First John 1:1-10
Fellowship In The Light

Authored By Rev. Takao Kiyohiro, Tokyo, Japan

So That You Might Have Fellowship With Us

1. Today I read you the opening section from the Epistle Of John. John is trying to communicate to us about one person here. This person is called "The word of life." This one who is "the word of life" who was with God the Father, this one who is eternal life itself, has come into this world, has appeared in history, and has become a being which we can see and can touch with our hands. Of course, the one of whom John is speaking is Jesus Christ, the son of God who became a man.

2. For what purpose is John trying to communicate to us about Jesus Christ "the word of life?" In verse three the scripture says, "The reason I am communicating to you what we have seen and what we have heard is so that you might have fellowship with us," (1:3).

3. The reason he is communicating Jesus Christ is "so that you might have fellowship." The gospel could be defined as a call to fellowship. John says that this fellowship is defined as "a fellowship with the father and his son Jesus Christ." John and those with him were already entered into fellowship with the father and his son Jesus Christ. They proclaimed Jesus Christ and also invited others into this fellowship they had. Those added to the fellowship in this way also communicated Jesus Christ, and invited others into a fellowship with the father and his son Jesus Christ. This is truly what the church has been doing for two thousand years. Also, this [same] Jesus Christ has been communicated unto us as well. We too have been invited unto this fellowship of which John speaks. The faith life could be defined exactly as living in this fellowship.

4. John says that he is writing this, that is he is communicating Christ, he is giving invitations to fellowship "so that our joy might be full." The word for "we" is "you" in other [ancient] manuscripts. Either way, if we say "we," except for the readers, it is certain that it does not mean "we're in , you're out." We should say that "we" has included "you" in it. Thus, the call to fellowship is for sharing in an overflowing joy.

5. Thus, during our faith life, "fellowship" has a basic core meaning. The thought of "Shouldn't you individually believe in God in your heart?" has no connection to the gospel of Christ. We are in a fellowship that is in existence already, that is, we are living with God being joined into a fellowship with the Father and the Son and with christians across the ages of time. Also, [we] have an overflowing joy in that very fellowship. We shouldn't expect there to be any true joy in an egotistical piety that only thinks of personal salvation, which dismembers the self from others from the start. We live in fellowship with the brothers and the sisters in the faith which is based on a fellowship with the Father and the Son, and in addition, we experience an overflowing joy whenever we invite our neighbors into that same fellowship.

When One Walks In The Darkness

6. So, let's think a bit more about fellowship. "Our fellowship is with the Father and the Son." That is, "the kind of being God is" will have great meaning, as one might expect, because it is a "fellowship with God." So, this is what John says: "The news that we have already heard from Jesus and are telling you is that God is light, and there is no darkness in God at all," (verse five).

7. It is impossible to express in finite words the essential nature of God. Thus, the expression that "God is light" is not complete. But, at least it helps us understand. We can't imagine God right in our minds. But, we can imagine about light. We can also imagine the darkness as well.

8. "Our fellowship is with the Father and the Son." -- The one image that we ought to imagine through this sentence is the image of our walking together in a bright light. We might be able to also imagine the opposite situation, which would be the image of ourselves walking in the pitch black darkness. What is the decisive difference between [being] "in the light" and "in the dark?" On the one hand you can see and on the other hand you can not see.

9. Normally we live thinking we want to be able to see things. So, we throw open the curtains in the daytime and let the sun light into the room, at night, we light the room with artificial light. When it gets all dark from a power failure, we get all annoyed. Thus, we certainly do want to be able to see things in the bright light.

10. However, we don't always think something being visible is good. Some think it is even better for some things never to be seen. Like what for example? It is "sin." It is very uncomfortable when our sinful practices and our sinful side becomes visible. Therefore, when it comes to the subject of sin, we'd rather it not be visible to others. But, that's not all, some wish that they themselves don't even see it and it is not visible to them either. For that reason, it happens in our lives that we readily shun the light and place ourselves in the dark.

