Knowing What We Know 1 John 1:1-4
George Barna reports that in the U.S. over 90% of the population believes in a God or Gods that have power over the universe. Furthermore, when that same survey asked if all the world’s religions essentially prayed to the same God, 64% of the adult public agreed. In the Christian church, among those who called themselves evangelicals, 46% agreed, and among those who labeled themselves “born again” 48% agreed. Among adults who simply called themselves “regular church attenders”, 62% said that they believed all religions essentially prayed to the same God.
Gary M. Burge states, after reading this survey, “Within the Pews of America’s Churches” 2/3 of the people do not believe in the exclusive character of the Christian message and almost half of all evangelicals say the same. Is our time really any different from John’s time?
John one of the original disciples is most likely writing to churches in Asia Minor. John is writing to a church that has internal fighting about what they believe about Christ. There was a group that held that Jesus was a spirit who only appeared to have a body. They denied that he was fully human as well as fully God. They held that Jesus cast no shadow and He left no footprints. They held that he was God but denied His humanity. This belief was called Docetism from the Greek word “dokeo”. There was a group known as Gnostics; they believed that spiritual matter was good and physical matter was evil. They found it hard to believe in a savior who was fully human. John was writing to correct the churches understanding of Jesus and help them understand that He was fully human and fully God.
Our own modern times are not very different from John’s time. It is imperative that we know what we know. It is crucial in this age that we are firmly rooted and unmovable about what we believe about Christ and our relationship with him. Not long ago a book and movie called The Shack indicated that Jesus was one way of salvation, but not the only way of salvation. The movie had at least 13 heresies and gave the name of a Hindu god to the Holy Spirit. A large Christian broadcasting company even supported this heretical movie. In even in our own time we simply must know what we know. 1 John 1:1-4 offers some helpful advice on how to know what we know.
I. We must become established in our relationship with Christ. John writes from a well-established relationship with Jesus Christ. He had experienced Christ divinity; he had seen healings and miracles. He had seen Jesus’ humanity; he witnessed Jesus eat sleep, cry, bleed and die. John was a living witness of Jesus divinity and humanity. It is out of this deeply established relationship from which john writes. First, john writes that he has seen Jesus with his own eyes. The Greek word for “looked at” in verse 1 is “theomai” which means to gaze at or behold. It contains within it a dramatic and powerful sense. It has the idea of a spectacle seen in its full glory and wonder or having the ability to discern an inward glory. John was so deep and entrenched in his relationship with Christ that he had seen the glory of God. Secondly, John says that he has physically touched Jesus. The Greek word “touch” is “pselaphan” and it literally means to grope or feel to find something like blind man or one in the dark. John knows what he knows because he has seen the glory of God in Jesus and he has touched Jesus. John’s relationship runs deep. We are challenged to ask ourselves, how established are we in our relationship with Christ? Do we look for his glory every day? Do we continue to touch Him and look for Him like a we are desperately trying to find an object in the dark? We know what we know about Jesus by being deeply established in our relationship with Christ.
II. We must experience Christ to know what we know. Our experience of Christ should not be limited to a to a one-time salvation experience only. We must experience Christ daily. I like what the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness says, “morning by morning new mercies I see. John writes from his personal experience of physically seeing Jesus and experiencing Jesus. We become more settled and surer of knowing what we know as we experience Jesus daily in our life. When was the last time you experienced Jesus? When was the last time you saw him? When was the last time he appeared to you?
III. We must allow our relationship to energize our efforts Knowing what you know influences your efforts. John said that he was doing two things. He was testifying about Christ in verse 2 and he was proclaiming. Even in a world where the church was being split and internal fighting was going on over what they believed about Christ, John allowed his relationship with Christ to direct his efforts of testifying and proclaiming. Knowing what we know drives our efforts. Knowing what we know shapes our actions. It focuses you and I in our Christian walk. IV. Our relationship with Christ can produce great effects John mentions two things that came from knowing what you know: 1) fellowship 2) joy
If this church needed anything, it was fellowship. The Greek word is koinonia, having something in common and having its joy restored. Not only did John want the believer’s fellowship restored with one another, but he wanted their fellowship restored with the Father and Christ. Only this kind of relationship could make the church’s joy complete.