[Matt’s Messages] “The Word of Life”

“The Word of Life”
Essential Christianity: 1 John
October 21, 2012
1 John 1:1-4
Last week, I introduced our series, which we are calling “Essential Christianity,” and I read to you the entire letter of 1 John. 
How did you experience that last week?
Nathan Kristofits told me that he loved the sermon last week because he got to close his eyes and sit back and relax. I think maybe he had some really good dreams about 1 John!
How did you encounter it?
Some of you told me that it was hard to follow without reading it yourself. And of course, the first listeners would have been more used to that kind of oral learning, but that’s how they encountered the book.  Not everyone had their own copy. It was read to them.
Today, you’ll need to open your eyes and look with me at the details of the text. 1 John chapter 1.
How did you encounter 1 John last week?
Was it uncomfortable? John says some very strong things. That’s strong coffee he’s brewing! But it’s good.
Was in encouraging?  John says some incredibly wonderful things, almost too good to be true.  But they are true!
What was your experience?
I found myself want to get down deep into the details of the letter to understand it better and to teach it to you. Which is what we’re going to do.
Thank you for turning to 1 John in your Bible. 
This is Pastor Appreciation Month, and I always think that should be re-named Church Family Appreciation Month! You do a great job of taking care of us, and it is a joy to take care of you.
One of things I love about this church is that when we say, “Open your Bibles,” you open your Bibles. That’s a great sound for a pastor, the sound of turning pages so that you can put your eyes on the page and your finger on the text.
I also want to thank you for sending Heather and me to the CCEF conference on Guilt and Shame this coming week. Please pray for us. Pray for safe travel, of course, but pray especially for Heather’s health. She’s been sick for two weeks and still has no voice. That could make the conference a little tedious, and we’re hoping for it to be inspiring and life-giving. So pray for us as we’re away.  Thanks for sending us.
Okay, enough other stuff. Let’s talk about essential Christianity in 1 John.
Our message today is going to be called “The Word of Life.”
And we’re just going to study 4 verses. The first 4 verses of 1 John.
Let’s read that. 1 John 1:1-4.  

“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. 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. 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 1:1-4, NIV 1984

