Thursday, March 07, 2024

2024.03.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 John 1:1–4

Read 1 John 1:1–4

Questions from the Scripture text: How does this letter begin (1 John 1:1, cf. John 1:1, Genesis 1:1)? What four things have the apostles been able to do with this? Concerning what (Whom!, cf. John 1:1–2)? What has been done with this life (1 John 1:2)? Who saw it manifested? What have they done with what they have seen? What, specifically, have they witnessed and declared about? Where was this eternal life? To whom was He revealed? What does he emphasize, again, about the means of their knowing this (1 John 1:3)? What does the apostle want his readers to have with the apostles? With Whom, really and ultimately, is this fellowship? What is the apostle doing now (1 John 1:4)? What is the end result of their fellowship with the Father and the Son?

Why must we have a proper Christology? 1 John 1:1–4 prepares us for the second serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that we must believe the right things about Jesus, because we cannot have life, fellowship, and joy in a figment of our imagination.

True God. The letter jumps immediately into the most important truth about Jesus. He is true God. “That which was from the beginning” (1 John 1:1, cf. Genesis 1:1, John 1:1) is God Himself. The Word of life (1 John 1:1) is that eternal life which was with the Father (1 John 1:2, cf. John 1:1). He has life in Himself (cf. John 1:4). Only God has life inherent to Himself. Anything and everything else only has life in dependence upon God. Jesus is God, not a creature or even the most glorified of creatures. A Jesus Who is not God is a figment of the imagination, not the true Christ.

True Man. Now the apostle emphasizes the genuineness of Christ’s incarnation. They heard Him, saw Him, beheld Him, and even touched Him with their own hands (1 John 1:2). Apparently, already by the time this was written, heresies had begun to arise, teaching that Jesus had only appeared to be human. Certainly, such heresies continued for centuries. The historical reality of the incarnation (and life and death and resurrection) of Christ is absolutely essential. If you are to believe in Jesus, you must believe in this Jesus.

True Life. Jesus is the Word of life (1 John 1:1). Here, the Word is especially a Name for Him as the divine Son, the second person of the Godhead (cf. John 1:1). He is the eternal life that was with (literally “facing”) the Father (1 John 1:2). He was manifested (revealed), but this is stated twice in verse 2, with the second having not just the implication of “to” us but “for” us (which is also an appropriate translation). From Him alone does anything have life. And in Him alone can we have that eternal life from Him, which He has with the Father and the Spirit as everlasting God. He became a man so that by faith we might be united to Him in His righteousness and life. In Jesus we have God Himself, the righteousness of God, and the life of God.

True Fellowship. The apostle has preached and written that his readers might reject the cults that have any other view of Jesus than this true one. He wants his readers to have fellowship “with us,” with the apostles, with the church. But this was not some ploy to expand church numbers or make much of himself. The fact of the matter is that there is just the one true Christ and just the one true God. Anyone who is part of one of those sects, anyone who has another view of Christ, has no fellowship with the real God and the real Christ. Sweet fellowship with the church! It is not just fellowship with the church, but with the church’s God and Savior.

True Joy. And it is this fellowship that can give “full joy.” There are many pleasant things in God’s creation. But there is only one that can entirely fill up the joy of man: God Himself. We were created to enjoy Him, and if we are not enjoying Him, then whatever else we enjoy will ultimately leave us longing. But the only way that we may have Him as our joy is by fellowship with Him in His Son, the God-man, our Lord Jesus Christ. This is what the apostle desires for his readers. This is what we ought to desire for ourselves, those we love, and all humanity: fullness of joy through faith in and fellowship with the true Christ. Is He (not some idea of Him, but the eternal Word, Who became true man) your joy? Then you will surely have full joy. 

Who is Jesus from all eternity? What did He become? Why? Who saw Him and touched Him? Why did he write this letter? What should you be seeking, then, as you meditate upon this letter?

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us for how lightly we take the importance of true theology about Jesus. Too often, we are forgetful of His eternal, divine glory and life. Too often, we are not mindful of the genuineness of His humanity, His earthly life, and His heavenly intercession. Forgive us for not insisting more strongly upon this for those we love. We forget the greatness of the fellowship with you, and the joy in you, that belongs only to those who believe in the true Christ. Forgive us and help us, we ask, through that very Christ, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP110B “The LORD Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH268 “Of the Father’s Love Begotten”

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