Wednesday, March 31, 2010
1 John 5 The Sureness of God’s Testimony
5 And who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
6 Jesus Christ—He is the One who came by water and blood; not by water only, but by water and by blood. And the Spirit is the One who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
7 For there are three that testify:
8 the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and these three are in agreement.
9 If we accept the testimony of men, God’s testimony is greater, because it is God’s testimony that He has given about His Son.
10 (The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. The one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given about His Son.)
11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
12 The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life.
13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
I read a humorous story from Tonight Show host Jay Leno about his immigrant mother. It seems that she lived in constant fear of deportation. On the citizenship test, you can miss up to four questions. She missed five. The question she missed was "What is the Constitution of the United States?" Her answer was "A boat." She wasn't entirely wrong. The USS Constitution was docked in Boston. However the judge instantly denied her citizenship. Leno’s father stormed up to the judge asking, "What is this? Let me see the test! She's not wrong. The Constitution is a boat!" The judge rolled his eyes and said, "No sir, the Constitution is our basic governing document" "It's also a boat in Boston," Leno’s father raved, "the Constitution! Same thing! Come on!" The judge finally relented, "Fine," he said, "she's a citizen. Now get out of here!" Proudly Leno’s dad said to his mom, "I fixed it. You passed." "No, I didn't pass," she whimpered. "They're going to come after me!" The famous comedian writes, "From then on, any time my mother was even in the proximity of a policeman, she quaked with fear. When I took her to Scotland in 1983, she asked me, ‘Will I be able to get back in?’ ‘Ma! Don't worry! That was 50 years ago!’ However her doubts never ended." Many Christians struggle with their salvation in the same way Jay Leno’s mother struggled with her citizenship: they never feel secure.
6 This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.
Dr. Joseph Conrad amazed and startled the audience by saying something like this: "Dear friends, I want you to know at the very beginning of my ministry with you that I am not dogmatic about the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. I am not dogmatic about the bodily resurrection of Christ, nor am I at all dogmatic about the substitutionary atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ." Stedman comments that "At this point an unbelieving gasp went up from that conservative audience. But then, marshaling all his force, with great intensity, he said, ‘No, I am not dogmatic; I am bulldogmatic!’"
There are indeed some things about which we can be bulldogmatic. And the reason we can be so confident in our salvation is that God has given us sufficient evidence upon which we build that confidence.
One of the first things we need to understand about our Christian faith is this – faith rests on facts. God has given us certain facts concerning our faith. We call them evidences. As a matter of fact, there is an entire discipline in the area of Christian Theology that is based on making an argument for the faith based on Christian evidences.
How You Can Know The Testimony Is True
You might feel like the man who had been caught committing a crime and as he appeared before the judge he was told that if he could not afford a lawyer one who be appointed for him by the court. He leaned over to the judge and said, "I appreciate your offer, but I don't need a lawyer. What I could use is a few good witnesses!"
John in defense to the life of Jesus Christ brings in three good witnesses to testify to the truth of who Jesus Christ is. There were those who had come into the church and who were denying the truth about Jesus by saying He was not deity … He was not God in the flesh here on earth.
Come is a technical term for the Messiah as fulfilled in Jesus (see Matt. I 1: 3 1 23:39; John 3:31; 6:14; 11:27; 12:13). In verse 6 John declares that He has already come. "Came" may be seen as a synonym for "Christ."
What does he mean "by [dia, through) water and blood?" Various suggestions have been made. For instance, the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper, or the phenomenon of blood mingled with water when the soldier pierced the side of Jesus' dead body on the cross. But neither of these seems likely.
We must remember the immediate context of this statement. John is writing to refute the Gnostic heresy. The Docetics denied the humanity of Christ, that is, that He did not have a real flesh and blood body, but only seemed (from doke5, I seem) to have. The Cerinthians denied the deity of Jesus. They held that the aeon Christ came upon Him at His baptism (Matt. 3:16) and left Him on the cross (Matt. 27:46); Christ neither was born nor did He die. According to the Cerinthians only the man Jesus was born by natural means, and died, which left their system devoid of God's redemptive purpose and work. It involved "water" (baptism) but not "blood."
John declares that He "came by [through] water and blood, even Jesus Christ." Note both the human and divine names. Through His baptism Jesus consecrated Himself to His mission, and through His blood He consummated it. Then John adds "not by water only, but by water and blood." The apostle includes both by way of an emphatic statement. In the Greek text both "water" and "blood" have the definite article, making them separate events. The one came at the beginning of His ministry; the latter at its close. By these John offers proof that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Thus the aorist tense of "came" may be seen as inclusive of the entire public ministry of Jesus.
