1 John 1:1-2 “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life  and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Beginning with this evening’s service, I will be delivering lectures based on the 1 John. Among the 12 disciples, the apostle John, the writer of 1 John, was a disciple who was loved by Jesus very much. In the Gospel of John, John many times refers to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. He was always with Jesus at the important places during Jesus’ ministry, and he was with Jesus until Jesus died on the cross. He witnessed the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Since then, John worked as one of the leaders of the early church along with Peter, James, and the other disciples. It is said that, in his later days, he ministered seven churches in the Asia Minor, and he died at about the age of 90 around 100 AD. Originally, he had such a hot-temper that he was called ‘the son of thunder’, but he was completely changed during his later days, and he was called the apostle of love. John wrote five of the books in the New Testament. They are the Gospel of John, the book of Revelation, and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. As I previously explained in the lectures on the Gospel of John, it is said that he was arrested by the Roman Emperor Domitian and thrown into a pot of boiling oil. But he was unharmed even in the boiling oil, and he was later exiled to the island of Patmos. While he was on the island of Patmos, in deep communication with God he recorded the book of Revelation. We don’t know the exact year when 1 John was written, but it is known that it was around 90 AD, before Revelation was recorded. 1 John repeatedly talks about God’s son, Jesus Christ, and that the believers have to depart from sins. If you understand the background of writing this book 1 John, you will be able to understand its content even better. At the time of the early church there were some people who were deceiving others. There was also Gnosticism, which is heretical thought. Those people said they believed the gospel, but they spread a mistaken and false teaching among the believers. For example, they did not acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God who came to this earth in human flesh. They also denied that He died on the cross and resurrected. Also, they said that if people just had knowledge about God, then they did not have to live moral lives. They claimed that spirit and body are separate, so their spirit could be saved even though their bodies committed sins. The apostle John was firmly refuting such heretical ideas. John proclaims that Jesus Christ is one with God the Creator in origin and the Son of God. He says Jesus came to this earth into a human body, died on the cross, resurrected and ascended into Heaven thereby becoming the Savior for all mankind. He also says we cannot receive salvation by knowledge, but we are saved when we believe in this Jesus Christ and live in the light. These are general ideas that are repeatedly explained in the book of 1 John. These messages are also the foundations of the holiness gospel that you listen in this church all the time. I once gave the lecture on the 1 John during the Sunday evening services in 1985 and ྒ. At that time, the church members knew that these messages were spiritually deep messages, but they couldn’t really understand fully and cultivate them in their hearts. They may have thought they understood, however they probably also felt that it was difficult. But now, since your faith has grown up, you can keep these messages in your hearts, and cultivate them in you as soon as you hear it. Imagine that this book of 1 John is a letter sent to you personally and meditate on it again and again. I urge you to try to feel the voice of the apostle John speaking to you personally. At the time John was more than 80 years old. He had already spent his happy days with Jesus and overcame so many hardships in the early church. James, Andrea, Matthew, and Thomas, and finally Peter… all those disciples who had the same memories of the Lord and had been able to rely upon one another had all been martyred. Now, this old apostle is once again standing against heretical doctrines being spread and he was proclaiming the truth of the Lord. I hope you will accept this beautiful message with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and quickly accomplish holiness. I pray in the name of the Lord that you will only walk in the light and be recognized as the children of God who is the Light.
