“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life- 1:2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us- ” 1 John 1:, 2
The Apostle John begins his first letter with the greatest weapon for battling sin, which is truth. God begins His 66 books of self disclosure (The Bible) with the first and great truth, which is that He exists, as recorded in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God..” In Hebrews 11:6 we are further told “And without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to Him must believe that he is, and that He is the rewarder to those who seek Him.” Belief in God is the most essential element for living in the truth, and to believe otherwise is to live in a false reality.
It is almost too obvious when talking religiously to point out that we must believe in God, but this truth must be stated because all men begin in unbelief. Even though the world is filled with religions, the Bible teaches that most of them are a lie. When Jesus looked to the future He said, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect” Mark 13:22. Ezekiel when speaking to people of his day prophesied the truth about false prophets, when he said, “Her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD has not spoken” Ezekiel 22:8. The Apostle John realized that Jesus prophecy had come true in his day and warned the people of false religions when he wrote, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” 1 John 4:1.
To believe in a false god is equivalent to not believing in the one true God. Because all men begin without belief in the one true god we can all be fooled into believing in false gods. It is one thing to say we believe in God, it is quite another to know the one true God. Belief in the Bible entails much more than a mental assent in an isolated fact, it includes an acceptance that all the Bible is true. For this reason even the demons, who are greater in knowledge than any human are in a dismal state even though they believe certain facts about God. For this reason John writes, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder” 1 John 2:19. They shudder because what they do know about God is not enough to save them.
The message of the whole Bible is a message of salvation, which includes repentance and saving faith. Repentance means turning from sin, and saving faith is a total dependance upon God to be saved with no hope in our own ability or willingness to be saved. The message that John proclaims in the 10 verses of the first chapter of his letter encapsulates a correct understanding about God, sin, and salvation.
John begins with the truth about God when he writes, “What was from the beginning…” If we read this statement with a pause between the words “was” and “from” we will get a right rendering of his meaning. “What was”, that is to say what already existed before the beginning of all things that were created. The creator God is eternal, therefore, He exists outside of time. God is self existent. When the writer of the book of Hebrews compared Melchizedek, an Old Testament priest, to the Son of God he wrote, “without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest for ever.” Melchizedek is seen as eternal so far as the Biblical record is concerned; and thereby he is only a type or a foreshadow of the Son of God, who is without beginning of days or end of life in reality.
John makes the point in verses 1 & 2 that they heard, saw, and touched Jesus, who John refers to as “the Word of Life”, “the life” (with the definite article), and “the eternal life.” A person would have to be willfully blind to not see the gigantic point that John is making. Jesus whom they heard, saw, and touched is the expression of life, thee life, and thee eternal life. He was not referring to biological life, not a biological machine that pumps blood, sends electrical impulses to run the process of thinking, but a life entirely different. The life of God is even different than the angels that are spiritual and without physical bodies. Angels are not physical but they have a starting date. They exist because God created them and maintains them from microsecond to microsecond. Only God maintains Himself and is dependent upon no one.
Without the profound truths that God is, that He is eternal, and that He became a man to save sinful men no man can be saved. The starting point for salvation and victory over sin is to understand that Jesus Christ is the eternal life, and that eyewitnesses saw, heard, and touched Him. Hence, God is the source of holy living. Mary, a young virgin girl and soon to be the mother of Jesus Christ, could not contain herself for joy when she expressed to Elizabeth, “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” Luke 1:46, 47.
What could be more relevant than to enter into the reality, which can enable a true believer to overcome sin as an act of appreciation for what Christ did to save him?