1 JOHN 5:6-12
The story is told of Shah Abbis, a Persian monarch who loved his people very much. To know and understand them better, he would mingle with his subjects in various disguises. One day he went as a poor man to the public baths and in a tiny cellar sat beside the fireman who tended the furnace. When it was mealtime the monarch shared his coarse food and talked to his lonely subject as a friend. Again, and again he visited, and the man grew to love him. One day the Shah told him he was the monarch, expecting the man to ask some gift from him. But the fireman sat gazing at his ruler with love and wonder and at last spoke, “You left your palace and your glory to sit with me in this dark place, to eat of my coarse food, to care whether my heart is glad or sorry. On others you may bestow rich presents, but to me you have given yourself, and it only remains for me to pray that you never withdraw the gift of your friendship.”
This beautiful story reminds us that Christ, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas left the glories of heaven to share Himself with us. That gift of His love and friendship will never be withdrawn from us. He chose to be your friend and mine forever.
- PRECISE DESCRIPTION OF THE PERSON OF JESUS V. 6
The closing section of verse 5 has indicated that faith concerns Jesus, the Son of God. The personal name, “Jesus,” reminds you and I of His humanity. “Son of God,” the divine title points to His true deity. The form of the statement, that “Jesus is the Son of God,” emphasizes the union of humanity and deity in the one person.
Verse 6 is intended to give a more precise description of Jesus, the Son of God. The Apostle John’s full formula for the Christians faith is that Jesus is the Christ come in the flesh (4:2; 2 John 7). I would like for you to pay more attention to this section of the series because we have reached the most important premise of the Christian faith. This is not to suggest that all that we have studied thus far are not important. They are all important. However, John is about to conclude the book, so he is laying out for us the purpose of his writing. The Christian faith rises or falls in what John is teaching here. The Christian faith into which you have entered is like a building. The strength of every building depends on its foundation. If the foundation were to tilt the whole structure would tumble or collapse. There were and there are many enemies of Christ who had sought and are seeking to undermine the Christian faith. This part of John’s teaching proves that the Christian faith, like a house built on the rock is indestructible. It is solidly rooted. Here in verse 6, it is to be observed that Jesus with whom our faith depends is designated in two ways. First, notice that He is called “Jesus Christ.” This name is the exact equivalent of “Jesus the Son of God.” In verse 6, John says that there were two things that revealed or identified who Jesus was. These were “water and blood.” I can hear what some of you are saying or thinking. Your question is what in the world is John talking about here? By “water” John is referring to the baptism of Jesus at which he was declared the Son and commissioned and empowered for His earthly ministry. The “blood” refers to His death on the cross in which His work was finished. The obscurity of this verse is since the readers of John’s epistle were familiar with the terminology that he did not see the need to explain what he meant.
You see, John’s opponents “the Gnostics” taught that the Christ came by “water,” that is baptism but denied that he came “by blood” (death on the cross). So, in response to the enemies of the gospel and the Christian faith, John emphatically states that Jesus Christ came not with water but with the water and with the blood. In effect, John is saying that you are mistaken, you are wrong, the Jesus who was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist was the same person who was nailed to the cross.
It was inconceivable to the Gnostics that the divine Christ should suffer the pain and shame of Calvary. In the mind of the Greeks the cross was a symbol of shame and defeat. Even no Roman citizen was to die by crucifixion. It was the worst form of death sentence that could be passed on a person. It was the most excruciating form of death. Not only that, it was also a shameful way to die. It was reserved for hardened criminals. Therefore, these humanistic philosophers could not bring themselves to embrace the cross as a symbol of victory and a door to eternal life. But to John and fellow apostles, what happened at the cross was the heart of the gospel. Without the cross there is no gospel to preach. That is why the Apostle Paul could say, “For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside” (1 Cor. 1:18-19).
Even today Hollywood has popularized the hero or warrior mentality. That is why in movies the main character can kill over one hundred to two hundred people and would be still standing. The main character dying in a movie is inconceivable. That is movie, in real life it does not work that way. John therefore insisted that Jesus Christ came not simply by the water of baptism as the Gnostics taught, but by the blood of the death also, which they denied. I have a question for you. Do you really believe that the Jesus who was baptized in the Jordan River was the same person who died on the cross? The Cerinthian Gnostics, who were the followers of Cerinthus distinguished between “Jesus and the Christ.” They held that Jesus was a mere man born of Joseph and Mary in natural wedlock but became God only between His baptism and His death. That is, He was merely human until He was baptized, at which time the Christ descended upon Him, but later left Him before His death on the cross. But the problem is that if Jesus died only as a man, He could not have taken upon Himself the sins of the world, and Christianity would be an empty religion. Only an act of God could take away the punishment you and I deserve for our sins.
