1 John 1:1-4 October 2016
JESUS THE WORD
Ill. There was a woman who was born blind and all through her childhood her mother tried to explain to her what the world was like, but it was an impossible task. She could grasp certain things by touching them and hearing them, but she had no concept of what the ocean, the sky, the mountains were really like. Her understanding was limited by her blindness. One day medical science discovered a procedure that could cure for her condition and she was operated on. When the bandages were removed and she was lead to the hospital window, she stood there spell bound. She turned to mother and said,” Why didn’t you tell me the world was so beautiful?” Her mother answered, “I tried,you’re your blindness prevented you from fully understanding.”
One of the difficulties we have as human beings is trying to understand things that are outside our limited experience. Because our experience is limited to the physical, material world we live in, we cannot fully understand the spiritual and eternal dimension.
The Bible tells us that God is not a physical, material creature like everything else. He is Spirit. He is not limited to time and space. He is eternal, without beginning or end and He is everywhere.
Because we have never encountered anything like this in our natural existence we just can’t fully grasp or understand that concept.
Throughout history, whenever God has wanted to communicate with people, He would send forth His word and speak to them.
We need to understand that God’s Word is not just lifeless statements or speeches. God’s Word is powerful and living. When God sends forth His Word it has the power to create and destroy, to give life and to take life, to heal or to wound.
At the very beginning of time God spoke His word and everything that exists came into being. That is how powerful His Word is.
In the Old Testament we have a record of God speaking forth His Word into our world, into situations, nations and people. And we also have the record of how that word impacted the lives of those people and situations. When God spoke, things happened.
God’s Word is much more than just letters on a page or spoken sounds; God’s Word is the living, powerful manifestation of God. You can’t separate God from His Word. In fact the Word is God.
If you are finding this hard to grasp, that’s understandable, because I’m talking about a dimension of life that is beyond anything we have experienced or known. I’m talking about heavenly, eternal things.
So God communicated with us through His Word, but the day came when His Word became a human being and entered our world and for the first time in human history people heard God speak out of the mouth of a human being, they saw how God behaved in a human body.
And that’s what we will look at this morning.
The Word of life, The Word revealed, The Word witnessed, The Word received.
THE WORD OF LIFE v1
In John’s Gospel and in His letter He calls Jesus the Word. So we see that God’s Word is more than just impersonal speech or letters on a page.
God’s Word is powerful in that it can create a universe and sustain it. God’s Word reveals God and His will to people. You could say that God’s Word is the action of God. But it is even more than that. God’s word is personal, in fact it is a Person and here John says that Jesus is the Word of Life.
He is the Word of God who is also the source of life. He is the one who gives life to everything and everyone.
Ill. Science has never been able to find out what causes life to enter matter and make it live. They can describe how it happens but they can’t tell us where it comes from.
Ill. Those of you who use the Word for Today would have read the recent facts about our world. I found them fascinating. Our Earth is perfectly designed and positioned in the Universe so that life can exist and be sustained. It is just the right distance from the sun so we receive the right amount of heat and light? If we were any further away we’d freeze, and if we were closer we would cook.
If the earth was 10 percent larger or 10 percent smaller, life could not exist on this planet. The earth is titled at 23 degrees so that the sun rays can touch every part of the earth during the year. If the earth wasn’t tiled like this the poles would accumulate enormous amounts of ice and the centre of the earth would become so hot we couldn’t stand it.
The moon has been positioned at just the right place so that it can control the tides which clean up the oceans and the shores. Without the tides created by the moon, our harbours and shores would be so full of stinking debris that no one could live near them. The tides help to aerate the oceans providing oxygen for plankton, which is the foundation of our food chain. Plankton plays a vital role in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Without it all life would end.
The air around us consists of 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen. The tidal effect of the moon upon the atmosphere helps to maintain this proportion and the ocean absorbs the carbon dioxide so that we can breathe. If the atmosphere wasn’t as thick as it is, we’d be crushed by billions of pieces of cosmic debris and meteorites that fall continually upon our planet.
