Everyone wants to be joyful. Many people will spend large sums of money and go into tremendous debt in the search for happiness and joy. It is an endless pursuit that never brings true joy and contentment. Joy does not come through the pursuit of material things. True joy is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ and in fellowship with other believers.
The book of First John was written by the Apostle John who also wrote the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation. As a disciple of Jesus, He was an eyewitness of all that Jesus said and did. The purpose of this book is to strengthen the fellowship of believers and to encourage them to continue in the things that they know to be true. “This letter, written to urge the readers not to be led astray by those who had seceded from the Christian community and to reassure them that they are in the truth, seeks to achieve its purpose by strengthening the readers’ commitment to what they already know, that is, the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ which they heard from the beginning. It is in line with this purpose that the author begins his letter with a reminder of the origins of the gospel, the message concerning ‘the Word of life’ (of which he is a firsthand witness) which constitutes the basis of the fellowship in which he wants them to continue.”
The theme of the book of First John is the Fellowship of Joy. In the first four verses of chapter one we discover that this fellowship of joy comes from experiencing Jesus. In these verses we see four things we must do to experience Jesus.
Hear from Him. John mentioned that from the beginning they heard. This is perhaps a reference to the fact that, in John’s day, they grew up hearing about the coming Messiah and when He finally came they had the privilege of hearing from Him directly. John, as a disciple of Jesus, had the firsthand experience of hearing Jesus. He was there when Jesus taught and preached. At the time of this writing, the Christians were being exposed to all sorts of false teachings. “More than likely, false teachers were suggesting that Jesus’ physical body was not a normal body; or that he was an angel, not a man; or that his physical body was an illusion; or some other erroneous speculation. John met this false teaching head-on by saying that he had firsthand experience with Jesus, and based on that experience, he is telling us what he knows about Jesus.” John was telling his readers that they should focus on the things that Jesus actually said rather than listening to what others say. This is a very valuable lesson for us today. We too are often bombarded with false teaching and man’s ideas. Too often we find ourselves reading into scripture rather than taking scripture at face value. This is where all false teaching comes from. When we practice eisegesis rather than exegesis, we find ourselves going down the slippery slope of false doctrine. Instead of reading our ideas into the scripture, we must examine the scripture for what it says. There is too much noise today. There are too many opinions and views. We need to get back to the basics. We need to open our Bibles and look at what Jesus said. Stop listening to the views and opinions of man and just look to Jesus and listen to Him. It is only in listening to Jesus alone that you can truly experience Him fully.
See Him. John was an eyewitness of not only what Jesus said but also what He did. He saw the miracles that Jesus performed. He saw His love and compassion. Have you seen Jesus? Has that which darkens your eyes been removed and have you seen Jesus clearly? You see, knowing Jesus fully and seeing Him clearly can only come through daily repentance of sin and daily communion with God. What sin is keeping you from seeing Jesus? What distractions are in your life that is keeping you from spending time with Him every day? To see Jesus, we must remove the scales of sin, personal pride, and worldliness from our eyes. When you do see Him, it will change your life. It will change your desires. It will change your goals and dreams. It will change how you spend your time. It will change how you spend your money. It will change your attitude. It will change your behavior. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Have you seen the humility of the manger? Have you seen the ugliness of the cross? Have you seen the glory of His resurrection? Have you seen Jesus? When you do, it will change your life.
Obey Him. Fellowship with God the Father and with Jesus and with other believers comes through obedience to the Word of God. When we hear from Him and we see Him, our only response is to obey Him. Jesus said that if you love Him, you will keep His commandments. His commandments are not just the 10 commandments. His commandments include the whole counsel of God’s Word for He is the Word. What are some areas in your life in which you need to practice greater obedience? Perhaps you need to be more faithful to the church. Maybe you need to be more faithful in sharing the Gospel with others. Maybe you need to spend more quality time in the Word and in prayer. Maybe there is someone you need to forgive. Maybe there is someone you need to help and encourage. What are some of the things Jesus taught us that we need to work on? You cannot have the fellowship of joy unless you experience Jesus, and you cannot experience Jesus unless you obey Him.
Tell others about Him. John said that what he has seen and heard had been declared to us so that we may have fellowship with God and with other believers. Now that we have received that Word, we also have a responsibility to declare to others the Word in which we have believed. Who Jesus is and what He has done for us is too good for us to keep to ourselves. People must know about Jesus. To experience the fellowship of joy and to strengthen the fellowship of the church, we must invite others to join the fellowship. We do this by faithfully engaging our community and blanketing our local area and the world with the Gospel. We must place a high priority on fulfilling the Great Commission by doing our part in preaching the Gospel to all the world.
Joy only comes in knowing Jesus and in fellowship with other believers. To have this joy we must experience Jesus by hearing Him, Seeing Him, Obeying Him, and by telling others about Him. Will you do what it takes to really experience Jesus so that your joy may be full?