Reality Check: Seeing Is Believing
On Sunday, I began a new sermon series on 1 John that we are calling “Reality Check”. We start with verse 1-4.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. (ESV)
The first letter of John has often been used to create a contrast between two kinds of Christians. The contrast is put in the following ways:
- Those who walk in the light, and those who do not.
- Those who confess their sins, and those who do not.
- Those who are worldly, and those who are not.
- Those who abide in Christ, and those who do not.
- Those who are overcomers, and those who are not.
The distinction between the believer and the non-believer is a major distinction in John’s eyes. John deals with openly with the subject of professors and possessors of eternal life in Christ.
My goal is that John’s testimony would solidify your confidence in Christ and increase your desire for a relationship with Him.
1. Jesus must be encountered
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.
This is an interesting way to begin a letter. No introduction. No preface or greeting.
That which was from the beginning.
The Verb “WAS” is in the imperfect tense signifying an abiding state in the past. Jesus, being preexistent, has now manifested himself before us.
Notice that John never says, “That which came to be” which would imply that Jesus had a beginning. By the way, This is a heretical teaching taught by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Jesus never began to be. He always was. You could say, “From Eternity Past” or “The One Who Always Was, IS.” What does this phrase remind you of? Genesis 1:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
John begins his Gospel in a similar manner:
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
The verb has a permanent effect. It’s been over about 60 years since John has last heard Jesus speak, but the Words of Christ still resonate in his ears. Imagine sitting under the teaching of Jesus or hearing Him tell a parable? Never has anyone spoken with such clarity or conviction before or even after his coming. What if we had a longing for the Word like that?
2. Jesus must be experienced and exclaimed
The life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you,
Manifested means to be made visible. It’s more than just appearing. John uses this Word to describe revelation of the Lord to his Apostles.
3. Jesus should be enjoyed
So that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
Fellowship means to Have something in common with another oerson. To share it with them. True fellowship was in Acts 2, when they shared all they had. Secular greeks use the word koinonia or fellowship to describe the marriage bed. This idea shows us the incredible privilege we have to commune with the Infinite God. The common bond of fellowship is Christ. “You too” shows that although the reader did not meet Christ personally like John, they can experience with same fellowship with the Father and Son through the Spirit.
When we have fellowship with Christ, we are obligated to have fellowship with others.
Ethnic Barriers are Broken: Neither Jew nor Greek
Social Barriers are Broken: Slave or Free
Intellectual Barriers are Broken: Educated and Ignorant
Sexual Barriers are broken: Male or Female
Economic Barriers are Broken: Rich or Poor
Racial Barriers are Broken: White or Black
There is 1 Race. The Human Race.
Jesus Removed ALL barriers that Held Men Apart.