The ozone layer that blankets our earth protects us from excessive ultraviolet rays. A limited amount of the most deadly rays are allowed through the ozone to kill the green algae which would otherwise completely fill the lakes, rivers and oceans of the world.
These things are too fantastically designed, too finely tuned and positioned to be a coincidence. Is it no wonder that 90% of the world’s astronomers believe in the existence of God.
So with everything perfectly designed and positioned for life to exist, where does the life come from? God, and it is activated by His Living, personal, Word who is called here the Word of life: Jesus Christ.
Col 1:15 – 17 “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.”
Without Jesus Christ, life wouldn’t exist, physically, spiritually and eternally.
THE WORD REVEALED v2
Jesus, The personal, eternal, life giving, powerful, Divine Word who was always with God the Father came into our world in a human body and revealed God to us. The writer calls Jesus the giver of life and eternal life.
Let’s look at this word eternal life. It literally means unlimited life belonging to another age, another dimension. Eternal is not only is quantity of life but quality of life.
If you asked most people, “Would you like to go on living forever on this planet?”, they would say, “What? In this ageing body, in this world that is deteriorating physically, morally, socially. No thank you.”
Although God gave us the gift of physical life, we have stuffed it up, we have ruined life on this planet. For so many people in this world life is a nightmare because our sin, our greed, pride, hatred, jealousy has infected everything and there is no future for life as we know it in this world.
The life that Jesus came to bring us is eternal life. It’s nothing like the life people presently experience in this world – it is life that will last forever in a new world where there is no death, evil, sickness or suffering. But it is also a quality of life that the people of this world don’t have – life that is lived in God’s presence and that expresses God’s character. A life marked by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control.
Life that is being cleansed from all evil and is being transformed by God’s Spirit into the likeness of Jesus.
And Jesus, the living word, came to offer this life to all who will turn from their old unbelieving ways and put their faith and trust in Him.
THE WORD WITNESSED v3
This person who is called the Word of life, or the life giving Word, the One who has always existed with God, as part of God and is very much God Himself entered our world as a human being and John says here, “We saw Him, we heard Him and we touched Him.”
John had been one of Jesus disciples. He lived side by side with Jesus for 3 years and what He saw and heard convinced him that Jesus was the Divine Son of God. John was the only disciple who was not executed for his faith in Jesus and in his later life he moved from Jerusalem to Ephesus and it was there that he wrote this letter.
Imagine having someone in your church who had actually seen, heard and touched Jesus.
I am so glad that most of the writers of the NT knew Jesus personally when He walked this earth. In fact 6 of the 9 authors knew Jesus personally and two of them were His brothers and they were all convinced that He was the Son of God.
Which says that our faith is based on the historical testimony of real people who saw, heard and touched Jesus Christ.
The Bible is a historical book. It’s not like the sacred books of other religions like the Koran or the Bhagavad gita which are books expressing ideas.
The Bible is an historical book that was written by real people who witnessed actual historical events, who saw, heard and touched the people they wrote about.
If our faith is simply based on feelings or mystical experiences then we would be a Christian one day and a non-Christian the next. Feelings, emotions and mystical experiences are changeable, unreliable and can come and go, but the historical record of God’s truth remains unchanged.
Now there are a lot of Christians whose faith depends on feelings, mystical experiences and warm fuzzies, rather than on the historical truths set forth in God’s Word.
I am concerned with many Christian young people today who don’t read the Bible regularly and are simply depending on their feelings and the emotional uplift they get from Christian meetings.
When the emotions and the feelings are not there they tend to drop out. And that is one reason many of them drop out. Because they don’t have that lasting foundation of God Word built into their lives.
I am not poohooing emotions and feelings in the Christian life. I firmly believe that our relationship with God will touch our emotions and feelings. There will be times when we feel uplifted, inspired, deeply moved by God’s Word and the Spirit of God.
In fact Christianity without emotion and feeling can be cold, hard and insensitive. Those times when we feel uplifted, inspired and full of joy are precious times, but they do come and go.
