GOD MANIFESTED HIS LIFE TO BE PROCLAIMED, SHARED, AND ENJOYED
I. (:1-3a) THE LIFE OF GOD WAS MANIFESTED TO BE PROCLAIMED
A. The Source of this Life of God — Preincarnate Existence from all Eternity
“What was from the beginning”
“the eternal life, which was with the Father”
Where have we heard this emphasis before? cf. the opening to John’s Gospel
Continuous existence from the beginning with particular manifestation in time and space; the divine Christ did not just come upon Jesus at His baptism.
B. The Interaction with this Life of God — The Apostles Experienced God’s Life First Hand
Objective validation by John and the other apostles (cf. John 1:14) — He really is both perfect God and perfect man. This first hand personal knowledge that John is communicating far surpasses any so-called superior knowledge of the Gnostics.
1. Auditory — “what we have heard”
2. Visual —
a. Long Distance — “what we have seen with our eyes”
b. Up Close and Personal — “what we beheld”
3. Tactile — “and our hands handled”
checked it out thoroughly; special emphasis on the post-resurrection appearances (Luke 24:39) so that there could be no question that a physical body was involved
Paradox: that John could have heard and seen someone who was from the beginning; Jesus told the Jews: “before Abraham was born, I AM” (John 8:58)
What is the result of people’s first-hand interaction with us? We are as close as they are going to get to the current historical manifestation of this life of God. What do they hear from us? What do they see? What do they closely observe as they check us out? May it be the eternal life that is Christ Himself living through us. (cf. Out of the Salt Shaker — there is a danger that we isolate ourselves in Christian circles and never allow the world to examine us. The willingness to be proclaimers involves the spirit behind the evangelism book entitled: “I’m Glad You Asked”
C. The Nature of this Life of God —
1. “concerning the Word of Life”
– the Word which is Life — renaming (Boyer, Lenski)
– the Word which gives life (Stott)
2. “the eternal life”
The reality of our fellowship depends upon the reality of the life of Christ; otherwise our assurance is empty; our faith is in vain; we are still in our sins.
D. The Manifestation of God’s Life — Demands Proclamation
“and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you”
“what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also”
We are dependent upon God’s revelation of His person; we can’t figure Him out apart from revelation; the supreme revelation is in His Son (Heb. 1).
Importance of Proclamation: Jesus came to preach (to proclaim) and to disciple key leaders to reproduce that ministry of proclamation. We are not called to stifle this life, but to proclaim it to others. The mission of the apostles was sharing that life with others. We are not called upon to dream up te message; the revelation comes from God; we are just commanded to pass it on.
II. (:3b) THE LIFE OF GOD WAS MANIFESTED TO BE SHARED
A. Shared in Mutual Fellowship Among Believers = Horizontal Fellowship
“that you also may have fellowship with us”
Antichrists will be recognized as those departing from this horizontal fellowship. Fellowship on this plane is more easily identified (it is more visible); but it is also easier to fake.
B. Shared in Mutual Fellowship with the Godhead = Vertical Fellowship
“and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ”
Good statement of the distinction and yet equality between the Father and the Son.
The Definition of Fellowship is key to this book. It is a sharing in the eternal life of God; joint participation in a common life with God and fellow Christians.
Stott: “… that common participation in the grace of God, the salvation of Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit which is the spiritual birthright of all Christian believers. It is their common possession of life — one with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which makes them one.”
The popular usage that fellowship is “enjoying one’s company” or “feeling comfortable with someone” is never suggested by the Greek word. The basic thrust of the word is to point to a common possession.
When Ryrie outlines 1 John around the theme of “fellowship” — he is using the word in the wrong sense — i.e. in that popular sense. From his perspective, Christians fall out of fellowship and then need to confess sin to restore fellowship (by which he means the enjoyment of that relationship). That is certainly true, but that is not the main thrust of John’s approach here. The apostle is setting forth tests regarding our eternal destiny, not the extent to which we enjoy the relationship (although that is certainly a helpful application since it challenges believers to live a more consistent holy life).
III. (:4) THE LIFE OF GOD WAS MANIFESTED TO BE ENJOYED
“and these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete”
A. God’s Eternal Life is the Basis of True Joy
B. Fullness of Joy Results From Proclaiming God’s Eternal Life
cf. theme of Fullness of Joy in John’s Gospel — John 3:29; 15:11; 16:24; 17:13