1 John 1:1-4
1 We announce to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld, and what our hands touched, as regards the Word of Life. 2 And the Life was revealed, and we have seen, and we bear witness, and we announce to you the everlasting Life which was with the Father, and was revealed to us. 3 We announce to you what we have seen, and what we have heard, that you also may have fellowship with us. And truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. 4 And we write these things to you, that your joy may be full.
What is it that John proclaimed to his readers? As he says, it was from the beginning, they saw it with their eyes and touched it with their hands. It is the Word of Life, that eternal Word of which he also wrote in John, chapter one: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men….” (John 1:1-4).
John proclaimed the eternal Word, who “became flesh and tabernacled among us. And we beheld His glory, glory as of an only begotten from the Father, full of grace and of truth” (John 1:14). He proclaimed the life-giving Son of God who was born into this world a true man and won for us all forgiveness of sins and everlasting life.
This everlasting life was with the Father. It was the Father’s eternal plan to send the Son into the world to suffer and die for the sins of all and rise again.
The Son of God and everlasting life in His name were revealed to John and his fellow apostles. They saw Jesus and heard His teaching. They witnessed His mighty miracles. They saw Him calm stormy seas, feed multitudes, cast out demonic spirits, heal the sick, raise the dead. They witnessed His glory on the mount of transfiguration. And, after His sufferings and death on the cross, they were eye witnesses of his resurrection, seeing Him, touching Him and talking with Him numerous times before His ascension to the right hand of the Father.
This they announced and proclaimed to their hearers that they too might come to know and trust in Messiah Jesus as the Son of God and their Savior – that they too might received everlasting life in Jesus’ name.
John proclaims Jesus, the eternal Son of God come into this world a true man to be our Savior, that we and all who hear might have fellowship with John, the apostles and all other true believers in Jesus. And note that this fellowship – this koinonia – is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
How different this is from the way so many in our day seek to have fellowship, joining together without regard for the true doctrine of Jesus Christ! True fellowship in Christ’s Church is a creation of the Holy Spirit which He brings about when He reveals to sinners the salvation God the Father has provided in His Son. Fellowship with the Church and all other true believers comes about when we enter into fellowship with God the Father through faith in the Son and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world.
And from where does fullness of joy come? The only fulfilling joy and happiness, the only lasting joy, comes through knowing and partaking of the eternal salvation God has provided in His Son.
O gracious and merciful God, make known to us Your Son and the eternal salvation You have provided for us through His innocent sufferings and death and His glorious resurrection. Bring us into fellowship with You, the Son, and with all other true believers of all time. Grant us fullness of joy through the knowledge of forgiveness and life everlasting in Jesus’ name. Amen.
From the Lutheran Confessions
The Smalcald Articles
THE THIRD PART OF THE ARTICLES
Part III, Article VII. Of the Keys.
1] The keys are an office and power given by Christ to the Church for binding and loosing sin, not only the gross and well-known sins, but also the subtle, hidden, which are known only to God, as it is written in Ps. 19:13: Who can understand his errors? And in Rom. 7:25 St. Paul himself complains that with the flesh he serves the law of sin. 2] For it is not in our power, but belongs to God alone, to judge which, how great, and how many the sins are, as it is written in Ps. 143:2: Enter not into judgment with Thy servant; for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified. 3] And Paul says, 1 Cor. 4:4: For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified.
Part III, Article VIII. Of Confession.
1] Since Absolution or the Power of the Keys is also an aid and consolation against sin and a bad conscience, ordained by Christ [Himself] in the Gospel, Confession or Absolution ought by no means to be abolished in the Church, especially on account of [tender and] timid consciences and on account of the untrained [and capricious] young people, in order that they may be examined, and instructed in the Christian doctrine.
2] But the enumeration of sins ought to be free to every one, as to what he wishes to enumerate or not to enumerate. For as long as we are in the flesh, we shall not lie when we say: “I am a poor man [I acknowledge that I am a miserable sinner], full of sin.” Rom. 7:23: I see another law in my members, etc. For since private absolution originates in the Office of the Keys, it should not be despised [neglected], but greatly and highly esteemed [of the greatest worth], as [also] all other offices of the Christian Church.
