Fellowship Through God's Son - 1 John 1a
1 John 1:1-4
Stephen Caswell © 2001
Make Believe Or A Life That Is Real?
Our kids love to play make believe. They get dressed up and pretend to be characters from far away lands. Once upon a time.... Remember how exciting those words used to be? They were the open door into an exciting world of make-believe, a dream world that helped you forget all the problems of childhood. Then one day you turned, and Once upon a time became kid's stuff. You discovered that life is a battleground, not a playground, and fairy stories were no longer meaningful. You wanted something real. The search for something real is not new. It has been going on since the beginning of history. Men have looked for reality and satisfaction in wealth, thrills, conquest, power, learning, and even in religion.
In verses 3-4 John tells us about life that is real. He wrote so that we might have fellowship with himself and the Lord. God has made it possible for us to have fellowship with our Creator. As we have seen previously the word fellowship koinwnia means a partnership, to have in common, to share. Christian fellowship can only be centered around the person of Jesus Christ. Any kind of fellowship that excludes Christ is not Christian fellowship. The Lord Jesus Christ is what all true believers have in common. Today we will see two things about fellowship with God. Our Message - God Is life, Our Ministry - To Share His Life.
Firstly, Our Message - God Is Life
1 John 1:1-2: 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 — 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 —
The first thing that John emphasises is that God is life. Three times in these first two verses John refers to Jesus as being life. Yes, Jesus Christ came to earth to reveal the life of God to mankind. Why was this so important? Because man is spiritually dead. Only God can give man life. In the beginning God breathed life into creation. But man sinned and death entered into the world. Before man can have spiritual life again God has to give Him a new birth, a spiritual birth. This is why Jesus came. John 10:10b says: I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. He came to reveal the life of God to us; truly, Jesus Christ is eternal life. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We cannot have fellowship with God unless we learn about Jesus Christ and what He's done for us. 1 John 5:11-12: And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
As you read John’s letter, you will discover that he enjoys using certain words, and that the word manifest is one of them. And the life was manifested, he says. This life was not hidden so that we have to search for it and find it. No, it was manifested — revealed openly! If you were God, how would you go about revealing yourself to men? How could you tell them about, and give them, the kind of life you wanted them to enjoy? God has revealed Himself in creation, but creation alone could never tell us the story of God’s love. God has also revealed Himself much more fully in His Word, the Bible. But God’s final and most complete revelation is in His Son, Jesus Christ. John refers to Jesus as the Word of Life. Jesus Christ is God's spoken Word to mankind. Jesus said, He that has seen Me has seen the Father. The apostles had a real life encounter with the Son of God, and so must we.
Hebrews 1:1-3 says: God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. John describes this revelation to them most vividly. They heard, saw, looked upon, and handled the Word of Life. They knew that His life was real.
a. They Saw Him
John 1:4: says: In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. John says that Jesus is eternal life. Jesus Christ revealed the life and power of God in visible form. They saw both His deity and His humanity. The disciples saw Jesus walk, talk and eat. They saw Him become weary and sleep. They saw when Jesus was sad and cried. Yes they saw the Son of Man living amongst them first hand. They didn't get it from someone else. They also beheld His majesty. John and some of the other disciples were eyewitnesses of Christ's glory on the mount of transfiguration. They looked on when Jesus Christ, the Son of God demonstrated His power by healing the sick. They marveled at His authority over demons and the wind and the waves. This is because Jesus created everything and maintains it by His powerful Word.
b. They Heard Him
John along with the other disciples heard Jesus wonderful words. They got their message first hand from Jesus Christ Himself. They heard Him speak when He addressed the crowds. They listened carefully when He taught them in private. Yes the disciples heard the Word of Life speak to them God's message of redemption. They paid attention when Jesus told them that He was the only way to the Father. Therefore their message is authoritative.
c. They Touched Him
Jesus Christ was not a phantom or spirit that mysteriously lived on earth for a short time. No He had a real body just like yours and mine. The disciples touched Him during His earthly ministry. Jesus also touched countless people that He ministered to. He touched the lepers that He cleansed. He placed His hands upon the sick as He healed them. Mary Magdalene clung to His feet in the garden after His resurrection. He told the disciples to touch Him in the upper room when they were afraid that He was a spirit. He said to them peace be with you and invited them to touch His body. Yes, Jesus Christ was truly God and truly man.
Nature Of Light
Science tells us that light is constituted of three rays, or groups of wavelengths, distinct from each other, no one of which without the others would be light. Each ray has its own separate function. The first originates, the second formulates, illuminates or manifests, and the third consummates. The first ray, often called invisible light, is neither seen nor felt. The second is both seen and felt. The third is not seen but is felt as heat. These three correspond perfectly to God. The Father has never been seen or felt. The Son has been both seen and felt. The Holy Spirit is felt in people's lives. Jesus Christ has perfectly revealed the invisible God to mankind. He is the light of the World. He has manifested God who is Light.
d. We See Him By Faith
It is through the pages of Scripture that we can learn of Jesus Christ. We learn of His ministry on earth to sinful people. We read of His redeeming sacrifice at Calvary. In fact we can see the very Life of God Himself manifest in the Lord Jesus Christ. Why is this so important? Because it is through the knowledge of the Gospel that we can come to saving faith!
