1 John, Bible Studies

1 John 1:1-4

1 John 1:1-4

[1:1] That which was from the beginning,
which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and
have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—[2] the life was made
manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the
eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—[3] that
which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have
fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his
Son Jesus Christ. [4] And we are writing these things so that our joy may be



A.        The apostolic proclamation (1.1-3)

1.         The Word of Life: The substance of the
proclamation (1.1-2)

a.         His pre-existence (1.1a)

b.         His real humanity (1.1b)

c.         His manifested life (1.2)

B.        Fellowship: The purpose of the
proclamation (1.3)

C.        Fullness of joy: The purpose of the
Epistle (1.4)


For the fullness of joy that comes from seeing others take part in true
fellowship in God Jesus Christ, John writes a letter to explain who Jesus, the
Word of Life, truly is.


Here in the first
half of this message, verses 1-2, we see that John is giving his apostolic
proclamation.  He is letting his readers
know that he has seen firsthand the miracles of Jesus especially his
resurrection.  Here we get some very
important details on who Jesus is.  We
learn that he was like God the father and pre-existed even before time was created.  Jesus did not just come around when he was
born in Bethlehem,
but was with God
from the beginning.  We also see that Jesus was fully human.  They not only saw and heard him, but they also touched him with their own hands.  In this passage, we also see that Jesus
manifested the word of life.  Jesus was
the Word in the
flesh.  And because he revealed himself
to us, we can now have eternal life.

In the second half of this message,
verses 3-4, we see that because Jesus has become manifest to us that we can now
have fellowship with the father and we will desire others to have fellowship
with us because of our fellowship that is with the father.  Now let us look at the word fellowship more


Fellowship is a word
that is thrown around a lot especially among Christians.  We even have a “Fellowship Hall”.  What does fellowship really mean?  Many use it as if it is just the getting
together of two or more Christians to talk and hang out together.  However, that is not fellowship, that is
socializing.  Fellowship is the gathering
of two or more Christians
in the discussion of the things of God.  Fellowship is the
bond of common purpose
and devotion that
binds Christians to one another and to Christ (Chance, 2003).  However, if we do not cultivate it,
fellowship is choked out of our conversations by the weeds of words about other
things.  Many Christians seem almost as
reluctant to initiate a discussion about spiritual things with another believer
as they are with an unbeliever.  Just as
we often do with unbelievers, we suppose, “They don’t want to talk about
God now,” or “They’ll think I’m weird,” or “They’ll think
I’m trying to be super-spiritual.”  So we
sigh and chat of other things instead, even though our hearts ache for more
satisfying interaction with our Christian brothers and sisters.


One simple way to
cultivate fellowship is to ask questions designed to turn a conversation in a
more spiritual direction.  Here is a list
to work from:

1. How is your [teaching, hospitality, outreach, deacon, or
whatever] ministry going? What do you enjoy most about it? (Example Cougars for
Christ or FCA: What do you like about it?)

2. Where have you
seen the Lord working in your life?

3. What’s the Lord
been teaching you recently?

4. Have you had any
chances to tell others about Jesus?

5. Have you had any
obvious answers to prayer recently?

6. What have you
been reading? What have you learned?

7. Where in the
Bible have you been reading lately? What have you learned?

8. How can I pray
for you?

9. What area in
your life do you see that you are growing?

10. What are you
passionate about right now? (Whitney, 2002)


In verse four, we get
the purpose of this entire letter.  “We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”  Now first let us look at the word joy.


This is another word
that I believe is frequently misunderstood.
Joy is not the same as happiness.
Joy is the state of delight and well-being that results from knowing and serving God (Dean, 2003).  Happiness, however, is a fleeting emotion
that is based on circumstances.  Joy is the fruit of a right relationship with
God.  It is not something people can
create by their own efforts (Dean, 2003, p. 956).  Many people think that God is the great
killjoy. Meaning you cannot have fun in this life if you are a Christian.  Nothing could be a bigger lie.  God himself knows joy and he wants his people
to know joy instead of seeking to short-term pleasures of this world.  You might recall the illustration in the
sermon that I gave when I said that God’s law is not there to keep us from
having fun, but it is like the game of baseball, if you do not play by the rules then it
would be total chaos and not much fun.

Joy in the Christian
life is in direct proportion as believers walk with the Lord.  They can rejoice because they are in the
Lord.  Joy is a fruit of a Spirit-led life.  Or in other words, joy is in your life when
you are walking with the Lord.  Sin in a
believer’s life robs the person of joy.
When a person walks with the Lord, the person can continue to rejoice
even when troubles come.  Joy in the Lord
enables people to enjoy all that God has given them (Dean, 2003, p. 957).

Now something in this
sentence should stand out to you as odd.
John says it is for “our” joy.
Now should not the receiving of eternal life and fellowship with the
father be their joy?  Is John some kind of egomaniac or selfish
person that is only worried about himself?
I would argue that he is not.

I like to think of it
like this:  Say it was my wife and I’s
anniversary and I come home from work and bring her a bouquet of flowers.  She answers the door and is surprised and
says you shouldn’t have.  And I respond
well it is my duty.  I read it in a book
and it says good husbands do these things.
Now we all know that is ridiculous, right?  What I should say is: it is my joy and
nothing would make me happier than spending time with you on our
anniversary.  Now she never in a million
years would say, “well your only thinking of yourself, you are so
selfish.”  Right?  She is going to be honored that it is her
that makes me happy.  Likewise, it is to
our joy when someone comes to Christ and joins our fellowship, because we know
how much God has changed our lives and we look forward to God doing the same in
their lives.

First comes the
tremendous joy of knowing God and experiencing fellowship with him.  But then we hunger for something more.  Not that anything could be added to God, but
that more of God can be experienced in the fellowship of the saints (cf. Psalm
16:1–3).  If this were not true, the
longing for fellowship would be idolatry.
Our joy in God’s fellowship is made complete in the joy that others have
in God’s fellowship.

This is the very
essence of Christian Hedonism—



John Piper defines Christian
Hedonism best when he said, “Christian
hedonism is the truth that “God is most glorified in us when we are most
satisfied in him.”  Therefore, if we are
going to glorify God as we ought, the pursuit of joy is not optional—it is
essential.  We not only may, but ought
pursue our maximum pleasure—in God.
Christian Hedonism is a liberating and devastating doctrine.  It teaches that the value of God shines more
brightly in the soul that finds deepest satisfaction in him.  Therefore, it is liberating because it
endorses our inborn desire for joy.  And
it is devastating because it reveals that no one desires God with the passion
he demands.  (Piper, 2004)

Christian Hedonism is
not only allowed but also necessary to pursue your own happiness in the holy
happiness of others.  If you were to make
it your aim to lead a friend into the fellowship of God, but in your heart
said, “It does not matter to me if he finds fellowship with God,” you
would be evil, because you would basically be saying that you really did not
care if your friend was going to spend eternity in Hell.  God does not want our hearts to be cold to
the good we seek.  He wants us to delight
in it.  He wants us to pursue our joy in
it just as John did.  “We are
writing this that our joy may be complete.”

What a devastating
doctrine—to teach that it is wrong for a Christian to pursue his own happiness.  This doctrine is an insult to God who
commands us to delight ourselves in the Lord and to count it all joy when we
lay down our lives in order to share that delight with others. (Piper, 1985)

Well that is the end
of our lesson today and I hope you enjoyed it and learned a lot.  I hope that you will reread this passage
today and also read 1 John 1:5-2:6 because that is the lesson that we will be
looking at tonight.


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