1 John: A NEW Kind of Life 08/09/20

Message Title: ‘A NEW Kind of Life’                   Text: 1 John 1:1-4

Intro: In 2000 Bon Jovi released a song titled ‘It’s My Life.’ The chorus goes like this:

  • It’s my life It’s now or never. I ain’t gonna live forever. I just want to live while I’m alive (It’s my life) My heart is like an open highway
    Like Frankie said I did it my way. I just want to live while I’m alive. It’s my life (Keith Walker)

What I think Jon Bon Jovi wanted to say was that there’s a huge difference between just existing and living. And that it was his desire to live life to the fullest, because after you’re dead, you’re done living.

  • And I have to say that song has some truth to it.

Let me ask you… Since the beginning of 2020, have you been just existing or living? Consider what LIFE has thrown us this year:

  • COVID-19 Pandemic: Fear, panic, lockdown, shelter at home, isolation, sickness, death, executive orders regulating our coming and going. Don’t wear a mask, require mask wearing, social distance, don’t sing in church. What, who are we to believe?
  • Politics has morphed into an exclusively  partisan, hateful, vengeful, name calling, irrational, platform for elected officials promoting personal agendas before public concerns.
  • Social media was a fun place to keep in touch with family and friends with an abundance of ‘cute’ animal videos, now it’s a place where you’ll be verbally abused and ridiculed if you have a contrary opinion to someone who is your ‘friend.’ Leading to the worst of all fears… being ‘unfriended.’
  • The stock market… went from 29,000 to around 17,000 almost overnight. 401K’s plummeted. And all of us who are even somewhat close to retirement fear that we’ll have to work till we’re in our 90’s… if we live that long. 
  • The workplace has drastically changed, hasn’t it. Most companies that are still open are having employees work from home. While that is better than being laid off, those who have small children are still struggling to keep up.
  • Schools have closed.. many indefinitely. Today there are parents who want their kids in school 5 days a week and others who don’t think that’s safe…

And again, what happens when employers tell parents with small children, they need to return to the office if schools do not reopen?

  • Unemployment… at its height, around 30 million people were out of work. Many companies have or will close as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns. Possibly leaving millions w/o jobs.
  • Social unrest… the racial divide, seems to be growing deeper. Power, fear, peaceful protests turned  violent, willful destruction of property and life. The defunding and now in some places the abolition of police departments has some happy, some fearful and some… just angry. Much of this seems to be fueled by something more than just justice and equality.

I’m exhausted just going through all of that.  But wait…  there’s more:

  • A tropical storm, I can’t pronounce, has ravished Monmouth and Ocean counties leaving most w/o power and internet… many still today do not have either.

Look, we often reminisce over returning to the ‘good life’ when things change with our current situation. What is that ‘good life?’ And when was it? Can we ever have it again?

  • Or have we resigned ourselves to the new normal of just existing rather than truly living?

I’m not saying that we should join Jon Bon Jovi in singing: It’s my life. It’s now or never. Because I believe there’s another option.

  • You see, it doesn’t have to be now or never.
  • Through faith in Jesus, we can have life.. now and forever.

And it’s for that reason that I’m starting a new sermon series in 1 John titled ‘A NEW kind of life.’

Background: So, a new book in the Bible a new context to establish. So, here are the quick basics of 1 John.

  • Although John’s name isn’t mentioned, it’s regarded by scholars to have been written by John the apostle, not John the Baptist.
  • It’s one of, if not the last book written, in the NT, perhaps sometime around 95ad.
  • Because it doesn’t’ list a specific church, it’s considered a General Letter.
  • Remember that John the apostle, knew Jesus, lived with Jesus and was a very close follower of Jesus. In other words, John had a relationship with Jesus.
  • John wrote the book at a time when society and the church were in upheaval.

False teachers were infiltrating the local church. The pagan culture was sexually charged, human wisdom was regarded as the highest attribute, and the exaltation of human ability was rampant.

John, the person, is a study of opposites. And this is very important to understanding how the NEW kind of life in Jesus happens and what it looks like and is lived out.

  • If you remember, John and his brother James were called ‘Sons of Thunder.’ It’s because they were selfishly ambitious, antagonistic, hot headed, impulsive and not very caring of others in the 12 apostles or those outside their group.
  • Later, as John lived and traveled with Jesus, he changed… he was now compassionate, humble, gentle, gracious… and loving. In fact he’s singled out from all the other apostles as ‘the apostle of love’.

