Loaded With Privileges

Bible Book: 1 John  1 : 1-10
Subject: Blessings

Freight trains crisscross the country with as many as three or four engines pulling up to 100 box cars loaded with as much as 16 to 18 thousand tons - that's about 35 million pounds - of freight. An American Indian would say, "That's a heap big load." We could say that there is a big load of truth found in the first chapter of First John.

John the Apostle wrote the brief letter while he lived in Ephesus (modern day Turkey). John was perhaps 95 years of age and this may have been his last letter. He had been a prisoner on the Isle of Patmos and then he returned to Ephesus. The letter is one of encouragement for the Christians of his day and for us today, too.

We learn in chapter one that the Christian is "loaded with privileges." We want to look at those priceless privileges. Three of them may be seen. One, we have the privilege of knowing Jesus. This Scripture tells volumes about Jesus in the first verses of this chapter. Two, we have the privilege of a unique fellowship. We want to see what this "koinonia" or fellowship means. In the third place, we have the privilege of having all sins forgiven. Yes, the Christian is loaded with privileges. Let's consider them.

I. We Have The Privilege of Knowing Jesus

Let's not pass over this truth. Ponder the thought of discovering something grand about Jesus as this Scripture states. How great, how wonderful, how awesome Jesus is. Many Christians may not have a clue to the greatness of Christ. Let's see what John says about the Son of God.

A. Jesus is the Eternal Christ

Verse one declares, "That which was from the beginning." We can say, "The One who was from the beginning." That is, when creation began, Jesus already "was." He was there. Through Christ God brought all things into existence or being (Col. 1:16). Jesus is the uncreated Creator.

Scientists say that the universe is between four and five billion years of age. We do not understand such an enormous span of time. In fact, it's hard for us find anyone beyond one hundred years of age. That's an old age. But what of a thousand years or a million years? Then what of four billion years. A billion is one thousand million. And what of creation that happened so long ago? Jesus "was" when creation began.

In John 17:5 Jesus declared in His high priestly prayer, "And now, O Father, glorify me with the glory that I had with thee before the world was." Yes, Jesus shared that glory with the Father before creation.

1 John 1:2 calls Jesus "that eternal life which was with the Father." Jesus is "eternal life" which means He is eternal. How could Jesus be "eternal life" if he has not lived eternally? Micah 5:2 states that the Coming Christ would be the "One whose goings forth have been from old, yea from everlasting." Don't let the J.W. group tell you that Jesus was Michael, a created angel, who came to this earth. Jesus is eternal. Do we get this picture of the eternal, everlasting nature of Jesus? The Psalmist wrote of God that He is "from everlasting to everlasting." Jesus is the same eternal One as Hebrews 13:5 states, "The same yesterday, today, and forever." In all of "yesterday" he is the same - - the Eternal One.

B. Jesus is the Divine Christ

Verse two of the text states that "He was with the Father." That word with or "pros" in Greek calls for a "face to face, a like-kind of relationship." John 1:1 states, "In the Beginning (of time) 'was" the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God and the Word was God." That word "God" is a "generic term" without an article which speaks of divinity or deity. Jesus was not "a god" as the JW group mistakenly translates that word. He was/is God. (See John 4:24: God is not "a" spirit among many spirits!). In Philippians 2:5-11 the Apostle Paul put emphasis on the divine nature of Jesus saying "He did not think it robbery to be equal with God. He laid aside the outward display of deity and came to earth." He was and is the eternal God.

The eighth chapter of the Gospel of John tells about Jesus. When the Pharisees accused Jesus of being demon possessed and being a Samaritan or "half breed," Jesus said, "Abraham saw my day and was glad." The religious leaders said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years of age, and how can you say that Abraham saw your day?" Jesus answered them, saying, "Before Abraham was, I AM." (John 8:56). Jesus declared, "I AM the bread of life, the water of life, the way, the truth, and the life, and the light of the world." Ah, the grandeur of Jesus! He's God the Son and He is the Son of God. But more than this, too.

Jesus is the incarnate Christ. That is, He became man. He took on Himself our humanity. He was born of the Virgin Mary without a human father. He remained God while He became man. 2 Corinthians 5:19 states, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself."

A little Italian boy said, "Jesus is the best picture of God that has ever been took." How do we know that Jesus was real? John the Apostle said we have a triple witness or experience of the humanity of Jesus.

We have the witness of the ears. The text reads in verse 1, "That...which we have heard." That's the perfect tense. The phrase means, "We heard Him and His voice continues to echo or ring in our ears." The disciples heard Him for more than three years. John said sixty years after the ascension of Jesus, "I still hear His voice." You know that kind of experience. Your Dad or Mom or some other person is no longer with you, but you still "hear that voice." In the soul of John the reverberation of the voice of Jesus was still going on."

We have the witness of the eyes. The text again states in verse one and three, "We have seen with our eyes...and we have seen it." The disciples looked upon Jesus, they gazed at Him. During more than three years they watched Him. They saw Him walk on the waves of the sea, they watched as He taught multitudes, they saw Him on the Mount of Transfiguration. They watched Him during forty days after the resurrection and they saw Him go back to heaven. More than five hundred saw Jesus after He came out of the grave. They knew Jesus was real.

We have the witness of the hands. The text states again, "Our hands have handled" (v. 1). The disciples sat with Jesus during the Last Supper. One apostle "leaned on His bosom." Jesus said to them after the resurrection in Luke 23:39, "Touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see me have." The Savior was among them and the disciples knew Him. They heard Him, saw Him, and touched Him. He is the Christ who has come in human flesh. He was and is God in human flesh, now glorified.

