A Living Epistle!
HE IS ALIVE!
The purpose of this writing is to enrich the reader, as with precious Spiritual gemstones.
1 John 1: 1-4 ampc
1 [We are writing] about the Word of Life [[a]in] Him Who existed from the beginning, Whom we have heard, Whom we have seen with our [own] eyes, Whom we have gazed upon [for ourselves] and have touched with our [own] hands.
2 And the Life [[b]an aspect of His being] was revealed (made manifest, demonstrated), and we saw [as eyewitnesses] and are testifying to and declare to you the Life, the eternal Life [[c]in Him] Who already existed with the Father and Who [actually] was made visible (was revealed) to us [His followers].
3 What we have seen and [ourselves] heard, we are also telling you, so that you too may [d]realize and enjoy fellowship as partners and partakers with us. And [this] fellowship that we have [which is a [e]distinguishing mark of Christians] is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (the Messiah).
4 And we are now writing these things to you so that our joy [in seeing you included] may be full [and [f]your joy may be complete].
7 But if we [really] are living and walking in the Light, as He [Himself] is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another (present tense), and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses (removes) us from all sin and guilt [keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations].
John was one of the apostles who waited the longest before writing his letters on Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, John waited most of his life before writing his Gospel! He is estimated to have been around seventy five to eighty years old when he wrote the Books of 1st, 2nd and 3rd John. He wrote the Gospel of John when he was around sixty years old.
This should stir us to ask the question, why? Why would he wait so long before writing an account of the life of Jesus, of what he heard and experienced, and how it influenced his life?
I personally believe that John was only ready to write this very important account at this late age, because he wanted to present us with something that had more value than theory and that was more powerful than history – He wanted to give PROOF of LIFE! He wanted to share the REALITY of a life shared and lived IN CHRIST!
He wanted to write from the perspective of having experienced the Word becoming Life and being expressed though him.
This is how he begins his testimony of Christ –
He begins by assuring his audience that he is not merely writing from the perspective of repeating empty words and events, to produce a mere record of historical events, but a “Living experience”.
Firstly John uses descriptive words as a means of emphasizing the fact that He is presenting to His audience, a Living Christ! A tangible Christ, Who can still be experienced, seen and heard. A Christ, Who still speaks and works. A Christ on Whose bosom he could still lay his head!
If the John in fact were merely giving an account of his past experience with Christ, why would he wait almost seventy years before doing so?
Would it not be reasonable to say that if he wanted to record the best possible account of the things Jesus said and did, and wanted to capture them purely from a historical perspective, that the time to have done so with the most accuracy would have been shortly after Jesus had ascended to Heaven? Yet He waits nearly to the end of his life to write the Gospel?
I want to suggest to you that John is not writing from the perspective of only recording his time with Christ on earth, but also his present experience with Christ – The words in our Bibles that have been translated as “seen, heard and handled with our own hands”, cause us to think of a past tense experience. But what they really do, is to tell us that the apostle is writing from the perspective of a “Living Encounter” with Christ – Not in the past as though it had passed away, but as being his past and present encounter with as Christ that never left, and never changed! He is presenting to us – The Living Christ! Alive in his day, seventy years after He walked the earth, and Alive to the reader who would have eyes to see Him, ears to hear Him and who would be able to touch Him in the Spirit!
Think of these words, “things we had seen with our own eyes, and handled with our own hands with …”.
Did John stop seeing Jesus after He ascended to Heaven? Did He stop hearing Him or experiencing Him? How about His encounter with Christ when He received the Revelation? Did he not see Him and encounter His reality? If John was writing about this experience, would he not have used the exact same words, “What I have seen, and heard and handled with my own hands with regards to the Word”.
There are other several things John communicates to us to demonstrate the Living of Christ. Much of them however, are unfortunately buried a little deeper due to the language barrier and the limitations faced in our present translations. Above all, of course, the Holy Spirit gives us insight into hearing his heart and understanding more than the letters that is printed on the page, but discerning the Spirit within them.
Beginning in verse one of John 1, we read, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God”.
When reading this, we immediately associate it with what we read as the Word of God, or we associate it with the verbal expression of God’s Word.
