Concerning the Word of Life 1 John 1:1-4 1 John 1:1-4 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— 2 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— 3 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. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. Introduction How important are details? Well, that depends on what they are related to. If you are building your daughters play kitchen at Christmas time and you end up with a few nuts and bolts leftover, it is probably not end of the world. However, if you are building a plane and you end up with several extra nuts and bolts, it could be the end of the world for the passengers. Not all details are created equal. This morning, we are going to see how and why John, the beloved disciple, values the details of the message concerning Jesus Christ. Exposition I.
As will become more clear in later portions of the letter, John is writing to defend and reaffirm the belief that Jesus is the eternal, preexistent Word, as he had already noted in his gospel in John 1:1. Jesus is the final and fullest revelation of God. We possess the saving knowledge of God through Jesus Christ. Yet, some, just like in our day, distorted this belief about Jesus, denying Christ through both their words and their actions. In John’s case, these people who were distorting the message were former church members who had abandoned God’s truth, but it was possible that these people (who are never fully identified) were still influencing those who has remained. More details about these false teachers will emerge as we study the book of 1 John, but at least for now, you need to understand that these teachers were making false claims about Jesus. II.
Concerning the Eternal Word (Vs. 1-2)
John is going to great rhetorical lengths to stress the historical and theological veracity of his message. Those who would suggest that Jesus was not eternal or suggest that Jesus was not really human would have to deal with the fact that an entire community of people, like John, claimed to hear Jesus, see Jesus, and touch Jesus. But not only that, they were willing to die for that testimony! Jesus’ followers were staking their life in their truthfulness of what He claimed about Himself.
So why were they so adamant about Jesus? We find an answer to this question in verse 2, “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.” Jesus was no mere man. He was the very manifestation of life itself. Now, for us, that might not seem very significant because we tend to believe that everyone who is not clinically dead is a manifestation of life. Yet, biblically speaking, the first example of death that we see in scripture is not physical death, but spiritual death. In particular, this spiritual death, which we see in Adam and Eve, is seen in how their intimate fellowship with God was broken as a result of their rebellion against Him in the Garden of Eden. Sure, Adam and Eve continued to exists after their rebellion in the Garden, but they were spiritually dead, and all human beings thereafter would be just like them in their spiritual death (Ephesians 2:1-5), until Christ came manifesting life to us again and saving us by His grace! And so, this Jesus who was considered the very Word of Life, the revelation of Life, He came and testified to spiritual dead and broken people that they can have eternal life. Not simply an eternal existence, but an abundant life of fellowship with God, which is what we were originally created to enjoy! Eternal fellowship and joy in God was at stake in their message. Christ came to restore our joy in and fellowship with God, which is what we will now see in verses 3-4. III.
Contemplating the Eternal Joy (Vs. 3-4)
When Christ comes to “proclaim eternal life to us,” as we read in verse 2, He does so to “restore us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). In other words, eternal life is more qualitative than quantitative. He intends for us to “know God.” In John 17:3, John records Jesus praying, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ who you have sent.” Christ has come in order that we might know and fellowship with God. As we fellowship and grow in our intimate knowledge of God, according to John, we are drawn into fellowship with others who are fellowshipping and growing in their knowledge of God. Enjoyment of eternal life, then, is a matter of community enjoyment, which is just exactly what we find in verse 4, when John, writing on behalf of other eye witnesses to Christ, tells his audience that he is writing on these matters, concerning the Word of Life, so that “our joy might be complete.” In other words, the joy of eternal life is, at least in part, dependent upon our fellowship with others who have been granted eternal life in Christ. Conclusion Do you see, now, why the details about Jesus are so important to John? For John and for us, these details about Jesus mattered for our fellowship with God and our fellowship with others! God the Father has a vested interest in our fellowship. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to proclaim eternal life to us, which Jesus defines as an “intimate knowledge, a close relationship with God and the One Whom He has sent, Jesus Christ.” The Joy of Our Eternal Life is at stake in the details of Jesus Christ! In other words, the doctrine of Christ is foundational to our fellowship. It is no small thing to be wrong about Jesus! Your eternal life depends on it!