Text: 1 John 1:1-10, John 1:1-5, Matthew 28:18-20, Numbers 14:18-19
Ever doubt your salvation?
I think I’ve got it right, but what if I’m wrong?
I know the gospel story, but do I really understand it?
I believe Jesus was who He said He was, but how does someone who really believes this live?
If you and I are asking these questions now, imagine how early Christendom must have wrestled with the newness of the gospel message—a message that stood contrary to the ‘salvation by knowledge’ gnosticism common in their Roman society.
John wrote three relatively short letters to assure the world then, and us now, that salvation is from God: the gospel is true. John’s Gospel is the historical, theological record of Christ’s life on earth, and his letters are the pastoral communication of the significance of Christ’s life. They build on what we already know.
John begins by using four words we honestly need to hear from him:
Heard. Seen. Observed. Touched.
We need to hear them because they are sensory, tangible. They communicate real events that were physically witnessed by many, including John himself. In short, they are proofs of the gospel.
You see, John was actually there for the Sermon on the Mount. He was there to hear Jesus’ own voice tell the parable of the prodigal son, and declare, “Before Abraham was, I Am.” John could still remember the sting of Christ’s rebuke about who should sit at His side in the coming kingdom. And “Behold, your mother!” are three words John would never forget hearing Jesus breathe out to him from the cross. John watched Jesus walk across the Sea of Galilee, and he was on the scene, actually partaking in the institution of the Lord’s Supper.
Heard. Seen. Observed. Touched.
John begins by assuring us that his Gospel account (the book of John) is true. Then, he invites us down a path of holy concern to examine whether the message of the gospel has actually changed our lives.
Do you say you have fellowship with Christ, but walk in darkness? Or do you have real, in-the-light fellowship with the Savior of the world?
Do you say you have no sin? Or do you actively confess your sin, believing Christ is able and sufficient to cleanse you and bring you into the light?
Do you fear the light? Prefer the darkness? Or do you live a life that combats darkness, seeking and shining?
These aren’t rhetorical questions. Let’s actually take some time today—real time—to ask ourselves and the Lord if we are actively struggling with darkness.
The struggle itself is not sin. Ask any seasoned believer and they will testify to this truth: the Lord is always working in our hearts to bring light (Philippians 1:6). As long as we are on earth, there will always be darkness to drive out. And as long as we have breath in our lungs, the process of sanctification will be present. If we are not actively struggling with darkness, it isn’t because there is no darkness in our lives. It is because that darkness has become comfortable.
The Christian life—the life of salvation through the gospel of Christ Jesus—is a life that will constantly battle the darkness until Perfection comes.
John’s letters are written to assure us of our faith, but as C.S. Lewis wrote, “The hard sayings of our Lord are wholesome to those only who find them hard.” As such, John writes both to comfort the afflicted, and to afflict the comfortable. He delivers the healing balm of the gospel message, but that message calls for an ongoing death to self that is anything but comfortable (1 Peter 2:24).
Are you comfortable today, when perhaps there is darkness in and around you that you need to see? Let the Word of God bring about holy affliction, a conviction of sin and complacency that draws you closer to Him.
Lord, afflict us with your Truth, that we may be comforted. Shine light in our dark places. Let us never stop pursuing holiness.
The gospel is true!