Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fellowship & Joy = Proclaim What Is Written

“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 [similar to the apostles’ defense before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:20 – 1 John doesn’t have to be dated late because it’s directed at hypothetical Gnostics!], concerning the Word of Life - 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 - what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete (1 John 1:1-14).

The purpose of proclamation: fellowship with each other and God the Father (and God the Son). Remember Jesus’ description of the only true Seeker: “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23,24). We cannot separate the Word and the Spirit Who Authors that Word:
  • “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17).
  • “It is the Spirit Who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth” (1 John 5:6).

The purpose of writing and, therefore, reading: complete and perfected joy. It should not surprise us that the Spirit Who Authors Scripture is the Spirit Whose presence manifests as joy (not the emotion of happiness that is dependent on circumstances, but the spiritual, unchanging reality of continually being in the presence of God the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of joy) when His Word (which is Truth) is read, taught, meditated upon, and becomes the binding force and foundation of our gathering as His Church:
  • “...the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52).
  • “...may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
  • “...the kingdom of God in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).
  • “...the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22).
  • “You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:6).

The reading of the apostles’ writings and the application of the writings’ truth in proclamation is united in the 2,000 year-old practice of the gathered Church: “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (1 Timothy 4:13).

*Cast away, water down, or mature past the reading and preaching of Scripture to the gathered Church toward more relevant or culturally-sensitive expressions, meta-narrative sharing, Word-less “discussion,” voicing of authoritative experiences/emotions/opinions, or dramatic display of community significances* (asterisk-enclosed sarcasm), and God the Spirit will inevitably remove the eternal and Divine foundation of your fellowship, along with the supernatural and abiding joy that comes with it.

Gather as the Church. Fellowship in the Spirit through the Word He has Authored. Rejoice completely in the presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together now and forever. May you be blessed deeply in this, most-beloved Church.

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