Sermon #2                                                                                                                                              1 John Series


            Title:                           This is the Message!


            Text:                            1 John 1:1-5

            Subject:                     The Revelation of the Gospel

            Date:                          Sunday Evening — November 20, 2011

            Tape #                       1 John #2

            Readings:     Darin Duff and Rex Bartley



There is no book in the Bible more comforting and assuring than the Epistle of 1 John. At the same time, there is no section of the Scriptures that is more searching. In these few short chapters the Apostle John sets forth the certainty of Christ, the certainty of the Gospel, and the certainty of eternal life. And, yet, his language is such that no one can read the epistle, if they have any apprehension of spiritual matters, without close personal examination.


Robert Law, who wrote a commentary on this epistle in the 19th century, showed his awareness of this, by titling his exposition, “The Tests of Life.” This evening, I want to give you an exposition of verses 1-5 of the first chapter. But before coming to our text, I will give you a few comments about the book as a whole.




The author of the epistle was John, the son of Zebedee, that disciple whom Jesus loved. He was the youngest of the Apostles. And he outlived them all. He does not put his name to the epistle, as Peter, Paul, James, and Jude did. But that was not at all unusual; for whenever John had occasion to speak of himself in any of his writings, he studiously concealed his own name. He referred to himself only as the disciple whom Jesus loved or as the other disciple. But if you will compare the language of this epistle with the Gospel of John, you will see that it is obvious that the same man wrote both books.


General Epistle


This is called a general epistle, because it was not written to any specific individual or to any particular congregation of Christians. John’s epistle was written by Divine inspiration but to all believers and to all Gospel churches. It is obvious that John wrote this epistle to believing Jews. Those early Jewish converts to Christianity had specific needs and dangers, which John endeavored to meet in this epistle. Yet, it was not addressed to them alone. This is God’s Word to you and me.


Pastoral Epistle


As he wrote this letter, the Apostle John demonstrated the tender heart of a loving pastor. He uses language that every pastor understands. John loved his congregation dearly; and he was deeply concerned for their spiritual welfare. It was his purpose to protect them from the enticements of the world and the errors of false religion. He wanted to see them established in the faith, love, and hope of the Gospel. Therefore he appealed to what they were and what they knew. The epistle is full of exhortation, warning, and instruction. Every pastor who has been entrusted by the Chief Shepherd with the care of a flock experiences the same care that John expresses in this epistle. And he strives after the same goals. John’s goals in this letter seem to be threefold.


1.    He wanted to establish his readers in the doctrine of Christ. There had arisen in the church a variety of heretics who sought to undermine the very essence of the Gospel, by denying the person and work of Christ. Some denied the doctrine of the Trinity. Some denied the deity of Christ. And some denied His real humanity.


2.    John wanted to give assurance to every true believer of his interest in Christ. — “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye many know that ye have eternal life” (5:13). Though his letter is full of searching points of self-examination, it was not his purpose to destroy the assurance of any true believer. He desired to destroy the false assurance of a mere religious professor. But he desired that all of God’s saints be assured of their salvation in Christ. Throughout the book, he encourages the faith of God’s elect with the certainty of God’s faithfulness, the certainty of the Divine promises, and the certainty of eternal life.


3.    And the Apostle John wanted to establish the people of God in true godliness. It was his manifest desire to promote brotherly love. He shows that this brotherly love is the fruit of the new birth. He sets it down as the law of Christ’s Church. And he exemplifies that brotherly love in the manifest love of Christ for us. John also teaches us the necessity of faith in Christ. He refuted the proud, licentious error of those who say that a believer has no sin after conversion. And he shows us that our only ground of acceptance with God is Christ. These are the principles of godliness. These are the things which are pleasing in the eyes of God. John wrote, “This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment” (3:23).


Coming now to our text for this evening, John begins this epistle abruptly, without any introduction. He has an urgent message to deliver; and he comes to it directly. In these first five verses the Apostle shows us the eternality, the revelation, the purpose, and the universal sufficiency of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.


(1 John 1:1-5) “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; 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;) 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. 5 ¶ This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”


The title of my sermon is — This is the Message! Brethren, it will be a happy day for the Church of Jesus Christ when those who occupy the pulpit realize that the Word of God is a Book with one message. God’s entire Revelation to man may be summed up in these two words: — Jesus Christ. Those who use the Bible as a book to declare political and social reform, a textbook for science, a source-book for predicting future events, or a book of moral virtue have missed its message. The message of the Bible is the good news of heaven. It is the Gospel. God has provided a way of life and light for men who grope about in the death and darkness of sin. And that Word of Life is Jesus Christ Himself.


