This experienced man, John, writes a vitally important letter that we might know certain vital truths and know them with certainty. Good leadership is always concerned about that.
How do you know that you are a Christian and that is all is well with you spiritually?
John is going to give three certain ways to test yourself - a historical test - a theological test - a social test. The people in the early Church could apply these to themselves and discover whether or not they had the real thing, or whether or not they had been deceived by a counterfeit. Many today believe a deception. Do read the text of John's first letter in the New Testament. It is crucial because various wrong teachings were creeping into the Church of Jesus Christ at that time just as they have crept back in today.
God does not want any disciples of Jesus Christ to be deceived and this letter is being written to the Church of Jesus Christ.
Is our faith based on facts or feelings? Do I have a good history - a sound conversion? Is it all based on Jesus Christ - is it all real - did it actually happen?
When you are baptised in the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues that reinforces the reality. Why do I put that in, if it is not mentioned here directly? It was not an issue at that time, but it is an issue today in various places and leaders are called to lead and deal with important matters, irrespective of how popular it might be.
John mentions what we have seen and heard. When your Christian experience is based on facts then these cannot change. It has little to do with feelings. John acted because Jesus Christ called him, chose him, saved him, anointed him. He had so many real experiences of Jesus. There is a theological test. Do we have the right view of Jesus Christ? He was both human and divine - man and God.
We need all that we read in the whole Word of God. As we stay in the Word we will be saved from years of heartbreak, and that goes for an individual, for every Christian fellowship - and even for a nation. God invaded this world in the Man, Jesus Christ. He was not just a good man. He was GOD.
Our history - do we have a firm foundation? Our theology - do we have a right view of God - and now the moral test! You do not live as you used to. You keep the commandments. Obedience is a recurring note in authentic Christianity. It is one thing to know something - but how do you know if you know - Chapter 2 verse 3 - if we keep His Commandments.
And there is a social test too to check that we have the real thing - You must love your brother Christians. Now that is not just being nice - it is much more than that. It is not sloppy - sentimental - superficial - it is being as loyally loving and as lovingly loyal as Jesus was.
Jesus was utterly loyal. He did not go and look for other men when the men he chose let Him down. He never spoke about His men behind their back - except to the Father in prayer - but that is rather different. These people had to get on with each other. It was not easy - particularly in Corinth was it a real problem - but there the root of the problem lay in what they believed. When that is sorted out then they could come to the Table and eat and drink.
There is the story told of aged John being carried into the Church, and being asked to speak, and all he could say was, "Little children - Love one another". This after all is the Lord's command, and Jesus has this aged and mature apostle speaking these words and writing these truths to the very end. John begins his letter by focussing our attention on Jesus, and it would be difficult to improve upon this quality of mature leadership, which is so greatly needed in these present days.
Sandy Shaw is Pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship, Chaplain at Inverness Prison, and Nairn Academy, and serves on The Children's Panel in Scotland, and has travelled extensively over these past years teaching, speaking, in America, Canada, South Africa, Australia, making 12 visits to Israel conducting Tours and Pilgrimages, and most recently in Uganda and Kenya, ministering at Pastors and Leaders Seminars, in the poor areas surrounding Kampala, Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.
He broadcasts regularly on WSHO radio out of New Orleans, and writes a weekly commentary at http://www.studylight.org entitled "Word from Scotland" on various biblical themes, as well as a weekly newspaper column.
His M.A. and B.D. degrees are from The University of Edinburgh, and he continues to run and exercise regularly to maintain a level of physical fitness.