ABIDE | Wk 1 | Abide in the Gospel | 1 John 1:1-1:4
Topic: New Testament Passage: 1 John 1:1–4
Christopher Rich – April, 23 2023
1 John | ABIDE: Life in Christ – Life with Christ
Abide in the Gospel | 1 John 1:1-1:4
Introduction | What is our anchor?
Good Morning! Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we begin our new series in 1 John, ABIDE: Life in Christ, Life with Christ. Where we want to see both our identity and actions align in way which produces lasting life. Who holds your identity? What drives your actions? Is your relationship with God real? Why does that matter? When there is crisis in your life, when there is doubt, when you are unsettled, what do you turn to? How are you being grounded? Do you stay steady, measured, calm, or do you find yourself highly reactionary in your responses to life with wide swings? “Today is amazing! Oh no something bad happened the world is falling apart?” What is your anchor, your true north? As Christians, we are to have our hope, joy, anchor, guide, power come from one source, Jesus and Jesus alone. If we are going to claim we are Christians than we have to ask ourselves what makes someone a Christian. Am I a Christian? They know there is a God who created. They know they are a sinner, God saves sinners, they know they have been Saved by Jesus Work. But being a Christian is no less than, but is more than, merely believing the right things. Being a Christian is more than affirming the right things about God and the world, but finding and rooting themselves in the right place. To be a Christian is not to make a one-time decision but to reorient as a lifelong disciple of Jesus. Jesus didn’t go to the cross, suffer and die to purchase salvation for deciders but to purchase and redeem slaves to sin into the family of God to live new lives as disciples. To be a Christian is to be is someone whose whole identity is IN Christ.
You have given Jesus your sin and He has given you His righteous identity. It is an instant exchange of identity, but it is also a lifetime journey of progressively living out your new identity looking less and less like your former self and more like Jesus. We’ve named this series ABIDE because before Jesus went to the cross as He’s teaching what it means to be a Christian, to be a disciple He calls His disciples to “Abide in Him”. 1 John uses the word numerous time we should know and have a working definition. It is a rich word. ABIDE: To not depart, to be held and kept continually, to endure, to not perish, to remain as one, to survive, to live.
John 15:4-5 | 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
God’s desire for us is life. Life abundant and full. That is how He created the world from the beginning. Because of our sin and rejection of God as our king we have all been separated from the source of Life. Jesus comes into human history on a mission to redeem people from sin and separation and reestablish life connection between us and our Creator. Jesus preaches calling people from spiritual death to spiritual life and in doing He is saying “Abide in Me”. Like a branch cannot produce fruit when it’s been cut off sin has cut us off from the source. In Christ, we are to live as branches that “abide” (Be held and kept continually) with the vine who is Jesus. Jesus Abides in us (remains as one with us) because we are in him. We are together, but distinct (He is the vine we are the branches) We have been grafted into the vine and are part of the vine for a purpose, to bear fruit in our lives and the world. We as branches must remain (abide) in Jesus vine if we are going to produce anything. Without Jesus, spiritually (and eventually in physical death) we can produce nothing. Abide is the word Jesus uses John will use numerous times 1 John to describe what life with/in Christ looks like. Clarity is necessary because we are easily pulled and led to places of confusion and conflict.
Who is John? He was one of Jesus 12 disciples and part of the 3 who were closest to Jesus and likely was the one closest to Jesus. Jesus lived, traveled, taught, and served with these guys. John the author is as unique as the writings he produced. Church history attributes the Gospel of John, the three letters, and the book of Revelation to John. His three works give us a unique picture of the life OF Jesus (Gospel of John), our life in
Him as believers (Letters of John), and the future life with Him in eternity (Revelation). 1 John, is not like one of Paul’s letters (Ephesians, 1 Thess, etc) that has a robust greeting, introduction, and then linearly works from the truth of the Gospel in the front end and then Gospel implications on the back end (because the Gospel is true we now will….xyz) We like linear, yet life isn’t always so formulaic. John’s charge of the Gospel and it’s implications is no less faithful and profitable but the way it speaks to us is different. Rather than an
orderly theological and practical treatise in letter form what John writes to the church is more of a poetic sermon. I say poetic sermon because it doesn’t always have it’s intro, thee points, and conclusion. This is a sermon written to younger Christians by John in his 80’s maybe even 90’s. If you’re not a Christian hearing this know what is said is still for you and is all said in hopes that you will pledge allegiance to Jesus as your God and King. Since this is a sermon, it is meant to charge, convict, encourage, and stir affections. In the context of this sermon is real life of people living in History. Jesus has risen, ascended into Heaven, the church (God’s people) has begun to grow and spread, yet it is clear there is error, heresy, and defection from the truth by some people. John shows great contrast, at times uses some hyperbole but is all purposeful to show a clear distinction between those who are Christians and those who are not. Those in Christ will:
