The Fruit of Fellowship with Christ
A Series on the Fruit, Benefit, and the Joy of Walking With Christ
“Introduction to the First Epistle of John”
Last time we were together we looked at three of four major anchor points in our foundation to this letter of the Apostle John.
First, we looked at ...
ANCHOR POINT #1 – THE AUTHOR
When we examine the author of a writing in the scripture we look to two sources for the evidence of who did the writing. We looked at both external and internal evidence to determine the author of this particular writing.
External Evidence – various writers who quoted or used I John
Internal Evidence – from style, to authority, to similarities between I JOHN and the Gospel of John
When one looks carefully at all the external evidence and testimony and look closely at the internal evidence in this letter, we are able to conclude confidently that the Apostle John is the author of this letter.
This is important for at least two reasons:
· written by an apostle it passes the test of being “inspired” and authoritative. This letter is from God through John. It isn’t something someone “made up.” Therefore, we need to know it and obey the principles that are contained in it.
· being written by John we can confidently trust it to be accurate and yet binding upon us and we need to submit to its truths and principles. The claims of immediate knowledge of fundamental facts of the gospel can be trusted.
So, the first anchor point in our foundation is that John is the author of our letter.
[Second, we looked last week at…]
Anchor Point #2 - The Audience
We asked ourselves what difference would it make to us who the audience is or who were the readers of this letter?
Knowing who John wrote to can help us understand why John wrote his letter and why he wrote what he wrote. When we know who the recipients are, it becomes easier to determine what the author is saying to us.
So, the second anchor point in our foundations is that the gentile churches of Asia were the recipients of this letter by the Apostle John.
[Thirdly, we looked at…]
Anchor Point #3 - The Age
There are no indications in the letter to set a definite time for its writing.The tone of the letter does indicate than an old or older man was writing to younger generation. John came to Ephesus after the death of Paul and worked there for a number of years. (Possibly 25 yrs.)
Since he makes no reference to a major and catastrophic event like the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple, he must have written so long after those events that they are not considered worth mentioning.
Since there is no mention of active persecution by the Roman government, it must have been written before or at the end of Domitian’s reign. (51 – 95 AD)
This gives us an approximate date – John probably wrote this letter shortly after he wrote his gospel, around AD 95.
Since John died around AD 95-99, and if John is the author, then He would have had to write it prior to AD 99.
So last week, we were able to make a number of educated and somewhat documented determinations as to who the author of this letter was, who the intended audience was, and the approximate date that this letter was written.
What were those determinations? The author is John the apostle, the audience is the churches of Asia, and the age of the letter is around AD 95 or 96.
[Now, we move to the fourth and final anchor point…]
Anchor Point #4 - The Argument
Let’s look at the final anchor point in our foundation.
These first three anchor points are very important, but this last one is possibly more important. Knowing why it was written speaks to how we can apply and use this letter in our lives today in a very practical way.
[In other words, why did John write this letter? Let’s examine four (4) building blocks that support John’s argument or purpose for writing this letter.]
[The first building block is that…]
- We can conclusively say that we are not left in the dark about why John wrote this letter.
John is clear about his purpose! We can discover his purpose with a careful examination of this letter.
[The second building block is that…]
- John’s overall and basic reason for writing is for the practical edification of his “children in the true faith and life as Christians.”
John wanted these believers to be mature in their faith.
[The third building block is that…]
purpose seems to stem from two dangers looming on the horizon and coming at these churches:
[First danger looming on the horizon is…]
- An impending danger of merging Christianity with the current form of paganism of the day
We see this happening today – there is a blatant attempt to merge historic & biblical Christianity with mysticism, both old and new age.
The Emergent Church is just one more attempt by the enemy to merge mysticism with Christianity
The term 'Emerging Church' is used to describe a broad, controversial movement that seeks to use culturally sensitive approaches to reach the postmodern, un-churched population with the Christian message.