To understand John's meaning in "water" we must recall, as apparently he did, the words of John the Baptist: "And I knew him not, but he that sent me to baptize with [en, in] water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost [Spirit]. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God" (John 1:33-34).
McDowell (p. 222) says, "The water testifies to the fact that Jesus was a true historical being who joined hands with his forerunner John the Baptist in providing the historical event of his baptism, evidence that he was the Messiah of prophecy. The witness of the Spirit to the messiahship of Jesus was first given at the baptism, but it was a continuing witness in the work and words of Jesus and in the work and witness of all believers."
Notice that the Baptist did not say that He "will be" or "will become" the Son of God, but that "this is the Son of God." The verb "to be" expresses essential being. In the case of Jesus it is eternal essential being (see John 1:1,14). The apostle does not imply that Jesus was not God's Son prior to His baptism. He means that this fact was revealed to John the Baptist on this occasion, who, in turn, bore witness to his hearers. It is the responsibility of Jesus' followers to pass it on to those who have not heard.
1. Testimony by Water to the Son … baptism of Jesus
Mark 1:9-10 It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove.
1 John 5:6 This is He who came by water and blood; Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.
John uses the water … baptism of Jesus and the blood … death of Jesus, as historical realities to testify to the truth of who Jesus is. These two are essential to the meaning of the gospel. John has been referring to Christ as our Messiah. His ministry as the Messiah began at His baptism. It would culminate with His death on the Cross. So when John says that Jesus did not come by water only, but by water and blood, he is referring to both the beginning and end of Christ’s ministry on earth as the sacrificial Lamb of God.
In Christ’s baptism we see the beginning of His ministry. And we also see something very significant about His life. We also see His sinless life. Remember that Jesus went down to be baptized in the Jordan River by John. Let’s pick up the account in Matthew 3:13Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to stop Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?” 15 Jesus answered him, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him [to be baptized]. 16 After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. 17 And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!
John was baptizing based upon repentance. When Jesus came to him, John immediately saw that Jesus did not need to be baptized because He had no sins to repent of! John even tried to make Jesus change His mind. But Jesus would not be deterred. I like the way the Good News Bible translates His reply to John in verse 15: But Jesus answered Him, ‘Let it be so for now. For in this way we shall do all that God requires.’ So John agreed." Jesus was perfectly righteous and He was committed to doing all that God required. So He was baptized even though He did not need to be. He was baptized to be an example to us that we should do all that God requires of us.
We see in Christ’s baptism the evidence of His sinless life. You see, the only way that Christ could make an atonement for us was to live a sinless life. Only a sinless sacrifice could make atonement. But merely a sinless life would not be enough in itself.
2. Testimony by Blood to the Son … death of Jesus
The second evidence is the blood. The blood obviously refers to Christ’s death on the Cross. His sinless life led Him to His sacrificial death. On the Cross, Christ became the sacrificial Lamb of God. On the Cross He paid the penalty for our sin debt. On the Cross He took upon Himself our sins and satisfied the divine judgement of God. On the Cross, He shed His blood. On the Cross He paid for our sins. The Cross stands as evidence of the love of God. The Cross stand as evidence that our sins are borne by Christ Himself. We should not be able to look at the Cross without seeing tremendous evidence to believe.
1 Pet.1:19 says we were redeemed "with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."
John 19:30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
Shed Blood on the Cross carried out and completed His redemptive mission. Shed Blood on the Cross established Him as Savior. Shed Blood on the Cross brought Life to man. poured out to God for man.
poured out to reconcile man to God. poured out to bring peace b/t man and God.
Hebrews 9:22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.
1 John 5:7-8 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.
The "water" represents the baptism, the sinless life of Christ. The "blood" represents the cross, the sacrificial death of Christ. The third testimony is "the Spirit who bears witness."
The water and the blood are historical, objective and intellectual evidences. However, the work of the Holy Spirit is experiential, subjective and extremely personal evidence.
3. Testimony by the Spirit to the Son
I spoke on the phone on Tuesday to the pastor of the East Maitland Church of Christ. He had rung up because a lady in his church had asked him some hard questions and he wanted to check his answers.
If someone says they have had an experience that contradicts scripture how do you know that it is not true. And what are you going to say? Billions of experiences.. only valid ones are those in Scripture.
People need to hear the Word of God so that the Spirit of God c an take the Word of God and bring it home to them. If you hear God’s Word and let it guide your belief system you are born of God., and the Spirit of truth will guide you into His truth.
No need for heavy apologetic arguments. If you start where they are you are conceding that their view of truth is true when it is not. God’s view of truth is the only truth there is.
