The Three Most Important Things
Text: 1 John 1: 1-4
Proposition: The greatest thing in life is that God is known and that we are known by God.
Introduction : A father was walking with his young son and as they walked he asked the boy a question that he asked every week if not almost every day, “Okay son, what are the three most important things?” The little guy with a slight grin looks up and says, “Build robots, read comic books, and take over the world.” We laugh but how would you answer that question? I mean we see wall hangings that say, ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ and the reason they sell is because for many people they are the essence of the three most important things for them. Sometimes the things that we put on that list are good on the surface but ultimately fall short of what really is important in the long run. Despite our very best efforts our lives are unpredictable, the factors of change are within three seconds of timing. One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, think of what can change in the time it took to say that. The Humboldt bus crash was less than that in timing. My point is that the things that we say are most important to us can be too small, too transient, too shortsighted to really satisfy the thirst of our soul.
This morning I’d like to start a new series that begins by answering the question of what is most important, not just to you or the person next to you but universally to everyone of us. It makes the assumption that what is ultimately important is common, not unique. This series we are going to look at was written in about 80 to 90 AD, so even time doesn’t change what is universally important. The author is likely the Apostle John and the intent of the letter is to reveal the truth of Who Jesus Christ is. Turn with me 1 John: 1-4.
I.The First Most Important Thing… God Is Known By You. In John’s day there was a movement called Gnosticism that sought to undermine all that Christ had invested into the church and the world it reached. The core beliefs of Gnosticism were:
1. That knowledge is superior to virtue; so morality was subjective, undefined.
2. That Scripture is not to be interpreted literally and only a select few can really know its’ meaning; so truth is made subjective and not objective.
3. The existence of evil in the world means God could not have created it; so creation is abandoned and replaced with random occurrence.
4. The incarnation of Christ into humanity is impossible because the purity of God could not unite itself with anything material such as a body; so without the Incarnation of Christ there can be no Redemption.
5. There is no resurrection of the flesh; therefore not even Christ is resurrected which neutralizes Salvation and destroys the concept of Eternal life for man.
These Gnostic beliefs were part of why John wrote this letter and when you think about it perhaps things haven’t really changed that much as we recognize a number of these same themes. So look at how John begins this letter, “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 opening phrase, ‘that which was from the beginning’ is a reference to the beginning of everything, before the world was. It is a reference to the eternality of God. This means that before the world ever was, God was. That which was from the beginning is the eternal, creative, all powerful, loving personhood of God. People today are becoming more and more aware of the incredible detail that exists in creation everywhere in the world. The intelligent design premise says that creation has too much pattern, too much precision and too much complexity in it to be random. What John is saying that not only does God exist from before time and before the earth and the solar system ever were, God is known by creation Generally and by Christ in what we would call Special Revelation. Look at how He is known, they have ‘heard Him, seen Him, touched Him’. What John is saying is that we don’t have to imagine what God is like, we don’t need to use monkeys or cows or bears or characters that represent war, or the sea or fertility to know God. Jesus came that we would know exactly what the Father is like, that we would know the personhood of God in whose image we are created.
Did you know that religion is on the rise in Canada? That includes all faiths from Islam to Buddhism but also includes Catholic and Protestant Christians. It would seem that Immigration is turning around the trend in Canada and when immigrant families, especially Christian Filipinos and Nigerians come to church, it’s with their children. The church is growing in ethnic expressions and in younger people who know the God of Scripture. God is known, which brings a reversal to those trends like Gnosticism. Because God is known there is a moral code. Because God is known there is absolute truth, because God is known the Creator is known. Because God is known there is a Redeemer, there is salvation in Him and there is eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. So I would say the number one on a list of what is most important is that God is known.
II. The Second Most Important Thing…You Are Known By God.
When I say the second most important thing I mean that the two are often sequential, but being known by God is the greater of the two. Consider what J I Packer wrote in his book Knowing God, “All my knowledge of Him depends on His sustained initiative in knowing me. I know Him, because He first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me, and there is no moment when His eye is off me, or His attention distracted from me, and no moment therefore, when His care falters.” Now to be clear on what God knowing us means let’s add what John wrote in 1 John 1:3, “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.” He’s talking about their coming to faith in Christ by the physical evidence of the person of Jesus and what He said and did. Then John says that you can now have fellowship with them as believers and with God the Father and Jesus His Son. ‘God knows us’ is a statement about the church, about who you are to Him as a believer in Christ. Just listen to a couple of other Scriptures that say the same thing. 1 Cor. 13:12 says, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” You are known now by God because of your faith in Christ. 1 Cor 8:3 says, “But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.” When we say God is known by you we are talking not about the facts and details of the existence of God but rather your knowing through faith the very reality of God’s saving you. Your being made alive in the Spirit at salvation is the beginning point of the knowledge of God in you. But preceding this, even before you were born was God’s knowledge of you as His child. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Psalm 139:17,18 says, “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.”
Let me remind you that this letter of 1 John is written to Christians, it begins with this great testimony of the reality of Christ, God incarnate. It moves quickly to the fellowship that that all believers have with the Father and with Son. Then in verse 4 he concludes, “And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” Their joy is not full because they know things about God, their joy is made full because He who knows them best, loves them most. Fellowship means a communion, a joint participation, a share in the kingdom of God because of having a share in Christ. That begins when you are known by God and then it moves to you knowing the Father, knowing the wonder of the Son and knowing the Holy Spirit who indwells you and fills you. The joy of the Lord is really just that, His joy in you. These two most important truths, your knowledge of God and more critically His knowing you are what lead to the third most important thing. These two truths lead you in how you live, why you glorify your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. So let’s look at that third most important thing next week.