By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: 1 John 1-3
Key Scripture Verses: 1 John 1:4 (NIV, Life Application Bible) “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 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. We write this to make our joy complete.”
First John was written by the Apostle John whom scholars believe to be the “disciple whom Jesus loved” referred to in the gospel of John. Here John writes about Jesus with the intention of supporting Christians and assuring them of their salvation, to warn them to watch out for false teachers, and to witness to them as one who lived with and witnessed Jesus’ life and ministry. John had a close relationship with Jesus and knew and believed him to be the Messiah. He wrote this to a new generation of believers, writing this when he was much older. It is a personal testimony of his knowledge and experience with Jesus Christ. It is also a book about God’s love.
This book is particularly special to me, because when I first understood what it meant to be a Christian and confessed Jesus as my Lord and Savior, those who understood my new-found faith and desire to follow Jesus as his disciple encouraged me to read this book first to understand the basics, to ground me in a quick study of Jesus and salvation, and also to help me discern truth from false teaching. And it was great advice. It clarified a lot for me and helped me get started reading my Bible and developing my faith.
These cited scriptures tell of John’s first-hand experience with Jesus and that is powerful testimony to a new Christian, as well as to all Christians. John lived among the disciples and with Jesus. He witnessed his nature and his character, he witnessed miracles and grace, he witnessed the crucifixion, saw the empty tomb after Jesus rose from the dead, and he encountered the resurrected Christ when Jesus appeared to the disciples.
John knew that Jesus was the Christ and he wants to reassure Christians who were not living at that time and were not firsthand witnesses of Jesus can hear his testimony. John wants believers to be assured of the resurrection, to be assured of salvation and eternal life in Jesus. He wants us to know how much God loved us—that he sent Jesus to offer forgiveness of sin and grace so that we would never be separated from him ever again, that we would be able to have eternal life in his heavenly kingdom as members of his own family—brothers and sisters to Jesus whom would be heirs to all of the goodness of God’s love.
John says he wrote this so that we might also have fellowship with him and all believers—fellowship with the Father and the Son. John says that in including us in this fellowship, his “joy would be complete.” Thanks be to John and all of the gospel writers who by their inspired words have shared their testimony of Jesus so that we may know him, too.
Although we do not live among the human Jesus as John did, we can know him intimately, as well. Jesus is the living God whom we can know intimately through his Holy Spirit and through developing our faith by reading these words and the other scriptures in our Bibles.
It is the daily walk with Jesus that gives meaning to the Christian life and provides the spiritual nourishment to allow us to do his will and to become more like him. This is what the Christian life is meant to be. If we love him, we will live our lives in such a way as to become more Christ-like by spending time with him on a regular and ongoing basis. And one day, our joy will also be complete when we meet him face-to-face and we enjoy fellowship with him, the Father, the Holy Spirit, and all believers in his heavenly kingdom.
I’m a bit confused. I may not even be on the right track. My dilemma is in the believing that God and Jesus are the same. I do believe that Jesus is the son of God and have the whole hearted faith in his teachings. That he was sent here to be the teacher for those who needed something to ‘physically’ hold onto when their faith was stressed. My confusion comes in when the Bible makes reference to both separately, yet teachings now are that Jesus and God are the same. John 3:16 is an example. Your blog for today is another of how I’m confused. The Lord’s Prayer – for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son- If you have any way to help me understand the I would be grateful. Please don’t misunderstand what I’m trying to say – I have faith and obedience to both, but am having a hard time with the understanding they are the same.
Hi Sherry. I appreciate that you find the concept of the Trinity – God as one, yet three – a difficult one. Rest assured you are not alone in struggling to understand what the historic Church has called a “holy mystery.” I won’t attempt to fully answer your concern in this brief response to your question but maybe a few comments will help. One thing to remember is that God is not limited, as we are, in terms of how we exist in this universe. We can’t be one and yet three but the Church has always taught that, according to Scripture, God exists this way. Some have used examples from nature – such as how water can exist as liquid, steam, and ice – yet all are still water.
Another common example is how the Sun is light, radiation, and heat simultaneously, yet still is one Sun. These examples may help as long as we recognize their limitations. God is more than water or the Sun – God in fact, created both. We can never fully understand the amazing ways God exists and interacts with us. The Apostle Paul said, “Now we see in a glass darkly,” meaning some things we cannot fully understand this side of heaven – we take them on faith. But, maybe it helps to know that at the core of our faith there is this great truth: our loving God so desires a relationship with us that He has made a way to “become” like us – interacting with us – even indwelling in us as Holy Spirit. I don’t know if this helps you, but I encourage you to study this “holy mystery” more – and trust in faith – that God will help you understand it along your faith’s journey. Paul Simrell, Pastor
I like the examples you give me and yes I understand the difference and “limitations”, and as we both agree God has no limitations. I don’t feel that my faith has strayed, just wondering if the way I have believed in this ‘greatest earthly mystery’ has been correct. Not that I mean to say I put Jesus on the back burner. His teachings clarified what God wants from us. Just I wonder if I have misunderstood something. I will keep an open mind in the search, but, I pray my faith remains strong if not stronger. Thanks you again for your help.