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  • Prelude:

    Whenever I read this epistle, I think about my beginnings as a Christian. For those who don't know, I came to Jesus when I was thirty years old while serving on the U.S.S. Dixie on deployment in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The fellowship there included several aspiring ministers, and I spent many hours with the Chaplain, a reformed Southern Baptist minister, learning about the responsibilities of a pastor. We were all anxious to try our hands at preaching, so he taught several classes on developing a sermon. One of his primary lessons was was a lot like this first general letter from John to Christians at large: “Tell them what you're going to tell them, Tell them, then Tell them what you told them.”

    John is the most poetic writer of the New Testament, and as such tends to be somewhat verbose in his writings. The up side is you have no doubt of what he is trying to say. The down side is he says it often and takes his time saying it.

    In this interpretation, I have tried to keep the words simple and direct. Hope I succeeded.

    I was with Him in the beginning, beloved. I was a witness in every way to the ministry and sacrifice of Jesus, and I am writing this to tell you there is no doubt He was our promised Messiah.
    God in human form. The other apostles and I witnessed His transformation, saw all the signs and heard everything. We even touched Him as we traveled and even felt His goodness when we did.

    Jesus was Emmanuel, our salvation, and has returned to us as the Holy Spirit so that all mankind can be saved. Rejoice, my brothers and sisters, for the kingdom of heaven is yours for the taking.

    He came to teach us about God and heaven. He came to tell us there is not darkness in heaven, only light, and if we are able to walk with Him, we have chosen to walk in the light.

    If you claim to be a Christian, but you continue to walk in sin, you are lying to yourself. If you believe you are without sin, you are calling God a liar.

    But if you walk in the light, you are choosing to walk with Jesus. If you confess your sins and turn away from them, you are forgiven, and with this forgiveness you are free of all earthly chains and bondage.

    So I am writing to you to beg you to turn away from sin, and also to tell you we have an advocate before God whose name is Jesus, who came to be the ultimate sacrifice for all sin for all time so that we could be forgiven. He purchased our lives with His blood, and asks only that we accept Him and follow the commandments He has given us.

    Anyone who says they are a Christian and continues to sin is a liar. Those who keep the commandments and turn away from sin are believers. It is really that simple.

    If you love Jesus, if you love God, then live as He lived, walk as He walked, love as He loved.

    What I am writing to you is nothing new. This is what He said from the very beginning of the world. Only now it has come full circle, now the darkness has been conquered by the light, not the truth has conquered lies.

    The only thing that has changed for us is the battle between good and evil has been won! Satan holds no power in this world except for the power we give him. If you remain in the light and stay out of the darkness, your place in heaven is assured.

    Now if you say you are with Jesus, but you resent your brother or sister, you are still walking in the darkness. But if you forgive your brethren, even as He forgave you, you are walking in the light. Remember, your sins are forgiven for His name's sake, and not by your own.

    I am writing to remind you of what you already know, because I know you have already rejected the darkness. I know you know God through the Holy Spirit.

    I am writing to you as my family, my fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, my children and grandchildren. For when we reject the darkness and embrace the light, we are family to one another and in fellowship with God.

    The things of this earth are temporary, so do not love them. They will pass away, and anyone who loves the things of the earth cannot love the Father.

    The things of this world are things of lust, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and lust of the mind. These things are not from God. They will all pass away.

    God is real and eternal. He will never pass away.

    Be prepared, my children, for the second coming of the Messiah will come without warning. Before He comes, the prophesies tell us there will be false prophets and false teachers, and even now they are among us. Many of them claim to know God, to love Jesus, but they have turned their backs on the truth and are walking in the darkness and not in the light.

    You know the truth, beloved family. God the Father has revealed it to you. I have not written this because you have been deceived, but to remind you that any man who denies the identity of Jesus is a liar and is not of God. Any man who knows Jesus and follows Him has the blessing of the Father and knows the truth.

    So cling to that truth, and let it continue to guide you. If you abide in that truth, the Father will abide in you. His promise is true and will remain with you. You will be with Him in heaven. You will have eternal life.

    Remember the warnings I have given you about false teachers and prophets. You are filled with the Holy Spirit, the gift of almighty God who will never abandon you, who will teach you the truth, for He is truth incarnate. If we abide in Him, we will rejoice when the Messiah appears again and have no reason to be ashamed. Be righteous, follow Him, and He will know us by our love.

    God has given us all of this because He loves us. He loves us so much that He has called us the sons of God even before we were born, even before this world was formed by His hands.

    Brethren, we are truly the children of God, and when Jesus returns, we will be like Him, and we will see Him as He is. Every one of us who knows this will purify there thoughts and lives, so we might be as pure as He is when He returns.

    Now you know who ever sins breaks the commandments.

    And you know He was sacrificed to take away our sins.

    So if you repent your sins and follow in His example, you are in fellowship with God. But if you continue to sin, you cannot know God. Don't let anyone tell you that you can sin in your life and still be in fellowship with God. If you are sinning, you are of Satan, for Satan is the god of this world.