What a privilege to trust Jesus, to know Him, to learn more about this wonderful Jesus!

II. We Have the Privilege of a Unique Fellowship

We have the privilege of a unique fellowship. The word fellowship is "koinonia" in the language of the New Testament. This word means a partnership, a joint venture that people share, and it means a union. As Christians we have a superlative kind of fellowship, unlike any kind of fellowship that's in the world.

A. We have a Divine Fellowship

That's what John wrote in 1 John 1:3, "And truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ." This truth amazes us. Can we imagine any experience greater than this one of being in fellowship with the Lord of the universe? John says this is our privilege.

In Genesis 5:24 we read, "And Enoch walked with God." In a time of world disintegration and degeneration, God found a man who walked with Him for many years. God allows us to walk with Him today, too. Our name may not be Enoch nor Abraham, but as His sons and daughters we have the privilege of being in fellowship with God and with His Son Jesus. Psalms 84:10 states, "I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." We can know this divine fellowship.

B. We have a Human Fellowship

"Our fellowship" includes fellow believers. John says that the Christians of His day "had fellowship with him" and with other believers v. 3. The message of Hebrews 10:25 is "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together..." We need to sing again, "Blest be the tie that binds Our hearts in Christian love; The fellowship of kindred minds Is like to that above."

The apostles knew about fellowship with one another. Some of them were "fishing buddies." They had a partnership going. Their fellowship became enriched as they followed Jesus. Our fellowship needs to be enriching, too. That's the Christian message. Psalms 133 states that "It is good and pleasant for brothers to dwell together in unity." We're united in a real fellowship and partnership of the gospel.

C. We have a Happy (Joyful) Fellowship

Verse 4 states, "And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full." That word "full" means an "Overflowing experience." It's an expression that reminds us of an overflowing river, or of a valley overflowing with grain, or of a beehive full of bees." We are to have a joyful fellowship. One chorus goes something like this, "The more we get together, the happier we'll be."

The world can never know the joy that a Christian ought to have. One person wrote, "Pleasure seekers are like folks who with long chains let empty buckets down into empty wells and grow tired drawing nothing out again." One poet penned the words which refer to worldly pleasure, "Pleasures are as poppies spread, the stem is grasped, the bloom is shed; pleasures are like snowflakes on a river; a moment seen then gone forever."

God's people ought to have an enduring, joy-filled fellowship. We join together and sing and pray and praise the Lord and project the missionary message of Jesus. We get together and find life meaningful. Psalms 36 speaks of "Rivers of God's pleasure."

D. We have a Holy Fellowship

1 John 1:6 states, "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth." Verse 5 states, "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." There is no moral nor physical nor intellectual darkness in the Lord. We have fellowship with the One who is "the Light of life."

III. We have the Privilege of Having Sins Forgiven

We have the privilege of having sins forgiven. We can be cleansed from all sin. John faced some people who had sin problems, but those "heretics" denied them. Some said they had no sin, meaning that they didn't have a sinful nature as verse 8 states. The text states that such people are deceived and are far away from the truth, or the truth is not in them. Others said they had not sinned as verse 10 states. Such people need to read Romans 3:23 that declares that "all have sinned." The biblical view that one needs concerning sin is that everyone admits or confesses his sins.

We need to memorize verse nine of First John. John states that if we confess our sins then we're on the right path. That word "confess" means to agree with God about our sins. It is "homolego." That is, "I say the same thing about my sin that God says about it." And that's a big order. When we confess our sins, God acts on our behalf. He is faithful and He is just in the treating of our failures, faults, and sins.

A. God will Forgive our Sins

This word that John uses for "forgive" is "ferein." It means "to carry away." We get the word "ferry or ferry boat" from this word. A ferry boat takes people to "the other side." We ride that boat to cross a river or lake.

God will "ferry our sins away." He will take them far away from us. That's the same experience of the "scapegoat" in the Old Testament." The priest put his hands in the direction of the people and then symbolically moved their sins to the scapegoat. Then that animal was taken into the wilderness so that the goat would never find its way back into the camp of Israel. God has taken our sins far from us.

B. God will Cleanse us from All Unrighteousness

The word "cleanse" is a word from which we get the word "catharsis." The idea is one of a detergent, of a thorough cleansing. God does a perfect work of cleansing one's life. The text says that God will cleanse us "from all unrighteousness." It matters not what the sin may be, God has the power to remove it. Every sin - - murder, jealousy, bitterness, immorality, profanity. All sin now is taken care of. If we ask "how," the text tells us.

John writes, "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (v. 7). Note again, that the text says "all sin." Wow! God takes it all away.

What do we need to do with our sins? Take them to Calvary. The "blood of Jesus Christ" cleanses (present tense which means keeps on cleansing) from every sin stain!

The Apostle John wrote this chapter in First John. Perhaps today we come into a new understanding of how "loaded with privileges" we are. We have the privilege of Knowing Jesus, of having a Unique Fellowship, and of being "Cleansed from all Sin."

What privileges we have as God's people. We need to trust the Lord because of all we receive from Him. We need to praise Him in every moment for the preeminent privileges that belong to us as His redeemed people. Anyone who is not a Christian needs to rush to the Savior and receive the life eternal which He offers. Can we afford anything less than rejoice in the privileges that God gives to us? Everyone without a relationship with God through Jesus Christ may receive these privileges by accepting Jesus as Savior now!