Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Who Do You Say Jesus is? a study in 1 John

Hey, I'm glad you stopped by because for the next couple of weeks I'm going to study 1 John. Why? Because I think it is a rich little epistle full of encouragement, warnings, and the emphasis of God's love for us and our love for one another in fellowship.

I invite you to come along with me as I reflect on John's letter to God's children. I know I'm not the first to do a study on 1 John or write about it; however, my hope is I will provide a new perspective that blesses you and of course builds your faith.  

I will be doing my study from the New American Standard Bible, The International Inductive Study Bible; so all quotes will be from this version unless otherwise noted. I love to use other portions of scripture to make my point. 

Imagine having the nickname "Sons of Thunder." Jesus gave this name to John and his brother James because they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them," (Mark 3:17, Luke 9:54)? They said this in reference to the village, which refused hospitality to them.

John obviously was precocious, determined, said what was on his mind, and totally sold out as one of Jesus' disciples and might I add incredibly confident that he could call down fire upon this village. I can only speculate that John's confidence was because he knew Jesus, not just as a cousin and not as the one whom Jesus dearly loved—but he knew the authority of Jesus Christ as well as the authority give to him as a disciple. 

As we read 1 John, we discover that John's character was transformed by following Jesus—Jesus went from being John's cousin to being his Savior, the Word of Life. We find urgency in the Son of Thunder, coaching his fellow believers to be careful about what they believed, to know what they believed, and not to be deceived by the antichrist. 

In my opinion, John's message is extremely relevant for today. 

In the first chapter of 1 John, I found several key words that are important to transforming our lives and  crucial to our faith:

  • Word of Life
    • understanding who is the Word of Life
  • Eternal life
    • understanding how we receive eternal life
  • Fellowship
    • understanding the importance of fellowship with God and others
  • Truth
    • understanding how The Truth transforms us
  • Sin
    • understanding how sin affects us and those around us

1 John 1:1-2

"What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—"
In these first two verses, John first establishes his credibility so that the reader can know that what he writes about Jesus is truth. He witnessed first hand the miracles and the preaching of Jesus. To me, this makes him a credible eyewitness. He was there. He walked, talked, and touched Jesus and lets not forget . . . he was family. 

He uses words like, heard, seen, beheld, handled, and bear witness . . . all to "Proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—," (Italics mine for emphasis).

Secondly, if we look deep in this verse we hear him proclaim the Supremacy of Jesus. He gives Jesus the name "Word of Life" then goes on to say He "was with the Father and was manifested to us." 

The Gospel of John says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God," (John 1: 1-2).

In the beginning . . . from the beginning the Word of Life, Jesus, was with the Father. This is a mystery to those who don't believe, or refuse to believe, that Jesus can be the Son of God, who was with God when earth was created, and who is God incarnate. Jesus says in John 10:30, "I and the Father are one," (NIV; also John 17:11 & 21).

During the time of John the seeds of Gnosticism were sown. is defined as "[1]Those who, beginning in the second century A.D., taught that salvation comes through special superior knowledge. Some taught physical matter is evil, and most denied the humanity of Christ."

Sounds like today, don't you think?

Even to others the Bible is not authentic. Some believe the Bible was written for Jews alone. Or some believe men, who being human err, wrote it and therefore it is full of contradictions.

However, the Bible says of its self, " "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God," (2 Peter 1: 20, 21).
In verse three John writes, "what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ."

Without understanding the Supremacy of Jesus, the Word of Life, who was manifested to us, there is no understanding of Eternal Life. And without Eternal Life there is no fellowship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ.  

Yikes! In our world today, people want to be politically correct or diverse in accepting that all roads lead to Heaven. Over the years, I've read the Bible from front to back and find such words of Jesus in which he says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me," (John 14:6).

Sure people can have a fellowship with their god, but it's not the God of the Hebrew Bible, in which Christians place there faith. Essential to the Christian faith is the knowledge, understanding, and belief that Jesus is the Son of God, and is God who came to earth, through the virgin birth. 

One of my very favorite scriptures is when Jesus asked His disciples, "But what about you . . . Who do you say I am?" And Simon Peter quickly answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," (Matthew 16:15-16).

