Knowing the Word of Life (1 John 1:1-4)

2016-week-38Is it real? This question digs into the foundation of our lives to see what ground we are standing on, especially as it relates to Christianity. If we stand on truth, we are firm on the solid rock. If we try to stand on lies, we will be found sinking. With such dire consequences, each one of us must evaluate the question of what is real and examine our response to that question. We do not evaluate and examine on our own, though. The Word of God guides us. The book of 1 John serves to reassure those who are Christians of their salvation. At the same time, the book shows the true markers of faith. A Christian is one who believes the essentials of the Christian faith, who applies biblical truths in righteous living, and who lives a life of love for God and others. Throughout 1 John these three markers are painted in greater detail. The Apostle John’s purpose in writing the letter is summed up in the statement, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (5:13). One can know, or be assured, they have eternal life because they believe in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. A Christian’s faith in Jesus Christ is not a general belief, however. The letter opens in a descriptive manner on the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was one who John and the other apostles had heard, had seen with their own eyes, and had touched with their own hands (1:1). In other words, Jesus was God in the flesh. This is what is known as the incarnation. Jesus lived on earth as fully God and fully man. Clarity on this is crucial because there was false teaching going around during the time of 1 John called Gnosticism. It taught that salvation came from secret knowledge, not by repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ. As an implication, Gnosticism held high the spiritual and deemed all that was physical and material as bad. To say Jesus came as a physical person would be wrong in the thinking of Gnosticism. But John shows us the truth of the Bible is Jesus did come in the flesh, as a physical person. The apostles were witnesses to this. John himself says, “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 made manifest to us” (1:2). Jesus, who is life, was made known to the apostles and now the apostles testify about Jesus and His message. The eternal life John proclaims is eternal life in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ lived the perfect life we could not, died the death we deserved in our place on the cross, rose again from the grave, and now is with the Father, interceding for us. This the message of Jesus Christ proclaimed. This message demands a response. The proper response to the person and work of Christ is for each one of us to realize we have sinned against a good and holy God, deserving death and His wrath, and knowing we cannot save ourselves by good works. We repent of our sins and turn to Christ by trusting in Him as our Savior and Lord. When we respond to the gospel like that, we have fellowship. Our fellowship contains both horizontal and vertical dimensions. We commune with other believers in Christ on the basis of our communion with God the Father and God the Son (1:3). When we believe in the Son of God, we will find a joy made complete (1:4). To find assurance of eternal life and to be satisfied with a joy made complete comes by knowing the Word of Life.

Reflection Questions:

  • Why is it important to the Christian faith that Jesus was both fully God and fully man?
  • As a Christian, how can you join in fellowship with God and with other Christians this week?

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