Brothers and sisters, 1 John 1:1-4 is the introduction to the book of 1 John. It explains the motivation and purpose of John for writing this book. Verse 1 says, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life.” In the Bible, the ‘beginning’ has two meanings. First, Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Here, the beginning refers to the time when God created heavens and the earth. Some say they are interpreting this creation in biblical view and say that the creation took place 6,000 years ago. But the 6,000-year duration of human cultivation is not from the creation of heavens and earth to the end of the world. This 6,000 year period begins from the time when Adam was driven out from the Garden of Eden to this earth due to his sin. From the time of the Creation to the time when Adam committed sin, such a long time had passed that it is unimaginable for human beings. But even though it was a very, very long time, there certainly was the beginning. The ‘beginning’ in the book of Genesis is the beginning of a certain point in time. Next, John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Here, the ‘beginning’ is even before the creation; it is before eternity and it has no beginning or end. God exists by Himself, and He is an eternal being who has neither beginning nor end. We cannot say He ‘began to exist’ from a certain point in time. But since men are beings that have limits, within our limited thinking it’s difficult if not impossible for man to understand the concept of ‘eternity’. So, to help us understand easier, God says the word ‘beginning’ as if there had been actually a ‘beginning’. But the beginning in 1 John 1:1 has the same meaning with the beginning in the Gospel of John, which is a point in time before the eternity. Now, what is the ‘Word of Life that was from the beginning’? Conclusively speaking, it refers to Jesus Christ the Son of God. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” At first, it says the Word was God, so it seems God and the Word are the same. But it also says, the Word was with God, so it seems Word and God are different beings. It’s difficult to understand within human thinking, but you can understand it easily since you have now listened to the Genesis lectures. The mentioned verse is an explanation concerning God the Trinity. God the Son who proceeded from God the Father, who is Jesus Christ, is one with God the Father and has the same heart, mind, and will. I will explain about the separation of the Triune God in verse 2 again. As God the Father is the Word, God the Son is also the Word in essence. John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” God who is the Word had the human flesh and came down to this earth, and He is Jesus. Then, why is Jesus Christ, the Word from the beginning, referred to as ‘Word of Life’ and not just ‘Word’? It is to emphasize the fact that Jesus came down to this earth to give us an eternal life. 1 John 5:12 says, “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” Also, John 14:6 says, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'” Jesus Christ alone can give us eternal life. About how Jesus Christ alone can give us life and how He gives us life will be explained later. At this point, you can just keep in mind that the Word of Life that is from the beginning refers to Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:1 says, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life.” About this Word of Life, namely about Jesus Christ, it says, “We have heard, seen, looked at, and touched it with our hands.” Namely, including the apostle John, numerous disciples were the witnesses of Jesus Christ. The disciples heard the gospel of the kingdom of heaven from Jesus directly. They also heard Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. When they were by themselves with Jesus, they also heard more of the deep, spiritual messages that other people could not hear. They heard about the love of God, about the kingdom of heaven and spiritual realm, and other deep secrets. Also, while walking with Jesus they witnessed firsthand countless works of power. They also witnessed Jesus’ death on the cross, His resurrection and ascension. The verse doesn’t just say they just ‘saw’, but that they ‘looked at it’ because they didn’t just casually see it. After seeing it, they received the grace to engrave it in their hearts and they were enabled to change. Also, as it says ‘we touched it with our hands’, they experienced the ministry of Jesus firsthand. When the Lord who died on the cross resurrected, they even touched His resurrected body. Now, how about you compared to them? Would anybody say the disciples of Jesus saw and heard firsthand, but you haven’t heard or seen anything (in the same way)? Of course, it is not true. You also have heard, seen, and touched it. You heard the way of salvation hidden since before the time began, and you heard in so much detail about the eternal God and the spiritual realm. You also heard about the second coming of the Lord, the Final Judgment, and Heaven and Hell. You have heard to such great detail that you should even be able to picture it. Furthermore, you always experience the works of the Holy Spirit that proves the messages are true. The words written in the Bible are confirmed in the lives of those who obey those words. To the extent that you practice the word and your soul prospers, all the promised blessings are given to you. You also experience numerous signs and wonders that Jesus performed about 2,000 years ago, so you can also say that you met the Lord. You can’t see God, who is spirit, with your physical eyes, but through the Bible and the works of the Holy Spirit you can