Mr. Spurgeon tells the story of a young man who went many years ago to a Church in Wales. He had been away to school for his theological training. There he was a good student. He learned his languages well. He gained a good understanding of theology. And he was going to this old Welch Church to preach his first sermon. After he had preached, he stood at the door, receiving words of gratitude and congratulations from the congregation. There was one old, influential elder in the Church whom he wanted very much to impress. But as the old elder came by, he said nothing about the young man’s sermon. When the other folks were gone, he went up to the old man and said, “Sir, you said nothing about my sermon today, and I would like to know what you thought about it.” The old man looked him square in the eye and said, “It was a very poor sermon.” To say the least, the young man was taken back. He said, “Did I not study and prepare well?” the old man replied, “Oh yes, it was evident that you were well prepared.” “Well, was my organization and outline unclear?” “Oh no,” said the elder, “You were very clear.” “It must have been my illustrations and gestures then. They were not good.” “Oh no,” the old man replied, “Your illustrations and gestures were fine.” By this time, the young preacher was very disturbed. “You say that my preparation was good. My outline was clear. My illustrations and gestures were good. What then was wrong with my sermon?” The old elder replied, “There was no Christ in your sermon.” To that the young man said, “But, Sir, Christ was not in the text.” The old elder said to him, “Young man, in every text in the Bible there is a road that leads to Calvary. Every text points men to Christ. And, as a preacher, it is your job to find that road and get on it as soon as you can.”


That is good advice for every preacher. It is our job to find the road to Calvary and point men to Christ. He is the message of the Bible.


This is the message! In this matter, every true Gospel preacher is like the Apostles. We do not have the gifts of the Apostles. We do not speak in tongues. We do not perform miracles. We are not inspired or infallible in our instruction. But we do not need these things. We have the full revelation of God in the Holy Scriptures. But we do have the message of the Apostles. We preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ. And we must be “determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” This is the message! This is God’s message to men. This is the message of redemption. This is the message of salvation. This is the message of sanctification. And this is the message of judgment.


Proposition: In these five verses of Inspiration the Apostle John shows us that Jesus Christ is the great object of the Gospel, the foundation and object of our faith and hope, and the bond that unities us to God. — In a word, Jesus Christ is the Word of Life.


Divisions: As we look at our subject, This is the Message, John shows us three things.

  1. The proof of the Gospel is set forth (1-2).
  2. The purpose of the Gospel is salvation (3-4).
  3. The proclamation of the Gospel is sufficient (5).


The Proof of the Gospel


The first thing we see in our text is this: — The proof of the Gospel is set forth (1-2).The proof of the Gospel is the blessed experience of it!


(1 John 1:1-2) “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; 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.)”


There were those goats among the sheep at that time who sought to destroy the very essential truths of the Gospel. The point of Satan’s attack in that early day was the same as it is now. He tried to subvert the Gospel by attacking the person and work of Christ. Therefore, without any introduction, John goes right to the heart of the issue, presenting the certain, indisputable proof of the Gospel. Read it again…


(1 John 1:1-2) “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; 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.)”


John tells us of his firsthand knowledge of Jesus Christ (v. 1). The Apostles did not pass along second hand information. They were eyewitnesses of the Mediator and of His majesty. All that they testified of Christ was firsthand information.


In this opening verse of his epistle John sets forth the eternal Divinity of Christ. There were and are many who dispute the Savior’s Godhead. Therefore, John states it without apology. Jesus Christ is the everlasting Jehovah, the eternal I AM, which is, which was, and which is to come. In this first verse, John tells us three things about Divine Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ.


1. ETERNAL CHRIST — The Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, is eternal. —“That which was from the beginning.” Realize that John is not speaking here of our Lord’s eternal existence as God, though that truth is plainly included in the text. Here the Apostle is telling us that Jesus Christ was set up as our Mediator, Representative, and Substitute from old eternity.


Before the first Gospel sermon was ever preached to our father Adam, the Gospel was established in Christ. Jesus Christ is before all things. He is before the Prophets, before the Apostles, before all creatures. He is the Maker of all things; and by Him all things consist.


Mark you, my friends, before the world began, God set up His Son as the Mediator of the everlasting covenant. Christ is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Of Christ it was written, “I have laid help upon one that is mighty. I have exalted one chosen out of the people. My covenant shall stand fast with Him.” From old eternity, God said of His people, “Deliver him from going down to the pit, for I have found a ransom.” Our Lord Himself said, by the pen of Solomon, “I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was…Then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him…and My delights were with the sons of men.” These words could only refer to our Savior’s mediatorial character.

  • Before there was a sinner, there was a Redeemer.
  • Before there was a fall, there was a Deliverer.
  • Before the first Adam was created, the last Adam was set up.


From the beginning, when there was no creature, and God existed alone in the blessedness of the sacred Trinity, Jesus Christ became our Savior, agreeing to all the stipulations of the covenant of grace as our Surety, and was accepted of God as our Substitute.

