BACK TO THE BEGINNING
This wonderful Person is also the eternal life. He is the seed, the Person, and the eternal life which was from the beginning (1 John 1:1-2). From the beginning there was life; that which was from the beginning is the Word of life.
In this Epistle the writer considers the believers in three categories (2:13-27): fathers, young men, and little children. The fathers are the older, experienced ones; the young men are the stronger ones; and the little children are the babes in Christ.
The fathers, John tells us, “have known him that is from the beginning” (2:13). That is to say, the older ones should know life, since life is what has been from the beginning. After we have received life, many things rise up to distract us from that which was from the beginning. We know from our experience that time and again we have to be brought back to life, back to what was there in the beginning. If we are fathers, experienced ones in the church life, our concern will be about life. Other things we must drop. What counts is Christ as life. Nothing else is worth ministering but this life which was from the beginning.
The Apostle John here is the mender. When he was called by the Lord, he was mending fishing nets (Matt. 4:21). His ministry was to mend. In his time Christianity had already been damaged. His way to mend the situation was life. Today we need fathers in the church to bring the distracted ones back to the beginning, to life.
Then to the little ones John says, “Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father” (2:24). To let what was from the beginning abide in them means that they were to let life abide in them. This would bring them into the experience that the fathers had had.
John is telling us that life must be our only concern. Christians are preoccupied with doctrinal teachings and practices, like the method of baptism, the wearing of head coverings, and the way meetings are conducted. If these things matter to us, we are still babyish or at least childish. Once we grow up, we shall care only for that which was from the beginning.
This life is a Person. It is the Triune God as the seed sown into our being. As we care for that living seed, it will grow in us and spread life from our spirit into every other part of our inner being. As time goes on, others will be able to notice that a measure of life has been added to us. Through the years I have seen this growth in life of the young ones in the churches. How encouraging it is to see not the outward changes, but the growth of life from within!
ASKING LIFE FOR OTHERS
This life is first in the Holy Spirit, then in our human spirit, then in our mind, and then in our physical body. There is still something further to be said about this life. “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death” (1 John 5:16). If a brother has a problem with the Lord, we can pray for him. By praying we can minister life to him. To impart life to others, however, requires that we have more life ourselves. When we are filled with the riches of life, we shall have an overflow of life for others. There is the need of imparting life to others as a supply to them. If we ourselves are short of life, there will be none to impart to others. The hungry have nothing to feed others; they themselves must first be fed. After we have been richly fed, there will be an overflow for others.
First John presents life to us as a seed in our spirit. This seed will spread into our soul and then into our body. We can have an abundance of life to minister to others. This is the proper church life. What others need is not instruction or correction or regulation, but an abundance of the riches of this life imparted to them. In the church life we are enjoying the spreading of this life from our spirit to our soul and eventually to our mortal body. As it gains ground in us, we have the riches to impart to the needy ones.
(Seven Mysteries in the First Epistle of John, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)