The Search for the Real Jesus
1 John 1:1-4 The Search for the Real Jesus Introduction: One of the early attacks against the faith came through something similar to or an early form of what is known as Gnosticism. The term comes from the Greek word gnosis which means “to know”. The Gnostics believed that they were in a class above everyone else because of their superior knowledge. Through their superior knowledge they had concluded that matter was inherently evil, therefore a divine being could not take on human flesh. Thus Christ did not actually possess a human body he only seemed to (Gk. dokeo- Docetism). The Gnostics also believed that they were above the normal distinctions of right and wrong. This resulted in a complete disregard for Christian morality. They reasoned that since the body is inherently evil it doesn’t matter what the body does, God is only interested in the spirit. These and other Gnostic ideas will be refuted by John in this epistle. Now even though we don’t normally think of Gnosticism as any sort of a threat to the church today it is still very much alive and well. In the 19th and 20th Centuries it resurfaced in what we commonly refer to as the pseudo Christian cults i.e. Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, Unity School of Christianity, Theosophy, Scientology etc. In the 21st. Century, Gnosticism’s influence continues to increase through the New Age movement. Read from back cover of Peter Jones’ book. “Gay rights are promoted in popular magazines, public radio, and Hollywood. Feminist spirituality is making inroads into Christianity. Christian students are being silenced in the name of religious tolerance. Mystical techniques for achieving well-being and self-knowledge are being adopted in the business world and military. Merely coincidental trends? Peter Jones says no. They are expressions of an ancient heresy reasserting itself today. Documenting how Gnosticism- a heresy of self-deification – has returned with a vengeance in the New Age Movement, Jones calls the church to spiritual warfare as The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back.” It is significant that the prologue of 1 John which designates the basis of assurance is converged upon the person of Jesus Christ, whom the disciples have seen, heard, and touched. Knowledge of God, community with God, as well as certainty (assurance), are possible only because of and through Jesus Christ......Furthermore, it can be continued only on condition that the facts are being carried forward authentically. This is the reason why reliable testimony is the guarantee for certainty.....Therefore John's prologue is of upmost importance to the rest of the writing, because the entire theme of certainty is based upon it. The Christ event and the apostolic testimony about it must therefore be kept in mind throughout the rest of the document (letter). Since in this Epistle John is concerned with Truth, Holiness, and Love, I thought it would be good to begin by talking about the true biblical Jesus. Because this is precisely what John does he begins by telling us about the true person of Jesus. 1. The True Biblical Jesus a. It’s good for us as a church to look again at the person of Jesus Christ for a few reasons. i. Because the person of Jesus Christ has been misrepresented, and misconstrued more than any other figure in history. ii. It’s good for us to educate ourselves on the other false views of Jesus, so that we might correct them. iii. It’s good for us to look at the true biblical Jesus because some of us may have made up our own version of Jesus. A Jesus who has our same likes and dislikes. This is very similar to what the people who left this fellowship had done, they were following after a man made idea about Jesus rather than the true historical Jesus. 1. False ideas about Jesus. a. He was only a good man. A moral teacher that we can look to for wisdom and guidance. He was a revolutionary. He was an extraordinary person, but he was only human. b. Jesus was an enlightened human being who became a god. c. Jesus is just one of many gods. d. He was only god, and not human. e. Jesus was a man that the spirit of God came upon at his baptism and left him before his crucifixion. f. There’s the Republican Jesus who is against tax increases and activists judges, for family values and owning firearms. g. There’s Democrat Jesus who is against Wall Street and Wal-Mart, for reducing our carbon footprint and printing money. h. There’s Therapist Jesus who helps us cope with life’s problems, heals our past, tells us how valuable we are and not to be so hard on ourselves. i. There’s Starbucks Jesus who drinks fair trade coffee, loves spiritual conversations, drives a hybrid and goes to film festivals. j. There’s Open-minded Jesus who loves everyone all the time no matter what, except for people who are not as open-minded as you. k. There’s Touchdown Jesus who helps athletes run faster and jump higher than non-Christians and determines the outcomes of Super Bowls. l. There’s Martyr Jesus, a good man who died a cruel death so we can feel sorry for him m. There’s Gentle Jesus who was meek and mild, with high cheek bones, flowing hair, and walks around barefoot, wearing a sash and looks very German. n. There’s Hippie Jesus who teaches everyone to