Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Lord of All Life – His Life is Ours

“This life [the word of life] was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us.”

~1 John 1:2 (NRSV).

Imagine a life that came to us, in flesh, and it was obvious that this life came from God; was with God no less. God coming to us; and with us, in Immanuel.[1]

John’s letter

The beginning of John’s first letter is so reminiscent of his gospel. It holds Christ high up with God, exalting him as both complete man and complete deity. The richness and boldness of his literary style strikes us as we read. It is elevated, theological, graceful, and worshipful.

The opening of 1 John starts unlike most typical letters; it forgets any sense of greeting and thrusts the reader “headlong into the symphony of salvation, arranged and conducted by God.”[2] Indeed, it’s hardly a ‘letter’ in the traditional sense. He gets straight to the point. We can just sense John’s tremendous excitement, passion and enthralled awe.

The Johannine corpus (the three letters) has “justly enjoyed esteem disproportionate to their size.”[3] John speaks in a characteristically adversarial style, bringing forth vivid theological contrasts to illustrate compellingly the way of the risen Christ.[4]

This verse above - 1 John 1:2

There are many objective and subjective evidences of John’s testimony;[5] he heard, saw and touched Jesus in real life. He states this in ways that leaves us, the reader, without any doubt to this.

A.W. Tozer mentions that, “He is the Lord of all kinds of beings, the Lord of all spiritual being and all natural being and all physical being. He is the Lord of all being and when we worship him, we encompass all being.”[6] He in us—we in him. God with us means this same thing; he is the only object worthy of our worship, for he is the Lord of all wisdom, righteousness and mercy.[7]

John Calvin states that ‘the life revealed’ is double-edged; firstly, for the physical life of Jesus which was seen, and secondly, we too witness as we walk through the gospel accounts and also that via the resurrection life we enjoy. He concludes that the fact John is ‘declaring (to the reader) the eternal life,’ means it is pointing us to the latter; the life that “is obtained for us in Christ.”[8] And the Word of life is open to us in this way; when we open our minds and hearts to Jesus as he is preached, the ways and precepts of God come to us, or are at least made available to us.

The final part of this verse takes us back to the dawn of creation; before it, in fact. We don’t tend to think in terms of pre-Creation, when only our Triune God existed and his wisdom, and basically nothing else. This is deep theology which doesn’t serve the present need.

Before Christ was revealed, the prophets of old only had an idea of salvation—the ideas God gave them, and this required good faith, as it does now, but they had nothing tangible as the Messiah had not yet been revealed.

We tend to take this fact for granted now, living post-Jesus’ physical life. He is the Lord of all life, and by virtue of God’s overall redemptive plan (to rescue us from our sinful selves) we can enjoy the right life, now, not simply in heaven...indeed, we have eternal life now.

© 2009, 2010 S. J. Wickham.

[1] See Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23. Immanuel means, “God with us.”

[2] C. Clifton Black, The First, Second, and Third Letters of John: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections - The New Interpreter’s Bible Vol. XII (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1998), p. 381.

[3] Black, Ibid, p. 365.

[4] Black, Ibid, p. 372.

[5] James Montgomery Boice, The Epistles of John: The Epistles of John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House Co., 1979), p. 22f.

[6] A.W. Tozer, The Worship Driven Life: The Reason We Were Created - Ed. James L Snyder (London, UK: Monarch Books, 2008), p. 155.

[7] Tozer, Ibid, p. 156-62.

[8] John Calvin & Matthew Henry, 1, 2, 3 John (Alister McGrath & J.I. Packer eds.) (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1998), p. 17-18.

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