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Fellowship In Truth: I John 1:1-4

I John: LIGHT/LOVE
Fellowship In Truth: I John 1:1-4
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday December 19, 2021

We find true fellowship in truth. 
 
Imagine, if you will, family thanksgiving last year.  You walk up to the house past several cars, you see Trump 2020, I’m ridin’ with Biden, and Jorgensen for America – what do you anticipate when you open the door?  Joyful fellowship? 
 
These people are NOT aligned on what the truth is, and without alignment on truth, fellowship is challenging to attain. Those folks cannot endure the tests of life together. They may not even make it through lunch!
 
1 John 1:1–4 (ESV)
1 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—
 
In our book introduction, I said something flatly that has more tension than I let on. 
 
We said that this book is generally accepted to have been written by the Apostle John.  Irenaeus, Tertullian, and others thought so who were early witnesses.
 
“that which was from the beginning” as you’ve read that this week on Monday, how did it come across.  Here is what follows:
 
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 tension is interesting because of these trailing words “concerning the word of life.”  The “word of life” is Jesus Himself.  So, the pressure is all wrapped up in Christ, who is the eternal word.  Either John refers to the beginning of his own seeing of Jesus’ ministry as an eyewitness or a subtle difference; that the beginning is a reference to the eternal Christ or pre-incarnate Christ.
 
What is being communicated then would be the pre-incarnate Christ, which was otherworldly and timeless. We were able to experience with our senses hearing, seeing, being with, even physically feeling the personified Word, Jesus.
 
It has been said that:
 
“John wrote his Gospel to prove the deity of our Lord, assuming His humanity, whereas he wrote his first epistle to prove His humanity, assuming His deity.”
 
This view makes sense of the issues John was dealing with here in 1, John.  John is up against the ideas that there is some secret knowledge and that truth is found perhaps by twisting up the person of Christ.  Presumably, ideas swirling that Christ descended into Jesus over time then left him before the crucifixion, which removes the humanity of Jesus.  John Here is looking to draw in the union of the eternal deity who came in bodily form, making clear who Jesus is.
 
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—
 
Picking up from the final words in verse 1, “the word of life” – this starts with AND (as the NASB translators carried down) so then that life that was from before creation, but is a man, as evidenced from the physical interactions John points to is now broken out and understood further.
 
Much like light entering into a prism is more granularly understood as the prism separates the color spectrum, so too does seeing the fullness of God in human form break out more clearly perhaps the attributes of God. 
 
It was the “eternal life which was with the father” John is drawing together the fullness of Jesus, which was from the beginning, experienced by them, with the father. John is giving greater clarity on who Jesus is, fighting against heresy because being clear on who Christ is, is important.  
 
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.


“what we have seen and heard” is a reputation from above and picks up from v1’s thoughts after making clear in verse 2 who Jesus is.  Now that we’re squared away on that, we can have fellowship. 
 
In the right understanding, we are qualified to have fellowship
 
Consider:
1 John 2:9–10 (ESV)
9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.
10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him, there is no cause for stumbling.
 
1 John 2:22–25 (ESV)
22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.
23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.
25 And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.
 
Gospel clarity is of grave concern to John – what about us?  In our day, we’ve become culturally complacent with “Christianity” as a necklace you wear and a lust for acceptance and ascribing God as being aligned to our every whim with no resistance or pushback – then any appetite for sources to these truths are lost. 
 
In sports, we’d never accept playing a game without a singularly understood set of rules. We watch NFL football when there is a break I the action for a challenge call, the NFL rules expert comes on to talk, while officials review an offsite judges lean in – clarity on the rules are essential; and that is what John is going for.  We MUST understand who Jesus is and be found in fellowship with those that understand the truth, not with those who pervert it. 
 
Imagine someone sitting on the couch, the phone rings.  It’s not their warranty. It is a survey. The person on the other end says, are you a Christian.  Presumably, they want to know how Christians view things. Maybe the call is on abortion.  I recently saw someone asking “Dr. Oz” when he thought conception happened.  The person says, yes – I’m a Christian.  Is there anything that could be asked next to know if the way they answer should be included in the survey? 
 
The fellowship that we’re to have that John is talking about here is a Christian fellowship. It isn’t fellowship because we’re together. It is fellowship because it is common participation in the eternal life that John talks about in V2.  The fellowship is in the father and the son. We’re found in that.
 
Remember, the fall of humanity into sin was not trusting God’s Word – doubting it and believing it had some kind of secret hidden from us. Did he say don’t eat of it? He is withholding something from you. 

Genesis 3:1–4 (ESV)
The Fall
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,
3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”
4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
 
Believing it in truth, and obeying is salvation from original sin.  Our belief is in Christ who undid the penalty of sin, nailing it to the cross
 
Colossians 2:13–15
13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame by triumphing over them in him.
 
Disarming rulers and nailing to the cross the legal demands of our trespasses against His law isn’t pushed off with the swipe of a hand and wink of an eye.  It is accomplished through Christ.  This is what John is working to bring us into.  This is the true fellowship between Christ and God that it is his joy as an apostle to communicate.
 
How do I know that fellowship in the truth was essential to John in his writing here?
 
4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
 
Consider:


3 John 4 (ESV)
4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
 
I started this book introduction by saying John is caring and passionate like a Pastor for the truth because of his love for the hearer.  The joy achieved by being in fellowship with the Father and the Son is expressed in our mutual earthly fellowship, and it is our Joy.
 
John 16:22 (ESV)
22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
 
1 John 2:19 (ESV)
19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
 
John’s fellowship in truth, found in the Son and Father, is an imperishable joy
 
John 10:27–30 (ESV)
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
30 I and the Father are one.”
 
The church, established by Christ and chartered and gifted – energized by the Spirit of God to deliver the unvarnished Word to a thirsty people.  When we step away from that Word and makeup things about God, we do damage to the truth and alienate people from the fellowship between the Son and Father that undoes the penalty of our trespass.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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