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Copr. 1997, Burce N. Cameron, J.D.

LESSON 1 - THE WORD OF LIFE (1 JOHN 1:1-4)

     Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references
     are to the NIV unless otherwise noted. Suggested answers are
     found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses
     a blackboard. 

INTRODUCTION: This week we start a new quarter and a new study on
the letters of John. Our study this week is the first 4 verses of
1 John 1. You may be interested to know that in the Greek these
four verses form a single sentence. Lets jump right in!

I. WE PROCLAIM!

     A. Read 1 John 1:1.  The subject of these four verses that 
     form a single sentence in the Greek is "We proclaim." So John
     is proclaiming about something.  What is it? [If you have the
     KJV, this phrase is found in v. 3 "declare we."] (The Word of
     life.)

     B. What do you think is the "Word of life?" 

     C. Does v. 1 sound familiar? "That which was from the
     beginning ... we proclaim concerning the Word of life?" (Yes!
     John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word ...." Or Genesis 1:1:
     "In the beginning God ...." This clearly indicates that the
     "Word of life" is Jesus.)

          1. Why is Jesus called the "Word?" (A word is something
          that we use to communicate with others. A tool to
          describe something. God was communicating with us through
          Jesus. He was a "tool" to describe God to man.)

          2. Does this similarity of language to the gospel of John
          give us a clue as to who is the "we" who wrote the book
          of 1 John? (The apostle John because he uses the same
          kind of language as in the gospel of John.)

     D. So John says, We want to tell you about Jesus who was from
     the beginning ...."

II. RELIABLE WITNESS

     A. Lets assume that you had a UFO encounter last night. Also
     assume that you and I do not know each other. You want me to
     believe your story and I'm pretty skeptical. 

          1. What would you say to make me believe? (Since we 
          do not know each other, you cannot appeal to my trust in
          you. So you have to appeal to what makes a trust-worthy
          witness.)
          
          2. Lets look at the law a minute. There are a few rules
          that help the fact-finder focus on reliable, competent
          evidence.  These rules exclude the fact-finder from even
          hearing very unreliable, incompetent evidence.  One well-
          known evidentiary rule is the "Hearsay rule."

               a. What does the hearsay rule exclude? (Most out-of-
               court declarants.  If you are the one who saw or
               heard the evidence, you have to be in court to be
               able to talk about it.  I can't testify, "My Uncle
               Bob saw that the light was red." If Bob saw it, he
               has to be the one in court declaring it. It
               requires first-hand knowledge.)

               b. Does John sound like he knows about the hearsay
               rule in v. 1? (Yes! He says that he is an eye-
               witness, no hearsay here.)

          3. Aside from personal knowledge, what are some other 
          things you would guess a lawyer relies upon in cross-
          examination to show that someone is or is not a reliable
          witness? (The ability to observe.  Ranges from distance
          issues, to lighting issues, to the condition of your
          eyesight, to weather conditions, to bias, etc.)

               a. What does John say to bolster his testimony (our
               willingness to believe him) beyond having first-
               hand knowledge? 

                    ((1) He heard;
                    (2) He touched.)

               b. Notice that he says he saw it twice. "We have 
               seen with our eyes, which we have looked at ..."
               What does this mean? (The Greek means more than
               just looking, it means he contemplated it. Sort of
               a long, serious look.  Not just looking, really
               seeing.)

                    (1) Why does he say that? (Eye witnesses can be
                    wrong.  So he says this was a long, hard look.
                    We spent time with Jesus. Not a casual
                    matter.)

               c. So John involves all of his senses in telling 
               this story except the sense of smell!

     B. Do you think John is talking about his time with Jesus 
     before his crucifixion, or his time thereafter? (Probably
     both, since I doubt the debate centered on whether Jesus was
     a historical person, I think John is speaking primarily of the
     resurrected Jesus.  So John says, "His resurrection is real,
     I took it in with my own senses.)

III. THE TESTIMONY

     A. Lets read v.2. We discussed Jesus being "the Word" of life. 
     Here, it emphasizes the second part: "the life." What is
     important about calling Jesus "the life?"

          1. Why say, "the life appeared?" (The point is that God
          became man. "[T]he eternal life which was with the Father
          ... appeared to us." John is not ambiguous about this. He
          claims that Jesus is the eternal God who made His
          appearance as a human.  You either believe this or you do
          not.  You cannot logically, like some religions, believe
          in Jesus but not believe He was God.  To do that makes
          Jesus' closest associates outrageous liars.  You either
          make the faith leap or you do not. No middle ground
          here.)

     B. Read v.3. Why does John say he is giving his testimony (his
     proclamation)?  What is his motive? (So his reader can have
     fellowship with John.)

          1. What kind of fellowship does John have? (He says this
          is a pretty special fellowship, because he fellowships
          with "the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.")

     C. Notice the substance of John's testimony in v.3: he says
     that he is writing about what he has seen and heard.  

          1. How does that help us to fellowship with the Father
          and Jesus? 

               a. What is fellowship, anyway? (Fellowship is 
               getting to know someone, spending time with
               someone.  John says, "Look, I've spent time with
               Jesus.  I know Him.  If you spend some time with
               this message you will be "spending time" with Jesus
               and get to know Him.")

               b. In John 14:7-9 Jesus says that if we know Him we
               know the Father.  Do you see John's line of logic
               here? 

                    1. I am a first hand witness who has spent time
                    with Jesus. I will tell you about Jesus so you
                    will know about Him.

                    2. Jesus is a first hand witness who has spent
                    time with the Father. Knowing Jesus is knowing
                    the Father.

                    3. Therefore, if you listen to my message, you
                    will know the Father.
                    
     D. Read v. 4. Shouldn't this say John is writing to make OUR
     joy complete instead of HIS joy complete?  After all, he
     already knows Jesus.  He is already in this special fellowship
     club. He is offering to let us in on this very special
     fellowship club!

          1. Imagine someone saying to you that they would take you
          to the White House and (for free!) introduce you to the
          President.  Wouldn't it be obvious that the purpose was
          to make your day special instead of making the
          President's day special?

          2. Now ratchet this up a million degrees and say you are
          being taken into the "club" of the Creator and Lord of
          the Universe. Is this for your benefit or for His?

          3. Now you see that something very unusual and special is
          being said here: God wants to fellowship with you.  It
          gives God joy to fellowship with you.  The lesson points
          out (Wednesday) that in John's gospel (15:15) he reports
          that Jesus calls us "friends, for everything [Jesus]
          learned from the Father [Jesus] made known to you." The
          text continues to say that Jesus chose us, we did not
          choose Him?  He wanted us to come to the oval office! We
          did not ask to come.  James 2:23 reports that Abraham had
          a friendship with God. 

     E. John includes himself in the "our joy." This means he is
     getting joy out of this too!

          1. What does this mean for you when you enter into the
          fellowship by reading the words of John's letters? (You
          can have joy in sharing this with others!)

IV. NEXT WEEK:  "Light Against the Darkness"-- Our joy continues
with a discussion of 1 John 1. Study!
ters? (You can have joy in sharing this with others!) IV. NEXT WEEK: "Light Against the Darkness"-- Our joy continues with a discussion of 1 John 1. Study!