Get Real

Bible Book: 1 John  1 : 1-4
Subject: Good News; Life, Real; Faith; Gospel, The

1 John 1:1-4

We live in an odd world, a world that wants to take and a world that seems to sap the strength out of us. And all the while we're wondering in the midst of a world like that if there isn't a time where we could receive and get stronger and be more stable in the very unstable world in which we live?

I've got good news for you because you see God's world is different. God's world is not a world of taking from you where you have nothing left. God's world is filled with giving. He's going to give some of you some gift that you have never received before and it could happen this day.

I invite your attention please to the beginning of the little letter of 1st John, written by the apostle John who also was the author of the gospel of John, the 2nd and the 3rd letters of John and also the book of the Revelation, known as The Apocalypse. Our study and concentration will be focused on becoming real in a very artificial world in which we live. This sermon title is very simple, "Get Real", and God wants to give you that reality today.

Tucked away in the first 4 verses of the first chapter of 1st John we discover the reality of God: 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. The life appeared. We have seen it and testified to it. And we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We 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. We write this to make our joy complete.

Let's take the privilege and opportunity to examine that which is different. Some is real; some is not real. I have a book that I read for many years to my children. Now they're no longer able to hear it, because they don't care about it any longer, but it's Dr. Seuss's, Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now. It's dog-eared, tattered, yellow, and in fact it came out of my wife's house many years ago. Her brother's name is written in it and even misspelled. It has pictures and it's one of those "once upon a time" books. It's a silly little children's book, but a reminder of a mother and a child reading through a book in that once upon a time land when everything seemed so wonderful and real and the images were so rich and you felt like everything could work the way you wanted it, including your imagination in any way you needed to go and when you needed to go.

There was a time in our lives when those stories seemed so real and then suddenly things change - POW! The reality of life sets in. You begin to discover that it's not all making believe. You grow up and you grow out and you grow closer to the understanding that reality for God is expressed in different ways. It doesn't mean that you lose all of your fun or you joy. It just means that you begin to see things differently. I believe God's trying to get our attention because He wants us to see it the way that He sees it and He wants us to get real in a world that forces upon us artificial, plastic and temporary.

I. Real Life Is Revealed

I want to express it in three different ways but the first is this: If you want real life today and you want to know what it's all about, first of all I want to express it as the scripture said it, "Real life is revealed." Now that's good news because so many of us are looking for what real life is all about. We want to know what is really real and how to distinguish the difference between that which is false and counterfeit and that which is really lasting.

You see, my friends, I love cotton candy! You have a hard time finding it by the way. But cotton candy is so good that you could pull it out of the bag and you could put it into your mouth and it will last just for a second...and then it's gone! It's over with! But it looks so big and it looks like a lot of cotton candy. If you were to begin to eat it you would say, "Oh I've got plenty," but you have the person next to you who would say, "Give me a little bit," and then the person next to them and then it would be gone. It melts so fast.Some of us live in a cotton candy world where we get just a portion of reality. We think we've got all of God that we need, but we taste and see what we really have and it melts so quickly and it's so rapidly dispersed. Real life if revealed by Jesus Christ who is not temporary.

A. Eternally (v.2)

"from the beginning" / "Word of life".

It is first revealed eternally and the beauty of this is that from the beginning, for a long time, God had you in mind. From the beginning of eternity He knew you! The two phrases that are pulled directly from the scripture from verse 1 are "from the beginning" and "Word of life." You see from the         beginning God knew you and He became the Word of life for you. Some of us look so dead and feel that our life is so dead and meaningless. It's good news to know that God is bringing you life because He's been thinking about your life from the beginning of eternity. He knew who you would  be, He knew how you would look, he knew what you would think, and He knows the trouble that some of you are in. Better than that, He knows the solution to bring you out of that trouble and turmoil, to bring you ultimately through a time of trial.

As we look toward that time of trial in our life, we are listening and hoping and trusting that God will reveal Himself in a powerful way. Now if you were God, how would you choose to reveal yourself to mankind? Would you choose to reveal yourself by just simply speaking or just by perhaps writing down what you are all about? Well I think God chose the best of all ways. He chose to give us Himself forever and forever and ever if you've chosen Him you can become a partner with Him.Jesus said, "He who has seen me (speaking of Himself), has seen the Father" (John 14:9). But then He said in John 14:6, just three verses apart that, "I am the way (definite article the), I am the truth and I am the life and no one can come to the Father but by me." God revealed Himself eternally through God the Father and through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ and now He lives inside of every one of us who've trusted Him through the means of the Spirit of the Living God; and it wasn't just an afterthought! Do you know what that means? That means that when we listen to Jesus, we are listening to God, for Jesus articulates God.