PART I | ABIDE in Gospel Truth | v1-2
1 John 1:1-2 | 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— .
From the Beginning- This letter starts like the Bible, begins starting with the beginning. John doesn’t start with John, he starts with the fundamental truth of the Gospel. In the beginning before me, before you, before anything else we hear, see, our touch was/is a Creator. There is something greater than creation alone. John doesn’t start with humanity but with God. Much of God is mysterious and unknown. As one eternal and infinite we as temporary and finite will not be able to comprehend. Like John’s Gospel account of the Life and mission of Jesus begins affirming Jesus divine identity. God is Jesus. Jesus is God. Jesus is the Word of Life.
John 1:1-4 | In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
Life Manifest- Verse 2 says "Life” was made manifest that means the life appeared. God the eternal, the infinite engages with His finite creation in time, in History, entering into Creation as Jesus Fully God and Fully Man. It is why Colossians say the fullness of God dwelled in Him. We know the character, nature of God as much as it is revealed to us in the person and work of Jesus. You want to know about God? Look at Jesus!
Heard Seen touched- God’s word has gone out through prophets but in Jesus God’s word has been “manifest” incarnated (in the flesh) to the world. Jesus came preaching and teaching because God’s word has power to convict, comfort, and change lives. John heard Jesus’ words, heard the Gospel of Jesus is King over all creation. God forgives sin in Jesus Alone. But John didn’t hear second hand or get report of what Jesus said. He heard because he saw Jesus. He was with Jesus, traveled with Jesus. Was called one of Jesus’ close
friends. Heard is good. Seen is great. Touched is unequivocal. THIS IS REAL! We don’t rely on experience alone for our faith because our experiences can be skewed; but we can have experiences that enforce and strengthen our certainty. Jesus wasn’t a spirit or just a good teacher, He is God. Gospel isn’t an idea or philosophy or worldview (though it impacts all of these) It is a historical event centered on, founded on, rooted on the incarnation of Jesus as God entering into history. The message isn’t about the message, but the embodiment of the message in Jesus Christ. If you look past Jesus, you miss the message entirely.
John says We, those disciples of Jesus who were eyewitnesses to the life and resurrection of Jesus. The Crew John ran with. While each of the apostles suffered martyrdom at various points, John has lived into old age even while suffering prison and being boiled alive. Now in the tail end of life, John is the last of the apostles and has great sense of urgency to share the truth of the Gospel and great sense of purpose to maintain the purity of the Gospel to avoid people being led into error. He’s preaching to the church to “testify”, to reinforce the historical reality of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, his best friend, and his God.
Testify is authority that comes from experience- John is a witness. We know much of what Jesus says because John told us. John (and his brother James, the Sons of Thunder) were called by Jesus around the time Peter was. John was there when Jesus turned water into wine, when sermons were preached, when demons were cast out. John was there when Jesus instituted communion foreshadowing His sacrificial death. When Jesus was arrested and crucified John looked up at Jesus and standing next to Mary heard Jesus tell him take care of my mom like she is your own mother. Jesus’ life had an impact on him. He a was Changed by Jesus grace. Has Jesus changed you? Is Jesus changing you? Where do you need to be changed?
Proclaim is authority that comes from commission- John is a missionary. He saw the resurrected Jesus who commissioned him, Peter, the other disciples to GO and make disciples of all nations. He worked with the early church planting, preaching, proclaiming the gospel. He is in this transitional time where he knows that all he has experienced in life with Jesus has not been solely for his personal edification. His life has had a purpose to share the Gospel with others. To pass on what he’s learned, what he KNOWS is true, and to call people richer fuller life with/in Christ that begins now and spans eternity. How has Jesus sent you?
