Gospel Ministry – Proclamation, Fellowship and Joy

1 John 1:3-4

Doctrine is more important in Christianity than in any other religion because all religions save Christianity are interested primarily in offering good advice for self-improvement. But Christianity is about the truth of who God is, who we are, and what God has done to save us…We must look outside ourselves for the answers we need.” J. Ligon Duncan

The apostle John understood that principle with a pastor’s heart – saw things going on in the church that were causing harm. Some of what was happening “in the culture” outside the church had influenced the church in very negative way. Two things right up front John identified as symptoms – stunted fellowship and diminished joy.

John came right out and said: we’re doing this so that you may have fellowship with us. If there weren’t a problem, wouldn’t have put it that way. Something had come up, gotten in the way of relationship; John knew problem wouldn’t fix itself but needed to be addressed directly. He acted to correct misunderstandings and repair damage so that true fellowship could be established and maintained. Indeed, John was convinced the only solution was sound teaching of Gospel truth.

Also made another connection: true joy and overflowing joy impossible outside context of true fellowship. Gospel fellowship. From John’s perspective, whatever hindered fellowship also hindered joy. Not only his readers’ joy, his own joy as well. Not talking about social networking in Facebook sense; real networking in personally interconnected sense. John recognized if joy was lacking in one part of the body, the whole body would suffer.

As good pastor, John stated goals for his flock here at the beginning: he expected content of his message to serve as foundation for fellowship and to increase joy among believers. John communicated that message to his hearers by means of declaration, proclamation.

A. proclamation v.3a

what proclamation is

not: suggestion, discussion, debate, negotiation, sharing

no words like: maybe, possibly, perhaps, might

declaration that is

clear – able to be understood

forceful – imperatives: hear the word of the Lord; thus says the Lord God

authoritative – God speaks through his Word (written and and living) with authority

who is proclaimed

the eternal Son of God

his person

his words

his work

revealed in Scripture

they had prophets’ witness – remember Jesus’ interaction with two on road to Emmaus

we have apostles’ witness in addition – NT including John’s writing

we can see and hear just as clearly (with eyes and ears of faith) all that is necessary to please God

we can understand more fully because of combined resources

OT + NT + Holy Spirit’s teaching ministry

manifested in the flesh

an exclusive message about a unique person

what the source is

what they had seen and heard – experienced first-hand

hallmark of John’s ministry from beginning

Acts 4:20 “…it is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”

same today:

“They cannot but act thus, if they have seen Him: if they have conversed with Him: if they have heard Him: if they have been taught by Him as the Truth is in Jesus. They and we cannot but speak what we have seen in Him: received from Him: and been taught by Him.” Samuel Eyles Pierce

If the preacher tries to proclaim anything but the revealed Word of God personally seen, heard and experienced, his preaching will be without power.

B. fellowship v.3b

what fellowship is

see John 15:1-8; 17:20-23

connection with source of life

intimate relationship

branch attached to vine, drawing life and nourishment from the vine, same essential characteristics as the vine

don’t find branch producing grapes growing on a cucumber vine

so close a relationship it goes far deeper than one with the other

expressed by Jesus as one in the other

same word – κοινωνια – used at times to describe marriage relationship

change in pronouns

no longer yours and mine, instead ours

based on shared Gospel reality

believe the same truth – revealed in God’s Word, the Bible

love the same Lord – presented to us in the Bible

proclaim the same Gospel – forgiveness and salvation found only in Christ of the Bible

have the same mission – spread the Gospel to “ends of the earth”

possess the same inheritance – a present and future reality described in the Bible

Paul put it this way: Eph. 4:4-6 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

who it is with

implied: some that it’s not with (deal with that later in ch. 2)

no hint of fellowship being with everyone, even everyone we know

it’s you having fellowship with us based on what we share in common in the Gospel

God and man

bi-directional in two directions

vertically – between believer and God

we offer praise and thanksgiving (worship) to God, he nourishes and strengthens our souls

we present petitions to God, he responds in answer – providing, correcting, guiding

we gather around the Lord’s Table, express our faith in Christ to God, he builds up our faith in return

horizontally – between brother and sister in Christ

speaking to one another of God’s word – what has encouraged us, helped us

speaking to one another of God’s work – what he has done, is doing

builds up both parties in the process – 2012 GA, reconnect after 2-year absence, answer questions multiple times; each time a new reminder of what God has done

In the mystical Body of Christ, believers have communion both with the Head and with all its members: with the One by faith, with the other by love. Pink, Gleanings from Paul

its essential elements

Father & Son

why?? cuz they model fellowship, have forever

to have fellowship with the Father means enjoying all privileges of home

Father and Son and Spirit: God – the one who has done what is necessary so we can have fellowship

without regeneration it is impossible to have true intimacy with anyone

C. joy v.4

what joy is

“the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one loves or desires” Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate

for believer, joy is both/and not either/or – both present experience and future expectation

Christ’s kingdom a present reality and we pray for it to come in its fullness

presently hold title to spiritual inheritance in glory and expect to experience its fullness in next life

presently have eternal life and will experience its completion after the resurrection

who it is based/founded on

WSC #1: What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

beginning now, ultimately centered on Christ

in him our sins are forgiven

in him we have eternal life

in him we have fullness of joy

in his name our prayers will be answered (John 16:24)

how much should we have

see John’s pastoral heart again

same desire for his flock as Jesus for his followers

John 15:11“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”

full to the top, no room for anything else

“This fulness of joy then, must consist, in having such clear and blessed increasing knowledge and enjoyments of the love of God the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ, in real fellowship with them, as could not but feed, and fill, feast, and satisfy the mind to a holy [saturation].” Pierce

“A Christian should be an Alleluia from head to toe!” Augustine

nature of Christian life not same-old

not the same as pre-Christian life

not the same as early Christian life

each day brings us nearer full reality of all that is promised to the Christian – should be reflected in our joy, on our faces, in our speech, increasing day by day

Increasing daily joy and fellowship will be our experience if we seek our satisfaction in Christ, not in world or things of the world, temporal things of this life, but in Christ. God “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17) but our ultimate satisfaction and joy must be in the Giver, not the gifts. Trust in God, thank him for his goodness and his grace, lean on his everlasting arms, confident of his love and sustaining care every moment of every day that he grants to us.


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