Friday, October 24, 2008

Jesus: The One We Proclaim

Chuckle: A child's comment on the Bible: "The first commandment was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple."

Good Quote: "Nothing makes a man so virtuous as belief in the truth. A lying doctrine will soon beget a lying practice. A man cannot have an erroneous belief without by-and-by having an erroneous life. I believe the one thing naturally begets the other." --Charles Spurgeon

JESUS: THE ONE WE PROCLAIM

"We are telling you about what we ourselves have actually seen and heard, so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ" (I John 1:3 NLT).

In verse 1, John speaks of Jesus as the "Word of Life." These words were the light of dawn that broke through to reveal the darkness of sin. But now the dawn has become the brightness of the noonday sun as John identifies the "Light of the World" and "Word of Life" as Jesus, God's Son. And this Christ is the one whom John saw with his physical eyes and the one we have seen with our spiritual eyes and heard through the living words of Scripture.

"In the beginning the Word (Jesus) already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he did not make. Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it" (John 1:1-5 NLT).

In our I John passage, John says something that shocked every God-fearing Jew who was fearful to even pronounce the name of God. He said, "Our fellowship is with the Father." How dare a sinful creature presume he can fellowship with the almighty God of creation! This was, and is, incomprehensible to someone who has not experienced God's saving grace through faith in Jesus Christ. How can a mere mortal actually have fellowship with the Father? Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father except through me." The positive side of this statement is that we can come into the very presence of the Father through the name of Jesus.

The secret of John's message rests in our blessed Intercessor, Jesus Christ himself. He introduces people to God as "The Father." Our fellowship with God as our heavenly Father comes through our relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, Jesus, and Jesus alone, is the subject of our preaching and teaching. It is nothing short of heresy to teach that people can find favor and fellowship with God, the Father, by any other means other than by God's grace, through faith in Jesus. "God saved you by his special favor (grace) when you believed (in Christ). And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it" (Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT).

"Can you imagine the number of words it took to write a thirty-volume set of Encyclopaedia Britannica? It must be an awesome number, but an even more amazing thing is that only twenty-six different letters were used. The authors did not have to go outside of the alphabet to assemble that massive collection of knowledge. It provided for them everything they needed for this one task. Jesus Christ called himself the Alpha and Omega, and we do not have to go outside of him for anything that we need. He is God's 'everything' -- for all situations."

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Jesus: The Source of Life

Chuckle: A pastor asked a group, "How far was it from Dan to Beersheba?" One man answered -- "I thought they were husband and wife like Sodom and Gomorrah!"

Good Quote: "He who waits to do a great deal of good at once will never do anything." --Samuel Johnson

JESUS: THE SOURCE OF LIFE

"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" (1 John 1:3 NIV).

This passage is the beginning of one of the most intimate letters in the New Testament. John deals with family matters, like a father writing to his small children who need encouragement, perhaps reprimanded, and mostly reminded that God is love and that they are to show that love constantly through their lives.

When the apostle John wrote this letter, he was facing problems not unlike those that Christians face today as they tell the story of Jesus to a sinful and skeptical world. Yet there was a pressing reason for John to write this letter when he did. Heresy was penetrating the church, led by so-called Christians known as "Gnostics." Gnostics were a group teaching that all matter is inherently evil, and God, being good could not have been incarnate in the body of Jesus. They said that Jesus only appeared to have lived in the flesh, that he was nothing more than an phantom. To John this teaching was taking the heart out of the Christian faith. The letter of 1 John proclaims what was shown and proven in the life of Jesus Christ.

Although we have not personally seen, heard, or touched Jesus as John did, we have the entire New Testament record of those who did, and we can trust that they spoke the truth about him. In the prologue of John's letter (1-4), he tells us three things about Jesus, then he develops these truths in the remainder of the letter. First, Jesus is the source of our life (vv. 1-2). John points out three major proofs of Jesus' humanity and physical existence.

1. John declares that he and his fellow disciples actually heard Jesus speak. "The one who existed from the beginning is the one we have heard and seen" (I John 1:1a NLT). The Greek word for "heard" is in the perfect tense -- they heard Jesus speak repeatedly, and His words were etched in their hearts. Much of what Jesus had to say is recorded in God's Word to enable us to hear those words of love, mercy, and compassion for ourselves.

2. John declares that he had seen Jesus, personally. "We saw (have seen) him with our own eyes. . ." (vs.. 1b). The word for "seen" means more than a visual image -- it means he had understood, perceived, discerned. It's like someone saying "I see" to denote understanding. Here, he uses another word that means to gaze at with wonder, awe, or reverence. He was an eyewitness to Jesus' life -- the same Jesus who brings life and light to us today.

3. Finally, John says he had "handled" Jesus with his own hands. "and touched him with our own hands" (vs.. 1b). This is the word Jesus used after His resurrection to prove to his disciples that He was not a spirit but that He had a physical body. "It is I myself! Touch me and see. . ." (Luke 24:39). First John 1:2 is an expansion of what John said in verse 1. "This one who is life from God was shown to us, and we have seen him." Jesus, the source of our life, has been manifested, and His existence, death, or resurrection can be denied!

". . . And now we testify and announce to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was shown to us. . . . And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy will be complete" (I John 1:2b, 3b-4 NLT).

Love, Jerry & Dotse