Wow. Just four verses, but how packed those verses are with power!
John doesn’t start his letter in the conventional way.
“I, John, write to you.”
No. He jumps right in there, doesn’t he?
“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.”
Actually, that’s not the real end of the sentence. Verses 1-3a are actually one long sentence in Greek. It doesn’t work in English, but from “that which was from the beginning … to … fellowship with us” is just one sentence in the original!
John jumps right in there.
And it sound like John, doesn’t it?  John loves words like “the beginning, Word, life, eternal, joy.” 
Those are John-kind-of-words, aren’t they?
Just four verses but so packed with power.
What I was really struck with as I studied these verses to share them with you was how much they are about what this church is all about.
And while it comes from John’s perspective, it could be describing our perspective as Lanse Free Church.
I have four key words to describe what this passage (and our church) is all about.
#1. Reality
#2. Proclamation
#3. Fellowship
#4. Joy
We’ll take them one at a time.
#1. REALITY: JESUS IS REAL. 
John is talking about reality.
He is insisting that Jesus was real.
He and his brother apostles were eyewitnesses and had seen it for themselves. V.1 again.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at [or gazed at] and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”
John is saying, “What I am going to talk about (this “word of life”) is something that I have personally experienced.
Eyes, ears, and even hands.
This “Word of Life” was not something we made up. It’s something that actually happened in actual history.” V.2
“The life appeared [it actually appeared]; we have seen it and testify to it…”
V.3 “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard…”
This stuff is real.
John is going to come back to this again and again.
It’s one of his most important messages.
It’s the same message as appears in the prologue to his gospel.
I know that the 5&6th graders in Kids for Christ are memorizing that.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
That’s the Word of life that is being talked about here.
The “word” is a message. And this is a personal message, a message in personal form.
It is a word that brings life.  “The word of life!”
Or as it says in the gospel of John, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.”
That’s who John is talking about in 1 John.
“That which was from the beginning.”
If you know Genesis 1 and John 1, that’s incredibly familiar.
That’s Jesus. That’s the word of life. That’s (v.2), “the eternal life which was with  the Father.”
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God…”
Hear how these fit together?
What does John 1 say happened to the Word?  I don’t think our Kids for Christ kids have gotten there yet. John 1:14
“The Word became [what?] 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.”
The Word became flesh.
Or 1 John 1:2, “The life appeared: we have seen it and testify to it.”
There is still 2 months until Christmas, but this is Christmas.
The Word became flesh. Really, truly!  
God became man!  Really, truly!
And John saw it, and hear it, and touched it.
You could poke Jesus.
Remember Jesus told Thomas, go ahead and poke me.  Poke your finger right here I my hand and in my side.  I’m real. This is real. I really died. I really came back to life.
I really came from the Father in the first place!
Reality.
Now, that is incredibly important to say in this day and age.
This church is about reality. We are about saying that Jesus is real. Not fake, not made up, not a legend, not just a myth, not just a nice thing we enjoy singing about and then go on our way believing something different to be true.
We believe that Jesus is real. The whole thing about Jesus is real!
You might be here today and not believe that yet.
That’s okay. We’re glad you’re here. 
But we want you to know that we really do believe that this whole Jesus thing is real.
If it isn’t, we are so dumb and so wasting our lives.
But we believe it’s real.
And we invite you to investigate it.  Ask your questions, poke around, make up your own mind about Jesus.
That’s what we’re here for.
We believe that Word of Life is real.
And more than that, we believe that we need to tell others.
#2. PROCLAMATION: WE TELL OTHERS ABOUT JESUS.
That’s what John does, too.
Notice how he moves from what he has experienced to what he proclaims. V.2
“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. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard…,” 
Proclamation.
What John has experience, he proclaims.
And he says, v.2, that he testifies to it. He gives his personal testimony.
Just like Andy did today. 
Just like Lonnie did last week.
Just like the men are planning to do at their next men’s meeting on the 5th.
This John telling his story in 2012!
“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.”
Proclamation.
For 120 years, this church has been about proclaiming Jesus.
What know to be true, what we have experienced, we tell others.
Proclamation.
Now, the application of that, is tell others about Jesus.
When was the last time?
I asked myself that question this week, “When was the last time, Matt, you told someone about Jesus side from Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights?”
And it had been too long, I’m ashamed to say.
When was the last time for you?
When was the last time you proclaimed the Word of Life?
When was the last time you gave your testimony? A piece of your story to a lost person who needed to hear it?
That’s what our church is all about. We tell others about Jesus.
That’s what John was up to. He was proclaiming what he had seen and heard.
And that was for a reason. It was for number three.
#3. FELLOWSHIP: WE ARE CONNECTED TO GOD AND TO EACH OTHER.
Listen to verse 3.
“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.”
Fellowship.
John’s proclamation was for the purpose of fellowship.
If his readers gladly received his message concerning the Word of Life, then they would be able to enjoy fellowship.
If they did not, they would not enjoy fellowship.
What is fellowship?
“Fellowship” (the Greek word is KOINONIA) means a “committed partnership” or “to have something important in common.”
In this case, the thing in common is the LORD.
Fellowship is relationship. It is a vital connection between persons.
We often think about fellowship as being a meal.
We are just about to have a mouth-watering-fellowship-meal together back that hallway, and I hope all of you stay for it, but also hope that you don’t eat all of the deviled eggs before I get a chance to get back there!
But fellowship is more than a meal.
It is more than just greeting each other and enjoying each other.
Those things facilitate fellowship, but they aren’t our Christian fellowship.
Our fellowship is vital connection with one another in relationship.  V.3
“And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”
John could have added as Paul did, “and with the Holy Spirit.”
Our fellowship is with God!
We are vitally connected in relationship with God!
Here at Lanse Free Church, we call that “a love relationship with Jesus Christ.”
“We exist to glorify God by bringing people into” … “FELLOWSHIP with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”
Do you see why I said that these 4 verses are all about what our church is all about?
Are you connected to God?
Our church exists to connect you with God.
We get connected to God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
And that’s the ONLY way!
Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
But all who come through Jesus, get connected to the Father.
That’s what Jesus was doing on the Cross.
He was connecting us to God.  V.3
“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.”
Notice that our fellowship is not just with God but with each other.
If you believe in Word of Life, then you may have fellowship with John.
Fellowship is more than just connection to God, it’s also connection with fellow believers.
Again, that’s what this church is all about.
For 120 years we’ve been connecting believers to each other.
We’ve not always done the best of job of it.  I know I haven’t.
But that’s what we’re about. We’re about connecting believers to God and to each other.
That’s one of the reasons why, in just a few minutes, we’re going to get our picture taken together.  Because we’re a family!
We’re connected to each other and we want everyone to feel that way. That’s what families do. Families eat together, too. That’s why we do it. To facilitate that fellowship.
By the way, if this is your first Sunday with us, you are invited and wanted in our church family photo. We want to connect you to us and would love to have you get your picture taken with us. We’re going to do it in record speed today. We’re totally ready, and we’re going to jump up here and get it taken and then get to lunch.
Fellowship.
Here’s the application question:
Are you connected to God and to other believers?
John is totally concerned with that question.  He’s going to come back to this idea of fellowship in just a few more verses.
Are you connected to God and to other believers?
Do you have a relationship with God?  If so, is it growing?
And do you have a growing relationship with other believers?
Do you?
Jesus is real.
We tell others about Him.
And that brings us into relationship with Him and with other believers.
And that brings us number four.
#4. JOY: WE ARE HAPPY IN JESUS.
Notice in verse 4 what John says is the reason that he wrote this letter.
“We write this to make our joy complete.”
Now, some of you probably have “your joy” in verse 4, and there is some question about which was original, but both readings amount to the same thing.
John wants his readers to have complete joy.
And John won’t have complete joy until his readers have complete joy in fellowship with God.
Joy!
Joy is not just a feeling. It’s not the same thing as what we often mean when we say, “Happy,” because we can have a Happy Meal and that’s not joy.
But it’s like happiness. It’s the deep-seated happiness that fills our heart when we realize what we have in Jesus.
We have everything, everything that matters.
And so, we can rejoice.
And isn’t that exactly what this church is all about?
Rejoicing in Jesus?
That’s why we sing together.
We are only truly happy if we are happy in Jesus.
But if we truly have fellowship with Jesus, we have every reason to be happy!
“We write this to make our joy complete.”
And so, we sing!
Let’s sing about the faithfulness of our God for to this church for the last 120 years.
Jesus is real.
We tell others about Him.
And that brings us into relationship with Him and with other believers.
And that brings us eternal joy!
Let’s sing about it!
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Messages about Essential Christianity

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