give peace a chance, imagine a world without religion, and helps us remember all you need is love. o. There’s Yuppie Jesus who encourages us to reach our full potential, reach for the stars, and buy a boat. p. There’s Spirituality Jesus who hates religion, churches, pastors, priests, and doctrine; and would rather have people out in nature, finding the god within and listening to ambiguously spiritual musical. q. There’s Platitude Jesus, good for Christmas specials, greeting cards, and bad sermons; he inspires people to believe in themselves, and lifts us up so we can walk on mountains. r. There’s Revolutionary Jesus who teaches us to rebel against the status quo, stick it to the man, and blame things on the “system.” s. There’s Guru Jesus, a wise, inspirational teacher who believes in you and helps you find your center. t. There’s Boyfriend Jesus who wraps his arms around us as we sing about his intoxicating love in our secret place. u. There’s Good Example Jesus who shows you how to help people, change the planet, and become a better you. - DeYoung 2. The Biblical Jesus. a. But what do the scriptures say about him? What does John say about Jesus? i. Here in our text John makes two claims about the person of Jesus Christ. 1. First, John tells us that Jesus is the eternal God. a. “That which was from the beginning” b. “the word of life” i. In John’s gospel we have a similar phrase. John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” c. “(T)he eternal life, which was with the Father” i. John says that Jesus Christ is the eternal God who was there in the beginning with the Father. 2. Secondly, John says, that he was also a physical person, a human being. a. John tells us that, that which was from the beginning, the eternal life which was with the Father, was made manifest to them (the Apostles) and they saw, heard him, studied him, and touched him. He was flesh and blood. b. The word manifest that John uses is the greek word “phaneroo” and it implies bringing to light that which was already present. c. So John is telling us that the eternal God who was with the Father, was incarnated in the person of Jesus Christ. d. This is exactly what the other Apostles say, and exactly what the prophecies proclaimed would come to pass. e. Two examples: f. Isaiah 7:14 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (God with us). g. Isaiah 9:6-7 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” b. “And then there’s Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Not just another prophet. Not just another Rabbi. Not just another wonder-worker. He was the one they had been waiting for: the Son of David and Abraham’s chosen seed, the one to deliver us from captivity, the goal of the Mosaic law, Yahweh in the flesh, the one to establish God’s reign and rule, the one to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, freedom to the prisoners and proclaim good news to the poor, the lamb of God come to take away the sins of the world. This Jesus was the Creator come to earth and the beginning of a new creation. He embodied the covenant, fulfilled the commandments, and reversed the curse. This Jesus is the Christ that God spoke of to the serpent, the Christ prefigured to Noah in the flood, the Christ promised to Abraham, the Christ prophesied through Balaam before the Moabites, the Christ guaranteed to Moses before he died, the Christ promised to David when he was king, the Christ revealed to Isaiah as a suffering servant, the Christ predicted through the prophets and prepared for through John the Baptist. i. This Christ is not a reflection of the current mood or the projection of our own desires. He is our Lord and God. He is the Father’s Son, Savior of the world, and substitute for our sins–more loving, more holy, and more wonderfully terrifying than we ever thought possible.” - DeYoung 2. The Eyewitness Reliability a. John’s claim as well as the rest of the writers of the New Testament is that Jesus is the eternal God who was made flesh (incarnated) to bring us into fellowship with God. b. The New Testament is not here say, it is an eyewitness account. The New Testament writer’s claim to be eyewitness or in close association with the eyewitnesses, who saw, heard and touched the real Jesus. i. You’ve probably heard people say things like this before, “The New Testament has been changed and translated so many times over the past 2,000 years, it’s impossible to have any confidence in its accuracy. Everyone knows that.” c. So our next question that we need to tackle is what is the validity of the eyewitnesses and the reliability of the New Testament. i. First off one of the bedrocks of our own American judicial system is eyewitness testimony. “Human reports are normally based on visual perception, which is generally held to be very reliable (if not irrefutable).” ii. Secondly, the unanimous claim of the New Testament writers is that Jesus is the Christ, the eternal God, who was incarnated to deal with sin, and restore our fellowship with God. Although the writers expound on different aspects of Jesus and his work, not one of them disagree with one another. The Bible agrees with itself. (which is astounding being that it was written by forty different authors over the course of 2,000 yrs, in three different languages on three