The Fruit of Fellowship with Christ
A Series on the Fruit, Benefit, & the Joy of Walking With Christ
“Introduction to the First Epistle of John”(Part III)
The Appetizer – let’s stimulate interest
After Ma-Ma and Dada, what is the next word a baby learns?
Human beings are wired to want to know the whys of everything and anything.
Why helps us to understand – to validate – to implement
The Adaptation – let’s adapt the appetizer to our lesson
Tonight I intend to share with you the argument or the reasons why John wrote this letter to these various churches. Knowing why helps us to understand and interpret the truths contained in this book. Knowing this information enables us to correctly apply the divinely inspired material contained in this letter.
The Argument – let’s discover the main idea of our lesson
This letter was written by the Apostle John to the churches of Asia under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit around AD 85-90 for the spiritual welfare of God’s children. Therefore, it needs to be carefully studied, learned, and applied by each one of us today.
The Aim – the change you need to make as a result of this lesson
I challenge you to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of this letter by knowing the reason why it was written and to appropriate the benefits of knowing why John wrote this letter.
[So, let’s take a minute and review…]
Last week we examined three (3) elements in our introduction to this letter. The first…
1A Element – THE AUTHOR
1B External Evidence – various writers who quoted or used I JN
2B Internal Evidence – from style, to authority, to similarities between I JN 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:
being 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 element demonstrates that the Apostle John is the author of our letter.
[Second, we looked last week at the second…]
2A Element - 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.
We saw in our examination that the gentile churches of Asia were the recipients of this letter by the Apostle John.
[We then examined the third…]
3A Element - 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.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
[Now, we move to the fourth and final element of our introduction. We are going to examine the…]
4A Element - The Argument
[Let’s look at the final element of our introduction.]
These first three elements are very important, but this last element is possibly the most important. Knowing why it was written speaks to how we can apply and use the truths or principles of 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) principles that support John’s argument or purpose for writing this letter.]
[The first principle is that…]
1B We can conclusively say that we are not left in the dark about why John wrote this letter. In other words, John is clear about his purpose! We can discover his purpose with a careful examination of this letter.
[The principle is that…]
2B John’s overall and basic reason for writing is for the practical edification of his “children in the true faith and life as Christians.” In other words, John wanted these believers to be mature in their faith.
[The third principle is that…]
3B John’s purpose seems to stem from two dangers looming on the horizon and coming at these churches:
[First danger looming on the horizon is…]
1C 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 mysticism.
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 of merging Christianity with the current form of paganism of the day are having and maintaining:
1. An awareness of and attempting to reach those in the changing postmodern culture by assimilating or imitating the culture.
2. An attempt to use technology, i.e., video, slide shows, internet to “teach” or “instruct”, rather than simply using the written Word.
3. A broader approach to worship using candles, icons, images, sounds, smells, etc, in an informal setting rather than a traditional meeting place.
4. An inclusive approach to various and sometimes contradictory belief systems. In other words, this emergent postmodern approach is eclectic. It includes religious dogma rather than being exclusive.
5. An emphasis on experience and feelings rather absolutes.
6. Concentration on relationship-building over confrontational proclamation of the gospel.
7. Shunning and viewing in worship, church seating, music, etc. as stale traditionalism
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…]
2C An impending danger of failing to present an adequate Christian apologetic defending the fundamental principles of Christianity – IOW what is biblical Christianity?
[The fourth principle tells us that…]
4B John wrote his letter for four (4) specific reasons:
[The first specific reason John wrote was…]
1C To enhance his joy in Christ (1:4)
“And we write these things so that our joy may be complete.
John is anxious that they fully enjoy their Christian life
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…]
2C To keep his readers from sin (2:1)
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you many not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus the Christ the righteous
[The third specific reason that John wrote was…]
3C To ground them in the assurance of their salvation (5:13)
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you many know that you have eternal life.
[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…]
4C To warn his readers against false doctrine (2:26)
I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.
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?]
We have taken two weeks to carefully examine four elements 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 it 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 your life and implement them by the grace of God for His Glory.
2. Give praise and thanks to God for providing and preserving for you the truths of this letter in order to better live your lives for God and His glory.