• Let Us Pray: Lord God, Heavenly Father, we are grateful for sending Your faithful Son, Jesus to redeem us from our sins. Those sins would have left us forever broken off from fellowship with You Son and You.  Send Your Spirit to work faith in our heart, so that we firmly believe there are no impediments to having fellowship with You because of the work of redemption.  We bring these petitions before You through Your Son Jesus, who reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, now and forevermore.  Amen.
  • Background: I’d like to spend a moment on background of this first Epistle of John.
    • The Apostle John was brother of James.  Each were one of Jesus’ twelve disciples.  Jesus at one time referred to them as the Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17) apparently for their bull in the china shop mentality.  However, they were sons of a fisherman named Zebedee. Additionally, we can deduce from the Gospels their mother’s name was Salome.   We read from Mat 20:20 - 20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him[1].  Later at Jesus’ crucifixion, Matthew uses this same term to identify one of the women at the cross - 55 And many women were there watching from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while caring for Him. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee[2].
    • In the message given last week, a woman named Salome was mentioned as one of those at the cross in Mark 15:40 and at the tomb on that first Easter in Mark 16:1.  Salome is probably sister of Mary, Mother of Jesus, because of the way the “mother of the sons of Zebedee” is mentioned 2x in Matthew and similarly in John 19:25 - 25 Now beside the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene[3]. It does not seem strange to me that the Apostle John would not mention his aunt nor his mother by name, given that he referred to himself in the Gospel of John as “…the disciple whom Jesus loved.”  John attempted in his writings to keep the focus on Jesus and certainly not on himself.  These facts point to the Apostle John and Jesus being cousins with each other.
    • John wrote this first of three epistles (along with the others) probably in the 90’s AD.  They were probably intended for the churches around Ephesus, but the content has application to this day.  He was in Ephesus and the general area after returning from banishment to the island of Patmos around 95AD[4].
  • Exegesis: That’s a quick summary of the background on this first letter from John the Apostle, so now let’s review the verse for our consideration from 1John 1:4: And these we write to you, so that our joy is fulfilled. (CSRV)  What “things” were John referring to?
    • The Apostle John was with Jesus as one of Jesus’ disciples.  He was a disciple throughout the 3yr ministry Jesus performed.  Over the course of those 3yrs, John and the other disciples would have heard Jesus preach things such as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew) and the Sermon on the Plain (Luke).  John would have seen miracles performed by Jesus, including the raising of Lazarus from the dead (John Ch#11).  Jesus would have touched His disciples at times throughout His ministry; probably to encourage with a pat on the back, and other fellowship reasons.  Jesus certainly touched all of the disciples when He washed their feet on the night Jesus was delivered into the hands of the mob; the night Judas betrayed Him.  John reclined next to Jesus at the Last Supper.
      • I bring up these examples, because we have at least three of the five senses mentioned in the first three verses of 1st John Ch#1 – 1What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— and the life was revealed, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was revealed to us— what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also…[5]  What John is indicating here in these three verses is John was a first-hand witness to all that Jesus did in His ministry.  There was no mistaking what John heard (vv1,3a), saw (vv1-3a), and touched (v1), because he was there!  He didn’t experience Jesus through someone else.
    • John established first-hand witness credibility in confessing the works of Jesus so that he could then state in the last half of verse 3 - so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ[6].  Remember I said a moment ago John wrote this letter to the churches around Ephesus about 95AD.  John was about that age when he wrote this, so I’m pretty sure he wasn’t getting around as well as when he was a disciple walking through Galilee and Judea 60yrs prior.
    • Because of this, I don’t believe John was writing about fellowship with him and those around him specifically, so much as he wrote about the fellowship amongst members of the Holy Christian Church.  There is a lot to unpack with regard to what fellowship within the church means.  Suffice it to say, John is referring to “…one holy Christian and apostolic Church…” that we confess to believing in when we recite the Nicene Creed as we will do after this message.  That is an important concept to understand, because the scriptures refer to the Holy Christian Church as the Lord Jesus’ Bride.  Jesus’ relationship with the church is one of love as the Apostle Paul wrote in Eph 5:25-27 - 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.  The ultimate presentation of the church as a Bride to Jesus the Bridegroom is in Rev 19:7, where the Apostle John, in another of his writings, made clear this relationship of fellowship between Jesus and the church - Let’s rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has prepared herself.[7]” Two verses later in that same chapter is where John wrote about being invited to the Lamb’s High Feast, which is why we sang a few stanzas from that hymn just prior to this message.  The fellowship we have with one another is a fellowship that binds us together as the Bride of our Lord Jesus.
