Writing To You: A Study through 1 John

I spoke at my home church, Living Hope Church, last week so I thought I would share the notes.  Please leave some comments.  If you prefer you are browsing on your mobile you can view the mobile friendly link.

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The epistle, or letter, of 1st John is written to all of us in general and specifically to the church at Ephesus. John is writing this as he nears the end of his life.

The Ephesian church is not that different from our own American church. John speaks about the Ephesians in Revelation chapter 2 verse where he writes that “… You have forgotten your first love.”

There are 4 issues that are impacting the church at Ephesus.

  1. An Easy Familiarity with Christ – The believers that John is writing to are the older children and younger Grandchildren of the believers that Paul met in Acts 19.
    • He spent 2 years with them and God lit a fire there. The issue is that over time the intensity of the fire was being maintained. This lead to a rejection of the High Standard…
  2. The High Standards that Christianity Sets – The church was called to be set apart. They were called to be different. They would be hated for that difference.
    • The church had begun to reject this.
    • They didn’t “really” want to be different. They wanted to be liked. The church was not in danger of be persecution. It was in danger of being changed.
  3. Seductions/Threats from the Inside – This came and fulfilled the warning that Paul left to the Ephesians in Acts 20:29-30, “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.”
    • The thought was to improve it. Give it intellectual respectability. Make it sound like popular philosophy.
  4. Gnosticism – This came out of popular culture of Rome at the time. The Gnostic elevated the spirit over the body. In fact they despised it. The spirit was planted in this dirty soil.
    • The Gnostics hoped to overcome the evil in the body. Stoics, Freedom through denial/willpower and the Epicureans, Freedom ultimately through Indulgence.
    • This is the backdrop on which this letter is painted.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." - 1 John 5:14
In Order to return the church to its first love we have to return to a desire for Fellowship with not just each other, but with God. 1 John 5:14 reminds us that this is possible. Not only is it possible, Through Christ Jesus, to approach God; He Hears Us.

And How Do We Do This? How are we able to connect with God?
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” - 1 John 5:13
In The Beginning...
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.“ - 1 John 1:1
John was in a unique position. While those Gnostics who proclaimed a kind of superknowledge, a hidden truth, John was able to say that he KNEW the truth.

It is interesting that John uses the phrase, “That which was from the beginning…” There are 2 other times that we see this type of phrase and both of them are there for the same reason

  1. Genesis 1:1 - ”In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
    • Foundational. If you don’t accept you need not go any further…
  2. John 1:1-3; 14 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made; The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. ”

John wanted to make sure that everyone knows why he speaks with the authority that he does and he completely obliterates the Gnostics argument.
“The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.“ - 1 John 1:2
The Gnostics believed that their were 2 components to Jesus. There was Jesus the man, lower case “m”, and then their was the Christ, capital “c”. Jesus the man was not divine.

When he was baptized by John then the Christ descended upon him. When Jesus died, the Christ left him.

This even went as far where in one of the “Gnostic” gospels the Jesus’ words on the cross are recorded as being, “My Power, my power, why have you forsaken me”.
“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. “ - 1 John 1:3-4
John Establishes Here that we can have True Fellowship with God and Each Other.

What is Fellowship? Koino-nia. This is a sharing together of something common.

Fellowship is good but you have to make sure that you are truly fellowshipping. When we meet is it just to hang out? While there is nothing wrong with that we also need to Share that which is common between us. CHRIST.

So How Do We Do This…

By Walking In His Light
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. “ - 1 John 1:5
Light is something both simple and complex.
Scientifically it is expressed as a wave and a particle.
Artistically it can be expressed as a variety of colors or sounds.
Physically it provides illumination and warmth.
“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. “ - 1 John 1:6
God’s light does not allow for darkness.
It obliterates it. It removes it.
So as we walk in fellowship with Him we walk in His light.
Are we walking in sin that we think is hidden?
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” - 1 John 1:7
God’s light illuminates it all.
And if we walk with him and allow His light to wash over us we can be cleansed.

How Do We Do This…

By Confessing My Sin
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” - 1 John 1:8
The Best Man is a Man at Best
There is none that are worthy. All have sinned. All have fallen.
This was in direct contrast to the Gnostics who felt that sin could be overcome.
Whether Stoic or Epicurean there is no way to beat this except…
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.“ - 1 John 1:9-10
If you have done it all on your own. Jesus would not have needed to die.
His promises would not have been true.
He Died for our sins but if we still have to do it on our own than he told the biggest lie ever.


But The Truth Is That You Can Overcome and it is Only…

By The Finished Work Of Jesus Christ
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” - 1 John 2:2
Jesus came and died so that you would have life.

Jesus came to Earth, died on the Cross, and Rose Again so that you
… Would never be Lost.
… Would never be Alone.
… Would have Eternal Fellowship With God
… Would have Life.

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