Today I am starting a new podcast sermon series on the books of 1 John. Over the coming weeks, I will be looking at one chapter a week for my sermon and I will be pulling out the main points. This message is titled, “The eternal Jesus who calls us to walk in the light”.
Introduction to 1 John
Before I read our text for today I want to give us some background to the Book of 1 John.
First John was written by John, one of Jesus’ original 12 disciples who also wrote the Gospel of John. There are similarities in the style of writing, the words used, and themes in both this epistle and the Gospel of John, so there is no real arguments about who was the author.
John was referred to as “the disciple Jesus loved” (John 21:20), and along with Peter and James, he had a special relationship with Jesus. Most scholars agree that this letter was written between A.D. 85 and 90 from Ephesus, before John’s exile to the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9).
While 1 John is not addressed to anyone in particular, we know that Jerusalem had been destroyed in A.D. 70, and Christians were scattered throughout the empire. So by the time John wrote this letter, Christianity had been around for more than a generation. It had faced and survived severe persecution.
The main problem confronting the church at this time was declining commitment: Many believers were conforming to the world’s standards, failing to stand up for Christ and compromising their faith. False teachers were plentiful, and they were accelerating the church’s downward slide away from the Christian faith.
John wrote this letter to put believers back on track, to show the difference between light and darkness (truth and error), and to encourage the church to grow in genuine love for God and for one another.
He also wrote to assure true believers that they possessed eternal life and to help them know that their faith was genuine—so they could enjoy all the benefits of being God’s children.
So now we have a bit of background, let’s have a look at our first reading…
Bible Reading – 1 John 1:1-10
We proclaim to you the One who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw Him with our own eyes and touched Him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. 2 This One who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen Him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that He is the One who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then He was revealed to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy. 5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all. 6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that His word has no place in our hearts.
Today I want to being out three main points in my sermon.
Point 1 – John wanted us to know Jesus is eternal
John begins this letter in a very similar way to how he begins the Gospel of John.
In 1 John 1 he says in verse 1-2, “We proclaim to you the One who existed from the beginning, … 2 This One who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen Him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that He is the One who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then He was revealed to us.”
At the start of the Gospel of John he says, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him (John 1:1-3).
John is very strong in his description of Jesus being eternal and there before the creation of this world. This is to counter many of the false teachings that were spreading around the church. Some tried to deny the deity of Christ and say He was just another created being, but John tells us emphatically this is not the case.
This doctrine is known as the doctrine of eternal Sonship among Bible scholars. The doctrine of eternal Sonship simply affirms that Jesus as the second Person of the triune Godhead has eternally existed as the Son. In other words, there was never a time when He was not the Son of God, and there has always been a Father/Son relationship within the Godhead. This doctrine recognizes that the idea of Sonship is not merely a title or role that Christ assumed at some specific point in history, but that it is the essential identity of the second Person of the Godhead. According to this doctrine, Christ is and always has been the Son of God and always has been eternal.
Today many false religions and scholars try to deny the deity of Christ, they try to say He did not really die on the cross or He was raised in spirit only. Some even try to prove that Jesus never existed. John and the other writers of the New Testament affirm that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, who was there from the beginning.
This is what John is trying to get across to his readers.
Point 2 – John talked about what he had seen and heard
One thing I really noticed at the start of 1 John is the phrase “seen and heard”. John uses it several times in the start of chapter one. He is saying we have seen and heard Jesus ourselves and touched Him in the flesh.
He wants us to know he is an eyewitness and he knows who Jesus is. He knows He is the Christ, the Messiah, and the Son of God. He knows He is eternal and there from the beginning.
John also wanted his readers to know these things so they would have fellowship together and that their joy may be complete. We see this in verses 3 & 4:
“We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy”.
John wanted his readers to understand he was actually there as a witness to all Jesus said and Jesus did. Unlike the book of Luke which was written as an orderly account through research and careful study, John was there firsthand. Because he was so close with Jesus, he was a reliable witness to pass on who Jesus was, the things Jesus did and what Jesus wants us to do.
As I think about John’s firsthand witness I can’t help but ask myself some questions:
- What have I seen and heard about Christ in the pages of the Bible that I could tell others about?
- What things could I share that would help others to find fellowship with the Father and the Son?
A simple testimony of what I have seen and heard in the Bible, in church, in my life or the lives of others can help people come to Christ. Testimonies have a way of bringing the Bible to life. Like John, we can tell others of what we have seen and heard and be the witnesses that Jesus asked His followers to be in Acts 1:8.
Piont 3 – John calls us to live in the light
In the next section 1 John 1:5-10 is titled “Living in the light”.
Verse 6 says, “So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. “
At the time of writing false teachers who practiced an early form of Gnosticism had infiltrated the church and John was partly writing to address that.
The various false teachers taught that the physical body was evil, and they took one of two approaches.
- Live in strict discipline to deny the body and hence defeat evil, or
- Give in to it and live a life of lust. They reasoned that since the body was evil you can give in to it. This approach was popular to many.
The problem was that we can’t live in the light if we are walking in darkness at the same time. If we do, we are not walking with God and practicing the truth.
John goes on to share a truth that helps us to live in the light – confession. Verse 9 tells us that if we confess our sin God is faithful and will forgive and purify us.
I long as a Christian man to live right before God and walk in the truth. But there are times when I fail in word, thought or deed. Rather than beat myself up, I simple go to God, confess and ask forgiveness.
Sometimes I feel a huge flood of relief in my soul knowing I am forgiven. Other times I don’t really feel anything, but I know from His Word that I am forgiven and purified.
When I do this, I know I am free and I can walk in the light with God. I know my sin is covered by Jesus’ blood and I am in fellowship with Him.
Again, as I think about this, I start asking myself some questions:
- What are some of the ways I used to walk in darkness and I no longer do? (This to show God’s work in my life)
- What are some of the habits and patterns I fall into now that may need confessing to God? (This is to keep me walking in the light)
Before I close, I want to read you a short story I read recently. It is called, “Saints that shine”.
A couple took their young son with them on a trip to Europe where they visited many of the cathedrals on the tourist trek. When they returned home the little boy’s Sunday school teacher asked him, “Did you learn what a saint is?”
He remembered the many stained-glass windows which depicted the Christian saints so beautifully, and he said, “A saint is a person who the light shines through.”
So today as I close the first message in the series. I want to remind us of the three things the Apostle John wanted us to know from this first chapter of his letter.
- That Jesus is the eternal Son of God who was there from the beginning.
- That John simply shared with others what he has seen and heard. He did this so they would have fellowship with God and one another.
- That John calls us to live in the light because God is light and there is no darkness in Him at all.