When we however study the original text in the Greek, we find quite a more meaningful and deeper revelation than what is presented. The word, “Word” used here, is not used to signify a verbal utterance, or something written, but rather is used to indicate the expression of a Personality. This makes a tremendous difference!
Think about it – Instead of the words of God that became flesh – God Himself, in His Own Person and Personality, comes to be revealed to us!
John 1:14 ampc
“And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth.”
John goes on to tell us that the Word (now understood as being “the full expression of Who God was as a Person”) became flesh, and walked among us (or came to inhabit a living human body to be showcased in among us and to express the Living Person - His Character, Nature and Personality and His Glory - in our midst). This we of course know happened in Jesus!
1 “In many separate revelations [[a]each of which set forth a portion of the Truth] and in different ways God spoke of old to [our] forefathers in and by the prophets,
2 [But] in [b]the last of these days He has spoken to us in [the person of a] Son… (John is emphasizing that God is presently speaking to them, who are in the last days, through His Son)”
The Holy Spirit gives us further confirmation of what we see in John’s writings. The writer of the Book of Hebrews point to the fact that, “God in times past revealed Himself” through diverse men, but in the last days is revealing Himself to us through His Son. He then continues to focus on this Revelation as being beyond anything ever seen, known or experienced, since it surpassed men speaking of God, instead revealing the Person of God. Jesus came to be so inhabited by the Spirit that He would be made One with the Father, to become the radiant reflection of God’s Person Himself – “ The express Image of the Father”!
”He is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the [c]out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God’s] nature…”
All of these things point us to a “Living Gospel”, in the Living Person, of a Living Christ, captured by John as a living testimony of his past, and his present experience in Christ!
Prior to coming to this understanding, people tend to read the record of John as speaking of a Jesus Who was alive. Whereas he writes of Christ Who lives, and never died!
Once we understand the heart of John’s Gospel, we understand why he shared his writings so late in his life - He wanted to share the account of a Living Christ, Who was still as tangibly present, still as real that He could be seen, heard and experienced in the reality of His entire Person! He presents a Christ that is Alive and that is real, Who still appears to the eyes of those who have eyes to see, Who still speaks to those who have ears to hear, and Who still is tangibly real to be touched by those walking in the Light of His Spirit-Life and Countenance!
John writes about a Christ, Who after sixty five years, is as real as the Jesus he walked with, talked with an on Who’s chest he laid his head to rest. He brings us a Living Christ, and presents Him in the fullness of the experience of his own live lived in the Spirit, and in the reality of having experienced the things Jesus taught and prophesied which would come, and that would only truly become a reality for the disciples to KNOW, once He had departed and the Spirit of the Father had come, to become One in them, through His Son.
He shares Christ from a different perspective, He brings us the Christ that now lives in the life of every believer, and begins the story from the historical account of Jesus, while guiding us along a golden thread detectable in every story and passage He writes, until he finally leads us into the Presence of a Living Jesus - Declaring that the Holy Spirit would come, that we all would be One with Him and with His Father and that His Spirit, the Spirit of the Holy One, would come to indwell us in the Living Reality of His Person, never to leave us again, up to the very end of our time on earth!
Here we have an account of a man writing from the bedrock of having lived the Revelation of the Words of Jesus in experience of His Spirit for over sixty five to seventy years – How invaluable! What a testimony! What a treasury of Wisdom, of Revelation and understanding into the things which Jesus spoke of in the beginning, that he had come to live in the experience thereof, and in doing so, is able to present as the Living evidence of Christ’s Life lived through his.
His account then, is not one of theory, but of reality and of real life experience.
This presents us with a man who has heard Christ, who saw Him and experienced Him on earth in the life and the times of Jesus, and who is still experiencing Him in the Life of His Spirit at the time of his writings.
Is it any wonder that his writings are so unique? So rich? So warm? And so different, than any of the others?
Can we be surprised to trace the footsteps of Jesus through his writings, or to hear the Master’s crystal clear Voice, both filled with Truth as well as being baptized in Love? Can we really wonder why we feel the rhythms of God heart beating through us as we read these two-edged Words that seem to pierce into the very depths of our spirit?
Can it be any clearer, that this “beloved disciple”, throughout all his seasons on earth, had never lifted his head from his Master’s bosom?