Eyewitness: “I Was There”

“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.” (1 John 1:1)

For the next few days, we’re going to listen to the eyewitness testimony of the apostle John. He will make, as he does in other parts of the Bible, an outrageous claim about the man called Jesus – that he is the Son of God, the path to a relationship with the Father, the one hope for forgiveness and eternity in heaven.

eye_350He opens with his strongest piece of evidence: “I was there. I saw it with my own eyes. I heard him with my own ears. I touched him with my own hands.” Jesus’ biography in the gospels tell us that John saw Jesus dying on the cross and that he saw him alive again after death. In fact, John described himself as the disciple Jesus loved, maybe Christ’s closest human friend.

John isn’t just a lawyer making the case for Christianity; he’s the witness in the stand. He tells us what he saw and what it means – why his glimpse of that key moment in the history of the world makes him qualified to proclaim the message of eternal life.

Stay tuned.

Think: How much more credibility do you give to an eyewitness than to somebody who is telling about something they heard from someone else? Why?

Pray: Thank God for John’s first-hand account of Jesus, the Savior.

Do: Read through 1 John 1 once or twice to get ready to think about the chapter this week.

Eyewitness: The Life Appeared

“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.” (1 John 1:2)

Today’s verse reminds me of Christmas, of Immanuel, of “God with us.”

eye_350Did God need to show up in person to make eternal life possible for us? Did he need to come in human flesh and walk on the ground and get sweaty and breathe hard with flesh-and-blood lungs? I suppose God could have accomplished his purposes anyway he wanted to, but his plan was to make it personal. He sent the the lone gateway to eternal life to make eye contact with us, to shake our hands, to wash our feet.

John saw “it” – the path to salvation – with his own eyeballs, just as God intended. John was one of our representatives for contact with eternity and his mission was to tell as many people what he saw as possible, including you and me.

Think: What does it mean to you personally that God was here in person as a human being, that Jesus lived here and died here and lived again? Why do you think that’s so much more valuable than if God had made a way for us to be saved “remotely”?

Pray: Thank God for sending Jesus to be with us in flesh and blood. Thank him that because of Jesus you can one day be with God in person, too.

Do: Because of the Internet and our mobile devices, we can participate in so many things now without actually being there. Make a quick list of five big events that still require us to show up in person to participate in.

Eyewitness: This Way to Fellowship

“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.” (1 John 1:3)

John didn’t tell the story of what he’d seen – the story of Jesus – just to impress people because he was there. He wasn’t trying to increase his own status. He did it to invite people to join him and to be joined with God.

eye_350Here’s a lame metaphor: If God had a Facebook account, the only way to be his friend would be to become friends with Jesus. And John’s message as a close friend of Jesus was that everyone could become the Savior’s friend and be included in the family of God through faith in Jesus’ claim to be God’s Son and our only hope for salvation.

And once included in the friendship (or fellowship or “familyship”) of God we suddenly discover that we have fellowship with everyone else who has trusted in Christ’s death in their place for salvation. We have Christian friends – family – in every corner of the earth.

Think: What do you personally gain by being in fellowship with the Father, His Son, and all those who are truly Christians? How aware are you of being plugged into that network?

Pray: Thank God that you have fellowship with God and his people through faith in Jesus Christ.

Do: Next time you look at your Facebook account – if you have one – think about being included in the fellowship network of all of God’s “friends.” And then stop thinking about that, because it really is a lame metaphor. (Or is it an analogy? I can never keep those straight.)

Eyewitness: Telling for Joy

“We write this to make our joy complete.” (1 John 1:4)

Sometimes short, simple verses like this one tell us way more than we expect.

eye_350After three densely packed verses about John’s unique perspective as an eyewitness of eternal life – and what that means for those of us who believe – he adds this little sentence about joy.

He tells his story to make our joy complete. We can take “our” to mean, I think, everyone in fellowship together with the Father, the Son, and each other. To tell others about the salvation available through faith in Christ – and then to see them accept the gift and join the family – completes the joy of everyone involved.