A true believer will learn to be consistent in their faith whether the feelings are there or not, because their faith is based on the historical truth of God’s Word.
A.W Tozer once said, It’s wonderful to march to Zion with the band playing, but we can still march without the music.”
Our faith is not based on myths and legends. It is based on real historical events that were witnessed and recorded by real people for our benefit.
Ill. When Muslim people read the New Testament, they are blown away because it is so different from the Quran which is a bunch of statements supposedly made by God. What strikes them is that the New Testament is an historical document talking about places that actually exist, about events that actually happened and people who actually lived. Can you wonder why Muslim leaders forbid their people to read it.
Ill, Not long ago in Saudi Arabia where the Bible is banned, a leading Muslim official was given a NT and after reading it said, “The authorities in our country cannot keep the truth contained in this book from us forever.”
THE WORD RECEIVED v3-4
In Isaiah 55:10-11 God said, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from me. It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
When we open our hearts and receive Jesus, God’s living Word, He brings the eternal life of God into our souls and we experience 3 things:
Fellowship with other believers, Fellowship with God, and Joy
The word fellowship in the original Greek is koinonia and it was used to describe the bond that existed between Siamese twins. They shared the same blood, the same organs and the same life. If you separated them they would die.
This is a picture of what genuine Christian fellowship is. We share the same blood. The same blood goes on cleansing you and me from our sins., We share the same body, we are all members of the Body of Christ. And we share the same life, the same Spirit of Life lives in each one of us.
And as I said the other week, if you separate yourself from your fellow believers you will become spiritually weak and are in greater danger of falling away altogether.
This is also a picture of our relationship with God.
We believers are eternally joined, bonded to Him so that nothing and no-one can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ill. The Catholic authorities threatened Martin Luther with taking away his family, property, freedom and even his life. “Then where will you be, Luther?” They asked. “Then I shall be where I have always been….IN THE HANDS OF MY GOD.”
Joy. “We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.”
There is a huge difference between happiness and joy. Happiness depends on external happenings. When things stop happening so does the happiness.
Most people in New Zealand are searching for happiness and they believe that when they find the right partner, the right job, the right house, the right amount of money, they will be happy, but these are external things and you and I have lived to see that all these things can be taken from you in a moment.
Ill. One guy discovered how short lived happiness is. He visited an amusement park and had such a buzz riding the roller coasters and other stuff that he came out of the park walking on air. But when he got to his car he found that someone had put a dent in the door. The happy feeling immediately evaporated and was replaced with anger.
Ill. Some of you know the song, “Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile.” The melody was composed by Felix Powell and the words were written by his brother George. The song won first prize in a World War I competition for “best morale-building song”. They said it was the most optimistic song ever written.”
Although George wrote it for to soldiers he refused to go to war when he was drafted. Felix on the other hand went to war, but during the Second World War he became so unhappy that he committed suicide. His words encouraged the world to “smile, smile, smile.” But they failed to bring him the lasting happiness he longed for.
Joy on the other is not dependent upon external happenings, it comes from knowing that no matter what happens you belong to Jesus and He belongs to you. Jesus owns you. And nothing and none one can change that.
Ill. In the 1930s Pastor Paul Schneider preached against Nazism in Germany. His congregation pleaded with him to stop, even the civic leaders of his home town begged him to stop preaching against that evil regime. They knew he was in danger and didn’t want to lose him. One day the Gestapo came and took him away to Bukenvel Concentration and he was never seen again. He was abused and tortured and eventfully starved to death, but he managed to get a letter out to his wife. And the letter was full of joy and rejoicing.
Why? Because although physically he was in a Nazi concentration camp, spiritually he was in Christ.
When you know who Jesus is and you have experienced His unconditional love, forgiveness and acceptance. When you have completely entrusted your life to Him and know you are bound to Him for all eternity, nothing and no none can break that bond and the result is a deep lasting joy that is not dependent on external factors but on that internal inseparable relationship with God.
Song – “In Christ Alone My Hope Is Found”.