The baptism and the death on the cross were, however, immensely significant events in the carrying out of the messianic mission. At His baptism Jesus consecrated Himself to His redemptive mission, He was divinely attested by the voice from heaven, and was anointed with the Holy Spirit. At the cross Jesus accomplished His messianic mission, and His atoning death constituted Him the Savior of the world (John 1:29). Therefore, John knowing that Jesus was the Christ before and during the baptism and before and after the cross described Him as “He who came through water and blood.” John is saying that Jesus is indivisible. In other words, you cannot say that at some point Jesus was God, but at another He was not. Jesus was both human and divine at the same time. John is emphasizing the unity of the earthly ministry of Jesus. Cerinthus and his followers are dead, and their particular creed or statement of belief has no followers today. Nevertheless, all who deny the incarnation, whether or not they believe that the Person of Jesus underwent a change at the baptism to fit Him for His public ministry, deny that He came by water and the blood. It undermines the foundation of the Christian faith and robs us of the salvation of Christ. If the Son of God did not take to Himself our human nature in His birth and our sins in His death, He cannot reconcile us to God. Therefore, the Apostle John emphasizes not just that Jesus came, but especially that He came by water and blood, since it is His blood, which cleanses from sin (1:7). Many Christians today question the significance of Jesus’ baptism. Some even argue that since John baptized people for repentance, why then did Jesus ask John to baptize Him? With such an argument they mean to imply that Jesus was a sinner, but such human logic falls short of the purpose of Jesus’ baptism. This is the answer to what has baffled many people concerning Jesus’ baptism. At His baptism Jesus consecrated Himself to His redemptive mission, He was divinely attested or approved by the voice from heaven and was anointed with the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:16-17). At the cross, His messianic mission was completed, and His atoning death made Him the Savior of the world. Therefore, when you reject Jesus Christ, you reject God’s only hope for your life. When you say no to Jesus you are telling God that you have your own plan of measuring up to His requirement. But the unfortunate thing is that there is nothing that you can do to measure up to God’s standard than simply asking Jesus Christ to save you.
II. PERSONS WHO ARE AUTHENTIC WITNESSES TO JESUS VV. 7-12
In verse 6, John has established the irrefutable premise for the humanity and deity of Jesus Christ. In the subsequent verses his singular purpose is to show you and me that our faith in Jesus Christ is well grounded. In other words, if you are a Christian, John is saying you have not been duped, your faith is not in vain. You are on the right track. You are building on the right foundation. Rather, the enemies of Christ and all the unbelievers are building on shifting sand. To make his point or to draw his point home, the Apostle John marshals a threefold testimony to Christ (vv. 7-8). He, then shows that his testimony is in fact the testimony of God Himself to His Son (v. 9). The first testimony is the witness of the Spirit (v. 7). This is without a doubt the Holy Spirit. Are you with me? In verse 6a the word of God says that Jesus Christ is “He that came,”, He (Jesus Christ) is the One who fulfills the divine plan of redemption. Verse 7 teaches that it is the special function of the Holy Spirit to bear witness to this fact. This is what John is saying, “the Holy Spirit reveals the significance of Christ’s coming and applies its truth to our hearts” (1 Cor. 12:3). Without the work of the Holy Spirit, the wonder, and the glory of it all would be forever hidden from us. “If it were not the Holy Spirit who opened for us the eyes of faith, the divine glory that might shine forth in Christ would be obscure to us and escape our vision” (John Calvin). Sometimes people raise questions as to when and where the Spirit gives His testimony to Jesus Christ? The coming of the Spirit upon Jesus at the baptism in the Jordan River is one. The phenomenon of Pentecost is another. The new birth by which the soul is quickened, the sanctifying power which the Holy Spirit exerts on the lives of true believers is another. John says the Spirit is the One who bears witness, and not only that but also that the Spirit is the truth. This is to emphasize the trustworthiness of the Spirit’s witness. The very nature of the Holy Spirit is truth. This is what people who claim to have the gift of prophecy and those who share visions must be careful. The nature of the Holy Spirit is truth. Therefore, before you open your mouth to prophesy, or to give vision make sure it is right from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not offer false revelation.
The Holy Spirit bears witness to Christ. The testimony of the Holy Spirit is Christ-centered not man-centered. To sum it up the Holy Spirit’s witness is both objective and subjective, historical, and experimental.
