Sunday, March 10, 2013

[Matt's Messages] "The Testimony"

“The Testimony”
Essential Christianity: 1 John
March 10, 2013 :: 1 John 5:6-13

We are in the homestretch now of our study of 1 John which we have been calling “Essential Christianity.”  What is essential to be and to believe to be a real Christian, a true Christian, a biblical Christian.

Last week, we learned that it is essential to have to faith.  That we are victorious world-overcomers if we have faith in Jesus, the Son of God.

That’s essential. Among the other things that we have seen are essential such as loving our brothers and obeying God, we know that it is essential that we have faith in Jesus Christ. Chapter 5, verse 5.

“Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

And our passage for today takes off right there explaining Who is this Jesus.

And then it tells us who testifies to this identity of Jesus and how we should believe their testimony.

And then it tells us exactly what the testimony is.  “The Testimony.”

So that’s what we’re going to call this message, “The Testimony.”

(Sounds like a John Grisham novel.)

“The Testimony.”

This testimony is so much more important than any testimony given in any court in our land.

To believe or disbelieve this testimony means the difference between life and death.

Eternal life and eternal death. It’s that important!

This is one of my all time favorite passages of Scripture, especially verses 11-13.

Because those were some of key verses God showed me many years ago that I had essential Christianity, that I was a real Christian.

And more than that, God used this passage as part of my own call into a ministry of preaching.

I’ll tell you more about that when we get down to verses 11-13.

But I have to say right now that I will forever love this passage of scripture.

And it’s all about testimony, isn’t it?

How many times did you hear that word or a form of that word as I read the passage to you? Testimony.

The basic Greek word is martureo.  Testimony.  Or the King James Version has “witness” or “record.” “Going on record” is another way of saying “testimony.”

If you remember, last week was all about faith. Trust. Believing.

The importance of faith.

And question is believing...what...exactly?

Verse 5 said that we are to believe in Jesus as the Son of God. God’s own Son. That’s Whom we put our faith in.

And verse 6 tells us more about Him.  V.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.”

Verse 7.

“For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.”

Point #1 of 3 this morning.

#1. BELIEVE THE TESTIFIERS.

That’s a real word, by the way, I looked it up.

But if you don’t like it, put the word “witnesses” in there on the back of you bulletin

Believe the Witnesses.

Now, John talks differently than we do, but his basic message is clear.

Verse 7 says that there are “three that testify,” two things personified and one person. V.8

“The Spirit, the Water, and the Blood.”

And all three of them agree. They literally, “into the one are.” They are in agreement.

The Spirit, the Water, and the Blood.

Now, before we talk about who they are and how they talk and what they say and how they are in agreement, there are few of you who are scratching your heads right now because your copy of the Bible says something different here.

The King James Version actually says in verse 7 and 8, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”

Now, as true as that statement is, I do not believe (and neither do most Bible scholars) that the statement about the three witnesses in heaven is actually what John wrote when he wrote 1 John.

It does not appear in any of the Greek manuscripts until many centuries after the New Testament was compiled.

It was probably something that a well-meaning scribe scribbled in his margin as he copied the Latin text, perhaps a devotional thought about the Trinity, and then someone when they copied his copy thought that it belonged in the paragraph itself.

Now, that might be a little unsettling for you to think that something might have crept into the copying process so that the Bibles we have today might have something that God didn’t intend for us.

But opposite is actually true, we have so many copies that scholars can accurately determine what was original and what wasn’t.  And there is widespread agreement about it, as well. And more than that, the places where those kind of determinations need to be made are for the most part insignificant and do not change one major point of biblical teaching.  Isn’t that amazing?!

God has faithfully preserved His word for us.

Even here, though very few Bibles would include these words, they do not change what the Bible teaches because–even though I do not think they are original, and therefore are not scriptural–I believe they teach the truth.

God has faithfully preserved His word for us.

He has faithfully preserved His testimony about His Son.

And here we have 3 testifiers who give testimony about His Son. V.7&8 again.

“For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.”

Now, who are these 3 testifiers?

Verse 6 says, “This is the one who came by water and blood–Jesus Christ.”

What does he mean by “water and blood?”

Well, it’s not obvious and a lot of different interpretations have been offered over the years, but I’ll tell you which one makes the most sense to me.

Water here is Jesus’ baptism.  “This is the one who came by baptism.”

And “blood” here is Jesus’ crucifixion.  “This is the one who came by baptism and crucifixion. Death. Sacrifice. Blood.”

I think “water” stands for baptism because that’s the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry when He stands before John the Baptist and says, “I’ve come to be baptized.”

And John says, “You should baptize me!”

But Jesus says, “This is necessary to fulfill all righteousness.”

And when Jesus went down into the water, He was just as surely identifying with us as when we got down into the water to identify with Him.

In just three weeks, we’re going to have some baptisms up here on Resurrection Sunday.

And those who go down into the water will be publically identifying themselves with Jesus.  When Jesus was baptized, He was publically identifying with us.

And the Spirit showed up?  Remember? Like a dove.

And His Father showed up, too. And He said, “This is my beloved Son. With Him I am well-pleased.”

How’s that for testimony?

That was the beginning. And the Cross was (in some ways) the end.

At the Cross, Jesus’ identification with us reached its climax.