  • We were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.
  • All blessings of grace were given to us in Christ before the world began.
  • From the beginning, we were accepted in the Beloved.


2. Personally Known — Moreover, this very Christ was personally revealed to the Apostles and personally known by them. John’s description of his knowledge of Christ shows that He was really and truly a man. Today, most people deny the Savior’s Godhead. But in the early Church there were many who also denied His real manhood. And the manhood of Christ is as essential to the Gospel as His Godhead. Our Mediator must be a man. Man had sinned, and man must be punished. Man had broken God’s law, and man must keep it. Therefore it is written, “There is one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” Here John gives us an indisputable testimony to the Savior’s manhood.


The Apostles heard the Savior speak. — They often heard Him speak, both in public and in private discourses. They sat at His feet and heard His words.


They saw Him with their eyes. — With their own eyes they saw Him in his human nature. They saw Him eating, drinking, and walking among them. They saw Him perform mighty miracles, raising the dead, cleansing the lepers, causing the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the lame to walk. They saw Him transfigured on the mount. Peter says, “We were eye witnesses of His majesty.” They saw the Savior hanging upon the cross. They saw Him die. They saw Him after his resurrection. They saw the Son of God ascend into heaven.


Those chosen men looked upon the God-man. — Intently, once and again, thousands of times, they looked upon their Savior. They looked upon Him with the utmost delight and pleasure. They knew His every physical characteristic.


The Apostles even handled the Son of God! — Peter handled Him when the Savior caught Him by the hand, when he was sinking in the water. John handled Him so intimately that he leaned upon His breast. Thomas handled Him after His resurrection. Indeed, all the Apostles were called upon after His resurrection, so that they would know that it was indeed Himself, to see and handle the God-man.


These men enjoyed these rare privileges, and were blessed by them. “Blessed are your eyes for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them” (Matthew 13:16-17).


Christ the Word And John tells us that this very man, Christ Jesus, is the eternal God. He calls Him “The Word of Life.” — This title speaks of the Divinity of Christ. It is a phrase which John uses to describe God the eternal Son (John 1:1-4; Revelation 19:13).


(John 1:1-4) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”


(Revelation 19:13) “And he [was] clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.”


Jesus Christ is the living, eternal Word of God. When the Lord Jesus Christ is called the Word of God, it means that He is the embodiment, fullness, the Wisdom, and Revelation of God.

Š      Jesus Christ is God’s full revelation of Himself.

Š      The only way that God ever has, or ever will deal with men is in Christ.

Š      If you would know God, you must know Him as He is revealed in Christ.


And all life is in Christ. — Naturally speaking, Jesus Christ is the Creator and Sustainer of all life. But here John speaks of spiritual life. And he tells us that is Christ.

Š         Jesus Christ alone has the right and power to give eternal life unto men. — “Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life unto as many as Thou hast given Him.”

Š      And it is Jesus Christ alone who sustains spiritual life. As the branch has life only because it is in the vine, so we have life only as we are in Christ.


John has given us a positive declaration of the Person of our Savior. He is the God-man Mediator. And now he tells us that Jesus Christ actually came to the earth.




Did you notice how remarkably, how honorably, how reverently John spoke of our Lord Jesus as he abruptly began this epistle. He calls the Lord Jesus  — That!” “That,” even that Holy One, who is the sum and substance of all revelation; “by whom were all things created, and who is before all things, and by whom all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17). “That which was from the beginning.What beginning? Not eternity. For eternity has no beginning. But the beginning of God's going forth in the three Persons of the eternal Jehovah for the salvation of His elect. This glorious “That” is Christ, the glorious God-Man-Mediator. Our Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son, our Mediator is “That Holy Thing” (Luke 1:35) who alone is holy and who alone makes sinners holy (Isaiah 49:7-9).


“7 ¶ Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, [and] his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, [and] the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee. 8 Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; 9 That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that [are] in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures [shall be] in all high places.” (Isaiah 49:7-9)


This Holy One, He Who is Life came to give life unto men (v. 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.)” (1 John 1:2)


There was a historical revelation of God in Christ. — “God was manifest in the flesh.” — “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth).” — “When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.” — “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.”

  • The eternal God assumed our nature!
  • The God-man, our Mediator, accomplished and brought in a perfect, everlasting righteousness for us!
  • In due time Christ died in our place, and put away our sins by the sacrifice of Himself!


This is God’s ultimate revelation of Himself. If you would know the true character of God, you must go to Mount Calvary and see the God-man dying in the place of sinners. The cross teaches us all that we need to know or can know about God’s love and His anger, God’s mercy and His justice, of God’s wrath and His longsuffering. There we see sin in its true character and holiness in its blazing light.


