The Focus of the Children of God

Bible Book: 1 John  1 : 1-4
Subject: Focus on Jesus; Love for Jesus
Series: God's Dear Children

The Focus of the Children of God

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com
Introduction

1 John 1:1-4 ...

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full."

John was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, but he was more than that. John was one of the inner circle made up of Peter, James, and John himself. These were not necessarily drawn closer to Jesus because Jesus loved them more than the other disciples, but perhaps because they responded more fully to His love for them. At any rate, John was one of those very close to Jesus and he was such a fitting author for this little letter we know as First John. John penned five New Testament books: The Gospel According to John; 1 John; 2 John; 3 John; and, the Book of Revelation.

We come now to consider "The Focus of the Children of God." John was an old man by the time he penned this short letter. We can see from it  that the Apostle John had not lost an iota of affection for Jesus through the years; indeed, his focus upon Jesus grew as the years went by. He could have written the hymn that was penned centuries later ...

"Everyday with Jesus is sweeter than the day before."

In our day it is not unusual to see people totally preoccupied with some hobby, sport, or online activity. Such people are said to be fans of the things that interest them, and thus they are fascinated with the activities that claim their special attention. The word "fan" comes from the word "fanatic." John would have been called a 'Jesus fan," for he was preoccupied with Christ. But then, all true believers should be preoccupied with the Lord. This doesn't mean that other areas of life do not interest us - on the contrary, a proper knowledge of and preoccupation with Jesus makes all the other areas of life more interesting. As Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and that more abundantly.”

We need to be preoccupied with Jesus, lest we forget and become distracted from the central focus of the Christian life. A sign on a psychiatrist's office wall read, “Amnesia patients must pay in advance.” The doctor did not want to take a chance that patient might forget to pay the bill. Believers are to be focused on Christ, and that requires a reminder once in a while - that is what I want to accomplish in this message today.

Let's look today at how our lives can and ought to be preoccupied with Jesus. If we are not as preoccupied with Him as John was, maybe it is because we don’t love Him the way John loved Him. Remember, those close to Jesus are not there because He loves them more, but because they respond better to His love.

I. Focused on Listening to the Lord

Two times in the four verses under consideration in our text today John mentions something we have “heard.” I think John treasured those times when He heard Jesus speak. The voice of Jesus must have remained in his ears and in his heart for the rest of his life. So, here John speaks to us about something 'WE' have heard. He is speaking here about two types of knowledge which come to us through the gift of hearing.

A. Hearing ABOUT the Lord

The songwriter penned,

“I love to tell the story, for those who know it best,

Seem hungering and thirsting, to hear it like the rest.” (Arabella K. Hankey 1866)

Indeed, those who have heard the Gospel of Christ hundreds of times seem hungry for more of that heavenly bread that comes from hearing about Jesus and His salvation. What is it about the Word being proclaimed that appeals to us - even though it may be repetitive?

A word spoken or even thought about reveals the heart and mind of the one who speaks or thinks it. When I speak, you know what is inside me. I tell you the kind of person I am by what I say and the manner in which I say it. That is why James says in James 3:2 ...

"We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.”

Our words constitute the expression of our inner nature. This troubles me a bit in our generation, for some of the language used in common conversation publicly today would not have been spoken in private when I was a teenager.

Let's think about Jesus being the Word of God, for the Bible does speak of Him in manner. What does it mean when we think of Jesus as the Word of God. He is the expression of God’s heart - the expression of God’s mind. Jesus is the Word. When we hear truth proclaimed about Him, we are hearing about the heart of God - the very nature of God. It thrills us to see into the Lord’s heart of love and grace.

When we love someone, we love to hear what is going on inside that person. I guess every man in this room has had his wife ask him, "What are you thinking?" Most men answer, "Nothing," because that is what we men think about most of the time. But if your wife is troubled when she asks that question, you will ask, "What's wrong?" Love causes us to care about the thoughts of the one we love. If we love the Lord, we will hunger to hear from Him. Even if we have heard it before, it is meaningful because we know He loves us and we love Him in return.

Have you ever heard a sermon on a subject that you have heard many times before, yet when you hear it again it moves you to tears? Sure you have. If you are a Christian, you have often been moved by hearing God's Word preached or when you've read the Bible on your own. I have been become emotional when reading passages in the Bible - even those that I have read many times before. When we are preoccupied with listening to the Lord, we will hear new things even from old words, and we will be stirred by them.

We not only love hearing about the Lord, but we also adore ...