    • Additionally, fellowship with Jesus is fellowship with God the Father.  In the Gospel of John Ch#17, the Apostle goes into detail on how the Father and Jesus are one.
  • Analysis: I’ll cover more about that in a moment, because I want to spend a moment on what fellowship with Christ and His bride look like in a practical sense.
    • Back to our text in verse 6, if we claim we have fellowship with Christ yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not work truth.  That then begs the question, what does it mean to “walk in darkness”?   In the next chapter of John’s first Epistle, he defines walking in darkness – The one who says that he is in the Light and yet hates his brother or sister is in the darkness until now.  11 But the one who hates his brother or sister is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes[8].
      • There are lots of creative ways for us as sinners to show hatred toward one another. We see this especially as our culture is disintegrating before our very eyes.  If someone says or does something we don’t like, we “cancel” them.  We carry the “cancelation” out with a vengeance. Do not ever let that person say or do anything again we don’t like.  Or, we isolate ourselves in safe spaces from things we don’t want to hear or see or touch. We can sit here in the comfort of this church right now and probably accuse the churches’ enemies of committing cancelations of people.  But we do this as well.  This church has in its history people who have either canceled someone or they canceled this church for non-scriptural reasons.  That’s walking in darkness, because instead of focusing on the fellowship with one another as Jesus Bride, we focus on ourselves.
    • In contrast from verse 7, if we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, the Father’s Son, cleanses us from all sin. I believe John in verse 7 of our text is referring back to something Jesus said during His ministry which John recorded in the Gospel he wrote by inspiration - 35 So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; also, the one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going[9].
      • I have good night vision, but there are times when I must have a light.  Take my garage for instance.  I replaced the original light fixture in there, because at most I could get the lighting power of maybe 150 watts from two bulbs.  That isn’t enough light when I’m out there searching for something.  However, Jesus in His statement about walking in the light probably had deeper meaning. I would suggest those people in the fellowship of the Holy Christian Church, are people walking in the light of Christ.  And, people walking in the light of Christ can see the path leading from this Age into the next.  They see the path to that wedding supper where only those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb are invited.  The Word of the Lord is a lamp unto our feet and a light for our path. (Ps 119:105)
    • At the beginning of this church service on today, we confessed our sins before God at this altar.  The Liturgist invited us to confess our sins by saying, “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  That exhortation to deal with our sin, by first confessing it, is right out of our text for today. (vv8,10)  We lie to ourselves if we think the commandments are for someone else, because we are such good people in keeping them.  Let me be clear: neither you nor I keep God’s word.  For example, we all have thoughts of hatred for others.  John wrote in the third chapter of our text - 15 Everyone who hates his brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him.[10]  You shall not murder is the 5th Commandment.  We break this commandment when we hate someone in our heart.
    • But, if we confess our sins, Jesus is faithful and righteous; He will forgive and cleanse. (v9)  It isn’t our act of seeking forgiveness that brings forgiveness.  We are assured of Jesus’ forgiveness when we hear the words of forgiveness said by His called servant.  That servant was called by Jesus to bring forgiveness to souls troubled with the burden of sin.
  • Application: Having addressed what fellowship looks like in a practical sense, we should look into how this fellowship comes to us.
    • Fellowship with Christ comes through Him.  It isn’t something we chose to do, because like our first parents, Adam and Eve who chose to rebel against God’s simple command to not eat of one tree - out of all of trees available in paradise.  Remember how Adam and Eve hid from God after they ate the forbidden fruit?  We too choose to hide away from God.  We run away from God’s commands as well, unless we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to seek the Lord and do His will.  Christ came to us when we were baptized, and the Holy Spirit was left in us as a deposit and guarantee of the promise of eternal life with Christ.
