact and not upon our feelings. That means that heartfelt experience at salvation is just extra that God gives us--it isn’t essential to salvation, but He gives it to us anyway.
Now there may be times down the road when you don’t feel that way anymore. That’s when it is comforting to know that our salvation is not based on how we are feeling at the time.
It is one thing to simply believe the gospel--it is quite another to experience Him and to KNOW that He is your savior. This is a knowledge that can sustain you through the times you don’t have Holy Ghost goose bumps running up and down your spine. Like the stack of stones that reminded the nation of Israel of the time that God stopped a river so they could cross, the memory of a Personal Touch from Jesus can be an anchor to Hold our faith.
But the Personal Touch or heartfelt experience of salvation isn’t the end of the story. A touch from Jesus leads to a...
v. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.
The Touch of Jesus leads to transformation. If we say we’ve been touched by Jesus but there’s no transformation, John says there’s a problem with that. The Scripture says if any one is in Christ they are a new creation. The Apostle Paul wrote about this transformation to the Church at Corinth
1 Corinthians 6:9-12 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Notice he doesn’t say that’s what some of you ARE but some of you WERE. There’s been a transformation. If we say we’re on the team but we never put on the uniform, we never make it to the game, then there’s a problem.
Right here is where the difference is between watching the game and playing the game, between observation and participation. If you claim to be a Christian but your life looks no different than those in the world, then you’re fooling yourself. Christ has called us to a life of moral integrity, honesty, sexual purity, kindness, & faithfulness to our promises. If our lives don’t exemplify those things then our experience doesn’t match our proffessed faith.
Finally our experience with Jesus should involve a...
vv. 2-4 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. 4We write this to make our joy complete.
John was so excited about his personal experience with Jesus, he wanted to share it with others so they could be touched by Jesus too. John’s experience should be the typical experience of the believer, The touch of Jesus leads to transformation and a desire to share your personal testimony.
When we get a good deal at the store, we want to tell our friends about it How much more so should our experience with Jesus make us want to spread the good news
Recruiting is a big part of what it means to be a team player. I’ve been working with the middle school youth and we had a toliet-bowl olympics that lasted several weeks. One of the rules was that whoever brought friends got them on their team, that gave them an advantage in the games.
The Christian life is certainly not the toliet bowl olympics, but we should have an even greater motivation to invite others to Jesus.
Sometimes people are afraid to share because they feel like they won’t be able to answer every question. That’s OK, all the Lord is asking you to do is what John did: say "this is what I’ve seen and heard. Here’s how Jesus touched me, and if you’ll trust in Him He’ll touch you too." We can’t afford to be sitting on the side lines when we know what the fate of the other team will be.
Have you suited up? Are you playing the game or simply sitting back and watching the action?
Jesus wasn’t content to let us loose the game and so he came and made the ultimate sacrifice by dieing on the cross for our sins so that we could enjoy the final victory with Him. If you haven’t put your trust in Him, believing that his sacrifice saves you from sin I urge you to do so today and You will feel His personal touch.
If you’ve had that personal touch from the Lord, does your life show that your on the team? Have you experienced a personal transformation and are you sharing your personal testimony with those who are lost?