Meanderings of a Minister


Just the Facts, Ma’am!
April 22, 2010, 7:49 pm
Filed under: Articles

Many of you may recognize the title of this article as a well-known phrase uttered by TV’s Jack Webb as part of the old Dragnet show.  When he uttered this statement, it was usually because he was trying to solve a crime and did not have time for all of the frivolities or opinions that people often like to share with the police in such a situation.  The reasoning behind the statement is that the facts present the truth, without a deviation for opinion or speculation.

In 1 John 1:1-4, John begins his writing of this letter with a few statements similar to this sentiment.  First, he says he is about to tell them about the Word of Life and this is not something new because the Word of Life was from the beginning.  What did John mean by the Word of Life?  Quite simply, he is talking about Jesus.  How is Jesus the Word of Life (See John 1)?  He is the expression of the heart and mind of the Father.  This is what He meant when He said He only does what He sees the Father doing.  (See John 5:19)  A word is the basic unit of communication in which a person takes a thought from their own mind and expresses that thought in a way that can be both transmitted and received by another.  Jesus is just that.  God the Father sent God the Son to earth as the expression of His heart for mankind.  Because of this truth, the only way for a person to have eternal life with the Father is through the Son (John 14:1-6) because the Son is the expression of the Father and a person must believe the expression.

John also states that he is merely reporting to his readers what he has heard from Jesus (1 John 1:1b, 3b, 5a), what he has seen Jesus do (1 John 1:1c, 2a, 3a), and what he has personally touched (1 John 1:1c).

Why does John start his letter with these facts?  Quite simply because he is letting his readers know that there is no speculation, but an accurate report of the facts of the situation.  By extension, this becomes a challenge to enter into debate about those things.  If anyone could prove that these things did not happen, then they could unravel the whole testimony.  There is no record of this happening until later textual critics tried to go back and rewrite history to try and discredit the Bible.  The problem with their approach is that they tried to force Christians into a negative apologetic stance that is not philosophically proper or fair.

Let me explain.  Even in modern American Jurisprudence, a document is considered the authenticated if it is over a certain number of years old and has had no detractors from its immediate observers.  For instance, in the story of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree and confessing it to his father out of his sense of honor and truthfulness, we have a refutation of that story from contemporaries of Washington that indicated it was an embellished story aimed at bolstering his reputation, not because he was dishonest, but because they were trying accentuate his honesty.  We know the story to be false.  We have no detractors from the immediate context of John’s account.

But why did John write this letter that he felt he needed to begin with a foundational trust in its report?  Because he knew that the only way for his readers, and himself by application, to be truly filled with joy was for them to understand, accept, believe in and surrender to Jesus as Savior and Lord and to strive for their living to match their confession.  He longed for them a full, sustained joy (this is what the word, pepleromena means in Greek).  He did not want them to have a momentary joy like the seed that fell among the weeds and rocky soil in Matthew 13, he wanted Jesus words to abide in them and for their joy to be made complete (see John 15).

How would that joy be made full and remain that way?  For them to have fellowship with the Father through Jesus Christ, God the Son (1 John 1:3). 

How about you and I?  Is it the same for us?  It is if Hebrews is true that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever!  How’s your joy?

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