The second is the witness of the water and the blood (v. 8). Previously (v. 6) the water (Christ’s baptism) and the blood (Christ’s death) were mentioned as historical realities in the work of Christ. Through baptism and the death on the cross, Jesus came to accomplish His messianic mission. The water and the blood in verse 8 are cited as a part of the total witness to the divine sonship of Jesus. The witness is characterized as follows:
First, it is a threefold witness: “For there are three that bear witness, the Spirit and the water and the blood.” There is an obvious allusion to the stipulation to the Mosaic law requiring the corroborative evidence of two or three witnesses (Deut. 17:6; cf. Matt. 18:16; John 8:17). When we speak of corroborative evidence, we do not mean false witnesses, who are coached as to what to say. We mean independent witnesses whose testimonies confirm the truth of the issue at stake. The effect here is to underscore the trustworthiness of the witness to Jesus Christ.
Second, it is a continuing witness. “The Spirit, the water, and the blood” bear witness (present tense). These three are the abiding witnesses to the uniqueness of Christ. As I said last week, if you say with your mouth and in your heart that Jesus is not the Christ, the Son of God, it does not change anything. If you deny the deity of Jesus Christ, it does not shock God. It does not change the truth. Why? Because truth is always truth whether you believe it or not. Your rejection of the truth would not make it a lie. In the end you are the one who will lose.
Third, it is a convergent witness: “and the three are in agreement.” The three witnesses agree to one unchanging truth, namely that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The three witnesses have one thing in common. They all agree without a shadow of doubt that Jesus who was baptized, and crucified is “the Son of God.” The third testimony is the witness of the Father (v. 9). In this verse John explains that the threefold witness to Jesus Christ—the Spirit, the water, and the blood is in fact, a divine witness. It is God who speaks to us in the Spirit and in the historic facts of the Gospel (the water and the blood). This therefore makes the witness the more worthy of acceptance. “If we receive the witness of men (and we do), the witness of God is greater.” In the legal system if three independent people bear witness to a case and their testimonies corroborate with each other, they are considered believable or credible. This is the point. If we accept human testimony because it is consistent, then the testimony of God Himself is stronger or more credible. God Himself has borne witness to His Son. In the Gospels, God twice clearly declared that Jesus is His Son, once at Jesus’ baptism (Matt. 3:16-17), and another at His transfiguration (Matt. 17:5). Today if we want to prove the parentage of a disputed birth, the contesting parties use a DNA test. This is more than 90% accurate. For God to prove the validity of His Son Jesus Christ, God Himself testified during Jesus’ baptism and His transfiguration. Whatever God says must be final, authoritative, and conclusive. His witness therefore is to be trusted implicitly. John has dealt with the doctrinal issues; he is now bringing the matter home. Whoever believes in God’s Son has eternal life. He is all you need. You do not need to wait, because eternal life begins today. You do not need to work for it because it is already yours. You do not need to worry, because God Himself has given you. It is guaranteed.
Eternal life is nothing less than the life of God Himself. Eternal life is a certain kind of life, a life that is possessed only by those who have been united to God through faith in Jesus Christ. It is a life that death cannot destroy. Three great affirmations are made concerning this life. First, it is a divine gift. God gave to us eternal life. It is not a reward for merit. It is a gift from the hand of God. Eternal life is given once and for all (gave). Second, this life is a present possession. “He that has the Son has the life.” Third, this life is in God’s Son. For this reason, the man who has the Son has the life, and he who does not have the Son “has not the life.” Therefore, you and I need to share our faith with those who are without Christ. Those who are outside of Christ do not have life; it is beyond their grasp. You may, by human standards be a good person, a good neighbor, a good parent, a good citizen; but by the standard of the Gospel, if you have no saving union with Christ, you do not have eternal life and you are not a Christian.
My desire is that everyone here will experience eternal life. Do not just assume that you have eternal life. The devil is crafty. He can make some lost people secure and some Christians insecure. If you are here and you know that you have never asked Jesus to save you meet me in front here and I will lead you to Christ. Let us settle this most important matter once and for all. Maybe you are here but you are not sure that you are saved, come forward. Maybe, you are saved but there are some, who want to unsettle your faith in Christ, come and rededicate your life to the Lord. Maybe, you have been worshiping with us for some time, but you have not officially declared your membership here, we invite you to come and join us as we serve the Lord together. What is the Spirit of God telling you today? Do it right now. There are some of you too who need to come and pray, do not feel shy come and do business with the Lord.