If someone asked you, “What is the core of your Christian faith?”, how would you answer them? The “core” of anything or anyone is the very center of what “it” is all about or what makes “them” tick. When your Christian faith is all melted down and only the “core” remains, what is it? The answer? JESUS, the only begotten Son of God, the Messiah, both human and divine. He is the core; not some sermon about Him, but Him, not some book about Him, but Him. JESUS is the core of our Christian faith.
That is how the apostle John begins His letter that we call First John. Through the Holy Spirit’s guidance and oversight, John carefully crafts the details of who he personally knew Christ to be without ever mentioning His name. 1:1-4 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” This description of Jesus is very similar to how John began his version of his gospel account.
Then in the next eight verses (1:5-2:2) John breaks the news that there was an explicit “message” that Jesus delivered to the apostles that is not recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke or even John in the four Gospels. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. 2:1My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” That is the perfect Gospel presentation. It begins with God and His holiness, then moves on to the impossibility of God having anything to do with sin. Then using a series of 6 “ifs” as his brush, John paints the message of the doom of our sin and the hope of forgiveness through the blood of Christ, all on a single canvas. So what could possibly be left for John’s letter to address?
Beginning in 2:3 and running through the rest of his letter, John then unveils the “impact” in the life of every believer who genuinely surrenders to the “core” and receives the “message”.
Real deal Christians: keep His commands 2:3-11, are strong/overcome/forgiven 2:12-14, stop loving the world 2:15-17, know the truth 2:20-23, abide in Christ 2:24-29, are a child of God 3:1-3, practice righteousness 3:4-10, love like Christ, 3:11-24 & 4:7-21, obey 5:1-5, live life in the Son 5:6-12 & are sure of their eternal life 5:13-21.
In the middle of the “impact” verses, there are two warnings concerning the evil anti-christs who either denied that Jesus was the Messiah, or refused to believe that He was divine, or rejected that He was human. 2:18-19, 4:1-6 John flat out condemns these false teachers and warns believers not to listen to them.
So 1st John raises 3 questions:
1- Have you surrendered to the CORE of the Christian faith?
2- Have you received the MESSAGE of the Gospel?
3- Have you displayed in your life the IMPACT of knowing Christ?
First John is all about the CORE, the MESSAGE & the IMPACT. God bless.
Mike Sublett is a pastor at Hi-Land Christian Church, 1615 N. Banks St., Pampa, Texas 79065. Email him at email@example.com.