Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Back to the Future with the Apostle John

We’ve just started a new series on 1 John in our Wednesday night Bible study. We hurried through the first four verses tonight.

The facts established by John in these verses are not only foundational for this epistle, but for Christianity. There are interwoven themes in 1 John 1:1-4 that are non-negotiable pillars of the Gospel. These essentials include the physical reality of Christ in His life, death and resurrection, the proclamation of the life-giving Word and the fellowship of believers throughout eternity. This fellowship is not only with the Apostles (which is exciting on its own), but with the Father and the Son!

There is so much that could be said about these verses, but something came together tonight that I thought was worth blogging about. It is well established that John’s phrase “That which was from the beginning” in verse 1 refers back to Genesis 1:1 (through John 1:1). The eternal, uncreated Creator took on flesh and lived among men. God, who created time, broke into time and lived for a while in the Roman Empire. This historical reality was so significant that the eyewitness testimony to this Person changes lives. To hear and believe this story is to be brought from light to darkness, from death to life. This is more than a story, it is transformational history.

The “Back to the Future” part of these verses is that if a person hears and believes this transformational history, eternity is brought from the future and eternal life is granted. Our Lord said, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). This is John’s point: If you believe the eyewitness testimony (the transformational history), you will receive eternal life. This is true whether you believe the testimony of the Apostles 30 years after the events or 2000 years after the events. As Peter says, we have the Word “made more certain” because this testimony has been established in Scripture as the writers were “carried along by the Holy Spirit” (quotes from 2 Peter 1:19, 21, NIV).

For the believer, this means that both the past and the future have incalculable significance for today. The righteous life of Christ, His death and resurrection are not just historical facts (though everything hinges on them being historical facts); they are our source of life. Likewise, Heaven is not just a remote, future place; eternal life begins now as we have fellowship with the Father and the Son.

D. A. Carson says that local churches are to be “outposts of Heaven.” As Christ’s body and God’s temple, we are to illustrate to a watching world what Heaven is like. The future breaks into the present and we have “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8) because of our sure hope. Is your church like that? Is my church like that? It should be if we do indeed have fellowship right now with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

People in our world live for the moment. I’ve heard people say, “What does the past matter?” and “Tomorrow is nothing until it happens.” John would beg to differ. The Gospel amplifies the one particularly crucial part of the past, and this transformational history makes the future secure and glorious. Right now counts for eternity because the Final Word has come in history and He lives forever with and for the Church, His Bride.

Doesn’t this truth make your present situation come alive? John said that he wrote these glorious truths to make our joy complete. The past and the future are filled with significance when understood in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

1 comment:

Terry Stauffer said...

I think my comments are working now