Thursday, September 03, 2009

1 John 5:6-12

V6-12 – 6This 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. 7For there are three that testify: 8the [Late manuscripts of the Vulgate testify in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. 8 And there are three that testify on earth: the (not found in any Greek manuscript before the sixteenth century)] Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which He has given about His Son. 10Anyone 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. 11And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

John has made it clear that faith in Jesus is our victory over the world. But he keeps the tests of authentic Christianity at the forefront throughout this letter. The moral test, right living through obedience, is crucial; the relational test, loving one another the way that God loves us, is crucial. But neither of these surpasses the importance of the doctrinal test, the truth test. Believing what the Bible says about Jesus is of utmost importance, according to John, because the Person of Jesus Christ is the topic for assault by false teachers. That was the case for John’s audience and throughout history. And it’s the topic for today’s false teachers as well. And so in v6-12, John testifies to the Person of Jesus.

First, in v6, Jesus “is the One who came by water and blood.” Though commentators differ over the precise intention of John with his language, most agree that he means to say, “The Holy Spirit testifies to the Person of Jesus Christ by His baptism [or birth] and His death.” In other words, we saw Him at His birth or baptism (water), effectively the beginning of His earthly ministry; and we saw Him at His death (blood), effectively the end of His earthly ministry. By saying, “He did not come by water only,” John is refuting the false teachers of his day who denied that the Christ was crucified. They may have taught that the man Jesus was entered by the divine Christ at His birth or baptism, but that the Christ left the man Jesus before His death. John says, “No, Jesus the man and Christ the divine were One, and they didn’t become One at birth or baptism and cease from being One at death; rather Jesus Christ was revealed as One through birth and baptism and in death.” John knows this, because the Holy Spirit testifies to that truth; in fact, He “is the truth” (v6).

Other commentators consider this to refer solely to Jesus’ death and resurrection (John 19:34, 20:20,25-27), when the spear was thrust into His side and blood and water flowed out; others suggest that the blood and water refer to the two sacraments in which we engage today – the Lord’s Supper and baptism; still others consider the water to be that which cleanses us (as in outward behavior, the fruit of sanctification) and the blood to be that which atones for our sins (as in inward forgiveness and the imputation of righteousness, the fruit of justification); others make no distinction between the water and the blood but claim that John speaks of both as a way of making a more powerful argument for the complete satisfaction of Christ for our salvation. But these alternative suggestions do not easily fit, as John seems to be referring not to our experience but to Jesus’.

Second in v7-8, John summarizes his stance on the testimony regarding the Person of Jesus Christ. Two physical, historical, objective events – Jesus’ birth or baptism and Jesus’ death – along with one spiritual Person (experiential and subjective) indwelling the children of God – the Holy Spirit – declare that Jesus is the God Man. In other words, as one preacher put it, “The Father bears witness to the Son through the Spirit” (Isaiah 44:6). And third, in v9, John claims that the Spirit’s testimony is the most important of these three, since it is in fact the very testimony of God (see Jesus at John 5:31-39). Apart from God’s testimony to Christ, through the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:2), no one would ever believe the truth about Jesus Christ. The claims that Jesus was born and baptized and that He died are true and good, as man’s testimony. But God’s testimony, in full agreement, is necessary to make us see the truth (v8). And thus, when we believe men over God on an issue to which God speaks in His word, we make God out to be a liar (v10).

V10-12 declare the testimony of God in regard to Jesus. It is an essential part of the gospel (it may be the whole gospel in a nutshell) that “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” You cannot say, “I believe in Jesus,” and then deny that your Jesus is the Jesus of the Bible. You can’t truly trust Jesus but deny who He claims to be in the Scriptures. Yet some do… In rejecting the Jesus Christ of the Bible yet claiming to trust Him or love God or be a good person, you are calling God a liar (Luke 16:15). God has given His testimony to Jesus Christ, and if you deny that or even think it to be true for some and not for others, then you are rejecting God Himself. There is no neutral position to take on the Person of Jesus Christ. There is no in-between. He was/is either the God Man and Christ, as Scripture declares, or a complete fraud who has no value at all. It’s the C.S. Lewis argument – Jesus is liar, lunatic, or Lord. And God testifies that He is Lord. And by the Spirit, we cry out, “Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3).

John speaks with urgency, saying, as one pastor put it, “Life, the eternal life, the life of the age to come, the life of the new heavens and the new earth is in Jesus Christ. It is in faith-union with Him. It comes only when a person has been united to Christ by the Holy Spirit because that life is in the Son. That’s why you cannot reject the claims of Christ and have life, because in Him is life. And if we are going to participate, if we are going to share in that life, we must be in Him. We must be trusting in Him, believing on Him, believing what the Scriptures say about Him. And so, consequently,” John separates people in two categories in v12 – those who have life through the Son and those who do not.

Notice three things about eternal life: First, God has given it to us. We don’t earn it; it’s a gift. Second, it is only in Jesus Christ; “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). And third, it is in the present; eternal life is not something that starts in heaven. Eternal life started the moment God gave you Christ. “He who has the Son has life.” It is the present possession of believers. Apart from Jesus Christ, there is no eternal life.

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