The same question should be posed to us . . . 
Who do WE say Jesus is? And what do we believe about the Bible? And how is that relevant to one's salvation?

1 John 1:4-7, please read

I want to jump to verse 5, it's there that we find John wants his readers to be sure they understand that "God is Light." In God there can be no darkness. The Greek word for "darkness" in this verse is: skotia and means, "[2](c) of spiritual or moral "darkness," emblematic of sin, as a condition of moral or spiritual depravity."

When we walk in the Light of God sin is exposed, yet for God's people he has provided redemption. I love the way 1 Peter 2:9 describes believers: He writes we are:
  • A chosen race
  • A royal priesthood
  • A Holy Nation
  • A people for God's own possession
And the reason we are what Peter calls us is that He, God, ". . .. called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;" (Italics mine for emphasis).

This scripture causes my spirit to leap with joy. As John said, "And these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete," (verse 4).

The titles in which God's children are given are awesome and should give us confidence, yet the best part is we are transported from darkness (spiritual depravity) into His marvelous wonderful life saving light.

We cannot walk in darkness and be in the light; for darkness is the absence of light or better yet light is the absence of darkness. It's only when we walk in the Truth of God's life saving light that we have fellowship with one another and with God.

Have you been in darkness? What did that feel like? Have you experienced the transformation of God's Light? If so, how has that changed you? Give God thanks!

1 John 1:6-7 

Reads, "If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
What's important about this verse? I think it's the knowledge of knowing we can have fellowship with God. But that fellowship requires something, what? That we walk in the light and practice truth.

Fellowship in the Greek is koin┼Źnia, and means communion, communicate, and community, which fellowship is all about.

We are to "practice" truth. To me, this indicates that we've got to work at walking in the truth. In other words, walking in total truth is not in our nature . . . we have to be conscious of our actions, thought processes, and beliefs. 

And speaking of our sin nature . . . 
 "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us," (verse 8).

I once spoke with a pastor on a particular verse and he told me he could not sin. I wondered what Bible he was reading for that's a lie from the pit of hell. An individual only needs to read the Apostle Paul's statement, "For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want," (Read Romans 7:15-25).  We might be transformed from sinner to saint but we still live within a body that has a propensity to make wrong choices to which we need to confess.

To declare we have no sin, I would say is building our faith on an earthquake fault line. Certainly we've had attitudes like John . . . let me call fire down on their inhospitable village, . . . rather than desiring to bless. However, we will find shortly that God has given us a way out of our pesky little sins.

Sin lives within our flesh, but the good news is Jesus has redeemed our sinful nature by his blood. (Take time to read Romans 6:10-14, if you are not familiar with it).

What's your opinion of sin? 
What are your thoughts or what does it mean to you to be "redeemed" by Jesus' blood?

Verses 9 and 10

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not is us."

In reading this I wondered what "other gods" proclaim that they are "faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness?" Or who sent the perfect sacrifice to atone for man's sinfulness. 

Side note: What is exciting about that word "atone" is it means making amends or being in agreement (depends which dictionary you read) nonetheless that is what Jesus did for us; he made amends and came in agreement with His Father to be sin for us that we may be free from death!

I don't know of any other "god" but the One True God in which John speaks about. Who sent His Son as the sacrifice once and for all (Romans 6: 10-14) to save man from death and darkness, which was planted into the soul of every human being by the sin of Adam and Eve. Forever their disobedience changed the course of mankind but God came as the Word of Life to reconcile us to Himself.

Which means when God looks upon the lives of His children, He can only see the righteousness of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ who knew no sin but became sin for us that we might have everlasting fellowship with the God who created the universe and the very earth we live upon.

For further study concerning Jesus' Supremacy, the Christian's transformation from darkness to light, and our reconciliation through Christ to God . . . read Colossians 1: 13-22.

What's your favorite verse from 1 John chapter one? And what was the reason John wrote this letter?

[1] Bible Doctrines A Pentecostal Perspective by William W. Menzies and Stanley M. Horton, Gospel Publishing House, 1993
[2] Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Blueletter

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