1 John 1:1-4
That Which Was from the Beginning
Human beings are fickle and always on the prowl for the newest, the latest, the most recent discovery or idea. This new idea will then be exalted as the biggest and best, implying that everything that came before it was old and worn or juvenile and unworthy of attention. Of course, the latest thing will soon be overshadowed by the most recent newest thing, and so it goes—men chasing shadows and inventing castles in the sky. This is nowhere more apparent than in America which thrives on the newest thing. We are a country that was born a new thing. European nations looked down their noses at us and we reciprocated. And today marketing and advertising exist to make us believe that we must have the newest thing.
Unfortunately, this is just as apparent with the Faith. There has always been the temptation to “move beyond” the apostolic tradition that has been handed down, and to see it as outdated and to bring it in line with the contemporary spirit. Today we see this in calls for churches to accept feminism or intimacy outside of biblically-ordained and natural marriage.
Well, today we begin with the letters of the Apostle John—the beloved disciple. And he fought the same thing then as we do now. In his day, many believers were taken by the Greek thought in the air (often dubbed “Gnosticism” today) which taught that the soul was good and the body bad, that Jesus therefore could not have come in the flesh, completely throwing to the wind his substitutionary atonement, and that the Spirit had given them a secret knowledge (gnosis) about these things which had the effect of rendering them sinless as well (see: I. Howard Marshall, The Epistles of John, NICNT, 14-22, for an extended treatment).
Against this, John comes out swinging: “That which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes…which we have touched with our hands…was made manifest.” And then he repeats it all over again in the next verse! He leaves no doubt that the Son of God came down from heaven and was made man. There’s no going beyond this, and there’s no need to. Not only does our salvation depend on the Son’s becoming man, but one could spend a lifetime meditating upon the Son’s person—his full divinity and full humanity—and work—his life, death, resurrection, ascension, session at the right hand, and promised return, not to mention coming judgment—and have enough to occupy his mind. Eternity itself will not be long enough to ponder these truths. Lesson: Never try to be smarter than what is written.