At the appointed hour, our Savior came forth from the grave triumphant. Christ, Who is Life, swallowed up death in victory, and brought immortality and life to light by the Gospel.


But more than this historical manifestation is needed. If you and I are to have eternal life, Jesus Christ must reveal Himself in us by the Gospel. — “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may now Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life” (1 John 5:20). — “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3).


  • Eternal life is the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
  • This knowledge of Christ can be gained only by a revelation of Christ in our hearts.
  • And this revelation is given to men by the Gospel.


This is the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, which — “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).


There were many who were eyewitnesses to all that John has spoken of. They heard the Savior. They saw Him. They looked upon him. They even handled Him. But they did not know Him. And there are many today who know all about Christ. But there is something lacking. They do not know Christ. It is not enough to know all the facts of the Gospel. There must be a revelation of Christ in our hearts.


Now I want us to learn from these two verses the authority of the Gospel of Christ. All that John has said concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, he has said in order to establish in our hearts a confidence in the authority of the Gospel.

  • The Gospel is not a new or novel religious system. It is the declaration of the eternal mind and purpose of God.
  1. It is the Gospel message by which God gives life to men. — It is a message which God has delivered. — It is a message concerning His Son. — It is a message of life.


The Gospel is God’s full, authoritative, and final revelation of Himself to men. We no longer have need for the signs, gifts, and wonders of the Apostles. — “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by Whom also He made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the Word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3).


The Purpose of the Gospel


In the second place John shows us thatThe purpose of the Gospel is the complete salvation of God’s elect (vv. 3-4).


“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.” (1 John 1:3-4)


The revelation of Jesus Christ was not something which was to be monopolized and hid under a bushel. The reason for the revelation that God made to the Apostles was that the Gospel might be proclaimed. Therefore, the Apostles went everywhere preaching the Gospel. And there was a purpose for preaching the Gospel; and that purpose was the complete salvation of his people.


By the Gospel, sinful men are brought into fellowship with the blessed persons of the holy Trinity (v. 3).


“Fellowship’ is a specifically Christian word and denotes that common participation in the grace of God, the salvation of Christ, and the indwelling Spirit, which is the spiritual birth right of all believers.” (John R. W. Stott)


All men by nature are enemies to God. The Gospel brings men to be reconciled to God, by declaring the finished work of Christ.

  • The Gospel declares a full pardon and complete justification.
  • The Gospel declares the love, grace, and mercy of God.
  • The Gospel declares the power and willingness of Christ to save sinners.


When the Gospel is made effectual, by the power of the Holy Spirit, men are reconciled to God.

  • We become reconciled to God’s righteousness and His sovereignty.
  • And this reconciliation brings us into fellowship and oneness with God himself.


And the ultimate purpose of preaching the Gospel is full and eternal joy in Christ. — “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full” (v. 4). The Gospel of Christ is the message of gladness, and it makes those who receive it to rejoice.

  • The Gospel makes the saints of God full of spiritual joy. — We rejoice in Christ. — We rejoice in our justification. — We rejoice in God’s grace. —We rejoice in God’s providence.


Nothing so contributes to the spiritual joy as the declaration of the Gospel of Christ. It falls upon our hearts like rain on parched ground. But there is more here. John is here assuring us that the Gospel declares the certainty of eternal joy to all believers.


In the world to come, in the presence of Christ, we shall have the fullness of joy, and pleasure for evermore. Heaven is a place of unceasing, unlimited, inexpressible joy.


The Sufficiency of the Gospel


Now briefly, I want to show you that the Gospel alone is sufficient (v. 5). I will be brief here; but I hope to come back to this verse again. “This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.”


Our message is twofold (Isaiah 40:6, 9). There are two essential parts to the message of the Gospel which are utterly despised in our churches today.

  1. All flesh is grass!
  2. Behold your God! — “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”


(Isaiah 40:1-9) “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.”


“3 ¶ The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see [it] together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it]. 6 The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh [is] grass, and all the goodliness thereof [is] as the flower of the field: 7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people [is] grass. 8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”


“9 ¶ O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift [it] up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!


This is the message. This message is sufficient. And this message alone is sufficient. The Gospel of Christ is the power of God. It is sufficient...

  • For salvation.
  • For strength.
  • For sanctification.
  • To bring us to glory.


We dare not replace this message with anything else.

This is the message!

  • Believe this message; and life eternal is yours.
  • Let us faithfully proclaim this message.
  • Depend upon it. — No man is ever the same after hearing this message. — We have fellowship with God in Christ, — A union of life with one another and a union of life the eternal God in His Son!
  • By this message alone, God is pleased to save them that believe (Romans 1:16-17; 10:17; 1 Peter 1:23).


(1 John 1:1-5) “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; 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;) 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. 5 ¶ This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”










Don Fortner



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