With only a short span between our year long adventure in the Gospel of John and the start of “The Story”, several weeks ago we opted to jump into 1 John.
Due to circumstances beyond my reasonable control, something I will remedy quickly, I chose to focus on one man in the group who seems to struggle with understanding the bible (we should all admit that at times) and he wants to be a missionary. While being a theologian does not seem like a mandatory issue to me for being a missionary, having a foundational soundness should be; 1John comes off as being exactly that, foundational soundness.
I did a quick overview of 1John, and focused on verse one exclusively. If I base success on how I feel, I felt like I conveyed a good deal on verse one alone, and got some interaction out of my target audience. I often try to get the guys to interact, but there is always one guy that has to dominate, and this aspect is my thorn-in-the-flesh.
This last Sunday it was not my turn to lead, and yet I am so disgusted and exhausted by this battle with dominant personalities that I was ready to quit.
You do understand that we humans, and especially followers of Christ have an enemy that one purpose in mind, to steal, kill, and destroy; his name is Satan. Religious folk will ask why I include humans as targets too. My answer to that is that we were all made in the image of God. Just because our image is tarnished by our own actions, as we choose to act selfishly, does mean that you were not created for communion with God. The general consensus is that non-believers are generally no threat to Satan’s deceptions and therefore leaves them alone; really, do you really believe that? Why then, is he trying so desperately to kill off even those who we presume will have no impact for the kingdom?, because God is in control, not us, and he has plans that we do not see or understand.
I say all that because I have had a rough four days, and I helped to make it rough, but not all. The thought that most guides me lately is, “Lord, what are you trying to teach me?”
God has been working me over, probing into childhood wounds of abandonment and rejection, and either God or Satan is using people who are close to me, or claim to be Christians to aid in this probing. I will just tell you straight out, it still hurts. I have asked Jesus to enter into this wound with me, and to heal me, so, I guess I should have expected this onslaught.
I would never call myself a Theologian, most of my experiences with them have been horrid experiences. What I am is someone who absolutely loves the look in people’s eyes as they look into God’s word and it comes alive to them. Primarily because of one man I am losing that joy, and something has to change before it changes me.
Enough blabbing, let’s dive into 1 John with my short overview.
John was known as one of the son’s of Thunder, a title that does not convey much love. Here is an example of why.
Luke 9:54-56 NASB When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (55) But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; (56) for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”] And they went on to another village.
Jesus gave the two young men that name.
Mark 3:17 NIV James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”),
I always point out that Jesus did not tell John that what he was asking was impossible; merely that it was an inappropriate reaction.
What was the proper reaction?
I suspect in some ways they saw and heard this on daily basis.
Matthew 5:43-44 NASB “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ (44) “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Jesus was asked, what is the greatest commandment of all? His response:
Mark 12:28-31 NASB One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” (29) Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; (30) AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ (31) “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Now, consider our perceived assessment of who and what John was in contrast to the message these three books attributed to him convey. “There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Something, or someone took John from being a son of thunder to being a man who finally understood that it was all about love, and John figured it out!
1 John 1:1 KJV That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
“That which was from the beginning,”
Seems like something so simple that it really needs no discussion, but think about it. John MacArthur states, “This phrase refers to the proclamation of the gospel that centers in Christ’s person, words, and works as contained in apostolic testimony.” I am not sure why I even put this MacArthur quote up here. He uses theology speak to merely say, that the phrase applies to his time, as recorded by the apostles. That may well be, but for me that limits my thinking, and there is no way that can happen, God cannot be contained by my limited thinking.
So what then could we consider the beginning to be?
I asked this directed question to one of the guys, and he essentially said the same thing I would have. 1. The beginning of Jesus time with the disciples, or 2. His time at the beginning of creation.
Luke 4:13-21 KJV And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. (14) And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. (15) And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. (16) And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. (17) And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, (18) The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, (19) To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. (20) And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. (21) And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
This was the beginning of the three years.
Are there other possibilities?
John 1:1 KJV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:10-12 KJV He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. (11) He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
So here we have a beginning, one that takes us to the first moments in time, one that clearly shows us Jesus as an integral aspect of creation.
John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible attempts to define this for us. “That which was – Here means, He which was the Word himself; afterwards it means, that which they had heard from him. Which was – Namely, with the Father, 1John_1:2, before he was manifested. From the beginning – This phrase is sometimes used in a limited sense; but here it properly means from eternity, being equivalent with, “in the beginning,” John_1:1.”
So we have another voice that takes the beginning, that John refers to, all the way back to creation. This makes so much more sense to me as it is easy to comprehend the understanding that John, and every other disciple came to develop, and that was that He was God.
Consider how, so many years after Jesus has been gone, John writes with such majesty and clarity how that Jesus was God.
John 1:1-14 KJV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) The same was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (4) In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (5) And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (6) There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. (7) The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. (8) He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. (9) That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (10) He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. (11) He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (13) Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (14) And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
The next aspect of 1 John 1:1 centers on foundational aspects of our faith.
These are the things that give us strength when the world goes dark and lonely. These foundational aspects are the things on which we anchor our hope of a future with Him.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
What is it that we struggle with, belief? We are challenged daily as to how we can believe something that, as the world claims, has no evidence, or that the evidence is so weak that we are fools to believe it.
John is determined to display that evidence before us.
We heard him, – Who heard him? The disciples and many others; they not only heard with their ears but with their hearts as well, and in time came to understand.
We have seen with our eyes, – Strong’s concordance opens this simplistic line up for us with: to stare at (compare G3700), that is, (by implication) to discern clearly (physically or mentally); by extension to attend to; by Hebraism to experience;
“We looked upon him,” – A prolonged form of a primary verb; to look closely at, to study.
Our hands touched him (repeatedly) – We talked about this extensively when we covered John chapter 20. While the other gospel writers might have given us so much more in terms of fine details John came right to the point, after all they went through, struggling through the shock and the perceived loss, they came to understand that He had done exactly what he described, and followed the pattern that scripture laid out for us to understand. He was and still is God, He is alive, and His authenticity gives us a solid hope for a future with the Father.
John stated, “We, not only heard the words of life, but we came to realize that He was the Word of life there before us.”
Try to imagine for a moment what it would have been like to walk daily with the King of the Universe. I want so badly to know that feeling, of perfect peace and contentment as I live in an open communion with him.
While the other gospel writers might have given us so much more in terms of fine details John came right to the point; after all they went through, struggling through the shock and the perceived loss, they came to understand that He had done exactly what he described, and followed the pattern that scripture laid out for us to understand.
He was and still is God, He is alive, and His authenticity gives us a solid hope for a future with the Father.
- Satan’s Subtle Warfare
- Stooped, But In His Image – (Luke 13)
- Was Jesus a Rebel?
- For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory!
- Living a Life Characterized by Love
- “Seek First The Kingdom Of God” What Does That Mean?
- How to Be a Disciple