B. Hearing FROM the Lord

There is something far more important than just hearing about the Lord and that is hearing FROM the Lord. In Jeremiah 37:17 we read that King Zedekiah asked a question of the prophet ...

“Then King Zedekiah sent for him and had him brought to the palace, where he asked him privately, 'Is there any word from the LORD?'"

The child of God longs to hear from the Lord. Our hearts burn within when God opens up the Scriptures to us and reveals Himself to us. Alexander Whyte was told by a member of his congregation one Sunday following the message, “You spoke today as if you had come from the presence [of God].” Whyte replied, “Perhaps I did!” What a thrill when the one speaking brings a word so inspired and so anointed that God Himself speaks it to the hearts of the hearers in words clearer and plainer than the human speaker alone could possibly deliver.

People who are unsaved can’t understand why we want to be in church every week to sing, pray and hear God's Word proclaimed. We love to hear from God. We want to hear about Jesus. We want to talk about Jesus. Most of all, we want to hear from Jesus!

When John wrote the Book of Revelation, he spoke of “the words of” several times. Look at how he wrote to the seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. He states clearly that the words to the church came from Christ. We are listening for a word and we are listening for THE word from Him.

Jesus said He would be present when two or more of His people meet in His name, and He does just that. Almost every week someone will say to me, “Preacher, the Lord spoke to me today during our worship.” Then that person might go on to tell what the Lord spoke to his or her heart through the music, a testimony, or the sermon. Often when a person is relating such things, tears will well up in their eyes and the voice will choke with emotion. Why? Because the Lord has spoken. Glory to His name, He speaks when we come to hear, are eager to listen, and are willing to go forth and practice what He tells us. But that is not all that preoccupies the child of God. Note also that we are …

II. Focused on Looking at the Lord

John states in our text that we have seen Him. He speaks of seeing Jesus five times in just four verses. John is letting everyone know that Jesus actually came in the flesh and appeared on earth. He wants you to know that Jesus is no figment of someone’s imagination. But He speaks in a way which goes beyond the use of the human instruments for observing - beyond simply seeing with one's eyes. Don’t misunderstand me, he is speaking of actually having seen Jesus, but his words carry over to our seeing Him even now in the inner part of our being. Look at the three ways he speaks of seeing Jesus.

A. Jesus in Heaven

"He [Jesus] was from the beginning."

That is, Jesus was with the Father before the foundation of the world. He is preexistent. He existed before anything in our visible Universe existed. In fact, He is from the beginning - that is, He had no beginning and will have no end. He is eternal. He is the Jesus of heaven.

John 17:24 says that the Father loved Jesus before the creation of the world. Hebrews 13:8 speaks of Him as being the same yesterday, today and forever. Many other passages speak of His preexistence. We look on Christ as the One who always has been, is and always will be.

It is interesting to note that John uses a very powerful word when he speaks of seeing Jesus. He does not use the Greek word 'horan' but uses the word 'theasthai.' The former word means to simply glance at something, the latter word means to gaze or stare at something. We get our word theater from the Greek word 'theasthai.' When you go to a theater, movie or drama, you hardly take your eyes off the stage or screen till it is over or an intermission is announced. Why? You don’t want to miss anything that is happening. That is how John says we look upon Christ. We don’t want to miss anything.

I can't think of heaven without thinking of actually seeing Jesus in person one day. What a day that will be! We will see Him and will observe the scars in His hands. We are told in Revelation that Jesus comes walking across the sea of glass, appearing as a Lamb that had been slain. Oh my, what a day when we look upon His face. John thought of Jesus in heaven past and in heaven right now. Yes, and we think of Him in heaven at a point when we go there. I have been asked many times, "Preacher, where do you think heaven is?" That is not a difficult question to answer. Heaven is wherever Jesus is. We will see Him one day. Even now our hearts are lifted up to heaven and the knowledge that our Lord is there interceding for us.

So we not only look upon Him as the Jesus of Heaven, but we also see Him as the…

B. Jesus in History

The Jesus of Heaven took on human form and became the Jesus of history. He stepped into the world He had created. He spoke to nothing, created something, stepped into that which He created and then after His work was finished here He stepped back out of it. That is the glory of who He is. We are preoccupied with gazing at Jesus in history.

  • His glorious conception.
  • His amazing birth.
  • His sinless life.
  • His marvelous miracles.
  • His illuminating teaching.
  • His awful suffering.
  • His vicarious death.
  • His bodily resurrection.
  • His Great Commission.
  • His mighty ascension.
  • His coming from heaven one day for His Church!

