02 1 John 1:1-4 – Fellowship With God

1 John 1 Fellowship With God (Pdf File)

Last Sunday, as I ended our introduction to 1 John, I asked the question, “What does the Bible have to offer to people living in a world like ours?”  In a world of financial troubles, political strife, family problems, disasters and many religions and religious confusion, what does the Bible have to offer?

The answer is that the Bible reveals to us the will of God for all humanity. It reveals the great problem of sin and how sin is the cause of all of our sorrows, tears and strife. It tells us that the heart of all our problems is the problem of the human heart. But that in love and mercy God has set forth a plan of salvation centered in the Man, Christ Jesus.

God has sent His Son to redeem us from our sins. Jesus Christ can cleanse and change our hearts and transform our lives. Through Jesus Christ we are delivered from this present evil age. And as Christians, we eagerly await the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the wicked, restore our world to Paradise and grant all of God’s people everlasting life.

All of this is tremendous good news—if it’s true. That is the big question in our day, and it was in the time of the apostle John too. In the very early days of Christianity believers, for the most part, understood the great doctrines of the faith. But it didn’t take long for false teachers and deceivers to appear. And your average Christian began to ask, “What is Christianity really all about? Is belief in Jesus Christ really necessary? What do we believe about him? What are the essentials of the faith?”

John wrote his letter to Christians who were confused because of false teachers known as the Gnostics. And so there were intense questions being asked: “Who are we as Christians? What are we supposed to believe? How are we to live?” And the biggest question of all was this: “Who is right, the apostles or the Gnostics?”

Right at the start of this letter the apostle John begins to tackle these questions head on. Normally a New Testament letter would start out by identifying the author. Then there would be a greeting to those receiving the letter. But John begins by telling us about the essence of Christianity and the fruit of solid faith.

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. (1 John 1:1 NKJV)

The phrase, “That which was from the beginning” refers not to the beginning of time, but to the beginning of Christ’s ministry. The words, “which we have heard” have regard to Jesus’ teachings; in other words the good news or the gospel. And the good news that was taught by Jesus at the beginning is the same good news that John taught and that we have in our Bible today. Truth does not change even when opinions and culture changes.

The words, “which we have seen…looked upon and …handled” are said of Christ himself. In answer to the question of who is right, who has the authority to teach us what Christianity is all about, John answered it is “we” the apostles. The apostles had heard the good news first hand. The apostles had seen the will of God and the life of God fully revealed in Jesus Christ. Therefore if you wasn’t to know the truth you must heed the word and testimony of the apostles.

Just think about that for a moment. The apostles had heard and seen and touched the Word of Life. The heart and life of God was fully revealed in Jesus Christ. This is a staggering statement! And here is why: what Christianity has to offer that no other religion has or can offer is life! Jesus Christ brings to men and women who believe the everlasting life of God Almighty.

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. (1 John 1:2 NKJV)

The apostles were eye witnesses of the eternal life that belongs to God and which, by grace and faith, was revealed in Jesus Christ. The apostles had a message to proclaim. The world had its troubles and needs; it is always full of problems. And it is the job of the church and every Christian to proclaim the only real answer to our deepest needs. And that answer is salvation in Jesus Christ so as to share in the eternal life of the Father.

We are saved by God’s grace through our faith. But faith doesn’t come naturally. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. And so the apostles declared what they had heard and seen and handled.

In our day and time we cannot see Jesus Christ with our physical eyes and we can’t hear him with our ears. But we can see and hear the Word of God taught by the apostles, because we have the written Word. Jesus said,

Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. (John 20:29 NKJV)

And Peter wrote of Jesus,

whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,  receiving the end of your faith the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8NKJV)

Hearing God’s Word about Jesus and believing it brings joy. And notice back in 1 John 1:2, John said that this eternal life “was with the Father” before it was seen in Jesus Christ. Only God is immortal, people are not. We must seek after immortality. And we find it in the good news of Jesus Christ.

