************ Sermon on 1 John 1:2-4 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on May 5, 2019
1 John 1:1-4
1 John 1:2-4
"I Love to Hear the Story"
We live in an age when politically correct people believe all things are uncertain and nothing is absolute. Now, contrast this mindset to what we find in John's first letter. Some 33 times in 26 different verses John uses the word "know." We know, you know, know. John knows. And he wants his readers to know. Know what? That we have certainty and conviction about truth. That truth is absolute. That truth does not change depending upon time and circumstances. That truth is not vague.
Last time, in looking at verse 1, we said we are certain that the Gospel is the old, old story -- the unchanging Good News which was from the beginning. And, we said we are certain Jesus is the Word of life because He is that which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at, and which our hands have touched. In an age of uncertainty we can be certain about the unchanging Gospel. In an age of uncertainty we can be certain about the Lord of the Gospel.
Today, we go the next step and ask, "So what?" We are certain about the Gospel. We are certain about Jesus. So what? What difference does it make? John says this certainty leads to three things: proclamation, fellowship, and joy.
A Three times our pew Bibles use the word "proclaim." Verse 1 - "this we proclaim." Verses 2 & 3 - "we proclaim to you." ["Proclaim" is not found in the Greek of verse 1; an argument can be made it is understood from the following verses.] John proclaims what he is certain about. There are no doubts in John's mind as he proclaims.
What does John proclaim? John proclaims the old, old story. John proclaims the Word of life. John proclaims Jesus Who came in the flesh. John proclaims Jesus Who died and arose and ascended into heaven. John proclaims eternal life for all those who believe in Jesus.
Proclaim. This is how John viewed his ministry, his calling, his task as an Apostle -- to proclaim the old, old story. This is also my calling. And, it is our calling as a church. John loves to tell the story and so should we.
B To whom does John make this proclamation? Who is his audience? Obviously, as an apostle, John proclaims the Gospel to unbelievers that they may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing have life in His name (Jn 20:31). But John's proclamation is also to those who already believe in the name of the Son of God (1 Jn 5:13). You might think, well they already know it, they have already heard it. Why proclaim to them? The best way to answer this is to quote a song we love to sing:
I love to tell the story,John would say "Amen" to this. Those who know it best are hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest. So to them John proclaims the old, old story.
For those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting
To hear it like the rest.
And when in scenes of glory
I sing the new, new song,
'Twill be the old, old story
That I have loved so long.
C Further, John proclaims as a witness. Back to verse 1. John proclaims "that which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched." And, in verse 2, "we have seen it and testify to it." Verse 3, "we proclaim to you what we have seen and heard." John wants us to think of a courtroom. You can't give testimony in a court of law unless you are a firsthand witness. John is that kind of witness. He has heard, he has seen, he has examined, he has touched. He can give personal testimony about Christ because he was there.
At this time and place John is the only witness. He is the only one of all the people in Asia Minor who is an eye-witness to the Christ. There is no reason to believe any of the Gentiles in those churches went to Palestine some sixty years earlier. And, we know Jesus did not go to Asia Minor, living His whole earthly life in the land of Israel. So John is the only living witness. Everyone knows he was with Jesus since the beginning.
Through John -- and also through Matthew, Mark, and Luke -- the Holy Spirit has given firsthand testimony. The Holy Spirit has given eyewitness accounts. How hurtful and how blasphemous that there are those who attack the honesty and integrity of the Apostles. Ultimately, do you know who they question? They attack the honesty and integrity of God and His Holy Spirit -- because this testimony comes from Him.
D None of us were there. None of us are witnesses. So, John's proclamation is for us as well.
Through the proclamation of John and Peter and the rest of the apostles the Holy Spirit wants us to hear and see and examine and touch the Word of life. The Spirit wants us to hear and believe the old, old story. Will you do that? Have you done that? Let me quote the same song again, but this time I want to change one word:
I love to hear the storyMy prayer, my heart's desire -- for everyone here and for everyone who worships by LiveStream -- is that we all love to hear the story of Jesus and His love. That we love to hear the story proclaimed by John and the other Apostles. That we love to hear the story proclaimed from this pulpit and by this church.
Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory,
Of Jesus and His love.
I love to hear the story,
Because I know 'tis true.
It satisfies my longings
As nothing else can do.
