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Elpis Israel: An Exposition of the Kingdom of God

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THAT WHICH WE HAVE SEEN AND HEARD

“John’s focus on the literality of Christ’s coming and the historical basis for Christian faith is very noticeable. Nowhere is this more clearly felt than at the start of the letter (1st Epistle of John). John comes right out of the gate leading with this theme:
‘That which was heard from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it , and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also too you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ… This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you…’ (I John 1:1-5)

In that passage alone, then, we have
5 words connected with sight
2 words connected with touch
3 references to hearing
2 references to things being made
manifest (that is, demonstrated)
1 reference to testifying (legally
verifying)
3 references to proclaiming (making
known, declaring).

This theme, introduced with a hammer-blow at the start of the letter, continues throughout it. Given the denials of his opponents, it is not difficult to see why John should be so keen to see it emphasised.
But what is the relevance to a modern reader in this insistence? John’s teaching could scarcely be more relevant, given the trends that have been seen in mainstream Christianity and theological circles over the last hundred years. It has become more common and more popular for theologians to downplay or even deny the reality of foundational Christian doctrines such as the resurrection and the virgin birth, as though the idea of a raised Christ is enough to save us (even though his conception by the Spirit is denied), or that the notion of Jesus unique conception is enough to make him unique in our minds and give us vision (even though, they may tell us it is absurd to believe that someone could really have been conceived by the Spirit).
All of these views are forms of godliness which deny its power—pleasant words designed to make the gospel sound more sophisticated or more credible but which rip out its very heart and power to save. The Apostle John will have none of it. The gospel which we know and believe is a gospel based on sound historical testimony.”

An excerpt from ‘The First Epistle of John’ by Mark Vincent….from the ‘Testimony’ magazine Vol. 80 No. 954 Nov. 2010

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