Maybe the best way I can express it is to tell you that Jesus is the noun of God. He really is. He expresses all that we need to know about God. He's also the verb of God. He tells us how to go and where to go. He's also the adjective of God because He tells us how fast to go or how slow to go. He describes perfectly who God is because as Christ said, "If you've seen Him, you've seen the Father." He's been around a long time folks and He knows where to are right now.

B. Historically (v.2a)

"the life appeared"

Not only is life revealed through eternity, but also it's revealed historically. Christ is again no afterthought. Jesus 2000 years ago had the opportunity to walk the face of this globe and as He did, historically He became the man that God had chosen Him to be, but it was fully God. What a paradox this is.

Historically the scripture says in verse 2 the first portion that this life appeared. He appeared before us. It is not a figment of our imagination. This is not a phantom or a ghost or a vision. This life appeared and as He did, historically, we know this life-shattering event transformed the world or at least it's doing it one person at a time.

Reach back 2,000 years ago and ask some questions with me. Why don't you choose to ask the local shepherds in the rural environs of Bethlehem and Judea, "Is Jesus real?" "Oh yes, we saw the star; we've heard the prophecy, we went after Him." Ask those wise men who made their journey as they had been studying the stars for years and as they understood that the right alignment and the brightness of this star was a drawing attraction for them to see not only a person and a man in a baby form, but to see the Messiah who was born and to whom they brought gifts in worship. Ask the angels from on high. They proclaimed with loud declaration, "Hosanna in the highest.. Glory to God." He is indeed the Son of God.

Ask Joseph and Mary, "Mary, is that child inside of you truly God's?" "Oh yes it was." "How do you know, Mary."? "Because you see I've been with no man." This was an immaculate conception. Ask Joseph. "I thought perhaps she'd gotten pregnant out of wedlock but then there was an angel who spoke to me and as he spoke to me he said, "Don't worry Joseph. Hang on to your bride to be; this is from God; it's a gift." Ask Simeon or ask the 84-year-old Anna who held the baby in their arms, and who looked at that perfect historically fulfillment of scripture that was all that God had chosen Him to be.

You don't need to ask outside of just the close circle of Christian friends that you have. You can ask secular historians, you can ask all that is revealing Christ in His continual revelation of Himself and you can discover with me what God has been exposing for years and years and years and that is that the Christ is here and that He came not only for those who were then, but He's come for those of us who remain and who are here to hear His answer for our lives right now.

C. Relationally (v. 2b)

"which was the Father"

So, how do we get real? We watch the revelation of God. How do we get real? We listen very carefully to how God exposes Himself historically and eternally, but the best way is relationally. Here's where some of us have missed it. We really do believe that Jesus lived and that He was not only a good man, but He could have been God's man; and we really do understand that history gives us the background for what He has done and that He has been and that He will be forevermore. The scripture says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Where we get snagged in the reality of God is that we don't choose to have a personal relationship with Him.

I have a personal question for you: Have you come to the time a moment where you have received Him, more than just His religion? You see we can get trapped in denominationalism and religion at large and we can choose for ourselves a place and even a baptistery and a format of religious ritual to go to; but if we don't' choose Christ, we don't understand the relationship. Relationally, as the scripture teaches us, He was with the Father and He wants to be with you. As God speaks to our lives about the way that we can come closer to Him and come closer to all that He has for us, I trust that you will examine your own relationship with Him and come to have a face-to-face relationship with Him and an ever-deepening intimacy with the Almighty God. So you see, He was revealed and as He was revealed real life has come to us.

II. Real Life Is Experienced (v. 1b)

There's a second focus as we look at 1st John 1:1b, and it is that real life is experienced. This is good news because some of us know all about Jesus, but we've never really experienced Him. We've heard others give testimony about Him. We've heard how God has changed their lives, but somehow or another our life is no different but God wants you to experience Him.

Martin Luther who was the great transformer and brought to us through the reformation the understanding that God was not a God who was impressed with our works; but He wanted our faith first. He said of the book of 1st John these words, "I have never read a book written in simpler words than this one and yet the words are inexpressible." Folks there's no way that I could express to you the full reality of God. You'll have to experience this for yourself. And the ways that you can experience it are the same ways that John experienced it. He didn't have a second hand encounter with Jesus Christ. He didn't inherit His faith because His parents or His grandparents had trusted Christ and been members of a Baptist Church. He didn't even have the privilege just to read about Jesus. He experienced the Lord and He did it in three ways:

A. We Have Heard It

First of all he said, "We've heard about it," and so have you. Today I dare say that there are some of you who are hearing for one of thousands and thousands of times about the reality of Jesus Christ. But maybe there's someone here today who's hearing for one of the very first times and I hope clearly and plainly you will hear that God wants to give you an experience that you've never had before and you're hearing the truth, for God is truth.

