The Apostle John’s Answer to Skeptics

Skeptics and naysayers love to do their best to poke holes in the Bible. They were attempting it even before it was completed, and they’re still at it. What little has changed! The apostle John responds to detractors in the introduction to his first epistle. He states with unvarnished credibility that the things that he and the other apostles had declared of the Lord Jesus Christ were based upon eye-witness testimony. He writes,

1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

In a court of law the testimony of a credible eyewitness is received as evidence. In the same way we who believe are not following myths, fables, or wishful thinking, but established truth from credible eyewitness testimony. The Lord Jesus had personally chosen messengers to carry his good news to the entire world. These are known as the apostles or “sent ones”, similar to the role of ambassador. Their ministry was to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to the entire world. We do not have apostles today, although they still minister to us through the writings they left behind in the form of the Holy Scriptures. They had a unique ministry intended for the formative and foundational age of the Church of Jesus Christ. While they were walking with Jesus, they heard him preach of who he was, and saw him prove that it was true by performing miracles to validate what he had said about himself, like the time Jesus healed the man with the withered hand, in order that “you may know that the Son of Man has power to forgive sins”, a thing that only God can do. This proved to the apostles that Jesus was God, as he said he was many times in different ways. Our faith in Jesus Christ the Savior is based on the reliable testimony of these chosen men.

John calls the Lord Jesus by the name of “the Word of Life.” This name is packed with meaning. In Greek thought “word” or logos was that rational principle which controlled and upheld the universe. John is saying that he who is the Word is the Creator in the beginning. In this passage we find an echo of the opening verses of John’s gospel. This Word is the Creator. He is the “Word of Life” in that he has life in himself. We have life that depends on God. We are created beings, but not he. He is the Creator, the one who has life in himself, “I AM THAT I AM.” This is what the covenant name of God: “YHWH”, pronounced Yahweh or Jehovah means at its root. He is the self-existent one. He has life in himself, and gives it to others. He is our Creator. Jesus said,

John 5:26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

The Son has life in himself just as the Father has life in himself. He had no beginning. He was not born. He is eternally preexistent, eternally-begotten, as in the language of the fathers in the Nicene Creed, he is “begotten of the Father before all worlds.” He who gave us life at creation is the same One who gives new life to those who are spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. If any man believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” John 11:25

1 John 1:2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

This life is the Son of God, who was manifested in that he became a true human being and walked among John and his other disciples. The love of God the Father was made known to the world in his Son, who is the Word of Life. That Word of Life was seen on earth by thousands of people, and is the same Christ who was proclaimed in the first century A. D. by his chosen messengers, the apostles.

He who was “with the Father”, compare to “with God” John 1:2, was in the bosom of the Father from all eternity. He loved us so much that he became one of us, when he was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, remaining fully God and fully man forever in one person, the God-man that is Christ Jesus.

3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

One of God’s great purposes in this plan of redemption is to bring a people together. The children of God are not just a collection of individuals. We are one family in him. We belong together just as we belong to him. Through Christ, we have fellowship with the Father, just as the Son had fellowship with him since before creation. And having fellowship with the Father and the Son, we also have fellowship, communion with one another in the Church of Jesus Christ.

The apostles declared to us what they had heard, seen, and touched: The Word of Life, that we may have fellowship with one another, through the Father and the Son, and that our joy may be full.

The apostles were those chosen men who had been with Jesus when he was transfigured before them, who had heard the voice of the Father from heaven declaring, “This is my beloved Son, hear him.” They had seen him die. They saw him after he had risen from the dead. Thomas then touched his hands and his side to verify the wounds of his crucifixion. (John 20:27) The testimony of the apostles is worthy to be believed. It is eyewitness testimony. In their message, we have certainty of the truth of those things they spoke to us about the Lord Jesus, that he is the Son of God come to save us sinners. This is our eternal hope. It rests upon sure evidence.

In Christ, the Word of Life was manifested to us. This Word is not a thing, but a Person.  He became known to us by becoming one of us. Without losing any of his former glory or power that he had with the Father form the beginning, albeit disguising it, he came so that we would know him. What love is this that the Father has shown us, by sending his own Son to carry the message of his grace to us! Let us receive it and believe.

There is fellowship in the world based on commonality. Sometimes it’s relatively innocent, like clubs based upon ethnicity, or activities like baseball or hunting. At other times, the world has fellowship in sin, like drunkenness or other revelings. But in Christ, we who have been made alive by him have a fellowship, a “koinonia” or communion, that the world can never know. We have been brought from death to life, from darkness to life. We have experienced the grace of God, the peace that passes understanding, and joy in the Holy Spirit. This brings with it a bond of love between us, among all of God’s children, that the world of sin can never know. This is one reason why it is necessary for us to gather weekly (at a minimum) to pray together and sing God’s praises. There are no “lone ranger” Christians. If we have fellowship with the Father and the Son, we have fellowship with one another. Though some may pretend that they can be Christians just by praying and having devotions on their own at home, to forsake the assembling of ourselves together is not a reflection of that fellowship with one another to which the Lord has brought us.

This fellowship that we have with one another shows itself in many ways. We help each other when we need it. If we’ve experienced the love of God in Christ, how can we not also love those others who have received the same love that we have? We forgive one another, as the Lord has forgiven us our sins, without holding grudges against one another when we sin against each other. We pray together, bearing one another’s burdens and lifting each other up before the mercy seat of the Father. We share a common purpose in life, to glorify God by advancing the kingdom of Jesus Christ, by being his witnesses. We show this when we work together to make his name known, to build his church, and to bring others along too to worship him.

The apostles declared to us what they had heard, seen, and touched: The Word of Life, that we may have fellowship with one another, through the Father and the Son, and that our joy may be full.

If you have never embraced this Word of Life, if you have not yet received the hope of eternal life by taking hold of Christ through faith, he is freely offered to you today. Come to him and be saved. The whole world is going to die. If things continue as they are now, there is not one person who will not be dead in the future. But Jesus Christ offers everlasting life to whoever will believe in him. Do not let anything you love in this world hold you back from receiving that free gift. Leave everything if necessary to get it.

If you’ve received the love of God in Christ by faith, if you have the hope of eternal life, do not let the cares or enjoyments of this world entangle you. Guard your heart, so that nothing, whether love of family members, or friends, or reputation, or money, or influence, draw your heart away from your Lord and Savior. Let him be your hope, now and forever.
Let us have fellowship with one another. Ours is that blessed communion of the saints. We have Christ, and so we have each other. In one love, with one heart, one in prayer, let us help one another, forgive one another, and pray with and for one another. This is one of the greatest blessings of being a child of God.

Finally, let us rejoice in our Savior. For us who have experienced that hope of eternal life, nothing can ever take it away from us. We may have hardships and suffering in this world. But it cannot take away our joy. They may take away our houses, our family, our possessions, our income, or even our liberty by putting us in jail. But they can never take away the joy that we have by being God’s children, our hope of eternal life in Christ. Let us rejoice in him in this world, in all circumstances. Remind yourself to think about the hope that you have in Christ, especially when the world has got you down. It is important for us to remind ourselves to think about the joy that we have because of the grace that we have received in him. Let us rejoice in him now and forever.

The apostles declared to us what they had heard, seen, and touched: The Word of Life, that we may have fellowship with one another, through the Father and the Son, and that our joy may be full.  Amen.

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