Communist.. Nobody ever proved God to me? “What do you want Him to do? Do a headstand in front of you? Do you think Go the creator of the universe would submit Himself to your puny requests? He is God, you are not. He tells you what to do not you tell Him.
The third evidence which produces faith is the Spirit. The Spirit here refers to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives testimony to the reality of the Gospel message. When we hear the Gospel, the Holy Spirit speaks within our hearts that the Gospel message is true. He makes the message real to our hearts. He applies that truth to our lives. Through the Holy Spirit, God lets us know that Christ not only died for the world, but Christ died for me. The Spirit draws me to Christ. The Spirit enables me to trust Christ. The Spirit gives me the new birth. The Spirit makes me a part of the family of God. In the book of Romans, Paul writes: "His Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God."
The Holy Spirit was given to bear witness of the Son (Jesus). John 15:26 But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.
John 16:14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.
Spirit of truth … present at baptism and the Cross.
Spirit of Truth … can be trusted.
John 15:26b the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father,
John 16:13 "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
Testimony to the Believer The Spirit's witness is present today to bear witness to the believer.
Romans 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
Spirit illumines the Word to believers to apply truth to heart and life.
1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
John says that "these three" … water, blood and Spirit agree … testify to the one central truth of the gospel … Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Testimony of God
Testified at Jesus' Baptism.
Matthew 3:16-17 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
Testified at the Mount of Transfiguration
Matthew 17:5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!"
Testified at the Hour Jesus' Hour had come
John 12:28-29 "Father, glorify Your name." Then a voice came from heaven, saying, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again." 29 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to Him."
Testified through Nature at the Crucifixion
Matthew 27:45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.
Matthew 27:50-54 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God!"
God has testified again and again that this one called Jesus is His beloved Son. Now who are we going to believe?
Isaiah 53:1 Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
Whose report will be received? The testimony of man … or God?
These three evidences are strong evidence indeed. And they point us in a specific direction. They do not point us to a religious system or a philosophy for living. They point us instead to a person. You see, being spiritually alive is totally dependent upon our relationship to a person.
Spiritual Life is Only Found in Christ.
It is not enough to know about Christ. In order to truly be spiritually alive, one must come to personally know Christ. We must enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ as our Savior. John goes on to say in 1 John 5:11-12: And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
It’s really rather simple. If you have Jesus, you have life. If you do not have Jesus, you do not have life. This means that our eternal life is dependent upon a personal relationship with a living Savior. Jesus Christ is alive today and He desires to live His life in us and through us. When you surrender to God, you yield to Christ for Him to come and live within. And by His Spirit, that is precisely what He does. He comes to live within each believer. His abiding life within us is what makes us spiritually alive.
And then John comes to what is one of the most important verses of Scripture in the Bible. In 1 John 5:13 we read these words: I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
In My Confession, Leo Tolstoy, the Russian novelist and former atheist, confessed that it was faith in God that finally brought true meaning into the confused and crumbling structure of his life. A few years before faith had come to his aid, his life had started to seem meaningless and absurd to him, a feeling that was almost destroying him from the inside. He felt that he had no reason to either live or do the things he was doing.
…five years ago, a strange state of mind began to grow upon me: I had moments of perplexity, of a stoppage, as it were, of life, as if I did not know how I was to live, what I was to do, and I began to wander, and was a victim to low spirits…. These stoppages of life always presented themselves to me with the same questions: "Why?" and "What after?" I was perfectly disconcerted, and knew not what to think. Another time, dwelling on the thought of how I should educate my children, I ask myself "Why?" Again, when considering by what means the well-being of the people might best be promoted, I suddenly exclaimed, "But what concern have I with it?" When I thought of the fame which my works were gaining me, I said to myself: "Well, what if I should be more famous than Gogol, Pushkin, Shakespeare, Molière – than all the writers of the world – well, and what then?"… I could find no reply. Such questions will not wait: they demand an immediate answer… but answer there was none. I felt that the ground on which I stood was crumbling, that there was nothing for me to stand on, that what I had been living for was nothing, that I had no reason for living….
Tolstoy described this sense of meaninglessness as "some irresistible force" that was dragging him onward "to escape from life." Many do try to escape this situation by indulging in materialistic pleasures or pursuits. Drugs, parties, shopping, television, games, etc provide easy means for escaping the seriousness of life. However, this indulgence is not without its boredom and vexation of spirit; while the flesh is being indulged in its passions, the spirit is suffocated. After much study of this problem, Tolstoy found that it was true faith in God alone that gave him meaning in life. He said,
I remembered that I had lived only when I believed in a God. As it was before, so it was now. I had only to know God, and I lived; I had only to forget Him, not to believe in Him, and I died…. To know God and to live are one. God is life.