Imagine with me what it must have been like to listen to the words of Jesus as they rolled from His royal lips and as He proclaimed the gospel and God's words. Imagine what it must have been to be with Him for three or three and a half years as a disciple listening to His words, looking at Him preach to the thousands and the throngs who were hanging on His words of truth, listening to His private conversations to those who were outcasts of society and watching Him do a mighty work by telling them that they were loved of God.

But you know what folks? God still speaks and He's speaking to some of us today. I know that He speaks because He speaks to me through His written Word every single day. He speaks to me when I pray to Him. If I'm silent enough to listen, He speaks to me through an impression in my heart and in my mind. He tells me what I ought to be doing and what I ought not to be doing. He speaks to me through people like you. As you catch me in the hallways or you catch me out in the community and begin to talk with me or challenge me or ask me questions, God speaks to me that way. He speaks to me by means of the Spirit of the Living God who's revealed in His worship. Through the choirs and the soloists and through the sermons and through the prayers, God reveals Himself and speaks to our hearts.

John said, "We heard it." We've experienced it. Have you?

B. We Have Seen It

John said not only have we heard it, but we've also seen it with our own eyes. Now imagine what it must have been like to see Jesus. What did He look like? How did He walk? Did He sit more than He stood? Did He walk more than He talked? These kinds of questions we could have personally observed then, but do you know what we can see of Jesus now? We can see His work and His activity. I see Him working all across this church. I see him working in our worship experiences and I see changed lives revealed as they come to the front and kneel and accept Christ as their Savior, or renew and refresh their lives. I see God exposed across our community as I see lives that are changed and relationships that were once broken being healed again. I see lives that don't have a  job or a place or a position suddenly coming into the responsibility to be more and to have more than they've had all of their lives. That's God because He offers gifts to those who'll ask. The reason some of us don't receive those kinds of gifts is because of what the scripture says, "You have not because you ask not." Does that mean God gives you everything you ask for? No! But we see Him working   and in those lives that are willing to be faithful to bow before Him He's working all around us. Have you seen him working recently in your life?

C. We Have Touched It

John also said, "We touched it." We touched what? We touched God! You know what I think the greater experience would be? Rather than touching Jesus, which we do not have the opportunity to do physically; I think the greater experience is to be touched by Him. Rather than what I can do, it's what He can do for me because when a life has been touched by God it is totally transformed. Has your life been touched by Him? John said, "We touched it, we've experienced this life, we've seen what has gone on, we know about it, we heard from His lips and we know it to be the truth.

"Friends, today some of us are scrambling and hoping and wondering, "Am I living in the truth or am I a counterfeit?" In my wallet today I have a twenty-dollar bill and as I look at it I'm reminded of several  of the features of this bill. It's one of the newer twenty-dollars minted in 1998 or afterwards because you see the picture of Jackson is larger and it's displaced from the center just a little bit. Recent

news has revealed to us that in the fall of 2003 the twenty-dollar bill is going to change again. They're going to add some coloring and they're going to perhaps change some of the features of the White House that is on the backside. Why? Because the twenty-dollar bill is the most counterfeited bill in circulation. But as I look at this twenty-dollar bill I can hold it up to the light and it has what they call water marks. Watermarks are that which you can see through the bill that you otherwise couldn't see unless you help it up to the light. Why? To distinguish it between being a counterfeit bill and a real bill.

Now it's also my understanding that there are security threads that are woven within the fabric of this bill. They glow under ultraviolet lights. Another feature to understand whether or not this bill is real is to look at it with strong microscopic magnification and there is what they call micro printing in small portions in obscure places. There are little figures that you and I cannot see with the naked eye. Why? So that we can know if it's real or not.

I use this as an illustration because you see that's the way God examines our lives. He knows whether or not we've experienced Him. He knows whether or not we are genuine in our commitment to Him or whether or not we are passing a counterfeit cotton candy Christianity from place to place to place. Doesn't it frustrate you when others can stand and give testimony of their work for God and how He's worked in their life? We scramble on the pew and in our own lives and wish God would do that kind of work for us.

III. Real Life Is Shared (vv. 3-4)

Could it be that we don't have a testimony for Christ because we've never really truly believed in the revelation of God through Jesus? Could it be that because we do not have a personal experience with Him we have nothing to share? The third focus, as John wrote to us in this powerful little letter in this introductory fashion is that real life is to be shared.

A. We Proclaim It

He said it better than I can say it. He said, "We proclaim it." Now folks if you don't have a story to tell and you've never had an experience with Christ, it is a frustrating thing because you're always listening to somebody else's testimony. But you see God calls on us to be proclaimers of His Word.

Are you proclaiming all that God has given to you and all that God has chosen to speak through you? When was the last time you had a full-blown conversation with someone about the reality of Jesus Christ in your life? You say, "Well John I just don't have those opportunities. I'm not an extrovert and I don't speak about those things which I think are private." Well you may not have spoken with your lips, but you have spoken with your life. Every one of us is a witness for Christ, either for Him or against Him, by the way that we live and by the words that we choose to share.