What was it that changed his life?……. Jesus.

Theologically,

  • John deals with certainties, not opinion.
  • He tells of the character of the NEW kind of life in Jesus in very simple, easy to understand terms.
  • He writes with authority and is committed to absolutes, unlike many in the church today.

Look, the milieu in the church at large today is one of compromise, a lack of conviction, permissiveness, a teaching and practice that the Bible is not absolute and is open for just about any and all interpretations that might fit your mood and fancy of the day.

  • It was the same in John’s day and when he writes he pulls no punches when it comes to Biblical truth and practice.

In 1 John, he confronts the laxity, the shallowness of belief among those who profess faith in Jesus.

  • Nothing in 1 John is vague, nothing is ambiguous.
  • He holds firmly to the absolute truth which includes the entire Bible, not just the parts we like.

Finally, Don Anderson writes that John wrote 3 books:

  • The Gospel of John points back to the past and paints the picture of who Jesus is.
  • The Book of Revelation points to the future and tells us what is yet to come.
  • The Book of 1 John points to the present and shows us what the New kind of life in Jesus looks like.

And in verses 1-4 of chapter 1, we’ll see that we don’t need to settle for just existing. We can have a  NEW kind of life through experiencing a relationship with Jesus.

Transition: Open your Bibles to 1 John 1:1

1. 1 John 1:1  Experience the Eternal One

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

John starts 1 John like he did his Gospel:

  • 1 John 1:1 That which was from the very beginning
  • John 1:1–2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

Scholars are divided as to the meaning of the word beginning.

  • Some say it refers to Jesus being eternal.
  • Others say it refers to what John had said from the very beginning of his writings about Jesus.

I hold to the former, since the similarities between John 1:1-2 and 1 John 1:1 are too great.

You see, John wanted his readers to know that Jesus was eternal, and at the same time God in the flesh, incarnate, human…We see that when he described the apostles physical interactions with Jesus:

  • which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands…

Make no mistake, John and the other apostles experienced in a very real and physical way, Almighty God in their midst.

  • Jesus, the Eternal God, incarnate, flesh and blood.

And, when John described Jesus as the Word of Life, he was declaring that this very same Jesus, God incarnate, the One he heard, seen, looked upon and touched… was the originator of life.

Again, remember back to John 1:1-4

  • In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

John starts off this letter by stating, very deliberately, that the NEW kind of life originates in Jesus and only Jesus.

By application, the amazing thing I see here is that we don’t have to just exist.

  • We; ordinary, finite human beings, can truly live, when we experience the Awesome God who created and sustains us by His grace.

2. 1 John 1:2  Experience eternal life

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

Life, in verse 1, life 2 times in verse 2. Life is of extreme importance to the apostle John and it should be to all of us as well.

Here, John extends his discussion of the NEW kind of life by adding the word eternal. His purpose is to  connect the person who originates life in verse 1 (the eternal Jesus) with the quality of that life in verse 2… eternal.

  • Shutting down Jon Bon Jovi’s song that says  It’s my life. It’s now or never. And effectively changing it to ‘It’s eternal life, now and forever!’

John, again talks about the physical aspects of experiencing eternal life through Jesus.

  • God manifested (revealed) Jesus as the ONE who gives, not just life, but eternal life… Now on earth, and forever in heaven.

What this means is that the NEW kind of life through faith in Jesus, is a life that shares, in some respects, Jesus’ divine attribute of being eternal.

John explained how that NEW kind of life happens by faith, in John 1:12-13 and again in John 3:16:

  • John 1:12–13 But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
  • John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

To put it another way,

  • We have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus.
  • Because of that relationship, we experience not just life here on earth, but eternal life, in heaven with Jesus, that lasts even when we die.

Oh and one more thing.

  • That eternal life that God offers through faith in Jesus, is not just about a future duration of time, but of the nature of our relationship with God here on earth.
  • It’s intimate, personal, ongoing just like it is with God the Father and Jesus, God the Son.

How’s that for a quality of life? Sure beats just existing from one crisis to another.

3. 1 John 1:3  Experience belonging

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.

Again, John takes the NEW kind of life and peels away another layer of truth.

  • That this life, this eternal life that comes through faith in Jesus,
  • has the power to unite not only all of those who believe in Jesus,
  • but to actually unite us with Jesus.

John uses the word fellowship, but the practical application of that is the idea of belonging.

