This week, and throughout the month of July, we will be taking a deeper look at 1 John. While 1 John may have been written almost 2000 years ago, it contains great truth that we can apply to our lives today. The main question this book answers for us is, “what does it mean and look like to truly be a Christian?”
That is a question that I’m sure many of us have asked at some point in our lives. Depending on who you ask, you may get many different answers. Some will tell you Christians are good people who typically do good things. Some will say that Christians are loving people. Some might even say that Christians are nothing but hypocrites. Sadly, all some think of when they think of Christians are closed minded bigots who are stuck in some archaic dogmatic system of dos and don’ts.
1 John gives us, as Christians, a better understanding of what it means to be a true believer and helps us see whether or not we are truly living as Christians. At the time John wrote this letter there was a lot of false teaching going around about what it meant to be a Christian, so, John wrote this letter to set things strait, confronting the issues and lies that were facing the church at the time.
The main theme of 1 John can be captured in three areas: right thinking, righteous living, and righteous relationships. These three things are the marks of true, genuine Christ followers. This week, we will focus on the first four verses of chapter 1 and learn three basic principles for our lives that John is teaching us: Jesus really lived, I really experienced him, and I really want you to experience him too.
1 John 1:1-4
That 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. 2 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. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.
Jesus Really Lived
This is the foundation stone for our Christian faith and salvation: Jesus really lived and he is who he said he was. This is truth. Sound doctrine. Right thinking. The generation that John was writing to was three generations removed from the life and ministry of Jesus. Like our culture today, there was a lot of misinformation going around about who Jesus was, what he did, and whether or not he truly rose from the dead.
John writes, as a first hand eye witness to the life of Jesus, describing the truth of what Jesus really is. He saw it for himself. He saw him heal the sick and multiply the loaves and fishes. He saw him calm the storm and raise Lazarus from the dead. He heard him. He heard him preach the sermon on the mount. He heard Jesus say, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” and “I and the Father are one.” He even touched him.
Why does this matter for us today? Regardless of what is being taught in the world today about who Jesus was, we must hold on to the truth presented in Scripture about who Jesus was. Jesus really lived. Fully God. Fully man. Sinless. Perfect. Right thinking matters because it determines your actions.
We Experienced Him
Not only did Jesus live, John writes, we experienced him personally. He changed our lives. There is something worth noting in the Greek grammar here that we can miss in English. John uses the perfect tense to say, “we have seen, we have heard, we have touched.” The perfect tense describes a past action that has continuing results. The past action is still happening.
Jesus’ past actions should have continuing results in your life.
This is the mark of a true Christ. The person I was is not the same person I am, he’s still changing me. When John spoke, and when you and I speak, of what Jesus has done, we are not talking about an event that happened one time in history, we are talking about something that is continuously happing. We were changed and are still being changed by our encounter with Jesus as our Savior and Lord.
This is a process in the Bible referred to as Sanctification. Though we are made right with God at the moment of our salvation through Justification, Sanctification is a lifetime process of God transforming us to be like him. We are growing more and more into his identity each and every day.
John describes that Jesus is “the Word of life.” Jesus is not just a word about life. He is not an app we pull out to make our life more useful. He is not an accessory. Jesus is what life is all about. What John is saying is, you don’t have to imagine your life without Him because you can experience the life of Christ every single day.
We can see his healing power. We can see him transforming our hearts and lives, as well as, the hearts and lives of the people around of. We witness the body of Christ, the church, going out and preaching the gospel, serving the poor, healing the sick. We experience Jesus in worship. We hear him speak through his Word, the Bible. We experience his love and acceptance even when we fail.
JESUS IS LIFE.
John is writing to an audience of people like you and I, who may not be experiencing the fullness of joy and life that Christ has made available. Sometimes we fail to live with Jesus as life and we miss the fullness of the joy and life that he brings. When Jesus is life, nothing is ever the same because he changes everything. Not just once, but, continually. Jesus is always growing and changing us to be more like himself.
We Want You to Experience Him Too
When Jesus becomes life in your life and changes your life, he doesn’t do it for just you. It is meant to be shared with others. John makes the point in verse 4 that his complete joy is not dependent on himself but on something that happens to someone else. Our joy in Christ is made complete when we share that joy with others.
The whole reason John is writing this letter, as he describes in verse 3, is so that they can share in the fellowship with him. Why? Because it should never be enough or us to experience Christ as life by ourselves. We should want others to share in the experience.
Have you ever been somewhere that you just loved that brings you joy? Maybe it was a restaurant, or a vacation spot, or a beautiful landscape. It may be great to be there and enjoy it alone. But you know what brings even greater joy? Sharing that joy with someone else and them finding joy in it. When someone expresses joy in the things that give you joy it takes your joy to a completely different level.
Your joy is less about getting something more for yourself and more about sharing what you have already received with someone else. It is the same with Jesus. The fact that Jesus made a way for us to go and be with him forever in heaven should bring us great joy. But do you know what would make my joy complete? If my family and friends would be there to share it with me.
How is your joy? The solution according to John, according to God’s Word is this: get closer with those who know Jesus and reach further to those who don’t.