Some Emerging Churches might use props such as candles, statues, and incense along with poems, open mics, and videos, etc.
Emerging Church services are sometimes extremely informal, while others are more formal.
Emerging Churches seek to reach the lost by focusing on relationships and developing a "story," a "journey of life" that is expressed through the "narrative" of learning
Some characteristics are:
1. An awareness of and attempt to reach those in the changing postmodern culture.
2. An attempt to use technology, i.e., video, slide shows, internet.
3. A broader approach to worship using candles, icons, images, sounds, or smells
4. An inclusive approach to various, sometimes contradictory belief systems.
5. An emphasis on experience and feelings over absolutes.
6. Concentration on relationship-building over proclamation of the gospel.
7. Shunning stale traditionalism in worship, church seating, music, etc.
8. A de-emphasis on absolutes and doctrinal creeds
9. A re-evaluation of the place of the Christian church in society.
10. A re-examination of the Bible and its teachings.
11. A re-evaluation of traditionally-held doctrines.
12. A re-evaluation of the place of Christianity in the world.
[A Second danger looming on the horizon is…]
- An impending danger of failing to present an adequate Christian apologetic defending the fundamental principles of Christianity – what is biblical Christianity?
[The fourth building block tells us that…]
- John wrote for four (4) specific reasons:
[The first specific reason John wrote was…]
- To enhance his joy in Christ (1:4)
John is anxious that these believers fully enjoy their Christian life. As they enjoy their Christianity John receives John from this. So many people do not enjoy Christ or their faith. Being a Christian is not a sentence to gloom. God has promised us joy, joy that is indescribable.
Joy is not the same thing as happiness. Most Christians just want to be happy. Happy is predicated on circumstances. Joy is predicated upon a right relationship with Christ Jesus
John is anxious that they will share fully the joys of the Christian life and that their joy is not ruined by the allurements of the world or by false doctrine. Satan knows how to use the allurements of this world to make even Christians dissatisfied and unhappy with their life, with what they have or don’t have.
[The second specific reason that John wrote was…]
- To keep his readers from sin (2:1)
[The third specific reason that John wrote was…]
- To ground them in the assurance of their salvation (5:13)
[John’s gospel says something similar in his gospel…]
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book, but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31, ESV)
The gospel and this letter are complementary in purpose. John wants to lead men to Christ & develop their faith in both letters.
[The fourth specific reason that John wrote was…]
- To warn his readers against false doctrine (2:26)
John is clearly intent upon refuting doctrinal errors which are threatening the churches. The doctrinal safety of John’s readers is his chief aim.
[So, let’s wrap this up shall we?]
There are our four anchor points in this foundation of our introduction: The author is John, the audience is the churches of Asia, the age is around AD 95, and the argument is for the practical and spiritual welfare of the Christians in each of these churches.
The Insights – “what do we learn from this study?”
1. Since this letter is written by the Apostle John it is both authoritative & binding in our lives.
2. Since your joy in Christ is under the same attack today by the enemy, it is important that you learn and implement the principles in this letter.
3. Since, learning who the author is, who the audience is, the age (when t was written), and what the argument of the letter is, you can have great confidence that this letter is truly an inspired work of God and not the product of an impostor or unauthorized writer.
The Implication – “what do you do with this truth?”
Simply knowing that Jesus has moved into “the neighborhood” is not the same thing as living like God has moved into your neighborhood.
Said a little bit differently, you may know God is near, but how do you interact with God? What changes will you make as a result of now knowing today’s truth?
1. Stay with this study and dig out of it the biblical principles that are binding in our lives and implement them by the grace of God for His Glory.
2. Give praise and thanks to God for providing and preserving for us the truths of this letter in order to better live our lives for God and His glory.
3. Read this letter at least thirty (30) times in preparation for this study. It is best to read it once a day for thirty straight days. (Don’t make this a legalistic or binding) As you read it thirty times you will get a real feel and appreciation for the simplicity, accuracy, and practical this letter is for your everyday life.