different continents.) iii. Thirdly, for these Jews (the Apostles) to claim that Jesus was God if it was not true was to forsake there Jewish faith especially that of monotheism. But they claim to be right inline with the Jewish teachings and with Monotheism claiming that Jesus is the promised one of the law and the prophets (the sacred scriptures of the Jews. 1. Many scholars try to claim that the gospels and the rest of the New Testament was not written until a few hundred years after jesus lived. They do this to give time for error and Myth to arise. But the truth is that the Gospels were written before 100 A.D. And the rest of the new testament was complete by that time. We have a fragment of John’s gospel dated sometime between 90- 100 AD. That puts the writing of the eyewitness testimony within 70 yrs of the life of Jesus. iv. Fourthly, from what we know of history all of the Apostles (except for John) died gruesome deaths for their faith in Jesus Christ; If it was not true they died for a lie that they knew was a lie. Also, read the New Testament, there were no perks to being an apostle. Paul described the apostles this way, “For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.” 1. I don’t doubt that people have used the Bible to control people and to benefit themselves, but there is nothing in the Bible or history that we could point to to say that the Apostles were guilty of this. 2. They wrote these things, they served the church, proclaimed Jesus Christ as lord of all because they saw these things with their own eyes, heard them with their own ears and touched him with their own hands. They were witnesses of these things and as they even said when threatened to shut up or die, “we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 3. True Fellowship a. Now John says, “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” i. See the Apostles declared what they had seen, heard, and touched because they wanted everyone to experience what they had experienced - eternal life and fellowship with God and his son Jesus Christ. ii. The word fellowship is the greek word Koinonia. The word has such a multitude of meanings that no single English word is adequate to express its depth and richness. It is a derivative of koinos, the word for common. iii. It means communion by intimate participation. The essential meaning of the koinonia embraces concepts conveyed in the English terms community, communion, joint participation, sharing and intimacy. iv. John had found eternal life (quality) in Jesus Christ the eternal God who became flesh and blood, walked among us, died for our sin and rose again and he wanted everyone to know and experience what he himself knew and experienced. So he writes to testify to the truth about Jesus. 4. Joy Complete a. “And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” i. John is writing these things that his joy may be complete? Is this a mis-translation? ii. No, what John is describing is what many of experience all the time. When you find a new style of music, or a new band or a new song, when you read something mind blowing in a book, or when you saw something amazing,or tasted something for the first time, our first reaction many times is that of wanting to tell others. And to a degree there is a part of the Joy that is not complete until others have also seen, and heard and experienced what we have experienced. This is what John is saying that his Joy is complete when others believe on the true, biblical, historical Jesus, and enter into fellowship with the father and with Jesus his son. Conclusion: Is there a passion in you to see the misunderstandings and misrepresentations of Jesus cleared up? John was so concerned that the true Jesus was proclaimed and not a man made version of Jesus. Why? Because apart from the true Jesus there is no fellowship with God and there is no eternal life. Christianity is a very narrow religion, it claims that there is only one way to God, and eternal life and that it is through Jesus Christ. So that means that in order for people to be saved they must believe on the “True Biblical Jesus”. But Christianity is also a very inclusive religion because it was recorded and proclaimed that others also might have fellowship with God, and it’s Joy is in a sense incomplete until others have also believed upon the true Jesus. 1. If you are serving and believing in a Jesus that looks more like you than the biblical Jesus you aren’t really serving the true Jesus. 2. If you don’t desire people to know the true Jesus, than you probably aren’t serving the real Jesus. 3. If you believe there are many ways to God, then you are not serving and believing in the true Jesus. 4. If you are happy with people believing whatever religion they chose, then you are not following the biblical Jesus. a. What do we really believe about Jesus? Because that will determine the effectiveness of our lives in our church and this city! b. A person who believes in the biblical Jesus, will have a desire for others to come into fellowship with him, and to experience what they have experienced; and in a sense their Joy as a Christian will not be complete until others have also heard and experienced. c. I believe that this is one of the first marks or tests of assurance that John’s epistle gives us.