    Jesus was sent to defeat Satan, and His victory is now compete. Jesus' sacrifice eliminated all record of sin for those who believe on Him and keep His commandments.

    I cannot be more direct than that. If you are of God, you turn your back on sin. If you are of Satan, you turn your back on God. It is that simple.

    You're heard all this from the beginning, that we should love one another as God loves us.

    Cain killed Abel because he rejected God and envied his brother. He was told to make a sacrifice, but was so envious of his brother's righteousness that when God rejected his fruits and accepted Abel's lamb, he killed him.

    Don't be surprised if the people of this world hate you. We have passed from death to eternal life; we have learned to love one another without condition or expectation. Those who hate their brothers and sisters cannot be with God. Without His love, they are dead already. Those who hate have already murdered, and if there is murder in your heart, you cannot be with God.

    This is the love of God, that we follow the example of Jesus and are willing to lay down our lives for others. Those who selfishly hoard the wealth of this world and refuse to share them with those who have need, how do they expect to know the love of God?

    My beloved family, let us then be the example, just as Jesus was the example for us. Let us freely give and live as examples, not only speaking of love, but acting with love in every thing we do. If we do this, we will know we are living as He would want us to live.

    Our conscience will be clear, for the Holy Spirit within us will tell us we are living in the light. If we sin, our conscience will convict us of our sin through the Holy Spirit. But if we turn from our sin and repent, the Spirit will redeem us, our conscience will be clear, and we will be pleasing in the sight of God.

    Believe in the Lord, Jesus, my beloved family, and love one another, even as He loves you. Keep His commandments and know that His Spirit lives within you.

    Pray every day, brothers and sisters, and carefully consider all that you hear from within and without. There are false prophets in the world and they will try to deceive you. But know this, no false prophet can declare that Jesus is the Christ. And anyone who denies Him is a false prophet.

    Remember you are flesh and blood, and while you are on this earth, Satan will try to deceive you at every opportunity. Reject his temptations, just as Jesus did, and you will overcome temptation. False prophets cannot offer truth, only lies, and you will know they are lies because they are of this world. But we are of God. If we know God, we know truth, and cannot be deceived by lies.

    Brethren, let us love one another, for love is the gift of God. If we love God, then we can love one another. God is love.

    God showed us His love when He chose to become flesh, to be among us to show us how to live a sinless life, and to sacrifice Himself for our sins. And the miracle of His love is that He loved us before we loved Him. He sacrificed Himself so we could with Him in eternal life as the sons and daughters of God. If He loved us this much, we ought to be able to love one another.

    No man has ever seen God, but if we love one another with the Holy Spirit indwelling, we will see God in each other, and our love for God will be perfected. And for this reason we will know the Spirit resides in us, and we will testify that Jesus the Son was sent to redeem mankind to the Father. For who ever will confess that Jesus is the Son of God is filled with the Holy Spirit, and knows God, and is known by God.

    I know God because He has taught me to love Him, and when He loved me, He also let me love you. And I do love you so. And we have perfect love, for we know in the day of judgment we will stand before God without shame because we have lived lives in witness to Him. There is no fear in love. Perfect love takes away all fear and doubts. If you have perfect love, there is no shame and nothing to fear.

    To love God is to love your fellow man. If you say you love God, but hate your brother or sister, you do not love God. If you love God, you must love all of His creations.

    Remember what I have written here, my beloved family. Who ever believes Jesus was the Messiah and therefore the Son of God is born of God and all who love Him are also loved by Him. We know one another by our love, and we show our love by keeping His commandments. We keep them because they are pure and good and give us great joy.

    Whatever is from God is good and conquers evil, so by loving God and each other, we have claimed a victory over the evil of this world and have witnessed to the world with our faith.

    Our Savior, Jesus, has overcome the world and anyone who believes in Him shares that victory. Jesus was baptized in the water to show His willingness to obey, and was sacrificed so His blood would atone for the sin of the world. Jesus, the Emmanuel, the Word, and the Holy Spirit. For there are three who bear witness to us. God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, who knocks at the door of our soul and asks to be invited in. These three are one and the same.

    And three others bear witness. The earth and all the miracles of life, the water that gives life, and the shed blood of Jesus, and in these three are the evidence of God.

    If we believe men who study the elements, we must also believe God, for His witness is before theirs. He sent his son, Jesus, as His testament to His power and might. And we who believe are witnesses to the power of God if we follow the commandments. But those who claim to know God and reject His commandments are liars, for they give a false witness to the world. He who believes in Jesus has eternal life. He who does not believe does not.

    I have written all this to you who believe so you will continue on the path to eternal life. I know that God is able to provide you with all you need if you only ask of Him in accordance with His will.

    If you see your brother or your sister in sin, pray for them that they repent and return to the Spirit. Pray their hearts are convicted and their conscience will prevail over their sin.

    Be true to your faith, be true to your Savior, and be true to His commandments. Pray fervently and often for one another. Keep yourselves pure.


    See what I mean? At this point I want to look up from the pulpit and say, “Turn in your hymnals to number 164 and sing with me....


    And by the way, if yer toes ain't tapping along, you might want to check to see if you still have a pulse.
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