      • The fellowship between Jesus and His church actually started with the relationship between Jesus and the Father.  This was clear in Jesus’ pastoral prayer.  We have a portion of it recorded by John for the time John was able to stay away after eating the Passover meal. Jesus prayed - 20 “I am not asking on behalf of these alone, but also for those who believe in Me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me[11].  The Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit were in fellowship with one another from eternity and will be throughout eternity.  If you have seen one member of the Trinity, you have seen all.  That is how tight the fellowship of the Trinity is.
      • Because of sin, our relationship with the Father was broken when Adam and Eve pulled their stunt of rebellion in paradise some 7200yrs ago.  However, Jesus’ Father became our Father after Jesus rose from the dead - 17 Jesus said to [Mary Magdalene and the other women at the tomb on that first Easter], “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’[12]”  That is what fellowship with the Father and Jesus looks like!
      • Jesus’ victory from the cross over sin, death, and the devil reconciled us with the Father. A broken relationship meant there would never be any fellowship.  That break in the relationship was never going to be fixed by anything you or I would do.  We had the baggage of sin to carry through life that would forever hold us back from repairing the relationship.  We receive the gifts and benefits of a reconciled relationship with the Father through the Holy Christian Church.  Jesus said in prayer to the Father - 22 The glory which You have given Me I also have given to them, so that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and You loved them, just as You loved Me[13].  Again, that is what fellowship looks like.
  • Conclusion: With all this which the Apostle John wrote in our text, what do we get out of this fellowship with God?
    • If we will ever get any joy out of life in this Age (and certainly the next), joy is fulfilled with sins forgiven.  There is no burden of guilt you should bear for anything sinful and evil you have done. A person truly sorry for the evil they have committed in the presence of the Lord can be assured those and all other sins are forgiven.
      • Apart from the forgiveness of sins through Christ, the burden of sin is heavy.  One of the seven penitential Psalms written by King David is Ps 38.  David wrote in verse 4 - For my guilty deeds have gone over my head;
        Like a heavy burden they weigh too much for me.  Unforgiven sins weigh a person down to the point where they may not even be able to carry on with life.  We see that a lot now in the news about Covid isolation contributing to more & more people committing suicide.  They cannot cope with the loneliness and the burdens of their soul.  They see no hope in their life.  David  again talks about the consequences of his sins in verse 18 - 18 For I admit my guilt; I am full of anxiety because of my sin[14].  The main reason sins lingers long after the evil act was committed is because it cannot be erased from memory.  Our own flesh will continue to condemn us even when God has pronounced forgiveness.
      • Confession of sin is an admission you are wrong.  We have confession at the start of each service because it is important to humble ourselves before our God and admit we have not kept His word.  It’s tough for any of us to admit we are wrong to those around us.  It is especially tough to admit to Almighty God we continued to ignore His word.  However, once sins are confessed, and trust in Christ those sins are cleansed, the burden and anxiety of sins are gone!
    • A person whose sins are confessed and forgiven is a person who is free from burdens and guilt those sins bring.  Those people are the ones in fellowship with our Lord Jesus who redeemed them.  We receive in the Holy Christian Church the forgiveness of sins and faith to believe our sins are forgiven.  In this church we have fellowship with one another, and because we are sin-free, we have fellowship with Jesus who redeemed us. Jesus’ Father is our Father, and that fellowship stays that way through the continuous work of the Holy Spirit. That my brothers and sisters in Christ is a fellowship which will *not* be broken!  And, the absence of the burdens of sin leave nothing left in one’s soul except joy.  Amen!


 


[1] Mat 20:20 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+20&version=NASB

[2] Mat 27:55-56 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+27&version=NASB

[3] John 19:25 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john19&version=NASB

[4] Jeske, Mark A, People’s Bible Commentary: General Epistles, Revised Edition, Concordia Publishing House, St Louis, MO, 2005 P.201

[5] 1John 1:1-3a from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+john+1&version=NASB

[6] IBID, 1John 1:3b

[7] Rev 19:7 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=rev+19&version=NASB

[8] 1John 2:9,11 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+john+2&version=NASB

[9] John 12:35 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john+12&version=NASB

[10] 1John 3:15 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20John%203&version=NASB

[11] John 17:20-21 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john+17&version=NASB

[12] John 20:17 from NASB at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john+20&version=NASB

[13] John 17:22-23 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2017&version=NASB

[14] Ps 38:4,18 from NASB20 at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ps+38&version=NASB