All of this has or will take place on earth. It fascinates us. It thrills us. It captivates us. We are preoccupied with it - at least we should be.

"Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth,
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.”

And another verse goes like this:

"Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain;
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see;
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
“Love paid the ransom for me.” (Fanny Crosby, 1880)

Yes, let me weep while you whisper how His amazing love paid the ransom for my soul at Calvary. True and faithful Christians are preoccupied with the history of Jesus.

That brings us to one more way we look at Jesus. Not only do we look at Jesus in Heaven, Jesus in History, but we look at …

C. Jesus in the Heart

Jesus lives in every true believer. We are amazed by this as well. There are some who do not like the idea of Jesus in the heart. Let me tell that the heart is the mind, will and emotions of a person. That is exactly how Jesus came into my life. His Word brought faith to my mind. His love touched my emotions. His call urged my will to act. I accepted Him into my life - my mind, my emotions and my will were at work in that process. He came into my heart! I'll never get over that. I don't want to to get over that experience.

We could speak for hours about Jesus in our hearts and how we are preoccupied with that truth. But, I don’t want to say much about that today, because I am led quickly to consider the full implications of this matter. You see, we not only focus on Listening to and Looking to Jesus, but we also are…

III. Focused with Living in the Lord

John calls Jesus the "Word of Life." Indeed, Jesus came to give us life. Why did we need life? Lisen now, we need llife because we were dead in our trespasses and sins.

Look at Ephesians 2:1-9 ...

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-- it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."

We have been given LIFE in Him. Look at three factors which are important in this new life in Christ.

A. The Partnership of this Life

John speaks of the "fellowship" which we have in this new life. It is two-fold in nature.

First, we have fellowship with Christ.

Secondly, we have fellowship with Christians.

We are made partners in Him and in His ministry. We are in Him and He is in us. I am with Him here and when I die I will be with Him there. I can never, ever, be separated from Him. I am alive in Him. In fact, I can never lose my salvation. The only way to lose your salvation is for Jesus to die - He's already been there and done that - He rose and is alive forevermore. He holds the keys to death, hell and the grave. I am safe in Him.

B. The Pleasure of this Life

The life we have in Christ brings us pleasure, peace, and joy which is unspeakable and full of glory.

A man who loved to study nature was strolling down a crowded city street with a friend. Stopping abruptly, he said "Do you hear a cricket?" His friend responded, "A cricket? Not here in the center of the city with all this noise!" But the naturalist reached down, turned over a stone, and there was the cricket. Puzzled, his friend asked, "Did you actually hear that cricket chirping?"

"Certainly!" said the man. "I spend my time listening to nature, regardless of where I am. Everyone hears what he listens for."

This kind of concentration can also be used to help us listen to Jesus in every situation in life. It helps us control what we think about. And that is important, for what we think about will have a great influence on what we do and what we become. If we concentrate on what is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, as Paul admonished in Philippians 4, we will set a positive pattern. Those are the kinds of things we will do. On the other hand, if we dwell on scandal, backbiting, false reports, and gossip, we may soon find ourselves caught up in those activities. That's what Solomon meant when he said that as a man "thinks in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7).

Oh, what joy I have in Jesus. He is the pleasure of my life. Nothing on this earth can bring the pleasure that Jesus brings to the human heart. People are always looking for pleasure. They seek it in alcohol, drugs, sex, money, possessions and power, but each of those leaves a man or woman empty. Jesus fill us with joy and it is joy that never fades, so long as we are preoccupied with Jesus.

C. The Peace in this Life

When our minds are fixed upon Jesus, we can enjoy the peace He means for us to experience. Philippians 4 speaks of God's peace as being beyond understanding. Further along in that chapter we have a word concerning the God of peace being with us. The only way to have real, lasting peace in this world is to be preoccupied with - to focus on - Christ. John knew something about that peace. He was in a world hostile to Jesus. There was no security for Him in money, things, or the world. For all of us who know the Lord, peace is found only in Jesus.

Conclusion

Jesus is the eternal Lord of Glory. You can trust Him as your Savior today. For those who know Him, let us recommit our lives to being preoccupied with Him.

Admit it, this world has often taken your eyes off of Him. Your troubles have taken hold of your thinking and created anxiety in your heart. The worries about America and the world have robbed you of joy. Temptations have gripped you and caused you to avert your attention from Jesus. This is not because Jesus has failed us, but has happened because we ceased to focused fully with Him. The songwriter penned,

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace." (Helen H. Lemmel)

Let us ever be preoccupied with Jesus!