11. John said that "God is light." Yet, people shun the light away. They close off the light. They place themselves in the darkness. Because they're in the dark, what should be visible is not. What should be admitted is not. Sin is not admitted as sin. In other words, as long as they are in the dark, it means that the persons can justify their sinful deeds as much as [they want]. As it has in verse eight, they can claim, "I have no sin." At the time back when this epistle was written, various myths and philosophical speculations related to Greek mind-body dualism used to be quoted in order to back the claim "I have no sin." Having used logic of this kind, that's how some would still insist "I have no sin."

12. We today, using a different logic than that of the people back then, are still justifying ourselves. But, whether then or today, it is possible to do while in the darkness. We even know that to some extent. We know that the claim "I have no sin" won't hold up to God's bright light. As a matter of fact, we can't help but shut our mouths when asked, "In the presence of God can we truly make that claim, upon which we're usually so insistent?"

13. And there's something else that's clear. No matter how much they keep claiming in the dark that "I am sinless," they never have any real joy or anything [close]. Please see it in your minds -- yourselves walking in pitch black darkness, and the affairs of human society [done] in the dark. Isn't it certainly all a completely opposite picture from the words of John of "So that our joy may be full?" John says, "While we say that we have fellowship with God but if we walk in the dark, we are telling a lie and we are not practicing the truth," (verse six). He truly told it right.

If One Walks In The Light

14. Therefore, we must not "walk" in the darkness. Even if we might have placed ourselves in the dark [at some time], we must not remain and abide in that darkness. We should not try to stay in sin and avoid God the Light. At that point, we must turn to God and turn into [His] light.

15. When we walk in the light, sin can usually always be seen as the sin it is. The bad we've done can usually always be clearly seen. [We] can't say anymore that "I'm sinless." Pain in the heart comes along with that. But even still, we ought to place ourselves in the light; [especially] because there are promises being made to us. "But, as God is in the light, if we walk in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and we are cleansed from every sin through the blood of his son Jesus," (verse seven). As long as we are in the light, the blood of Jesus the son will keep cleansing our sins.

16. So then, it's by being in that light that true fellowship with one another comes into being where no darkness is. This is put in a different set of words in a specific way in the text as follows: "When we declare our sins openly, since God is true and faithful, he will forgive [our] sins, and he will cleanse us from all kinds of unrighteousness," (verse nine).

17. The open place we are given in order to walk in the light is the place where we gather together and worship God. This matter of walking in the light does not mean merely a condition of the mind. It has the specific form of living day to day and worshipping God together. Also, we stand together as persons who confess our sins in a specific public place such as this.

18. Earlier, we did a responsive reading of Psalm fifty-one. We read it responsively each week. We state publicly the words, "O God, have compassion on me. With lovingkindness and mercy, wipe away [my] sin of rebellion. Please wash away each and every fault, and cleanse away [my] sins." We must not make of this a mere formal title [to our service activity]. If we confess these words before God in a true and faithful manner, it means that we are repentant and are relinquishing even the different sorts of justification and defenses for [our] sins.

19. So, when we admit our sins before God, something totally paradoxical happens then and there. "Because God is true and faithful, he will pardon [our] sins, and will cleanse away every sort of unrighteousness." Since he is true and faithful and he is also righteous, we would probably expect the words to follow after it to be "judgment, condemnation," and not "forgiveness, pardon." But, it says he forgives. Why is that? As the text says in chapter two and verse two, it is because Jesus Christ became the sacrificial victim to pay for our sins and the sins of the whole world. Therefore, the righteous One will pardon us faithfully and loyally so. The blood of Jesus the son, who became the sin redeeming sacrifice, cleanses our sin.

20. Our fellowship with each other begins from that kind of worship. Fellowship in the light begins from there. "Fellowship with the father and the son Jesus Christ," which possesses the blessing of God, begins. So, we proclaim Jesus Christ, and invite our neighbors also to that fellowship all the more. So that true joy will be overflowing!

 
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