Here is a most profound reality about human beings. No other creature knows that it will one day die—only we do. And for so many people this renders life as random, without meaning and purpose. The great astronomer Carl Sagan said there is nothing beyond the cosmos. That’s all there is. But Sagan is wrong. There is Life: the eternal life that belongs to God and was manifested in Jesus Christ and which is offered to us through divine grace and mercy.

Now, to say that the eternal life of God was made known through Jesus Christ and the apostles is one thing. But to prove it is another. So in the same two verses that declare God’s work in Jesus Christ, John provides the basis for his belief. He provides objective evidence. He gives his testimony as if in a court of law. And first he states “we have heard him,” that is Jesus Christ. The apostles were taught by the Master. Jesus declared,

But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. (Matthew 13:16-17 NKJV)

John also gained knowledge about Jesus Christ through his eyes. Of all the physical senses that John uses, “heard…seen…handled” he uses the word “seen” more often. What John saw with his eyes proved to him that the eternal life of God was manifest in Christ. So, of course we want to know what did John see? There is only one event in John’s life where he saw something that totally convinced him to believe. That event is recorded in John 20 that describes the morning that Christ’s resurrection was made known.

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. (John 20:1-5 NKJV)

Peter and the other disciple, who was John, ran to the tomb after Mary told them Jesus was not there. And John got to the tomb first, but stopped at the door and looked in. And he “saw” the linen cloths that had been wrapped around Jesus. The Greek word translated “saw” is blepo the most common Greek word. It simply means to look upon something. But when Peter arrived, he rushed past John and went into the tomb.

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. (John 20:6-7 NKJV)

Peter also “saw” the burial linens. But a different Greek word is used for “saw.” It is theoreo. It means to see with intelligence, to scrutinize, to theorize. There was something about the grave cloths that made Peter stop and think. The grave cloths were there but Jesus was not!

If the body had been moved the linen cloths most likely would have been moved with it. Moreover, the bands of the cloth were still wound as if it were on a mummy. If the body had been unwrapped the linen strips would have been scattered around with all of the burial spices. And Peter also saw the handkerchief that had been on Christ’s face folded neatly by itself.

What would cause the grave clothes to look like they were still wrapped around the body, but the handkerchief to be folded and placed elsewhere? Nothing but a miraculous resurrection from the dead! Christ’s body had passed through the burial cloths just as he would later pass through closed doors. Finally, John went into the tomb.

Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. (John 20:8 NKJV)

The Greek word for “saw” in verse 8 is orao. It means to see, understand and believe. It was at that moment that John fully realized that the eternal life of the Father was now fully manifest in Jesus Christ. The apostle John had heard and seen and handled Jesus Christ, the Word of Life. But John also has more to tell us.

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. (1 John 1:3 NKJV)

This is the most stupendous thing! That which John had heard and seen and handled, the Word of Life, that is what he declares to us. He proclaims it so that we can have fellowship with the Father and with Jesus Christ.

The word “fellowship” means to be in partnership with someone, to share in something in common with someone, to partake in something with someone. The eternal life of God, said John, was manifest in His Son, Jesus Christ. And I write my letter to you so that you too may have fellowship with us.

Having fellowship with us and Christ and the Father that eternal life will be manifest in you too! And we tell you this so that your joy may be full! When we believe and receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we become children of God. Jesus Christ manifested the life of the Father not just to reveal it, but also to impart it, to give it, to make it possible for us to have it and manifest it.

In his 2nd letter, Peter wrote that as children of God we have become “partakers of the divine nature.” Not only does this mean that we have gained the hope of everlasting life, it means that our character and life can be changed. We can gain God’s perspective on life. We can learn to be loving, merciful and Kind just as He is. And one day we will be truly like Him.

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:1-3 NKJV)

This is the good news! This is the message of the apostles. This is the message the church is to proclaim. This is what the Bible and especially the New Testament has to say to a sin weary, tired, troubled world. The call is going out through the words of the New Testament: Come and have fellowship with God and Jesus Christ. The life of God can be manifest in you.

The message of the god news is that even though every attempt at human advancement by the world has failed, if we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, we become the children of God. We become citizens of the kingdom of God: a kingdom that will last forever. These things we write and proclaim so that your joy may be full.