understand God’s heart and experience Him as if you had touched Him. The following verse, 1 John 1:2 says, “and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us.” The eternal life that the disciples saw, namely Jesus Christ, was with God the Father but came down to this earth in human flesh. Now, at this point let me briefly explain about God the Trinity. Originally, God existed alone, and at that time, He did not have a certain form. He existed as light that filled the whole universe, and the chiming voice from within. That light is very colorful, like auroras, and it filled the whole space like a stream of water. Along with that light, the beautiful voice also filled the whole universe. John refers to this voice as ‘the Word’ that is from the beginning. This light that embedded the voice and filled the whole universe coalesced[koʊə|lest] at one point in spiritual realm. Then, from this coalesced light, two more lights proceeded forth. The same kind of light proceeded from the original light, and now there were three lights. It’s not that one light was divided into three, but two additional lights of the same kind were made from the original light. This is the process of God, who existed alone as the Word, made Himself into the Trinity. The original light is God the Father, and the two lights that proceeded from the original light are God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. These three lights took on similar form as that of human beings. Genesis 1:26 says, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” The form of men was made in the image of God. Of course, God does not always exist in the same form as human beings. As necessary, He can exist in any kind of form He wants. This God the Son, namely Jesus Christ who came out of the Father, stayed with the Father and the Holy Spirit for a long time. As it is recorded in the book of Genesis, it was this Triune God who together created the world. And about 4,000 years after Adam was driven out to this earth due to his sin, God did something very amazing. God the Son was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the body of Virgin Mary, and He was born into this world having the body of a human being, His creatures. Namely, as written in John 1:14, the Word became flesh and dwelt among men. I already said the reason why He appeared among us is to give us life. It’s not the physical life that fades away soon, but it was to give us an eternal life. In fact, all mankind, the descendants of Adam, are sinners. They have the original sin inherited from Adam, and they also commit sins themselves. Even if somebody does not commit any sin in his life, he still has the original sin, and he is a sinner. According to the rules of the spiritual realm, the wages of sin is death. This death refers to spiritual death, which is the eternal punishment in Hell. Due to sins, men could not meet the holy God, and they were destined to fall into Hell after their lives on earth were over. But Jesus who came down to this earth carried the cross, and while He was innocent, He died on it and redeemed us from our sins. Because sinless Jesus took the death instead of us, we can now avoid death. The Lord broke the authority of death and resurrected, so we can also gain eternal life by believing in Him. The reason why God, who existed alone, separated Himself into the Trinity was to perform this task. When God first planned human cultivation, He knew Adam would commit sin. He knew Adam and his descendants would fall into death due to their sins, and that they would not be redeemed or saved by their own strength. So, this is the reason why God separated Himself into God the Son: to take the duty of redeeming mankind. The reason why God the Holy Spirit was separated was to bear the complete fruit of this way of salvation of the cross that was fulfilled by God the Son. As explained, it says that John is proclaiming about Jesus Christ who was with God and who appeared to us and gave us life for us.
John is saying he himself is a personal witness to the fact that Jesus is one with God in origin and even though some might deny Jesus, Jesus Christ is the source of our eternal life. I will explain about verse 3 onward from the next session.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, those of you who have listened to the Genesis lecture have already heard these contents you heard today. Now, how deeply do you understand these messages in your heart? The God of glory who existed throughout the universe separated Himself into the Trinity for the purpose of human cultivation. Through accepting the sufferings and death on the cross, human cultivation is being fulfilled by God the Son. The purpose of cultivation is for God to gain true children who resemble God. It is to gain children who resemble God, who is the light; who understand God’s heart; and who can share true love with Him. For this reason, God the Son forsook the glory of the Creator and assumed the form of a lowly creature. He took the cruel sufferings of the cross, and for a long time He has been waiting and endured with tears for you to change. How can such things take place? Can you feel deep in your heart how amazing and heart-moving these events really are? If you can then you will feel these lectures on 1 John taste as sweet as honey in your mouth. Also, you will try with all your heart, mind, and soul to become the fruit of holiness and pay back this love as much as possible. During this week, I urge you to meditate on this heart of God and live a holy life each day with a desire to repay this love of the Father. In doing so, I pray in the name of the Lord, that you will quickly change into perfect children who resemble God.