Part II |ABIDE in Gospel Community | v3
1 John 1:3 | 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.
Proclamation of Gospel Truth, deep abiding in Gospel Truth, roots and grounds but it does not remain contained to us. The Gospel of Jesus has a result and that spreading is not to make individual converts but to call individual alienated sinners into full rich community and commune with God and His people.
Because of Sin, we are all son’s and daughters with various levels of father wounds. God is a Good and perfect Father. John, old enough to be a great grandfather, but is rooted in his Gospel identity as beloved son, looks down at future generations and wants them to experience the same depth of communion, abiding, fellowship he the apostles experienced. We don’t have a “less than” faith because the experience or feelings
are different. John has reminded them of the truth of Jesus incarnation to remind them the God who created them has engaged with them in Jesus. Not living in the historical period of the incarnation does not limit the wholeness and completeness of fellowship with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ because we (if in Christ) have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. John’s desire is that others would experience the same life with Christ and God the Father he has.
Fellowship is: Fellowship is participatory. We have a very domesticated view of the word fellowship that becomes little more than a time with some cookies and coffee where we chat about the week before heading out to our next week. Fellowship is sided by side work of Gospel mission. It is a co-laboring. It is collective celebration of what Jesus has done and is doing in our life. It isn’t just a loose affiliation that can be discarded easily like the communities and affiliations we have in and with the world. It not merely a school for biblical living/studies. It is a deep and rich partnership because of the Gospel. To abide in Christ is to abide (not depart, remain as one, be held by) Community. The alternative to this fellowship is to join the secessionist
who have formed a new community no longer based on the truth of the Jesus John heard, saw and touched. But one based on an image of Jesus they have created that is less than the true Jesus. This fellowship is distinct in that it is defined by those who are abiding in Jesus, so it is a Gospel Community. That means what holds it together is the Gospel and not personal preferences. It is held together by the fellowship with those who have fellowship with God the Father and Jesus the Son. To have fellowship with God, is to have fellowship with Jesus, AND to have fellowship with His people. This Abiding is life and joy producing.
Part III | ABIDE in Gospel Living | v4
1 John 1:4 | And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
Out of the overflow of Gospel Truth creating and forming a Gospel community, a product is produced. Gospel Living. That the Word from the begin that has spoken life into existence that came to dwell with His creation. Who spoke, lived, and died for His people, who resurrected from the dead promising new and eternal life abiding in Christ and His people will create in new life for His people now and forever. John is not preaching a cold, dead, sad, message of religious obedience so you will please God enough to be saved. His entire motivation in preaching is to breath life into people who are anxious and unsettled. He wants a culture of a Gospel Community who are active in Gospel Living marked by complete Joy.
Joy is not…. Circumstantial/Situational - Paul says “count it all Joy when you face trials” He was beaten and imprisoned. Joy can’t be a result of just where we find ourselves, because we will find ourselves in difficult and less than pleasant circumstances. Shallow- If you’re going to have joy to ABIDE in joy, you can’t endure if joy is something fleeting. Internal or individual- Because of sin you cannot simply look deeper in yourself and hope that will be a source of lasting joy. In fact, the more we look in ourselves or to ourselves for joy the less we will experience. Artificially Manufactured- Do not put on a happy face even when your heart is in despair and hope your attitude will change. Passive Positivity- I don’t have to move in obedience.
Joy is… Active Response- It is a disposition of moving in and through painful and difficult circumstances with a settled-ness that knows where you abide Produced- Must come from something external! It cannot be made by you, but it can be produced for you. Abiding in Jesus means we know and celebrate with Jesus has done, is doing, and will do in and through your life! New and renewing – True Joy changes us into new creations and continually renews us as our world and our flesh seek to erode our joy. Comprehensive- Mind, Heart, Soul it is not merely emotional, intellectual, spiritual but is capable of satisfying all of these areas of life. Strengthening – Unshakable, Enduring. It knows Jesus has secured victory from our defeat so it faces challenges accordingly. Communal- Joy is meant to be shared. Growing - The longer you Abide with Jesus the more joyful you will be.
As much as you try to find joy anything else but the eternal infinite God of the Universe made manifest in Jesus the Son you joy will not be complete, it will not remain. You cannot live if you are attempting to Abide in anything other than Jesus. Jesus calls all of us and says “Abide” We will have joy abiding in Him when we Trust Jesus.