Sermon notes from Message #1 in our 1 John series
If you have been with Grace Church for longer than a few months then you will know (or should know) that we want to make Jesus central to everything we do.
So to keep Jesus at the centre we seek to grow in three key areas.
Knowing God, Showing God, and Sharing God.
Knowing God is about that upward relationship with God.
Showing God is about how we are changed by that upward relationship in our character and our relationships with one another.
Sharing God is about how we seek to make the Gospel known to our world.
When we keep those three things in balance, Jesus will be central to our lives.
Last year (2022) we broke the year into three parts and focused on those three key areas.
This year we will continue to focus on these three areas but maybe not in such a separate way.
That's because we will spend many of our Sundays working through John's first letter (1 John 1).
The great thing about working through a Bible book is that all three areas will be there as we go through it. And there is often some overlap between them anyway.
So as we go through 1 John 1 we will have lots of opportunities to think about Knowing, Showing and Sharing God.
Today we are going to start with verses 1-4.
As is often the case, the start of the letter hints at the themes that will come up repeatedly.
So let's read together.
1 John 1:1–4 (NLT)
1 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.
John writes to the church that has been going for about 60 years now.
All of his fellow disciples from the time of Jesus were dead. Many of them were executed for proclaiming Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.
The reason he writes is that the church had been infiltrated and impacted by false teachers. These false teachers were known as Gnostics.
The Gnostics taught that Jesus didn't come as a human person and that salvation came through a kind of special "knowledge" about God.
John's response is to remind his readers that the gospel is the only way to know God.
So look out for the references to "knowledge" and "knowing" as we go through this letter.
Point 1 - God with us
Verse one is incredible when you stop to give it some serious thought.
God, the eternal one without beginning or end, took on human form and stepped into history at a specific date and time (we celebrate this at Christmas).
This Jesus wasn't created at his birth. He has "existed from the beginning" and "was with the Father".
So for all of eternity past Jesus, God the Son lived with God the Father. Before anything else was, Jesus was with God. Jesus preexisted.
And then he became Immanuel, "God with us."
And so John, and his friends, the 11 disciples, and many more besides, met and personally experienced God, in the flesh. Jesus.
They saw him, they heard him, and they touched him.
We are looking at each other, listening to each other, we can physically touch each other, even hug if we really want to!
Jesus was as real as that. He was as real as you and I here today.
Now we can't meet God in that way.
Point 2 - God reveals himself to us
How does John know this?
Well, he didn't find out by some kind of special knowledge that the gnostics would have you believe.
He knew because he walked and talked with Jesus and as he did that God revealed himself to John - in Jesus.
As Jesus lived on earth he showed himself to be God.
Many people don't have a problem believing Jesus was a man.
in fact, most serious scholars accept that Jesus was a real historical person.
But the issue is, was he God?
Jesus certainly believed he was God, and if you've ever taken part in an Alpha Course, you will remember that the big question we have to ask ourselves is whether Jesus was mad, bad, or God.
He couldn't have been mad, because he didn't do anything crazy, in fact, quite the opposite he loved and cared, and served people with incredible mercy and grace.
And he couldn't have been bad, he could've been a crook, because, as soon as things started to go wrong, he would've looked for a way out, he would've looked to get out of being crucified, but he didn't, he willingly went to the cross for us.
And so we are left, with only one option, that Jesus was not only human but also God.
Some will hear this argument and still not accept that Jesus was God.
And that's because Jesus has to reveal it to us.
You are not here today because you somehow cleverly worked out that Jesus is God. You are also not here today because someone tricked you into believing Jesus was God.
You are here because in his mercy and grace God has revealed himself to you in the person of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps God is revealing himself to you today for the first time....
Point 3 - Fellowship
1 John 1:3 (NLT)
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.
The reason that John is telling us all this, is not so that we can feel clever about what we know, it is so that we can come into fellowship with him and the other eye-witnesses to the eternal Son of God.
Fellowship is the Greek word koinonia. It basically means to share something in common.
What we, of course, share in common is fellowship with God.
God the Father, and His Son, Jesus, have, through his death and resurrection, have brought us into the loving relationship that they have with each other.
Fellowship with the Father and with his Son basically means we can have a relationship with God.
This is only possible because was the eternal God who stepped into our world as a man.
And because we have this relationship with God, we have also been brought into fellowship with each other.
When we talk about fellowship, we are not just talking about superficial chit-chat after a church service or even the occasional shared lunch together.
It's a relational thing. Church is so much more than a social club with a common interest. It's a family. Family is blood. Jesus' blood!
This is why it's impossible to be a growing, maturing Christian without being properly connected into a local church family.
We are supposed to be in fellowship with each other. It's a sharing of common values, a commitment to each other through thick and thin, even when we don't feel like it, or when the easier option is to keep away.
This reminds me of the need to be authentic Christians. Our authenticity with God and each other is ultimately the thing that will attract people to God, NOT our clever gimmicks.
As we commit to genuine fellowship with one another, others will be drawn to the life they see in our church family.
God is still with us by His Spirit. You can still know him, experience him. What is your current experience of God? Can you declare that you know him? Do you experience Him daily?
God is still revealing Himself. Perhaps he is doing that today. How will you respond?
He can and will reveal himself through us to those around us. Pray for it.
What's your attitude towards fellowship? Are you giving yourself to the family?