A We are certain about the Gospel. We are certain about Jesus. So what? What difference does it make? John says proclamation leads to fellowship. Look at verse 3:
(1 Jn 1:3) We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, [Why?] so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
When most people talk about fellowship today, they mean socializing. That's why we have a fellowship hall and fellowship luncheons -- so we can socialize together over coffee, tea, cookies, ice-cream, and a meal. But the fellowship John is talking about is not just a social activity, or a social engagement, or a social time. John is not saying, "I want you to have a social time with me. I want us to eat a meal together or go to a picnic together." John is not speaking about being chummy or friendly with one another. Nor is it liking everyone in the church equally or being friends with everyone. Nor it is going to all the church functions and having a wonderful time every time that we go.
The fellowship John is talking about is not people simply getting together. People get together to watch a football, basketball, or hockey game. People get together for birthday parties and weddings and funerals. But getting together for these kinds of purposes -- however good any of them may be -- is not the same as fellowship.
B The fellowship John is talking about is always experienced at two different levels. First, and most importantly, John says, proclamation of the Gospel results in "fellowship ... with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ" (1 Jn 1:3). John is speaking of vertical fellowship -- fellowship with the triune Godhead. Second, John proclaims the Gospel "so that you also may have fellowship with us." John is speaking of horizontal fellowship -- fellowship among believers. The two fellowships are related. Those in fellowship with God also have fellowship with one another.
Fellowship because of proclamation starts off with faith in Christ. And it ends with our relationship to and with fellow believers. When you believe in Jesus you enter into fellowship with God and with fellow believers. This means fellowship is not for everyone and anyone. Fellowship is only for those with faith. Because of Christ proclaimed yours is fellowship with God and with fellow believers.
C The book of Acts tells us the early believers devoted themselves "to the fellowship" (Acts 2:42). How? What did they do? Listen to three different verses from Acts 2:
(Acts 2:1) When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.Do you hear what they did? They kept coming together.
(Acts 2:44) All the believers were together ...
(Acts 2:46) Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts ...
They were not simply together. They were together for worship. Our fellowship with God and with one another takes place in worship. We have fellowship when we sing songs together, pray together, celebrate the Lord's Supper together, hear the Word proclaimed together, give gifts together.
Many today say they don't need the church to be a Christian. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. When God saves us, He puts us together with other Christians in His worship. He puts us together to experience fellowship with Him and with one another.
This is becoming increasingly difficult in our culture today. More and more jobs require Sunday work and keep Christians from gathering together with other Christians. Too many local and national sporting events take place on Sunday and keep Christians from gathering together. We find it too easy to travel, fish, golf, or shop on Sunday. Many times we go away for the weekend and skip Sunday worship.
As Christians we are increasingly surrounded by an anti-Christian culture. It is reaching the point where we have to make some real choices concerning what we stand for and what we are committed to. To experience fellowship we have to make time to be together. As we learn from the Catechism, the fourth commandment means "I regularly attend the assembly of God's people."
D The believers devoted themselves to the fellowship. That means they gathered together for worship. But they also did something else. They also loved one another. They cared for one another. So, says the book of Acts, there was not a needy person among them (Acts 4:34).
There is a tradition about John that says near the end of his life, when it was difficult for him to walk, he was carried into church meetings. As he was carried he kept saying the same thing over and over again: "love one another," "love one another," love one another." Those in fellowship with God "love one another."
A We are certain about the Gospel. We are certain about Jesus. So what? What difference does it make? John says Jesus proclaimed leads to joy. Listen at verse 4:
(1 Jn 1:4) We write this to make your joy complete.
What brings joy? Romance will not bring lasting joy. Recreation and sports cannot offer lasting joy. Politics and government cannot bring joy. Possessions and money don't bring joy. Joy only comes in and through Christ proclaimed and received. Joy only comes because it is proclaimed and believed that Jesus has come in the flesh, has died for our sins, has risen from the grave, and has ascended into heaven.
Being a Christian does not mean you are exempt from the hardships of life. Anyone who has any kind of life experience knows that Christians suffer pain and sickness, financial hardships, death of family or friends, conflict, and the enmity and hatred of the world. But in all of these trials, during all of these trials, Christians have something no one else has -- Christians have joy.
B Because we are sure about Christ proclaimed we have the joy of salvation. The joy of knowing our sins have been forgiven. The joy of knowing we are right with God. The joy of knowing Christ has taken our place and our curse. This joy is already ours. There are some people who think that being a Christian is a joyless life in which you miss out on all fun. Or, they say whatever joy a Christian will experience is all future. But John proclaims Jesus so we experience joy now already.
At the same time joy is not fully realized until after the Lord Jesus returns. There is joy when that happens because all evil will be banished. There is joy that day because our bodies will be raised or transformed and no longer subject to death or mourning or crying or pain. There is joy that day because every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
The old, old story. The old, old story about Jesus and His love. We love to hear that story. We have fellowship with God and each other because of that story. Ours is joy because of that story.
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