And what was the testimony there?  The centurion said, “Surely this man was the Son of God.”

Water and Blood.

Notice that John says it wasn’t just by water. V.6

“He did not come by water only, but by water and blood.”

The false teachers who had left this church probably put great stock in Jesus’ baptism but didn’t like His blood.  They didn’t want a God in the flesh that bled.

But John would agree with our singing today, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus” and “Jesus’ Precious Blood.”

What stream can sweep away My sins just like a flood, 
Nor lets one guilty blemish stay? ‘Tis Jesus’ precious blood.

“He did not come by water only, but by water and blood.”

And there is a third testifier who is even more important. V.6 again.

“And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.”

The Holy Spirit.

He is the third witness.

This testimony is not something that John made up. It comes from the Holy Spirit Himself. V.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.”

“This is my beloved Son. With Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him.  He comes by water and by blood.”

So says God the Father through God the Spirit about God the Son.

Believe the Testifiers.

Because God’s testimony is greater. V.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.”

Do you see how high the stakes are here?

If you believe the testifiers, then you have the testimony in your heart.

But if you don’t believe the testifiers, then you don’t believe God!

And you are calling Him a liar.

That’s what all unbelievers are doing. Those who reject Jesus are calling God a liar.

You don’t want to call God a liar.

God said that Jesus was His Son come by water and blood.

If you don’t believe that, then you are thumbing your nose at the testimony of God.

That’s dangerous.

But if you believe in the Son of God, then you have this testimony in your heart.

#2. BELIEVE THE TESTIMONY.  V.11

“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.”


Believe the testimony.

1 John 5:11 and 12 were some of the first verses that I had to memorize as a student at Moody Bible Institute.

If you don’t have them memorized already, I can’t recommend it enough.

I remember saying them out loud in my dorm room and stringing the words together.

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life,
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life,
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life!

and this life is in his Son.
and this life is in his Son.

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 has the Son has life;
He who has the Son has life;
He who has the Son has life;

He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

If you get that, then that’s everything!

God has given us eternal life. Free gift. No strings attached. Not something we earn.

Eternal life. Starts now and goes forever.
Eternal life. Life to fullest and life with God forever and ever and ever and ever.

Eternal life.

And that life is in Someone.

That life is in God’s Son. He is what all of the fuss is all about!

Because there are only two options, two paths.

He who has the Son has life.  (Because life is in the Son!)

And He who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Tragic!

“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

That’s everything!

Do you have the Son?

Then you have life. Eternal life.

But if you do not have the Son of God then you do not have eternal life.

It’s that simple.

Believe the Testimony and be saved.

This is essential Christianity.

Essential Christianity says that you either have Jesus or don’t have Jesus and that makes all of the difference.

Again, you can’t sit on the fence.

There is no fence!

You either have the Son or you don’t have the Son of God.

Do you have the Son?

This is my journal from my days at Moody Bible Institute.

On February 4th, 1999, I listened to a message by Pastor Ben Haden on 1 John 5:11-13.  I marked it right here.

And afterwards, I went for a long walk beside Lake Michigan, I just re-preached this message to the air.

It was a fire in my bones, something I couldn’t keep to myself, I had to preach it, to herald it, to say it to the world!

I don’t know that I ever really felt like preaching before that. But I’ve never really wanted to stop ever since.

“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.”

That is the testimony.

And we need to not only believe it, but to share it with others.

Because everything is on the line.

“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

And if nobody ever tells you that, then you probably won’t have eternal life.

So, we need to get out there and testify like the water, the blood, and the Spirit.

When was the last time you told someone about Jesus?

To whom in your life do you need to explain essential Christianity?

What can wash away my sins?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

That’s not something that we can keep to ourselves!

We’ve got tell others the testimony we believe.

#3. KNOW THAT YOU HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.

I’m going one more verse than I told Marilynn to put on the back of bulletin. V.13

“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.”

The “these things” are everything he’s been writing in the whole book.

We’ll come back to this verse again next week as it drives us to confidence in prayer.

But the “these things” surely also include the testimony that those who have the Son have eternal life.

And having the Son means having put your faith in the Son of God.

If you have done that, if you are trusting Him, then you can KNOW that you have eternal life.

How’s that for assurance?

“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.”

No worries. No wondering. No wandering.

You may know that you have eternal life because you have the Son of God. You believe in the name (the person, the testimony) of the Son of God.

And that means that you have eternal life.

Draw great assurance from that.

Relish in. Revel in. Make it your heartbeat and your confidence.

Make it your song.

     I Know Whom I Have Believed and Am Persuaded That He Is Able
     To Keep That Which I’ve Committed Unto Him Against that Day

“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.”

That doesn’t mean that your heart won’t sometimes rise up and condemn you.

Our hearts do that sometimes. But remember that God is greater than our hearts.

And we need to listen to God.

And believe His testimony.

And when we do, we know that we have eternal life.


***

Messages about Essential Christianity

A Letter Arrived from John
The Word of Life
God Is Light
Talk & Walk
If You Love, You Live in the Light
I Write To You Because
Do Not Love the World
This Is the Last Hour
Children of God (Part One)
Children of God (Part Two)
Love Your Brother
God Is Greater Than Our Hearts
Test the Spirits
God Is Love (Part One)
God Is Love (Part Two)
Overcoming the World

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