All of us can be proclaimers of the gospel and you know you've got pulpits that are so far broader than mine during my interim days as pastor. You can speak to people who won't even listen to me because I'm the preacher, because I'm involved in Christian work. You can take your pulpit to work, you can take it to school, you can take it where you shop and every person is watching and listening and hoping that you've got something worth sharing. John said, "We proclaim it," unashamedly.

Some of us are holding back during these interim days. We're saying, "When we get a real senior pastor then he'll come up with a real plan and then we'll get real busy." Well guess what folks... we're under the pastoring of Christ and He's provided us a plan already and the plan is simply to share what we've experienced with Christ.

You may think your story is not a big story and it won't make any difference because you haven't been into drugs or sin and you just accepted Christ when you were younger and you think there's no big deal. Oh, it is a big deal because you've remained faithful! God has chosen some of you to pull out of difficult circumstances and you have a great story to tell and to proclaim to our community, so do it. John said that's what we do and that's what we can do best under the power of Jesus Christ. Real life is shared!

B. For Our Fellowship To Be Full

Now that tells us what we're to do, but I wonder why? Why should we share the real life? John answers that and says it's so our fellowship will be full. I love that word fellowship. It goes back to that little Greek word koinonia. In fact John uses this four times, and he only uses it here in the little letter of 1st John. He doesn't use it in the gospel; he doesn't use it in 2nd or 3rd John or in the book of Revelation that he wrote. He only uses that word fellowship here and I wonder why? It's because he's talking about getting real with God and He knows that you cannot have real fellowship with God without first experiencing Him and you cannot experience Him until you have understood that He has revealed Himself and exposed Himself to the point where you need to make a choice whether to receive Him or to reject Him.

You may say, "Preacher now wait a minute, most of us in my church received Christ many years  ago." That's true, but you see there comes a time and a moment when we become so familiar with God that we've not stayed obedient to Him. What He's doing for most of us is drawing us back to Him and to the reality that He wants to transform not just our lives, but He wants to unselfishly use our lives to transform others. Full fellowship is two directional. First, it's vertical with God. If you don't  meet with God, you'll never have true fellowship with man and the second platform is fellowship with other people.

A fellowshipping church doesn't mean barbecued chicken, chicken fingers, iced tea and glazed cookies. Fellowship is oneness. We can have fellowship with God. Jesus prayed in the Garden before His death, "Oh Father that they may be as one as you and are one." That's what He wants for us. He wants that oneness in relationship and He can do that through each one of us who choose to be proclaimers of His gospel.

C. For Our Joy To Be Complete

There's a third and final focus here. In fact it gives us the purpose of this first part of 1st John. We are to experience real life by sharing so that our joy can be complete. Some of your joy has been gone for a long time. I can read it on your face. I can see by the way that you carry yourself. Oh you've got   Jesus, but your missing the joy and the joy that He wants to give you comes in the reality of experiencing Him to the fullness.

How do you do that? Well you do it through prayer life, you do it by getting back to the reading of His word and you do that by faithfully sharing Him with other people. You see the beautiful, dynamic, divine equation is that we get more from God the more we give away.

I've got a drainpipe at home that was clogged up with rocks and mud from rains we'd been having recently. It gets rocks and mud in it. So I took my hose and rammed it down that plastic perforated pipe and I turned my water on full blast. I did everything I could to unclog it and to get out all the junk so that it would flow freely again. And I thought, as I was on my knees in the mud and the rain trying  to unclog that drain, about what a picture this was of my life and how God has to sometimes come in my life and just unclog what has cluttered and filled up with my junk. I thought about how the joy can be restored and the flow of God can be restored to our life if we'll just come back to Him because He has such a full offering to give to every one of us if we'll but reclaim Him in every way.

I read from an old Puritan whose name was Charles Simeon these words: "There are but two lessons for the Christian to learn: The one is to enjoy God in everything; and the other is to enjoy everything in God." Are you missing out on His joy? Does it seem like life has come to a crashing close? Then this message is for you because He's drawing you back to Himself.


I have three questions as I close.

i. First, I wonder if you've responded to all that God has revealed to you?

He's revealed to some of you that you need to make a choice. Have you responded? Will you respond?

ii. Second, have you experienced Jesus Christ personally?

Most everyone has experienced church, but you see church compared to Christ is cotton candy. It tastes good for a little while, but then it's gone.

iii. Finally, what evidence is there in your life that you are sharing our Savior with others?

Do you want to know what the best evidence is? It's changed lives, people who are being drawn to Christ because of the way you life and because of the words that you share. Let's pray about that challenge.