What about 1 John 1:9? Part ten.
Darkness, Light, and Fellowship
In our last blog, we completed our study of darkness and Light in John’s writings.
We concluded that:
The Light refers to Christ Himself, eternal life in Christ, and the message of eternal life in Christ.
Darkness refers to ignorance of Christ, rejection of Christ, and the absence of eternal life - death.
Believers walk in the Light.
Armed with these definitions, we then started to examine what John means by fellowship in 1 John 1:1-7.
5 This is the message we [the apostles] have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light [eternal life] , and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness [reject God’s revelation of eternal life in Christ], we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light [accept God’s revelation concerning eternal life in Christ] as He Himself is in the Light [eternal life] , we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
We saw that there are two kinds of fellowship described here.
The first kind is fellowship with God: God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
This is the primary kind of fellowship, and is the source of the second kind.
The second kind of fellowship is fellowship with one another. This is fellowship between fellow believers.
The preaching of the gospel - the message of eternal life in Christ - is the means of bringing about fellowship with God and with one another.
The apostles’ have fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. To have fellowship with the apostles is to have fellowship with God.
The Greek word for “fellowship” in 1 John 1:3,6, and 7 is koinonia.
Koinonia means an association involving close mutual relationships, interests, and involvement: a partnership, community, fellowship, brotherhood, marriage.
In 1 John, that koinonia is a family:
So fellowship in 1 John is the intimate family relationship between the Father, the Son, and God’s children (believers) based on the life they share – eternal life - and expressed in love.
Fellowship means you are members of the same family and share the same life – eternal life, God’s life.
So fellowship with the Father and the Son is fundamentally the same thing as having eternal life.
This fellowship with God cannot be lost, because we cannot lose eternal life, and we cannot lose our place in God’s household as sons and daughters.
Thus, 1Jo 1:3 offers no support for the idea of “losing fellowship” with God. (Joh 10:27-30)
John’s great concern
We left off by posing a question that needs to be answered if we are to make sense out of everything that John has to say about fellowship in 1 John.
That’s where we pick things up now.
1Jo 1:3 what we have seen [Christ] and heard [the gospel] we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us [John and his fellow apostles] ; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.
Why does John proclaim the gospel message, the message of eternal life in Christ, to his audience so that they might have fellowship with John and his apostolic circle?
He is writing to the assembly after all. Wouldn’t they have already had the gospel proclaimed to them?
Later on in the letter, John addresses his audience as children and little children. As members of the family. Members of the family already have fellowship with God and with one another.
So what’s going on here?
To answer this question, we need to return to the central conflict behind this letter.
Recall that the controversy that runs through this letter is the conflict between the apostles and the opponents.
Now, the ideal makeup for a church is to have a group of shepherds overseeing a flock of sheep.
In other words, to have authentic elders and teachers overseeing a congregation made up of all believers.
But that is not the situation that John faces with this assembly. Not hardly.
False teachers had infiltrated the community and spread their lies. Then they left.
As he began writing this letter, he had every reason to be concerned that he was addressing a mixed audience of believers and unbelievers.
The assembly had been hit by a plague of heresy.
Men whom they considered authoritative teachers had instead turned out to be false apostles and antichrists.
And the worst thing about it was the nature of the false teaching. These opponents denied and rejected Christ and peddled a counterfeit life.
In other words, they taught another Jesus and another gospel.
And anyone who believed their lies rather than the true gospel did not have eternal life. Therefore, they were not in fellowship with the apostles or with God and His Son.
John’s great concern in chapter 1 is for those who, because of the influence of the opponents, may not have the Son.
Covering all his bases
So John “covers all the bases” in chapter 1.
He addresses the general situation.
The general situation includes true teachers and false teachers.
And the general situation includes believers and unbelievers.
John does not begin to address believers exclusively until chapter 2. In chapter 2 verse 1 he calls his audience "children" for the first time.
And throughout the letter his special concern is for recent arrivals and baby believers.
The recent arrivals would have been the most likely to have been indoctrinated by the false teachers.
And the baby believers would have been the mostly likely to have been questioning their salvation.
So John spends a lot of time in 1 John tending the lambs (John 21:15).
He teaches the basics: the gospel, eternal life, the person of Christ, forgiveness, and love.
And he presents the gospel many times in the letter: 1:1-3, 5,7,9; 2:1-2,12,20-25; 3:5,16,23-24; 4:9-10, 14-15; 5:1, 4-5, 6-13, 20.
So, again, in 1 John 1, John addresses the general situation and provides the tools to sort out who’s who.
He does this in 1 John 1:5-10 to allow his audience to identify the false teachers.
And he does this in 1 John 1:1-4 so people who had fallen for the lies of the opponents can hear the proclamation of the gospel message of eternal life in Christ.
The apostles’ joy would be made complete when the entire assembly had heard the gospel, and when all of the children knew that they had eternal life.
Teachers who walk in the Light
John continues to talk about fellowship in verses 6 &7. Here he is providing evidence to distinguish between the real apostles and the false teachers.
After John deals with the difference between believers and unbelievers in the assembly, in verses 1 to 4, he next turns to the same distinction when it comes to leaders and teachers.
As we have seen, verses 6 to 10 alternate between describing the false teachers (John’s opponents) and the true teachers (John and his apostolic circle).
In verse 6, false teachers say they have fellowship with God (share in His eternal life). But in fact they walk in darkness, since they are unbelievers who deny Christ and reject the message of eternal life in Christ. They are liars.
On the other hand, teachers who walk in the Light adhere to God’s message of eternal life in His Son Jesus Christ. Such teachers have fellowship with one another. These teachers are fellow members of God’s family and share in eternal life.
The Blood of Jesus His Son
And the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses these real apostles and teachers from all sin.
This all fits together in a marvelous way.
To really see this, we will now take a brief look at what the rest of the New Testament has to say about the blood of Christ.
Verse 7 consists of three statements. We will see that these 3 statements are always true about each and every believer in Christ without qualification.
The blood of Christ cleanses each and every believer from all sin.
God tells us in His word that all believers in Christ have been redeemed through the blood of His Son. And redemption equals the forgiveness of sins.
The blood of Christ has also justified us forever. After He wipes away all our sins, God declares us to be righteous forever in His eyes. The blood of Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
The blood of Christ has cleansed us from our sins once and or all.
We have been cleansed, washed once for all time , and it occurred the moment we believed in Christ and were regenerated. (1Co 6:11; Tit 3:4-7)
The blood of Jesus God’s Son has cleansed each and every believer from all sin.
All believers have fellowship with one another. It is the birthright of every believer.
And all believers walk in the Light.
Congregations can know which teachers walk in the Light and which teachers walk in the darkness by observing what they say and teach.
If the teachers preach Christ and proclaim the gospel message of eternal life in Christ, they walk in the Light.
In our next blog, we will learn what “confess” means in 1 John 1:9. And we will recap what the New Testament epistles say about the forgiveness of sins.
Until the next time, we’re all ….
In His grip,
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