3] And in those things which concern the spoken, outward Word, we must firmly hold that God grants His Spirit or grace to no one, except through or with the preceding outward Word, in order that we may [thus] be protected against the enthusiasts, i.e., spirits who boast that they have the Spirit without and before the Word, and accordingly judge Scripture or the spoken Word, and explain and stretch it at their pleasure, as Muenzer did, and many still do at the present day, who wish to be acute judges between the Spirit and the letter, and yet know not what they say or declare. 4] For [indeed] the Papacy also is nothing but sheer enthusiasm, by which the Pope boasts that all rights exist in the shrine of his heart, and whatever he decides and commands with [in] his church is spirit and right, even though it is above and contrary to Scripture and the spoken Word.
5] All this is the old devil and old serpent, who also converted Adam and Eve into enthusiasts, and led them from the outward Word of God to spiritualizing and self-conceit, and nevertheless he accomplished this through other outward words. 6] Just as also our enthusiasts [at the present day] condemn the outward Word, and nevertheless they themselves are not silent, but they fill the world with their pratings and writings, as though, indeed, the Spirit could not come through the writings and spoken word of the apostles, but [first] through their writings and words he must come. Why [then] do not they also omit their own sermons and writings, until the Spirit Himself come to men, without their writings and before them, as they boast that He has come into them without the preaching of the Scriptures? But of these matters there is not time now to dispute at greater length; we have elsewhere sufficiently urged this subject.
7] For even those who believe before Baptism, or become believing in Baptism, believe through the preceding outward Word, as the adults, who have come to reason, must first have heard: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, even though they are at first unbelieving, and receive the Spirit and Baptism ten years afterwards. 8] Cornelius, Acts 10:1ff , had heard long before among the Jews of the coming Messiah, through whom he was righteous before God, and in such faith his prayers and alms were acceptable to God (as Luke calls him devout and God-fearing), and without such preceding Word and hearing could not have believed or been righteous. But St. Peter had to reveal to him that the Messiah (in whom, as one that was to come, he had hitherto believed) now had come, lest his faith concerning the coming Messiah hold him captive among the hardened and unbelieving Jews, but know that he was now to be saved by the present Messiah, and must not, with the [rabble of the] Jews deny nor persecute Him.
9] In a word, enthusiasm inheres in Adam and his children from the beginning [from the first fall] to the end of the world, [its poison] having been implanted and infused into them by the old dragon, and is the origin, power [life], and strength of all heresy, especially of that of the Papacy and Mahomet. 10] Therefore we ought and must constantly maintain this point, that God does not wish to deal with us otherwise than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments. 11] It is the devil himself whatsoever is extolled as Spirit without the Word and Sacraments. For God wished to appear even to Moses through the burning bush and spoken Word; and no prophet neither Elijah nor Elisha, received the Spirit without the Ten Commandments [or spoken Word]. 12] Neither was John the Baptist conceived without the preceding word of Gabriel, nor did he leap in his mother’s womb without the voice of Mary. 13] And Peter says, 2 Pet. 1:21: The prophecy came not by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Without the outward Word, however, they were not holy, much less would the Holy Ghost have moved them to speak when they still were unholy [or profane]; for they were holy, says he, since the Holy Ghost spake through them.
Part III, Article IX. Of Excommunication.
The greater excommunication, as the Pope calls it, we regard only as a civil penalty, and it does not concern us ministers of the Church. But the lesser, that is, the true Christian excommunication, consists in this, that manifest and obstinate sinners are not admitted to the Sacrament and other communion of the Church until they amend their lives and avoid sin. And ministers ought not to mingle secular punishments with this ecclesiastical punishment, or excommunication.
Bible Study in Preparation for Sunday
Scripture Readings for Sunday are: Psalm 4; Acts 3:11-21; 1 John 3:1-7; and Luke 24:36-49. Please read them in their context as you prepare for worship on Sunday.
The Sunday Adult Bible Class will continue its study of the book of Hebrews, in chapter 10, verse 1ff.
Remember to Pray
Remember to pray for our church and for all our members, that none be lost to Christ’s kingdom but that all continue in repentance and be strengthened and built up in the true and saving faith in Christ Jesus through the hearing and study of His Word. We continue to pray for all who have been sick or who are suffering among us – for Dixie Grant, Dawn Hiebert, Sam Rusch, Bonnie Hawes, Mel Boren and Pastor Moll; for those who have been absent from us, for our extended families and for believers who are alone and have no congregation. Continue to pray for Lutheran congregations and believers around the world who are persecuted or suffering for their faith in Christ Jesus.
Events and Announcements
Information for bulletins or newsletters may be sent to Pastor Moll by calling him at 479-233-0081 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Scripture quotations from Green’s Literal Translation (LITV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.