2 Timothy 3:14-15 says: But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
God has revealed Himself to man in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. He came to give us life, eternal and abundant. This speaks both of the quality and the quantity of life! Have you learned about Jesus Christ through the Bible? Has God revealed Himself to you through the person of His Son? Have you been saved through faith in Him? Have you experienced the abundant life that only He can give? Is your Christian life real or just make believe? Are you enjoying a vital relationship with Jesus Christ? Or are you just pretending to live with Him? If you don't yet know Jesus Christ as your Savior, will you receive Him today?
Secondly, Our Ministry - To Share His Life
1 John 1:3-4: 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. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
Jesus Christ came to reveal the life of God to mankind. God sent His Son to die for us and proclaim a message of salvation. 1 John 4:9-10: In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. God revealed His love for us by sending His Son to die for us. Yes Christ's ministry to mankind reveals how deep God's love for us is.
The apostles saw how Jesus lovingly ministered to sinful people. They saw Him willingly sacrifice Himself for our sins. They heard Him offer salvation to all men. Before He ascended back to heaven Jesus gave them this command in John 20:21: Jesus said to them again, Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.
a. They Shared God's Fellowship
1 John 1:3: 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.
G. Campbell Morgan said: The proportion in which I know my Lord is the proportion in which I am prepared to serve Him. Is it not certain that when I know as I am known I shall be more perfectly prepared to serve?
Sharing Christ's Life
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! The pastor asked calmly, what was so upsetting about a piece of mail from a church? 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 have the idea that witnessing means wrangling over the differences in religious beliefs, or sitting down and comparing churches. That's not what John had in mind! He tells us that witnessing means sharing our spiritual experiences with others — by both our lives and our words. We share God's life with others. Eternal life is wonderful; we must share it!
The apostles saw Christ's work of salvation and have shared the message with us. Why? So that we might enter into fellowship with God and with other believers. Those who believe on Jesus Christ enter into fellowship with Him and the Father. Salvation through Jesus Christ is the only doorway to Christian fellowship. God wants the Good News be shared. He wants people to enjoy His fellowship! Matthew 28:19-20: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen. God has given mankind eternal life to us through His Son. This is the message every believer has been commissioned to share.
Did the apostles obey the Great Commission? Yes they did! Mark 16:19-20: So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. In fact we are here today because of the faithfulness of those before us. Yes the love of God constrains us to preach Good News to a sinful world. Eternal life is too good to keep to ourselves, we must share it. Matthew 10:7-8: And as you go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Those of us who have experienced fellowship with Christ are obligated to share it! We have received freely and we must give to others freely.
All Others Are Things
Someone asked John Wanamaker: How do you get time to run a Sunday school with your four thousand scholars, in addition to the business of your stores, your work as Postmaster General, and other obligations? Instantly Mr. Wanamaker replied: Why, the Sunday school is my business! All other things are just things. Forty-five years ago I decided that God’s promise was sure: Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
b. They Shared God's Joy
1 John 1:4: And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
Joy is a wonderful byproduct of our fellowship with God. The apostles had experienced the joy that comes from knowing Christ. Now, they wanted to share it with others. They had preached the Gospel to the readers previously. They had declared the new life that Jesus can give. The readers had received the message and believed it. But, now John is writing to them so that they might experience joy to the full. What is the secret? Close fellowship with God. John goes on to tell us about this in the rest of his letter. Christian joy is found by abiding in Christ. Fellowship means that we have all things in common with Jesus Christ and His people. There is no part of our life that we don't turn over to Him. This means we walk with Jesus Christ all day, every day. Salvation bids us enter the doorway of Christian fellowship. But let us go on from there to explore the richness of joy in our Father's house.
Where Is Joy?
Not in Unbelief — Voltaire was an infidel of the most pronounced type. He wrote: I wish I had never been born.
Not in Pleasure — Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure if anyone did. He wrote: The worm, the canker, and grief are mine alone.
Not in Money — Jay Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of that. When dying, he said: I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth.
Not in Position and Fame — Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote: Youth is a mistake; manhood a struggle; old age a regret.
Not in Military Glory — Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept in his tent, because he said, There are no more worlds to conquer.
Where then is joy found? — the answer is simple, in Christ alone.
John 15:7-11: If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
The Lord Jesus Christ came to bring man back to God. He came to give us a new life that we can share with others. Amazingly, God wants to have fellowship with us. He wants us to enjoy His life and His joy. Are you enjoying rich fellowship with Jesus Christ? Do you have all things in common with Him? Or are there certain places that you don't take your Lord? Are you sharing fellowship with your brethren? Or is there strife between you and them? Are you telling the lost of the wonderful fellowship you share with God? Do they see the Lord's joy in your life? If we have truly experienced the life of Christ, won't we want to share it?
A Genuine Love
A young woman in England many years ago always wore a golden locket that she would not allow anyone to open or look into, and everyone thought there must be some romance connected with that locket and that in that locket must be the picture of the one she loved.
The young woman died at an early age, and after her death the locket was opened, everyone wondering whose face he would find within. And in the locket was found simply a little slip of paper with these words written upon it, Whom having not seen, I love. Her Lord Jesus was the only lover she knew and the only lover she longed for. Do you feel that way about Jesus?
This morning we have seen two things about fellowship with God.
Our Message - God Is life
God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son. Have you received eternal life through Jesus Christ? Are you enjoying rich fellowship with God? Are you experiencing His joy in all its fullness?
Our Ministry - To Share His Life
Are you sharing God's life with others? Are you sharing your Christian life with others? Are you telling the lost of the Savior? Are you serving your brethren in the Church?
2 Corinthians 13:14: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.