  • Through faith in Jesus, the eternal God, we are now, forever, part of a very specific family, the Family of God
  • Where we are brothers and sisters with fellow Christians.
  • We are brothers and sisters with Jesus.
  • And sons and daughters to God, our Father.

We belong to God, we belong to each other. And  we nurture that belonging, through fellowship, through community, and through spending time together. 

  • Let me add here that church is not a place you go to, it’s a family you belong to.

So, what does fellowship, community, belonging look like, in the NEW kind of life Jesus offers?

  • It’s having common interests.
  • It’s friendliness.
  • It’s companionship.
  • It’s sharing.
  • It’s helping.
  • It’s understanding.
  • It’s being a part of someone’s life.
  • It’s sacrificing for the good of others.
  • It’s serving.
  • It’s forgiving.
  • It’s rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn.
  • It’s praying for and with others.

And that’s just fellowship with others. What about fellowship with Jesus and the Father? What does that look like?

  • It’s worship; both private and corporate.
  • It’s passion for the things of God.
  • It’s a desire to walk faithfully before Him.
  • It’s obedience to all of His Word.
  • It’s studying to know and understand God’s Word.
  • It’s communion with God through prayer.
  • It’s a love for God that knows no rival.
  • It’s serving God.
  • It’s making sacrifices to further God’s kingdom.
  • It’s making Jesus not just a part of your life, but your life (period) since He’s the one who gives you life, eternal life.

And here’s one of the amazing things about this NEW kind of life and the fellowship it offers:

  • We can experience it when life around us is overwhelming, is restrictive, is hurtful, even  out of control…

We have each other, we have Jesus, we have God the Father… who enables us to live life… together.

And might I add, abundantly, with many blessings.

Look, hasn’t that been true? Even during all that I mentioned earlier that has made 2020 a very difficult and challenging year, God has blessed His people…God has blessed you, as you walked in fellowship with Him and with other followers of Jesus Christ.

Without that amazing fellowship, we would have been just existing from one crisis to another.

4. 1 John 1:4  Experience true joy

And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

John wrote 1 John is a time of crisis. Life wasn’t easy for John and other faithful Christians. Yet, John tells us that the NEW kind of life Jesus offers.. is joy-full.

  • No mater what you may be experiencing around you, you can experience joy.

This joy is not happiness and being excited.

  • It’s a deep rooted assurance and contentment that you belong to God through faith in Jesus.
  • It supersedes happiness which is based on circumstances that change often.
  • It’s based on a God who never changes.

For you math type people, here is the Biblical equation of 1 John 1:1-4

  • The eternal Jesus + eternal life + belonging = joy.

So look, when there is consistently no joy in your life, there are three places to look:

  • Are you in a relationship with God though faith in the eternal Jesus?
  • Are you fellowshipping with other Christians
  • Are you fellowshipping with Jesus?

Dear Christian, so many of us are living lives without joy, we’re content to just exist. And one of the reasons is a lack of fellowship with Jesus or with other Christians.

  • We were created for fellowship.
  • We were saved to belong to the family of God.
  • We are charged to be a part of a local church community.

When that’s missing, so is our joy… and we move from living… to just existing.

Conclusion: Look, we’re all struggling to keep our heads above water today. Life in 2020 certainly has not been what we expected or wanted. But the reality is, there’s very little we can do about it.

That doesn’t mean as Christians we put out head in the sand. But it does means that we need to look at our life in a fresh way.

The apostle John, has given us the beginnings of what the NEW kind of life through faith in Jesus looks like. And the last thing he wrote in verse 4 was that we can experience joy… even in 2020.

We’ve had to go through a lot of ups and downs, mostly downs this year, and we’ve felt overwhelmed by our circumstances and unsure of what direction to go. Can I offer some assistance?

  • No matter what the circumstances, God calls us to consistency in our walk of faith.
  • He calls us to recognize and nurture the NEW life He has given to us through faith in Jesus.

Look, John started out selfish, arrogant and prideful. His encounter with and ongoing experience of Jesus’ life transformed him into ‘the apostle of love’, even though life wasn’t easy for him.

If life is just existing for you. If you have yet to place your faith in Jesus to forgive your sin and give you eternal life… do it right now.

If you’ve already done that but have, you know, slipped away a bit, renew and restore your fellowship with Jesus and with other Christians … find a church community, to belong to,

  • and… LIVE!