We can also find joy in telling the story of Jesus, telling our story of how he saved us, how we found eternal life in him. We all say that we want to be happy; this is one of the ways God provides for us to experience something even greater.

Think: Have you ever experienced the joy of seeing someone respond to the message of Jesus by trusting in him for salvation? Why do you think that can be such a joyful experience?

Pray: Ask God to help you to find joy in telling others about the path to eternal life through faith in Jesus.

Do: Read more about John’s joyful response to those who hear and act on his message in 3 John 1-4.

Eyewitness: Can’t See Without God

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.” (1 John 1:5-6)

Lots of people these days claim to be spiritual, to believe in God, to be connected to him. It’s easy to use that kind of language, and it feels good to talk about God’s love and his energy and having a sense of connectedness with the great divine.

eye_350But some of those people are lying, and John is calling them out. He knows the truth about what it really means to be connected to God because he got it first-hand from Jesus, God’s Son. Without Jesus, we’re not connected no matter what we say. Without Jesus, we’re in the darkness.

How can you tell if someone is in the light or in the darkness? For one thing, John will reveal, that person won’t keep on continuing in their sin as if God and sin could just hang out together. To sin is to be in the darkness; to be in fellowship with God, the light, leaves no room for walking in sin.

And we all sin. (More tomorrow.)

Think: How do you visualize the idea that God is light with no darkness at all?

Pray: Thank God that he is light and there is no darkness in him.

Do: Notice the difference in your room tonight between what you can “know” about your room with the lights on and with them off. Notice how light reveals the reality of the space in your room.

Eyewitness: Light and Blood

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)

Here’s the difference between religion and being in fellowship with the one, true God: Religion is all about trying to be bright enough to get noticed by your idea of God, trying to be good enough to be acceptable to him so he will do good things for you or let you into heaven.

eye_350Christianity – being in fellowship with God through faith in Jesus – is about walking in God’s light, not your own. It’s about saying, “I live in darkness; I have no light of my own. To find light, I’m going to have to move closer to him.”

One problem: Sin. Our sin is darkness. To walk in God’s light, we need to be cleansed of our sin. Again, though, we can’t clean ourselves. (That would be religion, paying for our own sin.) Nope, Jesus’ blood is what cleans the sin out of us; it’s what pays for every last drop of our darkness. When we trust in his death, his blood for our sin, we gain access to the light.

Think: Do you ever catch yourself thinking that you need to be a light, that you need to be good enough on your own to earn God’s love and acceptance of you? What’s wrong with that idea?

Pray: Thank God that the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies from all sin those who trust in him.

Do: Look up the definitions of light and dark in a dictionary.

Eyewitness: I Did It

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9)

Three of the most important words in any Christian’s life are these: “I did it.” Or, “I was wrong.” As hard as those words may be to say, without them we cannot have an honest relationship with God. Why? Because Christians sin.

eye_350We are saved from the eternal consequences of our sin. Jesus died for our sin. All of our sins are forgiven through faith in him. But, still, we continue to give in to sin on some level, even as we’re growing in Christ.

The difference is that now we know it. Now we can say out loud to ourselves and to God, “I lied, and that was wrong.” “I returned evil for evil; that was wrong.” “I cheated on the assignment; that was wrong.”

If confession of sin to God is not a regular part of your life, you might be missing out on the closeness with God that’s available to us. God forgives. Confession is an act of humility that draws us near to him and him to us.

Let’s not keep him at a distance by pretending not to notice our own sinful choices.

Think: How often do you admit specific sin to God? Why would we ever choose not to be honest with him about our sin? What’s the value in regular confession of the specific sins we commit?

Pray: Ask God to keep reminding you to confess your sin to him. Thank him for his forgiveness and for his promise to purify us from all unrighteousness through the blood of Jesus.

Do: If it’s not something you regularly do, make a point this week to confess to God any sin you catch yourself taking part in.